07/06/2006

TV – “Rockstar: Supernova”

Filed under: Reviews — bjciii @ 00:04

As I stated in another post, CBS’ “Rockstar” show is back. Last year JD Fortune (I think that’s his name) got through the competetion and landed the gig with the non-dead members of INXS. This year, 15 hopefuls from 4 countries are vying for a shot at being the first lead singer for the new supergroup “Supernova” featuring Gilby Clarke on guitar, Jason Newstead on bass, and Tommy Lee on drums. I watched my DVRd episode of the 90 minute premiere tonight and I made some notes. Please understand that my notes are based on the fact that these singers are going to front a band made up of 3 men with actual hard-rock to heavy metal (thrash metal in Jason’s case) credentials. Certain songs didn’t seem like the right fit and certain voices certainly didn’t seem like the right fit for that. If the voices were bad, then they were just plain bad. If they were good, but meant for a different genre, I make note of that too…

Storm Large (and she swears that is her real name) from the US went first singing “Pinball Wizard” by The Who. Great personality and a great voice, but it just smacked of being perfect for country music rather than rock. Not that twangy, stereotypical country music, but the actual kind I might like. I have “vibrant” written down for her.

Ryan Star from the US went next singing “Iris” by the Goo-Goo Dolls. Great song, but not a complete great job. I felt he had a little too much tremelo in his voice (I can’t stand that actually) and his stage presence wasn’t all that bad. He also didn’t hit me for being too confident as I have “not strong” down here.

Toby Rand from Australia fronted an acoustic version of the Bob Dylan classic “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.” For my money, this is the winner of the competetion right here. Sumbitch could SIIIIING! Awesome; purely awesome.

Patrice Pike from my favorite state of Texas sang “Somebody to Love” by Jefferson Airplane. Awesome choice for a woman who could be Grace Slick’s vocal doppelganger! Played the crowd well and owned the stage, but it sounded like she had a few tough transitions.

Magni, our lone entrant from Iceland, sang “Satisfaction” by The Stones. While definitely a showman, his vocals sounded really forced and I wasn’t the biggest fan of the arrangement.

Zayra Alvarez, also of that “great” state of Texas, sang (and if I type “sand” one more time before I correct it, I’m screaming) “Bring Me to Life” by Evanesence. It’s at this point in my review that I’d like to point out that I’ve heard many people tackle that song and only one carried it off: Amy Lee. You know her… she’s the lead singer of Evanesence! No one else I have ever heard attempt that song has even come close. Anyway, this girl could kill in the Adult Contemporary genre, but she doesn’t have the pipes for this stage according to that song.

Jenny Galt from Canada picked “How You Remind Me” by fellow Canucks Nickelback. She knew her way around a guitar and had a very “clean” vocal approach, but I think she might be out of her league in this rock arena with those three. She needs to keep with her range (I wrote down “a little weak / too soft”) and maybe transition into the lighter rock.

Josh Logan from New Hampshire pretty much hurt me with “She Talks to Angels” by The Black Crowes. Until this point, I think he was the worst (read into the foreshadowing people…) because he had a very strong voice, but it was completely hidden and distorted by his overusing of his tremelo. It absolutely hurt me to listen to it.

Matt Hoffer from Chicago sang “Yellow” by Coldplay. The only note I have down here is “unremarkable.”

Dilana coming to Texas via Africa (South Africa if I sniffed out the accent correctly) gave “Lithium” by Nirvana a try. Being a Cobain fan, I gave her a strike already, but after a wonderful impersonation of Al Gore crossed with Charles Manson, she became a little TOO frantic on stage. Her voice seemed a little much as well; very gravelly and absolutely snarling. Extremely well suited for death metal.

