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March 26, 2002

Blade 2

Well, it's a fun flick.

Blade 2 picks up two years after the first Blade film, with the titular hero looking for Whistler, the man who saved/trained him. If you recall the first film, you'll remember that Whistler was tortured and "turned" by vampires, but Blade was not able to bring himself to kill Whistler. His mentor demanded the gun, and the camera followed Blade away, and you heard the shot.

But you never saw the body.

Two years later, Blade finds his mentor, who has been kept in some sort of stasis, so he hasn't actually become a vampire.

I'm not really giving a lot away with this -- this is about the first half-hour (or less) of the flick.

But guess what? That all has very little to do with the plot of the movie!

Blade is asked by the head of an ancient (might be the oldest... who cares, it's the plot device!) vampire family to help them track down and kill the latest mutant strain of vampires, ones that feed on other vampires, and make more like themselves. He's asked to team up with a group that has been training for two years to fight HIM, take him out (their most feared enemy!), but now they both have a common enemy, right?

Right.

This film was in no way as good or as fun as the first film. It tries to inject some emotion, some love or some other unnamed (and unacted) emotion into Blade, when all we really want to see is him doing some of his standard vampire-ass-kicking action.

And I've been spoiled. I've seen some excellent Hong Kong martial arts films. Not as many as I'd like, alas, but I do know what constitutes a good scene. This movie may have had some good fight scenes, but they were lost in the editing. Hollywood seems to think that lots of quick cuts and rapid movement makes an action scene so much better.

Let me tell ya, honey, it does NOT.

I spent too much time trying to who was fighting whom, who got hit (it doesn't help when they all wear black), and what the fuck was going ON to really enjoy the action scenes.

Ron Perlman chews the scenery as a member of the Blade Hit Squad. And there's a lot of scenery to chew -- according to the IMdb, they filmed some in Prague, and it looks wonderfully dark and dirty. The other actors are there, but not really worth mentioning.

And the surprise plot twist? Saw it coming. Wasn't a surprise. Either of them. If they were supposed to be twists.

Still, it was worth the price of a matinee, which is what I paid for it. Money's worth in entertainment, which is all I really ask for.

Rating: Matinee Price

[movie ratings will be Cable, Rental, Matinee, Full Price, and Any Price, in ascending order, by the way. And only the worst get to be rated like Highlander 2 - "wait until it comes out on cable, and then go and rent another movie."]

Posted by Julia at 10:24 PM

March 24, 2002

STRANGE DEVICES OF THE SUN AND MOON

STRANGE DEVICES OF THE SUN AND MOON
by Laura Goldstein
Published 1993
301 Pages

Comedian Eddie Izzard, in his HBO Show "Dress to Kill," talks about British films being different from American films. British films, he jokes, are films where nothing ever seems to happen, where all the action is folded into the dialogue, and they're often called "A Room with a Staircase and a View of a Pond." And these British films are difficult to eat popcorn while watching, because nothing exciting ever really happens.

Whereas Americans take those films, remake them with tons of action scenes (including some bits that weren't in the original movie), rename them to "A Room with a View of Hell," "Staircase of Satan," and "Pond of Death." And the action scenes entrance the viewer, who shovels popcorn into their mouths, slurp down drinks with abandon, and possibly even take candy from those sitting nearby, without realizing the food is not theirs - they are so entranced by the action on screen.

About halfway through STRANGE DEVICES, I realized I was reading a British arthouse film. Nothing ever seemed to happen in this book. It was filled with beautiful language, wonderful descriptions, but not once did it grab me whole into the book, making me consume every page until I reached the end, tired and spent.

The book takes place in Elizabethan England, with the main protagonists being Christopher "Kit" Marlowe (perhaps best remembered these days as the "other playwright" from the movie, "Shakespeare in Love") and a widowed bookseller named Alice. These two protagonists rarely meet, so each of their stories are told in different chapters, only co-mingling with the background characters and events that drive the story.

