Saturday, December 31, 2011

Bunraku

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Bunraku - 3 out of 5

I don't know if you know this or not but bunraku is a 400 year old form of Japanese puppetry that involves highly detailed puppets operated by several operators who dress entirely in black in order to blend into the background.  There I just dropped a little education on your asses...but I must confess, I looked up what bunraku was on Wikipedia, so I'm not that cool or smart.

But I'm here to talk about the movie Bunraku.

A sword fight seems like an inopportune moment to check your deodorant.

When a man has a mustache AND a soul patch,
you don't mess with him.
The movie is a Western/Martial Arts mixture about a dystopia future where all guns are banned and man returns to using their fists, feet, knives, swords or anything blunt they can get their mitts on in order to dish out some pain.  Westerns and Martial Arts seem to go together like peanut butter and chocolate, don't they?  Or peanut butter and jelly or peanut butter and bananas or even peanut butter and celery.  Hmmm, I never noticed how well peanut butter plays with other foods.  Anyway, in this world, crime lords basically have the run of the mill--even though cops exist, they are basically controlled by the bad guys--and the decent citizens are starting to have their fill.  One crime lord, known as Nicola the Woodcutter, is one of the most powerful out there with an army second-to-none and keeps the regular folks under his thumb...until two mysterious strangers come to town.  One is a man who would be a gunslinger if guns were still around and the other is a samurai without a sword.  The two men, after meeting in a bar (don't worry, they didn't meet in a bar the way I try to meet ladies in a bar) decide to join forces and take out Nicola once and for all.  But they must go through his army and his trained killers, including his right-hand man; Killer Number 2.

The hat, on its own, is frightening and the axe only sells the fear.
 Before sitting down to watch this, I read some reviews on Rotten Tomatoes--normally I don't do this because I want to go into the film with only the trailer giving me the expectations.  The reviews were not pleasant and most didn't like the over-the-top, graphic novel look the film went for but I found that I disagreed with most of the critics on this one.

Woody took a break from killing zombies and smoking weed to be in Bunraku.
Bunraku isn't going to win an Academy Award.  The film isn't ripe with gripping emotion and the story isn't something that will captivate you with twist, turns and surprises.  Bunraku is plain and simple--it's an over-the-top, highly fantasized action film with pretty colors, great fight scenes and cool characters.   And I don't mean cool characters as in, "these people are complex and deep" type of cool.  I mean like, "hey, that guy dresses better than I do, has a epic mustache and does some neat fighting stuff" type of cool.

"Whoa, look...two dogs doing it."
The movie feels like it was a graphic novel that somehow ripped itself from the pages and pasted itself onto the screen.  The sets give the appearance of origami and often look like they were made for a high school play.  I know that sounds bad but given that the movie took its title from a form of Japanese puppetry and the overall style of the film, these sets really work in the movie's favor and continue to sell the "out-of-the-ordinary" experience.

I thought Demi Moore gave up acting to marry an annoying douche bag?

I think Ron Pearlman is the only white guy who
can pull off the dreadlocks look.
Along with really great fight scenes, the movie offers up a decent cast as Ron Pearlman plays the evil Woodcutter, Woody Harrelson plays a bartender who is instrumental in getting our two heroes to work together, Josh Hartnett is the gunman with no gun, Gackt (yeah, that's his name) is the samurai but the man who really steals the film is Kevin McKidd maning it up after joining the cast of Grey's Anatomy as Killer Number 2.  His body language on how he plays the character is quite amusing to watch.  However, one piece of casting is kind of a mystery...and that is Demi Moore is in it.  While she wasn't terrible in her role, the reality is her character offers little to the story.  She has a part to play but when you get right down to it, you could have edited her out entirely and the film wouldn't have looked any different.

Killer Number 2 and his eccentric style of fighting really made the movie.
 Bunraku isn't a blockbuster.  It won't shake the foundation of what an action film should be but the overall look of the film and its composition of unique sets, use of color to best display emotion and an overly departure from your typical action movie with its one-of-a-kind style make Bunraku a movie worth picking up and giving a shot.  Even if the film's look doesn't get you, at least you'll get to see some cool fights.

