“2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.” – 24 Live Another Day Review (Episode 4)

20 05 2014

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Well we’re now four hours into this day and somebody’s already lost a few fingers. Yes, we already knew Margot Al-Harazi (Michelle Fairley) was creepy, but now we know she’s 100% crazy town- and hell-bent on destroying the UK’s and USA”s drone programs, thus dubbing this season “Game of Drones.” Her daughter’s going to have trouble knifing people with THAT hand now.

On the Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) side of things, we had a Jason Bourne-esque cat-and-mouse chase in a US embassy that ended up in a hostage situation. While we know Jack isn’t going to get gunned down, the hour did manage to build quite a bit of tension by establishing that there was no possible way to escape. I like that the President did give Jack the courtesy of a phone call (as he said, he HAS earned that much by now), but I was disappointed that Heller was so easily swayed by Mark. Can he even count how many times Bauer has saved him or Audrey?! Anyway, Kate (Yvonne Strahovski) managed to save the day in another positive mark for her character. Hopefully she and Jack can work together now.

If Rule #1 of this 24 season was “Don’t Stand Next to Jack in A Crowd,” Rule #2 is “Nothing Gets Better at the End of the Hour.” The Widow of Yorkshire now has control of ten drones with a now-willing pilot, Jack is in custody, and Audrey’s (Kim Raver) husband Mark (Tate Donovan) is officially in the dog house for the rest of the day. Bring on the next hour!

 

Kate 24

You could do worse, Jack.

Extra Time:

1. Chloe continues to be a solid character. I’m sensing a bit more conflict between her and the hackers in the near future.

2. There was so much suspense this hour, I barely noticed there was a lack of actual fighting sequences. Well played, episode.

3. Again, 24 proves that it deserves this return season.

 

Final Score:

9/10

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“Deus Ex Machina”- Person of Interest Season Finale Review (Season 3, Episode 23)

14 05 2014

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And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why Person of Interest is one of the best shows out there today. “Deus Ex Machina” could arguably be the best episode yet for the series- at the very least it’s the most important one since the pilot. Before we get into the myriad of twists at the end, let’s talk about the trial. The stakes were high, as the entire rogues gallery (minus Elias) and Finch were all threatened with a death sentence by Peter Collier (Leslie Odom Jr.) in a mock trial streaming live to the world (or so we thought). After the first government head got shotgunned mid-sentence, I really wasn’t sure who was going to make it out. This was easily Odom Jr.’s best acting moment with that character, and he made it easy to identify with not only his point of view, but also surprisingly Control’s. Her behavior during the trial and shielding of Harold came as a huge surprise and showed us a lot about her motivations have been. Actually, the trial helped dig into all of those characters’ psyches in a way that didn’t feel like unnatural exposition.

Like last season finale, the writers decided to pair up the characters in a very entertaining way. Shaw and Root were great with their normal passive-aggressive joking, and Reese and Hersh (Boris McGiver), well, just kicked butt together. I enjoyed rooting for Hersh so much that it was shocking when he got taken out at the end. It’s always a shame when a well-written likable character is knocked off, especially when it appeared that he may join Team Machine in the future, but it just shows that nobody is really safe here. Farewell Hersh, you BA government hitman.

Now, what about that truly game-changing ending? What new identities are in the envelopes? How will Team Machine get numbers now, and how can they work together even if they do? Obviously, this conclusion turned  the show completely on its head, so it will be interesting to see how this all works out next season. To be honest, I did not see Decima being responsible for Vigilance, and Collier was the last person who I thought would be knocked off, so kudos to the writing there. My theory was either The Machine or a Vigilance higher-up was Collier’s mystery contact, but of course that was nowhere close.

It’s weird to think how much this season has changed the status quo of the show. Season 3 of POI has brought us the masterful Carter/HR trilogy, the introduction of Samaritan, Vigilance, and now the complete breakdown of Team Machine. They’ve  become less vigilantes and more like fugitives, and it’s unclear how long the writers will run with this. When even the Bat Cave (library) is abandoned and trashed by SWAT, you know things are not as they once were. Thank goodness this show got renewed, right?

 

leslie odom vigilance season 3

Crazy train has no brakes.

 

Points of Interest:

1. I loved Commando Fusco and his sidekick Bear in a giant armored vehicle. Heck, I’d watch a season about just that.

2. Nice opening moment with Shaw and Reese kneecapping henchmen, only to have Hersh shoot them. All of their reactionary expressions were great.

