Under Review

I haven’t read these yet, I was told to wait until this one came out so I wouldn’t be among the frustrated masses. I guess the series can go up on the list once I finish The Name of the Rose and Decision Points.

The Monday Decap – The Walking Dead Episode 6: TS-19

 The Jist: The survivors go into the light.  Brett Favre is waiting for them.  Food, hot water and plenty of wine.  Things are good. Until they’re not.  IN 30MIN THE BUILDING IS GOING TO IMPLODE!  Seriously.  The show goes out with a Bang.
The season finale of AMC’s The Walking Dead begins with a blast from the past.  The first flashback since the premiere – see the symmetry?  We find Shane in the hospital where Grimes is still in the coma.  Things are chaotic.  Really, really chaotic.  The army is there – initially it looks like their evacuating the building, but the longer the scene goes on, the more it looks like their exterminating the building.  The latter was probably the case as Shane, dressed in his trooper’s uniform and carrying a gun (very un-Zombie like behaviour) is incredibly antsy and hides/avoids the military personnel.  An important note: the military guys are all wearing masks, which either shows the disease to be airborne or believed to be airborne at the time.  Shane heads into Grimes’ room, tries to get a nurse to help him get Grimes out but
she’s hysterical.  After asking Rick to wake up, the power goes out along with all the monitors presumably doing Rick’s breathing and keeping him alive.  Shane listens to Rick’s chest for a heartbeat and hears none so he takes off, blocking the door so the Zombies slowly shuffling down the hall won’t get into Rick’s room.  I really wish they’d make more use of the flashback. In most shows (hello CSIs!) it’s a tired and often campy device, but when the character the viewers follow is a coma patient who has no idea what’s happened, giving us some insight to past events increases understanding and enriches the story.   In this case, it also makes Shane seem like much less of a douche.  But he’ll reassert that character trait soon enough.
Back in the present, the survivors meet their saviour, Brett Favre aka Dr. Jenner, played by Noah Emmerich (White Collar), a CDC doctor.  Things are great, there’s fresh food, wine, electricity and hot water – hot water is a theme in this show – everything’s great.  Until Shane buzzkills it.  He asks Jenner what happened to the other doctors.  Jenner recounts the fall of the building and civilization in general.  He then shows them what happens to the brain when it becomes infected – the general Zombie effect of dying and reanimating but only the base-instinct area of the brain is active.  Depressing.
There’s a clock in the main room counting down to when the power is going to run out.  Oh by the way, there’s no more fuel – the perfect opportunity to mention how silly it is that the world runs on fossil fuels, because you know, every show needs to get a political message in there somewhere right?  Take note earth: when the Zombie apocalypse comes you’ll wish you’d gone green.  Anyway, they’re going to run out of power in 30min at which point the building will decontaminate itself.  Did I mention the decontamination process involves locking down the building and lighting the air on fire, incinerating everything inside?  Yeah, that’s important.
Running out of power seems to be the problem of earth’s survival.  We get another important factoid from Jenner – that to his knowledge, France was the last research facility to hold out, allegedly close to a cure.  However they eventually lost power, like everyone else.  Finally we get a scope of the Zombie epidemic.  It’s global, which raises a lot of questions, like how did it get overseas, did it break out in multiple regions at once? Hopefully we’ll get answers to those ones next season.
Jenner locks everyone in the big room, figuring it’ll be better going out this way than being eaten by Zombies later.  The survivors disagree and start trying to bust down the door. Eventually Grimes convinces Jenner to let them out of the basement, but the upstairs is still locked down.  Andrea and Jacqui (who I could have sworn died in the 4th episode) decide to stay with Jenner.  The other survivors get the heck out of there and try to break the front windows to avoid incineration, but as the leave Jenner grabs Grimes and whispers something in his ear… After an axe, chair, and shotgun fail to do the job, Carol mentions that she has the grenade that Grimes took from the tank way back in episode 2.  Thanks for bringing that to our attention Carol.  They blow the window and get the heck out of there.

(If You Get Any Strange Cell Phone Pics….It Wasn’t Me…)

Meanwhile, Dale is trying to convince Andrea to leave with him.  She won’t.  So he says he’ll stay with her.  Dale cares.  This convinces Andrea to leave after all and she and Dale just make it out in time.
The survivors drive off, heading in the direction of Season 2.

What did Jenner Whisper to Grimes?  Where the heck is Meryl?  I guess we have to wait till next season…

The Monday Decap - Episode 5: Wildfire

The Jist: In the wake of the camp ambush (where surprisingly few of them died…) the survivors decide to move on.  Jim got bit.  Grimes wants to go to the Centre for Disease Control in hopes of finding a cure.   Shane wants to go to an army fort in hopes of finding protection.  Lori sides with her husband.  To the CDC! I foresee conflict.
This week’s episode begins at dawn, hours after the campers were jumped by Zombies.  Grimes is on his radio, warning the Joneses to stay the heck out of Atlanta.  Meanwhile the campers are dealing with the aftermath of the ambush, burning the dead-undead (redead?) corpses and burying their own.

