“7:00 PM-8:00 PM” 24: Live Another Day Review (Season 9, Episode 9)

24 06 2014

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Jack’s got a Presidential pardon, and he’s gonna ride that bus until those wheels fall off. Episode 9 answered the question, what happens when you give Jack Bauer free reign? Well, let’s ask the Al-Harazi family, who opted to skip the stairs this time. Now yes, that was basically an execution, and blah blah blah that’s not great, BUT good grief that was a Bauer Moment to end all Bauer Moments, was it not?! Margot (Michelle Fairley) managed to get one more attempt at killing hundreds of people (including threatening her so-loyal son) before Jack finally decided to save a trial. In 24‘s world, flying out a window was a great ending for a such a memorably evil villain. Good job Michelle Fairley, and maybe you won’t keep dying in your TV shows in the future…

How awesome was that whole mid-episode gunfight showdown? It was so good that I forgot my misgivings about President Heller’s return. That’s right, I’m basically having to retcon the majority of my previous review, where I gushed about what a heroic sendoff that hour was for that character. The way they fooled us was even how I thought it would be, but honestly I didn’t think they’d go that route, mainly because of how less powerful the previous episode now is. That said, I don’t think it was cheap. With a show like 24, where main characters died before Game of Thrones made it cool, it really is a twist for a character to show up alive (minus Tony).

The death that did take me for surprise was poor Jordan, who was dead before the hour even began. Ironically, this makes the other part of last hour more meaningful- we witnessed Jordan’s murder, but we thought he’d pull through, or at least long enough to see Kate. Of course, this seamlessly and quickly brought us to the season’s (maybe?) final villains- Navarro and Cross (Michael Wincott), who have been in plain sight the entire time. I like that they’re motives are connected to the original story (override codes/framing Kate’s husband), but they still were unconnected to Margot’s terrorist aims. Aaaaand I have no idea what Choe’s thinking with Adrian. Nope. I can accept your raccoon eye liner, but Cross as your love interest? Yuck.

 

Michael-Wincott-Mary-Lynn-Rajskub

Noooo Chloe.

Extra Time:

1. Best Quote goes to Belcheck (Branko Tomovic) – “I’m not an American citizen and we are not in America.”

2. Also about his name Belcheck- “Belcheck. Just one word. Like Madonna.”

3. Mark Boudreau hates Jack Bauer, so hard.

4. I remember thinking, “Chloe’s finally losing some of that overblown makeup.” And then she reapplies. Sigh.

5. Could we please have more of Stephen Fry’s Prime Minister?

Final Score:

9/10





“6:00 PM-7:00 PM” 200th Episode 24 Review (Season 9, Episode 8)

18 06 2014

24-Live-Another-Day-kiefer-sutherland-jack-wallpaper

For those of you who don’t know (and didn’t read the title) this was 24′s 200th episode, and it’s obvious that a show consumed with numbers wouldn’t let such a milestone pass by without a significant event. That event, sadly was the passing of President James Heller (William Devane), who managed to be President on-screen for all of 8 episodes. Unlike some other major character deaths (including President AllState), the writers decided to build up the whole episode by letting Heller’s planned death be known from the beginning. This was actually a great decision, since Heller had time to put his affairs into order and have a gut-wrenching informal farewell to his daughter Audrey. Devane did a great job the whole hour through, but that scene hit me the hardest, as we’ve grown attached to both these great characters who have had an impressive run on the show (most characters don’t make it through 24 hours). By the end of the hour, we arrived at a well-deserved emotional payoff with Heller walking to midfield to calmly go out on his terms, at his time- all while (supposedly) stopping the deaths of thousands.

Meanwhile, the Jordan and Simone/Kate subplots were given the side burner treatment this hour, and that was completely the right choice by the writers. This was Heller’s moment, and honestly Jordan losing his life isn’t nearly as threatening as a series regular. I don’t think Jordan’s quite out anyway. Expect his story and villains (Adrian and Navarro) to become major players after Jack takes out the Al-Harazi’s. On that note, I’m pretty sure most viewers don’t particularly care at all if Simone dies, so good call on giving that the least amount of time.

I know everyone’s saying that since there was no “silent clock” at the end of the episode (as 24 does after most important character deaths), that it was all a ruse and Heller is not dead. I think he’s really gone, mostly because that’d be super cheesy after all that build. It was a shame he didn’t get the silent clock send-off though since he was such a great character of the series. All in all, solid episode, maybe not the best ever but definitely this season’s most heart-felt. It was good to have you around one last time, James Heller.

 

William Devane President Heller dies

“I could hug you goodbye, but naw.”

