Monthly Archives: June 2009

The King Is Dead.

Michael Jackson died yesterday while I was driving from California to Portland, OR. As I was not in front of a computer all day I was the last person to know about it. Probably. At least in this country.

Just watch the first minute or so of each video. MSNBC is the best. “Michael Jackson has died. 50 years old. From Gary, Indiana.”

From Gary Indiana? That’s what you are saying about Michael Jackson when you hear he’s died. Who the fuck cares if he’s from Gary, Ind? No offense Garians, but Jackson hasn’t lived there for forty years.

Tell us he’s the king of pop. Tell us, like your NBC counterparts, that he’ll always be remembered for the kiddie stuff. From Gary Indiana. Good work. Proved that you did the necessary research. Hey even I can tell you he was born on Aug 19th (my brother’s birthday coincidentally). Now I’ve done MY homework.

So what happens now? Who’s taking care of Jackson’s $500 Million dollar debt? Who’s taking care of his three children: Prince Michael I, Paris Michael and Prince Michael II (That’s their real names)? Who’s going to do the best TV Michael Jackson tribute?

(From EW.com)

“ABC will air a special edition of 20/20, entitled Michael Jackson: The Man and His Music, Friday

VH1 will air a special covering Jackson’s entire biography Friday

MTV will play Jackson’s music videos intercut with breaking news, celebrity tributes, fans’ tweets, and vintage Jacko footage from the network’s archives on Friday

CBS will air CBS News: The Life and Death of Michael Jackson Friday

NBC will air Michael Jackson — The King of Pop, a one-hour look at Jackson’s legacy Friday

The BIO Channel will air Bio Remembers: Michael Jackson Saturday

TV Land will air the five-hour 1992 mini-series The Jacksons: An American Dream Sunday

Fox will re-air the Michael Jackson-themed American Idol performance show from the recent season Monday

I love how everyone, even the BIO channel, is remembering Jacko, but FOX is just gonna re air a Jacko themed American Idol. “Fuck you Michael Jackson. The best we’ll give you is a bunch of hacks butchering your songs before they got kicked off the show.” That’s cold, FOX network.

On a personal level, Michael Jackson really was one of the first musical artists I liked as a kid. Right up until Dangerous I was busting the moves and playing my dad’s old Off the Wall and Thriller LPs. That’s right. My dad had two, TWO Michael Jackson records.

Michael Jackson will always be remembered more for the sordid and eccentric aspects of his personal life, but for me, I’ll always remember Jackson as the guy who made some of the coolest music for a time in my life.

From Moonwalker

Long Live the King.

-Charlie

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The last thing David Carradine did before he died.

What’s more embarrassing than death by masturbation? Appearing on the worst show on TV less than a week later!

A few posts back I called Dollhouse the stupidest, and by association, worst show on TV. I was wrong. There’s a new king of the stupid hill. I give you Mental.

Dont look in his eyes!

Don't look in his eyes!

In a fictional world of well funded, sexy looking psychiatric wards, in downtown L.A. no less, the absolute sexiest ward gets a brand new director, Dr. Jack Gallagher. But this is no ordinary director. This one thinks outside the box. He’s unconventional, unorthodox, unpredictable, uninteresting.

This has to be one of the worst characters ever. Really. Ever. I can’t actually believe how stupid this character is. I actually found myself shouting things at the screen like, “That’s the dumbest fucking thing I ever heard!”

Even before the title. The stupid, stupid title! A zipper across his forehead?! The fuck?

The supporting cast is no better, a bunch of air headed, dumb assed, cardboard cutouts of sexy interns, sexy bosses, and very sexy guest patients.

The Pilot episode infuriated me (and Annie for good measure) when it basically decided to live completely outside of reality. I would’ve loved to see a show about an actual psyche ward. Crazy, dirty, an E.R. of nut jobs. But this is like a casual day psyche ward. Every one’s strolling around, hair down, no uniforms, joking and saying things like, “This is all about making YOU better.”

