The walking Stupid, (TWD)

Walking_Dead_S8_Poster

The longer that the walking dead lingers on our small screens, the less sense it makes. I can see why it is steadily losing viewership. For me the answer is simple:, some characters that everyone wants dead, are still alive and others that viewers are attached to are senselessly killed off. Glenn, Abraham and Carl  are the prime example but there have been many other characters that were killed off by walkers, or by bad guys, just as we were beginning to become attached. We root for these people and hope for their continued survival, yet they continue to die in the most heart breaking ways.  For a while   now I have been aware of the dead bro walking trope, which still tarnishes television and movies. Characters of color on the Walking Dead don’t last very long with the notable exception of Father Gabriel, that useless knucklehead that left the gate open at Alexandria, stole food and weapons for the Trash people and spouts hypocritical nonsense, while endangering the people who have protected him. Michonne should have cur his head off. His behavior fits the old stereotype of the shifty, untrustworthy, cowardly negro, Shame on you writers room.

There have been many other noteworthy characters, that deserved to be survivors and were actually and logically more suited to be survivors, than father Gabriel; for instance Noah a courageous young man who had survived on his own, for a long period of time in a zombie infested apartment building. He was killed off in a really despicable manner by a cowardly Alexandrite, who then blamed him for his own death. The Death of Noah was to me, as heart  breaking as the death of Carl. The young people that use their brains to survive deserve to live, they are the real future.

Another senseless death on the series,  was that of Sasha. Her irrational plan for vengeance was too stupid even for her, especially after she had started pulling herself together.  One of the earliest unwarranted deaths on TWD, was that of Shane Walsh, Ricks old partner on the Police Force.  From my point of view, it was Rick’s cheating spouse who instigated the murder, if Shane had been the victor I have no doubt that Mrs. Rick Grimes would have happily continued shagging Shane.

Shifting gears, lets talk about the disposable Doctors on TWD. I truly doubt that people in this type of predicament, would be so unconcerned about killing anyone, who has the skill to keep people alive. By my count six healers have been killed off, Negan killed one of them, Dwight killed another, one of Negan’s Henchmen killed a third. If Negan were actually as smart, as they try to portray him, he wouldn’t have killed any one that had medical expertise, no matter how angry he was and anyone who did kill a doctor or healer would be severely punished.

Let’s talk about the sanity of both Rick and Morgan. These two are all over the map when it comes to illogical behavior; to call them erratic is an understatement. Morgan actually callously murdered an ally in a fit of rage, that should have been focused on the enemy, a good beatdown would have sufficed. Both men appear to have lost their moral compass and can not distinguish between those who deserve mercy and those who do not. We have even seen Carl, murder an unarmed teen who was no longer a threat, obviously the influence of his brutal and unstable father; now we’re are expected to believe, that Carl has suddenly had some kind of unseen epiphany, making him the arbiter of peace between to murderous maniacs. Ricks brutal murder of the sanctuary survivors, after promising them safety, when he only had to kill the one Negan loyalist, that actually deserved killing, was an act that made him more of a villain than a hero. I know that letting Negan live follows the graphic novel, but it is no longer logical, considering Rick’s behavior.

It is obvious, that some of the saviors, were only cooperating with Negan out of fear of being brutally beaten to death. This is why some of the fighters were so easily turned after being captured.  This brings me to the subject of Maggie who randomly killed a prisoner who stood up to her, instead of the snickering, taunting, jackanapes that was Jared who led the escape from Hilltop. I was hoping beyond hope that Maggie would put a bullet in his skull, ever since Jesus saved him and the rest of the prisoners from Maggies wrath. Her misplaced distrust of poor Alden, who is trying so hard to prove his worth, by remaining behind as a prisoner, instead of running back to Negan; is both cynical and unfounded and shows a lack of understanding and compassion. In my opinion the only choice for Hill top leadership is Jesus and the only choice and the clear choice of the Alexandria group is Michonne. She is strong as a warrior, level headed and has the trust of her friends, without all of the crazy drama of Rick.

