Friday, June 29, 2007

An American version of A Tale of Two Sisters... no!!!!

I loved A Tale of Two Sisters. It was an extremely creepy, scary and well-done horror-thriller-drama from Korea. It seems innocent enough at first, but slowly gets darker and darker until and stranger and stranger until you really have to start paying attention. It's on a whole different level than The Grudge, and is a lot better than The Ring/Ringu.

And now America is redoing it, and you know that it is going to suck. Pulse, the American version, sucked. The Grudge sucked (Ji-On was at least okay). The Ring Two was one of the worst disasters ever. Only The Ring was quite effective, but that was the first of this new genre of Asian horror-remakes. Why, oh, why, do you have to remake one of my favorites?

That being said, Arielle Kebbel and Emily Browning were just cast in the starring roles. I can't say much about their acting ability, and I don't even know who Browning is, but the attached pic is of Kebbel (John Tucker Must Die). Nice? Yes, I thought so. The two girls join Elizabeth Banks and David Strathairn, who is one of my favorite actors. He's one of those underrated guys who would almost never show up in a horror flick, so maybe that's a good sign.

Or maybe this is going to be the disaster I'm expecting it to be...

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Griffey returns; Mariners check out early

Ken Griffey, Jr. returned to Seattle for the first time since he was traded after the 1999 season to the Cincinnati Reds. Blame it on the scheduling folks for denying this exciting (and for some emotional) reunion, or give them props for waiting eight years to build the hype and anticipation.

I showed up late to the game to see one of my favorite players of all time - hell, probably my favorite - talking to the crowd before the game. Unfortunately, I couldn't hear anything where I was standing, as the sound system sucks when not in your seats. It didn't help that a bunch of drunk guys kept talking to the point where some little midget guy (not really, but he was small) was on the verge of going ape shit on them.

Anyway, the game starts, and Safeco Field is a powder keg waiting to blow. The first sold out crowd in a long time (I went on Wednesday to Weaver's 7-0 win, and there were 20,000+ fans there - this time there was 45,000+) was waiting for two things: the Mariners to kick some Cincinnati ass, and for Griffey to hit some home runs.

Instead, the game turned out to be the worst in Safeco Field history. Griffey started off in the first with a single and later scored, but followed it up with three strikeouts. As for the Mariners, neither the offense, pitching or defense realized they were supposed to play tonight, as they were held to two hits and the pitchers gave up an amazing 16 runs - and not a single RBI was attributed to The Kid.

Our starting pitcher, whose name I wouldn't even bother to attempt to spell, lasted not three innings and gave up a sickening nine runs, which completely took any energy out of the crowd. His replacement, Davis, looked good for a couple innings, until he ended up handing out seven more, mainly on home runs. One home run ball landed right next to me, but I didn't have the heart to elbow that little kid in the face to get his ball.

All in all, it was the worst Mariners game I have ever been to.

It was still cool to see Griffey, and to hear his name announced on the loudspeakers, and to see 40,000+ people standing and watching the video screen diligently as he talked - this really reminded me of the old days when people really cared about the Mariners (a.k.a. when the Mariners were really good). But to lose 16-1 is just embarrassing and a huge disappointment to the fans, who paid money to see an exciting game. After a while, when it was clear the Mariners were checked out earlier, I was completely okay with seeing Griffey hit a bunch of home runs, but it became such a one-sided game that he was removed in the sixth inning. At least put him in DH!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Broken English Movie Review

Here's an excerpt from my movie review for Broken English, starting Friday in limited theaters...

I don't know how I got on the mailing list for independent Parker Posey movies this year, but the actress who always skirts just under mainstream attention is back with yet another drama-comedy titled Broken English, about a 30-something New Yorker looking for love in all the wrong places - until she looks in the right place.

Broken English is a cute little film. Not remarkably memorable, but cute. Recommended, but I won't rave about it. Basically, if you like Parker Posey and you like quirky little independent films, then you'll probably like Broken English. If not, you've probably already stopped reading this review.

Read more of the Broken English movie review!

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Batpod - It ain't no Batmobile

The Los Angeles Times squeaked out a few pictures of the Batpod, the new motorcycle Batman uses in the upcoming film The Dark Knight (2008). While the recent pictures that have suffered have been awe-inspiring (a single picture of Heath Ledger as The Joker had me wetting my pants), this Batpod device just looks a bit silly. Overly complicated for no particular reason, it doesn't quite have the same cool look as the Batmobile a year or two earlier.

