A Drop of True Blood: Webisodes 1-4

As a TRUE BLOOD fan I was happy as hell to hear that HBO was putting out six short web episodes as a prequel to TRUE BLOOD's third season. These shorts are supposed to take place between season 2's finale and season 3's premier (of course the one with Sookie and Tara seems to take place before the finale in my opinion).  Like the title says, it's just a taste but a taste is better than nothing. Here are the first four and I'll have the final two as soon as their available.







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TRAILER: True Blood S3

I don't know about you, but for me it's felt like an eternity since TRUE BLOOD season 2 finished and I'm craving more blood!  As an avid vampire fan this show has been everything I could have ever asked for in a vampire series and then some.  Sure, last season had it's ups and downs but I'm looking forward to seeing how they incorporate werewolves into this one, but from what I can tell, it looks like we're in for lots more fun.

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TRAILER: The Last Exorcism

When THE EXORCISM OF EMILY ROSE came to town I was iffy but later enjoyed the refreshing waltz back into exorcist territory.  That said, though there may be potential here, it's hard to recognize due to the fact that this trailer emanates with "been there, done that" tactics from virtually every other exorcism movie ever made.  And in case you were wondering, no, that's not a good thing.

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TRAILER: Knight and Day

I really love the MR. AND MRS. SMITH vibe I'm feeling here and the fact that I think Tom Cruise is the man certainly doesn't hurt this film's cause.  This trailer is a touch longer than usual and as a result I feel like they're giving away far too much of the film but I still feel it'll be a solid trip to theatre.

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REVIEW: A Nightmare On Elm Street

"It has it's moments, but fails to push the envelope."

The children on Elm Street are dying off one by one in their sleep, falling victim to a burned man with razor blade fingers on his right hand.  As they try to figure out a connection between them and the killer, they soon realize their parents know more than they're letting on.  Much more.

I'd have a hard time believing anyone who said they didn't know who Freddy was or had never heard of the Elm Street films.  I grew up on these movies (and horror in general) and always loved Freddy as both a nemesis and an entertainer.  I say entertainer because of his racy and often humorous dialogue.  Sure, he started losing that scary edge in the later sequels, replaced by an oddly offbeat shtick that didn't do the character any favors but luckily his edge was back full force by the time FREDDY VS JASON came around.  Now I enjoyed that film, and was silently hoping for another as Robert Englund is the man as far as I'm concerned.  Then whispers of a remake hit the wind and everything started to fall apart.  I wasn't totally opposed to a remake, or relaunch but without Englund?  That just wasn't cool.  Which is one of the reasons (but not the only one) this movie wasn't the vision it could have been.

I like Jackie Earle Haley, don't get me wrong.  He was pure genius in THE WATCHMEN and proved he could carry a menacing role rather well.  And in his defense, he did good here with what he had to work with and brought Freddy to life in a terrifyingly splendid way.  But being and Englund fan put a damper on it from jump street, which is no fault of Haley's but a pretty universal feeling/fact nonetheless.  I wasn't a fan of the makeup either, I know they were going for the "real burn victim" look but nothing about this film can even remotely be conceived as reality so I don't know why they were so adamant about his new look.  They also spent too much time with the "is he good or his he evil" background story, rather than give Fred the screen time he deserved.  It does pave the way for a more Freddy filled sequel, but who knows if that will even happen.

The cast was surprisingly cool for me though as two of the main characters came from TV shows I personally love being (Kyle Gallner) SMALLVILLE and (Katie Cassidy) SUPERNATURAL.  The new Nancy (Rooney Mara) wasn't too bad but her obsessed love story arc with Freddy was a little weird.  I dug a lot of the concepts and ideas bouncing around in this film like the deeper look into the realm of insomnia and micro naps which gave the overall of a nightmare stalker a bit more realism that someone simply trying to explain a man in their dreams was trying to kill them.  I think Platinum Dunes was trying to pay some homage to the original by adding some of the key scenes like the wall, bathtub and bed sequences but for some reason failed at one of the most important if not THE most important part of all:  the final showdown between Nancy and Freddy.  I mean, it was there, but it was short and sweet rather than her original boobie trapped house, which was a bit of a letdown.