Are you there God? It’s me, Rick

Jim’s been bit.  He says he’s fine.  Dwayne wants to kill him.  Grimes says no.  They talk it out and put Jim in the Winnebago, presumably so that when he goes full Zombie he has access to the kitchenette.
Andrea is still hovering over the dead body of her sister.  Amy sister wakes up. There’s a tear-felt apology for never really being there from Andrea.  Amy tries to bite her face off. Andrea blows her brains out.  Ah sisterly love.
Rick and Shane do the routine sweep of the perimeter and discuss what their next steps are. Rick is set on heading to the CDC.  Shane not so much.  Rick says that if it were Shane’s family he’d understand.  Seeing as it was Shane’s family for a while, though Rick still doesn’t know that, Shane is kind of pissed. They separate for a bit and Shane, with a pretty spot-on display of crazed murder-lust by Jon Bernthal, lines rick up in the sights of his shotgun, just barely deciding against taking Rick down. Dale sees. Dale sees all.  Looks like Shane is pretty damn close to his boiling point.
Back at camp the survivors make the decision to make a run for it.  Grimes wants to head for the CDC in hopes of finding a cure.  Shane wants to head for an army base on the other side of Atlanta.  Lori sides
with her husband.  Shane looks pissed-er, but eventually falls in line with Grimes.  So does everyone else.  Except for one family who decides to head for Birmingham instead, hurray for write-offs!

Grimes leaves behind a car and a map in case Jones finally makes it to camp and the campers head out for the CDC.  On the way there Jim’s condition gets worse.  He asks the campers to leave him behind.  They do.  I get the feeling we’ll be seeing Zombie Jim at some point in the series.

Weird Scene: A series of video messages from a CDC scientist.  He looks like Brett Favre, so for now we’ll call him Brett Favre (yes, that IS how you spell Favre).  He’s working on a cure, but having little success. We also get the distinct feeling he’s alone.  Yep.  He’s alone.  And not paying any attention.  And he contaminated his samples – they appeared to be working?  I’m not really sure…except that that’s not what it looks like under a microscope… Aparently the CDC has one explosive decontamination procedure as his lab gets blown up.  Now he’s even more depressed.  Note: his samples were called TS-19, which is also the name of the season finale.

Meanwhile, the campers reach the CDC.  Things don’t look so good.  I have beef with this scene.  There should have been way, way, way more bodies with the fortifications around the building.  But the amount of flies and reaction to the stench seemed about right.   It’s getting dark, Zombies are appearing and no one is answering the door.  People start freaking out.  Grimes yells at the security camera.  It moves.  Grimes yells some more.  Zombies are coming.  The door opens.  A flash of white light…

Best episode of the season, except for the first one.  I’m really, really hoping we get some answers next episode, and it’s looking promising.  As usual we’re left with one glaring question: Where the hell is Meryl?  I’m still convinced that he’s responsible for the attack on the camp, and I’m thinking he just might get to the map/car before Jones does…

What Were They Thinking? “Uncharted” Casting Could use a Map!

It was announced early today that Mark Whalberg as signed on to play Nathan Drake in the big-screen adaptation of the best-selling video game Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune. Now I’ve been waiting for this news for a long time – I loved this game.  I loved it’s even better follow up Uncharted: Among Thieves.  As far as I’m concerned these are the two best video games.  Ever.  It’s not even close.  What separates them from other games isn’t the game-play but the narrative, characters and voice-acting; Among Thieves was one of the first (if not the first) games to record the dialogue with all the actors in the same room at the same time.  The result was the first game that really played and watched like a movie.  Videogame voice stalwart Nolan North provides Nathan Drake’s voice in the games.  His Drake maintains the expected videogame protagonist heroism with cutting sarcasm and wit (have I mentioned how great the writing was in these games?) he makes light of everything while still managing to understand the gravity.  He’s a grown-up and a kid at the same time.  Think Indiana Jones crossed with Rick Castle.  The point is that the character Nathan Drake is, is something that Mark Whalberg is not.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big Whalberg fan, I loved him in The Departed and The Italian Job and I’ve spent months in hypnotic therapy to forget that he ever had anything to do with The Happening.  But he’s not Nathan Drake.  Who should be?  I’m not really sure.  If Nathan Fillion were 10 years younger he’d have been perfect.  Jeffery Donovan from Burn Notice wouldn’t be the worst casting out there, and I’d consider White Collar’s Matthew Bomer too.  The problem of course is that they’re gunning for an A-list star which eliminates a lot of the better choices who may be lesser known or unproven box-office draws.
Maybe more alarming are Whalberg’s comments concerning some of the other potential castees – DeNiro and Pesci to play father or uncle?  There’s no father or uncle in the game and while I’m ok with taking artistic licence, director David O. Russell would do better to stick with the general cast from the game.

