Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"Cowboys & Aliens" trailer brings me out of blog-oblivion

It's been a long time since we've seen Harrison Ford in a non-Indiana Jones big-budget adventure. Even watching this trailer, I can't quite tell what his role is going to be, but that's one of the things I loved about it. Daniel Craig heads the cast (in the production that I think replaced the postponed James Bond film), and this early look of the movie is slick and just mysterious enough to make me really excited. As I have said before, it's not very often that studios these days give big budgets for scripts that don't come with a built-in fanbase; let's hope Cowboys & Aliens doesn't disappoint.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Shiny new "Harry Potter" trailer

We're less than two months away from the first part of the epic-looking Harry Potter finale. I just dare you to watch this trailer without getting goosebumps:

Part I of The Deathly Hallows opens on my birthday, November 19. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Fall TV premiere dates

The summer TV drought is almost over. The hilarious Herc from Ain't It Cool News recently posted the fall premiere dates for all your favorite TV shows. You can view them alphabetically or by date by clicking here.

The ones that are of interest to me, for those of you who are dying to know, are as follows:
  • Survivor (CBS) Sept. 15 (now on Wednesdays)

  • The Middle (ABC) Sept. 22

  • Modern Family (ABC) Sept. 22

  • The Office (NBC) Sept. 23

  • 30 Rock (NBC) Sept. 23

  • The Amazing Race (CBS) Sept. 26

  • The Good Wife (CBS) Sept. 28

  • Friday Night Lights (DirecTV) Oct. 27 (this won't show up on NBC until the spring...)

Of the new shows that are premiering, I can't say I'm overly interested in any of them. I'll watch the reviews and see if anything noteworthy emerges from the pack.


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Terrorists vs. vampires

The Onion has a funny (and fabricated) feature today about the terrorists alleged admiration of Stephanie Meyer and her vampire/werewolf saga. Unlike Ms. Meyer's Twilight novels, this video is intentionally funny.

Al-Qaeda Calls Off Attack On Nation's Capitol To Spare Life Of 'Twilight' Author

Friday, June 18, 2010

Ranking Pixar from "worst" to best

I really can't wait to see Toy Story 3, hopefully soon. The reviews have been unanimously positive, and what else has there been this summer? Anyway, the critics at did an interesting exercise today, ranking Pixar's first ten movies from "worst" (it's all relative here) to best. The list was interesting, but had some definite head scratchers, such as Monsters, Inc. in the bottom two. Really?

So, keeping in mind that I really love all of these movies, here is my top 10 list (number one being the best):

10. Cars: A fun movie, and beautiful to look at (especially if you're into cars), but still my least favorite because it is a little predictable. I might feel differently if I had a little boy, though.
9. A Bug's Life: A creative look at the grasshopper/ant hierarchy with some terrific moments (I still giggle about Flik's failed "this rock is a seed" metaphor), but really just the tip of the Pixar iceberg of greatness. Plus, the plot feels lifted from Three Amigos.
8: Wall-E: I liked this movie more than most of my family/friends, and Lily loves it, but it is a bit preachy in tone, and the humans-are-lazy subplot is mildly grating. Still, the dialogue-free interactions between Wall-E and Eve are fantastic; pure visual poetry. (Lily occasionally puts her fingers together "like Wall-E" when she's trying to fall asleep.)
7: Up: I've only seen this once, and I really loved the interaction between Karl and the kid, plus the themes of adventure and age, told lovingly and humorously. The talking dogs, while funny, are probably the only reason this doesn't rank higher for me.
6: Finding Nemo: This movie has gotten better with repeat viewings, and it was great movie to begin with. The voice work is stellar, especially from Ellen DeGeneres, and the touching father/son dynamic is powerful. My only minor complaint is that I dislike the plot device where two people who are looking for each other (father/son, boy/girl, etc.) keep crossing paths and missing each other for one reason or another.
5: Toy Story 2: It really is a great sequel, and pays homage to the groundbreaking original without rehashing it. I love how the toys explore such meaningful themes as age, abandonment, and friendship with such good-spirited wit and warmth.
4: Monsters, Inc.: Probably Pixar's warmest; a comedic love letter about the spell that kids can cast on you and the crazy things that you will do for them. If you don't get goosebumps when Sully opens Boo's door in the final frame of the movie, you just don't have a soul. (A sequel is in the works.)
3: Ratatouille: I'm sure I'm in the minority here, as this is probably Pixar's most random film (a rat...who loves to Paris), but this is one of my favorites. Maybe it's the theme of food, maybe it's the music (one of my all-time favorite soundtracks), or maybe it's because Lily would watch this on a continuous loop...something about it just clicks for me. I love the messages of tolerance, nurturing your imagination, and pursuing your passion. I just love this movie from beginning to end; it never fails to make me smile.
2: The Incredibles: The best action movie to come around in years. Fast-paced, hysterically witty, and emotionally complex. It works equally as satire or homage to comic-book/superhero movies, while deftly tackling the complicated dynamics of family relationships and reigniting the romantic spark in marriage. My favorite Incredibles memory to this day was watching it for the first time with my Eddy nieces/nephews and watching them run alongside Dash as he raced through the jungle from the bad guys. They were CAPTIVATED by the adventure; it was a joy to observe.
1: Toy Story: This is an easy pick, but for me, it's still the benchmark that Pixar will likely forever be trying to recapture. I don't remember another movie being able to so quickly transport me back to a time when I believed that my He-Man action figures would go on battling well after I had gone to bed. This was the first time we'd seen a full movie that was completely rendered in a computer, but it never once feels manufactured or cold (George Lucas could have learned a thing or two). This film remains one of my all-time favorites, and hasn't lost a bit of its relevance or wit even 15 years later.

