Sunday, June 17, 2012

Movie Review: Rock of Ages

Rock of Ages was a lot of fun. If you enjoy the rock of the 80’s then you’ll probably enjoy it too. However, if you are looking for great acting, a wonderful script or anything else, you will be sorely disappointed.

An adaptation of the hit musical, Rock of Ages follows Sherrie (Julieanne Hough) from her home in safe Oklahoma with her sweet grandma to the mean streets of Los Angeles. The streets are so mean that moments after getting off the Greyhound, she is mugged and her one suitcase is stolen. The suitcase with all of her albums! Of course, coming to her aide is the adorable Drew (Diego Boneta - the South American Justin Bieber). He’s a bartender and wannabe singer at The Bourbon Club … the mecca for all things rock-n-roll. As fate would have it, a waitress has just quit. So a half-hour after getting off the bus, Sherrie has a job and a hot guy … no albums, but hey, you can’t have everything.

Dennis Dupress (Alec Baldwin) is the club’s owner. He’s banking on the night’s big act, Staccee Jaxx (Tom Cruise) and his sleezy manager Paul Gill (Paul Giamatti), to rescue the club. But hoping to close the club down is the mayor’s wife Patricia Whitmore (Catherine Zeta-Jones). She is a born-again Christian and a hardcore opponent of hard rock.

Julieanne and Diego are game but the poor kids just don’t have the acting chops. The by-the-numbers script didn’t help much either. The dialogue was functional. It’s purpose was to get from song to song. Fortunately, there were lots of songs. Even though, as singers, Hough, Boneta and Cruise gave it their all but vocally they were still a little light. I was actually scared for Julieanne when she had to sing with Mary J Blige!

Having said all of that, Rock of Ages realizes that it isn’t an Academy Award-winning event. It is fun and it doesn’t take itself too seriously. I love all 80’s music and so does the friend I saw it with. We sang along with all of the songs and had a good time. If you, like we did, know all the words to Rock You Like a Hurricane, Wanted Dead or Alive and Sister Christian then you might like this too. If you don’t like 80’s rock and hair metal or if you are swinging on the other side of the pendulum (a rock-n-roll purist who wouldn’t appreciate the musical-esque interpretation of the songs), then take a pass.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Movie Review: Prometheus

I know this isn't the movie poster,
but I just wanted to squeeze in a
pic of Idris Elba! Mmmm, good!
If you ever wondered (and I never did) where those weird-looking extra terrestrials in the Aliens series came from, you’ll get your answer in Prometheus, the prologue to the series. After two decades and a boatload of other movies ranging from Thelma and Louise to Gladiator to American Gangster, director Ridley Scott returns to the genre that he helped define: science fiction. The auteur who gave us Alien and Blade Runner returns to give us the prequel to Alien, Prometheus.

The film begins right here on planet Earth where a pair of scientist/lovers (Noomi Rapace as Elizabeth Shaw and Logan Marshall-Green as Charlie Holloway) have uncovered a series of ancient cave drawings from a variety of disparate civilizations that all point towards the same visitors from outer space. They convince Peter Weyland of the Weyland Corporatation (played by an almost unrecognizable Guy Pearce), to fund a trip to the planet they believe started our civilization. Led by icy and robot-like Meredith Vickers and her android counterpart David (Michael Fassbender) with a shuttle driven by Janek (Idris Elba – my reason for seeing the film. LOL!) his crew and a few scientists, they hope to learn about humanity's true origins.

 I don’t want to say too much more for fear of giving something away, so I’ll get on with the review. Ridley Scott has made a visually-compelling film. I would definitely see it at a theatre. I didn’t see the 3-D version and almost wish I had. I'm sure it would have looked amazing.

As a prequel, it also explains the origins of the alien we came to know, and not love, in 1979’s Alien. The film also grapple’s with one of life’s largest questions, like, “Why are we here?” and “Where did we come from?” The answers it poses are provocative at best and sacrilegious at worse (at least to those who believe in God or Darwin for that matter.

 However, what was missing for me was connection. I didn’t feel connected to any of the characters. I wish they had spent more time on character development because I never really felt invested in this heroine, this pair of lovers or this crew. So as the body count rose, my concern or interest in their fates didn’t rise along with it.

 It’s taken me a couple of days to write this because I wasn’t sure how to rate it. I’m going to give it a lukewarm Liked It mainly for the visuals and special effects.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Summer TV Picks: Weekend Edition

Incredibly, there really isn’t anything piquing my interest on Friday night. So, call me crazy, but maybe, this is a sign that I need to do something crazy like get out of the house, take a night away from the B.A.T (which is what I call my 55” TV – the Big Ass Television) and have a life. You know do things, like go out to dinner, check out a few new spots, or something.

I’ll be back home, in front of the bat, with my eyes fixed on Investigation Discovery watching Wicked Attraction at 9:00 (a repeat) and a new episode at 10:00 p.m. For those of you who aren’t ID Addicts, Wicked Attraction is a show that features couples (sometimes siblings or friends) who get together and commit terrible crimes they might not have committed if they hadn’t met the other person.

