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Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace in 3D

Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace in 3D

Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace in 3D

Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace Re-release Official Poster

Me and Star Wars have a troubled, abusive, relationship. From the movies to the books the franchise has continued to beat me down but yet I held on for a long long time, reading the books, watching the different versions of the movies… until I finally said no, no more. I wasn’t going to give Star Wars any more of my time or money, it was for the best.

And that worked out until my nephew begged me to take him to the re-release of EPI in 3D. As I’m sure my parents didn’t want to go the Star Wars movies when I begged them to take me, yet they did, I couldn’t ignore the call of Karma. I took my nephew to see The Phantom Menace in 3D on opening night… and I have to say, the movie was better the second time around.

While I place the prequels on the bottom rung of the Star Wars movies, Menace was never the worse in my opinion. I considered it a good starting point for what should have been two epically awesome movies to come (but more on that later). I liked the idea of the young Anakin who used to be a slave and is suddenly told there is something special about him. This was perfect set up to make Anakin a post-Homeric Hero.

Even the inclusion of Artoo and Threepio did not go directly against the original episodes so there was no major argument there. Sure, there were some slight differences which could be explained (Obi says Yoda trained him, any person in a ‘trade’ can have more than one teacher) and a few things that don’t quite make sense (Naboo elects a pre-teen Queen?). All of this is in the spirit of the first films and forgivable.

There was a lot of lovely call backs to A New Hope, more than I caught the first time I watched it, and I appreciated them more on the second go around.

As for Midiclorians, yeah, the way I look at it, the bacteria is attracted to the Force and therefore the stronger the Force user the more there would be floating around in their blood. Kind of like how we recognize some virus’ by the anti-bodies in the blood and not the virus itself. After awhile people just started referencing one as the other. See, I can make EPI work for me, I love (loved) Star Wars that much.

And I grade Menace on a curve because it is the first film back after several years and had a lot to live up to. I even forgive Jar Jar because he wasn’t that annoying, just an easy target for all the fan boys to direct their anger at the film not living up to their expectations.

Of course this re-release was in 3D and wasn’t a bad conversion. The problem is, nothing really jumps out like a gimmicky 3D movie and therefore the 3D is pretty useless. The pod-race was good, but again, I expected them to throw in some stuff flying out at you to really put you in the experience and they didn’t.

But the re-released allowed my nephew to see the film on the big screen for the first time and he loved it. He was happy and laughing and going on about it the rest of the night, so can’t really complain about that now can I?

Score: 4 of 5

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2012 in Film

 

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Once Upon a Time – S01E12 – “Skin Deep”

ABC's Once Upon a Time

Once Upon a Time – S01E12 – “Skin Deep”

Another classic fairytale gets the spin treatment as Princess Belle willing goes into the service of Rumplestiltskin in exchange for her kingdom’s safety. A refreshingly excellent episode amongst a string of ever degrading fare, “Skin Deep” proves that Rumple/Mr Gold is the most interesting character in the whole show. If they had ditched the lame B-plot and focused more on the Rumple/Belle relationship then this could have been a Five Star episode.

Score: 4 of 5

>Spoilers<

It’s official, I’m a Rumple/Belle shipper, or as I’m calling it, a Rumelle. Being that Beauty and the Beast is my favorite fairy tale, “Skin Deep” had to go a long way to impress me, and it did.

Once Upon a Time – S01E12 – “Skin Deep”

Belle goes with Rumple in exchange for her kingdom's safety.

First up, they changed Belle into a princess since obviously she wasn’t going to marry into royalty with Rumple as the Beast. And she’s the one to make the choice to be traded to Rumple in exchange for her kingdom’s protection against Ogres. Belle was always the Disney Princess with the most strength and gumption and Emily de Ravin pulled this off better than could be expected. Especially when she comments that she went with Rumple because it was the “brave thing to do” and didn’t fancy a life with the brainless Gaston. This helps to soften the Munchausen Syndrome prevalent in the Beauty and the Beast story.

