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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Arrow 1x7 - "Muse of Fire"

What if Arrow were called "Diggle" instead? I'd sure like that.

It occurred to me last night, Oliver is probably my fourth favorite character on the show, after Diggle, Thea, and Merlyn. Hell, sometimes I like Laurel more than I like Oliver. Oliver's kind of tough to be around, what with all the grim self-righteousness and the lying. All the lies! He's the Obi-Wan Kenobi of Starling City, not the Rich Man's Lindsay Lohan. I do like that both Moira and Thea know Oliver's pants are perpetually on fire and call him on it. Which only makes Oliver grimmer and more evasive.

I'll say this, I liked Helena Bertinelli less than Oliver Queen. In that way - as in many, many others - the (unnamed) Huntress and Arrow are made for each other. They're both attractive. wealthy, damaged twenty-somethings hell bent on revenge, and they kill. Batman would blow his stack over these two. A couple of killers! Helena wants to kill everyone in her family's Mafia, including her father. Oliver merely wants to kill everyone on his father's List, including anyone in his way. Oliver's holier than thou attempts at moral justification hold less water the more he opens his mouth to explain why what he does is "good" or "justified".

I was a little unclear on whether Frank Bertinelli's Luca Brasi, Helo from Battlestar Galactica, was working off book or not with all the murdering he did in the episode. Did Helo kill Helena's fiance on her father's orders or did he do it on his own? I did like all the neck snapping. Helena snapped Helo's neck about 45 minutes after Oliver (jokingly?) threatened to snap Merlyn's neck if he hurt Laurel.

Tommy Merlyn's the guy who does seem pretty noble these last couple of weeks. I'm rooting for him to get together with Laurel, but how's he gonna do it when he's cut off from all his money? This is a real crisis for the guy. And now we know John Barrowman is Merlyn's father. I looked up both actors: John Barrowman is 45 and Colin Donnell is 30. Although, I think Tommy is Oliver's age, about 27. Still, it's a bit of a leap to buy Barrowman as Donnell's dad.

No Flashbacks to the Island this week. First time in the series. Also, no voice overs from Oliver. Now that he has Diggle to talk to and to provide exposition, there's no need for narration to the audience. Plus we get Diggle needling Oliver about his choices and Google image searching Helena Bertinelli on the web.

The only DC Comics reference I spotted was "Michael Staton", Helena's dead fiance, who was probably named for artist Joe Staton who illustrated The Huntress in the comics.

Next week, gang war. China White is back and the thing Detective Lance has been dreading looks like it'll happen: full scale gang war between the Bertinelli Mafia and the Triad. So many people for Arrow and Huntress to kill, so little time.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Revolution 1x10 - "Nobody's Fault But Mine"

Am I right? Come on. Aaron Google Man sitting down cross legged and waxing philosophical about everything wrong with the Monroe Militia and Revolution as a whole in a meta way would have been way more entertaining than just lighting some dynamite and blowing a hole in the Power Plant wall for the Matheson family to escape.

Geez, that Matheson family. Seeing Charlie, Miles, Danny and Rachel all together... man, these guys are worse than the Skywalkers. Everything in Revolution literally revolves around this one family. This one blonde family, except for Miles. 

Since they sprung for Led Zeppelin music last week, Revolution missed a prime opportunity to use some Springsteen as the soundtrack for Miles and Charlie's group's arrival in the streets of Philadelphia.

Flashbacks this week were excessive. We saw Miles and Monroe fighting to create their Republic Five Years after the Blackout, complete with jokes about modern weaponry soon being depleted and having to learn how to sword fight "like pirates". Then a Flashback to Two Years before the Blackout - mind you, 17 years before the show's "present day" - and the characters look exactly the same. Neither aged a day in 17 years. Just ever so slightly varying amounts of stubble. Overdoing it was a third set of Flashbacks to when Miles and Monroe were young boys, brothers in fake M tattoos on their wrists.

The confrontation between Miles and Monroe was Revolution's Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader meeting on the Death Star moment. Monroe's men, especially Jacob from Lost, were conveniently not around for the heart to heart between Monroe and Miles, then showed up to interrupt the sword fight. What were they all doing in the interim? They took their sweet time chasing Miles and Rachel after they ran out of that room where Rachel killed that Bloodthirsty Psycho Dude. I liked Jacob asking Monroe to let him kill Miles. "You? You couldn't even kill the Smoke Monster."

