Tuesday, September 29, 2009

"FlashForward" Reviewed

By now, most people have seen the new ABC show "FlashForward," which has been hyped as "the next Lost." So, as you may imagine, I was really looking forward, no pun intended, to its debut last week. 

The storyline was intriguing--people all over the world black out for 2 minutes, 17 seconds, a time when many of them see a vision of the future. We learn that these futures, although different for every person, are in fact connected. 

After everyone wakes up, we see that there has been some sort of global attack, and streets are in chaos. We're still working on that mystery.

Let me first say that I'm in. The show has a high "what happens next" factor, and I'll tune in for that reason alone. Having said that, the show is, by no means, another "Lost." The only way I can connect it to "Lost" is the big mystery, and a lot of characters. The minute you start comparing a TV show or movie to an already established hit, you're setting a near impossible goal. To both satisfy fans of the existing product, while also drawing in new ones. Very tough indeed. 

I read a recent article with which I must agree. Whereas "Lost" immediately developed characters you cared about, loved, or hated, then added the "what's going on here" element, "FlashForward" has done just the opposite. First we get the "what's going on?" then the characters. The show has a fine cast of talented actors, notably Joseph Fiennes and John Cho, among many others, but really needs to work on character development.

Where "Lost" gave us an onion that's been slowly peeled week after week, "FlashForward" has chopped up the onion, and now we have to see how in the world it all fits back together. 

You can watch "FlashForward" Thursday nights at 7 on ABC.

Another "Legendary" Season

Season 4 of "How I Met Your Mother" arrives to store shelves today. The show is a love story in reverse, it's based on a true story that the creators actually lived through. In the future, Ted (Josh Radnor) sits down with his two kids and begins to tell the story of how he met their mother. He decides that it's time to find that special someone after his roomates Marshall (Jason Segel) and Lily (Alyson Hannigan) get engaged. With the help of Marshall, Lily, and his new best friends Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) and Robin (Cobie Smulders), Ted sets off on the journey to find Mrs. Right. The show is narrated by Bob Saget. It took on a few unexpected twists last season (sorry, not going to mention any spoilers here). I'm a big fan of HIMYM and own all the seasons on DVD. It may be the only sitcom ever to end a season in the middle of a word! This Spring's surprise hit, "I Love You, Man" helped get co-star Jason Segel on the map. Along with Segel, Neil Patrick Harris is back in the limelight and has put the days of "Harold and Kumar" behind him thanks to the CBS hit. In a world where "Reality" shows try to fight for every ounce of our viewing pleasure (or maybe it's displeasure), I'm glad that there are still a few sitcoms out there to help us laugh, but also give us some food for thought.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Welcome Back, Halo!

As we speak, students and workers around the country are skipping their classes/jobs in order to dive back in the Halo world. Bungie's latest installment, Halo 3: ODST hits shelves today. The game is set between parts 2 and 3 of the Halo trilogy. Although gamers can't play as Master Chief, this installment has plenty to offer. The graphics look great and there's even a bonus disc that includes all the multiplayer maps from all the Halo games. The new "Firefight" mode is like Gears of War's horde mode where you can take on wave upon wave of bad guys. If there's one reason why the Halo series is so popular it's MULTIPLAYER. The great thing about Halo is that you and your friends can spend hours taking out each other through Xbox Live. I've spent hours upon hours of my life in the Halo world. The franchise has changed video gaming forever. The popularity of Halo: Combat Evolved went under the radar in 2001, but 2004's Halo 2 broke the record for most video games sold in one day! Bungie is always up to date with the latest graphics, soundtracks, and A.I. that help make their games feel like you're in an epic movie. For more on Halo 3: ODST, including Bungie's interview with "USA Today," click here.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Jay Leno Show

