‘Heroes’ Comes Into Its Own

Mark your calendars TV nerds, because February 26, 2007 was the night that HEROES ceased to be “LOST Lite”, and came into its own. Up until the Feb. 26 episode, HEROES was a solid, but not spectacular show. It suffered from a few too many characters, some meandering plot-lines, and the occasional script that made characters seem incredibly stupid and naive (hey Mohinder, I’m talking to you pal. You take a super-powered guy who’s acting all kinds of shady with you to seek out the folks with abilities on your Dad’s “List”, and the first person you visit ends up hacked to pieces by Sylar. Hello? I won’t even delve into the mess the Nikki/Jessica, D.L., Micha storyline has become.)

Heroes cast

“Company Man” however, was the episode that finally put it all together for NBC’s fledgling show about ordinary people struggling to live with strange superhuman powers. It was a taut, dramatic, intense hour of TV that answered some huge questions but still left plenty of room for exciting new directions and story-lines. It also had some of the best special effects work I’ve ever seen on a television production. Claire’s burnt, charred body and its subsequent regeneration rivaled anything seen in a big Hollywood production. I dare say Wolverine himself would be jealous!

Although there is nothing new or very original about the show’s premise about mutants living among us (X-Men, anyone?), HEROES has a shot to become a truly great show if Tim Kring and company tighten things up a bit, and perhaps even trim some characters.

By Jeff Carter Posted in TV

Academy Awards ’07 Roundup

Thou shalt not worship false idols

The 79th annual Academy Awards were held in Los Angeles last night, and as usual it was an overblown, tedious, boring, self-indulgent, pretentious evening of ass-kissing and star-fucking. So, naturally I watched all 35 hours of the ceremony and filed this report for those of you who had better things to do, like check your basements for radon or memorize the Magna Carta.

Hottest woman on the red carpet: Sadly, Scarlett Johansson and her glorious breasts were not there to fill out an evening gown this year, so this honor will go to the always gorgeous Rachel Weisz.

Rachel Weisz

Best awards presentation: Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, and Steven Spielberg appeared on stage together to give out the award for best director. Coppola and Spielberg said something to the effect of “We all know how exciting it is to win this award”, to which Lucas comically replied, “but guys, I never won an Oscar”. Spielberg and Coppola then comforted their longtime friend mockingly, knowing full well he sleeps just fine at night on a gigantic pile of Star Wars money. Still, it is a crime that Lucas never received an Academy Award. Spielberg is overrated and everyone knows Lucas should have won the best director award in 1977 for the original Star Wars. Fuck Woody Allen.

Three guys who can buy you and everyone you ever knew.

Funniest moment of the night: Will Ferrel, Jack Black, and John C. Reilly performed a hilarious musical number about how funnymen can’t win Oscars. The best part was when Jack Black challenged the nominees to a fight, singling out Dicaprio. The number ended with all three men confessing their undying love for 61 year-old Helen Mirren. Comic gold.

Comic gold!

Unfunniest moment of the night: anything Ellen Degeneres said.

Best bald guy: Jackie Earle Haley, who played Kelley Lee in the Bad News Bears movies, came out of nowhere to snag a best supporting actor nomination. Alan Arkin actually won the award, but this distinction goes to the newly-shorn Jack Nicholson. He’s still badass, but a little creepy.

Bald Jack

Creepiest moment of the night: Speaking of creepy, the nude performance artists who made shapes of penguins, cars, and even planes using only their bodies were just plain WRONG!

creepy…

Drunkest nominee: Peter O’ Toole, perennially.

Most deserving of his/her Oscar: Martin Scorcese, who should’ve taken home one of these golden guys eons ago for Raging Bull, Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, or pretty much anything he’s ever directed in his life.

Marty finally beat Clint!

For those of you who missed the show, here’s a list of winners in the major categories:

Best Picture: The Departed

Best Director: Martin Scorcese-The Departed

Best Actor: Forest Whitaker-The Last King of Scotland

Best Actress: Helen Mirren-The Queen

Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Hudson-Dreamgirls

Best Supporting Actor: Alan Arkin-Little Miss Sunshine

Best Song: “I Need to Wake Up” by Melissa Ethridge-An Inconvenient Truth

Best Animated Movie: March of the Penguins

Best Documentary: An Inconvenient Truth

Best Visual Effects: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

Click here for the complete listing.

Aqua Teen Movie Poster & Weekend Link Dump

Greetings geek-culture mongers! I’m about to head out the door for the weekend, but here’s a few things to tide you over ’til Monday. First up, one of the greatest movie posters I have ever seen…EVER.

Freakin’ Awesome!

Incredible. This should be on the wall of every City Hall and Municipal building in every American city. Hell, it should be on the wall in Congress. I’m not sure if this is a true Frazetta creation or just another artist aping his style, but it’s utter genius. Strap on your Foreigner belts and head to the theaters April 13.

Here’s the third trailer for what someone on another blog referred to as “the most anticipated movie of 1992”, The Simpsons:

Someone thought it would be a good idea to make another Resident Evil movie. That person was wrong.

Writers have been hired to pen a JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA screenplay.

It’s official: JJ Abrams will direct a new STAR TREK movie about a young Kirk, Spock, and crew. Shocking. Everyone and their Mother knew this two years ago.