The other glaring weakness of Rick, is his gullibility. Jadis and her flighty and predictable double-crossing, has put him and his group in jeopardy three times; Simon was correct in his response to the Heapsters betrayal. No one needs these clowns at there back, because they will only run away, or stab you in the back. Jadis should have been killed, after her first betrayal, yet Rick continued to Knock on her door seeking help, only to be betrayed again. This behavior fits the definition of crazy.

This brings me back to my main point, that the wrong people are killed off and that unlikable and useless characters, are left to muddy up the story with pointless drama,that does not progress the story at all. The season finale  was not satisfying or conclusive and the end scene with Maggie, Darryl and Jesus makes less sense than leaving Negan alive.  Jesus is very much against cold blooded murder, Darryl let Dwight go proving that he can change and he bears some of the responsibility for the death of Abraham; so his vendetta against Negan is empty and selfish. Maggie is the only one that really has an ax to grind, being Glen’s widow, she should have been allowed to vent her rage by bashing Negan’s brains out with Lucille, now that would have been a satisfying ending.

Into the Badlands (review)

I am so tired of dreary, sad, hopeless, end of the world scenarios. The Left overs, The Walking dead, Helix, the Twelve Monkeys and Childhood’s End are all supremely sad and depressing. They are must avoid television not must see TV. Even the comedy entry to this field of nightmares The Last man on Earth on Fox is without hope of redemption.

Into this litany of post apocalyptic dreariness comes Into the Badlands. It’s part Steampunk, part Diesel punk, part martial arts slugfest and all pure escapist fun. Screw Rotten Tomatoes low score of 65, I give the first season a rip roaring 99% I do have a few problems with the teen aged angst, but that’s just me. What I love about the show is the action and the intrigue and the character interaction. I am not a professional critic but I know what I like. If a show keeps me entertained, interested and wanting more then it is a success.

I wanted the season to last longer, I wanted to know more of the background of the boy with the mysterious powers; I wanted to know more about  Sunny, about the widow, about the Baron (Quinn) and about Sunny’s mentor Waldo, The Kick ass guy in the wheel chair. There aren’t a lot of television series that I want, or need to know this much information about the Characters, I think that says a lot about the quality of the writing on the show.

The cast is diverse and awesome and women with wit and sword keep the men constantly looking over their shoulders and on their toes. Orla Brady (Lydia), Sarah Bolger ( Jade), Emily Beecham, (The Widow) and Ally Ioannides (Tilda), are all dangerous in their own way, demonstrating that femininity is a two edged sword, literally and figuratively. It might be a man’s world but the women are about to shake it up.

The men Daniel Wu as Sunny the main protagonist of the story and Marton Csokas as the Baron the main antagonist, play a game of cat and very dangerous mouse while pretending to maintain the status quo. Precocious, petulant, spoiled Ryder (Oliver Stark), the Baron’s son lurks in the background with his own agenda to gain supremacy over his father and the rest of the Barons. Six episodes wasn’t enough for me, If you missed season 1, you’ll have to pay for it.  I’ll just have to wait for season 2 .

 

Tech review: Vizio Smart TV

IMG_0578 (1)             MY STUPID SMART TV.                                                            Don’t be fooled by the name of a product. Just because something has the name smart in front of it, doesn’t mean that it is. I recently purchased the VIZIO E-Series Smart TV. I shied away from Apple TV because I’ve had it up to my eyeballs with MAC products, meaning I own an iPod touch an iPad and a iMac All in one computer. They have an incredibly steep learning curve for a guy like me, who started with a simple PC. My main beef with Apple is that their customer service is nothing more than a money grubbing scheme to bilk their customers. I swore to myself that I would never again buy another APPLE product. When they finally wear out or can no longer be upgraded all of my Apple devices will be replaced with anything other than Apple.