I didn't get Miles' scheme at the beginning. As soon as they went to that apartment to get Charlie medical aid for her bleeding head, Miles mysteriously left. Charlie, Nora and Aaron get captured by Neville. (Plus, Neville sticks a syringe in Charlie's neck to knock her out, but Charlie was totally awake and kicking and screaming soon after when they threw her in Rachel's cell. What was the point of the syringe?) When Neville finds Miles in his house with a sword to his wife's throat, Miles indicated he knew Neville would find them so he came here to hold his wife hostage. That was Miles' plan? To have his people captured so that Neville would acquiesce to this hostage negotiation and give his people back to him? Miles didn't even ask for Nora and Aaron. He only specifically asked for Charlie and Danny. So he would have had to lead a rescue mission to get Nora and Aaron back anyway. Wha--?

I'm presuming it's Neville in the helicopter at the end aiming the gatling gun at the Matheson clan. This must be his revenge for Miles R-Kelly-ing him, leaving him trapped in the closet.

And with that Revolution goes dark. Until March.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Live Tweeting Star Wars

Yesterday, for no particular reason except it was on Spike TV, I live tweeted Star Wars. (Episode IV: A New Hope, or, if you grew up in the 70's and 80's, just plain Star Wars.) The response was surprising and gratifying. Goofing on Star Wars garnered me about 40 new followers and dozens of retweets and responses, and they're still coming in. Who knew people liked Star Wars so much?

Here are the collected tweets, pithy to the last:

Special Edition Bonus: My (less popular) live Tweeting of the 90 minutes or so I caught of (the less popular) Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith:

Previous Star Wars collections:

Luke Skywalker vs. Wolverine
Hi, Want To Be A General?
I'm Luke Skywalker, I'm Here to Rescue You.

Star Wars essays:

Darth Incompetent
Luke and Leia

Movie Review:

The People Vs. George Lucas

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Revolution 1x9 - "Kashmir"

I skipped recapping Revolution last week because, let's face it, no one really cared. The main dealie from last week is Nora's bounty hunter sister stole the Pendant of Power from Aaron Google Man and brought it to the Militia who brought it to Monroe.

This week is the penultimate episode of the first half of the season before the break until March. And "All Will Be Revealed". How do we know? Because that's the important line from Led Zeppelin "Kashmir". Zeppelin's music is trumpeted as being featured in the episode, and boy, was it dumb.

Battlestar Galactica used "All Along The Watchtower" brilliantly. Revolution used "Kashmir" dumbingly, hitting us over the head with obviousness while being a non-event. The song appears in one scene where Miles, high from oxygen deprivation, imagines he finds himself in Monroe's office and the two of them have a conversation full of vagaries. Lines like "You couldn't do it" are bandied about, and we learn that Miles tried to assassinate him before he "retired" from the Militia. "All Will Be Revealed"...? Not really.

Apparently, in Revolution, if you're deprived of oxygen and you're a Matheson, you can enter the Nexxus. It happened to Charlie too after she was shot. Not really shot, the bullet grazed her forehead and she was KO'd. But while she was out, she traveled to the Nexxus where she experienced Joy. Well, not really. She saw her dead dad, who invited her to stay with him in the Nexxus. But in the real world, Miles was trying desperately to revive her. Not with CPR or anything, but by shaking her by the cheek and yelling at her. It was enough! Charlie heard Miles hollering her name and decided she couldn't stay in the Nexxus. She had an even easier time leaving the Nexxus than Captain Picard did. Yet she failed to ask her dad to come back with her to help her stop Monroe from destroying Veridian III.

Those who aren't Mathesons had different reactions to oxygen deprivation. Nora imagined she was bitten by an alligator. Aaron Google Man was visited by his wife, the one he abandoned in the woods, and it was basically a quickie rehash of the flashbacks from a couple of episodes ago. We learned nothing new. The other people with them presumably also had reactions to the oxygen deprivation, but the show decided they weren't interesting enough - or maybe too interesting - to show us.

The plot was Charlie, Miles, Aaron, and Nora made it to the outskirts of Philadelphia. The city is a fortress, so they seek out the Resistance to help them enter the subway tunnels into the city. The main guy helping him is That Guy From Dollhouse, and shocking! He was evil! He's a double agent working for Monroe! He even kills his fellow Resistance members, a motley group we're never introduced to or care about, except for one archer named Ashley, whom Aaron Google Man has a brief conversation with before she eats a bullet.

Oh, Charlie stepped on a mine that they're able to run away from before it exploded. But wait. Mines work? I don't know the technical makeup how a mine works, but apparently, mines are immune from the power being out. In the end, Charlie and Miles settled whatever lingering issues they had - i.e. they're at a point now where Miles can't quit and abandon her anymore, he's stuck - and they decided to go face Monroe together.

And how is Monroe doing? Swell. He had Rachel in the secret Militia labs building a generator that she claimed can enhance the Pendants of Power's range to half a mile. So, she says, "it can power tanks and planes." How fucking useful is a plane with a half a mile range??

