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Tonight, I went and saw Star Trek: Into Darkness.
All I'll say is, it was pretty good.
A six (6) on the Melworks Scale of Movie Love. Worth paying full price to view, and worth seeing again.
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How bad a movie is Resident Evil: Retribution?
So bad that, when I left the theater, my right eye was bleeding.
Honestly.
All right, maybe the bloody red eye didn’t have anything to do with the movie, but that doesn’t mean that Resident Evil: Retribution isn’t so bad it couldn’t cause someone to hemorrhage.
Of course, I knew this movie wasn’t going to be Shakespear when I bought my ticket. The RE franchise has pretty much become brain candy. They’re an excuse to sit in a dark theater, eating popcorn and watching Milla Jovovich perform slow-motion, wire-enhanced martial arts maneuvers.
At this point, about the only saving grace that the Resident Evil movie franchise has, is that Uwe Boll hasn’t been slated to direct any of the films. And after this movie, I’m not sure Boll’s involvement in the franchise would be a positive or a negative.
I’m not going to worry too much about giving spoilers for this movie. If you’ve seen any of the previous RE movies, you know what to expect. Alice wakes up and has to fight her way through undead monsters. The ending is a setup for the next movie in the franchise.
So what makes this movie so bad?
It’s not the acting or the special effects. Those are pretty par for the course.
Partly, it’s the logical inconsistencies within the movie itself.
Why the hell is Ada Wong, played by Bingbing Li, walking around in a cocktail dress slit up to the thigh? For that matter, why is she wearing those impractical shoes? In a post-apocalyptic world, you’d expect her to be dressed more practically.
Then there’s the scene where one of the zombie soldiers is killed by the rescue team. One guy grabs it from behind in a headlock while another unloads a full clip from his gun into dead guy’s chest. While the other guy is still holding it. The guy behind the zombie should have been perforated.
Mostly, though, it’s the fact that Resident Evil: Retribution is a very dull film. There is absolutely no sense of drama or tension within the story. Alice survives. Secondary characters die, but we don’t care about them. We’re never given the chance because they’re never developed. This movie is all about explosions, fights and car chases.
That’s it.
It is utterly and completely forgettable. That is why, on the Melworks Scale of Movie Love, I give Resident Evil: Retribution zero out of 10. This movie is so lame, I couldn’t even justify watching it on network television at three in the morning. Avoid it, people. Avoid it like a zombie plague carrier. You’ll be glad you did.
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Yesterday, I went and saw the remake of Total Recall, a movie I shall forever think of as Total Recall 2.0.
It's hard to go into a remake without expectations or comparisons to the earlier version, but even if I hadn't seen the original movie, I don't think I'd be very charitable toward this remake.
The cast is attractive and there are a lot of action scenes.  Bryan Cranston surprised me with his performance as Cohaagan. However, overall, this movie does NOT MAKE SENSE!
Let me give you an example. Set in the future after prolongued chemical warfare the only habitable regions left on the planet are parts of Europe, referred to as the Federation of Great Britain, and Australia, which is now known simply as the Colony.  Now, every day workers commute between the Federation and the Colony via a giant subway car that travels THROUGH THE EARTH.  They have cars that fly via magnetic repulsion; they can download memories into a person's head; there are humaniform robots making the rounds as part of the police force.
With all these mad scientific achievements and fantastic technical accomplishments, why aren't these people on the Moon? Or Mars? Why aren't they devoting their research to reclamation of the poisoned environment?
The Federation is overcrowded? Gasp! Why not build underground?  Why not invoke some sort of compulsory birth control? Why not establish more laws where the penalty is death or sterilization?
Need to solve a problem? Save the memories/minds of the greatest, smartest people and then upload them into convict bodies?
Sadly, Total Recall 2.0, is an example of the future where everyone is stupid.
They're all hot, mind you, but they look good.
On the Melworks Scale of Movie Love, I give Total Recall 3 out of 10. Wait for the video. Or just go watch the original.
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This afternoon, I went and saw The Dark Knight Rises.
I think I'm going to be one of those lonely voices in the wildnerness who admit that the movie didn't do much for me.
In all honesty, I thought it was tedious and dragged.
And despite a surprising performance from Anne Hathaway, as far as I'm concerned, Michelle Pfeifer's Catwoman remains the best one I've seen yet.
On the Melworks Scale of Movie Love, I'd give The Dark Knight Rises 4 out of 10.  Catch the matinee, but don't pay full price for it because I really don't think it's worth it.
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All right, first things first.  There is no way I'm going to refer to this movie by it's unweildy full name.  Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, hereafter referred to as SFEW, is a downer movie masquerading as a love story.  The premise is that a 70-mile wide asteroid is barreling toward Earth.  The space shuttle sent up to blow it apart failed.  The world has three weeks left and then it's over.
Steve Carell plays Dodge, an emotionally disconected insurance salesman.  Keira Knightly plays Penny, his free-wheeling neighbor.  They meet and zany hijinks attempt to ensue, but they never quite happen.
I can't go into a whole lot of detail re the plot of this movie, because, honestly, there isn't much of one.  Carell and Knightly lurch through this story from one pre-apocalyptic encounter to another. 
At the end, you expect the writer/directors to pull a rabbit out of the hat, but that doesn't happen.  The movie ends just as the asteroid is smashing into the Earth.  Cut to black, roll end credits.  No rabbit from the hat, no cliched Hollywood happy ending.  Everybody dies. The end.
I didn't care for this movie. The relationship between Carell and Knightly's characters seems forced, even given the circumstances. Also, the world is ending in 3 weeks and the electricity stays on until the very last day?  There are reports, in continuity, of riots breaking out and one scene of people smashing the hell out of cars for no real reason.
Walking out of the theater, I was left with a sense that I'd just seen Cormac McCarthy's The Road, filtered through Jodi Picoult's eyes. That isn't a compliment, to this movie or to Mr. McCarthy or Ms. Picoult.
Overall, I'd give SFEW a 2 out of 10 on the Melworks Scale of Movie Love. If you want to see this movie, wait for it to come out on cable.  Don't pay anything extra for it, because it is really not worth it.
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Today, I went and saw The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.  I would like to stress that I am NOT in this movie's targeted demographic. I am not a retiree.  However, I still thought it was a wonderful movie.  The cast is stellar, the story is entertaining and the setting is lush without being overwhelming.
On the Melworks Scale of Movie Love, I'd give it a seven.  Definitely worth paying full price to see and worth seeing again.
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In the press push of his new movie, Dark Shadows, Tim Burton bragged that he didn't watch the series his movie is based on. Perhaps that's why he decided to film it as an acerbic comedy with gothic overtones. Perhaps that's why the movie works.
I saw Dark Shadows this morning, and thought it was an entertaining film. Johnny Depp does a wonderful job of portraying Barnabus Collins, although even when he's being bad, his character doesn't seem to have much bite. The villain of the piece, and, in all honesty, the one who steals every scene she's in, is Eva Green, who plays the wonderfully dark Angelique Bouchard. Michelle Pfeifer delivers a servicable portrayal as matriarch of the Collins family, Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, but she could just as easily be playing the role of Laura Alden from 1994's Wolf. Helena Bonham Carter puts a delicious spin on the role of Doctor Julia Hoffman. The rest of the cast is decent, and child-actor Gulliver McGrath, who plays young David Collins, may be someone to watch in the future.
The movie is pure popcorn fun, so anyone going in with expectations of a moody goth film should leave those at the door.
On the Melworks Scale of Movie Love, I'd give Dark Shadows a 6. I think it'd be a fun data movie and would stand up to a second viewing.