By Jeff Carter Posted in Movies

Movie Review: Ghost Rider

Ghost Rider Poster

Congratulations Mark Steven Johnson, you are now officially the Uwe Boll of comic book movies. Whereas his ineptitude and complete disregard for competent film-making destroys any video game adaptation he gets his hands on, your misguided determinism to cram every element of a superhero’s history into your scripts in a futile attempt to appease the fanboys makes every comic book adaptation you take on an unwatchable mess.

Those of you who follow superhero movies know all too well how Johnson butchered the film version of Daredevil back in 2003. Rather than focusing solely on Daredevil’s origins, he shoehorned over 25 years of comic book continuity into a 90-minute film, depriving it of any real character development or story depth. He makes the same mistakes in Ghost Rider, but to such an extent that it makes Daredevil look like The Godfather by comparison. Yes, this movie is that terrible.

To say this movie is a piece of cinematic excrement would be an insult to other pieces of cinematic excrement. The writing is deplorable, the acting by Nicholas Cage, Eva Mendes, and Wes Bentley is laughably bad, the characters are all one-dimensional, the plot (what little there is) makes no sense, and even the action scenes, which could have been Ghost Rider’s one saving grace, were flat and downright boring. Mark Steven Johnson’s movies have zero atmosphere. There is no creativity in the lighting or the cinematography. It’s all slick, mood-less, brightly lit, basic, “point the camera dead-on and shoot” stuff with no visual dynamic whatsoever. Upon seeing the film’s poster in the theater lobby, which has an aged, white-washed, western feel to it, my friend commented that it’s pretty sad when the poster has a more creative visual look than the actual movie. He was right.

Let’s be honest here, Ghost Rider has always been a C-level Marvel Comics character, with the exception of a hot streak in the early 1990’s. Regardless, he’s a visually stunning creation that should instill awe in an audience and maybe even some fear, if handled properly. It’s really a no-brainer when you think about it, just put a guy with a flaming skull for a head on the screen and have him do cool stuff, right? Wrong. Johnson and crew manage to screw it up, and make the character look silly. HOW THE HELL DO YOU MAKE A FLAMING SKULL LOOK SILLY? Well, they managed it, somehow. Ghost Rider is not taken seriously for one single frame. He constantly mugs for the camera, spouts bad one-liners, cracks his knuckles, waves his index finger in an “ah-ah-ah” disapproving motion, gives the cops the middle finger, and is simply not threatening at all. The special effects are done well enough, especially the penance stare sequence, but what does it matter when you essentially castrate the character?

ghost_rider_trailer.jpg

The other characters fare no better, however. Wes Bentley, last seen videotaping a paper bag in American Beauty, is Ghost Rider’ s main adversary Blackheart, the son of Satan. Once upon a time, this kid was heralded as a great new actor, destined for great things. Well, if those great things included dressing up like a depressed Goth kid and lifelessly spitting out terrible z-grade movie-villain cliches, then bravo, you made it Wes. Blackheart’s minions “The Hidden”, three demons who control the elemental powers of Wind, Earth, and Fire, look like rejects from a third season episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. They hiss and pout in their crocodile-skin trenchcoats, but never seem like real threats and are dispatched with ease.

Nicholas Cage, looking absolutely ridiculous in a shaggy black toupee, basically does a bad Elvis impersonation for two hours as motorcycle stuntman-turned-Devil’s bounty hunter Johnny Blaze. Eva Mendes, fresh off such memorable performances in umm…2Fast 2Furious, is wooden, mumbly, and utterly worthless. I’ve seen better acting out of a JC Penney’s mannequin. Peter Fonda makes a decent Mephistopheles, but I kept wishing he’d smash Nicholas Cage over the head with that skull-topped cane, strap on a helmet, steal the motorcycle and ride off with Dennis Hopper. Donal Logue shows up and says some funny stuff occasionally.

The only good thing about this fiery turd is Sam Elliot’s character Carter Slade, the original old-west Ghost Rider(yes they crammed that in). He can make the shittiest dialogue sound awesome and hell, even meaningful. Oh, and Eva Mendes has fantastic cleavage. That’s about it.

There are some cool special effects sequences, and if you’ve ever read Marvel Comics it is a treat to see Ghost Rider whip his chain around and ride his flaming motorcycle on screen, but beyond that there is nothing redeeming here. Like Joel Schumacher, Mark Steven Johnson should never be allowed near another comic book adaptation ever again. Sadly, he is currently hard at work on the Preacher series for HBO. A terrifying thought for anyone who has ever read and enjoyed that brilliant comic.

3.5 out of 10.

Vodpod Series 1:Chad Vader

So today I discovered the awesome power of the Vodpod sidebar widget here on wordpress. Vodpod is a really neat site that allows you to upload, organize, and share videos from your own hard drive or any of the video sites out there like YouTube, Google Video, etc. You can then put up the videos and watch them right in the sidebar ( a mini-player will pop out).

What I thought I’d do to make things a little more fun around here is rotate a new series of videos every month, each with a similar theme. First up is Chad Vader: Day Shift Manager, a hilarious ongoing short film series chronicling the misadventures of Chad Vader, the younger brother of Darth Vader. Chad works as the day shift manager at “Empire Supermarket”, where he rules the grocery universe with an iron fist and clashes with his arch-nemesis Clint, the night shift manager. The folks responsible for this brilliant Star Wars parody can be found at Blame Society Productions. Here’s the first episode of Chad Vader:Day Shift Manager. Watch the other ones right over there in the sidebar!