Here's Jay! (again)
Much has been made of NBC's decision to bring back Jay Leno at put him on at 9p.m. central time Monday through Friday.
And for good reason.
What we're witnessing with "The Jay Leno Show" is a fundamental change in the way television programs will be produced. If this succeeds, and by all accounts, it will, you can look for ABC, CBS, and FOX to counter program using similar strategies.
Leno is a juggernaut. He constantly beat Letterman in late night ratings, and Letterman has a contract with CBS through 2010. It's not inconceivable that CBS could easily bring good 'ol Dave into that 9 o'clock slot. I wouldn't look for that to happen anytime soon, since he's already giving a pretty good drubbing to Conan O'Brien at 10:35.
In any case, Leno himself says he doesn't expect to beat ratings winners like "CSI: Miami," or similar shows with a large following.
It doesn't really matter, because in the long run, NBC will still be the winner, turning out twice as many original programs with Leno, at a cheaper cost than producing hour long crime and/or medical dramas that would normally fit into that time period.
So, how will this affect the talk show guest situation? Leno's already scooped up some serious star power with Jerry Seinfeld set to be the first guest on the program. Let's just hope this won't mean Conan gets the leftovers. In public, O'Brien seems very supportive of Jay. But still, you gotta wonder.
I'm personally looking forward to the show, which debuts Monday night. It promises to be funny in a number of different ways, and putting Brian Williams in there (among other comedy "correspondents"), is a cool touch.
Will it work? Who knows? Time will tell. NBC says it's giving Jay 2 years to find an audience.
That's a looooong time in the land of television programming. Very long indeed.
We'll see what happens.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Dreamcast Day

Today is special day for many folks due to the date being 09-09-09. There's sure to be plenty of weddings and parties in Vegas to celebrate the occasion. I want to give a shout out to a special anniversary on this lucky day. Happy Birthday Dreamcast! The Sega Dreamcast debuted on this date in 1999. I can still remember the old promos with the 9-9-99 numbers attached to them. In case you don't remember, the Dreamcast was relased before PlayStation 2, Nintendo's GameCube, and the Xbox. Crazy Taxi is still one of my all time favorite video games and the graphics hold up pretty well in today's world. The Offspring supplied Crazy's soundtrack, which also helped make the game more enjoyable for fans around the world. I spent hours upon hours playing NFL2K1 and College Football 2K2: Road to The Rose Bowl thanks to my investment in the Dreamcast system. Soul Calibur may have been the greatest achievement of the Dreamcast -- the game received a perfect score on many sites and the franchise still continues on other platforms. The Dreamcast was canceled in 2001, after struggles with the upcoming PlayStation 2. The system was ahead of its time when it comes to video games and the world wide web. It was the first console to include built-in internet support for online gaming. So, as you play your Xbox 360's and watch your Blu-ray's today...take a look back and you will appreciate all that Sega accomplished. Happy birthday Dreamcast!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Summer Smash Up

Today is the official start of the Fall movie season. I'm really excited about checking out "Extract." In honor of the new movies kicking off the season today, I thought I would put a ribbon on the Summer. Roll out the red carpet...

Top 5 Movies of The Summer

1) "Star Trek" - A lot of anticipation and nervous geeks were scared to see what J.J. Abrams would do with their beloved franchise. He did not disappoint. It's hard to ask for anything more out of a Summer movie than what the "Enterprise" delivers.

2) "The Hangover" - One of the funniest movies I've seen in a long, long time. A nice original spin on the comedy genre. It's great to see how a simple cast (4 friends) and setting (Las Vegas) can come together to create a laugh it up roller coaster.

3) "(500) Days of Summer" - Zoey and Joseph combine for two of the best performances in recent memory. The film takes the relationship and puts a 21st Century spin on it. "You Make My Dreams" by Hall & Oates will be making a few bucks on iTunes thanks to the soundtrack.

4) "Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen" - No doubt that my favorite sequence of the Summer is the forest battle scene in this film. There's just something about seeing a childhood hero (Optimus Prime) come alive on an IMAX screen that gives me chills every time. The film has flaws -- there's no such thing as a perfect movie, but delivers enough of my hero to satisfy my hunger.

5) "Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince" - It may be the best movie in the "Potter" franchise ("Prince" & "Azkaban" are tied...flip a coin and whatever it lands on is the winner for that day). Very satisfying to see one of the better books come to life while you're watching these actors grow.