Not Mark Whalberg

Here’s a brief description of the other characters and a suggestion or two as to who should play them:
Victor “Sulley” Sullivan: Drake’s significantly older (late 50s-early 60s) mentor and treasure hunting partner.  Think Bruce Campbell, who’s also the best guy to play him. J.K. Simmons might do as well.
Elena Fisher: Reporter/Host of an adventure television show, she meets Drake at the beginning of the story filming his search for Sir Francis Drake’s Coffin in the Caribbean Sea. She’s the story’s main love interest, kind of an all-American girl.  If Kate Bosworth could act she wouldn’t be bad, but Kristen Bell is kind of a perfect fit.  I also wouldn’t complain if they went the Scarlet Johansson route.  Emily Rose, who voices her in the games, is also a candidate.
Gabriel Roman: Villian.  Also after the treasure, Roman is one of those cut-throat wealthy highly educated types whose a little on the heavy side - the kind of guy who wears a white suit with a gold pocket watch and wipes his head/face/neck with a handkerchief from his breast pocket in the middle of the jungle.  Terrence Stamp would be pretty good (though not as large he’s perfectly cut-throat) but I think Malcolm McDowell is ideal. DeNiro could fit here, but I think it’d be reaching.
Antoq Navarro: Roman’s right hand man.  Ambitious and a stone-cold killer with his own agenda. If Willem Defoe and Antonio Banderas had a child, he’d be perfect for this role.  I think Coby Bell of Burn Notice fame is the right kind of guy.  Huge and stern looking. Jon Bernthal from The Walking Dead would be pretty good too.
Eddie Raja:  Sort of a villain, Eddie is Roman/Navarro’s man on the ground – the guy with actual treasure hunting expertise as well as an unfriendly, competitive history with Drake.  Ernie Reyes from Rush Hour 2 seems to be the early favourite, and I’m ok with that.  I also like Brandon T-Jackson from Tropic Thunder for the part. 

Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1

The Jist: Harry, Ron and Hermione set off in search of the 7 Horcruxes in the hope of destroying them and finishing Lord Voldemort for good.  What’s a Horcrux? Have you been living under a rock or something?

4.5 Golden Snitches /5
Picking up where we left off in The Half-Blood Prince, Lord Voldemort and his loyal “Death-Eater” followers have succeeded in killing Hogwarts Headmaster Albus Dumbledore, the last true obstacle in Voldemort’s rise to power, leaving the wizarding world without its greatest defender and Harry without a mentor and guide in his quest to find and destroy the remaining five of seven Horcruxes - seven objects in which Lord Voldemort enshrined portions of his soul, making him nearly immortal.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows begins with a very sombre tone as we see our three heroes, Harry, Ron and Hermione, preparing for the journey ahead. Though each scene demonstrates the gravity of what’s to come, Hermione’s tear-filled use of a spell on her parents, wiping all of their memories of her is particularly effective, shown by her image slowly dissolving from all of their family photos, setting the general tone of the film.

Some of the early scenes, particularly a chase scene where Harry and Hagrid flee Death Eaters on a flying motorcycle, seem tailor-made for 3D, with shots from camera angles that don’t make much sense in regular filming.  But honestly, it didn’t need it.  3D wouldn’t have added anything to overall experience of the general movie-goer or Potter fan; actually if anything it’d have detracted from the film’s emotional depth, which was its surprising strength.  One can only hope that Warner Bros. will come to their senses and keep part II off of 3D screens as well.

There’s nothing conspicuous about a flying motorcycle!

David Yates (Who picked up the franchise at The Order of the Phoenix) does an excellent job towing the fine line between telling the story that readers will remember from the books, while using enough artistic licence to keep the story fresh.  Particularly effective is the use of the main character’s voices while other actors appear on screen, mouthing the lines, when “polyjuice potion” (a potion that gives you the appearance of another person) is in effect.  While a bit monochrome for my own tastes,  Yates also effectively uses of the natural almost perpetual grey of the British sky along with soft colour to keep the feel of the film reflective of the seriousness of the narrative.

The best part of the film, especially as someone who’s read the books, is the take on the “Tale of the Three Brothers” a children’s story that describes how the Deathly Hallows – The Elder Wand, The Resurrection Stone and the Cloak of Invisibility – came to be.  The story is told by Hermione, however her telling is used as voice-over while the audience is treated to a Guillermo Del Toro-esque cartoon of the events described.  It was an exceptionally creative and original way of conveying the story and one that will hopefully be similarly used in other films in the place of flashbacks or words on screen.

Ever-present in the books and films, the comic relief in The Deathly Hallows is true to form with the oddball Lovegoods, Doby the house-elf and of course the Weasley twins Fred and George.  However, Yates uses the comedy more effectively in the 7th Potter instalment, relieving the audience, but never taking away from the serious gravity of the circumstances engulfing the wizarding world.  The scenes and jokes are funny, but there’s not a lot of time to dwell on them before you’re brought right back into the seriousness of the story.  The result is a much more natural comedic flow – the punch lines more believable than contrived.
The films three stars, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson all deliver their best performances in the franchise, each showing solid range and familiarity of the characters they’ve grown up with.  Daniel Radcliffe delivers another solid performance as Harry Potter.  It’s almost hard to see the 12 year old boy that began the franchise in The Philosopher’s Stone; the growth in Radcliff’s acting over the seven films is undeniable.  He demonstrates Harry’s quiet confidence and fierce bravery exactly the way it’s read in the novels.  At the risk of further type-casting, which after this performance I’m convinced he can shed, in every way Radcliff has grown into the on-screen representation of Harry Potter that readers had been imagining from the books.  Ruppert Grint, normally performing as lovable comic relief, portrays an as of yet unseen side of Ron Weasley.  Amplified by the Horcrux in the form of a pendant worn around his neck, Ron develops dark jealousy of Hermione’s relationship with Harry that peaks when he takes the light from where Harry and Hermione are sitting and darkly mutters “Yeah, I’m still here” with perfect lack of emotion.  A scene like that makes me think that Grint just may have an acting career post-Potter after all.  Emma Watson, whose star is easily the brightest coming out of the Potter franchise, nearly stole the show with a strong, and yet perfectly understated performance, making the story as much about Hermione as it was about Harry without challenging for screen-time.  Really, she was brilliant.  She plays every scene, every line, and every facial expression exactly how Hermione Granger is written to perfection.  I’ve little doubt that Watson will become an A-list star, and odds are there’s more than a little bit of gold in her future.