But Rachel wasn't really building a generator. She was building a bomb. Monroe was really, truly, deeply offended by this betrayal. After all, he gave her an ornately appointed room in his colonial estate, and meals and everything for years, and he didn't rape her like he probably thought about doing, and this is how she repays him? Monroe tells Neville to have her executed since Monroe has the Pendants and that other guy who used to work with her and her husband creating the Pendants. So Rachel, rather cleverly, stabs the other guy to death, maintaining Monroe's dependence on her being alive. She's clever, that Rachel Matheson.

And what of Danny? You know, Danny? The brother Charlie spent 9 episodes trying to reach and save? Dunno. The show hasn't deemed him fit to be shown in the last two episodes. Presumably he's also enjoying the plush accommodations his mom was enjoying.

Next week: Miles meets Monroe (not in the Nexxus)! Charlie sees Danny again! There'll probably be a sword fight! (There wasn't this week.) And All Will Be Revealed (music by Led Zeppelin not included)!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Silver Linings Playbook



Silver Linings Playbook is an experience of being locked in a room with crazy people yelling at each other for two hours and yet it still ends up being pretty okay. Bradley Cooper plays The Tasmanian Devil; a former school teacher released from the loony bin. Cooper is bi-polar and prone to explosive bouts of anger whenever he hears his wedding song because he caught his wife in the shower with another teacher and nearly beat him to death. On a normal day, Cooper is merely unbearable to be around, but when his condition kicks in, he's an unreasonable disaster. It runs in the family; his father Robert DeNiro is a Philadelphia Eagles bookie with OCD who relies on Cooper as his good luck charm. Pity his long-suffering saint of a mother Jacki Weaver for keeping it together living with these two psychos. Cooper meets Jennifer Lawrence, a crazy widow who once slept with everyone in her office out of grief and is herself under parental supervision. Cooper cuts a deal with Lawrence: she delivers a letter to his estranged wife he thinks he's still in love with, thus circumventing his 500 feet restraining order, in exchange for him becoming her partner as she enters an arena to do battle with 22 other teenagers until only one surv -- sorry, I mean, becoming her partner in a dance content. Also in this movie for some reason is Chris Tucker, popping in and out of scenes at random looking for Jackie Chan. The performances by Cooper and Lawrence are stellar; both are unequivocally convincing as emotionally disturbed movie stars. Their sexy dance performance together stands up favorably against that time John Travolta and Uma Thurman did the Batusi in Pulp Fiction. Obviously, Cooper and Lawrence are made for each other and get their happy ending - I mean, what are the odds of two attractive, diametrically mentally ill movie stars who enjoy going out for runs living in the same neighborhood? Pretty good, according to Silver Linings Playbook

Sunday, November 18, 2012

There Can Be Only One

November 17, 2012

Yesterday, at a convention called SuperMegaFest, a quest that began over five years ago (see below) concluded when I met and got a photograph with actor and humanitarian Adrian Paul, who most famously portrayed Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod - The Highlander

Note that Adrian is in his early 50's and I am in my mid-30's. Do either of us look it? Who's to say we are not Immortals? (Thankfully, neither of us got the idea to try to take the other's head.)

Thank you for the pic, Adrian!

September 11, 2007

A week ago my sister Chadie, who trains in kung fu at the USA Shaolin Temple in New York, let me know that Adrian Paul started training at her temple.

Adrian Paul. Duncan MacLeod. The star of Highlander.

When I was in high school, Highlander was my favorite show (besides The Simpsons). Before Battlestar Galactica, Lost, Angel, Buffy, and before I ever even watched an episode of Star Trek (man, those were the days...) there were the time-spanning adventures of the immortal Duncan MacLeod, the Highlander. Sean, Bishah and I were total fucking nerds for Highlander. Trenchcoats and ponytails nerds. I still remember the opening spiel that preceded the Queen song by heart:

He is Immortal.
Born in the highlands of Scotland 400 years ago, he is not alone.
There are others like him, some good, some evil.
For centuries he has battled the forces of darkness, with holy ground his only refuge.
He cannot die unless you take his head, and with it his power.
In the end, there can be only one.
May it
be Duncan MacLeod, the Highlander. 

Christopher Lambert's Connor MacLeod and the first Highlander movie was my gateway to the oft-maligned but still kind of wonderful Highlander universe. "Connor MacLeod was my kinsman; I don't know who you are." But Adrian Paul's Duncan MacLeod was my hero.

Today, I received a strange DHL package from Chad containing a pamphlet for the USA Shaolin Temple. I didn't understand why she sent me this and almost tossed it in the trash until I glanced at the back: Adrian Paul's autograph. To me.