It’s a repeat of Friday night! Only I’ll prpbably end up watching things that I’ve DVRed. Given the relatively slim summer pickings, I might try to catch up on a show I've missed like Revenge or actually make another attempt to read a book, or play with my dog or do any number of things I say I'm going to spend more time doing.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Summer TV Picks: Thursday

Thursdays my TV watching doesn’t start until 9:00 because I have salsa class (yes, I said salsa) and by the time I get home and settled in, it’s around 9:00.

Let’s start by telling you guys what I won’t be watching … cheesy dating shows on FOX. They have been promoting the hell out of Take Me Out and The Choice and neither one has even remotely piqued my interest. According to the shows descriptions, Take Me Out is about “Thirty women look for a summer fling.” The Choice is described as “Celebrities looking for love include reality-TV star Paul ``Pauly D'' Del Vecchio, musician Romeo, athlete Jeremy Bloom and actor Jason Cook.” Dating reality shows have never been my thing and neither of these flimsy shows will change that.

Music reality shows, however, are my thing. So, I should be watching the second hour of Duets; but, I don’t like coming into a show in the middle. Most likely, I’ll catch Duets over the weekend (I’m loving Time Warner’s Look Back feature!).

So what will I be watching. I’ll be watching my new favorite network, Identification Discovery or as I like to call it, “All Crime, All of the Time.” The season premiere of Behind Mansion Walls is at 9:00. Basically, this show is about really rich people who commit crimes. The late Dominick Dunne did it better on Power, Privilege and Justice on TruTV (but back when it was the far superior CourtTV) and the campy Behind Mansion Walls host makes me miss him all the more. Despite Mason, I still like the show.

I’ll stay on ID at 10:00 for a new show called Blood Relatives. This one is about family members who turn on their own. I am a definite ID addict. I’ve spent weekends on this channel! In fact, whenever, I’m looking for something to watch, I usually end up here. I can’t help it, the criminal mind is fascinating and truth is definitely stranger than fiction!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Summer TV Picks: Wednesday

Think? I know I can dance
but that's not the point.

Not much going on this evening. However, I am going to watch the entire So You Think You Can Dance? season. I’ve never seen an entire season from the beginning. I have a girlfriend who loves this show so I think I’ll give it a chance.

I might DVR the Hatfields and McCoys on Lifetime. It’s got a great cast led by Bill Paxton and Kevin Costner. It has that western feel to it. Since I grew  up watching reruns of Bonanza, Big Valley and Alias Smith and Jones with my dad, I have grown to appreciate a good western. Of course, I realize that the Hatfield and McCoy feud took place in West Virginia so it’s not really ‘western’ but you get the point.

My Summer Picks So Far

Loving MasterChef! I’m ready for them to get beyond the auditions and start cooking. Not so sure who I’m rooting for yet. I think I’ll figure it out when we get down to the actual group of contestants.

Loving the feisty group over on Hell’s Kitchen. NOT loving the fact that Barbie, the black woman, has already been set up to be this season’s villain. I’m going to have to re-watch last night’s episode to see why her entire team jumped on her back. I must have missed something while I was walking the dog because last I saw, she had helped them win the scallop challenge and was the first one to get an appetizer out of the kitchen during the dinner service. Reality TV always wants to play the Evil Black Woman card and I for one am getting tired of it.

Speaking of getting tired, I am no longer as stoked as I was for The Glee Project Season Two after the first episode. I get that Glee is about the underdog but they went totally PC for this group: the Muslim girl, the blind guy, a girl in a wheelchair, a boyish lesbian, a transgendered guy, overweight girl … as if there weren’t less visually obvious ways to be an underdog. Personally, I liked that during the first seasons of Glee we got to see how even the popular kids were flawed and sometimes felt like underdogs.
Once they announced the bottom three I knew immediately, before a note was sung, who was going home. It was that painfully PC and obvious. Aylin (the Muslim girl) versus Tyler (the transgendered guy) versus Maxfield (the white boy). From that alone, can you guess who’s going home? Aylin was really good with her version of David Guetta's Without You and I figured of the three she’d be a safe bet and she was. Then, it came down to Tyler versus Maxfield. Tyler was HORRIBLE. It was clear that the only reason he’d made it this far was because of his transgendered status. It pisses me off because someone with more talent could have taken his spot. 

His rendition of The Jackson 5’s ABC sounded like it was being sung by Steve Urkel from Family Matters. Maxfield, the country crooner, had Willie Nelson’s Always on My Mind. Comfortably in his wheelhouse, he killed it. However he’s not PC, so he was out – leaving Tyler alive another week to make my ears bleed.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Summer TV Picks: Tuesday Night

Okay, Tuesday, we have a problem. We actually have a two conflicts, one at 9:00 p.m., the other at 10:00 p.m..

8:00 PM is fine. For the second day in a row, I’ll be watching Hell’s Kitchen. Delicious!