The second episode was even worse when it began with a doctor/patient three legged race on the lawn. ” Highly unusual” was the best they could stammer.

NO ONE WOULD FUND THIS SHIT!

THERE’S NOT EVEN ANY LAWNS THAT BIG IN L.A.

NOBODY BEHAVES THIS WAY!

(These are the first three things I screamed in the first 90 seconds or so.)

It’s like they gave the keys to the nut house to this guy!

How unorthodox of you, Doctor.

How unorthodox of you, Doctor.

But the third episode has really done it. Dr. Gallagher basically shoves a pharmaceutical employee DOWN THE FUCKING STAIRS!! They’re calling for his job, finally, but he doesn’t look too worried, he’s just so focused on the patients. It’s all about making them feel better after all.

And there’s David Carradine, legendary actor and martial arts expert. Annnnd… he’s playing a vegetable. Sigh.

They’re doing some electro something therapy on him, where we see, in Carradine’s mind, him flying in some clouds? With his wife? Is he dead? Is he trying to die?

The daughter wants him to live, but would rather see him dead than a vegetable. Oh yeah, his name’s Gideon. No Bible references here.The episodes just called The Book Of Fucking Judges. Okay, I added to that a bit.

What follows is an Awakenings type story. You seen Awakenings? Just think of DeNiro sitting and staring at nothing. Now picture Carradine doing it. Ya got it, kid!

It's got Academy Awards written all over it! Williams in a beard? Hoorah!

It's got Academy Awards written all over it! Williams in a beard? Hoorah!

Just let him die! Oh God. Stop this madness. It’s utter fucking madness.

I can barely get through 45 minutes of this crap. This show is AWFUL. So maddeningly terrible and sickeningly stupid, and I can’t wait till FOX gets their head out of their ass AGAIN and cancel this one. I think Dollhouse is better than this. And Dollhouse suuuuucks.

Here’s a quick top five: Famous Actor’s last roles before Dying.

1. Orson Wells as Unicron in Transformers: The Movie (1986) Almost as sad as the death of Optimus Prime!

2. John Candy in Wagons East! (1994)/Chris Farley in Almost Heroes (1998)  Both westerns? Spooky.

3. Heath Ledger as the Joker in the Dark Knight (2009) No joke about this one. Ironic. Joker. No joke. Hmm.

4. Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon (1973)/ Brandon Lee in The Crow (1994) Even more spooky.

5.Bernie Mac and Issac Hayes in Soul Men (2008) Hate to be the marketing guy for that film.

RIP David Carradine.

My sympathies to his family, and his biographers. Awkward last chapter to say the least.

-Charlie

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Who Is The Real John Connor?

john-connor

The Terminator is one of the most celebrated, most popular film series of the last two decades. The first two films, directed by James Cameron, were some of the most inventive, insane action movies of the last 25 years. The last two movies, not so much. But still good flicks in their own right. The series has yet to face plant like Alien Resurrection or infuriate like Highlander 2: The Quickening (which I own and will talk of later-trust me) But it’s maybe lagging over the last decade.

Now people obviously associate Schwarzenegger with these movies, but the real protagonist is not the robot. It’s John Connor, the prophesied savior of the human race. You see, there’s this little war with machines in the future, and Conner is the go-to-guy. So the machines try to kill him. Over the course of these movies (and a TV show) John has been portrayed by many actors in many phases of his life. Let’s compare these performances and put together the life of mankind’s greatest hope, John Connor.

The Terminator (1984)The first film in the series is a dark and violent horror movie cloaked as a sci fi action flick. The machine known as the T-800, or Terminator, has been sent back in time by SKYNET, a self aware computer that has, in the future, nuked humanity and fights human resistance led by John Connor. SKYNET sends back a killing machine to destroy Connor before he’s even born. This means killing Sarah Connor, his mom. Resistance fighter Kyle Reese is sent,by JC himself, to protect her.