Dana Andrews, the baby girl from Georgia, tackled “I’m the Only One” by Melissa Etheridge next. She was extremely sultry and started out a little soft, but good. Then the chorus kicked in. Ho. Lee. Shit. Girl’s got pipes! You should have seen Newstead’s eyes bug out as he mouthed “WOW” to his two other band-mates. My only concern is that her style might not be suited for hard rock. Blew me away with Etheridge, but I don’t know about the rock…

Phil Ritchie is a local boy from Ocean City, MD and he tried to join the “Cult of Personality” by Living Colour. As my boy Pete will tell you, I’ve been a Living Colour fan from way back and Phil? Uh-uh. Too much tremelo, completely missed a high note (felt like he was going there and then swerved at the last minute); I have written down “felt ‘fake’” here. Not the worst though… stay tuned.

Jill Gioia from New York came next singing “Piece of my Heart” by Janis Joplin. A wonderful choice as she’s a pocket Janice (she’s only 4’11″). She definitely owned the stage, but I didn’t think her voice was blowing me away. It was really good, but didn’t have that “fill a 20,000 seat arena” quality to it.

Chris Pierson committed a horrible sin by re-arranging “Roxanne” by The Police to modernize it. Not only did he not hold a candle to Sting’s original vocals, but he butchered the song AND the “modern” vocals. Completely showed his weaknesses with this song and turned out to be more of a screamer than a singer. Bar none the worst of the night. It was so bad even the extremely nice panel of 4 (Lee, Newstead, Clarke, and Dave Navarro) said it “sucked.”

Finally, Canada’s Lukas Rossi picked “Rebel Yell” by Billy Idol. Other than my old choir lead yelling “ENNUNCIATE” at him, great choice, great voice, and great stage presence. My only gripe is that he my be overplaying the “rebellious” card a little bit.

All-in-all I’m picking Toby & Dana to go far and Chris to get lost on the next episode. In any case, you really oughta give it a try if you’re a fan of rock ‘n’ roll. I hope they make these hopefuls do a few more harder-edged songs, but I guess we’ll see soon enough. CBS people!!! Look it up!

03/15/2006

TV – “The Unit”

Filed under: Reviews — bjciii @ 11:30

Show: The Unit
Channel: CBS
Airing: Tuesday nights at 9:00/8:00c
Premise: A covert team of U.S. Special Forces operatives undertake missions around the world while their wives attempt to carry on a normal life back at home, living on a military base and keeping their husbands’ secrets.
Thoughts: The only reason I really wanted to watch this show to begin with is that Dennis Haysbert (formerly President Palmer on the equally wonderful 24) is the lead actor in this hourlong drama. I could care less about the former Mr. Jennifer Garner (Scott Foley, although he IS good on the show), but I also discovered that my boy Robert Patrick (he of Terminator 2: Judgement Day and brother of Filter’s lead-singer fame) is also on the show. So I’m watching the first episode last week and was blown away by how wonderful it felt to see the former President Palmer play a guy named Jonas Blane and act just like a more socially-acceptable Jack Bauer. I read somewhere that this show is a cross between 24 and Desperate Housewives, but I never saw the latter show, so I can’t really comment on that. It is, however, a perfect blend of what happens in the field and how the women who are at home are the ones who are really responsible for keeping things in check. At once it is a personification of the old idea that women keep the house while the men are at work and a neo-feminist ideal of how the wives left behind keep everything running smoothly and have their own sort of covert unit to keep things under control. Fantastic storytelling…
Outlook: I think this show is definitely going to last a few seasons on the strentgh of Haysbert’s presence alone, but the fact that Mamet is attached makes it a lock. The stories are awesome and the dichotomy between the men’s unofficially offical unit (lead by Jonas) and the women’s officially unofficial unit (lead by Jonas’ wife Molly) makes this show a winner by every definition. I’d be extremely surprised to see it canceled or put on haitus anytime in the next few seasons. I highly, highly, recommend it.

01/28/2006

Argh…

Filed under: Journal,Reviews — bjciii @ 00:21

Okay, maybe I’ve seen way too many movies. Maybe I have higher standards than a normal person would BECAUSE I’ve seen that many movies.

Underworld: Evolution was inexcusable though.