A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET wasn't a total loss for horror fans and even for fans of the original.  It's Freddy re-imagined and that will be cool for some and cause others to wince in pain.  A lot of people will no doubt share my nostalgic sentiments toward Englund and trust me, he's sorely missed, but I can't say that Haley did a terrible job because he didn't.  Remakes are remakes and as such are subject to individual scrutiny, this one is no different.  I liked it for what it was, but in the end it makes me sad as I'm sure that I'll never see that FREDDY VS JASON sequel I was hoping for or any other Freddy film starring Englund or the old school looking Freddy I know and love.  Things could change and it may not be so, but at this point it looks like it's out with old and in with the new, a sentiment I'm not too crazy about.  

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TRAILER: Easy A

I like Emma Stone, she's not the hottest or best actress in the biz but she knows what she's doing, is convincing and seemingly very cool. On the one hand this is another High School flick (groan) and doesn't feel like an R rated one either (double groan) but I dig the concept and laughed more than once at this trailer so that's got me giving this thing the benefit of the doubt.

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TRAILER: Inception

I'm a HUGE Leo fan (loved SHUTTER ISLAND) and personally think he's good in just about everything he does. This newest INCEPTION trailer is mind blowing in that MATRIX sort of way but is also groundbreaking and original in a MINORITY REPORT kind of way. I loved both those flicks so clearly I'm in heaven here and with Nolan at the helm I just don't know how this could be anything but epic.

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REVIEW: Iron Man 2

"It as good to see Iron Man back in business."

IRON MAN was up there pretty high on the summer movie hit list and like most big budget comic book flicks these days, I like most everyone else was excited to see it.  That said, the reviews coming from upstairs aren't all that flattering.  I thought this was a great movie, perfect, no, but a great movie nonetheless.  When it comes right down to it, one of the biggest flaws with IM2 (like most comic book film sequels) was quoted by Whiplash himself, "There will be blood in the water and the sharks will come."  How ironically true.  Hype hurts these films far more than it helps them.  We get this idea or picture in our heads and storm into the theaters like sharks on the hunt for blood and as a result the end product seldom lives up to our expectations.  This is the evil side of over-marketing and sadly it's unavoidable.  

Personally I don't like to pick movies apart unless they're hella-bad and this was not such an occasion.  But since I've already opened with the bad news, I'll get the rest of it out of my system first.  For me, the biggest problem with the Iron Man universe is the villains.  They're just not up to snuff.  I mean did we really need another dude making a suit (yawn) and coming after Tony!?  Whips or no whips it was lame because it mirrored the first film far too closely.  I dug the Government/Army as a villain because it was all too true as they would definitely be gunning for the suit in real life (probably a lot more forcefully).  Tony's greatest enemy has always been himself, which is happily toyed with in this installment and a welcome sight.

The acting was fantastic with RDJ on fire as Tony Stark/Iron Man.  I loved him in the first one, he rocked the shit out of SHERLOCK HOLMES and now he's back in the suit kicking ass and taking names.  Sam Rockwell was also fun here (he had some of the funniest dialogue) but I never really considered him a villain per say.  Mickey Rourke is a good actor and I'm glad he got the role but with the exception of the raceway action scene (which was pretty much ruined by the trailers) I just wasn't feeling Whiplash.  Black Widow was smokin in both presence and in action, but like Nick Fury, she was merely a tease, giving us just enough to wet our lips but not enough for a real taste (Cap's shield was a nice touch though, speaking of small tastes).

IRON MAN 2 was a solid sequel that furthered Tony Stark's character, introduced War Machine (who looked totally bad ass though I still prefer Terrance to Don) and managed to stir THE AVENGERS pot just enough to keep that ball steadily rolling as well.  The haters really need to calm down and see this film for what it is, of course I say that but with sequels like THE DARK KNIGHT, X2 and SPIDERMAN 2 being dead ringers in the awesomeness meter I can see how some people are reluctant to be forgiving.  The bar has been set pretty high and this film certainly didn't push the envelope into new territory but that doesn't mean it's not a solid entry in this franchise.  Word to the wise though, two things:  One, they better not let this franchise go with Tony only appearing in THE AVENGERS and two, the third film will need to hit hard or Iron Man will become just another lost cause.  

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TRAILER: Jonah Hex

There's been some decent hype surrounding this one for awhile now, though truth be known I'd have rather seen Thomas Jane land the role. This trailer has WILD WILD WEST written all over it as far as the thematic elements go (lots of weird and futuristic gizmos in the west), yet it does feel a bit grittier. Of course, I'm quite certain it will be PG-13, and if so, it could go either way.