I'm a happy guy today. Seriously, I couldn't be more pleased to have Adrian's autograph. Thanks, Adrian, and thanks to my sister.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Arrow 1x6 - "Legacies"

This was a terrific Arrow episode. They got just about everything right this week. First off, copious amounts of DC Universe mentions: Keystone City, Coast City, another visit to Big Belly Burger, and mentioning Stagg Industries, the main donor to Laurel's legal group. Could Simon Stagg, Sapphire Stagg, Java, and Rex (Metamorpho?) Mason be in the offering down the line? We are definitely getting a villain based on Count Vertigo soon.  Plus there was a shout out to John Broome. Not to mention Trick Arrows!

The character interactions this week were off the charts good. This cast is super comfortable with and knows how to play off each other. The variations of brother-sister relationships with Thea and Oliver and Thea and Tommy were especially good, with both guys calling her Speedy to her chagrin. Plus the return of Drunk Thea taking the place of Worldly, Wise Thea and her throwing herself at Tommy. Poor messed up kid.

This was the best Tommy showcase so far. He's a billionaire and we found out his company is the Merlyn Global Group. More importantly, we found out he's a pretty good guy, contrasted to Oliver, who's very dark and driven by the memories of getting yelled at by the Force Ghost of his dead father. I'm rooting for Tommy and Laurel. How's a swell guy like Tommy Merlyn gonna become the Dark Archer one day?

Best of all was the rapport between Oliver and Diggle. Diggle taught Oliver a little something about extending his personal holy war beyond The List and helping other people in need of someone to stand up for them. I especially liked the running gag of Moira trying to have a conversation with Oliver, Diggle whispering in his ear, and Oliver blowing her off and heading out to do whatever it is he does.

Oliver also said "I'm not a hero."

Meanwhile, The Royal Flush Gang bank robberies where very The Dark Knight-esque, which in turn were obviously odes to Heat. I liked the juxtaposition of King making his wife and sons into bank robbers and Oliver being the vigilante at the behest of his dead father. The fathers turning their sons into reflections of their sins. And the fact that the Royal Flush Gang exists directly because Oliver's father laid off King and the entire Queen Factory and outsourced all the jobs to China.

What a reveal at the end of the Island Flashbacks too:

I guess Detective Quentin Lance skipped this week because he's in AA?

Friday, November 9, 2012




Think On Your Sins

Skyfall is the best James Bond movie made in my lifetime. An exhilarating and joyous celebration of the very best aspects of the James Bond franchise - proudly sealed at the end with "50 Years - James Bond Will Return" emblazoned on the screen - Skyfall galvanizes 007 with confidence, wit, violence, and style to spare. Skyfall respectfully embraces the franchise's past while firmly casting its gaze towards James Bond's cinematic future and his next half-century on movie screens to come. As a lifelong James Bond fan, fumbling out of the theater in a state of giddy delirium after over two hours of grinning ear to ear while gazing, enraptured, at the screen, I realized with sheer delight that Skyfall is the Bond movie I've waited for my whole life. 

Watching Skyfall unfold was as if writers Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and John Logan and director Sam Mendes (helming his finest film) somehow delved into my subconscious and emerged with my personal James Bond Wish List lock, stock and barrel: Design a deeply personal story about Bond instead of a wacky cartoon about Bond foiling a fiendish plot for world domination? Check. Bring Bond back to Asia? (Shanghai and Macau gorgeously photographed.) Check. Bring back Q? Check. Bring back Miss Moneypenny? Check. Bring back the Aston Martin DB5? Check. (Bond even fights his enemies with the Aston Martin's weaponry and threatens to use the Ejector Seat on M. When the car is destroyed, Bond is understandably furious.) Finally include the gun barrel sequence with Daniel Craig's 007? Check. No more ridiculous gadgetry like the invisible car? Check. Address my personal dissatisfaction with Judi Dench's M and replace the grand old Dame as Bond's boss? Check. Deliberate 007 and MI-6's role in the world, post-Cold War and post-9/11? Check. Delve into Bond's origin and explain his childhood and the death of his parents? Check. Give Bond an enemy equal to and worthy of him? Check. Skyfall was like my personal James Bond Christmas morning - I got everything I ever wanted all at once.

Skyfall is a Best Of Hit Parade. The Best Train Sequence since the classic battle of wits in From Russia With Love opens the picture, with Bond battling for and nearly losing his life in Istanbul.  Adele performs the Best Opening Credits Song and Sequence since the late Maurice Binder used to design the movies' montages with silhouettes of sexy girls somersaulting across the screen. Javier Bardem as Silva is The Best Bond Villain since Sean Bean served as the scarred side of Bond's coin as 006 in Goldeneye, and Bardem blows Bean away in terms of impact and malevolence. The thrilling, ultra violent finale in Scotland - as we discover what and where is "Skyfall" - is one of the Best Finales of the franchise, as Bond and M fight for their lives against an all-out assault by Silva. Taken in all, Skyfall comes together as one of the Best Bond Films Ever. It deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Sean Connery's classics.

