Category Archives: Entertainment

At the Movies: The Dark Tower

darktower1.jpg

Among author Stephen King’s more whimsical stories (in as whimsical Stephen King tends to get), The Dark Tower follows young Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor), a troubled young boy with ominous visions of a tower keeping evil from spreading unchecked in the world, children being tormented by the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey) using their essence to destroy the tower, and a mysterious Gunslinger (Idris Elba) who can stop this Man in Black from destroying the tower. The Dark Tower follows this plot-line pretty religiously, but this movie is a case of the journey being much better than its destination.

We establish everyone believes Jake to be troubled, and rightfully so. His father died in a fire, his mother is now smitten to a man seemingly trying to get rid of him as quickly as possible, and his constant visions of the Dark Tower is driving his mother into depression. However Jake knows deep down inside he isn’t crazy, and he begins seeing his visions in real life.

People with lose fitting skin seemingly wearing it as a costume are hunting psychically gifted children to harvest their energy to destroy the Dark Tower protecting infinite Earths. During a daring escape, he follows his visions to a strange house that transports him to a different world: one broken by evil forces. It isn’t until he finally finds the Gunslinger does he know his visions are true.

Truth be told, most of the power this film holds is in the fast developing relationship between Jake and the Gunslinger once you slog past the rather slow intro. Their journey to battle the Man in Black hits a pretty by-the-numbers route through the film’s middle segments. Granted, the action scenes and locales were cool haunted locations, a strange amalgamation between magic, technology and the Old American West.

The Man in Black, who really should just be known as McConaughey with dyed black hair, played it with very little enthusiasm. It felt he put more work into those Lincoln commercials they he did with the albeit very simplistic Man in Black. He has no ulterior motive other than being an evil prick bent on world domination. He has totally dominion over all men, conveniently except for our Gunslinger and to some degree even Jake.

darktower4.jpg

The movie comes to something of a halt once we reach the climax, the finale duel between the Man in Black and the Gunslinger. While certainly CGI filled, its conclusion filled me with this flat sense of “meh”. On the one hand, I had enjoyed the film up this point. On the other, I had wondered if this was really the end. I found myself enjoying the fantasy world they were inhabiting more so than the people in it. Frankly, I didn’t give much a shit about them to be honest. I was more sad we couldn’t spend more time amalgamating modern New York into the twisted vision of mid-Earth, but I’m good with what I got.

darktower5.jpg

The Dark Tower isn’t quite as epic as it hopes to be, even if what’s at stake is the fate of multiple Earths. It feels flatter than it does appropriately epic, which it’s set-piece moments certainly called for. Elba played the quite straight man well enough, Taylor played the precocious child-hero well, and McConaughey could’ve been anyone else really. In fact, I spent a decent amount of time going through a roster of alternate villains who could’ve really provided the character the presence it sought. Maybe this one was a job for Mel Gibson? Certainly was fire and brimstone enough.

I had gotten this vibe that they wanted to leave enough room open for a sequel, but I feel pretty confident this one’s wrapped up. The Dark Tower was a fun romp but didn’t really leave me wowed. I wanted to be, the idea seemed cool, the stakes were plenty high, and Elba did a good job being a gun-slinging badass. Just a shame none of it really added up.

I think a lot of people are going to shit on this film, which is not totally fair. The Dark Tower was a lot of fun in spite of a few things, and I’m grateful it aimed high trying to cram quite a bit into an hour and a half. Something shit like, oh I don’t know Transformers still hasn’t learned. For that, I give The Dark Tower a thumbs up at least.

darktower2

Pic Sources: http://www.thedarktower-movie.com/site/galleryhttp://stephenking.com/darktower/

TV Theatre – The Belko Experiment

belko1.jpg

To put it in its most simplest terms, The Belko Experiment is a film about violence for the sake of violence. It will probably share a similar audience to the likes of Saw or any slasher that gives the filmmaker an excuse to show over an hour’s worth of gore non-stop. The set up is an international group of people put together in a bizarrely nice building in the middle of nowhere Columbia.

They all work happy corporate lives until one day a voice on the intercom tells them they have to start killing people or they will die at random. Who these people are, the cast, the antagonists, whomever it’s all irrelevant. People have to die when the voice says, so sayith the voice.

In fact, there is little plot here anyway to make these characters relevant. Not that the film is concerned with it. No, the prime focus is to get you sitting on the edge of your seat ruminating how the next sucker is going to die a shitty death. Because that’s why you came to see this movie: stupid people dying shitty deaths.

This movie probably will share a lot of similarities to the 2000 classic Battle Royale, but unlike Royale, The Belko Experiment invests no serious time on its cast and spends more keeping the body count going as fluidly as possible. Which is cool if that’s what you were expecting coming into this movie like I was.

