Saturday, June 18, 2005

It's All About the Benjamins Baby

National Treasure

Typically I try to avoid anything that has to do with Jerry Bruckheimer (how does his last name pass spell check?) at all cost considering I’m not a big fan of watching things blow up surrounded by a lousy plot. Black Hawk Down is one of the few movies I’ve seen that he was attached to that didn’t suck massively. Seriously, how can you possibly mess up a movie about Pearl Harbor? Well by poorly ripping off Titanic I guess. So I broke down this weekend and picked up National Treasure and hoped Bruckheimer actually devised a plot for the movie.

National Treasure follows a family in search of a long lost treasure that was supposedly hidden by our founding founders. Nick Cage plays the son who is still searching for it while Jon Voight is the skeptical dad whose life was ruined by unsuccessfully looking. With the son being the treasure hunter (or as Cage’s Ben Gates says, “Treasure protectors”) and dad being skeptical, parallels are easily drawn with
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. They even throw in a hot German chick just for fun. But the German chick in this movie has been nationalized and has access to the Declaration of Independence. That, of course, comes in handy when Gates needs to steal it.

Gates need to steal the Declaration of Independence because his former partner, evil English dude, plans to steal it to use it to find the treasure for his own personal collection. Rounding out the cast is Gates’ sidekick, Riley (think Short Round from Temple of Doom but older and less Asian), and Harvey Keitel in a rare good guy turn as the FBI agent who is looking for Gates.

The plot is surprisingly decent. They is a good balance between historically accuracy and aspects that were made up to go with the storyline. You can really tell that some did their homework to make sure what could be accurate is and what is made up could be plausible. As for the action, Bruckheimer kept the big explosions to only one, which has to be a record low for him. The biggest disappointment I had with the action was, if you remember back to the trailer (which is missing from the DVD release, I hate when that happens), Gates is holding on to the hot German chick and asks her; “Do you trust me?” And she say, “yes” than Gates drops her. Everybody and their mothers were like “Whoa” when they first saw it but when you see it in the context of the film, it is obvious that she really isn’t in any danger.

As for the extras on the DVD, I mentioned earlier that it lack the theatrical trailer yet it had the Verizon commercial that when along with the film for some reason. It also had a nice documentary about present day treasure hunters and another one about the making of the movie. It also had the prerequisite deleted scenes, neither of which were that interesting. It also had an alternate ending, and to honest they went with the better ending in the movie. The cool thing about the extras is they give you clues that will help you unlock some more extra materials.

National Treasure gets a Terror Alert Level: High [ORANGE] on my
Terror Alert Scale.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Rocky Mountain High

One show that took a significant down fall this year was Everwood. It started out good as a witty show with quirky characters but also relied heavy on the melodrama and dealt with some deep subject matter. But there was something just dragged the third season down most of the year and the reason is easy to figure out, Ephram Brown. Ephram’s whining and cringe got so insufferable this season I found myself flipping the channel every time he came on screen. Hopefully he stays in Europe next year and we, the audience, don’t follow him there.

The saving grace to this season was
STA winner for best cast addition, Hannah. She was the shy new girl in school who was taken under the wing of Amy and then turned into the rock that everyone came to talk their problems to by the middle of the season and ended up having the most interesting storyline by the end of the season with her trying to figure if she had Huntington's Disease or decide if she even wants to know. Although her character was somewhat ruined in the finale when Bright professed his love for her. I don’t see that relationship going anywhere.

Also making pit stops in Everwood were the originator of the insufferable whining and crying on television, Scott Wolf, continuing the revival of the cast of Party of Five, and the certifiably insane Anne Heche. Heche’s storyline with the disable husband was borderline icky at time, granted Heche’s personal life might had added to the ick factor. On the other hand Wolf’s character was relatively bland and show very little as an actor until the last episode when it was hinted he had a bad temper at times. We also, once again, got to hear the voice of Ephram's dead mother who sounded a lot like Mary Alice, the dead mother on Desperate Housewives. Could there be anything worse than being typecast as a dead mom?

Looking forward to next year, I predict we will see more of Jake’s (Wolf) temper (please, oh please let him have a drinking problem). This will lead Nina into the arms of Andy. Sarah and Bright’s relationship will end horribly. Rose’s condition will be the focus of next season as the Abbott family will have to deal with her recovery which I predict will not go smoothly. And once Rose gets better, there will be some one else (Irv?) who will need saving by Dr. Brown. And if we are lucky, there will be no sign of Ephram.