The driving force of the story is that Alice's grown and missing-for-some-years son, Arthur, is really the King of the Faeries, and both sides in the Faerie kingdom are searching for him to lead their side to victory. Of course, at this time in England, mentioning rumors of a rightful king on the throne calls out all sort of inquisitors, and it's not long before Alice is called before the Queen to relate what she knows about this treasonous affair. Kit is working as a spy to supplement his income (until he finds himself a patron), and finds himself also on the lookout for Arthur.

While the language and the author's knowledge of the Elizabethan era are wonderful, I can't help but feel I'm too used to reading "American film" books, because the lack of action, the lack of ANYTHING happening in the book, had me taking twice as long to finish reading this book. There was nothing that held my interest enough that I couldn't put it down. In fact, with about 10 pages to go, I was able to put the book down and finish it the next evening.

This is not to say that there isn't some action in the book. There are two battle scenes with the faeries. There is also a tight scene in which charges of Alice being a witch are brought up in front of the Stationers' Guild. And there is a beautifully described scene of faerie revels, and how hapless mortals sometimes get caught up in the otherworldly glamour and get themselves lost.

This book wasn't by any means a bad book. It just wasn't enough to hold my attention riveted throughout. Whether that's a lack of the writing or a lack on my own part, I'll leave it for you to decide.

Oh, and ignore the cover. Once again, the cover artist had obviously never read the book before drawing the artwork that graces the cover.

STRANGE DEVICES OF THE SUN AND MOON gets 3 out of 5 stars/hearts/marks/what-have-you.

Posted by Julia at 10:01 AM | Comments (1)

March 19, 2002

Smallville - Nicodemus - 03/19/02

Well, this was a nice change of pace.

Not your mutant-of-the-week storyline, not a whose-affected-by-Kryptonite-now storyline, but one that traces its origins back to the founding of Smallville.

Huh. You mean Smallville existed prior to the meterorite? No way, really?

Anyway, this one started out on the best of notes, and I do mean that literally. Good ole boy Pa Kent, driving his truck, listening to the theme from the Dukes of Hazzard. How can you go wrong from there?

Actually, you can, but they managed to avoid it.

Basic plot summary - long-thought-extinct flower that causes people to lose their inhibitions is stolen from crazy-freak Dr. Harrington, heading for Luthor Sr.'s labs. Man loses control in truck (driving too fast--does he know Whitney?) and crashes, Jonathan goes to save him gets infected. Hilarity ensues.

It was fun seeing Jonathan's lazy side. But even more fun was seeing Lana's uninhibited side. I may be straight, but damn! does that girl have a nice body!

Even more interesting was seeing Pete's dark side come out. Each person lost inhibitions in different ways, and lo and behold! Pete has a dark, angry, vengeful side to him. I hope they do not let this drop.

Of course, when the day is done, no one remembers what happened to them when they were under the effect of the plant. Lana does not remember giving Clark that oh-so-sexy kiss (thump-thump goes my heart!), Pete doesn't remember seeing and hearing Lex talking with Dr. Harrington, much to Lex's relief.

And I can clearly tell that Clark Kent has never played any Amber RPGs. As my husband told me once, and it's become a mantra for me - Wording Is Everything. Lex did NOT lie, Clark -- he just did not answer your question. Just like you did with him a few weeks back, when you lost your powers.

This was a fun episode, if just to see Lana come on to Lex, and he resist, but look like he's having a really hard time doing so.

High ratings here, folks. 9/10. This one was really fun, and worth viewing, even if predictable.

Posted by Julia at 10:20 PM | Comments (3)

March 12, 2002

Smallville - Zero - 03/11/02

Once again, Lex's past comes back to bite him in the ass. But this time, it shows us where his connection to Sam Phelan, the corrupt cop from "Rogue" started, so there is some good continuity. And Chloe gets too curious for the Kents' own good.