As traditionally occurs for an actor playing James Bond, third time's the charm for Daniel Craig as 007. Sean Connery got Goldfinger as his third outing as Bond, generally accepted as his best. Roger Moore got The Spy Who Loved Me as his third Bond, easily his best. Daniel Craig fully becomes James Bond in Skyfall, at long last integrating the "blunt instrument" he was in Casino Royale with the finer aspects of 007, right down to shaving his face smooth after spending the first hour of Skyfall with unsightly stubble. The feeling out process of Casino Royale and the sophomore slump of Quantum of Solace are past him. Craig is truly Bond now; sleeping with every Bond Girl he comes across and exercising his license to kill at every opportunity while mining new psychological depths of 007. Like Christian Bale's Bruce Wayne in The Dark Knight Rises, Craig's Bond is past his peak form after injuries and years of toil and battery. (Bond is shot in this movie! And so is M!) No longer a crack shot and nursing severe physical and psychological wounds - the villainous Silva even taunts Bond, calling him "a physical wreck" - Craig is unfit for duty after the opening mission goes sideways. As Skyfall progresses, Bond goes back to basics - back to the very beginning of who he is - to once again earn his status as 007. Earn it, Craig does. 

MI-6 and M herself find themselves explosively under attack by Silva, a cyber terrorist and former 00-agent with a personal vendetta against M. For the second time under Dench's watch, MI-6 headquarters is leveled by an explosion. (It also happened in The World Is Not Enough.) She is taunted by Silva repeatedly: "Think on your sins". In a meta-way, the James Bond franchise is addressing itself and its own sins: ludicrous amounts of excess, minimal character development, abhorrent sexual innuendo and puns in place of genuine dialogue, stunt casting, and the greatest sin of all from the Bond films of the 90's and early 2000's, thinking that "bigger is better". With Skyfall, the Bond franchise resets itself from "bigger is better" to simply "better", but still "big" and no less thrilling or spectacular. 

Skyfall does so via Judi Dench's M, the sole cast member who spans the Pierce Brosnan Bonds of the 1990s into the Daniel Craig Bonds of today. Respectfully addressed as "Mum" by her subordinates, M is called to answer for her seventeen years running the British Secret Service, overseeing two James Bonds over the course of seven films. As Adele sings in the movie's theme song, "This is the end", for Dench's M, and for her era as James Bond's supervisor and ersatz mother figure. Bond must grow up once more. Those who've endured my 007-related rants know I've been one of Dench's incarnation of M's great detractors. But with M's passing of the torch in Skyfall, foreshadowed by a meeting by Bond and Q discussing a painting of a grand old warship being hauled out of service, one must pay their solemn respects and give sincere thanks to the old bird.

Javier Bardem is a revelation as Silva. In a stroke of genius, Skyfall gives Bond the kind of adversary he's been sorely lacking, a twisted mirror image of what he could become. James Bond's own personal version of The Joker. As Silva, Bardem has a ball playing a loquacious, dangerous, flamboyant dandy, simultaneously mesmerizing and terrifying. A tormented former agent who fancied himself "M's favorite" and fixated on her abandoning and betraying him when he has tortured by the Chinese after the handover of Hong Kong by the British in 1997, Silva is hellbent on vengeance. Like The Joker, Silva is deformed and when he reveals his "true face", it's a truly Hannibal Lecter-like moment. As a forward-thinking cyber terrorist mastermind with complete control over computer networks, Silva is a truly modern Bond villain. And also modern in other ways, as Bond learns when he meets Silva for the first time and finds himself at the mercy of Silva's busy hands. Bond's quip, "What makes you think this is my first time?" even took Silva aback. Unlike The Joker, Silva is no chaos-bringer. He is after M for very specific reasons. As a Bond villain, Silva is unforgettable. And for all of Silva's M-hating rants of how she betrayed him, Bond dispatches him how? By stabbing Silva in the back! Brilliant.

Skyfall thankfully reunites the old British Secret Service gang in all-new incarnations. Ben Whishaw is a welcome new Q, young, brash, modern and adept at computer programming, networking and hacking. Q's new presents for Bond are amusingly old school, a radio and a new Walther PPK coded to Bond's DNA (which Bond promptly loses). Naomi Harris charms as Eve, who should be Bond's enemy after she accidentally shoots him at the start of the film, but Bond is easy-going and non-plussed about it. Eve doesn't belong in the field after all, and the reveal of her last name is cause for applause. Skulking about the background is Ralph Fiennes as Mallory, an old war hound whose first initial belies his ultimate role in Bond's life. Meanwhile, in Scotland, we meet Kincaid, the shotgun-toting groundskeeper of Bond's old childhood home, and while Albert Finney is terrific, this was a role that would have brought the house down had it been filled by a certain Scotsman named Connery.