 

Extra Time:

1. Funniest quote from Jack- “So wake the b- up!”

2. If I had been Jordan and some hit man had told me the safety was on, I would’ve checked by shooting at his feet instead of looking down at the gun. Just sayin’.

3. This season is chugging along, and there’s still so many hostile factions out there- will there be time to take them all out or could they be setting up another season (gasp). All I can say is if they are building towards a classic 24 season ending cliffhanger, there dang sure better be another 12 episode season. Closure, people.

4. Mark was borderline likable this episode with James and Audrey, but I’m waiting for him to pin this all on Jack.

5. (Silent Clock)

Final Review:

9.5/10

 





Edge of Tomorrow Review

13 06 2014
tom cruise emily blunt

Watch out Matt Damon. A better mech suit’s in town.

 

Edge of Tomorrow, inspired by every gamer’s attempt to beat a video game on Insane mode (I’m assuming), serves as a superior alternative to last year’s political (and drearily boring) ElysiumBoth featured blockbuster stars who donned a crazy mechanical suit (although Tom’s is less painful to put on), so I was a little wary going into the theater. I’m pleased to say it was not only better than I thought, but it could very well be my favorite summer movie so far. It’s definitely more original than Tom Cruise’s other recent sci-fi Oblivion, which was interesting but felt like it borrowed an awful lot from other movies. Edge of Tomorrow could at most be compared to Groundhog Day; that is, if Bill Murray had been shooting terrifying aliens the whole time. But what makes it stand out?

 

Cage

Cruise. Does. Not. Age.

 

First of all, it’s Tom Cruise playing against type. Yes, he plays an officer named Cage, but he’s more of a PR guy for the military who never gets close to the field. After being thrust into battle by comically unfortunate circumstances, he jumps out and…dies (whoops, spoiler alert!). He then wakes up screaming the previous day, and it’s then he realizes that the movie just gained a very interesting premise. As he replays the day, he gets better and makes progress in finding out what’s happening to him. Don’t worry, even though he relives the same day, it doesn’t get stale thanks to smart editing that conveys the events without dragging down the pace. How many different ways can one day go? Quite a bit, apparently. There are also quite a few hilarious shock moments that come from Cruise getting untimely destroyed, but we only cut back to the previous few seconds. It would be interesting to figure out just how many days his character had to live through, because he dies constantly.

 

Rita

(Game Over Screen)

 

So far we have a proven lead actor, solid CGI (the “Mimics” are super creepy) and a promising premise. The other key part of this success formula is named Emily Blunt. I’m a fan of her acting (and may or may not have a crush), but usually she gets stuck in sort-of-OK movies like The Adjustment Bureau or Looper (notice I haven’t reviewed either). In this film, she easily holds up her side of the movie as Rita, and makes a character believable that could have easily come across as outrageous. To top it off, she’s great with Tom Cruise. I don’t remember one scene where the chemistry or dialogue felt forced, and to be honest she had the harder acting job- she had to start from scratch each new day while still developing her character. Both her and Cruise both had the action pieces down as well, selling the tension in CGI-fueled battles. I don’t say that to indicate that the battles looked fake- again, the CGI was effective, and coupled with some tight choreography and sound effects, each battle sequence held my attention.

 

General

Punch him in the face with Scientology, Tom!

 

But there’s got to be some downers in this movie, right? Well, if I nitpick a little I could mention the reason for Cruise’s gift/curse is a little simplistic, but really it’s done so well I can’t complain. If anything, my main beef would be how unlikeable the military is for the majority of the movie, especially that half-witted General. I get that they aren’t supposed to be perfect, but if we’re supposed to be rooting for humanity, it wouldn’t have hurt to have them be a little more sympathetic.

 

All in all though, this is a solid action movie with surprisingly strong writing. The plot could be repetitive but it’s not, and in hindsight the day goes so many different routes it’s hard to remember the exact path the movie took. Ultimately, it’s a serious, heartfelt and somehow fun sci-fi journey through time.

 

tom cruise meme

Much like when you notice Christian Bale’s eye wart…





“Day 9: 5:00 PM-6:00 PM” 24 Review (Season 9, Episode 7)

10 06 2014

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“Game of Drones” continued to gain steam tonight in a Michael Bay-inspired episode. The standout moment was definitely the drone chase from the hospital to the streets of London, as Margot (Michelle Fairley) demonstrates that some parents use drones to discipline their children when they disobey. I don’t care if we knew Jack wasn’t going to get plastered everywhere in a fiery explosion- or if they might have been product placing that car- the whole sequence could have been in a summer blockbuster and looked great.