I did like this episode. There was no Meteorite Monster, though they do a nice twist to make you think there has to be, until it's revealed in the end that Parker Lewis (oops, I mean, Corin Nemec) isn't who he seems to be.

Lex got nicely tormented, but since the episode started with him being him (part of me still wonders if he sent the fiance to the club so that the fiancée would see him there, but that's the twisted Lex lover in me), it was worth it.

The B-plot in here (besides Lana opening The Talon) was assignments to find out about other classmates. Of course Clark ends up with Lana, and Pete has someone who works in the school store. And Chloe, gets Clark.

Oh yes, we can see the trouble starting here.

Of course, she digs too deep, mostly because Clark (and the Kents), afraid to tell her anything, leave her to do the digging on her own. Which, being the intrepid cub reporter, she does quite successfully. And even Clark bitching her out for it doesn't stop her -- she may not do any more research now, but she kept that file, didn't she? (and did anyone REALLY think she wouldn't?)

So, interesting times ahead for Chloe, Clark, and the whole gang.

Hey, WB! We've got the Lana episode next week, how about another Pete episode? We need more of Clark's oldest friend (confirmed by Chloe in this ep), to give some good contrast between Clark's and Lex's friendship.

This was fun. Not bad, but not the best.

Rating: 7/10.

Posted by Julia at 10:19 PM

Smallville - Kinetic - 02/26/02

Still playing catch-up with the reviews.

Whitney hits bottom, and finds there's an easy way out. Sorta. (See, I can do a summary!) And Chloe gets hurt in Lex's mansion, and Clark starts blaming himself for not being able to save her.

This was a decent episode. I have to admit, Whitney (Mr. I Am The Reason Young White Male Car Insurance Premiums Are So High) has never been one of my favorite characters. So an episode focusing on him won't be a favorite of mine.

In fact, I preferred the B-plot on this one, the one where Clark realized he can't be everywhere and can't save everyone. He'll have to make those choices, and learn to live with the consequences.

I did like the tattoo Kryptonite (oops, meteorite) ink giving the "bad guys" powers. Lex was underplayed in this ep...he has been better in other eps, whoever wrote this didn't seem to have a good handle on what Lex would or wouldn't do.

Rating: 6/10.

Posted by Julia at 10:07 PM

Buffy - Normal Again - 03/12/02

Excellent episode. But it would have had better/greater impact as a season finale, I think.

As regular visitors may have noticed, I don't do episode summaries, but episode commentaries, with some reviewing added in. Not having taken any classes in comparative literature, or even a simple "How To Review," I don't feel like it would work for me. Besides, there are plenty of other sites that do episode summaries, go read them.

And I should have listened to the Lou mantra. "Trust in Joss. Joss will provide."

Xander came back! Go Xander! I was so not expecting that from the teaser last week, but within minutes of starting up, Xander was back, wanting to make amends and knowing what a dick he'd been. Of course, Anya is gone, and no one knows where she went. Will she return? Who knows at this point, I just hope she comes back soon.

But that was the B-plot. Okay, one of the B-plots. The A-plot was whether or not Buffy was crazy, and dreaming everything around her.

It was good to see Joyce again, and even Hank. I liked the parallels...who would dream a life like that? Superhero sure, but all the pain and misery that goes along with it? No wonder she decided to give in to it (well, it didn't help, what Spike said, though he was right, IMNSHO).

The ending was cool, but like I said, would have been better as a bit more of a cliffhanger.

This episode was only slightly weepy, but still well done. I'm really starting to get sick of the wide-eyed SMG stare when she's trying not to cry. Just get over it already girl. Like Spike sang ... the pain that you feel you only can heal by living. Get on with it!

Overall, 9/10.

Posted by Julia at 9:29 PM

March 11, 2002

Angel - Sleep Tight - 03/03/02

Oh dear.

This is NOT going to end well.

I watched about 1/4 of the episode, and then had to stop. I'm just now getting back to finishing watching it. Of course, I am now up to the 15 minutes or so I saw on the night it was actually being broadcast.