A little bit through this flick, the two leads decide to have a little vampire – hybrid sex. Action beforehand, action afterwards… sex in between. I turned to my friend Chris and whispered “This reminds me a lot of The Terminator when Michael Behn & Linda Hamilton decided to take a moment out of their busy ‘Let’s not get killed’ routine to bone.” She giggled and that was that. The movie rambled on after that, jumping from one action sequence to another before the end. The end… that is what made me growl the entire ride home. The end of this movie was almost i-fucking-dentical to Terminator 2: Judgement Day!!! In T2, Linda Hamilton is narrating about how the past was over and the future was, for the first time, open for interpretation while the camera panned over headlights rolling over the highway lines before the credits rolled. U:E decided to rip it off by substituting water for the highway and using a Thesaurus to change some of the words. I looked at Chris, my eyes bugging out and my mouth wide open. I said “Son of a bitch! They ripped off T2!!!,” then I got a little louder and said, “That’s just bullshit!!” People laughed, but still… paraphrasing can be plagarism too! If I decided to make a movie and end it with a bunch of soldiers being guests of honor in a tree-fort manned by teddy bears, the fans of Return of the Jedi would have my head (and Lucas would have my house).

Argh… I know Hollywood is out of ideas, but damnit people! How about hiding the blatant ripoffs huh?

11/20/2005

The Longest Yards: Comparing Decades

Filed under: Commentary,Reviews — bjciii @ 22:48

This is a little commentary and a little review, so I’m linking it under both headings. You don’t care, but I just wanted to be up-front about it because that’s the kind of guy I am.

So this weekend I managed to catch two movies with the same title and the same plot and (most of) the same characters. Those movies were called The Longest Yard. The original movie, made in 1974, starred Burt Reynolds as down and out disgraced quarterback Paul Crewe who was sentenced to prison after drunken driving, assaulting a police officer, stealing a car, and resisting arrest (not in that exact order). The remake, made in 2005, starred Adam Sandler as down and out disgraced quarterback Paul Crewe who was sentenced to prison after drunken driving, stealing a car, and resisting arrest thereby violating his federally-mandated probation after a racketeering charge for shaving points while playing. The original Paul Crewe also shaved points which got him booted from his league, but it was never made into a federal case. Just thought you would like to know. Basically the warden (Eddie Albert in his sadistic best for the original, James Cromwell doing an admirable job with his part in the remake) pulls strings to get Crewe to his prison so he can give pointers to the Guards’ football team (semi-pro in the original, just a corrections league in the second) which is helmed by Boss Knauer (played perfectly by Ed Lauter in the original while played almost perfectly by William Fichtner in the remake; I’ll explain why in a sec) who does not need any help from a washed up quarterback criminal. It ends up that Crewe recommends that the guards’ team plays a warm-up game before their season and the Warden enlists Crewe to create a team out of the cons for that very purpose.

In the original movie, the heart of the movie was a dramatic story with comedic elements. In the remake, it was a comedic movie with elements of drama. You only really need to look at the casts to figure that out! The remake features Adam Sandler and his band of goons along with Chris Rock. The original had some serious actors with some serious chops. Burt was the smartass back then, but he still carried the weight of the world on his shoulders which made the feelings a lot more believable. Both movies featured NFL stars of their day on both sides of the football (notably present were Ray Nitschke and Joe Kapp in the original with Bill Romanowski and Brian Bosworth in the remake). The remake featured 3 professional wrestlers and a power-lifter as well… diverse casting. The nuances were pretty easy to pick out as we’re talking 31 years between filming the original and the remake, so society changed quite a great deal in that time. Burt, in the original, was shown to smack his sugar-mama around before taking her car. Since that would get a lot of feminists up-in-arms, Adam did not do that. There was a few more smart-assed remarks in the remake that would have gotten snickers of disbelief from the original crowd while the original was a lot more “macho” than the remake because Reynolds was unapologetic for his actions. He merely did what he did because he wanted to. When Sandler’s version had to make a decision, he had to explain himself to everyone. Like I said… a lot of changes in the past 30 years.