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TRAILER: Piranha 3D

Okay, so I'll admit that piranhas are pretty damn creepy but I don't remember the original film (yes, this is yet another shameless remake of a horror flick long forgotten) being something people were "wowed" by.  That said, the whole 3D thing is being done to death too.  I'd watch this movie, don't get me wrong, but I would certainly not pay to see it in theaters...or at all for that matter.

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BLU-RAY: The Basketball Diaries

"Much darker than I remembered."

This is a based upon true events adaption of the late Jim Carroll’s life; his no holds barred upbringing on the streets, his aspiring career in basketball and how he lost it all and became a homeless bum on the addicted to drugs.

I watched THE BASKETBALL DIARIES back in High School when it first came out and thought that I liked it. Who knows, maybe I did, but I can see why I never went out and bought it or watched it again until now. I’m not saying it’s a bad movie, it just deals with bad things (some of which are worse than others but it’s a pretty evil package all around). A buddy of mine who was into writing poetry and whom I now think secretly wanted to be Jim raved about this film back in the day, though I’m curious to see what he’d say after watching it again now.

One of the first and by far worst things that jumps out at me after watching this film isn’t the extensive amount of drugs used by young kids, or the glorifying of heroine and coke, the ease in which these guys got hold of these drugs, or even the implications of blatant homosexuality in Catholic schools or amongst the school faculty. My biggest issue comes from the violent dream Jim has in class where he comes in dressed head to toe in black with the boots, trench coat and concealed shotgun which he proceeds to turn on his fellow classmates and teacher. Ring any bells? The tragic Columbine shootings took place in 1999 (four years after this film was released) and were a similar echo to what takes place in this film. I’m not pointing fingers of blame, I’m just a little mortified by how much the scene sticks out in retrospect.

All that aside, this is one more flick about stained and ruined youth. We’ve all seen this makeup before; a kid who’s going places only to screw it up over (insert cliché here). This time around it just happens to be drugs. Leo and Mark Wahlberg are fantastic, even though I think Leo looked a little too much like Edward Furlong’s John Connor from T2 with that hair cut and I miss the intensity of Wahlberg’s gusto that seems to evaporate a little more with each new film (I mean shit, the Wahlberg I know and love wouldn’t have gotten his ass whooped in THE LOVELY BONES). It was also pretty funny seeing an early SOPRANOS roster team up with Lorraine Bracco and Michael Imperioli, even if they didn’t catch a whole lot of screen time.

THE BASKETBALL DIARIES is not a particularly “fun” film as it delves into darkness rather quickly and doesn’t pull any punches when it does. I remember that same buddy of mine trying to use Leo’s “If we go outside one of us is gonna get hurt” line back in the day, which pretty much ended up with him on the ground taking an awful beating like Leo does. This is a fine example of the “go big or go home” attitude from the nineties and I truly miss that, but in some ways I now see why some of that had to change.

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BLU-RAY: Poseidon

"Just as good as I remembered."

It’s New Years Eve on the huge pleasure ship Poseidon, and everyone getting drunk, partying hard and counting down to the new year when suddenly a 150-foot rogue wave capsizes the ship and provokes a group of passengers to battle their way through the carnage to survive.

Hollywood tends to go through phases where they take topics like Volcanoes, Global Disasters, Aliens and in this case boats and then runs with them over and over until we want to drown those responsible. TITANIC was big business and not a bad watch despite a rather long runtime (that said there’s no substitution for Leo and Kate Winslet’s fantastic rack). THE PERFECT STORM was another one and a couple honourable mentions would be DEEP BLUE SEA and DEEP RISING. Each had their own take on oceanic disasters but POSEIDON stands proud with the first two in my opinion (and a little more grounded in reality capered to the last two).

Like TITANIC the peeps aboard the Poseidon get screwed by nature and or a certain level of incompetence. Not to be picky, but how in the name of Christ do you not see or hear about a tidal wave the size of a damn sky scraper by either radio transmission, satellite tracking or any of the other gizmos they have on a ship that big. That said, the scene where Richard Dreyfuss sees that wave (which nearly eclipses the moon) was money and remains one of my favourite parts. The ship itself was amazingly believable and even the smallest explosion or light flickering was captured perfectly in HD. As for the acting, this really makes me miss Kurt Russell as well as makes me wonder what in hell happened to Josh Lucas.