Lockout

Apr. 20th, 2012 07:45 pm
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After dropping off my resume at my LCS, I went up the street and watched Lockout.
I have to admit that I was disappointed with the flick.
Without giving too much away, I can safely describe it as Escape from New York set on a space station, and with a cast whose performances were flat and unappealing.
On the Melworks Scale of Movie Love, I have to give Lockout a 1/10. Don't waste your time paying to see this movie, just wait for it to come out on network television.
Or, better yet, go rent Escape from New York.
Trust me, you'll have a better time. - MEL

Redshirts

Apr. 10th, 2012 09:25 pm
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So, John Scalzi's new book, "Redshirts," is getting a lot of buzz on the sci-fi sites.
Curious, I downloaded the free preview chapters to my Kindle.
I'm going to be passing on this book.
It's not that it's a pardoy of Trek. On the Other Blog I've written a couple of short stories skewering the hell out of TNG.
It's not even the Meta elements that appeared in the chapters.
No, it's the fact that the four chapters were profoundly boring. They weren't interesting at all.
Maybe the story picks up in later chapters, but I'll never know because the first four weren't enough to hold my interest.
Thumbs down, "Redshirts."
Thumbs way down.
More later - MEL
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I just finished reading The Hunger Games and am surprised at how much I liked it. It definitely gets a thumbs up from yours truly.

Comics!

Mar. 14th, 2012 04:29 pm
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Today's haul at the comic shop was kind of miniscule. I picked up the latest issues of Fantastic Four and Wolverine & The X-Men, and got the first issue of Saga.

I think this issue will be my jumping off point for Fantastic Four. I already stopped buying the Future Foundation (on account of the horrible, horrible art), and the current storyline was resolved in this issue. Unfortunately, there was no real sense of excitement in the book, in the last few issues. It just felt tedius. So, goodbye Fantastic Four.