3. How does this show consistently top itself? Hopefully their streak will carry over the break.

4. Here’s hoping that season 4 brings back Elias in some way. At this point he could still easily be a helper or a villain.

5. I think it’s fair to say that this has been nothing short of a fantastic season. Now to weather the long break till next season.

 

Final Score:

POI five bear





“1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.” – 24 Live Another Day Review (Episode 3)

13 05 2014

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Lesson #1: Don’t stand next to Jack in the middle of a crowd. This episode threw even more crap at the fan with Jack getting into impossible situations, characters betraying each other, and a really creepy villain being introduced. So, basically the same 24 components that you know and love.

Even with all the action, we managed to get some substantial character development. Kate Morgan (Yvonne Strahovski) showed that she’s more than willing to break the rules to get the job done, so we can bet that she’s destined to eventually side with Jack later. I know some people have said they don’t care for her character, but I’m loving it- especially that awesomely hilarious interrogation in the vehicle. My money’s on her getting Jack out of his situation at the embassy next week.

Audrey’s husband Mark ( Tate Donovan ) has finally proven he’s a controlling scumbag, forging a signature and not letting Audrey (Kim Raver) out of his reach. Initially I actually had sympathized with his point of view more than Audrey’s with his prep methods for the President, but it’s obvious now he’s just looking out for himself. To be fair, at least at this point in time the President’s address to Parliament is more disastrous than a certain Clippers owner speaking at an Obama fundraiser.

We also got some more insight into Choe’s (Mary Lynn Rajskub) transformation. Gosh, both her husband and son gone? I did not see that coming, and for me it was the most emotional moment.

Finally, can we talk about how creepy Michelle Fairley is as “The Yorkshire Widow” Margot? From her touching scene when she semi-tortured her daughter to video-stalking her and her husband, I was literally cringing in my recliner at how awful she’s made her character. It’s good that they’ve managed to already establish a legitimate villain this early in the game. And that’s what has made this season so strong so far- all the normal fat has been trimmed. Can they keep up this tightness for nine more hours? I certainly hope so.

Today's "Jerk Award" goes too...

Today’s “Jerk Award” goes too…

Extra Time:

1. Favorite Quote: “They’re shooting at us! They’re shooting at us!!”  -funny Jack Bauer

2. “You can’t bring back the ones you love, but you can honor their lives by helping others. It’s the only way to move forward.” – serious Jack Bauer

3. “You have this annoying habit of asking for favors while pointing a gun.”

4. Not as much action this hour, but the day is still young.

 

Final Score:

8.5/10





The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Review

13 05 2014

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The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is the story of how Spider-Man helped Sony keep its movie rights with a decent sequel, but was ultimately defeated by ridiculously two-dimensional villains. Sure, there’s some fun to be had, since it’s always fun to see what millions of dollars of CGI can do, and there’s even a profound theme about time somewhere. Unfortunately there’s also four or so other story lines that distract and tangle up in a web of too much information. Some great examples of too much material: a completely unnecessary opening act that finally answered the question, “did Peter’s parents die in a plane crash?” (yes, they did), a completely unnecessary villain (Rhino), and a jaw-droppingly small payoff to the big mystery about Peter’s dad.

Aw. So sweet, good thing nothing happens to them.

Aw. So sweet, good thing nothing happens to them.

But hey, let’s talk about the good aspects first. First, I finally bought Andrew Garfield‘s Peter Parker. He came across as more fun and less of a jerk, and I even ended up enjoying bits of him and Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) together. Their love story was handled just as well as the original Sam Raimi trilogy (you can’t help but compare to the original films if it’s been less than 10 years). Also, there was an underlying theme about spending your time wisely that I enjoyed. There were multiple shots of clocks, Gwen spelled it out in her valedictory, and Gwen’s final scene was in a clock tower. Did you miss it? I sure did, until someone pointed it out to me. If they stayed focused on this deeper content instead of throwing in more and more plot fluff, I really believe this could have been a stronger movie. Finally on that note, Dane DeHaan‘s performance as Harry Osborn was surprisingly my favorite villain, even though they crunched into half a movie what the original trilogy developed in three. Sorry, I don’t buy that you’re “best friends” if you hung out ten years ago (at age 8!) and just reconnected for a whole 24 hours. That said, DeHaan seemed to understand his character and made the most of it.