Lou has a theory, having not seen all of the episode. He thinks Conor is Sahjhann, the time travelling demon. I don't think so, but I don't think it's far off from the truth.

Well, I was right. It did SO not end well.

I hadn't heard that Alexis Denisof wanted to leave the show. They're going to have an extremely tough writing him back in after this, I think. Not that Joss and David can't pull it off. But hey, maybe he is really gonna be dead after all? Or will Fred and Gunn find him?

And Lou may not be all that far off. The demon Conor makes sense now.

But this is one helluva way to soap-opera age Conor. But it makes more sense than it does on soaps or most prime-time shows that add kids into the mix.

It even had me somewhat liking Lilah, which is a hard thing for me to do, because I always thought Lindsay was the better of the two. And they passed up a line that I was expecting her to deliver, about awakening her conscience like he had done with Lindsay.

Wow. Let's give this episode the highest honor. 10/10.

Posted by Julia at 4:40 PM

March 7, 2002

Angel - Loyalty - 02/25/02

Well, that's a good way to begin an episode! And a great way to set up Wesley's paranoia.

Once again, the Gunn and Fred doing date-stuff on work time comes up. Fred is good about putting Gunn back on track, though. I think she's still feeling the guilt, and wisely so. It's tough mixing business with pleasure.

Holtz is gathering a nice army. I knew Aubrey was a setup before she was with Holtz, but not much before. She knew where her son went, even though she didn't drop him off or anything. If she had said something like, "He said he was going to the pier, I would have bought her story better.

Talking hamburgers. What the frell is next? Well, I must admit, if I closed my eyes, the loa was really cool. But if I watched it, I missed the words in being entranced by the movement of the talking hamburger.

Wes is the lone gunman here. Why can't he tell anyone? I don't understand it. He's lonely, Fred has Gunn, Angel won't understand or believe, and Cordy's gone. Okay, maybe that's why.

I was pleased they pegged Aubrey themselves. She was too obvious, but that's not often noticed in TV shows.

"Wesley's a good man. He'll do the right thing. He always does." Gunn to Fred

And that's going to be his downfall. What he sees as right, and what the others see as right aren't going to match up.

Earthquake, Fire, and Blood. Oh my.

Excellent episode. Overall, 9/10.

Posted by Julia at 8:47 PM | Comments (1)

Buffy - Hell's Bells - 03/05/02

Jeez, Joss, can't you let anyone be happy?

Lou was hoping for the one shining moment of happiness to a season of depression, and was yet again whacked off at the knees.

But you know, in retrospect, I should have seen it coming. When Anya, re-making her vows, finally comes down to the "I get it now. I get love now" bits, I should have been able to see it.

Yes, spoiler away, they don't get married at the end of the episode.

And we finally get to see Xander's family. And we now know why he stays as far away from them as possible.

But damn...why couldn't Xander have seen this before, and talked to someone about it? We saw in the previous episode that they loved each other, that they were doing the ceremony for the family, but the rest of the time was for THEM.

And yet, when a fake future version of himself shows up with false visions of the future (admittedly fed off of his fears), Xander cuts and runs. He sees his parents, comic cariactures of the worst kinds of parents, and thinks he'll become like them. And runs away from the possibility.

I would have liked this episode better if, at the end, Anya and Xander went off to talk. It's good for engaged couples to TALK before they get married, about their fears, their plans, their hopes. I have experienced (not me, but watched in someone close to me) what happens when two people get marrieid who have different goals in mind after the wedding, and don't talk about it. I do have to give Xander credit for not getting married if he was worried.

But to run away...and not stay and talk...what was THAT about? Xander, who faces down demons with no special powers? Xander who laughs in the face of danger, and THEN hides until it goes away? He cuts and runs.

They're doing some not-in-character things with him this year (the first being him summoning the demon Mr. Sweet in "Once More, With Feeling"), and this was one of them.