Back to Vizio. After setting up and tuning it, I discovered that almost everything available on the menu of internet apps, (most of them are subscription services), which means they charge a fee, are apps that aren’t needed , not wanted, or are redundant. I am an HBO subscriber but unfortunately They don’t make that available on this product. They do have Hulu plus, but why should I pay for that, when I have HBO GO. I feel that with a smart tv I should be able to access the same things that I can access from my iPad,or my TV. The Yahoo app store is so limited that it only took me two minutes to check out their inventory, pretty lame! I feel that I should be getting much more from a smart TV, especially when all of the hype and the sales pitch that I got from the guy at best buy. This thing should be amazing, but it’s not.

Here is what I expect but didn’t get. The ability to browse the internet, the ability to use a wireless keyboard, the ability to watch HBO GO, Adult Swim, Crunchy roll and a bunch of other favorites. I thought I would be able to play Mahjong,slots or download the Sims. None of these things which are common on my iPad are available to me. The only good thing that I can say about it, is that it functions as a normal television with a very slow remote and You Tube. I can not figure out the use of the pairing feature, since you can only  use it with You Tube and you see the exact same thing that you’re watching on your iPad. I can rent or purchase movies but I can do that on my  regular television and have a bigger screen. I can also and have watched movies on my Mac and my iPod and iPad, so no big deal. I can not lay up in bed and work on my blog. In short it’s just a TV that isn’t very smart after all, just a scam to sell more apps.

TIMEY WIMEY LOOP DE LOOP (Terminator Genisys)

http://www.terminatormovie.com/#gallery

I love time travel movies, even the bad ones. The good ones are few and far in-between and I do consider the Terminator as one of the good ones, the franchise’s popularity proves my point. Right from the start it was more than just an action movie, because of the questions about fate, destiny and the intrusion of technology into our lives. The entire Movie franchise starting with the original The Terminator in 1984 has posed these same questions and technology and society has reflected the concerns in the movie. This series plays like a neo-Luddite treatise against the horrors of artificial intelligence. Technology can be scary, I personally hate the cloud I think it is useless.

All of that said; my reasons for not liking Terminator Genisys, has more to do with the fact that I spent the entire movie confused and trying to recap the previous installments of the series. In case you’ve forgotten there have been five movies and a television series in the franchise. without doing a synopsis of any of them, here they are; The Terminator, 1984, Terminator 2:Judgment Day, 1991, Terminator 3:Rise of the Machines, 2003, Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles, Television series, 2008, Terminator: Salvation, 2009. Now we have Terminator Genisys, 2015 Which felt like the beginning of a new franchise. If there’s a sequel to this movie I think I’ll avoid it, like I’ve avoided the TRANSFORMER and IRON MAN Sequels. One bad experience is enough and I really think that this series needs closure.

Almost the entire movie was a WTF moment, that’s not good; however that’s not the worst of it. Spoiler Alert! The vilification of John Connor was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. I can’t understand why this was necessary to the story, other than to give Jason Clarke additional screen time; it also put a glaring plot hole in the movie. I wasn’t put off by the acting, I found Emilia Clarke tough but adorable, Jai Courtney adequate and macho, Jason Clarke was scary good and Arnold old but not obsolete. All in all this wasn’t a terrible movie just a terribly confusing one. There is lots of almost non stop action and some lighter moments which were not present in the other movies. I didn’t walk out on it so I will rate it as a solid popcorn Saturday matinee.

The Secret life of Walter Mitty: 2013

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I never liked the James Thurber story, nor the 1947 Danny Kaye film. The Kaye film failed because his waking adventure, parallels his over the top daydreams, so it came off as just another daydream. I was still a child when I first viewed it, and it seemed implausible even to my adolescent mind. It was my least favorite Danny Kaye movie ever. As a kid I went to the matinees religiously and enjoyed a lot of Mr. Kaye’s movies, so the problem wasn’t Danny Kaye.