The Top 10 Worst Movies I Reviewed in 2011

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

The Top Ten Worst Movies I Reviewed in 2011

So, 2011 is coming to a close and 2012 is creeping up behind us ready to either pants us or goose our bottoms.  Either way, I hate to break it to you, there is no Mayan prophecy and the world's not coming to an end.  The closest thing you'll get to an apocalypse in 2012 is actually watching the movie 2012.  Believe it or not, that didn't make the list (and the only reason is I didn't have my blog when I watched it).

I watched a lot of television shows and movies on DVD over the course of 2011 and I reviewed all of them.  I watched old films I never saw before and  I watched classic films I haven't seen in years and compared how they stood up to the test of time.  I watched freshly out on DVD picks and I watched obscure movies I only discovered because I was surfing the web or checking out the vast library of films Netflix has.  Not everything I watched in 2011 was bad--in fact, I had a hard time finding 10 films to focus on because, to me, there are very degrees of bad.

Not everything I watched in 2011 was horrible, I must emphasize that.  I watched films that made me consider running away from my DVD player and vomit because they were awful but I've watched bad movies that had the potential to be good but never got the potential off the ground (usually those are given a 2 out of 5).  I watched some movies that are neither great or terrible and do a decent job of being middle of the road entertainment (3 out of 5).  And, of course, you have the really great (4 out of 5) and the epically great (5 out of 5) movies I've watched.  In fact, 2011 was a good year.  I got to see some really amazing and clever movies like The Good, the Bad, the Weird and Rubber.  I watched some truly creepy and unsettling works like Buried and I got to see some side-splitting comedies like Bridesmaids.  And most importantly for a nerd like me, I got to see Star Wars on glorious high definition as it was released on Blu-Ray.  I watched so many good movies and shows in 2011, a "Best of" would take too long to make and you'd be bored before I even hit the double digits.

I'm a big fan of bad movie for a lot of reasons.  Bad movies are more entertaining to review and the jokes come easier to write for them but more often than not, a really great bad movie--one with a ridiculous story, horrible acting and all around bad filmmaking--can be a great source of entertainment.  You find yourself laughing at something, I'm pretty sure, the director didn't want you to laugh at but when it comes down to it, you got some semblance of entertainment from it and, in the end, you win. However, I'm not focusing on the good bad movies, I'm talking about the bad bad movies (with the small exception of #10).  The ones that are so terrible that it becomes physically painful to sit through the entire run of the movie.

Let's get started...

Honorable Mention:  Most Disturbing Movie I've Seen in 2011...and possibly ever:  A Serbian Film


That is the same face I made after sitting
through A Serbian Film.
A Serbian Film became one of the most difficult films I ever sat through and it was even more difficult to review.  The movie is about an out of work porn star who gets an offer to be in...well, it's called an "art film" but he suddenly finds himself in a perverted world of pain, death and bizarre and horrifying sex (I won't even go into the details but at one point a man is killed with the use of an erect penis).  Not only was the subject material hard to handle but the movie was incredibly well made.  The camera work, editing, lighting and even the acting was amazing.  From all technical standpoints, the movie was incredibly solid.  The only problem, the nightmare inducing story.




#10:  Birdemic:  Shock and Terror

That's some Shock and Terror right there!
I said I was going to focus on only the truly terrible but Birdemic had to top the list because it's one of those great bad movies.  The film is about birds going nuts and killing people (something Hitchcock did better) and throughout the movie, several people make the claim as to why the events are taking place (and they all have to do with the damage done to the environment).  What makes this movie great is the fact it is as low budge as low budget gets.  In fact, I'm pretty sure the director was asking for cash from the actors to help finance the film.  The acting is truly awful and on such a scale that it needs to been seen to be believed and the special effects...well, let's just say I've seen better graphics on an NES game.  If you can make it through the ear-bleeding sound and dragging story, you'll actually get some laughs from it.