The episode does skip through much of the romancing side of the story, taking the stance that everyone already knows what’s going to happen anyway. It would have been better if they dropped the lame Valentine’s Day subplot and spent that time on Rumelle. At least we get a ‘time has passed, been able to get to know a lot about you’ throwaway line to explain Belle’s true love in Rumple. (See writer’s, it’s not so hard!)

Once Upon a Time – S01E12 – “Skin Deep”

Belle has gotten to know Rumple and sees the person within.

The loveliest part of “Skin Deep” was the tea cup. In the animated Disney Beauty and the Best one of the most beloved original characters was Chip, the chipped tea cup. Here, Belle drops a cup and chips it on her first day after Rumple gives her a fright. This worries her as she hasn’t quite figured out Rumple isn’t all that bad, and it becomes the only thing Belle physically brings to the relationship. Rumple becomes sentimental over it when he believes she is dead. (Personally, I think Rumple was too quick to trust Evil Queen but hey, it made for a good scene).

The most engaging scene was Regina confronting Mr Gold as he sets in prison in a wonderful call back to the first episode. It’s confirmed that Mr Gold remembers being Rumple and that there is some kind of power play going on. Both of the characters have an end game, but what exactly is it? Regina seems more transparent but Rumple, well, all magic does come with a price.

However, this episode is drug down by a horribly lame B-plot where real life Snow, Cinderella and Red Riding Hood go out on Valentine’s Day as a girl’s night out. Cinderella does nothing but whine and David gives Mary the wrong Valentine’s card. Total waste of screen time.

A good episode among crap ones, I have a feeling next week won’t be any better. Let’s hope for more Rumelle in the future.

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2012 in Television

 

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Chuck S05E12 & S05E13 – “Chuck vs Sarah” and “Chuck vs the Goodbye”

NBC's Chuck

This encompasses both episodes as they aired together as a two hour series finale.

Chuck S05E12 & S05E13 – “Chuck vs Sarah” and “Chuck vs the Goodbye”

Spoilers for previous episodes.

Sarah’s most recent memories have been wiped by the Intersect and Quinn has manipulated her into thinking Chuck is the bad guy. Chuck never gives up on Sarah being able to remember who she is even when she has a gun pointed at him. Will she remember in time to stop Quinn? What will happen to our intrepid group of adventures? How will it all end? Chuck goes out on a mimic of one of the most pivotal scenes of the series, a satisfying conclusion that while not utterly fantastic, deserves a nice slap on the back for a job well done.

Score: 4 of 5

>Spoilers<

Chuck – S05E13 – “Chuck vs the Goodbye”

Chuck, Sarah, and Casey defuse a bomb.

Series finales are the bane of tv shows, especially ones that have ran for longer than four years. If you have kept your audience around that long and know this is the end then you better make sure that you leave things on a note that is very satisfying for fans. While you want to be innovative and go out with a bang you don’t want to be so out in left field that you leave viewers going ‘what just happened?’ Looking at you there Seinfeld. You also don’t want to do exactly what you’ve never done and make a cop-out ending. *cough*X-Files*cough* And don’t get me started on LOST.

Thankfully, Chuck managed to barely skirt on by these hazards and pulled out a pretty decent closure that many fans just aren’t given enough credit too. I could go through the whole plot line of the two hours but really, it was your average Chuck episode. You might not even realize it’s a series finale until the last half of the second hour as the characters start to wrap up their storylines and go their separate ways. Here is what happens to them:

The General: She keeps on being the General, her door always open if the team wants to get back together to save the world again. – Good

Big Mike: Staying at the Buy More which has new owners, Subway! Yes, they lampooned the running gag of product placement. Beautiful. – Perfect

Jeff and Lester: Jeffster actually came in handy, seriously, it was like a miracle (and the singing wasn’t bad at all this time). They even got a record deal, they are going to be big in Germany… and that totally makes sense in that weird way that Germany loves The Hoff so much. – Perfect

Elle and Awesome: Moving to Chicago to take some new, quite well paying, jobs. There they can raise their child in a real home… but away from Chuck? It’s good to see that they finally moved to that point where Elle doesn’t think she has to take care of her brother anymore, but all the way to Chicago? – Passable