"This is the end," purred Adele repeatedly in the theme song, but as Bond himself tells Silva, his hobby is "resurrection". Casino Royale brought us Craig as Bond, but Skyfall resurrects all of James Bond's key players, ready to meet the threats of the 21st century. For the first time since Timothy Dalton was Bond in The Living Daylights, Daniel Craig's James Bond confidently strides into the old office Connery and Moore sauntered through decades ago, past the desk where Moneypenny sits, through the padded double doors, into the office of old man M for his next assignment "For Your Eyes Only", and everything old is new again. Skyfall, reaching back and lovingly grasping James Bond's legacy to bring it into the present, is a wondrous new beginning for 007. This is not the end for James Bond. The future for 007 looks very bright, indeed. Because James Bond faced it all at Skyfall.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Arrow 1x5 - "Damaged"

The big difference between Arrow and its first cousin, Batman, is the theme of killing. The whole undercurrent of Arrow is about the significance of Oliver killing bad people, which he has. Who taught him to kill? The Chinese Green Arrow on the Island. Why does Oliver kill? For survival? Out of necessity? Out of revenge? The whole series seems to be an extended treatise on a superhero willing to kill; it's a new idea for a superhero TV series that Arrow is still slowly exploring, in a somewhat unassured way. But it's very interesting. Speaking of the Chinese Archer:

Oliver Queen seems to be a forward-thinking, scheming mastermind who sees all the angles, but Arrow has been savvy in throwing curveballs his way. Whatever his reasons were for wanting Laurel, the daughter of the police officer who arrested him under suspicion of being the hooded vigilante, to defend him, he wasn't expecting her to ask the judge to make him wear an ankle bracelet. Nor was she expecting him to decide to submit to a polygraph test just to convince Detective Lance he's not the vigilante.

The polygraph scene was the best scene in the episode, one of the best in the series so far. We know Oliver can beat a polygraph but he told a lot of truth, chiefly that he was tortured on the Island. Laurel didn't know Oliver's body is 20% covered in scar tissue, nor did she know about his abs. But when she found out - SMOOCH, of course. We also learn that Oliver considers himself her sister's killer, enough so that the polygraph backs it up. There's that undercurrent of remorse and guilt Oliver feels towards the entire Lance family because of Sarah Lance drowning when Queen's Gambit sank.

Confined in Queen Manor, Oliver can't be Arrow so while he throws a house party, he gets a reluctant and again, pleasingly rational John Diggle to wear the hood. "Anyone can be the vigilante." Gosh, that sounds awfully familiar to something some other billionaire vigilante said this past summer. I love that with Diggle knowing who Oliver is, Oliver can be real with him and not put on the BS act he puts on with every other character on the show.

"You know us billionaire vigilantes. We do love our toys." Diggle getting access to the Arrow Cave and giddily getting to play with Arrow's arsenal was the funniest stuff in the episode. He was like a kid in a candy store. Plus Diggle doesn't look half-bad in the Arrow suit. It was kind of like in the old Batman TV show when Bruce Wayne would be captured and Alfred would wear the Batman suit and pose as Batman in the most hilariously unconvincing manner possible. This was all to break up a weapons deal with some Boyz in the Hood gang bangers happening in Starling City, and the fact that the hooded vigilante was sighted by witnesses while Oliver Queen was home partying was enough to acquit Oliver from suspicion of being the vigilante.

In the Flashbacks on the Island, Oliver was rounded up by the mercenaries in black, tossed in a pit, and meets a European man named Edward Mueller, who's looking for the Chinese Green Arrow for some reason. When Oliver won't admit he knows him, Mueller brings in Deathstroke (never named in the episode) to beat the crap out of Oliver and torture him before Chinese Green Arrow arrives for the rescue. Obviously, we'll be seeing more of Deathstroke in the future but this appearance was a bit of a letdown. Deathstroke didn't say anything and acted mainly like a henchman thug; outside of the mask, you'd never know it was Deathstroke.

This week's DC Universe shout out besides Deathstroke: Laurel once wore fishnets for a Halloween party. Laurel thought they were horrible. Oliver thought they looked good.

Arrow episodes are so densely plotted, there was a ton of other stuff going on: The reveal that Quentin Lance is an alcoholic (not surprising), a little stuff with Thea this week, tension between Moira Queen and John Barrowman, who tried to have Oliver killed, and Walter revealing to Moira that he knows about the Queen's Gambit wreckage before leaving for Australia. Arrow packs the storylines in tight and it's only been 5 episodes.

My biggest question coming out of this week: What does Tommy Merlyn do for a living? Who is this guy? We know so little about him besides he used to do Laurel, wants to again, and he hangs out at Queen Manor an awful lot.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Revolution 1x7 - "The Children's Crusade"

If there was a high point to last week's episode of Revolution, it's when Charlie got slapped in the face.