John Connor, JC, Jesus Christ? Could Cameron be going for a diety connection? Connor as the savior and a miraculous birth, Reese as the angel sent from God (aka adult JC, remember he’s both!) It makes sense. We never meet JC in this one, but we do see how he is, um, conceived(?) and we can see why his mom cracked so hard. Terminator is seriously effed up. Can you imagine a killer robot with red eyes hunting you relentlessly? Yikes. So, no Connor per say, but that’s ok. We meet mom and dad and set the stage for T2, one of the BEST action flicks and sequels and Schwarzenegger movies eva.

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

I’m watching T2 as I write this, so its affecting my post, but this is probably one of my favorite movies of all time. Top three maybe. I could watch this movie every day of my life and still love it. It’s just so…big and loud and dynamic. Every scene is incredible, every fight, every one liner, and each character is so alive and real and just so relatable, except maybe the T-1000. That dude’s crazy.

This time we get two John’s-a treat for us. Let’s discuss.

Michael Edwards as Adult John Connor in 2029.This is an honorable mention in our John Connor’s of the world tour here. Edwards gets about 45 seconds of screen time, but it’s a good 45 seconds. He looks very tough, very experienced, he looks like a leader. That scar tells stories we only imagine in our heads, and his steely gaze speaks volumes. In the opening of T2, we get a look at the war in 2029, and it looks bleak. We’re re-told the origins and then we move to John Connor, circa 1991.

He’s about, what eleven? Thirteen at the most. A scrawny little punk, living in a foster home and talking all kinds of shit. I love this kid. He’s learned some stuff from his crazy mom, but mostly he uses it for computer hacking and petty theft. He sports a bad ass Public Enemy Tee, listens to G & R on the stereo, and plays Missile Command at the arcade. Humanity’s savior you ask?

Well this movie is really about JC’s awakening to his role in the world and the coming J Day/ War against Machines thing. JC shows his true colors and real values when he orders the Terminator not to kill. Funny, would have thought they would take care of that before they sent him back. The robots like, “Yea. I kill people. I’m a terminator. ”

He also insists they free and save his mom, figures out the connection to Dyson, helps destroy the Cyberdyne systems responsible for creating SKYNET, escapes the T-1000, and learns a lot. And learning’s half the battle!

Basically, T2 has one of the best, if not THE BEST, child performance ever in Edward Furlong. The film is the perfect defining chapter in JC’s chronicle, the real stepping off point for the story.

There’s no fate but what you make. Remember that kids, cause the next few movies totally, completely forget this defining principle.

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)After T2 prevented J Day and destroyed Cyberdyne Systems aka SKYNET, most people figured the story’s over. We won, JC never had to lead a human resistance, job well done.

Except the execs. No, they knew there was more story to tell. How? Scrap the shit from T2. That was ten years ago anyways. (Just curious if they even watched T2, or understood it. )No fate but what we make-except the nuclear holocaust. That’s inevitable.

So we meet up with JC at nineteen. He’s played by Nick Stahl, who kind of just moves along with the film, not really taking an active role, but basically ducking when he needs to duck and running when he needs to run. The plot is the same kind of re-tread of T2. Machines send a terminator to kill other resistance leaders, for some reason giving up the “kill John Connor” theory. The resistance agains learns of this, in the future, and sends back Arnie as the re-re-programmed T-800 model 101, blah blah blah.

Its not a tumor!

"It's not a tumor!"

Basically, JC is alone, mom died(?), homeless. Stays off the grid. Why is never really made clear. He should think that J Day, since it never came, was avoided, and there’s no mention of him being wanted for blowing up the Cyberdyne building in T2. So why off the grid?

He’s less than surprised when Arnie comes back and they get into the same kind of troubles. Now, remember Arnie is programmed to “Protect John Connor”, and the other resistance members. (We meet his future wife, played by Claire Danes) So how does he do this? By placing JC in an underground bunker, so the bombs can go off. J Day happens and the movie ends.

This John Connor disappointed me. He never advances his leadership attributes, he more just fumbles around. I just didn’t care about him in this movie. Again, good action, just not so much happening in the way of character development.

