Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Update the blog often? Not on my watch!

On Friday night, I went to see Terminator: Salvation. I really meant to post some manner of review before now, but things like weeding the vegetable garden and re-seeding the lawn got in the way. (Ah, the perils of being a new homeowner.)





I will say that I don't quite understand all the negative press the film has gotten, because I found it to be very enjoyable. My only major critique would be that it doesn't really do all that much to further the mythology; at the end of the film we're basically at the same place we started. But the performances were good and the effects were teriffic (Especially the sound work; can't wait to try this one out on the new surround sound.). I'll try to expand my thoughts by the end of the week.


-Buck

Read on, faithful few!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Not a fan of the gays, America?


What happened last night, compatriots? I'm not talking about the Sox winning or the exciting last minute of the Cavs game. Kris Allen winning American Idol: bwah?!

I'm not saying he isn't talented or a good singer. As a musician, he's probably better than Adam Lambert, the to-this-point odds on favorite. But he was so...whitebread college town bar singer. Adam knows he's a star.

Is it the boy-kissing, America? Certainly Adam would've been the most "fabulous" idol, and he makes no bones about that (!). His appearance is over-the-top fancy emo, and that voice! Bordering at times on the absurd, it always invigorates his song choices and shows why all season he'd been considered in a class on his own. It soars and swoons, that voice.

But it also sounded, some weeks, like he should've been in drag, aping Liza. Can I chalk that up as the reason for his loss?

I'm not convinced Tuesday's performance did it for Kris and did in Adam. Like Carrie Underwood, Adam had been nigh untouchable in the elimination rounds. He was a shoe-in, even over Danny Gokey, he of the sob story and the early fav. Then Kris sang Heartless, astoundingly well, and it seemed - to me - that people could now justify their votes for him. Favs dropped in his path, and he clinched it with his more marketable voice.

So that means people were waiting for greatness to justify why this guy the Red Eye said would go out before the top 10 had stuck around while better, or more favored, singers left. With Gokey gone, his fans - more similar to Kris' than Adam's - latched on to the only "traditional" thing left.

Alas, alack.

Though I may be called paranoid, I'm not convinced this underdog story occurred naturally. I've said it before, let's repeat the chorus: it's fixed. If election after election Chicago's Democratic Machine can massage the votes enough to get their people in, then of course we can legitimately call shenanigans on American Idol. The producers got a great story arc out of this - the dark-horse-who's-apple-pie-America - and the means to drum up post-show dollar votes for Adam (feel he was cheated? Buy his album and show ol Slidejaw Allen who really deserved the dandy crown).

It is a show, and therefore not important in the grand scheme, but I would've really liked an Adam victory. He rocked it with KISS and Queen (well...Brian May and Roger Taylor). That showmanship, that voice and atypical sense of personal acceptance made him the clear winner. A shame it wasn't made official.

-Hooper

Read on, faithful few!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Buck Reviews 24: Day 7, 6:00 AM - 8:00 AM

And we come to the close of another harrowing day in the life of Jack Bauer.






Hour 1
• How much you think a video set-up like that costs? That’s a snazzy teleconference Olivia’s taking part in.
• Kim is sadly still a little slow on the uptake, especially for someone who worked at CTU for a couple of years and lived with a former agent.
• Is it too much to ask that we have a season where Jack doesn’t have to go rogue? I know I’d find it refreshing.
• At least he was able to tell Renee what’s really going on. It plays better that way.
• Clever, Mr. Almeida. Someone was watching Incredible Hulk last summer when Stearns reverse-engineered Banner’s blood from that tiny sample.
• It’s so weird having one of the Kiefer-narrated Bank of America commercials come on during a 24 break. It’s calm, collected Kiefer vs. angry shouting Kiefer.
• I greatly enjoyed Olivia’s little freakout.
• If Kim stabs this dude with that pen it just might make up for the entire cougar debacle.
• A shoot-out in an airport? Quick, get Bruce Willis and Dennis Franz on the phone!
• Okay, she can stab the woman. I’m not picky.
• A frustrated “Dammit!” from the next Bauer generation? Awesome.
• Commercial for American Idol finale with Simon voice-over: “Only one can win.” So it’s like Highlander then. Thanks for clearing that up, Mr. Cowell. (Seriously, I loathe the show, but that’s the best soundbyte they could find?)
• See what kind of fun you get when I watch the live broadcast instead of watching it on Hulu? You’ve been missing out on my witty commercial commentary these past 5 months.
• Please don’t have Kanin strip-searched. I love Bob Gunton, but I have no desire to see him nekkid.
• Good lord, is that a CompactFlash memory card? All the technical doodads in the White House and it’s not recorded on a SD card?
• Evil Doctor should really have an accent. British, maybe, or perhaps something eastern European.
• I apologize for the earlier comment that Kim didn’t remember anything she learned at CTU. Thought to grab the laptop and knows how to get the data off of it. Good show.
• Product placement? What product placement? Now sit down and enjoy the Hyundai Genesis—I mean, show.
• Scalpel to the jugular! Neck stabbing! Neck slashing! Neck breaking! You do NOT fuck with Jack Bauer and his spinal fluid!
• Gotta say I’m a little disappointed, as I thought the final hour was going to be rescuing Jack, which would have been a nice twist. But looks like we’ve got Renee and Kim finding Jack while Jack goes for revenge on Tony. Not what I wanted, but I’ll take it.