Number of times Charlie got punched in the face and knocked out this week: 2.

Number of times Charlie was called a bitch: 1.

And scene.

Wait, other stuff happened too. In the interminable march to Philadelphia to find Danny and save him from a fate worse than sitting in a well-appointed room, eating three square meals, and hanging with his mom under the aegis of Monroe, Charlie and company meet a bunch of stupid kids. They are literally stupid, as in they seem uneducated. The Revolution version of Peter Pan's Lost Boys. Their parents are dead, they mistrust adults, and the Militia kidnaps them and indoctrinates them as their new recruits.

The lead boy lost his older brother to the Militia and Charlie feels like this is a lot like what happened to her brother, because it is. Miles, meanwhile, feels guilt because he laid down the rules of kidnapping kids for the Militia when he was General Miles Matheson.

Once again, the plan involves sending Charlie in alone with the barest wisp of a plan that's bound to fail and backfire, requiring Miles to rescue her. Charlie infiltrates the Barge where the Militia indoctrinates the kids, her barest wisp of a plan fails and backfires, and Miles and Nora have to go save her. Two swords against the... half dozen or so?... Militia soldiers on the Barge. Guess who wins.

For her troubles, Charlie gets captured and gets a tattoo of the Militia "M" burned into her wrist. Luckily, her last name also begins with "M". Charlie also murders the evil Militia lieutenant, yet another in the long line of Terrible Actors, in cold blood, the old sword to the gut. She's getting awful good at that.

While everyone was at the Barge, Google Beard Aaron was holed up in an abandoned lighthouse with the Lost Boys. Some Milita men check out the lighthouse and in the process of hiding, the Amulet of Power lights up the lighthouse, dazzling everyone on the Barge with the POWER OF ELECTRIC LIGHT, allowing Miles, Charlie and Nora to get their victory. Later, Miles demands to know what happened and gets the lowdown on the Amulets of Power. He wants to smash it, but Charlie puts a stop to it. But after all this time, Miles now knows it was this Amulet his brother Ben died for.

In Philadelphia, Danny hangs out with his mom Rachel and we realize, between this kid and the kid who played her son in V, somehow Elizabeth Mitchell was doomed to play mother to some terrible young actors. Rachel's subplot involves her old co-worker Before The Blackout being captured by Monroe's people for his amulet. They have Rachel try to finesse the Amulet's location out of him, but when that fails, they just kidnap his daughter and threaten to kill her. The direct approach is always better for results.

In Flashbacks, we find Rachel when he was pregnant as Ben and his team introduce their Amulet of Power technology to Department of Defense honcho Colm Feore. Turns out the technology was supposed to create clean energy but instead it completely takes electricity away. Howzat? Also, Rachel has complications in her pregnancy with Danny, but Colm Feore creepily offers her a quid pro quo that anyone else would run away from as fast as they can, but not on this show.

Big Shocker: Grace, the black woman who had the working computer in her house, is not dead and is a prisoner of Monroe. She is approached by Colm Feore, still immensely creepy 15 years later. Also, no one has aged a day, judging from how they look in the Flashbacks.

Line of the episode, from Miles to Charlie: "It's irritating when a dumb kid tells you what to do, isn't it?" Aw, who'd want to punch this face? 

Sunday, November 4, 2012




"I get high with a little help from my friends."

On the outset, Flight seems like a heroic tale of a brave airline pilot who lands a damaged passenger plane, but that illusion immediately goes out the window when we meet SoJet Captain Denzel Washington, drunk and high on cocaine the morning before his flight. His God-fearing co-pilot smells the booze on his breath. Denzel consumes screwdrivers mid-flight. When a mechanical error forces the airplane into a nosedive, Denzel manages an astounding feat of piloting, inverting the airplane upside down to glide it into a crash landing on a field outside Atlanta. Six dead, many injured, but still a plane full of survivors instead of all souls being killed. Denzel is a hero, he maintains, but the federal investigation wants him to answer for his toxicology report and the media wants to know the story of why the plane crashed.

Slowly but surely, Flight reveals what it's really about: a study of a lifelong alcoholic in deep denial about his disease. The real disaster in Flight isn't the plane crash but Denzel himself. Denzel tries the patience of everyone around him, be they loyal like his old Navy buddy Bruce Greenwood, his attorney Don Cheadle, and Kelly Reilly, the recovering drug addict he meets in the hospital and forms a relationship with, or hostile, like his ex-wife Garcelle Beauvais and his teenage son Justin Martin. Denzel cycles in and out of quitting drinking, flushing countless bottles of alcohol and drugs down the drain, only to fall back into raging benders when the pressure of possibly going to federal prison for negligence mounts. Flight maintains an air of unpredictability as Denzel defies all common sense and his friends pleading for him to quit drinking, including going on an epic, bloody hotel bender the night before his federal hearing.