As cheesy as it sounds, I'm just grateful that the passionate grown-up kids who work at Pixar have so successfully and willingly shared their significant talents with the world. Wouldn't it be amazing if we were all paid to do something we love?

Monday, May 24, 2010

"24" and "Lost" finales

I'm traveling and thus haven't seen the much-ballyhooed finale of Lost. I'm very interested in seeing how it all turns out, of course, but to be honest, my expectations are a thousand times lower than they were after the first 2-3 seasons. I'll surely be sad to see it go, but honestly the weekly delay of the big answers has taken its toll: I think I'm ready for the end.

Not so for 24, which still manages to pack a wallop when you least expect it. This final season has been uneven, to be sure. The Dana Walsh storyline was never more than dreadful, and President Taylor's late season change-of-personality made no sense. That said, much of the Renee Walker drama was compelling, Chloe continues to be a shining--and grumpy-- star throughout, and Jack's recent death-wish vendetta has been ridiculous, over-the-top, and disturbingly entertaining. But after eight long years of watching this guy have the worst days of his life, I think he finally deserves a break.

24 really was a revolutionary show for its time. It was lucky to survive beyond it's ratings-challenged first couple of years, but once it settled into the January-start-with-no-breaks schedule (later copied by Lost), viewers grew and remained surprisingly loyal for a serialized show in its eighth season. There probably isn't another show on the air that has been as consistently exciting as 24, and I fear that there never will be. It was never a perfect show; it always expected a certain degree of disbelief from its viewers. But then, who wants to watch their hero take potty breaks or sit in LA traffic for minutes at a time?

Together, 24 and Lost made my late winter doldrums just a little brighter. They both changed the way networks produce and program their shows, and the way viewers expected a little more from them. To all of the talented folks who devoted years of their lives to producing these joyfully glossy shows, thank you!

And let me know when you're hiring for TVs next big phenomenon...

Saturday, May 08, 2010

"Iron Man 2" mini-review

Maybe if I make my posts shorter, I'll do them more it the Twitter-method. (Incidentally, if anyone would like to follow me on Twitter, I'm @jaytay96).

Anyhoo, I saw Iron Man 2 yesterday and enjoyed it a lot. Most of it has to do with Robert Downey, Jr.'s cheeky-but-layered take on Tony Stark; he's really creating something memorable with this character. I also enjoyed Sam Rockwell (so great as "Guy" in Galaxy Quest) as Tony's slimy weapons-manufacturing nemesis. The first 2/3 of the movie borders on comic-book greatness, setting the stage for several very interesting and complicated character-driven conflicts. Only some of those stories really bear fruit by the end, but none of them are truly botched amazing feat for a movie that is trying to do so much (anyone remember Spider-man 3?).

As a novice to Marvel's wider repertoire, I didn't really appreciate all the Avengers references, since they occasionally took the focus away from the movie at hand to pimp some of Marvel's upcoming releases (Captain America, Thor, etc.). But it's a small complaint for a movie that never feels like anything less than good old-fashioned, big-budget fun. I'm eager to see what Downey & company have in store for Iron Man 3. (***1/2 out of four)