Tuesday, August 23, 2011

It's Baaack...Final Destination 5

I mentioned in my "week of movies" post that the one movie from my list that I failed to see was Final Destination 5. On Sunday, I rectified that failure. I'm not sure what this says about the relationship we have, but watching the Saw movies and the Final Destination movies is a guilty pleasure that my sister and I share. Out of the twelve movies that includes, I believe we've watched ten of them together. I was bummed when we never got around to watching the fourth Final Destination in the theater. Mostly, I wanted to see a 3D horror movie, and a Final Destination movie was the only one I would be brave enough to see. Anyway, I was pretty pumped to see that there was going to be a Final Destination 5 because I could finally experience one of these movies in 3D.

Credit: Doane Gregory/Warner Bros. Pictures

Let me tell you, 3D was made for this kind of movie. I saw Captain America recently in 3D, and it added very little to the movie. For Final Destination 5, however, 3D was a huge enhancement. As sick as this may sound, gore looks really cool in 3D. Whether it's an eye ball rolling towards you or a protruding pole on which someone has just been stabbed, it simply produces more of an effect than a slightly-more-dimensioned superhero (even if that superhero is as attractive as Chris Evans is). These visual effects are an important part of the movie because the Final Destination movies are largely visual. Let's be honest; nobody goes to these movies for character development or the complex storylines. If you do, I suggest you view some more movies. I still think Final Destination 5 can be enjoyed in non-3D, but if you are going to see it and you have the option, go the 3D route.

The 3D element also added to the movie's camp factor. The makers of Final Destination 5 were fully aware that this is not a movie that people take especially seriously. Thus, they had fun with it, and there was plenty of campiness and comedy. I wasn't laughing at the movie, I was laughing with the movie. While there was plenty of campiness and comedy, they also made sure to not let these elements completely overwhelm the movie. The deaths are still pretty horrifying, and there's more thought put into the movie that I had expected. The basic plot is still the same always: someone has a premonition of a disaster (this time, an awesome bridge collapse sequence); they use this premonition to escape the disaster, bringing several people with them to safety; death follows them around and tries to kill them in freak "accidents." However, there are a couple of interesting twists to the movie (namely one in particular), but I don't want to spoil it for you

I think a large part of the reason that I enjoyed Final Destination 5 is its fun cast. I wasn't overly familiar with any of them, but I did recognize a few. Rather than knowing them by name, however, it was more like "hey that's Claire's love interest from season two of Heroes," or "that's the girl who I've already seen traumatized in Frozen," or even "I've never seen that girl before, but she could seriously be a Megan Fox/Cobie Smulders hybrid." I must admit that a large part of the cast's charm is that their Saved by the Bell/Final Destination music video primed me to like them (I've embedded it below this paragraph for your viewing pleasure). Honestly, I felt like I would have enjoyed that cast even if I hadn't seen their music video, but maybe that's just my priming speaking.

In short, Final Destination 5 is very much a Final Destination movie. It's more gore than plot. If you don't like the previous ones at all, you probably won't magically like this one. However, if you liked the first movie, but have been disappointed by some of the sequels, you might be pleasantly surprised. I'd say that it's definitely the best one of the bunch since the first, and a case could be made that it was better (although it's been a while since I watched the first movie, so I'd have to watch it again to truly evaluate it).

I would like to give a warning however, that you may find yourself especially paranoid for a couple of days after watching Final Destination 5. Riding home from the movie was somewhat stressful, and since the movie, I've imagined various ways in which an unlikely "accident" could kill me. The latest idea was a ceiling fan becoming detached somehow, spinning towards me, and beheading me.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Cream of the Crop: Nikita

With each new television season, there's a giant new crop of television shows. Some of them are rotten, others are just okay, but a few shine as the cream of the crop. In this series of posts, I'm going to share with you the three new shows from the last year that I've watched and enjoyed.

Photo Credit: Ben Mark Holzberg/The CW

Much like the last show I included in this series of posts, I mocked Nikita before I give it a shot. I had no plans to even give it a chance, and I thought it looked like Alias: The Teen Edition. Well, truthfully, that's not entirely inaccurate, but it's not a bad thing either. I first got a glance at Nikita when the pilot came on after an episode of The Vampire Diaries (another show I initially scorned due to its network). I didn't really pay much attention to it, but I thought that it looked less lame than I had expected. Still, I shut it off about half way through. Flash-forward in time to my experiencing a period of boredom during a break. I'd heard a surprising amount of positive buzz for Nikita, so I decided to give it a shot. I quickly caught up on the episodes and was hooked.