#9:  I'm Still Here 


Worst Zach Galifianakis movie ever.
What do you get when a once promising actor tries to do a Andy Kaufman-like prank?  You get a boring mockumentary that never should have been made.  In 2008, Joaquin Phoenix tried to pull the wool over our eyes and claim that he was quitting acting to become an rapper.  He grew a big bushy beard (which is required if you want to be a rapper) and hit the world with Ben Affleck's little brother filming it all the way.  The biggest problem is this:  No one bought the act.  Phoenix is a great actor but every man has their limits and Joaquin's proved to be able to sell this shit as real.  The resulting "documentary" that watched his fall ended up being a cobbled together piece of work that was, supposedly, showing the downward spiral of Joaquin Phoenix.  However, other than no one believing the act to be true, the film's biggest drawback is the fact it is painfully boring.  The end result is that Phoenix ruined his career with this venture and Casey Affleck nearly went bankrupt making it.  I'm Still Here proves that I actually don't want Joaquin to still be here anymore.  I very much want him to go away.



#8:  Tekken

An outfit that exposes cleavage and your midriff
apparently makes you a better fighter.
We all know that 99% of all movies based on video games suck but when I sat down to watch Tekken (which didn't get national release, by the way and was direct-to-DVD) I actually wanted a really great bad movie that would make me laugh like other films based on fighting games--for example, Mortal Kombat:  Annihilation and DOA:  Dead or Alive.  Those movies are so truly awful, that they are hilarious and fun to watch.  Tekken, on the other hand, looked like it was going to be cheesy and something Uwe Boll would have directed (I'm still surprised he didn't.  I thought he cornered the market on video game movies) but instead, it's just boring.  Occasionally, the movie teases you with what could be ridiculous moments that will make you laugh but they're so brief and immediately goes back to its dragging boring story.  I think a Fatality is deserved for this one.



#7:  Trespass

Cage is asking, politely, "How did it get burned?"
If Nicolas Cage is in a movie, you're guaranteed to see something amazing...and by amazing, I mean watching Nic Cage overact the HELL out of every scene.  Occasionally, Cage does an entertaining film but his career is filled with more of his unique intensity than anything else and Trespass is just something else all together.  The film was only in theaters for a month, made about 24,000 dollars (and it had a budget of 35 million) and was released on DVD 18 days later--that's right 18 freaking days after being in the theaters, it's on DVD.  Believe it or not, that's actually a record.  The film is about a home invasion where some bad dudes want to collect Nic Cage's cash.  While the film was being made, Cage decided he no longer wanted to be the invaded and wanted to be the invader and left the set until he got to have the role of the bad guy.  Things ultimately worked out and he returned to the role of the victim but would a role switch save this movie?  No.  Nothing could have saved this boring film.



#6:  Machete

Old Bobby Di Niro was in this one and, in his hand,
is the remnants of his once respectable career.
When this movie hit theaters, I chose to see Piranha 3D while all my friends went to see this one.  I had a great time with the tongue and cheek Piranha as it unapologetic-ally delivered laughs, boobs and blood.  My friends told me that Machete was the same way but, since I think Robert Rodriguez is one of the worst film makers to ever exist (he's right up there with Michael Bay, in my opinion) I waited for it to arrive on DVD.  What I watched only proved that making a feature length film out of a joke trailer wasn't a good idea and proved my theory that Rodriguez is incapable of making a quality film without Quentin Tarantino there to show him how to do it.  The story is messy and to make it more unbearable, Rodriguez gives us both Michelle Rodriguez and Lindsay Lohan in the cast.  When it was over, I found myself once again diving for my DVD copy of Desperado--the one and only time Rodriguez may a great film all by himself.



#5:  Super 8

What you are seeing is the only second of footage that
DOESN'T contain lens flare in Super 8.
Here's Super 8 in a nutshell:  J.J. Abrams rips off every Steven Spielberg movie ever made and puts in a lot of lens flare.  There, that's it.  I guess Abrams ripping off Spielberg is made okay in the fact he got the man to produce the movie or maybe Spielberg doesn't recognize his own movies anymore.  After watching Super 8, I don't understand why the critics and audiences loved it.




#4:  Apollo 18

Did I mention that, apparently, they had high definition
cameras back in 1974.  Seriously, that picture is clear!
At the time of writing this, I only just recently watched Apollo 18 and going into it, my hopes were hovering in the negative numbers.  The film is one of those "found footage" movies and we all know those are just gimmicks to get that easy Paranormal Activity cash.  The film gives the reason why we never went back to the moon.  The reason:  What the hell else would it be?  Aliens.  The movie is sold on the fact that, after the doomed mission, the footage was collected and put out there by a website out to seek the truth.  However, the film glances over the biggest plothole to ever be in a film:  If we never went back to the moon, how exactly did we get the footage of a doomed moon mission that is still on the moon?