Everwood 3.x gets a Terror Alert Level: Elevated [YELLOW] on my
Terror Alert Scale.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

I'm More Than a Man in a Silly Red Cape

Smallville 4.x

So as somewhat a nerd, I do find myself required to watch Smallville, the WB-ification (i.e. hot, moody teenagers) of the greatest superhero ever written, even though I can’t say I actually own any comic books (aside from a few Beavis and Butthead one I picked up in my formative years). I did enjoy the Christopher Reeves movies as a kid although I passed on the Dean Cain version as it seemed more like a chick flick but on TV. And nothing bothered me more than the idea of a whipped Superman. Then four years ago came Smallville or Superman – The High School Years. An interesting concept considering Lex Luther was not Clark Kent archenemies yet, nor had Kent don the tights yet. The episode drew a lot on the Buffy monster of the week philosophy but with a kryptonite twist.

We left off the third season with Lex being poisoned, Lana leaving for Paris, Chloe being blown up, Pete has skipped town, Lionel was dieing from a bad liver and suddenly bald, and Clark disappeared with some naked hot chick. But of course no one really died and everything was back to normal by the third episode of the current season. Although Pete never came back and was replace instead was replace by Lana’s boyfriend that she met in Paris. And yes, I hated him for that.

The big news of the fourth season was that Lana was promoted from the Token Hot Chick of the show and actually had a decent storyline this year. Sadly this took her out of the running for the title of Hottest Token Hot Chick in the 1st annual Scooter Television Awards. So Lana apparently is the decent of a witch who decided to use Miss Lang to get back at the lineage that burned her at the stake. Luckily evil ancestor is successful and we get the greatest Smallville invention: evil Lana. For anyone who saw
Eurotrip, you know how entertaining that can be. Evil Lana, like Clark, Lex, Lionel, Lana’s new boyfriend and his mom, is after three stone that apparently do something.

So with Lana dropping the title of token hot chick and no show is complete without one, so enter Lois Lane. A sassier version that the other LL’s, but then again she is a teenager so I guess it makes sense. She was also a slight twist on the token hot chick in that she could kick my butt, and that only made her hotter. Smallville also brought in some other characters from the Superman lexicon including the Flash and Krypto the dog.

Then by the end of the season, just like at the end of last season, everyone is in peril as another meteor shower has hit Smallville. And it looks like the stones everyone wanted transported Clark to what may become his Fortress of Solitude. Looking forward to next season, I assume it’s safe to assume that everything will be back to normal by the start of the third episode. But when it comes down to it, hopefully we will get to see more of bad Lana.

Smallville 4.x gets a Terror Alert Level: High [ORANGE] on my
Terror Alert Scale.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Please Stop Looking

Puff Daddy must be relieved now that he no longer holds the record for using the worst sample ever when he stole The Police’s Every Breathe You Take for his I’ll Be Missing You song. That title now belongs to Pras, formally know as the other dude in the Fugees, who recently sampled U2’s I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For in his obviously titled Haven’t Found. When I first heard the song it started off with the unmistakable guitar riff, but then a weird base line kicks in and then a women’s voice starts singing that surely isn’t Bono. The lyrics are also chaotic in that Pras and the chick trade verses where Pras’ are more political while the chick sings about relationship. Seriously, pick a subject and stick to it. I you don’t want to waste your money, you can see the video of free here.

In other horrible music news, I would like to let all the girls out there know, despite recent songs that say otherwise, if a few times you’ve been around that track, you are, by definition, a
Hollaback Girl.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Now Watch Me Rise Up and Leave

Out of Nothing - Embrace

A couple days ago, I posted my Coldplay review and mentioned that the new album was more of the same. The reason they will never (at least not right now) reach U2 status is because they haven’t evolved unlike U2 who changes from album to album. When you stick to a signature sound, you set yourself up to be Pearl Jam with grunge. Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains were good, but then the radio filled up with knock offs like Bush, Candlebox and many other bland copy cats. Recently I’ve heard some bands have their own Coldplay songs (Oasis – Mucky Fingers). Well let me introduce you to the first Coldplay cover band, Embrace. Will they play Alice in Chains to Coldplay’s Pearl Jam or are they more of a Bush.

Granted the
Coldplay comparison does stretch it a little. I was first introduced to Embrace by some one who compared them to Coldplay. Aside from being British and mellow, emotional music, there really isn’t much in common musically aside from Gravity that takes off the signature Coldplay guitar crunch (and coincidently was co-written by Chris Martin). With the multiple layered music and danceable tracks, The Stone Roses might be a better comparison.

On their latest album, Out of Nothing, Embrace shine whenever they go for the layered vocals/choral approach to songs such as Ashes and Someday. The added layers give a sense of grandeur that seem to be missing from today’s pop landscape. The slower songs, such as the title track, do bring down the album a little bit as they don’t pull these types of songs off like Coldplay. Luckily, most of these songs do change tempos to make the songs better.

Song to Download – Ashes

Out of Nothing gets a Terror Alert Level: High [ORANGE] on my Terror Alert Scale.