Despite my Alias comparison, Nikita is actually based on prior source material that predates Alias. I've read that there was both a movie, Nikita, and a television show, La Femme Nikita, but having seen neither of these, I can't tell you how similar the current version of Nikita is to either of these. I can however, give you a brief rundown of Nikita's plot. Nikita is former member of an organization named Division. Division was once a U.S. government organization with good intentions but has abandoned those intentions in favor of bad ones. After the death of her fiance at their hands, Nikita has become focused on taking down Division, a goal made easier by the fact that she's got a mole on the inside, Alex.

There's plenty more to the story, but there's enough twists and turns that it's probably best to just let the story unfold by watching it. In fact, the constant shifts in its direction is one of Nikita's best qualities. The plot constantly marches onward; several twists that I would have expected years later if at all happened well before the first season's end. Another aspect I love about the show is that it features two kick butt women (sorry to scandalize you with the PG language, but some ideas call for strong words). Along with categories like "Witty Romantic Opposites Attract Movies," Netflix often recommends TV shows and movies with "Strong Female Leads," and Nikita provides that. There are lots of action sequences where Nikita and Alex kick major butt. Sometimes Michael aka Shane West (who I like to call Shanye West) even joins in on the fun; I like "strong leads" of all genders.

While I've been surprised at how good Nikita is, I'm not going to pretend like Nikita is flaw-free show. It tends to suffer from cheesy dialogue. The cheesiness is not as bad as it could be, but it's undeniably there. In addition to cheesy dialogue, I don't feel as attached to the characters as I feel I should. I like most of them, but they just don't have that extra something that makes me care about them overly much. I feel like part of the reason for this may be that the plot moves forward at such a fast pace that there isn't a whole lot of time for character building. The plot is fun and fast enough for me to enjoy Nikita, despite the deficiencies in its characters. However, I haven't felt much of an urge to watch any reruns, and I think the lack of character development plays a big role in that. That being said, I'm still super excited for new episodes in the upcoming second season.

Overall, Nikita is speedily-paced, entertaining show. If you can withstand a little cheesiness and like watching people kick butt, I'd recommend giving it a try and watching a couple of episodes. You might be surprised at how much you enjoy it, and you might even find yourself hooked.

The new season of Nikita premieres on Friday, September 23 at 8/7c on The CW.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Link Roundup: Volume 7

Friday Night Lights joins Veronica Mars and Arrested Development on the growing list of shows I love that tease me with the possibility of a movie. I'm not sure if it would translate well to the big screen, but I know I'd have to check it out if it were to happen.

Speaking of Arrested Development, there are rumors about about the plot for the movie that I refuse to believe is actually happening until I see it in theaters.

Unless I die and somebody drags my corpse to theater, I doubt that I'll be seeing Spy Kids 4-D. However, I was curious to find out what was meant by "4-D." Apparently it's just a scratch and sniff card. I'm pretty sure Cartoon Network did this several years ago. The child version of me did think it was really cool though.

As much as I love Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I'll be the first to admit that their idea of fashion was often pretty wonky (although viewing the episodes years after the original air dates didn't help). The Bitter Buffalo's "Buffy Fashion Roulette" is a hilarious series of posts about the wardrobe of Buffy. 

Speaking of Buffy, Angel Does Stuff is one of the funniest tumblrs I've seen. If you're a Buffy fan, you must check it out.

So Starbucks Spelling is technically not related to television or movies. However, it reminds me so much of the fantastic "Swarley" episode of How I Met Your Mother that I felt it was okay to include it.

The Week of Movies: A Mostly Successful Plan

 Before I begin, I just want to point out that the "double the 'c,' double the 's,' and then you'll have success" quote from Full House went through my mind as I was typing the title of this post.

Now that you know that, I'll tell you about my week of movies. When I reviewed Crazy, Stupid, Love. last week, I revealed my plan to have a week of movies. In case you missed that post, let's have a "previously on" segment. I know it's lame, but please indulge me for a second.

Previously on I Like TV and Movies:
"After going to a grand total of one movie in the theater this summer,
I've decided that this week is going to be the week of movies. 
I planned it out two nights ago; Tuesday is reserved for Crazy Stupid Love.,
Wednesday for The Help, Friday for Final Destination 5,
and possibly Saturday for Captain America."