To that end, the violence is pretty amusing and even at times somewhat thrilling, even if everyone is moving at a very by-the-numbers pace. At no point are you going to be genuinely surprised by anything. The movie sometimes tries to pull at emotional strings that just aren’t there. Instead, it’s at its best when it stops trying to talk and just lets the rage fly.

At the end of the day, if your thirst is for a horror movie more concerned with being grossly violent than genuinely scary, then yeah, The Belko Experiment can help with that. In fact, for just that purpose it’s pretty good. Just maintain that level of expectation and everything’ll be alright. Maybe just maybe don’t eat spaghetti or something with tomato pasta. Or do, if you’re sense of humor is that morbid. Again, this movie would probably be for you.

Just like this little review, the movie ends somewhat abruptly leaving you with the feeling they want to build a fuck load of sequels to this because Saw did it. If nothing else, it looked like this movie was a lot of fun to make for the actors.

Game of Thrones Station Episode 2, Stormborn

gots7_1.jpg

Man there’s a lot to unpack here from last night’s episode, so let’s take this bit by bit.

The episode opens on a stormy night on Dragonstone Isle with Daenerys and crew. Tyrion begins a plot to invade Westeros, though Daenerys isn’t totally comfortable with everyone in her council. She questions Varys and his loyalties, and understandably so given his position, though he makes his intentions clear when he says he serves the people and not the various royalties he has had to serve, a similar speech he once had with Tyrion some seasons back. Daenerys proves to her council she’s watching her ass.

They are unexpectedly met by the red priestess Melisandre, who brings a similar pitch she’s attempted in the past: that the Lord of Light has prophesied someone will save them from the Long Night. However she is met with suspicion and mistrust from both Varys and Daenerys. This time she comes with a suggestion: to contact Jon Snow, newly minted King of the North.

Melisandre and Tyrion both suggest Jon’s knowledge of the White Walkers and his position against Cersei make him a valuable ally. Daenerys agrees but under the condition Jon Snow would bend the knee to her upon their meeting. Tyrion is visible concerned but knows this is the only way.

We immediately follow up to Jon receiving Tyrion’s message. Jon and Sansa discuss the validity of the message, and though they both testify to Tyrion’s character, they are concerned yet another throne chaser may be leading them into serious trouble. Davos agrees with their concerns but reminds them dragons make very powerful allies, especially against the White Walkers.

Cersei prepares her own defense against Daenerys’ incoming invasion and Olenna Tyrell’s rebellion against the crown. Cersei finds herself in a precarious situation as fewer houses support her than her father, since so many of them are dead at this point. Jaime attempts to shore up trusted allies to assemble an army for Cersei, but finds few willing to betray allegiances for Cersei, not to mention many of the lords fearful of the dragons. Cersei’s right hand, ever the schemer, quietly has been developing massive ballistas to shoot down the dragons.

gots7_3.jpg

We rejoin Samwell who, with assistance, is attempting to treat Jorah Mormont and his greyscale affliction. The disease has spread quickly throughout his entire body and the senior maester is content to leave Jorah for dead, offering Jorah the option of killing himself or being shipped out to a diseased colony. Samwell, ever the optimist, believes he may have found a solution in his studies. As per the usual, no one listens to him so he takes it upon himself to treat Jorah personally, risking his life in the process. The procedure proves less than pleasant for Jorah.

 

gots7_4.jpg

We return to Daenerys and Tyrion who are with the full council at Dragonstone. There is infighting as Ellaria Sand still harbors a grudge against Tyrion for Oberyn’s death back in 2014. Tyrion wishes to use the Dornish and Tyrell houses to build a rebellion against King’s Landing while Daenerys enters amidst the fighting. Olenna also attempts to privately counsel Daenerys to follow her own instinct and openly attack King’s Landing, not blindly follow Tyrion’s suggestions to attack subtly.

We run into the ever precocious Arya who has met again with Hot Pie at his inn. He notes how much she’s changed, then she realizes how much she’s changed and it bums her out. Hot Pie reveals Jon Snow is king, which causes Arya to leave in a rush to rejoin him. En route, she is trapped by a pack of dire wolves, whose alpha just so happens to be the baby dire wolf Arya was forced to abandon some years back. They recognize each other, but being the alpha he isn’t interested in joining Arya. We are all left sad.

We rejoin Jon Snow again who is discussing his plans for meeting with Daenerys, which is met with mixed reaction. He reminds them all of their dire need for dragonglass, of which he learned thanks to Samwell is sitting right under Dragonstone Isle. Sansa is not pleased Jon is going to meet her, surprises her by charging her as regent until his return. Baelish attempts to counsel with Jon, who them promptly attempts to choke him for saying he loves Sansa. Jon threatens to outright kill him if he discovers him attempting to touch her. Baelish is finding himself with fewer and fewer allies, though his presence still needed thanks to the forces he has at his disposal.