John Casey: He’s going to go after Verbanski and as he puts it, he doesn’t run after people, he stalks his prey. Giving Chuck a big hug he finally admits that there is one thing the Russians do right, big hugs. As much as I kinda wanted him to get back with Alex’s mom, Verbanski is probably a better fit and he’s sent off in Casey style. – Perfect

Morgan and Alex: They move in together with Casey’s blessing… and that’s it. It’s a nice, happy, ending, but nothing really happens. – Good

Chuck – S05E13 – “Chuck vs the Goodbye”

Chuck tells Sarah the 'Story of Chuck and Sarah'.

Chuck and Sarah: Sarah’s memories don’t come back to her but she does have a few pieces here and there. Chuck finds her at the beach and she asks him to tell her the story of us. In a short flashback sequence interchanged with a smiling/laughing Sarah, we get a sense of her opening up to what made her fall in love with Chuck in the first place. (Why he doesn’t use the picture from “Bullet Train” we have no idea). Just like the marriage proposal, the episode ends with Chuck and Sarah in a quiet long shot, the two kissing. While I think this is almost perfect I can see where other fans might be upset. They don’t like the reset and want to see Sarah with her memory back. Can’t please them all? – Great.

Overall it’s a decent way to end the series, I don’t feel like I’ve wasted five years of life and I truly believe that all these characters are going to live happily ever after. So I didn’t get to see it explicitly and yeah, it leaves things open for future exploration, but it’s still a conclusion, the end of a novel, and that’s what’s important.

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2012 in Television

 

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White Collar – S04E12 – “Upper West Side Story”

USA's White Collar

White Collar – S04E12 – “Upper West Side Story”

A young but bright student brings his case of an embezzling endowment officer to Peter and Neal’s attention. Neal goes undercover as a poetry teacher and Peter a wealthy businessman looking to send his kid to the school. Meanwhile, Peter’s disposition for Keller’s trial looms near and will the proverbial boy scout tell the truth or only from a certain point of view? A wonderfully self-aware episode which will make you laugh from beginning to end.

Score: 4 of 5

>Spoiler<

It’s almost kind of sad that the Royal Pains/White Collar crossover ad upstaged the entire episode, but it was pretty darn funny. Although “Upper West Side Story” does score points for replay value.

White Collar – S04E12 – “Upper West Side Story”

Hot for teacher. Neal goes undercover as a substitue.

We start the story with the knowledge that Keller’s hearing is coming up and Peter has to testify to what happened. If he sticks to Keller’s story then Keller goes away for a long time and Neal gets a chance to get the anklet removed. If Peter tells the whole truth then Keller could get a commuted sentence and Neal will be thrown back in prison. It’s a case of doing what’s right and doing what’s the right thing to do.

They’re distracted when young student Evan (Graham Phillips) comes in well prepared to make a case against Andy Woods (Dylan Baker) for embezzlement. Turns out Andy is already under investigation for possible money laundering for the cartels.

Peter goes undercover as a wealthy Hong Kong businessman who wants to send his son to the preppy upper west side school while Neal plays the role of assistant. In one of the best scenes this season, Neal gives con man tips to a poor kid stuck outside the principle office when a lady runs up saying “World Poetry”. Neal of course rattles off something that sounded beautiful (Bryon maybe?) and so she thinks he’s the substitute teacher for the class. For what it’s worth Neal does try to correct the mistake but when he sees Andy’s daughter, Chloe, is in the class, well, doesn’t take a con man to see an opportunity waiting to happen.

Of course every girl in the class gains an instant crush on the new substitute. I think it would be shattering the suspension of disbelief if they didn’t!

Neal isn’t oblivious and he and Mozzie put together a plan to turn Chloe’s affections towards a more age appropriate target, Evan. These two con men haven’t been this adorable in a long time, massive grins all around.

White Collar – S04E12 – “Upper West Side Story”

Peter's cover is blown.

The rest of the story is a bit average, your usual ‘undercover op goes bad, got to improvise’ plot but it’s the way the characters play it that makes it so much fun. When Mozzie comes across the Chemistry Lab, you know what’s going to happen but you tingle in anticipation anyway.