If he comes back next week (which is not likely from the previews), and tries to work it out, I'll be happy. But I don't see it happening.

And of course, Anya gets made the offer from D'Hoffran again. My bet? No, she won't take it. If she does, her heart won't be in it. She's experienced real love, she "gets it" now. And for her to throw that all away - she's not that angry young girl anymore. I hope she doesn't take it, anyway.

I was pleased with the Buffy/Spike minor plot points. Yes, it's hard, and yes he wants to hate her, but it's not his first instinct anymore. And I don't think it will be ever again.

Overall, 7/10. I may have sounded like I hated it more than I did, but it was still fun.

Posted by Julia at 7:55 PM | Comments (1)

Buffy - As You Were - 02/26/02

Riley's return.

Well, I have to admit up front I was spoiled about this episode. I knew he was coming back, and married. Though I think even if I didn't know, I would have seen it coming.

Plodding episode. An attempt to give Riley and Buffy some closure, and pretty much sucked at it. Riley forgetting to tell Buffy that they needed the demon alive? He did not seem that distracted.

I wanted to like Sam. But I just couldn't warm to her. She was a really neat character, had all the right bits to make her likable. Even had Willow calling her "Bitch" at the end, after making all nice with her. But something was lacking. I don't blame it all on the actress; it was a hard role to step into.

And Spike being "The Doctor." Quelle surprise. Yes, Buffy, you knew what he was all along, he never lied to you, told you any differently.

So she leaves him. You can tell it's final because she calls him William. And we can only hope it stays that way.

Don't get me wrong -- I loved the Spike/Buffy relationship. But she was right in every point she made to him. She was using him, and just because he didn't mind doesn't make it right.

Poor follow-up to the previous week's episode, but it was nice to see Dawn not being the moping, bitchy teen anymore.

Overally, 3/10 for the Riley, 8/10 for the Buffy/Spike bits. Which unfortunately makes it a 5.5/10. I have to round down, so that makes this episode 5/10.

Posted by Julia at 7:40 PM | Comments (1)

Angel - Couplet - 02/18/02

[I am catching up on a flurry of episodes. I am so hooked that I am even taping and not watching Survivor tonight.

I have also decided to pause after each of the THREE Angel episodes I have, so that I can comment on each one in turn, and then watch the next. The main reason for this is I have seen about 20 minutes of the middle of the most recent Angel episode. I need to take each one in turn now, because what I saw was rather shocking.

I also have Buffy from this week, which will be reviewed when I'm done with this.]

So, Angel. Couplet.

I really don't like this Angel loves Cordy thing that they're doing. I am glad that it looks like it's over, after this episode. I never really saw any attraction between the two of them. Definitely none from Cordelia's point of view, and what I we were shown from Angel's seemed forced.

And I think they tried too hard with this episode. Too hard to be funny (mostly just didn't work), too hard to be serious.

Groosalug as Angel was too obvious. Come on guys, after all Angel's been through, he's going to toss it away, or even THINK about tossing it all away, because CORDELIA has the hots for Groo? Thank $DIETY that Wesley was there to talk some sense into him!

The Gunn/Fred subplot was sweet. I wish Wesley had found out that they were "macking" on the job - that needed to be addressed. They can't be doing that, as was of course proved. Very predictable plot, alas.

Nice twist at the end, though. Made me want to watch the next episode right away, which is good, because it follows right after on the tape.

Overall, I'd give it a 6/10 for effort. It seemed a filler episode.

Posted by Julia at 7:34 PM

March 5, 2002

Schoolhouse Rock Memories

[cross posted from my sfad blog]

Schoolhouse Rock will be coming to DVD in July. Yay! Have to get a pre-order for that in soon.

I have the icky videos that put Cloris Leachman and a bunch of singing and dancing kids between the segments. If I want to watch one, I fast forward past those as quickly as possible.

And bonus! It will have a new segment written by the show's original creators! Woo-hoo!

Courtesy of ***Dave.

Posted by Julia at 1:40 PM