The episode concludes in a huge way, as we join the Greyjoys as they ferry Ellaria to Dorne to prepare for their attack. However they are met with terrible misfortune as Euron intercepts her ships at night and forces her into a dire sea battle. In the midst of the battle, Obara and Nymeria Sand are killed, while Ellaria and Tyene Sand are taken prisoner by Euron’s troops. Yara is captured by Euron and Theon flees like a pussy once confronted by Euron with a knife to Yara’s throat. Her fate now is in Euron’s fucked up hands.

Also things that happened:

  • Grey Worm and Missandei get it on. Yes, you read that right. It was pretty hot.

gots7_5.jpg

 

At the Movies: Dunkirk

dunkirk1.jpg

Christopher Nolan’s latest film Dunkirk recounts the invasion of Dunkirk, France between May 26 to June 4th 1940 during the Second World War. It was the evacuation of Allied forces from France when the German war machine was ravaging Europe. Dunkirk captures the frantic, near hopeless struggle of the British troops and civilians scrambling to rally a defense and evacuation plan from a crushing Luftwaffe bombing raid.

First off, the best way to see the film is in 70mm if possible. Why 70mm and what even is 70mm? Without the elaborate cinephile explanation, it’s the version Nolan would want you to see. Which makes sense since so much of the film are sweeping shots of massive landscapes, intense aerial battles then sudden shifts to claustrophobic environments made tighter thanks to the format.

Dunkirk isn’t a summer blockbuster like so many of this year’s films. It does give the appearance of one with it’s beautifully shot scenes and tense action moments. However it doesn’t linger on the violence long. Violence happens quickly and suddenly then the audience is pushed onto the next situation without too much reflection on it. Masterful sound editing really drove home the terror of the bombing raids, and the helplessness the infantry felt against bombs being dropped.

dunkirk5

It’s important to remember Dunkirk was not a terribly heroic moment for the Allied army and the movie conveys that clearly. There were themes of heroism and sacrifice to be sure, but they are subdued. Dunkirk is more concerned with showing the wide-scale destruction and cost of battle than the usual war-film tropes of ham-handedly preaching duty, heroism, or attempting to shift the narrative from a historical piece then to a set of improbable action set-piece moments.

There really isn’t a single story to track but instead a collection of smaller stories interwoven into the battle: a father and his two sons answering the call to aid in the evacuation attempt; two ace pilots attempting to stave off the Luftwaffe air units; a deployment of young soldiers attempting to survive mentally as well as physically against not just the enemy but against panic-induced soldiers within their own ranks.

All these stories intertwine together and are even called back later in the film subtly thanks to wonderful sound and visual editing that Nolan’s production company, Syncopy, has become well known for. But you won’t find yourself getting too attached to any of the characters, as Dunkirk doesn’t spend too much time concerning itself with singular characters but instead the bigger picture at play.

At times it may be hard to feel involved with the movie as it dwells perhaps a bit too much on the larger picture. A great deal happens within the movie’s hour and 46 minutes run time, from start to finish. Some audiences may be turned off to the fact that a lot will happen and at times it can be hard to make sense of it all without much tying you emotionally, but the film resonates in a much stronger way through its masterful use of sound and perspective. Nolan found a way to deftly tell a story of bravery without lecturing on it.

Pic Source: http://www.dunkirkmovie.com/

 

Linkin Park singer, Chester Bennington dies at 41

According to a TMZ report, Law enforcement sources informed TMZ Bennington apparently committed suicide by hanging. He was found today just before 9 a.m. in private residence in Palos Verde, L.A. County. Shortly after they reported the information, Los Angeles county coroner’s office confirmed his death.

The singer had been a victim of sexual abuse at 7 years old and considered suicide. Throughout the years he struggled with alcohol and drug addictions.  “I was a full-blown, raging alcoholic. I don’t drink. I choose to be sober now. I have drunk over the last six years, but I just don’t want to be that person anymore.” His addictions, were the blame for his first failed marriage.

He was very close to singer Chris Cornell, who also committed suicide by hanging in May of this year. Today Cornell would have been 53. Bennington sang at his funeral and  dedicated the album’s title track to his friend who death was taken very hard.

Linkin Park released their 7th album in may and dedicated it to Chris, they were going to start their “One More Light world tour” on July 27th. The band had many hits over the years including: “In the End,” “Numb,” “Crawl” and their collaboration with Jay-Z.