What wasn’t great was poor Boudreau (not) and his self-made predicament with the Russians, specifically Deputy Minister Walrus Thug. The Russian diplomat with the impressive ‘stache is putting on the pressure for Bauer’s head. You really have to wonder how Boudreu could have been so dumb as to forge the President’s signature, but if it means he gets taken out, that wouldn’t be a terrible thing for Mr. Jerkface.

Finally, it turns out Adrian Cross (Michael Wincott) is Steve Navarro’s contact who helped him sell secrets to the Chinese. I wasn’t surprised to find out he was a badder guy than we at first were told, but honestly I didn’t see him working with a government official like Navarro. Their endgame seems to have nothing to do with Margot’s terrorism attacks, so this could become interesting. To be honest I was hoping the voice on the phone would turn out to be Tony, but that was a long shot and I’m not sure fans would like that. Anyway, President Heller (William Devane) seems ready to surrender himself after Stephen Fry’s stern talking. Will he go through it? Would they really knock off his character? It’s 24, so anything could happen.

 

Jordan's bad day begins.

Jordan’s bad day begins.

 

Extra Time:

1. Best quote goes to Jack Bauer- “She wasn’t going to talk anyway” after making Simone pass out. I love how he can defend any action…

2. Navarro must have gotten his hit man at a discount website. So close and yet still a miss.

3. Did they ever reveal who warned Choe to get out of the hideout? I thought it was Adrian but not sure if he really would have cared that much, knowing what a two-face he is now.

4. I’ll be mildly upset if President Heller gets offed next week. He’s been a great character and I’m hoping he’ll be around the whole day, even if he pulls a Mrs. Bauer at the very end.

5. The London setting is still working to keep things fresh and different from previous seasons. Cheers to the writers on that one!

 

Final Score:

8.5/10





X-Men: Days of Future Past Review

8 06 2014

x-men-days-of-future-past-poster

Have you ever wished you could go back in time and stop something terrible from happening? 20th Century Fox sure did. Xmen: Days of Future Past attempts to do the impossible by erasing the horrible event that was X-Men 3. Oh, also in the movie series’ world all the mutants will die in the future if Logan doesn’t go back in time and stop it, so there’s that fix-the-past plot as well. However, can even Wolverine and Professor Xavier be successful in both quests?

McAvoy Stewart

Sorry, kid. In the future there’s still no cure for baldness.

First of all, you have to overlook some plot holes caused by all the time-jumping, but honestly any fan of X-Men movies should be used to that by now (just how old is Magneto at this point, if he was a elementary-aged child during WWII)? That said, I was pleasantly surprised by X-Men: First Class, so I was glad to see more of that world, especially in a movie that connects them with the earlier ones. One of the best parts of this premise is that we get to enjoy the strong casting that both movies (mostly) enjoyed (sorry, Juggernaut). The main focus was on the past, with the futuristic scenes mainly serving as a way to heighten the tension and give us cool action sequences. That said, it was the good to see the original cast together again in a better movie (Halle Berry even avoids cracking horrible jokes).

 

 

Storm Sentinel

Halle Berry is lousy at fighting.

 

For me, the only weak character this time around was Stryker. He seems to lose his impact with each new movie that uses his character. It’s not just that he has been portrayed by a different actor each time. My problem is how he may as well be a different character altogether since none of the actors look like each other, and they all play him in a different manner. Why, when these movies all supposedly take place in the same universe, do we have to have one important character that is never consistent? Why not just leave him out? On the flip side are Magneto’s and Professor X’s two separate-era representations. They both look passable as younger and older versions, and the younger actors actually appear to have seen the earlier movies.

Professor X Magneto split face

Anti-aging cream sometimes works unevenly…

A favorite new mutant for me was super-fast Quicksilver, who could have been a gimmicky addition, but instead is more of a highlight. His super-slow scene in the kitchen easily ranks up there in the most memorable moments for both visual effects and humor. I was a little disappointed that they only used him for one job, but from a writing standpoint he could have solved the final battle way too easily. Jennifer Lawrence continues to add layers to Mystique’s character (if not outer layers), and her interactions with Charles and Erik are great moments as well.

On his way to film those lame Hardee's commercials.

On his way to film those lame Hardee’s commercials.

Altogether, the writing effectively combined a large amount of events while giving plenty of snappy one-liners (notably between Logan and young Magneto). The first few minutes were a bit exposition-heavy, but they needed to explain quite a bit to get the time-traveling story going. One sizable detail that gets left off at the end is just what they do with that giant stadium around the White House. I mean, you just don’t tow that away. However, all is forgiven by the ending sequence, where Logan wakes up in a new future that not only has no Sentinels, but is also free from the disappointing X-Men: The Final Stand events. Those last few minutes gave us all the closure we need for the original cast, which is good because I’m wagering this movie is also a sly way for the studios to reboot the franchise with younger blood in the same way as the new Star Trek movies did. The past movies still happened, but the next movies are no longer bound to follow them. It’s a brilliant strategy from the studios, really. All in all, Days of Future Past undoes past wrongs and establishes a bright new future, in more ways then one.