Rhino Electro Green Goblin

Emo Harry, Doctor Manhattan, and Drunk Uncle.

Now for the bad, that is,  the other two villains. Jamie Foxx is supposed to be the film’s main villain Electro, who becomes a powerful electronic entity who can fly because he electrocuted the crap out of himself in a tub full of eels. Yes, it makes about as much sense in the movie too, and his whole origin scene seemed out of place in a movie series where they made so much effort to logically explain Goblin and the Lizard. Even more hilarious  was how frying his brains out with electric eels did several year’s of orthodontic work on his teeth, even taking out the world’s most fake looking  tooth gap. What really fizzled (ho!) was his pre-Electro acting as Max Dillon. Foxx as Max was an eye-rollingly cheesy example of over-acting that did the character no justice. I could go on to discuss how he went from Spider ultra-fan to Spider-hater in 5 seconds, but I won’t because at that point his special effects were at least awesome. His end fight scene also crackled with pretty lighting effects until its sudden K.O. and the writers swept him under the rug.

If you ever wondered what Paul Giamatti looks like tripping on bath salts, this is your answer. Paul as Aleksei Sytsevich aka Rhino basically acts like a psycho Russian caricature who’s had too much crazy vodka. It’s a cartoonish, 60’s-era performance that somehow makes Jaime Foxx’s seem subtle. Out of all three villains, Rhino’s appearance in the movie is definitely the most rushed (clocking in with 10 minutes screen time at the most), but he still somehow manages to remove any emotional payoffs from the ending with the worst buildup to the worst non-existent fight ever. As in, if you’ve seen the trailers, you’ve seen the entire Rhino robot suit battle. It simply cuts off out of shame. By the time the mid-credits X-Men trailer (I know, what?) shows up, any lasting effect from the movie’s deeper parts had largely disappeared.

Meth. Not even once.

Meth. Not even once.

Final impressions? Too much exposition and too many villains clog up an otherwise entertaining film. The Amazing Spider-Man movie series is getting better, but in my mind this was still not even as good as Spider-Man 3, because at least that bloated film had better villains and J. Jonah Jameson. On that note, here’s a clip of him laughing.

Still Missed.

Still Missed.

 





“A House Divided” – Person of Interest Review (Season 3, Episode 22)

7 05 2014

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Rejoice Person of Interest fans, for the finale saga is in full swing. “A House Divided” brought back numerous old POI’s and villains, turned alliances around, and even shut down New York City’s power just for kicks. We started the hour off with not one, not two, but five numbers who are connected by a deep interest  in The Machine and Samaritan. This meant Team Machine each had their own issues to tackle.

First of all, Vigilance is on a warpath and attempts to take out or kidnap major government players (including Control), succeeding by the end of the episode despite Shaw’s best  efforts. We saw some nice background info on Collier (Leslie Odom Jr.), who previously had been one of the more under-developed villains. Turns out he’s only been doing this whole terrorism thing since 2010 or 2011, and honestly he has a pretty good reason to be ticked off at Uncle Sam’s Orwellian Machine. He also was studying to be a lawyer, which is relevant to part two’s focus.

Captive Finch essentially chats with Greer the majority of the time, but surprisingly these moments are some of the highlights because it showcased some great writing coupled with stellar performances from Michael Emersonand John Nolan. Greer’s story about seeing a sunset when the sky was actually “on fire” from bombing was perfect. The series of exchanges between the two really shed light on both men and their stark differences.

Finally, Root (Amy Acker) and Reese (Jim Caviezel) mixed gun-play with hacking skills, with Root revealing her aces- a hacker team comprised of past persons of interest. Oh, and those seven servers she lifted from Decima? Not sure what her plan is with those, but as the show ended we’ve got her and them outside Samaritan’s server building. It was fun have the least-friendly members of the team having to play nice to save Finch.

What really will have people talking happened at the very end (of course). After Collier takes Greer, Finch, Control and others captive, he reveals that he has a somewhat theatrical trial planned for them, with a very swift punishment for those deemed guilty. Shaw and Reese are now momentarily working with Hersh (Boris McGiver) to make the most butt-kickin’ rescue squad ever, but will they be too late? Obviously I don’t see Finch getting killed off, but there are two other main characters on trial. Also, I can’t help but be a little concerned for Root, who has grown on me this season (thanks to Amy Acker). If the whole Samaritan storyline is resolved (not a given yet), what purpose would she have on the show? I’d hate to see her get written off. What do you think, is this a crazy theory or a real possibility? Either way, get ready for an insane final hour next week.