When I heard that there was going to be another incarnation of the Thurber story I cringed. Probably like so many other boomers that had been introduced to the Story of Walter Mitty in high school, I viewed him as the quintessential spineless milksop. He was the kind of guy that would end up in the nut house, because life had beaten him down and caused him to retreat into a permanent fantasy. In other words he was more of a tragic figure than a comic one. For this reason I avoided seeing the 2013 version of The Secret life of Walter Mitty.

Now for something completely different! While Channel surfing I stumbled upon the last part of the Ben Stiller movie; to my surprise I thoroughly enjoyed it. Ben Stiller for me is a hit or miss proposition, mostly miss, but this film is one of his best and most human portrayals. The movies starts out in predictable Walter Mitty style, with a bunch of ludicrous and childish fantasies. But then something amazing happens, Walter is required to ditch his fantasies and live in the real world.

On a search for a missing negative, Walter follows a series of cryptic clues that take him on a journey, that is as much spiritual as it is physical. With the help of his assistant/fantasy girl, he embarks on the adventure of a lifetime, chasing enigmatic freelance photographer Sean O’Connell. He is forced to look within, for the inner strength that has always eluded him. Along the way he finds courage and confidence and enhances his E-Harmoney profile, no kidding, thats in the plot.

When he finally catches up with O’Connell, he discovers that what he was looking for was at home in the last place that he expected it to be, figuratively and literally. There is symbolism galore in this movie, but it’s symbolism that most of us can understand. I’ve watched this movie at least five times who’d a thunk it!

The Edge of Tomorrow (movie review)

Ground hog day with big guns and aliens; that’s the impression that I got when watching yet another Tom Cruise action movie

Time loop movies are problematic by virtue of their enigmatic nature. No one really understands how they, (time loops) work. I’m so confused!

Let me start by explaining the main premise of the movie. Aliens called mimics invade Earth; after five years of a brutal plodding war of attrition the earth forces are on the verge of annihilation. Enter, Major Bill Cage (Cruise), a REMF public affairs officer, who stupidly offends a General (Brendan Gleeson) and is sent to the front lines for punishment.

Cage who is a Major, has never bothered to learn how weapons work and has never seen combat, is dropped into the thick of it totally unprepared.

Major Cage doesn’t even know how to disengage the safety on his high tech weapon, much use it. It is predictable that he should die in his first engagement with the enemy. By a quirk of luck, cage manages to kill one of the alpha aliens, the controllers of the alien forces. Before he succumbs to his wounds, he is infused with the alien’s blood and acquires the ability to reset. Just like a video game, Cage is re-spawned the previous day, before the mission starts. He seems doomed to replay the day over and over, each time surviving a little longer.

During one of his repeat lives Cage meets Sergeant Rita Vrataski, a hardened combat veteran known as the angel of Verdun. She is the embodiment of hope, because she was instrumental in the earth forces only victory. She tells him find me when you wake up. He does, and she endeavors to train him knowing that he will retain the knowledge with each encounter. With each reset Cage and Rita manage to get a little further off of the beachhead, but the Mimics seem to anticipate every move with every reset. Okay this is starting to get tiring! Enter the exposition fairy in the guise of crazy science guy, Doctor Carter, a disgraced scientist that everyone thinks is crazy. He actually knows what is happening to Cage and explains that Rita also had the gift, or curse to reset, which she acquired in a similar engagement with an Alpha mimic.She lost the ability to reset after being wounded and having a transfusion from a human.

What became confusing to me, is that even though Sgt. Rita realizes what Cage is and what his ability is, she has trouble believing him when he says, this is as far as we get. Her words “come and find me when you wake up, early in the movie prove that she is aware. This fact bugs me. why does she have to be convinced. But by this time, the boring repetition of getting killed over and over is quite taxing on my nerves. I was however committed to seeing this thing through, just to see how it would be resolved.

I guess that if you walk away from a movie thinking WTF for the rest of the day, the director and writer have at least achieved something of a victory.
Would I watch this movie again? Maybe I would, on television where I can channel surf and turn away from the boring or repetitive parts. Performances by Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton and Brendan Gleeson raise this movie above B movie schlock. Tom Cruise once again playing the savior of humanity gets old pretty fast.

