Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween Netflix Picks #3: Movies to Watch

Welcome to a special Halloween edition of Netflix Picks where I recommend three creepy movies that perfect to watch on Halloween that you can find on Netflix!

More of a satire of the horror genre than a pure horror, Scream follows high school student Sidney Prescott in a small town where a murder in a mask terrorizes the town. While often more humorous than scary, Scream both parodies the tropes of the horror genre, as well as crafting a surprisingly competent mystery.
Release Date: December 20, 1996
Running Time: 111 minutes
MMPA rating: R

The Babadook
An Australian-Canadian psychological horror flick, The Babadook is the hidden gem of 2014. Horror is not my forte, and yet The Babadook stands as one of the more intelligent films in the genre from the last few years. Instead of relying on tons of mindless gore, The Babadook manages to use suspense and build-up to create its thrills. In addition, the film has a surprising amount of heart as it is a story about a single mother trying to raise her troubled child. The first 40 minutes of the film are undeniably slow. However, once the thrills begin, the pace really picks up. With that said, there are plenty of minor logic issues and points where the film's seriousness is undermined. Considering how awful most horror movies are today, these flaws can be overlooked.
Release Date: 22 May 2014
Running Time: 94 minutes
MMPA rating: PG-13

The Silence of the Lambs
Silence of the Lambs  follows FBI agent, Clarice Starling,  as she attempts to track down serial killer "Buffalo Bill" before he claims his next victim. To help find "Buffalo Bill," she interviews cannibalistic serial killer, Hannibal Lecter, and thus begins one of the most thrilling and frightening crime dramas of all-time. Currently the only horror film to win the Oscar for Best Picture, The Silence of the Lambs might not look like the typical horror fodder that you see but it is every bit as disturbing as it sounds. Hopkins' performance Hannibal Lecter is an absolute must-watch for any film fan that can stomach the grotesque matter, and as a crime thriller, there are few that maintain such strong tension.
Release Date: February 14, 1991
Running Time: 118 minutes
MMPA rating: R

There are many other horror films on Netflix here, as well as other streaming services. Which do you recommend? Please comment below and let me know!

Note: The above films are available on American Netflix as of 10/30/15.  

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Friday, October 30, 2015

Suicide Squad New Cast Photos

New photos of the Suicide Squad are here along with the Joker on the covers of Empire magazine. The photos give us a closer look at some of the members of the team. As for the Joker and Harley, I still need to see them in the film before being sole on their appearance. What do you think? Please comment below and let me know! Please check back tomorrow for a special Halloween edition of Netflix Picks!


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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Doctor Who: "The Woman Who Lived" Review

Game of Thrones star, Maisie Williams, returns again for the second part of her Doctor Who appearance.

*Spoilers Ahead*
The Doctor appears in 1600s London in search of an alien device, and he happens to run into the immortal Ashildr, thus setting the plot into motion. 

Again, the plot is the episode's weakest aspect. The whole idea of "Me" and the lion alien king, Leandro, who looks a lot like Lion-O from Thundercats, working together is a decent plot device to get the ball rolling. However, the conversation about Me's immortality feel heavy handed, and yet it lacks the gravity to make an impact on the audience. Thankfully, the aspect of her having trouble retaining her memories are a fascinating aspect of immortality that is rarely explored. 

While Maisie Williams was quite good in the previous episode, she seems to be lacking in this episode. Maybe it is the material, but her line delivery is noticeably weaker. She failed to sell me on the fact that she is hundreds of years old. However, that is not to say that she did not have her stronger moments. Towards the end of the episode, her performance is considerably stronger as she plays off of Capaldi and explores the parallels between the two characters.  

Peter Capaldi, as usual, is rather good. He excels in the later scenes of the episode, especially during the doctor puns. Another highlight is his dislike of banter. Clara is absent from this story, except for her bit at the end that foreshadows her impending departure from the series. What is going on with Clara? Where the writers will decide to go with this should prove rather interesting. And despite her limited screen time, Coleman continues to impress with surprising depth to her performance. Lastly, Rufus Hound as Sam Swift is rather fun to watch. He is witty and all around entertaining to watch. 

The episode's conclusion of Ashildr deciding that she does care and that she will watch over the Doctor's companions doe set some interesting things in motion. Will Williams appear yet again in Doctor Who? She could even play a minor in the upcoming "Class" spinoff series, providing the actress is not too busy with Game of Thrones. We will have to wait and see.