Now we have another honorable mention. That goes to John Connor in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2007-2009).

This short lived TV series ignores T3 all together (nice!) and puts JC and mom in ’97. Then it time travels them forward to ’09, right before the new J Day. There they attempt to take down Cyberdyne Systems once and for all.

I have only seen the pilot of this, but intend on watching more. It acts very much like an actual sequel to T2, with winks and nods to the film galore. The kid who plays John ( Thomas Dekker) is good, a little pre teen, high school musical, but decent overall. I’ll get back after seeing more maybe.

Terminator Salvation (2009)

Now we all know I’m writing this beacause of Terminator Salvation. So let me just get my whole theory about the war with the machinces thing out of the way first.

Now time travel is a sticky situation. It complicates plots and timelines, obviously. The main point here being, SKYNET never would have existed if the original Terminator had never been sent back.

We know this because it was that Terminator’s machinery that propelled Cyberdyne systems to begin work on SKYNET to begin with.

If that Terminator had killed Sarah Connor, not only would John Connor not have existed, but there would be no machines.

In T2, the plan was to stop Cyberdyne from going through with creating robots, but it was too late. The process was already in motion. The J Day was only postponed. It happened, we’re fucked. Cut to THe War already.

Now the latest film, Salvation, has the most problems with the timeline set up and confuses itself and me to extreme frustration.

Namely, Salvation proposes that SKYNET knew of JC’s and Kyle Resse’s importance before they became the real leaders of the resistance. This means that before SKYNET sends back it’s first Terminator, it knows that Kyle Reese will be sent back and defeat their assassin.They know this because it happened in 1984 and presumably SKYNET obtained this info when it became self aware.

SKYNET also knows that John Connor is the proposed savior, and the movie takes place a whole decade before the events of 2029 that sees the time travel stuff happening. So SKYNET can not only see into the future and predict events to come, but it knows of every thing that occurred in the first three movies.

That kind of gives SKYNET an unnatural advantage. In fact, I would say that in Salvation, SKYNET has no, zero, plans of killing Kyle Reese, simply because it knows Reese goes back in time ten years from now to help Sarah Connor kill the terminator, and thus give birth simultaneously, to it. If SKYNET kills Reese, it will never exist. Thus, the whole movie is kind of a cheat. The humans win because SKYNET must let them win in order to exist and continue to exist.

Wait. Now I confused myself. Anyways, where were we?

Oh yea! Now JC is more or less a grunt in this film, becoming a leader after his whole squad and everybody gets blowed up real good. He takes his life pretty seriously by this time. It’s a bleak world, and JC is jusT as dark. Lost is all the funny or light hearted moments from the first three. Its’ all a pale colorless desert. Christian Bale plays the role with as much brevity as he gave the Dark Knight last summer. Just not a very easy going kind of guy. His JC comes across as a  loud and dangerous maverick in this film, risking all kinds of lives to ensure his fate is sealed by rescuing the imprisoned Kyle Reese, who is now teenager. “We have to rescue this kid so he can bang my mom!” This feels kinda weird, almost dirty. Time travel is messy stuff.

I guess the main problem with TS is that we hardly even follow JC at all. Our time is mostly spent with Marcus, the robot of the piece. He thinks he’s human, but is a machine. Wow. I didn’t figure that one out. For the first hour or so, JC is spotty at best. Mostly sitting behind a tabletop arcade machine a la this guy in Star Wars.

General Dodonna: Youre fucking amateur.

General Dodonna: "You're fucking amateur."

There’s all kinds of robots more akin to Transformers than Terminators, there’s explosives rigged to every building, it’s just all a wee bit strange. Kate Connor, the missus, is played by Bryce Howard, only two years older than Danes, who played the character as ten years younger (that’s really just a fun fact and commentary on how Hollywood detests actresses over forty unless they’re playing the grandma). Marcus is the undeniable hero of the film, his character taking on all of the developments as far as sacrifice and salvation, while John is the guy that Marcus saves in a weirdly abrupt ending if i do say so. In fact, I’m not really sure what “Salvation” the title is referring to?