It doesn't look horrible, but I'll have to see it in action before I can be convinced that the Batpod is a quality addition to the movie. I suggest Nolan keep the gadgets to a minimum and focus on the story. I still have huge confidence in The Dark Knight, but the Batpod isn't going to be the highlight.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Weekend Box Office: Fantastic Four Outperforms

There was never any doubt that Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer would land in the #1 spot this weekend; there was a surprise, however, in the amount of money the mediocre comic book movie made. Analysts had it pegged at $50 million or below (the previous film opened to $56 million two years ago), mainly because the first movie was so incredibly bad and the previews for this one didn't make it look much better. Instead, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer opened to an outstanding $57.4 million based on estimates, which equates to over $14,000 earned per theater.

I don't know what to think about this one. I wanted this movie to crash and burn, and I definitely do not want to see another Fantastic Four movie made (Marvel is already planning on doing a Silver Surfer movie, which could be bad enough - he wasn't exactly the most dynamic of characters). The first movie really was God-awful, but I found some entertainment value in its sequel, if only for the fact that I had such low expectations going in (read my Fantastic Four movie review here).

One I'm more disappointed about it the poor reception Nancy Drew received. The kid-oriented film earned only $9 million, which is a shame considering the movie is based on one of the most popular mystery series ever. Marketing is to blame for failing to build more hype and excitement for this one; the movie received decent enough reviews, but no one decided to show up to watch it. If done right, they really could have expanded the audience beyond the pre-teen girl audience... even I used to like Nancy Drew, when she was in the Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Super Mysteries (hint hint).

The rest of the movies do about as expected, and the only other thing to note is that Knocked Up surpassed Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End for the first time.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

TV Season Review: 24

Wow. How did 24 come to this? One year after the best season of the show, which featured nuclear threats, a perfectly sleazy President and a great twist ending, 24 returned with the most embarrassing and pathetic season it has thus produced.

The show had so many cool ways it could have gone. With Jack Bauer being held in China, they could have done a whole season out of the country, with CTU trying to save Jack for whatever reason (or Jack escaping and then working with CTU to escape). They could have had the season start out the same, with the U.S. trading for Jack's safety, but taken the show in a whole new direction.

Instead, the writers pieced together the most successful moments from past seasons and tried to form some kind of plot out of the jumbled mess. This season we have Jack's brother, who has appeared in past seasons but never named as Jack's kin, getting killed way too early. We have Jack's father (James Cromwell), who is even worse. We have a bunch of Middle Eastern terrorists, who are in turn working with a Russian faction. We have the Chinese, trying to steal from the Russians and working with Jack's dad. Oh, and once again, CTU gets attacked.

The season was just preposterous. Instead of going bigger and better, the writers should have focused on one plot: Jack and the Chinese. The Russian element never really fit, and just allowed for the show to wrap up a plot about the ex-President and his ex-wife (a cheesy one-episode waste of time). Jack's family plot was scraping button, and James Cromwell could have been put to much better use.

All in all, it appears as though 24 has finally run out of ideas. They need something new and fast, because this season sucked balls.

I am going to sue Dodge for Fantastic Four product placement

If you've seen Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, you know what I'm taking about. Amidst the movie's blatant product placement through and through, Dodge paid to get their logo prominently displayed way too many times over the course of a minute when Mr. Fantastic's flying car shows up to save the day.

Never mind the fact that this amazing Dodge vehicle - built personally by Mr. Fantastic which makes the Dodge imprint all the more curious - arrived from New York to Siberia in a matter of minutes... the real pathetic part is that director Tim Story focuses in on the imprint several times. The shot is completely pointless except to show the word "Dodge".

Shame on Dodge for (forcing?) this pathetic product placement. I hope it damages their sales. Of course, in reality, they are just hoping for coverage, and I'm giving it to them right now. Either way, this was the worst product placement I've ever seen.

If you want to hear more rants about Fantastic Four: Rise of the the Silver Surfer, read my movie review.

New Bourne Ultimatum Poster

I have to say: I have not been overly impressed with the marketing for The Bourne Ultimatum so far. The follow-up to one of my favorite action movies, The Bourne Supremacy, the first movie poster (showing Matt Damon from the back) wasn't anything too exciting and the movie trailers have not exactly been stellar. I do like the tag line "Jason Bourne comes home", but overall, the results have been disappointing.