Also deserving of praise is Ray Finnes’ Voldemort - the man could be my villain any day.  His Voldemort is perfection, particularly his airy voice that relates Voldemort’s fragmented soul.
The music, originally composed by John Williams, has often taken centre stage the in Harry Potter films; however, the only time I actually noticed music at all was a violin solo near the end of the film. Even when I saw the film for the second time in 16 hours (yeah, I know) and was looking for the music I couldn’t find it.  It’s not necessarily a bad thing; most of Williams’ score was very bright and The Deathly Hallows was undeniably dark. However, it’s another factor that labels the seventh instalment as markedly different from the first six.
Final Verdict:  The best film of the franchise, The Deathly Hallows Part I is very enjoyable for those well-versed in the books as well as the casual movie goer.  However it won’t make much sense if you haven’t seen the previous films/read the books or aren’t somewhat familiar with the story to this point.  Is somewhat unsatisfying, but that’s expected given it’s part I of II.

The Walking Dead – The Monday De-cap Episode 4: Vatos

The Jist:Grimes, T-Dog, ShortRound and Daryl can’t find one-handed Merle.  So they go after Grimes’ guns.  They get jumped.  Turns out there are other survivors.  There’s some conflict.  It gets resolved.  Back at camp, Jim digs some holes in the heat.  Then things go south…

This week begins at camp with Andrea and her sister Amy, played by Emma Bell (Frozen), fishing in the quarry.  They talk about their father, and Amy asks Andrea if she thinks that Florida may not have been hit as hard (by the outbreak).  Andrea doesn’t respond.  Though it’s just a throw-away line, the thought does finally give us viewers some idea as to the scope of the outbreak. It’s fair to assume at this point that at very minimum the Zombpocolypse as affected the Southern U.S.  Back at camp, Dale, played by Jeffery DeMunn (The Shawshank Redemption) notices that Jim, played by Andrew Rothenberg (Stranger Than Fiction), has been digging atop the hill in hundred degree heat for some time (that’s like 35ish for us metric folk).  Shane goes up to have a chat with Jim, but Jim just keeps on digging…and being strange…and scaring the children. So Shane tackles him.  Because it’s what Shane does. Shane tells him “everything is going to be OK.”  Jim says that’s a lie.  Shane ties him to a tree. Because that’s responsible.  Turns out the heat really did get to Jim – he doesn’t remember why he was digging, just that he dreamt it. Jim also informs us that he lost his wife and sons to the Zombies, only escaping himself because the Zombies were too busy lunching on his family.  Seriously Jim, you’re scaring the children.

Back in Atlanta Daryl is just a little distraught over his brother’s absence from the roof he had be chained to a day or so ago.  Then he remarks what a tough S.O.B. his brother is for cutting off his own hand and forming a truncate to limit the blood loss (that answers all the “where the heck is the blood” questions from last week!).  There is a slight trail heading down an alternate exit from the roof…I guess Merle is pretty lucky that Zombies aren’t the most observant or skilled problem solvers. They head down but still can’t find Merle.  However, they do find a piece of metal over a flame with flesh seared to it…cauterized the wound…yep, one tough S.O.B. indeed.  ShortRound figures they should make a play for the guns before resuming find-a-Merle.  Or rather, he should make a play for the guns while the others cover him down the side streets. Of course the Zombies notice ShortRound grab the guns…and Grimes’ hat, you never leave the hat.  As he makes a run for it, Daryl is grabbed from behind…by a living person.  Confusion ensues, some Zombies die, a man gets an arrow in the rear and ShortRound is kidnapped.  Fortunately Daryl grabbed the guy who first
jumped him, so we can make a trade right?


Unfortunately, the Leader of the Other Survivors – Guillermo, played by Neil Brown Jr. (Fast and Furious) isn’t into a one-for-one and demands the guns and his man in exchange for ShortRound, or he’ll drop him from the roof and make him FlatRound (yes, that’s what passes for humour here).  Grimes leaves to think about it. Which translates to coming back with bigger guns.  Grimes and Co. are ready to shoot it out before an elderly lady comes down looking for medicine.


Turns out that the building is a hospital, Guillermo was the janitor and one of his buddies was a nurse.  When the Zombification happened the old people were left to die, so Guillermo and friends took over the hospital and scavenge the city for food and supplies while taking care of the old and sick.  Is your mind blown? Mine too.  But I swear, if it turns out they were on an island or dead this whole time I’m going to flip.  Grimes gives them some guns, because he’s a nice guy like that. Guillermo gives him ShortRound, because he’s nice like that too.  Everything is happy…except the Zombie Horde that has taken over Atlanta…but really, who’s thinking of them at a time like this?