Overall: 7.2/10- Considering the potential of the set up, "The Woman Who Lived" is a little disappointing. It is far from being bad, but rather a lackluster conclusion. However, the larger ramifications set up at the end of the episode do present fascinating ideas for the future, even if the episode itself is unremarkable.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Movie Music and More 32# : "Brigadoon" (1954)

I (Hamlette) used to listen to this soundtrack all the time as a teen.  In fact, I still have most of the songs memorized, even the minor ones.  I'd listen to this while I was doing schoolwork or writing, and hearing it always makes me think of my little corner in the basement where I had my desk, not far from the family computer, which was a 486 and played CDs!  (Does anyone here even know what a 486 is?)

(Why does this lobby card advertise "the joy of color!" and then feature a big black-and-white photo?)

Okay, anyway, this is the soundtrack for Brigadoon, a musical about a very unusual town in Scotland:  it only exists on earth once every hundred years.  Two American hunters, Tommy (Gene Kelly) and Jeff (Van Johnson), stumble into the town on that one day, and Gene's character quickly falls in love with a Brigadoon woman, Fiona (Cyd Charisse).  Most of the movie takes place during that one day they have together.

"Once in the Highlands" is a lovely, haunting song that tells you the basics of the story before the movie even begins.  I guess the show's writers audiences to have extra help wrapping their heads around this kind of odd story.  "And this is what happened... the strange thing that happened... to two weary hunters who lost their way..."  I like the use of chorus here because it ends up sounding sombre and eerie, and really setting the mood for the story.

"The Heather on the Hill" is the big romance number.  Tommy is fascinated by Fiona, mostly because she's not trying to get him to marry her, but also because she's quiet and intelligent and sincere.  He's got a girl back in America who is loud and bossy and wants to marry him, you see, and the contrast kind of hooks him.  So here, he asks if he can join her in gathering flowers.

After that song, they dance this dance, which I love, partly because it's very different from Gene Kelly's typical jaunty, peppy dancing.  Fiona hasn't told Tommy yet that Brigadoon is magical, and in the dance, she's trying to keep herself from liking him because she knows it can't last, but gradually she finds she can't help falling for him.  (Her dress has the weirdest neckline ever, though -- it's always bugged me.)

And after dancing together, she leaves, and he sings my favorite song from the whole movie, "Almost Like Being in Love."  And dances a much more typical dance, for him.  He says "almost," but we can all tell there's no "almost" about him being in love by this point.  I'm just going ahead and including the movie clip for this song, partly because I love watching Gene Kelly dance and partly because Van Johnson is so grumpy and fed up through the whole thing that he makes me chuckle.  But if you'd rather just listen to the music, you can do that too -- you don't *have* to watch it if you're not all that into musicals or whatever.

That's all for today!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Doctor Who: "The Girl Who Died" Review

Game of Thrones star, Maisie Williams, makes her long awaited debut in "The Girl Who Died."

*Spoilers Ahead*

After saving Clara from a space-spider in the TARDIS, the Doctor and Clara end up being captured by vikings!

From the start, "The Girl Who Died" feels like a rather straightforward tale of a viking village standing up against an ultra powerful race of alien warriors, and for the most part, that is exactly what the episode is, until the final Act. 

As far as problems go, the weakest aspect is how the electric eels are used to stop the alien armor suits. Yes, electric eels generate power, but nowhere near that level of power. It felt corny and far too easy. Otherwise, the episode's main storyline is nothing worthy of note.
However, what made the episode rise above the norm are its larger implications to the second part, as well as the series as a whole. After looking at his reflection, the Doctor remembers his face and why he chose it. As many fans know, Capaldi played a small role in "The Fires of Pompeii" as a man that the Doctor saved, and the writers manage to write that minor role into a surprisingly moving character moment for the Doctor. He remembers that he saves people. That's what he does, although is that really a new revelation? The other great moment of the episode is when the Doctor almost starts to tear up after the conversation between Ashildr and her father. It is a great humanizing moment for the Doctor.
Peter Capaldi finally is given some strong material to work within the episode. He even makes the "baby speak" translation much less goofy and absurd than Smith, albeit still ridiculous. Game of Thrones actress, Maisie Williams, plays Ashildr, and having never watched Game of Thrones, this is my first exposure to her work. While she is very good, Williams is nothing extraordinary in her role.  

