Sunday, April 26, 2015

Review - Hercules (2014), and some series.

It's been so hard to find something good to watch the last few weeks, which is why I haven't posted a review lately.  Mostly I've had to content myself with series, most notably of which is Daredevil, on Netflix.  But I'll cover that after I do the Hercules review.

Hercules (2014) is the second of two Hercules movies released in 2014, the other one being the Legend of Hercules with Kellan Lutz playing the title role.  This one, starring Dwayne Johnson, seems to be the more memorable of the two, if not necessarily the better.  This one tells the tale of Hercules as a broken man, exiled from Athens after supposedly slaying his wife and children in a fit of rage.  Travelling the countryside with his mercenary companions, Hercules seeks only enough gold to find a quiet place far away, where he might live out his years in peace.  Hercules' salvation comes in the form of a job offer.  Hercules may have twice his weight in gold, if he can but settle the rebellion in the kingdom of Thrace.  But Amphiaraus, Hercules' companion and seer, has foretold that Hercules cannot rest until he finishes his last labor...  the slaying of Cerberus, the three headed dog, whose visage haunts Hercules' nightmares.

Damn, my set-up for the movie may be better than the movie itself.  I've heard Dwayne Johnson say he was born to play this role, and he certainly looks the part.  The supporting cast is excellent, with Ian Mcshane as Amphiaraus and John Hurt as Lord Cotys.  I have never heard of the actress who plays the Amazon babe (Atalanta, a mythical greek heroine of some repute) with the bow before, but she's pretty hot, and there's a brief nude scene in Hercules' memories of his deceased wife, who was also quite attractive.  I'd say the acting was okay.  I mean, this is a blood and swords type thing.  I'd say it was a sword and sorcery flick, but there's no sorcery here.  What you get instead is a movie that explains away all the myths as the tricks of men.  As Hercules' own legend is formed around the aid of his companions, so are the legends of the myths revealed.  Centaurs are armored men on horses.  The many heads of the Hydra are merely a cult of men with serpent masks (when one head is cut off, two shall rise... HAIL HYDRA!  Sorry... been watching too much of Marvel's Agents of SHIELD).  There is no sorcery, no legends but those created in the retelling of tales, over and over.  What does seem to be the truth is Hercules' strength, and the ferocity and battle-hardened skills of his companions, with whom he has fought many a battle.

The special effects for this movie are fairly decent, and it is obvious that the bulk of the money was spent on the battle scenes, which aren't bad at all.  It's an action movie, so don't expect too much besides good action.  There's little character development, no romance, no spell-tossing, no deities coming down from the sky and battling monstrous mythological titans.  What there is, is a fairly well-told story of betrayal and revenge, that lasts an hour and a half, and becomes mildly entertaining around the end part.  The story glosses over details of Hercules' past.  This isn't an origin story, but takes up the tale of the hero long after anyone else thought to write legends about him.  So, a different take on Hercules, that's for sure.

I can't see myself really watching this one again.  it was okay enough the first time around, so I would say, check it out just to keep Dwayne Johnson in gas money.  He seems like a nice enough fella.  After that, I can't really say there's anything to inspire you to watch it over again.  It's decently entertaining enough, if a slow starter.  Hercules is on Epix this month.

Now, on to the series almost-finale season recaps!  Let's start with Sundays!

Game of Thrones only just started the season, so don't expect a wrap-up yet.  Tyrion is on his way to meet Daenaerys Tarrgaeren, or however you spell her name, helped along by Varys, Master Spy.  Arya Stark has finally been accepted into the House of Light and Dark, and begun her training as an assassin.  There's only a few names left on her list of people to kill, the others having fallen in the chaos that engulfs the seven kingdoms.  Jon Snow has been voted the new leader of ...  Uh, whatever their name is, those brothers in black.  Those guys who defend the Wall.  Mance Rayder, king beyond the Wall, is dead.  That's about all the people I care about, but the one-handed Kingslayer is heading to retrieve his daughter from the clutches of the people she was gifted to as a youth.  Noticably missing is the presence of nudity this season.  So much a part of the series in the past, it seems like once one actress decided against doing any more nude scenes, they all did.  Sadly.  I don't just watch this show to see Peter Dinklage drinking himself to death, you know.  I want boobies!

The Lizzie Borden Chronicles, starring Christina Ricci, just started its season, on Lifetime and A&E.  Not sure how many episodes they got coming, but it's about the aftermath of Lizzie Borden's assault on her parents, and pretty much how she goes around killing anyone who pisses her off.  So, seems like a good show, and Christina Ricci is pretty hot (and also a decently good actress, as far as I can tell).  I saw her recently in After.Life, with Liam Neeson, and she spends half the movie naked.  Much like she did in Black Snake Moan.  After.Life wasn't actually a bad movie, by the way.  Sort of horror, without any real monsters, so not my favorite, but still not bad.  More a suspense horror type thing, and a bit slow, but worth a watch if only to see Christina Ricci, and Liam Neeson playing a very creepy undertaker.