“4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.” – 24 Live Another Day (Episode 6)

3 06 2014

24-Live-Another-Day-kiefer-sutherland-jack-wallpaper

First of all, let me say the last quarter hour tonight was classic 24 goodness. Jack finally teaming up with Kate ( Yvonne Strahovski ) for a crazily suicidal mission was easily the most tense moment of the season thus far. I realized how much I didn’t want Kate to die during the torture scene, and honestly it looked like she was about to be written off the season suddenly in typical 24 fashion. This added a good deal of tension to Jack bluffing his way through several agonizing minutes, and made the finale gunfight all the more satisfying when Kate offed her own captors. And then in the last few seconds (of course), we get the big mole reveal- Steve Navarro (Benjamin Bratt), basically the last person I was predicting due to his previous commendable behavior. He’s stuck up for Kate, but now it looks like he’s responsible for framing her husband. This season really has gotten the whole loathsome villains thing down, eh?

On the other side of the story, we have the continuing tale of the world’s most dysfunctional terrorist family. Naveed may be in the ground, but Margot (Michelle Fairley) thought it would be a nice touch to take out his sister as well. And why not send her own recently widowed terrorist daughter to do the deed? What could possibly go wrong? Well, Simone played with our expectations for a while, and finally decided to save the sister but ended up murdering her instead (you kinda had to be there). Once her daughter saw and ran out the door and Simone gave chase, I could tell someone was about to lose a game of Frogger crossing the street. Simone ended up being the one to catch a bus the wrong way, and by the looks of the preview it’s off to the ER for her and Bauer. Oh, and what about those Russians? So much stress!

 

episode 6

Mother Dysfunctional

 

Extra Time:

1.  Sometimes 24 has been criticized (rightly) for characters changing their minds suddenly. We knew President Heller would let Jack go eventually, but at least this change of heart can be attributed to the failed SWAT op and his own weakening mental state.

2. Stephen Fry is finally getting some screen time, and is convincing as a Prime Minister who’s tired of this crap.

3. Navarro may be a mole, but is he with the terrorists bombing London or some outside group? It’s obvious he was unaware of the drone trap, so it’s more likely he was working with the government that Kate’s husband was accused of dealing with. Time will tell just how much we’ll have to hate this guy.

4. Point goes to Kate for best take down of the episode.

5. Point goes to Heller for best quote- “Well, put her back in the field! Jack wants her, Jack needs her, Jack gets her!”

Final Score:

9/10





“3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.” – 24 Live Another Day Review (Episode 5)

2 06 2014

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Any 24 episodes without any “Bauer Moments” are generally not standout hours, and with Jack in custody, this was such an hour. However, the 3-4 PM time slot did treat us to the next best thing- a “Everyone Realizes Jack Was Right” moment. I high-fived myself (a side effect of watching days after the air time) during the whole moment of revelation for President Heller (William Devane) and crew. You have to wonder, how many millions of lives does Jack have to save before they take him at his word? Heller especially has seen all of Jack’s crazy schemes foil terrorist plots and corrupt politicians, so you think that if Jack Bauer told them about an attack they’d send the whole army. No wonder he looks so depressed.

Speaking of inefficient governments, Kate is off the case, again, even after discovering the drone hacking plot (I really hope our government isn’t this absurd). Obviously, she won’t be out for long, and neither will Jack. One person who won’t be back, however, is of course Naveed (Sacha Dhawan). I’m pretty sure there were no more dumb decisions for him to make at this point. Why did he marry into the psycho family? Why did he trust his psycho wife Simone? Why was he so careless in front of Ian? We’ll never know, and unfortunately his death was tragically sad as he realized how hopeless his life had become.

 

24-Live-Another-Day-bauer-jack-episode-5-president

 Extra Time:

1. This was  a shorter review today since I was delayed in my viewing. Tomorrow will be up by midnight.

2. The misdirection with the estate location was well done, and hopefully Director Steve (Benjamin Bratt) makes it out. He’s actually proven to be a decent field director in a show that’s been filled with inept or corrupt authority figures.

3. Margot is still crazy as balls.

4. Chloe made the right decision, but will it cost her later?

5. This wasn’t the best episode yet, but now all the pieces are in place. There’s still 5 drones out there…

 

Final Score:

7.5/10