Wolverine & The X-Men has been interesting, but I'm obviously not as in love with it as everyone else. Maybe it's mutant burnout? I don't know. But I'm thinking this issue will probably be the last I'll buy of this title too. At least I gave it a while before dropping it. ;/

Finally, we come to the new book on the block: Saga. There's been a lot of buzz about this book and the first issue was servicable, but it didn't really rock my socks. That said, I'll give it three issues before deciding whether or not to axe it from my buy pile.

What'd y'all get this week? - MEL
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I like Miyazaki films. I enjoy them a great deal and when that fine old gentlemen passes on from this mortal coil, our world will be genuinely diminished.
I also liked The Borrowers, the first in a children's series written by the wonderful Mary Gentle. The books were all about little people living under the floors and behind the walls of people's houses, borrowing what they needed to survive. As an eight-year old, I can clearly remember devouring the books.
So, it was with a certain sense of anticipation that I went and saw The Secret World of Arrietty. I'd heard that Miyazaki had to make some creative changes to the story for marketing purposes; setting it in Japan and beefing up the human/Arrietty relationship. Otherwise, it was supposed to stick largely to the original story.
And it did.
Perhaps the thing that gave me the oddest sense of disassociation from the original stories was the presentation of Arrietty's father, Pod. I've always pictured Pod as a rather rotund, practical gentleman. In the movie, he's a buff working-man type. Which, I'll admit, makes a lot of sense given the fact that he and his family must remain self-sufficient. Still, I found myself missing the Pod as described in the books.
That is, honestly, my biggest complaint about this movie. And I wouldn't even call it a proper complaint.
All in all, I'd give The Secret World of Arrietty a six on the Melworks Scale of Movie Love. If you're looking for a good family night out, then I can definitely recommend this movie.
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Went and saw The Woman in Black this afternoon with Daniel Radcliff.
I'm not a big fan of scary movies. To quote Bender Bending Rodriguez: "...I don't like things that are scary and painful!"
That said, I didn't think this movie was all that great. I believe the director was trying to cultivate a moody, gothic atmosphere and, to a point, it worked. But, in all fairness, I think they could have cut about thirty minutes out of this film.
So, bearing all that in mind, I'm giving The Woman in Black a 4 on the Melworks Scale of Movie Love. It's not a date-night movie and I wouldn't pay full price to see it if I had any choice.
If you want to see a moody, spooky ghost story I'd recommend The Others before this one.

Sherlock

Feb. 8th, 2012 09:12 pm
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So, I just watched the first ep of Season 1, "A Study in Pink," and I can totally see why a lot of people think this show is the best thing since sliced bread.
Alas, I cannot count myself among their number.
Although I give props to the writers for taking inspiration from Conan Doyle's character, I couldn't watch this and think "This is Sherlock Holmes." Instead, I kept thinking, "This is some alternate reality Hannibal Lecter."
Benedict Cumberbatch's Holmes is just unappealing. An asexual, high-functioning sociopath. A sociopath.
No.
Just. No.
Martin Freeman's Watson is somewhat better, but he feels too young. To me, Watson is a mature, man-of-the-world type. A little jaded. He goes on stag nights and has a great time. Freeman's Watson strikes me as a stiff.
So, no, thank you. Congrats on their success, but I will be giving Sherlock, a pass.
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I've spent the last day and a half at the Route 66 Casino Hotel which is west of Albaquerque, NM. On the pro side of things, the room I've got is great. Spacious. Comfortable. Tastefully decorated. The staff I've met have all been extremely pleasant people.
My one complaint is with the casino. The slot machines here are fucking tight. Seriously! They don't pay out for shit. So I'd highly recommend the hotel, but not the casino.
Haven't tried the buffet as it's got a ton of shellfish: lobster, shrimp, clams, etc. Yeah, I'm not big on the shellfish. Hell, I'm not big on fish in general.
The dining choices here are a bit limited. There's a steakhouse that's open from 4:00 to 10:00, a Johnny Rocket's with similar hours and a snack bar that stays open 'til 11:00. There are complimentary drinks in the casino, but if you want to nibble on something late at night, you better hit the vending machines or drive over to the travel center and buy a bag of chips.
The wi-fi, though, is excellent. Super-speedy. I just finished watching episode two of Dawnton Abbey off the PBS website with no lag until the last fifteen minutes. That's good wi-fi.
Off now, to hit the sheets. Tomorrow, I'm on the road again, heading into the mountains and, possibly, some snow.
More later! - MEL