Grimes & Co. give up on finding Merle and head back to their truck…but the truck’s not there! How in the heck?…oh right.  Merle. Not Cool Merle.  They take off at a run back to camp…

Meanwhile at camp, Jim isn’t tied to the tree anymore, and everyone is sitting around the fire, eating fish and being merry.  Dale remarks on the importance of keeping time.  Amy has to go to the bathroom.  Wife-Beater Ed is alone in his tent, sporting heavy bruises from the Shane beat-down.  Ed hears something.  It’s not a squirrel.  Goodbye Ed.  Unfortunately no one heard Ed’s screams…so Amy is taken off guard and bitten.  The other campers hear her screams.  By this time the camp is flooded.  Honestly I’m still not 100% sure who died.  Ed and Amy for sure, I think they also got Jacqui…and maybe someone else…it was
dark all right?!

Grimes & Co. get back and kill the remaining Zombies.  Laurie Holden (Andrea) gives and excellent scene here, holding her sister close as she dies in her arms…all I could think at this point was “Boy I hope that’s from blood loss because if she comes back in a
moment…”  After the bloodshed Jim surveys the damage and remarks “I remember why I was digging holes now…”

At least the rest of the Campers are safe…for the moment.

How much you wanna bet Shane blames Grimes for the deaths because he, and 3 other able-bodied men, weren’t there when the Zombies struck?  Also, I’m loving Daryl Dixon – anyone who kills Zombies with a crossbow bolt to the forehead is ok in my book. The lingering question from this episode: Didn’t that van, supposedly taken by Merle, have a large storage trunk?…as in large enough to carry people?…a lot of people?…just saying…

The Walking Dead - Monday Decap Episode 3: Tell It to the Frogs

The Jist: Having successfully rescued the other survivors from becoming Zombie lunch at the mall, Deputy Sheriff Rick Grimes is welcomed into their camp.  He doesn’t know his wife and son are there. He’s happy to see them.  His son is happy to see him.  So is his wife.  Sort of.  It’s complicated. Oh, and Dixon is still on the roof, the guns are still on the street.  They have to go back.
Picking up where we last left off, Rick Grimes’ plan has saved the day and the survivors are on their way back to camp.  Anyone who was wondering where the heck ShortRound was going as he sped out of the city in his newly acquired Charger will be pleased to find out that he got back to camp just fine – and by just fine I mean in his stolen car.  The one with the alarm.  The very, very loud alarm.  Hey, remember how in the last episode the idea that “sound attracts hordes of Zombies” was really hammered home? The campers were none too pleased.  Grimes and the other survivors pull into camp shortly afterwards, everyone is happy to see their family members and fellow survivors.  Of course Grimes brings up the rear and we get a priceless look of shock on Shane’s face – the “Oh crap I thought you were dead and have totally been sleeping with your wife, I bet that comes back to bite me in the ass” look – before Rick’s overjoyed son jumps into his father’s arms and Lori rushes to her husband’s side, throwing a look
at Shane that was closer to dirty than apologetic or even worried, but more on that later.  We also get a shot of Dixon on the roof, screaming to Jesus and no one in particular (again, about that noise thing…)  Fortunately T-Dog, played by IronE Singleton (The Blind Side), padlocked the door after he dropped the key to the cuffs, barring any Zombies from getting to the roof…though not for lack of trying. A seriously crazed Dixon finally realizes the hacksaw is within reach!

Heeeeeeeeeeeere’s Zombie!

 After the initial relief of seeing their loved ones again, the survivors realize that the scavenging party is a man short.  No one’s especially upset that Dixon didn’t come back; however, there’s some worry about the reaction his brother Daryl, played by Norman Reedus (Boondock Saints), is going to have when he returns from his hunt, which is in dramatic fashion as Grimes’ son can be heard screaming from the forest.  A Zombie is feasting on a deer recently taken down by arrows.  He’s dealt with by the campers, but finished off with a crossbow to his decapitated head by Daryl.  Dismayed at the prospect of not having deer to eat, he at least has the dozen squirrels he caught while stalking the deer.  The campers tell him of his brother’s fate.  Naturally, he’s upset. 

After a romantic reunion with his wife (right beside their sleeping son! I know times are bleak but man, really?!) Grimes states that he’s got to go back for Dixon, much to his wife and son’s displeasure, mostly because he’s heroic like that but also because he’s got to warn Jones & Son (from episode 1) that Atlanta’s not safe.  Oh, and the guns he dropped are still there, and everyone knows a Zombie story needs the extra ammo.

As Grimes, T-Dog, ShortRound and Daryl head for Atlanta, we’re left in camp, and get some insight to a couple of newly introduced campers – wife beater Ed, played by Adam Minarovich (Wise Guys v. Zombies) and his beaten wife Carol, played by Melissa McBride (The Mist).  The women are washing clothes and talking about the things they miss (washing machines, coffee makers, vibrators – the usual things one misses when living the Zompocolypse) when Ed walks over feeling like they’re not doing their work.  Meanwhile Shane is teaching Grimes’ son Carl, played by Chandler Riggs (Get Low), how to catch frogs.  Lori takes exception to this and tells Shane never to talk to or look at her son or her family again.  Shane tries to reason with her.  She informs him he’s lost the privilege to do so before informing the viewers that Shane told her Rick was dead.  The look on Shane’s face – “yeah…i’m kind of a dick…” As she storms off Ed hits his wife.  Shane, already angry beats Ed within an inch of his life.  Shane’s having a rough day.
Maybe my favourite shot of the series, back in Atlanta the rescuers get to the roof, the door still padlocked, to find the handcuffs exactly where they left them.  However Dixon is not. The episode ends with the shot of a severed hand on the ground.
This ending raises a heckuva lot of questions.  Well, three.  Where did Dixon go? Remember the door was still locked and it looked like the only way out was the stairs or the twenty story dive. If he’s alive, how did he get off the roof?  And most glaringly for me, where’s the blood? I mean the guy cut off his own hand!  Shouldn’t there be blood?  A lot of blood? Also, as he’s no longer on the roof, a trail of blood indicating exactly where he went?