On the filmmaking side of things, the effects are acceptable with no noticeable flaws. Ed Bazalgette's visuals are adequate as well, but again, nothing to write-home-about. 

Overall: 7.6/10- On its own, "The Girl Who Died" is an entirely adequate episode of Doctor Who. However, the callbacks to previous seasons and a few key scenes raise it just above the norm.

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Monday, October 26, 2015

Reader's Choice

Time for another Reader's Choice! As always, please vote on the choices below. Your votes will decide what I will post in the coming weeks. In addition to the choices below, my Top 10 TV Comedies list and some Star Wars posts are on the way as well.

Top Lists:
5 Unconventional Sherlock Holmes Adaptations
Top 10 Animated Movies
Top 10 Anti-Heroes
Top 10 Best Works of Fiction of All-Time
Top 10 Characters in TV
Top 10 Detectives
Top 10 Dynamic Duos
Top 10 Heroes in Fiction
Top 25 Fantasy Movies
Top 10 Movie Heroes
Top 10 Soundtrack Composers
Top 25 TV Shows of All-Time

TV Reviews:
Arrested Development - Season 1-3 & 4
Breaking Bad - Season 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5 (Reviews for each season)
Frasier - Season 1
Psych - Season 1

New Movie Reviews:
Attack on Titan: Part 1 Live-Action Movie
The Maze Runner
The Fault in Our Stars

Older Movie Reviews:
12 Angry Men
Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

My Writing Playlist (aka My Favorite Songs)

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Sunday, October 25, 2015

Sherlock Special: New Trailer and Air Date

A new trailer for the upcoming BBC Sherlock is here, as well as the official release date, which will be on January 1st! Finally, BBC and PBS are airing the series at roughly the same time, similar to how Doctor Who is aired. The title of the episode will be "Sherlock: The Abominable Bride," and, of course, it will be set in 19 century London like the original stories. As a fan of almost every adaptation of the legendary detective, I am ecstatic! And, in the upcoming "Reader's Choice," you can vote for me to post "5 Unconventional Sherlock Holmes Adaptations," which, as the title describes, will focus on 5 adaptations that you might have never heard about. Please check back tomorrow for more details!

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Saturday, October 24, 2015

Marvel's Jessica Jones - Official Trailer

After countless teasers, a real trailer for Jessica Jones is finally here, and David Tennant, the 10th Doctor in Doctor Who, will play the villain, Dr. Zebediah Killgrave, aka Purple Man. Somehow, I completely overlooked the fact that David Tennant will star in the new Jessica Jones series! Considering that Fisk in Daredevil turned out to be one of Marvel's best villains, I have high hopes for Tennant's take on Killgrave. As for the rest of the trailer, it gives me much higher hopes that the series will succeed. Everything about the trailer sets up an interesting plot full of intrigue and thrills. Luke Cage's role appears to be larger, and Krysten Ritter looks excellent in the role. If Tennant is as excellent a villain as I hope, we are in for a real treat! What do you think? Please comment below and let me know!

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Friday, October 23, 2015

Marvel and Fox Developing “Hellfire” and “Legion” TV Series

You may remember last week that rumors suggested that Fox, who owns the X-Men and Fantastic Four film rights, would make a deal with Marvel / Disney to create a new TV series for Fox's television channels. While the details of the deal are incredibly vague, Marvel and Fox are developing a TV series about the Hellfire Club from X-Men: First Class film titled, "Hellfire." Variety's report states, "Fox’s 'Hellfire' is set in the late 1960s and follows a young special agent who learns that a power-hungry woman with extraordinary abilities is working with a clandestine society of millionaires, known as 'The Hellfire Club,' to take over the world."

The following are set to star and produce Hellfire: "Singer, Lauren Shuler Donner, Simon Kinberg, Evan Katz, Manny Coto, Jim Chory and Marvel’s Head of TV Marvel’s Jeph Loeb will serve as exec producers with Patrick McKay and JD Payne co-writing the script. '24' alums Katz and Coto will serve as showrunners. 'Hellfire' hails from Marvel TV and 20th Century Fox with 20th handling the physical production of the series in development."