Until now.

A couple of new movie posters have shown up on the web, both of which are quite gritty and in black and white. One features a close-up of Damon's dirt-or-blood-covered face and nothing else, while the one pictured her is even better. I've seen these posters referred to as international posters, but I hope the U.S. marketing team decides to take advantage if they haven't already, as these are some amazing and eye-popping movie posters.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Sopranos Movie

It's not going to happen, folks. A Sopranos movie? Are you kidding me? How would a show that so effortlessly relies on being "realistic" rather than wrapping everything up like your typical mobster flick lend itself to a two hour show? The Sopranos ended without closure (well, I think it did, but most would disagree), but that doesn't mean for a second that David Chase was intending for that to be a cliffhanger.

Besides, just today, Chase said the ending was open to interpretation and that he had no plans to do a movie. He didn't rule it out, but there is a 99% chance we will never see Tony Soprano again. I can't believe some people are expecting a movie... it just doesn't make any sense.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Sopranos series finale: This is what happens

The Sopranos is over. Never again will we hear James Gandolfini breathe deeply while eating food. It will probably be a long while before we see another show that manages to please and infuriate audiences as much as Sopranos did with its genius.

And now, the series finale. I will say what happens, but before that, I have to say it was a good episode. It is not the all-out gun battle where several people meet their fate that so many people around the world were predicting, and yet, we should have seen it coming. David Chase didn't win so many Golden Globes for creating a mobster show where people just get "offed", where everything happens how you want it to or expect it to. That is why the show has been so good for so many years; The Sopranos is one of the few shows where you want it to go the cliche route, just once (remember the episode where Dr. Melfi gets raped - how many people wanted her to tell Tony and have him bash that guys brains in to end the episode? Instead, she remains silent).

No, The Sopranos doesn't end in a blazing ball of flames, and we shouldn't have expected it to. Chase plays on our emotions and expectations by creating tension where there should be none; after Phil gets shot in the head and then run over by his own car, with his grandchildren inside, no less, Tony and the rest ease up and return to their normal lives. The audience doesn't. In the back of our heads, we are thinking, "They've let their guard down, and it's only a matter of time where Tony, or one of his family members, gets killed."

The last scene is agonizing, as Tony sits alone at a table waiting for his family to show up. One by one they do, but with every passing second more and more people feed into the restaurant. Could that guy be the guy who kills Tony? One man enters in front of Anthony Jr. who looks suspicious; he even eyes Tony, then gets up and goes to the bathroom. Will he turn around with a gun and fire? Will he return from the bathroom and blow Tony's brains out? And then there's Meadow, who has trouble parallel parking. Chase plays with us and prolongs the scene. Will she be delayed just long enough to watch her family get gunned down? Will she be struck by a car when, in frustration, she pulls back onto the street?

No. The episode just ends. Tony is alive, his family is alive, and there isn't much closure. The threat of Phil is gone, and that, honestly, is enough for me, but for many audience members who really wanted closure, Chase actually makes things worse. Not only does Tony live, defying odds, but Chase leaves it wide open as to whether Tony will spend the rest of his life in prison. And for that, I give Chase props. He may have pissed off the audience, but then again, they are not his audience any longer. And in the long run, people will respect this episode for staying true to the nature of the show: do not do what the audience expects, do what could happen in real life.

But this is why I truly liked the episode. Tony gets fucked over, and you don't see it coming. I didn't realize it until half an hour after the ending credits rolled, but The Sopranos season finale contains one of the biggest fuck-overs ever in the history of television. For several episodes now, and even for years, that FBI agent has been coming around talking with Tony, asking for terrorism tips, et cetera. Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but I don't think so: that guy single handedly took down Tony Soprano. He befriend Tony as much as any FBI agent could do, and even proceeded to feed Tony info on Phil whenever he could. Tony was relying on this man's information to find Phil. Then, shortly after Phil gets killed, we see the FBI agent say, "We won" or something along those lines. You think he's talking about siding with Tony, but in fact, isn't he saying "We won" in that they had finally taken Tony down.

The FBI agent gave Tony information to help him kill Phil. But the FBI already had Carlo ready to flip; all they needed was for him to be in the same room when Tony asked to have Phil killed. After Phil is killed, they now have a witness who heard Tony ask for murder. The FBI agent fucked Tony over, and I didn't even see it coming.