In the end the bad guy goes down, Evan gets the girl, and Peter does the right thing to do and only tells as much truth as required in order to put Keller away and keep Neal on the track to freedom. Oh, this is gonna get good.

 
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Posted by on January 25, 2012 in Television

 

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Grimm – S01E08 – “Game Ogre”

NBC's Grimm

In what is possibly the best episode of the season so far, “Game Orge” highlights some of the secondary players while Nick sits on the sidelines, though not of his own volition. We learn more about Hank as a character and Captain Renard shows that he’s just as much a cop as a monster. Juliette gets a significant development moment and even Sergeant Wu does more than stand around filling in exposition. All it took was the Grimm-universe’s version of an Ogre who is possibly the scariest monster yet. The series is starting to flesh itself out and let’s hope that “Game Ogre” is really ‘game on’.

Score: 4 of 5

>Spoilers<

Grimm – S01E08 – “Game Ogre”
Hank and Renard work the case.

I will fully admit that this episode actually gave me a fright. I knew something was going to happen but when the Ogre runs full long through the window and tackles the judge, well, maybe I shouldn’t have been sitting so close to the screen. It was then nice to see Wu doing something other than giving out exposition by showing up on the crime scene and going through the motions of a beat cop.

Nick and Hank investigate and the Captain shows up because it’s a state judge and that warrants him making an appearance, then what follows is more of a Hank and Renard episode as it’s these two who follow the leads to another dead body, this one missing a hand and wearing a watch as a clue. As Hank says, Nick knows a watch guy. There is a fun but awkward moment where Monroe tries to play off that he and Nick aren’t as good friends as they are now.

Monroe is able to quickly get them a lead to the next victim (which I guess is believable, watches are big business so I can see lots of paper trails involved). This leads to a prosecutor that Hank knows and the whole thing clicks. Hank helped put away a man, Oleg Stark (Eric Edelstein, wonderful casting btw), and he’s out for revenge. Renard immediately puts Hank under protective detail, he’s not to leave the station. This is an interesting character point for Renard. We know he’s a monster and he’s got some kind of plan doing for Nick and the other monsters… but he seems to be genuinely concerned for Hank as one of his cops. The line becomes ever more muddled on just how much of a bad guy Renard really is.

Grimm – S01E08 – “Game Ogre”

Nick is sent to the hospital after his run-in with the Ogre.

Stark decides the best way to draw out Hank is to beat the living daylights out of Nick who really gets his butt beat. For a Grimm he’s not very effective against an Ogre, but then I suppose who is? Juliette comes home just in time to scare Stark off by throwing a pan of boiling hot water on him. Nick is hospitalized and Juliette is left to clean up after the mess made by the home intrusion. There is a wonderful underplayed moment as she reacts to what just happened. She’s a strong character but is she strong enough to live the life of a Grimm’s gf/wife? I’m sure more on that soon… if Nick bothers to tell her he’s a Grimm before she finds out the hard way.

But Nick does the one thing his aunt told him not to do and let Monroe know about the trailer, guess that means Nick trusts Monroe that much… or he cares more about Hank to risk it. Monroe gets the gun and poison to kill an Ogre but is too late getting it to Nick. Hank has decided go against Wu’s plan (again, he’s given more to work with in this episode) and leads Stark to a quarry. Monroe follows in what is the worse ‘trailing each other’s cars’ scene I’ve seen in a long while.

Grimm – S01E08 – “Game Ogre”
Monroe prepares to take on the Ogre.

While Stark beats the crap out of Hank, Monroe loads the special gun and it knocks him on his rear but he’s able to take out Stark. So the bad guy is dead, Nick is recovering, and Hank survives, all is well.

Then Renard let’s Hank know how Stark died, a three barreled ‘Elephant Gun’ from the 1800s. Both are very interested in knowing where that came from and who shot it… but for obviously different reasons. I hope this isn’t the beginning of perhaps pitting Hank against Nick, though it would make sense since Nick hasn’t told Hank about him being a Grimm, etc. Not that Hank would really understand.  