Hour 2
• Oh, good. For a minute I thought they were going to have a recap for the hour that just ended.
• Jack was going to immolate himself rather than let Tony get his blood? That’s commitment.
• I was wondering how Will Patton’s character fit into everything. And I have to say that I never really believed Charles Logan came up with everything on his own, so this works for me.
• Tony is really off his nut. Jack also killed to revenge his wife’s death, but he didn’t kill everyone that got in his way to do it. I doubt he’d even have killed Nina in Season 3 if she hadn’t threatened Kim.
• Last-minute rescue? That’s how we do things at the FBI. (I actually typed CTU without thinking, then realized what I’d done.)
• Having a seizure while strapped to a bomb? Jack is just not having a good day.
• Renee Walker: Action Woman!
• Michelle was pregnant? Make her death hurt a little more, why don’t you, 24 writers?
• Moment of truth. And Jack goes for the non-killing shot. Son of a bitch, that looked like it hurt.
• Interesting that we appear to be leaving the door open for a possible Tony return in the future.
• That was a really nice scene between Jack and Renee. He’s met a lot of people this season who have helped him come to terms with what he’s done in the past.
• That’s not how it works, Henry. When you’re president, you don’t get to just pick and choose what’s legal and what isn’t. Oh, wait…
• Taylor totally made the right call. Even if it has the potential to ruin her marriage. But David Palmer got through it; she will too.
• Knowing Renee’s back next season, I can’t wait to find out what happened in that interrogation room.
• Kim goes for the stem cell procedure to save Jack as we tick away the final minutes of Season 7.


Thoughts


This was quite possibly the best 24 finale since Season 1. Seeing Jack look for forgiveness on his deathbed, from a Muslim, no less, was an outstanding turn for the character, and Sutherland nailed it. The teaful confession, "You don't know the thing I've done," was handled with grace rather than being melodramatic.

As for the Taylor family, it's impossible to not see shades of David and Sherry Palmer circa Season 1. As hard as it was for Allison, her daughter broke the law and a man died because of it. She has to pay the price for that. And how about a round of applause for Cherry Jones as the president? Here's hoping she's back next year, because I want to see what direction she takes the character in following what looked to be the complete dissolution of her family.

As for the rest...

Kim proved she's a Bauer through-and-through and will do whatever it takes to save her father's life (though we already know he'll be back next season). I know I've given Kim as much crap as anyone, but after the way she was handled this time around, I'm all for her returning next year.

Renee got to go on quite a journey over the course of this day, didn't she? I'm pretty sure Annie Wersching's been confirmed for next season, so it should be interesting to see what happened to Renee following her...aggressive questioning...of Alan Wilson.

Which brings us to Tony Almeida. Carlos Bernard was fantastic this season, and despite what he did, you can't help but feel just a touch sorry for the man, considering what he's lost. I can't wait to watch this season again knowing Tony was playing both sides the entire time.

And a final shout-out to the late, great Larry Moss. I am really sorry he's gone, because after Bill Buchanan's noble sacrifice, he was shaping up to be a new colleague Jack could turn to and maybe even confide in. He was definitely my favorite of the new characters we saw this season, and it's a shame he didn't get to stick around.

I might just be basking in the post-finale after glow, but I have nothing but praise for this season of 24. See you all in January.



-Buck

Read on, faithful few!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

City of Crime

I stumbled upon this yesterday afternoon and...well...it's pretty much the greatest thing ever.





-My name's Buck. I carry a badge.

Read on, faithful few!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Buck Reviews 24: Day 7, 5:00 AM - 6:00 AM

This week, I didn't follow my usual method of typing my thoughts as I watch the episode, so that may be why there aren't as many bullet-points. Or it could be that it was another build-up episode to what is hopefully a slam-bang finale. Read on.