Chappie

When I went to see Chappie I figured this movie was a rehash of Short Circuit, that goofy robot movie which featured Fisher Stevens. I was wrong! There are some similarities to Robocop and Short Circuit and Short Circuit 2, but there is much more heart. Dev Patel and Hugh Jackman give solid performances as the protagonist and the antagonist of the piece, with Sharlto Copley giving an engaging and funny performance as the title character. Yo-landi Visser plays Chappie’s adopted mother Yolandi. Her maternal instincts out shine the self serving attitudes of the males including Chappie’s inventor/creator, Dion played by Patel. Her values are more those of a concerned mother, than a hardened criminal. In spite of the bad influences of Ninja Played by Ninja and Amerika played by Jose Pablo Cantillo, Chappie manages to learn human compassion and a sense of right and
wrong. Sigourney Weaver gives another spot on performance as a wicked corporate boss, with a heart of stone and a head for business.Over all Chappie was great fun and a decent popcorn movie. Once again Neil Blomkamp has given us another good sci-fi movie to add to his repertoire. It’s worth a few bucks on a lazy day. I consumed six chicken tenders, a soft pretzel and a small soda.

Those Happy, Sappy Hallmark Christmas Movies

It’s that time of year again, when the Hallmark channel starts rolling out those goofy, sentimental Christmas movies and there are a lot of them. That’s right folks, they have a whole arsenal of the oozy ,gooey sentimental sap for your viewing pleasure. If you’re not familiar with the Hallmark channel, this is the one time of the year when I actually recommend it. If you are feeling the pre-Christmas Blahs like I so often do; dreading those Pre-Chirstmas chores, then the Hallmark Channel is the place to go for a quick infusion of the Christmas spirit minus, the religious aspect of course. After all, Americans have been celebrating secular Christmas for at least a century or more, ever since that famous letter to the New York Sun by Virginia O’Hanlon in 1897 asking the question; Is there a Santa Claus?

Incidentally, or not, Hallmark has been selling Christmas card since 1915, so Why shouldn’t they sell Christmas movies on Television. What a great platform to push their product, while injecting us all with the Christmas spirit. All of that aside, I find that their movies actually make me feel good about this time of the year. For an old curmudgeon like me, feeling good is a big plus. The Hallmark Holiday movies provide a much needed lift for someone like me, who is suffering from bad news syndrome. This is a time when I can get get behind happy fluff and put all of the horrible stuff on hold until next year. I highly recommend a Hallmark marathon, of romantic sappy, secular Christmas movies to anyone needing a lift. Try watching them with friends or family, or have a tweet-athon while watching. You might be surprised by how much fun you can have, making fun of these sentimental fluff pieces. They are perfectly designed to hit your soft spot, like it or not. “HAPPY FESTIVUS EVERYBODY!”

The Giver

Snorefest, borefest,these aren’t two Minnesota festivals that occur between Septemberfest and Oktoberfest. When asked to describe the Giver, I actually had to make up new adjectives to do so. Unfortunately they weren’t good made up adjectives like fanfreakintastic,or exploderific or just plain awesome that came out; without much effort the words that came to mind were Snorefest and borefest. I have never fallen asleep in a movie theater, not even as a child at the late night drive in, where I had my blanket and pillow with me. The Giver had me nodding off like The Age of Innocence, the 1993 snoozer that’s more effective than NyQuil.

When I spend five or ten dollars on a movie, I expect to be entertained and not bored to sleep. A movie doesn’t have to be loud and stupid to entertain me, it just has to have a good plot and interesting characters, not caricatures. Not even the stellar presence of Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges, both actors who I adore, could save this movie.