#3:  Paranormal Activity 2 and 3

This is about as scary as it gets in Paranormal Activity 2.
More "found footage" films hoping to get some of that sweet, ill-gotten Paranormal Activity cash...Paranormal Activity 2 and 3.  The old Hollywood adage:  If a film makes money at the box office, no matter how bad the movie is, make sequels until it stops making money.  The first film nearly put me into a coma as I had to watch two of the most unlikeable characters to ever exist document a haunting in their home.  Death felt like a sweet release as I had to sit through static images of the couple's bedroom, endure them discussing videotaping themselves having sex and watching the laziest ghost to ever exist as he did such horrors as...move a door two inches.  For some reason I will never understand, people found this movie frightening and I actually found myself watching the movie again in case I somehow watched the wrong film--but I didn't because it was still sleep inducing boring.  Now what are the sequels about?  Well, the exact same shit.  A ghost is haunting people and they film it.  You get more snoring static shots and even larger lack of scares.  Each of these movies are so bad on their own that I was considering giving each their own number but these sequels have caused enough torture with their very existence that I couldn't rob other bad movies of their time on this blog entry.  In the end, the worst part about this sequels is the fact they are planning 4 and 5...I think this horse was beaten dead long before the first one was released.





#2:  Skyline

This will happen to you if you watch Skyline.
The movie is so bad it literally sucks the life out of you.
Hollywood loves alien invasion films and sometimes they can be pretty fun...and sometimes, you get Skyline.  It's clear from the get-go that all the budget was placed in the special effects and no money was left over for the cast as we get Turk from Scrubs and Batista from Dexter as some of our main players.  But what makes this film truly humorous (and a little sad) is the fact that it takes itself too seriously and when your hero is an Ed Hardy-wearing douche bag, how serious can your movie be?  But what do you expect from a movie made by a pair of directors who gave us AVPR:  Alien vs. Predator:  Requiem and a slew of Nickelback videos.



And here we are folks...the worst film of 2011 and it should come as no surprise...

#1:  Transformers:  Dark of the Moon

Even Shia's silence has a stutter.
Words nearly failed me when it came to describe the brutal rape that Michael Bay has placed upon my childhood with the live-action Transformers films.  While the special effects are cool and we get to hear the original Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) reprise his role, the bad overwhelms the good--and when I say overwhelms, I mean beat the living shit out of the good.  You have to deal with viciously uncomfortable comedy sequences, Shia LaBeouf stammering his way through every one of his lines, dragging stories, bad action and, even worse, offensive and racist robots in the 2nd one.  But the third one, at least from the trailer, looked like it could have learned its lesson and decided to give us balls out action (and not robo-balls like we saw in Number 2).  Oh there was action but all the usual discomfort and horror that we experienced in the last two was still there.  The combined destruction these three films have bestowed upon my childhood is enough to make a man drop to his knees and cry to the heavens, "WHY?!?!"



So, there you have it.  My list of the worst films I viewed and REviewed during the course of 2011.  I can't wait to see what horrible films are in-store for me in 2012.  Happy New Year, everyone!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Apollo 18

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Apollo 18 - 2 out of 5

Okay, despite the fact I enjoyed The Blair Witch Project, I have to now hate it because it has given rise to the "found footage" film genre.  You know, those shitty films like Paranormal Activity where more emphasis is placed upon the gimmick of trying to fool the audience it is real by giving it the first-person perspective and doing away with things like logic, creativity, story, plot and decent actors.  These movies all follow the same formula:  People have shit happen to them and, despite all sense and logic, they film ever single moment, even when they are being killed.  Because that's exactly what real people do--they don't drop the camera, crap their pants and run (not possibly in that exact order).  In regular films, we are able to have a suspension of disbelief because we go in knowing that what we are seeing is a work of fiction.  We have this same knowledge (or at least we should) going into these terrible works but when your film is sold on the fact is suppose to be "real," glaring unrealistic actions taken by the actors like keeping yourself in shot while being possessed by an alien (which happens in this film) can become a gigantic distraction despite the fact it is an amazing feat of dedication.  I know I wouldn't bother with keeping myself in shot while I was being killed by evil aliens.