The second TV series will be "Legion" on the FX channel. "FX’s 'Legion,' which is also based on an X-Men character, will tell the story of a troubled young man, David Haller, who may be more than human. Since he was a teenager, David has struggled with mental illness, and diagnosed as schizophrenic — he has been in and out of psychiatric hospitals for years. But after a strange encounter with a fellow patient, he’s confronted with the possibility that the voices he hears and the visions he sees might be real. In Marvel Comics canon, the character is Professor Charles Xavier’s mutant son."

Well, this is certainly interesting news. Hopefully, more details on how, if at all, these TV shows will affect the MCU and which companies own the rights to which properties will be revealed in the near future. What do you think? Please comment below and let me know!


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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Movie Music and More #31 : "The Quick and the Dead" (1995)

I, Hamlette, love westerns.  You probably know that by now.  I also tend to like Alan Silvestri's scores, and this ties with The Avengers (2012) for my favorite of his.

I feel like The Quick and the Dead is not an especially well-known movie, so I'll quick recap what it's about:  An unknown female gunslinger (Sharon Stone) enters a gunfighting competition on a quest to avenge her father's death.  It is a leeeeeetle bit cheesy here and there, but that's more than made up for by the presence of Russell Crowe as a killer turned pacifistic preacher, and of Gene Hackman as the powerful man who runs the town and knows everyone's secrets.  There's also a young Leonardo DiCaprio, and Gary Sinese is in a flashback scene.  Good cast, good music, satisfying story.  It's rated R, though, so watch with caution, as there are some skippable things.

But you don't need any caution when listening to the soundtrack!  I've had this on pretty heavy rotation lately, as it really fit the mood of a short western story I'm writing.  So here are a few tracks to give you an idea of what the soundtrack as a whole is like.

"Redemption" has such a classic western sound to it, with the whistling, the whip-cracks, and lots of guitar.  Really captures the exciting-but-sometimes-dark-and-pensive tone for the movie.

Here's that dark-and-pensive thing again.  Cort has a sad story, as you can tell from the music.  He's also my favorite Russell Crowe character ever.  He's gentle and kind, but so dangerous underneath.

"The Big Day" starts off all edgy and off-kilter, upping the tension handily.  It builds slowly, finally reaching a moody climax that conveys more sorrow than triumph.

Back to that main theme again that you heard in "Redemption," only this time it's presented with a clear and determined trumpet instead of whistling.  Then, because this is played during the end credits and composers like to do this, it pulls in other themes from throughout the score, so that this one track is kind of a nice overview of the major themes.

You can listen to the entire soundtrack on YouTube here, on Alan Silvestri's official channel.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Back to the Future: Part 2 Review

On this day, October 21, 2015, Marty McFly and Doc Brown traveled to, what was then, the future! Back to the Future Part II mesmerized audiences of 1989 with its portrayal of the “distance” future. Hoverboards, flying cars, and 3D movie ads for movies like Jaws 19 are all iconic moments from the film. It even predicted that the Chicago Cubs baseball team, who have not won a World Series since 1908, would finally break the “Curse of the Billy Goat” and win the World Series in 2015. While fully functioning hove-boards may be a thing of the future, technology is slowly reaching that point. Even the Cubs have a legitimate shot at winning the World Series if they can beat the Mets in the next few games of the NCLS. To celebrate the day, I am reviewing Back to the Future Part II, the sequel to one of my favorite films.
Directed by: Robert Zemeckis
Genre: Sci-Fi, Adventure, Comedy,
Release Date: November 22, 1989
Running Time: 108 minutes
MMPA rating: PG

The Good: Great soundtrack, Entertaining chemistry between the cast, A few hilarious moments,

The Bad: Tone comes off as unnecessarily corny, Lacks charm of the first,

Plot: 6.3/10- Part II’s biggest difference is that, while the first film managed to seamlessly pull off a goofy and lighthearted tone, Part II’s goofy moments, particularly Biff, come off as corny rather than charming. Of course, the time-travel plot, much like the first film, does lack logic, so that is not as much of an issue as it would be for more serious film. Otherwise, the pacing is solid, and its take on the future is even more humorous and amusing today than it was in 1989.

Characterization: 6.9/10- Back to the Future might not have the most complex characters but Marty and Doc Brown are iconic for a reason. They are fun to watch, and while they are not as fun as the first film, seeing the future version of Marty is still funny. However, Part II overuses the “Are you chicken?” phrase from the first film to an uncharacteristic degree.