There was so much intensity as the group moved through the ship that I forgot just how simple the plot was. The great thing about that is it didn’t matter, because when a ship that size is turned upside down it just adds so many more obstacles to overcome and made for a fascinating terrain to beat (though I did get DEEP BLUE SEA flashbacks minus the sharks). The claustrophobia end of things reminded me of Sly’s underrated DAYLIGHT, and as with DAYLIGHT, I continue to be amazed at what people can do with so little. I was irritated by how the kid suddenly vanishes and then for no apparent reason ends up in a cage with no way out (awful tension builder) only to be rescued at the last minute (also unexplained). Suspension of disbelief is a wonderful thing, but sometimes they just go too far.

POSEIDON is yet another fun popcorn action flick from Director Wolfgang Peterson (TROY, THE PERFECT STORM), a man who knows what he’s doing behind the lens. Like the above mentioned boat flicks, you can’t sit through this one trying to understand the logic and reasoning behind the decisions being made and or the results of set decisions else you’ll find yourself scratching your head in bewilderment. However, if you’re looking for a cool adrenaline ride that’ll keep you on the edge of your seat, this flick is well worth a revisit.

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REVIEW: The Lovely Bones

"A magical and beautiful journey through the afterlife."

A child killer stalks and murders a fourteen year old girl from a quiet neighbourhood, and while her family struggles through their grief, her spirit remains on Earth determined to help them bring the killer to justice.

I didn’t read the novel from which THE LOVELY BONES is based upon, but I heard lots of good things. Now on that note, many of those who saw the film and read the book were very critical when it came to the reviews. Personally I found this flick enjoyable, gripping and a visual feast for the eyes. Peter Jackson has matured as a director and it’s very obvious here (this is a far cry from his earlier low budget horror work and clearly shows me that he wasn’t a one hit wonder with the LOTR trilogy). I wasn’t sure if this would be my kind of party but was pleasantly surprised by the buzz.

The best part about this movie is the multitude of things going on, I mean the stage is set with a murder plot but that’s only the icing on the cake as we quickly delve into the vastly debatable theory behind the afterlife. The good thing there is that this film doesn’t get overly preachy with the gospel of things and though it does take a page from WHAT DREAMS MAY COME on some levels, it leaves out Hell completely and embraces merely the idea of heaven. Using these tools in any film is a gamble but I have to say (being someone who loves rolling the dice with those types of films) I was impressed by the way it was handled and happy that it didn’t use another “in your face” level of tactics.

Now back to the feast for the eyes end of things; this movie looks fantastic and shines like a supernova on Blu-ray. Jackson’s vision of the afterlife is bold, yet simple. He never goes overboard into a supernatural or evil realm instead he focuses upon simple acts of beauty in nature, shadowed imagery for tension build up and gorgeous colors and landscapes for the happy times that blew me away. Again, this has been done before, but there was a slight of hand present here that felt new and exciting. The watery fields, the birds and tree and especially the scene where the light caught the murderer’s glasses and gave off the image of horns were my personal favourites and were just plain well done.

THE LOVELY BONES was a very engrossing film that took me on a journey rather than just having me turn off my brain for two hours. There are many underlining concepts here, but the great thing about that is that they’re all relatively debatable and will be interpreted differently depending on the viewer. As far as not being totally true to the novel as people are boasting, well, when are movies totally faithful, trust me people it rarely happens so get used to it. Stanley Tucci was a great villain, Wahlburg was “so, so” but the real applause go to Suzan Sarandon (she’s still got it) and Saoirse Ronan for stealing the show. I was worried about the ending for awhile there but it packed a nice punch (a sly wink at fate/what goes around) and left me smiling.

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REVIEW: Kick-Ass

"Worth every bit of the hype and then some."

An average teen loser dreaming of something more gets the idea in his head that he should try to be a Super Hero.  Things don't go exactly as he planned and before he knows it, he's being targeted by other would be Heroes as well as a high powered crime boss who thinks he's responsible for the death of some of his men.

Hype for this ultra violent comic book flick went out just as hard or even harder than they did for THE WATCHMEN.  There are similarities of course, but KICK-ASS is it's own movie with it's own tricks, attitude and charisma.  Do I think that the "nay-sayers" are giving this flick too hard a time, hells yes I do!  Sure it's violent and one of the biggest players in the game is an eleven year old girl who mouth is just as deadly as the many weapons in her arsenal, but when you take a step back and actually see the story for what it is, you quickly get the picture and understand why she is who she is and it's not that horrible a concept. 