"Must stay in shot while dying!"

Apollo 18 is the supposed answer to why we never went back to the moon--because, let's face it, a found footage film about a bunch of NASA suits saying it's too damn expensive to go to the lunar surface wouldn't draw the crowds.  So, according to this film, after the Apollo 17 mission, NASA secretly sent another mission to space (how you secretly launch a rocket into orbit is beyond me).  Well, the doomed mission hit the lunar surface and discovered that Russia was also able to secret launch a rocket (and it seems our Ruskie friends must have shared the secret with the good ole U.S. of A in 1974) but it seems something went wrong for our vodka filled friends.  The astronauts soon learn that something is living on the moon...and, like all movie aliens, they're not friendly.

Get used to this shot...you'll see it a lot.


If you watch this expecting to be scared like you were in Paranormal Activity, you'll be awfully disappointed and I can't help but wonder why you found Paranormal Activity scary.  This movie is just like that terrible film about the two unlikeable characters being terrorized by a demon.  It's slow moving, yawn-inducing and spends more time making you wait for the scares that, by the time they come, you couldn't care less about what is attempting to make you afraid.  Once the film gets moving (but it never truly gets going), you know exactly where it's heading and nothing the filmmakers throw at you is surprising.  In fact, it seems like it's a "Paint By Numbers" version of both an alien horror film and found footage piece of crap.  However, the film will start to blur the edges of the two as it occasionally forgets it's suppose to be a found footage film and camera angles will appear in the middle of a scene from a mysterious, third gunman camera that will teleport in and out of the film.  But this mysterious camera makes for great editing as scenes start to look like the latest video from the newest Industrial Metal band.  This mysterious camera shows up so often, that the movie should have forgotten about the rock aliens (oh yeah, did I mention the aliens are made of moon rocks?  Yeah, that's the quality this film is vomiting into your lap) and focused on this camera because--forget the film takes place in 1974--but the idea of a camera just showing up and disappearing is more interesting than a bunch of stone moon bugs.

"Hey, those rocks have legs...WUT?!?"

Now, like all found footage films, you are required to shut your brain off when watching this because, if you don't, you'll go insane from the plot holes.  For example, the movie is suppose to take place in 1974 but I had no idea that high definition cameras existed then.  Oh, the movie tries to hid the amazing amount of clarity it has by adding in scratch marks and film skips but the reality is, you can make out everything on screen.  Why weren't these cameras used when Neil was wishing good luck to Mr. Gorsky?  Was the government just waiting to use them on the mission where the creatures attack?


I wish we got this type of clarity when Neil was taking that "one giant leap."

But the biggest plothole, like all found footage films, comes in the fact that the movie doesn't explain how the footage was found.  In The Blair Witch Project and in Paranormal Activity, it is claimed that the police found the footage--they still don't explain why the police decided to edit in the pointless scenes like the two numbnuts in Paranormal Activity getting ready to have sex but at least we get how the footage was collected.  And my hats off to the police officers who got the Blair Witch reels and survived.  At least in Cloverfield the military got to wait until they killed the beast before they pulled Hud's tape out of his camcorder.


Seriously, what the fuck?!?  Cameras weren't this good in 1974.

The problem with the footage for Apollo 18 is the fact that it's all on the moon.  If the Apollo 18 mission was the reason we never went back to the moon, how did we get the footage?  There's no way it was transmitted back to Earth because all the footage we see is from cameras that contain film and are attached to either the astronauts or non-transmitting devices, like a stick that is squarely planted into the moon's soil.  At one point, one of the astronauts, trying to escape death, makes sure he collects the reels of film (because that's totally what a person in mortal toil would do).  Now, the movie claims that the footage was stolen by a group of people who run a website out to uncover the truth of the Apollo 18 mission (or as normal people know those types:  Crazy Conspirator Nutjobs).  So, am I suppose to assume that these people who run the website built a rocket and launched it without anyone knowing it (hey, they did it in 1974), got to the moon in their homemade lunar lander made from a garbage can and collected the footage, brought it back to Earth and edited it back together?  This movie actually makes the people who think the moon landing was fake look creditable and collected in their sanity.