Root Reese Amy Acker Jim

The Odd Couple

 

Points of Interest:

1. Poor Fusco always seems to get the short stick on appearances. It makes sense though this time- this finale series is all about The Machine, and Lionel has nothing to do with that aspect. I’m still holding out for at least one humorous moment with him next hour.

2. A lot of people say this show reminds them of Batman, and to be fair there are certain similarities (such as the same writer). I couldn’t help but think of Harvey Dent/Two Face and his twisted “trials” when I saw next week’s promo with Collier. Hey, I’m not complaining.

3. Root and John actually work quite nicely together, with Reese’s no-nonsense BA face complementing Root’s crazy eyes nicely.

4. We have a confirmed Bear sighting in next week’s promo. Woot!

5. John Nolan can make any line sound ominously cool.

Final Score:

POI four bear





24: Live Another Day Premiere Review (Hours 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.)

6 05 2014

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Jack. Is. Back. I never thought I would say that years ago when they finally pulled the plug on the award-winning 24, and at the time it seemed like he should finally take a well-deserved rest. Jack Bauer’s had some astoundingly crappy days, but they were always a blast to watch, even if the originally unique formula had become a little familiar (and at times even stale).  Eight seasons had taken their toll on the writers’ creativity, and honestly how many times can we stop the terrorists/Russians/Chinese/etc. from bombing cities or assassinating public figures? With the budget growing each season, FOX decided to announce in the middle of the eighth season that there would be no ninth. The last few episodes did kick up the action and developments in reaction to the news, but it still lacked the sendoff the trail-blazing series deserved. Years passed. The most fans hoped for was a feature-length film to tie up loose ends. Instead, the generous TV Fairies have given us a whole twelve hours of new story. But will it make fans happy or come across as a last desperate grab for ratings?

I’ll be reviewing episodes 1 and 2 since they were aired as one block. Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) went a little too long on the crazy train in season 8, and is now a fugitive from pretty much everyone. We find out he’s in London, as is now-President (!) James Heller (William Devane) and his now-married daughter Audrey (Kim Raver). Also, everyone’s favorite sulky tech wizard Chloe O’Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub) is back as well (applause), but she’s a little more- I don’t know what to say, punk-ish in her looks? Anyway, more on her in a little. Rounding out the main characters is newcomer Kate (Yvonne Strahovski  from Chuck), who is dealing with fallout from her husband selling secrets to China.

The story and writing in the opening hours were spot-on. 24 always tapped into current issues/fears, and this plot stays true to that strength. Some organization (we still don’t know who) has taken a piece of technology from a hacker, who discovered a way to take control of  American unmanned drones. Obviously there will be twists and turns, but the best part so far has been the pacing and character development, which had been a bit lacking in the last season. Thus far, we’ve had no random frustrating side plots or anything remotely resembling filler. It’s a leaner and meaner style that takes advantage of the new 12 episode format (although it still occurs in “real-time”).

Finally, I like how the characters evolved during the break. They’ve undergone some radical changes, but it still feels true to who they were before. Chloe especially stands out. She apparently served time for her role in Jack’s escape, and is now actively working against the government that she used to protect. She and her Anonymous-style group illegally leaked thousands of US government secrets to the public, and initially she is mildly antagonistic to Jack. Of course, she can’t stay that way too long after he breaks her out of her cell, and it was hilarious seeing her put her CTU skills to work in the hacker headquarters. It’ll be interesting to see how she changes during the rest of the day. If anything, she hasn’t lost her scowl.

 

Watch out London.

Watch out London.

 

Extra Time:

1. Jack kicked butt the whole first two hours. That’s a good thing.

2. Some favorite characters from other seasons have showed up. Also a good thing.

3. Writing? Much stronger, feels fresh again.

4. Best quote from Jack – “I may look like I’m at a disadvantage, but I can assure you that’s not the case.”

5. Welcome back, 24. Even if this is the last hurrah, it’s well worth it.

 

Final Score:

9/10 Bauer Points