It’s Back! Game of Thrones is back!

got1.jpg

I normally avoid spoilers as best I can but I’m going to go ahead and warn SPOILERS AHEAD IT’S ALL SPOILERS

Winter is finally upon us, but with this being the season opener let’s not get too crazy here. When we last left the program, there have been seismic shifts in power throughout the world. Cersei has claimed the Iron Throne following Tommen’s suicide following Cersei’s revenge bombing which claimed Margaery’s life; Jon Snow and Sansa have managed to defeat Ramsay Bolton and are organizing remaining loyalists in a desperate stand against the impending White Walker army; Arya cut Walder Frey’s throat as she makes her way toward King’s Landing and Cersei; and Daenerys is en route to Westeros with a navy thanks to her alliance with Theon and Yara Greyjoy, who are also being hunted by their murderous uncle Euron, who himself is attempting to court Cersei into wedlock. And this is just covering the major characters.

Sunday’s episode began with…Walder Frey? Who is toasting with his vassals to the deaths of their enemies, namely the Starks. However, with this being Game of Thrones, of course the wine is probably poisoned. Granted, the fact it’s poisoned isn’t the surprise so much as that wasn’t really Walder it WAS ARYA EXACTING REVENGEOHGODYES! Arya takes a quick break from murdering to make a detour to hang out with Ed Sheeran and his band of young Lannister soldiers gathered around a bonfire. This cameo has set the Internet either into a swoon or a rage as most issues tend to go.

Next, we see Jon Snow who is still congregating with loyalists to figure out how to defend themselves against the impending White Walker invasion, who if you’ve also forgotten now count giants amongst the ranks. Jon knows their only hope is locating large caches of dragonglass though they don’t know where to begin. Beyond that Jon finds the houses fall in line quickly, though Sansa has grown frustrated with Jon’s unwillingness to heed her counsel.

Sansa is also still forced to deal with the increasingly creepy Lord Baelish who too is quickly running out of allies and may soon find himself in serious shit. We are also left wondering if Brienne will ever fall for the lumberjack wiles of a very thirsty Tormund. We briefly catch up with Samwell afterward still at the Citadel, toiling as a shitty apprentice maester doing literal shitty work. Knowing time is against him, Samwell dangerously attempts to learn forbidden knowledge, which has fortuitously shown him the location to a ton of dragonglass conveniently located beneath Dragonstone Island.

Against most odds, Sandor is still kicking and still hanging around his strange frenemies in the Brotherhood Without Banners. While always the cynic and asshole, Sandor is forced to confront that their visions in the fires are real, and the truth he too is seeing the impending doom the White Walkers will bring.

The episode concludes with a triumphant scene of Daenerys and crew landing on, wouldn’t you know it, Dragonstone Island, her ancestral home. Dragonstone, if you’ve already forgotten, was the former base of operations for Stannis Baratheon and is also the locations of the dragonglass Samwell discovered that Jon Snow needs. The episode concludes with Daenerys standing beside an absolutely bewildered Tyrion and a giant map of Westeros saying, “Shall we begin?” Yes Daenerys, oh god yes let us begin.

There aren’t going to be as many episodes in season seven , with only six remaining leading to an 81-minute long season finale August 28th (versus the usual 10 episode runs), then you can be left to your empty-inside wait for the grand finale next year. Then…well we won’t even think about after that.

TV Theatre – Castlevania

castlevania2

Netflix has shown they’re willing to be a little out-there when it comes to their original programming. Castlevania, from the Konami franchise that’s basically been abandoned to being licensed pachinko machines, is the latest in that trend. It’s an animated mini-series telling the story of Dracula himself raining literal hell down on stupid mortals for crossing him. The show is written by Warren Ellis who has penned some of the best comic book arcs around. That fact alone should make you feel more at ease that this is going to be good.

The season is extremely short with only four episodes that are no more than 22-23 minutes a piece. The animation is a bit inconsistent, with some scenes looking better than others (some of the action scenes are unfortunately choppy). However the voice acting and music help tie everything into a rather pleasantly cool show. It also makes certain this is not a cartoon for kiddies, as it revels in being a mature program from the copious, detailed gore to the pretty straight-up adult dialogue.

And speaking about pleasant, this show is incredibly gory and filled with lots of surprising dark humor. Did I say it was gory? It’s the type of mixture that had me reminiscing on HBO’s Spawn, though without the nudity (at least so far). It plays off its source material really well, though let’s not kid ourselves that Castlevania was ever really that deep to begin with. The franchise is about monster slaying and season one lays the groundwork of that well enough.

Season one was at best an appetizer, as inaugural seasons tend to be. However in this case binge watching this show should be mandatory. For example, I’d argue the 80 some minutes you could spend watching Castlevania would be better served than watching something like, I don’t know, Transformers: The Last Knight which was, ha ha, fucking horrible.

It surprised me in certain ways (the dark humor was legit very funny) and disappointed in others (super short, ends way too soon). I feel like I watched a very long trailer for a pretty cool TV series. I guess the question now is when does this series really start? Netflix has already renewed Castlevania for a second season.