Although still a good episode, this one was a little more focused on character building than action.  The Zombie kill count was only two – so I expect some serious head exploding in the next episode.  (also for those keeping score we’ve had bullets to the head, shovels to the head, bats and a crossbow – ONE decapitation!)
In limited screen time I love Michael Rooker as Merle Dixon. Those few minutes of rambling, incoherent screaming as the Undead attempt to push through the door were brilliant and played exactly as someone who’s chained to a post and about to be eaten alive would react.  Score another one for The Walking Dead’s sense of realism in an unrealistic *fingers crossed* world.

The Walking Dead – The Monday De-Cap Episode 2: Guts

The Jist: Rick Grimes meets other survivors in Atlanta.  Zombies notice.  They aren’t pleased by the survivor’s “Not Eaten” status.  They strive to change it.
When we last left Rick Grimes he was caught between a Zombie and a hard place, taking refuge in an abandoned tank. We pick up the story in that very spot, maybe an hour after we left off last week.  Rick contacts the voice on the other end of the radio, the voice says he can see Rick, and that his best chance is to make a break for it. Now, I don’t want to nit-pick. I mean, being stuck in an immobile tank surrounded by Zombies is a pretty lousy place to be.  But seriously, “make a break for it”? I’ve seen how that one goes.  The guy who makes a break for it? He gets eaten.  Alas, it’s Rick’s only choice; unable to reach the bag of guns and ammo he dropped while scrambling into the tank he’s left with a single clip, a hand grenade he found in the tank and about 2 blocks from the voice’s location.  With accuracy liken to John Wayne, Grimes shoots and sprints his way to safety, climbing the fire escape to the top of a mall, where we meet Glenn, played by newcomer Steven Yeun who looks so much like Short-Round of Indiana Jones fame that we’re going to call him Short-Round from now on.
Short-Round and a group of survivors (we later find out they’re from Shane and Lori’s camp) have come into the city to scavenge what they can – quietly come in and quietly exit – a plan that’s been ruined by Rick’s shooting, as they find the building surrounded with no safe exit and the undead horde slowly breaking in through the glass doors.  Meanwhile, up on the roof, Merle Dixon, played by Michael Rooker (The Bone Collector), is sniping Zombies and making a whole lot of noise while being racist – Can you say villain?  When the group gets to the roof things get inflammatory before Grimes subdues Dixon and handcuffs him to a pipe. 

Meanwhile, back with Shane and Lori’s camp (that’s going to need a nickname) Shane and Lori sneak off to practice some extra-circular survival techniques.  I still foresee a conflict.  We also learn (unsurprisingly) that the survivors in the city belong to this camp, communicating via radio.  Unfortunately the radio doesn’t get the best reception so all the Campers hear is that the survivors are surrounded before the radio cuts out, leaving everyone anxious about their fate.

While Short-Round and friends look for an exit, Grimes and Andrea, played by Laurie Holden (The Majestic) share a moment while standing on guard.  I foresee a love interest and a conflict.

Unable to find a safe exit (and running into PETA complaint #2 during the search – Rats are high in brains…probably…) and upon learning that the undead can sense the living via smell, Grimes comes up with a plan.  You know what doesn’t smell like the living?  The dead.  One corpse, many full-body axe swings and some clever intestine draping later, Grimes and Short-Round are doing their best Zombie walk out of there, and nothing could possibly go wrong…unless it rains.  After a quick chase scene Grimes and Short-Round move on to phase 2 of the plan: distraction.  Distraction involves Short-Round making noise to draw the crowd of undead away from the building long enough to allow Grimes to get the other survivors into a truck and drive them to safety.  Making noise involves a car alarm.  Naturally that car is a Charger.  Oh, and remember Dixon?  Grimes gives the guy he beat up the key to his handcuffs.  After some internal struggling he decides to free Dixon (instead of letting him get eaten alive, nice fellow) however he trips and the key falls down a grate.  So he leaves a raving Dixon (“You all rot in hell) on the roof, chaining the door shut behind him, as the Zombies begin to break through the front doors downstairs.  The observant of you will have noticed that the guy tripped over a toolbox while running to free Dixon, and a hack-saw fell out.  I’m guessing Dixon lives.  And is going to be pissed.  Really, really pissed.


We end off the Grimes having saved the day, the survivors in the back of the truck…and Short-Round doing about 180 on the open highway out of Atlanta, car alarm blaring, with a “yee-haw!”.

