Category Archives: TV & Movies

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit – not bad

We watched Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit tonight (because Chris Pine) and it wasn’t 1/2 bad.

Captain Kirk was working with Robin Hood and were fighting against Hamlet. Not sure it’s the reboot anyone wanted, but it was pretty good.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD)

Bad movies based on cartoons

Business Insider’s Entertainment section provides some really interesting articles, considering the name of the site.

One of their recent ones is 11 Really Bad Movies Based On Cartoons Everyone Loves and delivers what it promises.

In the accompanying video, they list out 11 cartoon TV shows that were converted to moves and were just terrible. Although by including Garfield on the list, they cheat because it was a bad TV show based on a comic strip.

Cartoon Movie
Transformers Transformers
The Smurfs The Smurfs
Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo
Speed Racer Speed Racer
Rocky & Bullwinkle Rocky & Bullwinkle
Inspector Gadget Inspector Gadget
Garfield Garfield
The Flintstones The Flintstones
G.I. Joe G.I. Joe
Aeon Flux Aeon Flux
Masters of the Universe Masters of the Universe

Ok, so a table listing them like that wasn’t necessary. There’s 3 things about this list that stand out.

  1. At least 3 of the shows/movies are based on toys (Transformers, Smurfs & G.I. Joe)
  2. At least 3 of the shows/movies are OLD (Mr. Magoo, Rocky & Bullwinkle & The Flintstones)
  3. Why is Aeon Flux on the list? Did people actually love that cartoon? I didn’t even know it was one!

The universal consistency of course is that they’re all fantasy. I mean, if they’d done an Archie & Jughead movie, it would be “real” in that it’s set in a world people can relate to and doesn’t require a lot of special effects. Everything above did.

They’re also all arguably kids shows and are aimed at kids, being judged by adults. How many kids do you think walked out of Garfield saying “Dad, Garfield was terrible”?

Pain & Gain – Movie Review

In an effort to avoid working too much and avoid the heat in my office, I watched Michael Bay’s “Pain & Gain” last night and I’m not sure if I would have been better off working.

Pain & Gain is based on a true story, something they remind you of during the movie at least 2 or 3 times. The short version runs like this – a gym-membership salesman dreams of more (the American dream) and convinces 2 friends to join him in kidnapping a businessman to take “everything” from him. This plays out like a Keystone Kops bumbler but work, then after wasting the money, one of the guys sets up another score. Everyone ends up in jail.

That’s a lousy summary, but it’s good enough. This is based on true events in Miami, Florida but Hollywood (Michael Bay) made serious changes to the story and “lightened it” with comedy that wasn’t present in the original. Watching the movie a few bits seemed too much – some of those actually happened – but many were added. The people who survived in real life (murder is involved) were not too happy. I started reading the original articles that this story came from and it’s pretty different right from the start.

Mark Wahlberg plays Daniel Lugo, the “leader” of our little band that’s rounded out by Anthony Mackie and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Johnson plays a character that doesn’t exist in the original story. Rebel Wilson, Tony Shaloub and Ed Harris round out the major cast.

Lugo isn’t content to be stuck in a dead end job selling Sun Gym memberships – even though he’s awesome at it and has a nice little racket going (Free memberships for strippers) so when his client Kershaw (Shaloub) starts going off about everything he has got, Lugo sets a plan in motion with Adrian Doorbal (Mackie) to kidnap Kershaw and take his house, money and business. The find ex-con Paul Doyle (Johnson) looking for work and convince him to join the group.

For some reason Bay renamed the original victim Mark Shiller to Victor Kershaw and in the credits says the name was changed to protect the original victim. He was named publicly in the original article from 1999. The same goes for Sorina Luminata a stripper who starts with Lugo and is “given” to Doyle under the guise of being a CIA asset. Other than adding to the “reality” of the movie (and you learn this in the closing credits) this serves no purpose to me.

Bay apparently has been trying to make this movie since 2000 shortly after he read the articles, but has been “stuck” in the Transformers franchise all this time. He wanted this to be a “small” movie and given the star power that some of the cast command, they all had to take substantial paycuts (Bay included) to product the film. It’s his first low budget movie since Bad Boys. Yeah, I forgot he made that too.

So, in the end – Pain & Gain isn’t terrible. It’s not Shakespeare, but it is entertaining. I give it a 7/10 and it was ok for a late night filler.

Community – My new TV show

community cast in desks

In our quest to find a new TV series on which to binge, it was recommended that we give NBC’s Community a try as a possible fill-in. We watched the first episode on NetFlix and found the characters interesting enough to give it another go and watched the next. Fast forward about a week and we’ve reached the end of Season 2 and are starting Season 3.

Prior to starting it I had heard of the show but had no real idea what it was about so the concept at first seemed foreign, but the show and the characters will endear themselves (mostly) to you quite quickly. You’ll learn that the title has many layers. Here’s a short (spoiler-free) rundown.

The Story:

Set at just about the worst community college in the country, Greendale Community College, Community is about a core group of 7 very different people who find themselves all in the same Spanish class and form a study group together. This study group never really studies, but man do they get schooled by the wacky adventures they have together.