Summer Disappointments

"X-Men Origins: Wolverine" - The film is just one fight scene after another. Show me some character development and creative dialogue. The cast was fine..just show me Sabertooth, Deadpool, and Logan building up their characters toward something instead of throwing them into a blender.

"Terminator Salvation" - Show me the war that Sarah Connor talks about! Sam Worthingon is great as Marcus, but show me the friggin' war!

Pet Peeve Of The Summer

There are plenty of items I could add to this long list, but I only have one...


I'm the biggest "Transformers" fan and I know that the sequel was a letdown, but there's no need to keep the bashing party going. Maybe Bay set the bar too high? I'm finding that many people were so upset with Bay that they seem to lash out against his filmmaking in every movie review out there. Just last week I was reading an article on "Halloween II" and someone turns it around and throws in how "Fallen" sucked. We all get that many of you are upset with the film...you have made your point and now it's time to move on. I have problems with the film too -- the twins, the length, and the dream -- ,but I respect and appreciate Bay's vision as an action director and explosion master. The film did surpass the original in box office receipts, so whether you hated it or not Bay made his due.

Looking back, these are just a few of the things that I took from Summer '09 -- box office style. I hope everyone was able to at least catch one Summer movie. We didn't have a billion dollar movie this Summer, but we had some pretty memorable charaters and cameo appearances.

Beaming Back

"Star Trek" is coming back to IMAX theatres starting today! Paramount is putting J.J. Abrams' Summer smash back into many box offices nationwide. The movie only enjoyed a two week run in many theatres, due to "Night At The Museum: Battle For The Smithsonian" taking over in late May. You can catch my favorite movie of the Summer starting today at 85 IMAX theatres in the U.S. and Canada. The film will stay in IMAX until "Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs" replaces it on September 18th. TrekMovie.com has a complete list of the 85 theatres. So, if you haven't seen it yet or want to catch it in IMAX for the first (or second, third, fourth) time...head to one the theatres and enjoy!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

"Tonight Show" Takeover!

Okay, so here's my question--what exactly happened Monday night on "The Tonight Show"?? Did anybody see that?
Comedian/Actor Norm MacDonald (who I must first say is one of my favorites), was the first guest, and although, at first it didn't seem like he was drunk or high, he clearly appeared to be under the influence of something.
First, he had a bit with jokes based on the news (typical Norm stuff--jokes taped into a newspaper), then he told this long, drawn out joke about a moth visiting a podiatrist.
Finally, when he had used up all of his time, Conan brings out his next guest, the very funny Thomas Haden Church, and Norm ended up interrupting him, until Church finally had to speak out. Norm was cursing, even suggesting that he didn't care, and that they should just bump the musical guest. Funny or just plain embarrassing? You decide.
Check out the show below.

DVDs To Look For

The only good thing about the Summer movie season coming to an end is that some of the hits will be on DVD sooner rather than later. Before we get all depressed about the upcoming fall slate of films (there are sure to be a few hits here and there), let's check out some DVD and Blu-ray release dates...

"X-Men Origins: Wolverine" - September 15th - The first movie of the Summer, but turned out to be a letdown for many mutant fans like myself.

"Star Trek" - November 17th - The BEST movie of the Summer PERIOD.

"Angels & Demons" - November 24th - I mean, Tom Hanks did get $50 million for something...right?

"Terminator Salvation" - November 23rd - Director McG says the DVD and Blu-ray will feature an additonal 30 minutes of footage. The movie has its flaws, but Sam Worthington delivers one of the breakout performances of the year.

"The Hangover" - December 1st - The funniest movie of the year. The biggest surprise of the Summer is also helping Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis land some major dough.

"Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen" - October 20th - Four words...OPTIMUS PRIME FOREST BATTLE.

"Up" - November 10th - You can't go wrong with Pixar.

These are just a few of the Summer movies and their upcoming release dates. Some of the hits are still playing at the box office, so certain dates haven't been set.

Make sure to tune in to this week's podcast where Jody and I will break down the Summer Movie season that was and have our picks for best and worst of the season.