The one thing that really nagged me in this episode was the hand-grenade. There was ample opportunity to use it and create one heckuva Zombie-splosion and yet nothing.  We also still have no indication as to the current date or any history of the Zombie-apocalypse, but it is nice to introduce a non-Zombie villain, especially one as gritty as Dixon who will make the day-to-day survival aspect a little more interesting when there aren’t hordes of Zombies crashing down on the survivors…of course, that’s assuming Dixon survives the afternoon…

Dude, I Think She’s In To You
The Walking Dead - The Monday De-Cap Episode 1: Days Gone Bye

NOTE: There may be some spoilers here for people who want to know nothing about the show, but to be honest I don’t think this is the kind of show where knowing what happens affects your watching it (and it’s a recap so really you should have seen it already shouldn’t you?) Also, this one’s a bit long as it was the premier and an extra half-hour long.  Enjoy!

The Jist: Sheriff Deputy Rick Grimes is shot during a - chase and falls into a coma.  He wakes up.  There are Zombies. There are a lot of Zombies.  Holy **** that’s a serious amount of Zombies.
If you haven’t heard of AMC’s highly anticipated new zombie apocalypse series The Walking Dead you may just be one of them.  Adapted from Robert Kirkman’s ongoing comic series of the same name by
writer/creator Frank Darabont (The Green Mile, The Shawshank Redemption) the show stars Andrew Lincoln (Love Actually) as Deputy-Sheriff Rick Grimes, a coma patient who wakes up alone in an abandoned hospital to find the undead walking, crawling, and slowly shuffling the earth.
After a brief prologue detailing how he was shot and wound up in a coma, the show begins from the point of view of a comatose Grimes, able to see and hear but not speak or react, he watches as his partner Shane – played by Jon Bernthal (Eastwick) - places a vase of flowers beside his bed and wishes him a speedy recovery.  In the next shot Grimes wakes up, answering his partner’s quip only to find he’s not in the room, before turning to the bedside table and finding the flowers dried out and wilted – but not completely decomposed.  This is one of my favourite shots in the episode and, in my opinion, a well executed stroke of genius by the writers/director; with a quick shot of a vase of flowers, they were able to convey the passage of a substantial amount of time, without giving any exact dates, leaving the viewers to wonder how long has he been out? And more importantly in the long run, when did the Zombies rise?  The more observant viewers will also have noticed that the wall clock in Grimes’ room had frozen – dead batteries? Some kind of blast? – along with the other clocks he passes in the hospital.
Grimes struggles to his feet an exits his room in search of help, a little too quickly for a coma patient if Kill Bill Vol. 1 has taught me anything about coma patients and motor function.  At this point my roommate posed the question “At what point does your mind go to Zombies?” Is it when no one answers your call for help?  When you exit the room and see flickering lights in a trashed hallway? When you notice the bloody, smeared handprints on the walls riddled with bullet holes (that’s where it is for me!) or when you peek through a door and see a disembowelled corpse on the floor? (Note: If you’re not thinking Zombies at this point, well, it was nice knowing you) Grimes finds his way out of the hospital and to the parking lot, which is filled with hundreds of dead (but not reanimated) bodies and a broken-down helicopter and humvees outside an abandoned make-shift army base – again hinting at the length of time Grimes has been out and Zombies have been on the loose.
Like any husband and father, Grimes’ first move is to search for his wife and son, finding his house empty, but with evidence of a hasty departure rather than a violent one Grimes exits the house to find a man slowly approaching him from the street, as the viewer sees a figure approaching him from behind.  As the man on the street comes into focus, clearly not a man anymore, Grimes is knocked out from behind by a boy with a shovel, as his father disposes of the Zombie via pistol shot to the head.  When Grimes comes to he’s in the company of Morgan Jones, played by Lennie James (Jerhico) and his son. At this point we finally get some information, namely, Jones sets out the Zombie rules.  Like most traditional Zombie flicks, a bite/scratch gets you infected – you catch a fever, you die, you un-die (the unfortunate fate of Jones’ wife).  The Walking Dead’s walking dead also do just that, they walk; however, they’re not slow. The best way to describe them is excitable. When something edible grabs their attention they’ll get their hustle on, but they need the motivation, otherwise they just shuffle around or in some cases, lay motionless until something passes through their field of vision.  These Zombies also tend to be more active at night, and are drawn to loud sounds, so while it’s fun to blast them away gun fights should be a last resort.
Grimes’ time with Jones and his son is short, but is a well written glimpse into some of the day-to-day living, from relying on canned food to the giddiness that comes with experiencing running water and a warm shower in the post-apocalypse world.   Jones points Grimes towards Atlanta, home of the CDC and army-protected refugee camps, figuring that if his family went anywhere it was probably there.  They part ways with the promise of seeing each other again soon, Jones taking a few days to teach his son to shoot and re-learn himself with weapons taken from Grimes’ old precinct.  Before he takes off, Grimes has one last piece of business to take care of.  Easily the most stunning piece of special effects I’ve ever seen in a television show, A Zombie, or rather the upper half of a Zombie crawling on its arms, inch by inch through a park, is put out of its misery when Grimes puts a bullet through its head whispering “I’m sorry this happened to you” reminding the viewer that humanity hasn’t died out yet, a point the writers look to emphasise throughout the series.
We get our first scene not involving Grimes, a camp of survivors somewhere off-road, led by Shane and including Grimes’ wife and son.   Grime’s wife Lori, played by Sarah Wayne Callies (Prison Break), wants to put a sign on the road warning people that they shouldn’t go to Atlanta, but is talked out of it when Shane declares it too dangerous.   Shane and Lori kiss…I suspect that’ll come into play later in the
Grimes inevitably runs out of gas on his way to Atlanta and is forced to ditch his car on the road, fortunately near a farm with a horse (whose owners are very dead) which sets up the iconic image of the series, an overhead shot of the deputy-sheriff in uniform, riding a horse on an empty highway into Atlanta – the entering city side barren, the leaving city side jam-packed with burnt out and crashed cars in grid-lock – and not a sound to be heard aside from the horses’ hooves on the pavement.