Acting: 7.5/10- Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd’s chemistry is an excellent as ever. Their performances are what make the characters a blast to watch. Unfortunately, the dialogue is not nearly as smart or witty as the first film, and it shows as the delivery is noticeably weaker. The supporting cast is also weaker due to the campy script.

Special effects: 7.0/10- Part II’s effects hold up surprisingly well. Nothing is groundbreaking, but it at least looks good. The old-age makeup is the weakest aspect as it is glaringly obvious.

Soundtrack: 8.7/10- Alan Silvestri’s iconic theme from the first film returns along with new tracks to compliment the futuristic setting. However, the score as a whole is not nearly as memorable as the first.

Humor: 7.5/10- Part II is still a funny movie. The humor may not be as smart, but there are plenty of laughs to be had at the zany dialogue and amusing view of the “future.”

Entertainment Value: 7.7/10- Thanks to the humor and characters, Part II is, if nothing else, a fun movie. And it is one that I would watch again on occasion, albeit not nearly as often as the original film.

Overall: 7.0/10- Despite all its flaws, Back to the Future Part II is an entertaining, albeit disappoint, sequel. It may lack the charm of the original, but that does not mean it is a bad or boring film, and it is necessary viewing before watching the much better Part III.

Closing comments: Back to the Future Part II may not have accurately predicted much about the future. But without it, who knows if we would even have tried to make a hoverboard, and even if the Cubs lose, they have gotten closer to winning the World Series for the first time in years! Considering how inaccurate most films are at predicting the future, you have to admit, Part II did a mighty fine job.

Recommended for: Anyone that watched the first film,

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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer 3

The new trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens is here! And you can watch it above. After much deliberation, I have decided to not watch the trailer for the same reasons why I avoided the trailers for Age of Ultron. Without any preconceived notions and expectations, my experience of the film will be free of any influences. Few things are more enjoyable than being truly surprised, and that is what I am hoping for with this new Star Wars film. With that said, if you want to watch it, do so! In the meantime, to countdown to the film's release, I will be writing several lists of Star Wars' best characters, stories, video games, and more! Expect to see those in the coming months, as well as a post outlining what to expect in those posts.

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Monday, October 19, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens Official Poster and Tickets on Sale

The official poster for Star Wars: The Force Awakens is here! The poster definitely attempts to invoke the style of the original posters. Unfortunately, however, it is a little too cluttered like many modern posters. It is definitely a great poster, but not one that lives up to the Original Trilogy. Strangely absent is Mark Hamill as Luke. Maybe Abrams really is going to try something shocking and unexpected with Luke in the film. But we will have to wait and see. Another surprise is Carrie Fisher's hair! It is certainly.... unique to say the least. For a closer look at the poster, click on the image.

In other news, a new trailer for the film will air tonight on ESPN's Monday Night Football during halftime. Once the trailer airs, tickets will be on sale, so be sure to look for what if you are interested in early tickets! Check back tomorrow for the trailer!


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Sunday, October 18, 2015

Mark Ruffalo as Hulk to appear in Thor: Ragnarok

Variety reports that Mark Ruffalo will make an appearance in Thor: Ragnarok as the Hulk. How will the Hulk fit into Ragnarok's storyline since it does not take place on earth? Of all the Marvel movies, you would think the Hulk not fit in Ragnarok. Maybe he is in another vision or Loki summons him somehow to fight Thor. However he will appear, this will mark the first time the Hulk (not Banner) has appeared in a Marvel film outside of the Avengers films. Thor: Ragnarok is set to start production in 2016 and will release on 3 October 2015. What do you think? Please comment below and let me know.


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Saturday, October 17, 2015

Daredevil Season 2 Teaser Trailer

A new teaser trailer for Daredevil Season 2 is here, and it gives us our first look, or rather hint, at Jon Bernthal's The Punisher and √Člodie Yung's Elektra. This is a teaser so no one expects much, but it is great to see the two new characters. Usually, when a superhero flick has two villains, the result can be rushed. However, thanks to the runtime of a TV series, Daredevil should be able to pull it off. 

Visually, I like the brief look of the Punisher. It is not much to go on, but he looks like the kind of guy that will punish evil. Peter McRobbie as Father Lantom makes a more than welcome return as the protagonist's conscience, and he is the perfect character to be the mouthpiece for the moral dilemmas that Matt faces. Lastly, fingers crossed for a much improved costume! What do you think? Let me know in the comments below, and check back soon for a Reader's Choice poll.

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