After checking off Crazy Stupid Love. on Tuesday, I followed my plan and saw The Help on Wednesday. Then on Thursday, I ended up going to see Captain America. At this point, I was ahead of schedule. Unfortunately (although I suspect some of you who don't appreciate an good ole' gory guilty pleasure might say fortunately), I've yet to see Final Destination 5. Still, three out of four planned movies in one week isn't bad. In fact, the sane might even say that three movies in one week is a bit too much. But, they aren't any fun. Anyway, I don't have a whole lot to say about The Help or Captain America: The First Avenger, so I'm just going to condense both reviews into this post.

The Help

After reading the book in January, I was really excited for the theatrical adaption of The Help. As a big fan of novel, I can say that I was fully satisfied with the movie. All of the performances and casting choices are wonderful. Octavia Spencer was a fabulous choice for Minny, and her performance in the pie incident scene is just perfect. Bryce Dallas Howard, Viola Davis, Jessica Chastain, and Emma Stone give great performances as well. Even though his part is smallish, I was excited to see Chris Lowell cast as Stuart Whitworth. Although I know this is an unpopular opinion, I loved him as Piz in Veronica Mars, and I may or may not have whispered an excited "Piz!" to my sister when he came onscreen. Because The Help is a fairly long book, it was obvious that parts of it would be left out of the movie; overall, I was impressed with how it was condensed for the big screen. However, there are one or two changes that I found slightly baffling, and one particular scene from the book was left out that I was hoping would be included. That being said, The Help is a really well-made movie and a faithful adaption. 

Captain America: The First Avenger

Of the movies I saw last week, Captain America was probably my least favorite. That doesn't mean, however, that I didn't enjoy it. I just really enjoyed the other two movies and had some issues with this one. Most of my problems with Captain America centered around its villain, Johann Schmidt or Red Skull. I found him to be rather boring and over-the-top, and his scenes drag immensely. He becomes slightly more interesting part way through the movie, but I feel as if his character was not explained well. I went into Captain America knowing nothing about the comics, and perhaps I would have enjoyed the villain aspect of the movie if I had entered with knowledge of the back story. On the other hand, I really enjoyed the hero portion of the story. While snarky anti-heroes like Batman are fun, Captain America's earnest heroism is a refreshing break from the trend. His transformation from scrawny to brawny is gratifying to watch, and his underdog beginnings make him an endearing character. Plus, speaking from a completely shallow place, Chris Evans (who plays Captain America) is a very attractive man. I also enjoyed the 1940s setting of the movie; it adds a fun element to the story and provides a interesting style for the movie. Overall, Captain America is a fun summer action flick. It isn't spectacular, but a likable lead character makes it work watching.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Lying Game's Alexandra Chando: A Human Rorschach Test?

While I've watching ABCFamily lately, I've been bombarded with ads for their new series The Lying Game. I honestly know very little about this show other than the fact that's based on a book series by the author of Pretty Little Liars and the main actress plays a pair of twins. Also, it looks like it features some kind of mysterious twin-swap hijinks and maybe murder or something fun like that. Anyway, the plot is irrelevant to this post because it has nothing to do with the real mystery of this show. No, the real mystery is how Alexandra Chando, the lead actress, resembles so many different people. 

The trailer for the show came on the screen while I was watching television with my sister. I said that she gave off a JoAnna Garcia vibe, but my sister said that she reminded her of Mischa Barton. After she rewound to a certain clip, I had to agree with her. I understand that Alexandra is made up differently for different characters, but this girl truly is a chameleon. For those of you who have your doubts, I'm submitting proof below. The celebrity lookalikes I'm listing should be fairly recognizable, so I'm not going to insult your recognition by providing comparison pictures. Okay, that was a bit of a lie. I really just don't want to go through the trouble of finding them.

Joanna Garcia lookalike       Credit: ABCFamily Promo

Mischa Barton lookalike       Credit: ABCFamily Promo

Maggie Grace lookalike           Credit: ABCFamily Promo

I know this picture is from a bit of distance, but I also see a resemblance to Victoria Justice. 
Credit: ABCFamily Promo

 That about covers it for the promos, but I'm not done yet. In the course of my researching Alexandra for this post, I realized that there are a few other celebrities that can be added to her lookalike list.
 I'm linking to them instead of posting them here.