One of the biggest let-downs, however, was the final conversation between Sandler’s Crewe and Fichtner’s Knauer in the remake. In true “Hollywood Fashion,” the screen-writer dumbed the story and made it a warm-and-fuzzy ending. The original ending was a billion times better as you knew that once Reynolds’ Crewe (figuratively) smacked away the Warden’s hand, he was going to pay for years to come. It’s this incessant need to make the audience feel good that ruins most movies now. Why did people love The Empire Strikes Back? It was a dark ending! The good guys did not win! It was life: Things don’t always work out for us and we expect that. Somewhere along the way some screenwriter decided that people needed to be coddled. The original doesn’t where the remake most certainly does.

Having said that I really did enjoy the remake (probably much more because I really liked the original). I plan on purchasing both of them in the future (when that pesky employment thing is fixed) as they were both good movies in their own way. The original was just a great, great story with some fantastic actors and a gritty feel to the final act. Reynolds, having played college football, was a completely believable player and Eddie Albert was a tremendously slippery authority figure. There were no rainbows or puppy-dogs and the movie was better off for it. Sure, it wasn’t depicting prison completely real (there were no Oz-like scenes), but the football was real enough for what mattered. The remake was a fun time with some incredibly-hysterical scene-stealers (Tracy Morgan as the effeminate cheerleader and Kevin Nash as the ‘roided-out guard who was slipped Estrogen pills by mistake) and some very slick camera-work for the finale. The script was similar to the original, but the differences were noticable. I honestly believe that the cast was better, position for position, in the original, but kids younger than me who were raised on Adam Sandler will hate the original as Adam ain’t in it. I do recommend both movies to my friends: The patient ones will want to watch the original first, but those of you who could care less about that sort of thing will probably enjoy the remake a lot more. It’s a shame, but it’s reality.

All in all it really points out the disparity between originals and remakes: Hollywood truly believes they can remake classics and do them better. They are mostly wrong. The only remake I have ever seen which is superior to the original is The Thomas Crown Affair. I can’t begin to explain it, but it’s true. Maybe it is because we got to see Rene Russo’s gorgeous breasts a couple times? If Faye Dunaway had dropped the top in the original… nah. The remake was actually better anyway.

10/01/2005

I’ve finally found Serenity…

Filed under: Journal,Reviews — bjciii @ 11:05

So I got home a little after 1am this morning and strongly resisted the urge to gush at that point, so now that I had a good 7/8 hours sleep, I feel a little more in control of what I may type.

I saw Serenity last night with my friends Anna, Chris, and Steve. You all know Serenity people… it’s the movie that came of the fact that Joss Whedon’s TV show Firefly was cancelled too early! The show came out on DVD, the DVD collection was a smashing success, and they capitalized on it as a movie. Let me tell you: Great idea! I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a better movie in my life.

Think about that for a second…

You’re reading the BLOG of a man who worshipped at the altar of Lucas for many moons. I lit candles at the shrine of Coppola. I freaked out with Tarantino and I gave the high-five to Raimi. Hitchcock rocked and Capra scored. These are legends people. Whedon managed to edge them out with this movie.

I can’t, in good conscience, go into specifics because I do not want to ruin the movie for you, but I will tell you that all the trailers? I’d say 95% of the things you seen and hear in the trailers happens in the first third of the movie which is amazing considering the fact that most trailers today end up spoiling everything. Whedon wrote AND directed this film and he deserves Oscars aplenty. Yes, I’m a Joss-mark, but ya know what? If you see this movie and you aren’t, then you really need to see it again. He had an unflinching vision of what it needed to be and he made the tough decisions to get it done. It was amazing and unbelievable to say the very least. There is intensely-funny humour completely interwoven with edge-of-the-seat action and heart-breaking drama. It’s truly got something for everyone. People who were hiding from Firefly for whatever reason can quickly dip into the pool of Serenity because Joss makes sure of it. Those who did embrace the show will enjoy the movie more, but that’s just the way it is isn’t it? In any case: Go see this movie. Go see it now. If you’ve already seen it, I’m guessing you’re just like me: When the credits rolled, you turned to the projection booth and yelled

Play it again!!!