Jeff had originally started the group to win Britta over and sleep with her, but Abed interfered, others were invited and hilarity ensued. 4 seasons worth so far (Only 3 available on NetFlix).

The characters:

Jeff Winger (Joel McHale): The handsome leader of the group Winger was disbarred from practicing law when it was discovered his “Degree from Columbia” meant the country, not the university. Now he’s forced to attend community college for 4 years to obtain the requisite bachelor’s degree before attempting reinstatement.

Britta Perry (Gillian Jacobs): The target of Jeff’s initial lust, Britta has a history of “causes” both political and individual. While far from mothering, she feels the need to help people. Her goals are never clear, but she seems determined to not be drawn in by Jeff’s advances.

Danny Pudi as Abed Nadir

Abed Nadir

Abed Nadir (Danny Pudi): Abed is an enigma wrapped in a TV series. He’s at Greendale to learn what he needs to take over his father’s falafel restaurant. His behavior suggests he’s possibly got Asperger Syndrome and seems very unclear on where the line between a TV show or movie and real life might be drawn.

Abed’s mind works very differently from most people. The show spends much of the first season setting up (subtly) that all of this may be a show in Abed’s mind – and there’s no payoff either way yet. He is obsessed with pop culture, primarily TV and movies. He also plays an excellent Batman and an Alien (not at the same time. Abed is my favorite character on the show.

Shirley Bennet (Yvette Nicole Brown): A divorced mother of 2, Shirley is a very odd but strong woman in the group. A woman of strong Christian faith, Shirley has a strong set of morals that she lives by and isn’t afraid to shove them down your throat if she doesn’t agree. She jokes about secretly baptizing Abed (who is Muslim).

Annie Edison (Allison Brie): “Little Annie Adderall” or “Adderall Annie” had a breakdown in high school and was forced to drop out and deal with her addiction to Adderall. She went to high school with Troy and had/has a crush on him. When Jeff arrives and shows her some attention, she starts to switch her affections.

Troy Barnes (Donald Glover): Former BMOC (Big man on campus) Troy was the quarterback of his high school team and loved by everyone but is struggling outside of that environment. He and Abed become very good friends, developing a secret handshake and even a fake Morning TV Show. They are often featured in the closing sketch of the show.

Pierce Hawthorne (Chevy Chase): Pierce is grandfather of the group. He’s grown up wealthy (Hawthorne Wipes baby wipes) but scarred. He can’t relate to the rest of the group a lot of times and is generally not very nice. He’s outwardly racist and slightly homophobic. As the oldest member of the group, in many ways he’s the one who never grew up.

Being an ensemble piece set in a large environment there’s a cast of other characters we get to know. Ian Duncan, Dean Pelton, Señor Chang, Leonard, Star-burns, Garrett, Magnitude and Fat Neil are just a few of them.

The lowdown:

This show is crazy. Seasons 1 and 2 end with just MASSIVE paintball wars that practically destroy the campus. There’s a Halloween episode where a zombie infection hits the campus and a Christmas story done like a traditional claymation animated show (think classic Rudolph). The continuity of the story is epic – they very subtly show something important happening in the background and then reference it – in the next season! I mean, come on. What 30 minute sitcom does that?

I may be overselling that. The number of sitcoms I watch is limited and yeah, they do that (How I Met Your Mother and Big Bang Theory).

Ok. I’m done. I’m coming down off my soapbox. But seriously, creator Dan Harmon has created an incredibly enjoyable and enlightening show. He wasn’t involved in season 4 and I’m afraid to see what was done with this terrific series but he’s coming back for season 5 so they apparently didn’t destroy it.

The Walking Dead Season 4 teaser

Updated: WordPress ate the embedded trailer the first time. I’ve re-added it. Sorry.

One of the things I love about SDCC (San Diego Comic Con) is that we-who-won’t-attend get to benefit from all the goings-on down there. And in this case it’s spectacular! They premiered the trailer for AMC’s The Walking Dead Season 4. The season will premiere on October 13, a long dry 3 months away. Watch the trailer and then read my thoughts below.

So this is a LONG trailer which is just awesome. They really like to give us a lot to drool over when they release these trailers for the whole season.

My biggest concern is that based on the trailer we’re going to spend most of the season in the prison again. I know that the few minutes we see isn’t representative of the whole season and there’s tons of room for change, but you have to wonder. We are teased knowing that at some point the prison will be overrun from within, and they tease that detective Rick may actually use his brain trying to find out what’s going on. Is it one of their own family who’s doing this? Seems like an inside job to me.

It looks like our regular crew are all here and they’ve been joined by a lot of new fodder people, some of whom we know, but there were a lot of new faces and many children. It’s going to be sad when they all die. At first I thought the teen sitting with Daryl at the beginning was Carl and they’d had a growth spurt over the hiatus, but it’s not – we see Carl has only aged a bit since last season. So who are all these new people?

AMC is really ramping up the violence on The Walking Dead this season – or at least that’s what they want us to believe. We see tons of zombies dying and attacking, and we are even lead to believe we see one of the main characters get killed by a hoard of zombies – but was that real?

Hope you enjoyed the trailer! Let me know what you think of it in the comments and be sure to join me (virtually) on October 13 for the season premiere of The Walking Dead.