Maybe it's just the bangs, but I get a serious Rachel Bilson vibe from this photo.

I must have The O.C. on my mind because this picture looks like Willa Holland to me.

Finally, I see a resemblance to Sophia Bush in this shot.

Maybe Alexandra Chando is a human Rorschach test; perhaps the celebrity that a person sees her as reveals something about that person. Maybe she's just a master of disguise. Likely I'm just crazy for making this strange post.

Do you agree with any of my selections? Do you think Alexandra looks like a celebrity that I haven't mentioned? Do you think I'm completely crazy for writing any of this? Whatever the case may be, feel free to weigh in on the matter in the comments.

I'm editing to add this picture that I forgot to post:
Alexandra also reminds me of Nina Dobrev. Part of this is her voice and mannerisms, but I think she does resemble her, at least a bit.        Credit: ABCFamily promo

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Crazy, Stupid, Love.

After going to a grand total of one movie in the theater this summer, I've decided that this week is going to be the week of movies. I planned it out two nights ago; Tuesday is reserved for Crazy Stupid Love., Wednesday for The Help, Friday for Final Destination 5, and possibly Saturday for Captain America. Before you judge me too much, you should know that I acknowledge that one of these is completely a guilty pleasure. I'll let you guess which one. Anyway, my week of movies is right on track; yesterday, I saw Crazy, Stupid, Love..

Credit: 2011 Ben Glass / Warner Bros.

I'm not going to bother summing up the premise of Crazy, Stupid, Love. to you. If you watch any amount of television, I'm sure you seen the trailer about five million times. Even if you haven't seen the trailer, I'm sure you can conclude from the title that it's a romantic comedy. Romantic comedies can easily stray into a groan worthy level of awfulness that is neither romantic nor comedic. However, I can gladly say that Crazy, Stupid, Love. delivers a satisfying amount of both. Towards the beginning of the film, the humor is less present and tinged with some sadness, particularly for Steve Carell's character. As the film progresses, the humor become a bit more traditional, with one scene in particular causing me to laugh more than I have in a while.

As for the romantic side of the movie, it largely succeeds because of its absolutely stellar cast. Steve Carell is a charming leading man, Emma Stone is one of my girl crushes of the moment, and Ryan Gosling won my admiration for his readings of the "Hey Girl" meme. All of these actors were, as I expected, completely winsome. I'm less familiar with the works of Julianne Moore and Marissa Tomei, but they were wonderful as well. The member of the cast that surprised me the most is Analeigh Tipton. I was a fan of hers on America's Next Top Model, but I was a bit wary of her acting skills. She impressively managed to hold her own among a great group of actors.

If I had to pick out a flaw in Crazy, Stupid, Love., it would be that there was almost too much going on in the movie, and at some point towards the middle, the movie seemed slightly unorganized. However, like I just stated, I was so charmed by all of the actors that this really didn't bother me. If I were to retool the film a bit, I might take out a little of the screen time given to Jessica (Analeigh Tipton) and Robbie (Jonah Bobo) and replace it with additional screen time of Hannah's (Emma Stone) and Jacob's (Ryan Gosling) relationship. While I enjoyed the Robbie and Jessica storyline, I feel that it could have been done in fewer scenes; Hannah and Jacob, on the other hand, weren't really given many scenes to built their relationship. To be fair, however, these flaws are relatively minor and don't take much away from the film.

One thing that I found odd about Crazy, Stupid, Love. was the amount of foot shots that were included. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if someone involved in the making of the film has a foot fetish. It's possible that the movie included a normal amount of foot shots, and I was just hypersensitive to them because Julianne Moore's shoes in the first scene caught my eye. While I'm on the subject of fashion, I have to comment that Emma Stone's wardrobe in Crazy, Stupid, Love. was fantastic. I don't think she wore one dress that I didn't like. Anyway, I think I should now move on from this strange little paragraph about dresses and foot fetishes.

If you don't like romantic comedies, you probably aren't going to like Crazy, Stupid, Love.. Despite the fact that it's one of the better movies in the genre to come out in a while, it still very much belongs in the genre. Also, if you aren't a fan of the cast of Crazy, Stupid, Love., you might want to skip it because the movie's success relies largely on their charm. Now, if you don't fall into either of those two categories, I'd definitely recommend Crazy, Stupid, Love. for you. I spent the whole movie being thoroughly entertained, and I left the theater with a smile.