You can’t stop the signal folks…

09/19/2005

TV – “Kitchen Confidential”

Filed under: Reviews — bjciii @ 21:33

Show: Kitchen Confidential
Channel: FOX
Airing: Monday nights at 8:30/9:30c
Premise: A disgraced elite former head chef (Bradley Cooper) returns to the kitchen of an upstart posh restaurant. Bringing a cast of characters (including another Buffy Alum, Nicholas Brendon) he makes the best of this second chance.
Thoughts: I love sitcoms with no laugh-track. The laugh-track is like a Nazi propaganda invention telling you what you should find funny. This show has no laugh-track. This show has a lot of laughing though! Maybe it’s because I think Gordon Ramsay is pretty much a god among chefs or because I dig the Buffy alums, but this show is definitely on a FauxVO series recording. Apparently it’s a sitcom based on the biography of the REAL Bourdain (also called Kitchen Confidential) and he promises that while not everything happened to him, everything has happened in the kitchen of some restaurant or another. Definitely something to keep watching!
Outlook: As with How I Met Your Mother, this show’s only real competetion is that aforementioned CBS sitcom. I see FOX keeping it around for a long time because it will serve as a completely perfect lead-in for the next season of Hell’s Kitchen with Gordon Ramsay. That, coupled with the fact that it’s brilliant, will definitely push this one over the top.

TV – “How I Met Your Mother”

Filed under: Reviews — bjciii @ 21:02

Show: How I Met Your Mother
Channel: CBS
Airing: Monday nights at 8:30/9:30c
Premise: Everything is told in flashback in the voice of Bob “Innocent in Full House yet deliciously dirty in The Aristocrats” Saget about a 52 year old man telling his two children the story of how he met their mom.
Thoughts: The only reason I even bothered watching this was because Alyson Hannigan is in it. I do dig Doogie though because Neil Patrick Harris is hysterical! But mostly because of Alyson Hannigan. It’s kitchy and stupid and has a hundred cringe-worthy moments in the last 10 minutes, but it’s sweet enough to entice a lot of women to watch the show while their husbands are gearing up for Monday Night Football.
Outlook: Since it’s up against an unproven drama on NBC, an unproven sitcom on FOX, and whatever ABC uses to lead into Monday Night Football, I don’t see this having much in the way of competetion. I think it’s going to last a while, but I doubt I’ll make time to watch it as I can get Alyson Hannigan with all my Buffy DVDs that I have right?

09/17/2005

TV – “Threshold”

Filed under: Reviews — bjciii @ 00:40

Show: Threshold
Channel: CBS
Airing: Friday nights at 9/8c
Premise: Guess what? Aliens have invaded. They started by screwing with 17 Naval men in the Atlantic Ocean (80 miles off Maryland) and now they are slowly mutating humanity. A worst-case scenario planner from a thinktank is put in charge when one of her contingency plans (named “Threshold”) happens to come true. Yup, this plan was about aliens invading.
Thoughts: Eh. Another typical alien show that is trying to be more dire than entertaining, but it has its moments. What are those moments? 3 characters. Peter Dinklage plays a linguist who happens to be a small-person. Brent Spiner plays a biologist with a strong anti-government background. Finally Brian Van Holt (a favorite of mine since Confidence) plays a “ghost-military” guy who is in charge of keeping the main characters alive. Sure, Carla Gugino is in here too, but she really doesn’t do too much character-wise for me. The funny part is that William Mapother is in this “War of the Worlds” type show when his cousin is in the actual cinematic remake of “War of the Worlds” so it looks like alien-invasion is a family affair! Yes, Mapother’s cousin is none other than Scientology’s poster-boy Tom Cruise.
Outlook: Well Friday nights are usually a dead zone for television shows, especially those airing between 9pm and 11pm (which is the later prime-time). Why is that? Most people spend the 8o’clock hour getting ready to go out and have fun after 9pm. Only the hard-core geeks and losers are home on Friday nights, so only shows with a high dork factor seem to do well in those time-slots. Don’t believe me? A little show called The X-Files ring any bells? And no… it wasn’t always on Sunday nights folks. It cultivated an audience with the lonely Friday no-daters and then, after it gained notoriety, it was moved to Sundays. If CBS can wait out the initial culturing of this thing, there could be a chance. However since television executives suffer from notoriously short attention-spans, I think this has an outside shot of lasting a dozen episodes.