Overall, another good action flick, but what have they done to my little Johnny boy? I remember loving this little guy and wanting to see the rest of his story. But it’s all gone wrong. The Machines are still winning, and if TS has one main drawback, it’s that nothing really gets accomplished in this movie.

Terminator had the conception of John Connor.

T2 had his awakening to his journey and beginnings of his journey.

T3 had J Day and the real acceleration of JC’s role for humanity.

TS has…no real event, save some battles and rescue missions. There’s a plan to eradicate the machine threat with a radio wave, but not much really is resolved or explored or even advanced. JC becomes a leader in ways, but I feel his growth in this movie is considerably stunted by comparison.

Who wins then, in the battle of the Johns? I’d say it’s a close one between Stahl and Bale, but Furlong leaves them all in the dust. I doubt any John Connor can be cooler than this guy.

There will probably be another Terminator before long, and probably soon. Let’s hope they actually focus on the hero this time. Can’t wait to see old John Connor, badass scar and all.

-Charlie

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Comic Book Movies and TV Spin Offs. What do they have in common?

Television has used the spin off for years, almost from the beginning to revive dull or dying TV nights. Usually they take a character from a popular ensemble show, be he Doctor Frasier Crane from Cheers, or the stupidest Friend who wasn’t Phoebe (it was Joey). Annnnnd then they move them to a new town. And that’s usually it. Frasier goes to Seattle, Joey goes to L.A. Some times these shows thrive (for some reason) like Maude, or The Jeffersons. But more often you get a Joanie Loves Chachi from Happy Days or , gulp, AfterMASH. From MASH. Only after. Yikes.

So with that I’ve just now seen X Men Origins: Wolverine. And yes, it was everything I had heard it was.  And since I’m assuming enough people have seen it,  me talking freely about the events and characters in the film won’t spoil it at this time. You are alerted.

Let me contextualize this film to begin.  There were three X Men movies. Wolverine starred in all of them. He was a mysterious loner, without a past, reluctant to join a team but achieving a heroism he thought impossible, all while trying to learn his true identity and origin.

Now Wolverine gets his very own spin off movie! He’s the star of the show, as if he wasn’t already. And we follow him through new territory. His past. Which everyone already kind of heard about in the first three movies. But whatever. We all want to SEE it happen. That’s the important thing.

Wolverine’s origin was already chronicled in the comic book story, obviously titled Origin. That came out in 2001-2002. And years before, Wolverine’s experiences with Weapon X were collected in a story called Weapon X (A for originality of titles)

So really this movie is a retelling of those two comics, but at the same time spinning off what has already been established in the previous three films. So how did they get it so wrong?

We have about two seconds worth of Origin material, centered on James Howlett (who will be Logan) busting out the baby claws and impaling his dad. Then a montage of him and his half broseph Creed.  They are recruited for a secret government ops team, joining popular and unpopluar characters alike from the comics. We have Deapool, and some others, like Blob (whatever) but this is pretty thin as far far as cover for Logan’s origin.

I can tell you that the elite team Wolverine fought with in the comics was Team X, who gave him false memories. Then Weapon X abducted him. Then they experimented on him. This is important. Logan never wanted Adamantium claws. He never joined Weapon X. He hates them, thus his crazed anguish over what they did.

I also just want to say that in the comics, it is implied that Logan’s continual memory loss is a result of his healing factor, as his mutant ability would cover the memories as a way to heal Logan’s fragile sanity. Not Adamantium bullets. Never Adamantium bullets. You would not believe my head shaking when that came into play.

I think the Weapon X stuff was handled really well in X2: X Men United (or something like that, stupid sequel titles). There was the reconnection to Stryker, his former tormentor with the hints of their past enough to fill in the story then, and a understanding of this dark chapter that I think was better in flashbacks than the entire extended sequence in this film.