It takes a little bit of time to accept it, but that was a great end to The Sopranos.

The Dark Knight Images

Don't know if this is old news or not as I've been out of town for a couple weeks, but this picture of Heath Ledger as the Joker made me nearly pee my pants. I already had high hopes, but just this one shot is enough to have me stamping an "A+" on The Dark Knight, the latest Batman movie, right away. Doubters be gone!

Will Tony die on the series finale of The Sopranos?

The Sopranos ends tonight, and the big question is: will Tony live, or will Tony die? And if he dies, will that be the closure it needs, or will we have just lost one of the greatest characters in television history?

Personally, the show can find closure without killing Tony. Just like any movie can end with the bad guy dying and the protagonist living, The Sopranos can end with Phil getting whacked and Tony continuing on with his life as is. In fact, I believe this is the way it has to go: the show has always been about the hypocrisy of its characters, of human beings who live rather immoral lives. Killing Tony would be almost too cliche, and not true to the nature of the show.

Okay, I don't know what I'm saying, but I would love to see Tony lives. If Phil gets whacked and Tony lives, then I'll be just fine with that. Of course, in reality, the odds are that Tony dies. We'll just have to wait and see...

It is a blessing: Hostel 2 flops

While I rarely have much confidence in movie-going America, I have to give audiences a pat on the back this weekend for neglected Hostel: Part II. The movie, the sequel to the hit "torture porn" film Hostel, had potential to open big, but it wasn't to be. Instead, the movie debuted in sixth place with $8.8 million, much less than the $20 million its predecessor opened to.

That's what you get for making a sequel to a crappy horro movie and releasing it in June!

Amazingly, Hostel: Part II got decent reviews, but clearly not decent enough.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Movie trailer review: I Am Legend

A movie that has flown under the radar until its spectacular teaser trailer release a few days ago, I Am Legend stars Will Smith as the last man alive on Earth. He lives in New York with his dog, but after some kind of disease wipes out the rest of humanity, New York isn't quite the prestigious address it once was. As the trailer indicates, though, he may not be alone - is there an alien on the loose?

The movie trailer for I Am Legend is excellent. It's short, to-the-point and eye-catching. The movie starts out looking like some standard futuristic adventure film, and then quickly turns one on you to show a desolate New York stripped of human life. The commentary by Smith is great, and the final scene, where we see Smith realizing that there may be other intelligent life not too far from him, is great. Will it turn into a standard alien film? I hope not, but I Am Legend certainly has potential.

Watch the I Am Legend movie trailer

Does Paris Hilton deserve her jail sentence?

Most people, including I, were happy to see Paris Hilton take the fall for neglecting the fact that she couldn't drive a car due to her probation. I mean, how stupid can you get? And regardless of her celebrity status, she needs to pay the price.

And I, like most people, was infuriated when the Sheriff's department released her to home arrest a few days after she reported to jail. If there's a better example of celebrities clearly getting special treatment, let me know. I am well aware that there are more important issues in the world than Hilton going to jail for a month and a half, but let's face it: we love to see celebrities fall in grand fashion, especially spoiled brats. And whether it's important or not, it's what the news stations are reporting on...

Now that she's back in jail, the question is asked: Does Paris deserve a 45-day sentence for violating her probation, and would a non-celebrity, allowed to return home to serve out the rest of his or her service, get called back into court?

How many non-celebrities would get sentenced to 45 days in jail for the crime she committed? Not many, I can't imagine. At the same time, celebrities need to be told that they will be treated as harshly as other people, and with bigger lives and personalities, perhaps they need bigger sentences. It's a cache 22, as Hilton's sentence has probably scared a few celebrities who walk a fine line of reckless behavior - which is a good thing - but has also indicated that while celebrities often get special treatment, when they don't, they get negative special treatment and are offered up as sacrificial lambs to make a point.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

I'm back with a movie review for Knocked Up

Hello everyone!

I've returned from a trip to Italy, which was fabulous despite being stuck in close proximity with my parents for ten days (no, just because I do a blog does not mean I live with my parents... and I don't live with my parents). Drank lots of wine, ate lots of food, and saw a lot of sights, including the ruins of Pompeii, the isolation of Cinque Terra and, of course, everything in Rome.

Anyway, I've justed a movie review for Knocked Up over at, and will hopefully get back on track with some good blog posts over the next couple of days, so keep checking back.