09/14/2005

TV – “Supernatural”

Filed under: Reviews — bjciii @ 16:13

Show: Supernatural
Channel: The WB
Airing: Tuesday nights at 9/8c
Premise: Two brothers, Sam (played by Jared Padalecki) and Dean (played by Jensen Ackles), were brought up in a weird, ghost-hunting sort of way by their now-missing father who, apparently, is trying to track down the creature who killed their mother when Sam was only an infant.
Thoughts: Fucking awesome. It’s like Ghostbusters on a really strong hit of really powerful acid!! The pilot episode featured the “woman in white” phenomenon and it definitely would freak anyone out if they watched it at home alone. Imagine a really cool horror/suspense movie and then imagine watching its characters every week instead of once every year… it’s like that. Ackles played a rather annoying character on Smallville, but he redeems himself here by channelling a former character of his, Alex, on the now-defunct show Dark Angel. I’ve never heard of Padalecki before, but he seems to bring the yang to Ackles’ yin by being the sweeter side of the duo. If the remainder of the episodes keep this pace up, this show will be a HUGE sleeper hit as it didn’t get nearly the press a lot of the other premieres got this year. I can see a lot of people I hang out with watching this show.
Outlook: Unfortunately the curse is alive and well. Every year I find a brand-new show which I think kicks major ass and it dies really quickly. With any luck, this will NOT be one of those shows, but I doubt it as it’s going up against really strong competition in House and The Amazing Race. Less stiff are Commander in Chief (Geena Davis becomes President of the United States) and R U The Girl which I believe is prostituting the dead. NBC has 2 sitcoms up against it, one brand new and one cultish-show, so I believe they will be a good counter-programming for it. Keep your fingers crossed because this one is good!

TV – “Bones”

Filed under: Reviews — bjciii @ 15:10

Show: Bones
Channel: FOX
Airing: Tuesday nights at 8/7c
Premise: Forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperance “Bones” Brennan (played by Emily Deschanel) teams up with FBI Special Agent Seely Booth (played by David Boreanaz) to tackle cases requiring that special “icky” touch. What is that touch? A hell of a lot of stripped corpses. Then again, FOX describes “icky” as …when the remains are badly decomposed, burned or destroyed beyond recognition… You decide which one is a better answer.
Thoughts: I heard a lot of people describing it as “The X-Files meets Moonlighting,” but besides a quick obligatory shout-out to Scully & Mulder and a very nice introduction to the partnership which trailed off into the abyss, it’s nothing like the two of those fantastic shows. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad show per se, but the first episode really didn’t leave me with a thirst to make damn sure I caught every episode. Boreanaz plays the same character he’s known around the world as, but with a twist. There are definitely a ton of similarities between Angel and Booth, the main difference is that Booth doesn’t burst into flames when in direct sunlight. There’s even a moment at the end of the pilot where he says that his former career as a Military Sniper had him kill a lot of people. If he could save as many as he killed, he’d be happy. That sounds an awful lot like Angel seeking redemption after his centuries of bloodshed while he was Angelus! Oh well… nothing’s really original though. Daschanel isn’t the greatest, but she’s got something I can’t put my finger on. Maybe a few more episodes will make this show, but for right now I don’t really see it lighting my fire.
Outlook: I think that it will definitely survive for a bit as there is not much in the way of strong competetion on Tuesdays at 8pm. Well, that Gilmore Girls show is on, but I’m guessing they are striving for a little different demographic. Other than that it faces off with a Naval procedural, 2 sitcoms, a reality show about models, and another reality show about fat people trying to lose weight. Beyond the hysterical irony of America’s Next Top Model going head-to-head with The Biggest Loser, I think Bones will manage to make a full season.