I love dystopian sci-fi, that’s why I chose to see this pic. I loved Snow Piercer and Elysium and many others, because I was entertained. I am not averse to Young Adult themes, even though I walked out of Twilight, because of the sheer sappiness, but I have seen both Hunger games and intend to see the third and forth. The giver was one of those movies where you get a slow build up, followed by an even slower let down. I hate survival movies where the landscape and environment dominate. The torturous trek across parched deserts and freezing mountain ranges bores the heck out of me, especially when it’s done badly. The opposite end of the spectrum is a Disney movie, Never Cry Wolf, Starring Charlie Martin Smith, (1983). My point is, that you just can’t tack a survival montage at the end of a movie and expect it to work. How did he and the baby survive, how many miles did he walk, what did he do for food and water and shelter, who knows?

the end of the movie is only one of the disappointments endured, the transition from black and white to color should have been glorious, as in Pleasantville (1998) another movie that starts out in black and white and slowly transforms for the viewer, both metaphorically and chromatically creating a visual treat. The acting by the young individuals is less than adequate, but I will give them the benefit of a doubt and blame it on the script and direction. However my guess is that unless a sequel happens, so they can redeem themselves this movie might have been a career killer for them. Meryl Streep and Jeff Bridges will naturally survive, because they are awesome and so will Alexander Skarsgard but this was a bad comeback choice for Katie Holmes, may the odds be ever in her favor.

Since I brought up the subject of Minnesota Beer drinking festivals here are a few links to some fun festivals

https://www.facebook.com/septemberfest

http://minneapolis.about.com/od/eventsfestivals/tp/beerfestivals.htm

http://www.newulmoktoberfest.com

Mediocre Start to 2014 at the movies

I know that I haven’t posted in a couple of weeks but I really haven’t had anything to get excited about. Okay here’s the thing. I’ve  been really disappointed about the recent fair at the movies in this first quarter of 2014. Here are the movies that I’ve seen so far this year and my some what flippant rating system.

47 RONIN: A trite American fantasy version of a Japanese classic; based on a real life tragedy, and a part of Japans cultural history. It would have worked better as a simple fantasy with out the disrespectful attachment to the actual story of the 47 RONIN. I rate this as a moderate disappointment.

I FRANKENSTEIN: A new take on an old story and yet another graphic novel screen adaptation. I hope that this wasn’t a career killer for Aaron Eckhart, who was great in Battle: Los Angeles. Disappointment moderate. I didn’t walk out on this one but I left the theater feeling empty.

AMERICAN HUSTLE:  I rated this one better than average, to very good with solid performances by the entire cast but it wasn’t great.

MONUMENTS MEN: My kind of movie intelligent, informative and based on historical events. I rated this one excellent.

THREE DAYS TO KILL: This was an adequate Kevin Costner vehicle in the action genre, with some sentimental hokum thrown in for good measure. I rated this one fair to middling in quality.

LONE SURVIVOR: Good action yarn based on a real life Navy seal’s fight for survival. As an ex GI I found this movie hard to watch because I feel for the families of the men that didn’t survive this doomed mission. I rated this one good.

300: RISE OF AN EMPIRE: This was for me the biggest disappointment of the year so far. In spite of all of the fancy CGI it lacked heart and pacing.  It was mostly mindless slaughter except this time it was on ships instead of on dry land. I didm’t root for the good guys or the bad guys. If you leave a movie with out an opinion on whether you like it or not then it’s probably a mediocre movie.  I rated this movie Blah.

NEED FOR SPEED: Movies based on video games usually don’t work and this movie was no exception. Poor Aaron Paul what a way to start a career as a leading man. I went to see this movie because I’m a fan of Breaking Bad and Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman an awesome character. Unfortunately this movie lacked the depth of character and the intricate story line need to make it anything more than an adequate, but predictable popcorn movie.  I rate this move Okay I guess. 

NOTE: I purposely staid away from The Butler, Fruitvale Station and Twelve years a slave, because I am a thin-skinned old curmudgeon and I don’t go to movies that might raise my blood pressure, or rouse me to anger. So please take into account that my life has been hard enough and I really do get emotionally involved when watching well crafted movies about serious subjects.