The actor holds his hands up in an attempt to surrender...
surrender all you want, it doesn't change the fact you did this movie.
As horrible and as boring as Apollo 18 is, the reality is it could have been great.  If the film did away with its found footage gimmick and made a plain old fashion, mom and pop store, missionary position horror film from its story, it could have been awesome.  No lame lack of suspense as I stare at a black screen and only hear a man breathing but instead, well crafted, tensioned filled sequences that build the terror through atmosphere and music.  But no, the filmmakers wanted to get that easy Paranormal Activity cash and forget about making something of quality.  In fact, and I'm just guessing here, that this movie was so bad, it is the real reason Obama shut NASA down because this movie made space travel an embarrassment.

Sons of Anarchy Season 3

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Sons of Anarchy Season 3 - 5 out of 5

Jax looks like he should be a lead singer in a Nickelback cover band.
Why anyone would start a Nickelback cover band is a mystery though.
Whenever I start a season of Sons of Anarchy, I start to wonder how I would look on a motorcycle and if ass-less leather chaps are in my near future.  However, leather doesn't flatter my robust figure and I'm pretty sure the first time I attempt to ride my cycle, it will come flying out from under me and set off a chain of events that will lead to a massive car pile up.  So, instead, I will just watch the show about SAMCRO.

It always amazes me that this is the same woman who is the voice of Leela on Futurama.


Here's your bad guy.  The guy who was in Lost when
the show was bad.
After the heart-wrenching ending of Jax having his son kidnapped in the previous season, the Redwood Originals are out to recover the little Able and bring revenge to the Irish bastards who had the gull to take a baby.  Add to the madness, Jacob Hale is out to be mayor, the club gets new Prospects, Lemansky from The Shield joins the cast and is looking to be a Redwood Original, the Sons strike a deal with their hated enemies The Mayans and it seems that Jax may be making his own deal with the ATF.  Needless to say, a lot of shit is going down in Charming and the Sons even jump the pond and head to Ireland to find Able.

Which brings about this great variation of the show's opening credits...




Holy shit!  Stephen King made a cameo this season?!?



This season, Opie tries to cum to grips with his lady
being in the porn industry.  See what I did there?
I went blue for this caption.
What I enjoy most about this series is the fact that it gets better with each season.  Season 2 and they way they ended it with Jax being held back by his brothers as he watched his baby being taken away from him seemed about as great as it gets...until this season ended.  The only words that can describe how it wrapped up is that my jaw dropped and stayed dropped as I processed what I saw in front of me.  It's that type of shock that makes this show what it is.  The very fact that I become invested with these characters--everyone from SAMCRO's President; Clay Morrow, to the white supremacist Ernest Darby, even the masturbation fiend Chucky--are all so well written and acted by a cast of very talented individuals, that the twists and shockers the show hurls at you hit even harder.

Why is Ron Pearlman smiling the smile of a man who just hotboxed his friends with a vicious burrito fart?

Mark Boone Junior...I'm pretty sure he's in almost
every movie made in the last 15 years.
Now, as much as I enjoy the show, I must confess...I have a problem remember a lot of the characters names.  *WHEW*  It feels good to get that off my chest.  Yes, I know the big ones like Katey Sagal as Gemma, Charlie Hunnam as Jax and Ron Pearlman as Clay but most of the other members of the gang I always find myself forgetting their names and I end up describing them when I discuss the show with my friends by giving a description of them. For example, Theo Rossi's character is the Mohawk Guy and Tommy Flanagan is the Irish Guy With the Scar Who Was In Gladiator.  Please, if the writers of Sons of Anarchy are reading this (and I'm pretty sure they'll never do that) don't take my ability to forget the characters name as a critique on your show and its writing.  I'm just bad with names.  Hell, I once dated a girl for a year and couldn't remember her name until she broke up with me.


And then you have Kim Coates...until now, I learned he wasn't a zombie.

So, ass-less chaps may never be in my future but as long as FX keeps SAMCRO riding and the writers keep kicking ass like they do, I plan to keep watching and can't wait till I start up Season 4.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Penn & Teller: Bullshit! Season 8

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Penn & Teller:  Bullshit! Season 8 - 5 out of 5

There are 3 things that Penn & Teller:  Bullshit can do to a person.  They can offend you, interest you or arouse you.  That's right, I said arouse.