It's a testament to the sheer movie star charisma of Denzel Washington and the sure-handed direction of Robert Zemeckis that Flight keeps the surprises coming all the way to the last moment and maintains the audience on Denzel's side no matter what a completely deplorable wreck he is. Flight also plays with some tried and true Denzel Washington-isms: This time his personal drug dealer espousing the healing power of cocaine John Goodman utters the famous Denzel catchphrase "My man!" With Malcolm X, The Hurricane, and now Flight, time after time, no one goes to prison and ends up a better man for it like Denzel. Denzel makes me want to go to prison to improve myself.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Man With The Iron Fists



The Man With The Iron Fists, produced by Quentin Tarantino and co-written by Eli Roth, is director RZA's love letter to the martial arts films he has clearly adored all his life. A chop-socky, viscera-soaked fantasy about Chinese warlords chasing after a cache of gold, The Man With The Iron Fists boasts numerous entertaining kung fu conflagrations that always end with geysers of blood gushing from human bodies. A showcase for some of the finest Asian actors around like the heroic Ric Yune (X-Blade) and the evil Byron Mann (Silver Lion), brothers at war over said cache of gold, The Man With The Iron Fists is cheerfully ultraviolent and decidedly non-PC, with much of the action taking place in the brothel owned and operated by dragon lady killer Lucy Liu (Madam Blossom). Mysteriously out for his own ends is Russell Crowe (Jack Knife), a portly Englishman making fine use of the prostitutes in Liu's brothel before deciding to aid The Man With The Iron Fists for his own reasons. A couple of ways RZA is a different kind of director than Ben Affleck: Unlike Ben in The Town, RZA, who cast himself as the titular Man With The Iron Fists, actually allows himself to get his ass kicked in his own movie. RZA portrays The Blacksmith, a freed slave who ends up in feudal China and has both his arms butchered clean off by the villainous Brassbody, played by former WWE Champion David Bautista. Bautista, the bad ass killer of bad ass killers, can transform his body into impervious living brass via special effects that look much better than Colossus in X-Men: The Last Stand. However, like Ben, RZA does give himself love scenes with his lead actress Jaime Chung (Lady Silk)Why not? It's his movie. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Star Wars: Hi, Want To Be A General?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Arrow 1x4 - "An Innocent Man"

Arrow continues to surprise by blowing through what could be whole seasons of drawn out storylines in its first five episodes. A secret identity is something, in our high tech surveillance culture, that would be impossible to maintain, and it looks like the jig is already up for Oliver. Detective Lance caught him right on video pulling his gear out last week. BAM! Oliver's under arrest on a litany of charges under suspicion of being the hooded vigilante, including MURDER.

MURDER is the theme of the episode. Arrow kills. Diggle doesn't like that about him. After teasing with a Lois Lane-like fascination with the local Star City superhero, Laurel realized she doesn't like his killing ways either. All the Lances agree: Arrow = bad man.

Flashbacks on the Island show how Oliver learned to kill, mainly because he was hungry and for survival, lessons taught to him by Chinese Green Arrow. Killing a bird is different from all the humans Oliver kills. Oliver's a likable enough guy unless he's trying not to be, but the more he vocalizes his holy war mission, the more insane he actually sounds.

Meanwhile, Walter Steele doesn't seem like he's one of the villains of Starling City, but he's starting to realize his wife might be. The last thing he (or I) was expecting when he opened that secret warehouse Moira Queen embezzled $2.6 million to set up was the salvaged remains of Robert Queen's yacht, the Queen's Gambit. As for Moira, she and John Barrowman figured out the Arrow is taking out people who are on The List.

The weird thing in the episode was the Oliver and Thea stuff. No mention of her alcoholism or drug use, or even how she outed Laurel and Tommy as hump buddies when she was drunk. It was like the last episode never happened.

DC Comics shout out this week: "The 10:30 train to Bludhaven.

Finally, John Diggle is by far my favorite character on this show. I love this guy. First thing he does when he finds out Oliver is the Arrow is take a swing at him. Oliver gives him two hard sells about his mission and Diggle reacts like a sane, rational person and says no. Then he spends a couple of days eating at Big Belly Burger contemplating it before signing on, but specifically noting he doesn't want to be a sidekick. Plus he had the line of the night when New Bodyguard Rob watched Oliver slip off to the rest room. "That guy's long gone, man."

I'm Luke Skywalker. I'm Here To Rescue You.

Here's the thing. I like Luke Skywalker. Always have. The most interesting story in Star Wars, to me, is the story of Luke Skywalker.