I love Super Hero flicks, and of course this means that I enjoyed the shit out of THE WATCHMEN simply because it was an R rated comic book film that focused a bit more on the reality behind the existence of heroes as well as both the good and bad that come from their actions.  Nolan's Batman films touch on this idea (rather well in fact) but what KICK-ASS brings to the table is the no holds barred reality of it all that makes this gem truly believable and ultimately unforgettable.  I'm not saying this movie doesn't have a little fun along the way, because it most certainly does.  The raunchy jokes are a blast and toys are out of this world.  I won't ruin it for you but the last two battles are epic, especially when Kick-Ass joins the fray at the very end.  Trust me, it's a fight you won't soon forget.

KICK-ASS was a dream come true for this comic book/action nut, and I couldn't get enough of it.  Nicholas Cage brought his A-game straight off the set of BAD LIEUTENANT:  PORT OF NEW ORLEANS which was also a riot and tour de force for an actor that most people (myself included) felt was washed up and out of the game.  Aaron Johnson rocks as Kick-Ass and reminds me a bit of a young Cilian Murphy.  Mark Strong played another great villain (SHERLOCK HOLMES) and I was a little thrown by McLovin as a Super Hero but the way it played out was well done.  The biggest props go to Chloe Maretz as Hit-Girl, she rocked this thing and I wouldn't change a single minute of it.  There's rumors of a KICK-ASS 2 in the pipeline, but then again, there always is when a film makes money.  Here's hoping they don't ruin a good thing, but rest assured this is one movie you'll wanna catch in theaters.

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REVIEW: Spartacus: Blood and Sand S1

"One of the best TV series' ever made bar none."

Rome has always been a bit of an obsession for us, a time when things were much simpler by a thousand times deadlier.  Hollywood has captured the spirit of Rome many times in film, one my favorite and in my opinion the best was in GLADIATOR.  From the early trailers that's exactly what I thought I was in for here; a longer, bloodier, sexier GLADIATOR.  I had no idea how right I was, but how far beyond that film this series went.  There was also TV series called ROME that aired a couple years back and I even think it got two seasons.  I tried sitting through an episode but to be honest it was pretty damn boring, unlike SPARTACUS which grabbed me by the nuts instantly and didn't let go.

Now it didn't take me long to figure out where this show was going in terms of plot.  Spartacus and his boys ally with Rome, they fuck them over and everyone gets sold into slavery.  This happens rather quickly, and you end up with Spartacus in a gladiator ludis.  Now at first I thought this would be a rather one dimensional storyline, fun as hell don't get me wrong, but pretty basic.  Oh how it feels good to be wrong sometimes.  There are layers of complexity to this story that build through many a convincing and or eccentric character.  There are so many to get close to here that you never want this end or see any harm come to them.  This is a feeling that only a TV series can give you, which is no doubt why so many great actors and actresses are switching over.

The cast is a dream come true here with amazing performances by people we know like Lucy Lawless (XENA), John Hannah (THE MUMMY films) who I didn't think could pull this off but did in a huge way and another surprising face in Peter Mensah (300) who also steals the show.  Now then for the newcomers led by Andy Whitfield who plays Spartacus like he really is a descendant of Rome raised in battle, Manu Bennett who plays Crixus one of Spartacus' rival gladiators and Jai Courtney who plays Spartacus' best bud Varro and last but not least we have Viva Bianca as the ever plotting Ilithyia and Darken Raul himself, Craig Parker as Glaber.  Everyone did such fantastic work here that I feel bad not mentioning them all.

SPARTACUS:  BLOOD AND SAND was everything I ever wanted in a TV series and more.  The fights were spectacular, gruesome and held nothing back.  The language was hilarious, especially hearing them say "fuck" and "cock" all the time.  There was enough nudity in this (male and female alike) to merit a soft core porn award and of course, I have no complaints there either.  As each new season comes, I never think there will be another "big show" to catch my attention like this one did and say TRUE BLOOD and FRINGE.  I'm glad they keep coming, and though I'm not a hundred percent sure where this series is going I was infinitely happy to learn that SPARTACUS:  VENGEANCE is coming next season to a TV screen near you.  Can't wait!

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