A storm is brewing… and Nick is at the center of it.

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2012 in Television

 

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Fringe – S04E09 – “Enemy of My Enemy”

FOX's Fringe
Spoilers from previous episodes.

Peter has agreed to be emissary for Walternate in return for his help on the machine and wants to cross back over but Lee wants to stay and work on the shape shifter problem. When past enemy David Robert Jones (Jared Harris) is brought in to be interrogated, Peter has second thoughts. Peter is a variable that Jones hadn’t planned for but that doesn’t stop him from causing havoc. Meanwhile, Peter’s Other mother does what she has to in order to save this version of Peter and that means going to an unlikely ally. Great episode which carries the momentum of last week’s electric mid-season premiere.

Score: 4 of 5

>Spoilers<

Fringe – S04E09 – “Enemy of My Enemy”

David Robert Jones (Harris) returns.

I think the writers have it in for AltBroyles, earlier before the merge he was killed off to save Olivia and in this time line he’s dead and replaced by a shape shifter. He does a wonderful job of playing AltBroyles in character even though his boss has been brought in for questioning, etc. This is mostly because he knows that Jones has planned for this and he doesn’t have to ruin his cover in order to rescue him.

Harris, for his part, plays Jones like a James Bond villain, Peter being Bond when he walks into the interrogation room and starts telling Jones stuff he couldn’t possibly know. Peter has killed him once, he can do it again.

One of the best lines of the season is spoken right before this, when Peter wants to return to Our Universe (is it really ours anymore?) and Lee wants to stay and help.

Lee: I lost a partner.
Peter: I lost a universe.

It could have been really cheesy but played just right. That’s the hallmark of this show, the ability to make all the tough choices to keep the cheese at bay and really make this a fresh take on classic tropes. Case in point, the hand on the window at the hospital, we’ve seen it a million times before but when the skin slips off, it’s a whole new level of sickening realization that is a small but effective topper for the scene.

Fringe – S04E09 – “Enemy of My Enemy”

Peter helps to locate Jones.

However, Jones’ escape isn’t as quite fresh and new (LieLee slipped a tracker into his drink and Jones used decoy money to spread the signal then drank something to make his tracker inert) but it does let us see AltBroyles really being able to act the part to the point of not being questioned by the rest of Fringe Division.  In fact, the back half of the episode is a bit of a basic ‘hunt for the bad guy’ faire and if not for the B-Plot it would lose a lot of its momentum, proving that B-Plots do matter.

Peter’s Other mother wants to help Peter, Walternate wants to help too, but it’s really Walter who is the best person to do this because he kind of started the whole thing. So she goes to Walter to ask him to help Peter. They haven’t seen each other since Walter stole Peter and Walter hasn’t seen his wife (any version of her) since she committed suicide not long after the whole incident.

Once again, could someone PLEASE give John Noble a freaking Emmy/Gold Globe/SAG already???

Fringe – S04E09 – “Enemy of My Enemy”

Elizabeth Bishop vists Walter.

In what is a really touching moment, Mrs Bishop tells Walter that she has forgiven him, a long time ago, for what he did. He was trying to save Peter after all. And in her mind, somewhere, there had to be realities where Peter did live and grew up happy, married, had kids, etc, and that is what kept her going. She would have never considered this had Walter not proved the existence of multi-universes. She asks him to please, help this version of their son.

It’s interesting to note that in this version of events, Walter never got his White Oleander sign which signaled his forgiveness by god (to him at least).

The end of the episode is Walter going to Peter, telling him that he will help him because his mother is the most wonderful of women, every version of her. Peter is probably the happiest he’s been since coming into this universe, not because Walter is helping, but because this Walter is exactly the kind of man he should be… read… he is just like his father who he loves so dearly and trying to get back to.

Does this mean that Peter might be considering staying in the new universe? What about his Olivia? With this show, you never know how things are going to spin next. And considering Nina Sharpe is either a shape shifter or otherwise involved in Jones’ plan means anything is possible in this new time line.

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2012 in Television

 

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