The first conflict comes at 9:00 when MasterChef goes head-to-head with Rizzoli and Isles on TNT. I watched an episode of the first season somewhat reluctantly (nothing else was on) and I actually liked it. Angie Harmon (Jane Rizzoli) and Sasah Alexander (Maura Isles) have a great chemistry and it extends to the rest of the cast. Tuesday night on TNT is fun.

However, I think I’ll watch MasterChef and DVR R & I. Sorry ladies, Gordon Ramsey for the win!

At 10:00, it’s another TNT show. This time it’s TNT's Franklin and Bash. Mark-Paul Gosselar and Breckin Meyer are two attorneys living in a state of suspended adolescence who somehow manage to be pretty good lawyers (despite their courtroom hijinx). Okay, I don’t really know why I like this show, but I do. True, the leads have chemistry like R & I but otherwise it’s a pretty silly show. I’ll just file this one under guilty pleasures.

However, its up against the second season of The Glee Project … one of my favorite summer shows from last season. I’m a major Gleek so this really isn’t even a battle. The Glee Project wins hands-down. I’ll have to DVR Franklin and Bash. It’s entirely possible I might forget about it at all.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Summer TV Picks: Monday Night

Once upon a time, summer TV sucked. It was made up of re-runs of fall and winter TVs. One could argue that it was a good thing because you could actually go out during the long days of summer and actually do things without worrying about missing something good on TV. Of course, once upon a time, you didn't have DVRs and if you really want to go back, you didn't even have a VHS. Go back even further and you'll run into a time when kids were the remote control and TV went off at 1:00 in the morning.

I digress. Summer TV has really picked up. Now, you have an actual Summer Season with first run shows and some of them are actually good and not just cast-off shows that couldn't make it in the regular season. So this week, I'm going to share what I'll be watching over the summer. It's a mix of network but mostly cable shows. I watch a lot more cable in the summer.

Well, Hell’s Bells! It’s almost too good to be true. Starting tonight, Hell’s Kitchen comes on at 8:00 p.m. followed by MasterChef at 9:00 p.m. Two hours of Gordon Ramsey, back-to-back! I am definitely a Ramsey fan. In fact, his are the only cooking shows I watch.
First up, I can watch him go ballistic on a bunch of ‘professional’ chefs who can’t get their shit together. Then, I can watch a slightly-kinder, gentler Ramsey work with a bunch of talented amateurs on MasterChef. I can actually say that watching what these non-professionals can do, inspired me to reignite my passion for the culinary arts.

At 10:00, I might actually –gasp! – read a book. Or, what is most likely, I’ll probably watch Fatal Encounters on ID. Although I suspect the season for that show is wrapping up which will leave me with early news or reading (what a radical idea).

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Movie Review Snow White and the Huntsman

Before seeing Snow White and the Huntsman, forget anything and everything you thought you knew based on the Disney film. The virginal, clean Snow White and her jolly band of elves are gone. This is not Walt Disney’s Snow White. Hell, it’s not even the Grimm Brother’s Snow White or even Once Upon a Time’s Snow.

This is Snow White: Warrior Princess. This is Snow White as an action hero. This Snow White kicks ass. The story starts off the usual way with young Snow White (Raffey Cassidy) losing her mother (Liberty Ross) and her father taking a new wife (The Evil Queen/Stepmother) (played by Charlize Theron). She banishes Snow (now played by Kristen Stewart) to a prison tower and she and her creepy brother (Sam Spruell) run the kingdom into the ground.

The Queen, however, is as vain as she is ambitious, and her ruthless quest to stay youthful has her sucking the youth out of young women and the hearts out of others. When her Mirror tells her that to attain immortality and eternal youth she must eat the heart of ‘the fairest of them all’ … and that would be Snow White.

When Snow gets her chance, she breaks out of her prison and the Queen hires a Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth) to find her. Later in the search, he is joined by Snow’s childhood friend Prince William (Sam Claflin). Of course, they eventually run into the decidedly unmerry group of dwarfs (including Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone and Ian McShane).

I don’t mind a ‘reinvention’ of an old tale and this is definitely that. Snow White may be the heroine but this is an action movie. With barely a hint of romance (which I kind of missed). However, they do take the time to set up a raggedy love triangle and, frustratingly, left it unresolved at the end.

Charlize was over-the-top, but in this case, the role calls for it. She was dripping with evil as the Queen. I’ve never seen any of the Twilight movies but Kirsten Stewart was good enough. I just wish they would have invested as much in feeling as they did special effects. When it came to the Dark Forest and The Enchanted Forest the effects were outstanding. If this movie is up for any award it will be for make-up (the Queen) or Special Effects (for both forests).

The action was hot and heavy too. Lots of visually stunning fighting, swordplay and battle sequences.

Yet, I found myself yearning for more of a connection with these characters. Yet, maybe you aren’t like me and would welcome a Snow White with no mushy stuff. In that case, you’ll really enjoy Snow White and the Huntsman.