But mostly what this film screws up isn’t Logan, but everyone else. Deadpool was ruined. Creed was underwhelming, Cyclops was. . in this movie? Why is Cyclops in this fucking thing? He’s got nothing to do with this story. Gambit was another head scratcher. They had three movies to bring in Gambit, but nooo. They went with the blue men groupies (as I call them) instead. Mystique, Nightcrawler, and, um, Beast? Why? You had Gambit sitting on the sidelines,  but went with Beast? Lame.

Now, lets think about how this film outright condradicts the earlier entries. One, Sabertooth is way, way off. Remeber the mute, lumbering, blonde giant of X Men? How did that happen? We go from clean cut Leiv Schrieber to the hulking moron in the original movie. True, that character wasn’t done all that well. But, come on. Plus, Styker’s character, though motivated by the same forces, is just off to me. I think Danny Huston, though a fine actor himself, probably should have rethought it a little.

Nice Sunglasses Asshole

Nice Sunglasses Asshole

And again, this whole Cyclops thing just mystifies me. So you’re telling me that in all the time that Cyke and Wolvie were hanging out in the X Men for three movies, Cyke never went, “You know Logan, when I was seventeen I was actually kidnapped by that Sbertooth guy we just fought, he took me to 3 mile island, which was really a mutant processing plant, and I was rescued by someone who sounded an awful lot like you.” And then Professor X turns around and goes, ” Oh yea. I forgot all about 3 mile island, where I initially met young Mr. Sommers. But now that I think of it Logan, I do recall Stryker was there himself, whom you just killed back there. Coincidence?”

You blew it movie. You didn’t respect the comic book characters or the three movies we the general public are basing this spin off on.

So I was disappointed to see all this happening in what was supposed to be a new direction for the X Men franchise. It’s like TV spin offs. Unless they get the character right, it doesn’t go anywhere.

This has happened before, especially in comic book movies. Remeber Supergirl? Remember Catwoman? Remeber Elektra? So far, it’s only been the ladies getting the spin off treatment, but now that spin offs are a gender nuetral issue, I think things are going to get much worse. Firts off, a Deadpool Spin Off? How is that possible unless the creature at the end of Wolverine wasn’t Deadpool? Which it wasn’t. It really wasn’t. Trust me. That is as far from Deadpool as one could get. But seriously? How badly are they going to ruin Deadpool with his own feature film? And I like Deadpool. He’s a great comic book character.

I have also heard about a Magneto Origin in works, but again why? We saw a ten minute flashback in X2 ( I think) showing a young Eric Magnus Lehnsherr in a Nazi camp, during WWII. It had all of the elelments necessary to set up Magneto’s belief in the cruelty of humanity and it’s inability to be saved/ helped/ tolerated. Why do we need 2 more hours of this story?

You have better stories to tell. Let’s do  a Day’s of Future Past alternate universe thing. Let’s really go for it. Let’s bring in the other bad guys we apparently don’t want to talk about. I don’t get how the X Men villains could be so ignored. Batman got two new villians per movie for awhile there, and even got a little Scarecrow action, and Spiderman fought Doc Ock and Sandman. Why not give us Mr. Sinister? Or how about Apocalypse? These are great, monsterous, seemingly unstoppable villians. Ripe for the picking.  But they ignored that track when they just kept Magneto around and brought about all that turning mutants into homosapians thing. Why not go for the Legacy Virus story at least? C’mon assholes. We want to see these movies. Not another Origin story. Origins are boring. Best part of the Dark Knight? No Joker Origin Story.

Movies like Sin City and the Watchmen one even have shown us the best way to show a comic book movie on screen is to Show A Comic Book On Screen. It lends itself perfectly. You don’t have to do the guess work. They showed you how to make this thing already. I fear for the future of comic book movies. They are going to undoubtedly start spinning off from spin offs and now there’s a whole Captain America/ Iron Man/ Thor/ Avengers thing happening. It’s getting complicated. Let’s leave the spinning to the lazy writiers of tlelvision. With $150 Million you can do better than this.

-Charlie

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