• The subway ride was a little tense, but not exactly action-packed. That was a little disappointing.
• I was surprised to see the bio-threat stopped in this hour. I’d expected a virus cliffhanger leading into the final two hours.
• So is the kidnapping of Kim part of something larger, or is it just the Cabal’s way of saying, “Fuck you, Bauer. You really screwed up our day.”
• Much as I like Chloe, it’s nice to see her get one-upped every once in a while.
• Loved Agent Pierce’s “I’ve just about had it with this crap” scene with Olivia.
• Jack’s wailing on Tony was a little brutal, but you really felt the emotion in every punch.


Thoughts:
• Another 24 final-hour switcheroo, but it’s shaping up to be a good one.
• Lots of focus on loyalty and family this year (and in a good way, unlike last year's Bauer family debacle). Jack’s families, both blood and CTU, the problems in the Taylor household, etc. It’s interesting to see the final crisis of the day involving Kim in danger. We really haven’t seen that since Season 1 (I refuse to acknowledge The Cougar Incident).

-Buck

Read on, faithful few!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Star Trek





I'll expand this with more words of praise later, but just had to say how damn much fun Star Trek is. J.J. Abrams and Co. did an outstanding job and created one of the most enjoyable sci-fi films I've seen in a long time. If you weren't planning on seeing it, I strongly urge you to reconsider. And it's not just for die-hards. You can go in having never seen an episode of the original series and still enjoy it.

UPDATE: Not a full review, but more thoughts after the jump. Minor spoilers if you haven't seen the film.


• Casting was great. No one really goes for the "I'm playing the actor who played this character the last time around" bit, and the movie is all the better for it. Karl Urban certainly channels DeForest Kelly, but it's not an impersonation. He's one of the best bits in the film.
• It's damn funny. I *heart* Simon Pegg.
• I will say that there are plot holes you can reflect on, but it's such a darn fun film they won't dawn on you until days later, and even then they won't ruin the film for you. Thou shalt not nitpick thy films, for that path leads to dickhood.
• Eric Bana's villain Nero is a little underdeveloped, but his motivations are fairly simple to begin with so it's not all bad.
• You get to see Kirk beat the Kobayashi Maru test.
• I felt that the casting gave us feasible versions of the favorites, updated for modern audiences. Sulu's a bit more macho, but I doubt John Cho would have wanted everyone to think he was as "fabulous" as Takei.
• Bruce Greenwood's perfect Capt. Christopher Pike, who hopefully at least gets to cameo the next time around.
• I was very surprised by the Spock/Uhura relationship, but I felt it worked and it added some interesting layers to both characters.
• While I think they could have gone with a straight reboot instead of using an old character to start a new timeline, Nimoy was perfect and it was delightful to see him interacting with the new actors. Still, the creation of a new timeline allows for new stories without crapping on the continuity of old. Though I do agree with this fellow's perspective on Star Trek canon.
• It's just...it's just a really enjoyable movie. Pure fun and entertainment, despite a not-quite-there script. Probably the most satisfied I've been upon leaving a theater since Bourne Ultimatum (Dark Knight and Iron Man being right up there as well).


-Buck

Read on, faithful few!

Friday, May 8, 2009

Feeling Blue...


[Click to enlarge.]



-Hooper

Read on, faithful few!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Family Ties


[Click to enlarge.]




-Hooper

Read on, faithful few!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Buck Reviews 24: Day 7, 4:00 AM - 5:00 AM

Slow episode? Short review! Enjoy.






• I am really enjoying the character scenes this season, like the one we just had between Jack and Chloe. Why did he think she shouldn't know about his exposure? He's one of the few friends from the old days she has left.
• Kind of a slow episode so far...seems like we're just getting our players in position for the final showdown.
• Olivia's going to fiddle while the Taylor administration burns.
• The WitSec guy is the guy from the Bob Evans commercials!
• Ah, racial profiling. With special guest Bug from Crossing Jordan!
• Hey, Olivia has a few scruples after all.
• You can fancy up your computer trickery all you like, you won't hide from Chloe O'Brien.
• Well, so much for Hodges. Looks like Olivia didn't back out in time. But hey, she didn't actually pay for it, so free assassination! Silver lining kids, silver lining.


Thoughts:
Well, that was uneventful, wasn't it? It's a shame to have a "setting the stage" episode this late in the game, but hopefully it will be worth it. Three hours left to stop Tony and the Cabal. My money's on a crazy cliff-hanger next week that's resolved in the first half of the finale, with the final hour being a slower, more coda-esque bit.



-Buck

Read on, faithful few!