Is Cheerleading Bullshit?  Apparently something about it or why else would they do a show about it?


Penn as Indiana Jones?  Things just got awesome!
The show is about two of the best magicians since Houdini (and that shows how many shitty magicians we've had since then--I'm looking at you, Criss Angel.  The way you spell your name alone magically makes you a douche and don't get me started on the magic trick-less magician David Blaine...) anyway, the show focuses on Penn Jillette (one of my heroes and a man I can do an uncanny impression of) and his partner Teller taking a break from their magic show in Las Vegas to tackle various issues in our world that people hold sacred and show how these things are, to quote the show, bullshit.

Is this the part that can arouse you?  Sure, why not.


Penn & Teller take on Area 51.
In the past, they've went after the Bible (both Penn & Teller are outspoken atheists--well, maybe not so much Teller since he doesn't speak much), recycling, gun control, ghosts, even handicap parking.  This season they took on such subjects as the crusade to keep cheerleading from being a sport, vaccinations, Area 51, fast food and self-esteem.  Each episode, they take a stance and set out through comedy and interviewing experts (and a lot of crazies) to prove why they believe such and such is complete bullshit.  For example, during an episode about teen sex, they go on to talk about how teenagers getting nasty is a part of growing up and trying to protect them from it is absolutely ridiculous.  They interview people who talk about how relationships, both physical, emotional and sexual are important for teenagers because never again will relationships be as easy (or as enjoyable) as they are when they're that age.  They talk to the crazies who claim that things like sexting and teen sex will send the kids into a moral sewer that will consume them into a life of debauchery, drugs and...crime (I couldn't think of another thing that starts with a "D" in order to keep my alliteration going).

Yeah, this happens on an episode.  Why?  I'm not going to tell you in order to drive you insane.


He has a lab coat...he must know his shit.
The show's format doesn't offer a place for open debate.  The reality is, the program is Penn & Teller's stance and they go out to prove it.  There's no editing tricks to make the crazies look crazier because, if you watch the show, Penn isn't in the room with the nutbags and they are just allowed to get on their soapbox, tell us why they're right and everyone else is wrong and then, an overdub of Penn, will chime in with a witty comment about how their f$@king nuts.  It's this type of format that has caused the show to be criticized heavily but it also inspired Penn to close the series with an episode that uncovered the bullshit of Bullshit!  Sadly, this will never come to be because this was the final season as Showtime cancelled it...but Penn & Teller will return on The Discovery Channel on their new show:  Penn & Teller Tell a Lie.

Maybe the show can do 4 things like scare the shit out of you.

Sometimes the nutjobs are so bad, I punched my TV
screen.  Like this asshole who says vaccinations are bad
for kids.

Now, I mentioned this show can do three things and you're probably wondering how...or you've grown bored with this and have moved on to looking at pictures of cats.  Well, like I said, this show can offend, interest you or arouse you.  If you already agree with Penn & Teller (and my batting record of agreeing with them is 100% believe it or not) you'll have a great time watching the nutjobs and Penn go on his swear-fueled rants.  If you don't agree, you'll get pretty damn offended as the show only picks the craziest of the crazy to make the opposition look bad.  And as far as getting aroused...well, there's a lot of topless ladies on the show.  Why?  Because they were on Showtime and could get away with it!

There's boobies on the show!  Now let the parents freak out because there's a kid on set and will end up seeing something he's going to be dying to see for the rest of his life.

Why I'm sad that this very funny series came to an end, it went out with the same quality it came roaring in on (except there seemed to be less boobs than other season).  Penn & Teller are showmen to the highest order and the show they brought to the premium network was unlike other debunking shows.  Yes, they had an agenda and each episode was painstakingly geared to their viewpoint but how is that different than any other documentary-like show?  At least they refrained from flat-out making things up like Fox.

Now for fun, here's a picture of Penn juggling.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Futurama Vol. 6

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!