Immortals

Nov. 20th, 2011 09:12 pm
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Just saw Immortals.
It's cheese, people.
But it's good cheese.
On the Melworks Scale of Movie Love, I'd give it a six out ten. Worth paying full price for and maybe worth seeing again.
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Back from the shop with this week's comics. I got the latest issues of Cobra, Fables, X-Men: Schism and last week's, Frankenstein: Agent of SHADE. Most of the DCNu titles were sold out, so, alas, no Nightwing for me.
Fables was excellent, but Cobra was confusing. When did Chameleon come into the picture? And why does it look like Major Bludd is being set up to be the big contender for Cobra Commander? Methinks I smell a red herring. Schism was okay, until the last couple of pages, where they drag out Jean Grey and use her as the catalyst that sets off Cyclops verses Wolverine. Personally, I think they should team up and kill Hope, but that's just my opinion.
Frankenstein:Agent of Shade was a letdown. I won't be getting the second issue.
Speaking of letdowns, my comic guy told me that DC issued a memo to their buyers, advising them that any of the New 52 titles that don't perform well will be canceled on their sixth issue. Sounds like the company is playing hardball, not that I can blame them. If this reboot/relaunch whatever fails, I wouldn't be surprised if DC cancels half their line and focuses on Batman and Superman books.
Ah well, there's always fanfic.
More later! - MEL

Comics

Sep. 14th, 2011 10:28 pm
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Went to the comic shop today and picked up a couple of books:Buffy, Daken: Dark Wolverine, Deathstroke, Hellraiser, and Mystery Men.
I can honestly say that Deathstroke is the only DC relaunch title that I've actually enjoyed. I think I'll get the second issue and see if it can keep my interest.
BTVS: Season 9 kicked off on a funny ha-ha note, which just felt completely forced, but since I think that's what they were going for, I guess it was okay. The last page actually made me laugh.
Hellraiser and Daken were okay, but Mystery Men felt like it ended too damn soon. I smell a possible sequel in the wind.
All in all, not a bad week.
It would have been nice if my comic shop had gotten all the new DC titles, but considering how they're flying off the shelves I suppose I shouldn't complain. Still, it would have been nice to take a look at Demon Knights and Frankenstein: Agent of SHADE.
Ah well.
There's always next week.
More later. - MEL
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So, this past Monday Scyfy launched its "powerhouse Monday" or whatever they're calling it. This meant the return of favorite shows such as Eureka and Warehouse 13, as well as introducing new show, Alphas.

Overall, the season premier of Eureka was okay. I'd give it a 5 on a scale of 1 to 10. They really need to wrap up the whole time-travel subplot or do something with it besides giving Jo angst. The wedding bit was funny and Fargo was surprisingly bad ass. Still, as season premier's go, it felt a bit blah.

Warehouse 13 was a fun little ride. Loved the opening bit, where the team is dealing with Hendrix's guitar. The new guy, Agent Jencks, is an interesting character. And did anyone doubt that Micah would be back? That said, it was peculiar that she would listen to any lifestyle advice given to her by H.G. Wells. All in all, I'd give this ep a good 7 out of 10. I would have given it an 8, but Pete's hair was really bothering me. It looked shellacked.

Alphas is the new kid on the block. Even before it premiered, people were sort of hoping it would be a better version of Heroes. Eh. I think those guys might be disappointed. The plot was interesting, but I didn't really like the characters. I don't know if I'll bother to watch future eps or not. I'd give it a 4 out of 10, and that's being generous.

Finally, I managed to catch the premier of Torchwood: Miracle Day on Starz the other night. Very well done! The asshole CIA agent was a bit much and I don't get how he has any authority to deport Torchwood to the U.S. Gwen, as always, rocked. Captain Jack? Eh. He was a bit flat this episode. Really liked the character of Ester, though. As for Bill Pullman? I'm undecided. I just didn't buy his character as a murdering pedophile. It might help if the man was capable of more than one facial expression. Overall, I'd give it about a 6.5 out of 10. I'm looking forward to this Friday's episode, but not as much as I'm looking forward to the next Warehouse 13.

Overall though, it's been a pretty decent week for genre shows.

Fort Freak

Jul. 1st, 2011 10:41 pm
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I just finished reading Fort Freak, the latest book in the Wildcards series, edited by George R.R. Martin.
Now, I'm an oldschool Wildcards reader. I devoured the books when they first came out, and hold them to a pretty high standard.
That said, Fort Freak was something of a letdown. I'm not sure why. Oh sure, it was nice to get away from The Committee stories, and get back to Jokertown, but I never really felt a connection to the characters in this volume.
Familiar faces are apparent(Father Squid, The Oddity, Charles Dutton) and we get introduced to some new characters(Infamous Black Tongue, Tinkerbill, Ramshead, etc.), but none of them really make an impression.
That said, I can't really pan the book. The stories were servicable, just unfulfilling. Sort of like when someone promises you steak and they wind up feeding you hamburger instead. You get filled up, but it's not really what you wanted.
Perhaps the next collection of stories will be a bit better. God, I hope, at the very least, that they're cheerier.

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