Welcome to Atlanta

Honestly we knew it was coming. Atlanta is abandoned.  As Grimes rides through the littered streets, corpses start to take notice and slowly follow him – not really an issue as Grimes easily has the speed advantage…until he turns a corner and walks right into a horde of undead.  Grimes, knocked off his horse, manages to narrowly escape being eaten alive by crawling into a tank and locking himself in. Meanwhile, Horse isn’t so lucky and suffers a fate that will no doubt draw the first of many, many complaints from PETA.  As Grimes sits in the tank, Zombies banging on the outside, a voice comes over the radio, delivering the best line of episode “Hey, you! Dumb-Ass in the Tank? You’re going to have to sit tight for a while” He’s not alone, but as the camera pans out in a bird’s eye view of the tank, covered in Zombies trying to get in, while more are descending on what’s left of Horse.  Grimes will indeed have to sit tight for a while.
I stand by the belief that Zombies are not going to replace anything in either popularity or screen time (teenage girls are not into corpses, they’re in to sparkling British men); however, The Walking Dead’s debut was brilliant, combining the right amount of Zombie killing action and intrigue to keep viewers interested and engaged in the story, which unique in that it’s not about the mowing down the Zombie hordes, or even the mystery surrounding their origins, but about the day-to-day survival that one would be faced with if they had to live through the Zombie-apocalypse.

Review: The Social Network

The Jist: Mark Zuckerberg invents Facebook, becomes a billionaire.  Also, he’s a jerk.

Rating: 5 “likes” out of 5

When I woke up this morning The Social Network had its own Facebook page and was trending on Twitter. Think about it – a movie about Facebook is on Facebook and called the The Social Network is taking over social networks. It’s like the Inception of internets. Mind sufficiently blown? Mine too.

When I first heard about the “Facebook movie” I’m not sure I could have been less interested – stories about twenty-something year old self made billionaires tend to remind me that I’m not one.  But on finding outAaron Sorkin (The West Wing, A Few Good Men wrote it and David Fincher (Fight Club, upcoming Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) I couldn’t not give it a chance.

And then the reviews came in. Here’s a list of movies The Social Network has been compared to:

The Network
All the President’s Men
The Insider
Michael Clayton
The God Father
The Graduate
Citizen Kane
There Will be Blood

Not bad right?

The Social Network tells the story of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s transformation from computer hacker to boy-billionaire Facebook creator and the ruthless means he took to get there. The film is based on the book The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich, which has been vehemently disputed by the real Zuckerberg as completely fictitious; however, makes for a compelling story of betrayal and subterfuge on the way to the top, and is expertly adapted from novel to screen by Sorkin and Fincher.

Jesse Eisenberg, in my view a poor man’s Michael Cera in films like Adventureland and Zombieland, delivers the performance of his young – and now promising – career as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.  Eisenberg plays Sorkin’s version of Zuckerberg to perfection; self-involved, ambitious, jealous and arrogant, at one point noting to an opposition lawyer that,

“You have part of my attention – you have the minimum amount. The rest of my attention is back at the offices of Facebook, where my colleagues and I are doing things that no one in this room, including and especially your clients, are intellectually or creatively capable of doing. Did I adequately answer your condescending question?”

And yet, Eisennberg manages to portray the slightest hint of loneliness that always seems to accompany true genius, allowing the audiences a degree of empathy and making it impossible to completely hate him.

Supporting Eisenberg are brilliant performances by (and I can’t believe I’m about to say this either) Justin Timberlake (The Love Guru) as Napster co-founder Sean Parker, and Andrew Garfield (The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus) as original Facebook business manager and financier Eduardo Saverin, who deliver some of the most tense scenes in the film, clashing over the business direction of Facebook, and setting up, as catalyst and victim, the most surprising act of betrayal in the film.

Not to be left out is Armie Hammer’s (Reaper) role as the crew-rowing Winklevoss twins – who allegedly came up with the idea for Facebook, and Rooney Mara’s (Nightmare on Elm Street) understated performance as the humanizing girlfriend Erica Albright whom Zuckerberg tries to win back after being dumped 5 minutes into the film. Hammer nails my favourite of the film when questioning if he and his jock brother should simply beat Zuckerberg up for stealing their idea, “Why not? I’m 6’5, 220 pounds and there’s two of me!”

Accompanying the film is the subtle music from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross with the perfect mix of classical and contemporary music, hitting the perfect ending note with the Beatles ‘Baby You’re A Rich Man” with a shot of Zuckerberg on his laptop awaiting a response to his friend request to Albright as the film fades to black.

Perhaps the most impressive feat of the film is in all two hours there wasn’t a single explosion, gunshot, or car chase and yet it was compelling, entertaining and even suspenseful right to the end.