Futurama Vol. 6 - 5 out of 5

In case you can't read the caption on the pic, this is
creators Matt Groening and David X. Cohen.
I'm a HUGE Futurama fan.  When it debuted in 1999, I instantly fell in love with it and stated that Matt Groening and David X. Cohen created something that surpassed the megatrain of a hit The Simpsons.  That's right, I love Futurama more than The Simpsons--hate me for it!  The Simpsons is hilarious (well, it's dropped in quality quite a bit since the 90s but it is still better than 90% of other comedies on TV) but being that I'm a gigantic nerd, the sci-fi references and the science jokes that composed Futurama caused it to be one of the best things I've ever seen.


Those are a lot of shiny metal asses to bite.



Fry and Leela's will they/won't they romance is still
here.
However, I was heartbroken with the way Fox treated the show.  Unlike The Simpsons, Futurama contained more complex and witty humor than the family from Springfield had but it never got the respect it deserved from the network that Matt Groening helped created.  Infinite sadness struck me when the show went off the air but having each season on DVD eased the pain...then the movies came out and the show I loved so much returned with a tease of it continuing in its series form on Comedy Central.  As you know, it returned last year and Vol. 6 is the latest DVD release.

Although I can relate to Fry on a lot of things, Zoidberg is very much one of my favorite characters.

There's something both horrifying and arousing
about Scruffy as a woman.
If you've never seen the show, the series is about a man name Phillip J. Fry, a pizza delivery boy from our time who is accidentally frozen and wakes up in the future.  He ends up working for a delivery service and gets into (I hesitate to use the phrase) zany adventures with the Captain of the delivery ship and the love of Fry's life, the one-eyed mutant; Turanga Leela, the foul-mouth, hard-drinking and hard-partying bending robot; Bender, the incompetent but hilarious alien crab; Dr. Zoidberg, and the man who's long past geriatric; the Professor Hubert Farnsworth.

These type of brilliant gags are loaded in the background of the show.


This volume sees the crew of Planet Express take on a four-dimensional space whale, Fry becoming a cop and investigating crimes that haven't even taken place yet, Bender learning how to self-replicate, Leela making a children's show and the entire cast learning what it's like to be a member of the opposite gender.  But all this can't hold a candle to this single moment...





I'll be honest, I was a little disappointed the DVD didn't come with an unedited audio track of this scene.


The show's animation is unlike anything else on TV.
As every other season, the show continues to be one of the best animated shows aired.  The writers craft episodes that not only are funny but can tell stories filled with unbelievably amazing characters that are interesting, smart and sometimes even pull at the heartstrings (I dare you to watch the episode Jurassic Bark and NOT cry).  The animators and artist prove that they are the only ones in the industry that can seamlessly blend 2D and 3D animation together without one of them sticking out like some sort of sore appendage.  Their work is nothing short of beautiful.


Hats off to the writers and their ability to parody sci-fi films in a way no one else has...I wonder what that homeless dude is going to do to that Lightcycle trail...



John Di Maggio (Bender) and Billy West (Fry) in action.
Let's not forget the hard work of talented voice actors who bring such brilliant characters like Zoidberg, Zapp Brannigan, the Professor, Bender Bending Rodriguez, Phillip J. Fry and Leela to life.  People like Peg Bundy herself Katey Sagal, John Di Maggio, Billy West, Maurice LaMarche, Phil LaMarr, David Herman and so many more that I could go on and on with and bore the living shit out of you--yet, you still wouldn't have been half as bored as you would be sitting through Paranormal Activity.  

The show even has amazing guest stars as Dan Castellaneta returning as the Robot Devil.


Futurama as anime characters is a recipe
for hilarity!
Unlike most television show collections on DVD, Futurama volumes are always filled with interesting extras--and I don't mean crappy ones like outtakes that are usually 90 minutes of the cast of a sitcom getting "the giggles" and being in situations that are only funny if you are on-set at the time it happens.  Also unlike other television shows on DVD, Futurama contains very interesting and insightful commentary on each and every episode.  The crew that works on the show goes through the process of creating each episode from when it is nothing but a thought in a writers head to the point it is polished all pretty-like and put on the air.  Not to mention the cast and crew commentary offers up some laughs and great stories that are just as funny as the show itself.  Futurama is, without a doubt, one of my top shows I watch and, in my opinion, one of the best things to ever be put on TV.