Last Week Tonight with John Olivier is probably about midway through the second half of the second season.  John oliver recaps the news from last week with as much humor as he can scrounge up.  Personally, i think he was funnier last season, when he relied more on his comedic talents than the gimmicks he seems to enjoy this season, like Michael Bolton singing a song about the vital importance of the IRS.  Sure, maybe the IRS is vitally important, and maybe it is the anus of our government, one which really must work, or the shit just backs up and drowns us all.  And yes, the song was mildly amusing.  But I don't really care.  It's all politics, and I find politics quite boring.

Monday nights have Gotham and Scorpion!

Gotham is almost to the end of the season.  I think the last or second last episode is on in a couple days. What we've had so far is the death of Bruce Wayne's parents, and the first steps he's taken on the road to becoming Batman. Bruce may be a smart kid, and sure, he's brave. But, he also seems kind of stupid, and I'm beginning to wonder how he ever lived long enough to become Batman.  Detective Gordon (before he became Commissioner) is certainly the main character in Gotham so far.  With his partner, he's managed to take down all opposition that's come up against him, and we've seen the likes of the Riddler, the Penguin, and the Scarecrow all getting their starts.  It might be interesting to see a fully unified police force, under the command of james Gordon, trying to hold off the psychopaths and villains on their own, until Batman can take over.  Hopefully, they'll do that next season, and make the show even grittier, because I'm kind of sick of seeing Oswald Cobblepott dance with his mother, no matter how enchanting Carol Kane is as an actress.

Scorpion had the season finale last week.  If you missed it, Walter (the head geek) had an emotional meltdown and lost both Gabe (the homeland security guy) and his waitress-turned-love-interest, Paige.  Blazing along a back road in a hot sports car, Walter almost hit a coyote, went through a guardrail, and ended up stranded and injured halfway down a slippery slope.  Needless to say, Walter's team tracks him down, and they manage to save him, and Paige seems to hint at a possible future romantic involvement with Walter.  Gabe and Paige are back on Team Scorpion, and everyone's happy.  Even Happy seems happy, and she's otherwise perpetually dour.

Tuesdays have Flash and Marvel's Agents of SHIELD!

The Flash has been a bit weird this season.  Supposedly, Flash's origin story is tied up with the origin stories of all of the local supervillains, as well, which sort of confuses me.  Marvel's origin stories are told and retold over and over again, but the origins of the rest of the DC heroes (besides superman and batman, of course) are virtual mysteries.  Black Canary?  No idea how she came about.  Sure, maybe that's covered in The Arrow.  But I don't watch that show.  Barry Allen seems to be a teenager, working the CSI division of the police force.  How a teen got to be the virtually ONLY member of the CSI team of a metropolitan police force, I have no idea, but there it is.  So, weird.

Marvel's Agents of SHIELD is still one of the best shows on TV.  Clark Gregg's boy-scout-like leadership of SHIELD, combined with his cunning ability to outsmart his vicious opponents, is always fun to watch.  Occasional guest spots by secondary heroes and villains of the Marvel Universe spice up the show quite nicely, and the cast is attractive enough to be eye-candy when they aren't kicking ass.  Sub-plots, plot twists, and betrayals abound, and it's nearly impossible to tell where the story is going from one moment to the next, because you're too busy enjoying the moment.  I think there's only a few episodes left this season, but you know I'll be watching.

There's nothing on wednesday nights that I like to watch, so wednesdays are DVR catch-up nights.  Thursdays has Backstrom.

Backstrom is a show produced by (and starring) Rainn Wilson.  It's moderately funny, and has a good supporting cast.  There's no monsters, sadly, nor superheroes, nor supervillains.  I'm not sure how many more episodes are left this season, but it's been fairly humorous, if ultimately forgettable.

Fridays, of course, have Grimm.  Ah, Grimm.  My other favorite show on TV.  Nick Burkhart is the Grimm, slayer (and protector) of Wesen.  This season, all sorts of hell broke loose.  Juliette, Nick's fiancee, has turned into a Hexenbeast, seemingly the archenemy of Grimms everywhere.  And she's pretty pissed off about it, giving in to her Hexenbeast side, and enjoying the newfound power even as it corrupts her.  Adelind, Nick's former nemesis, is now carrying his baby!  :-o  Crazy shit, eh?  Yea.  I was all like DUDE WTF!  But, you know, honestly, she's tons hotter than Juliette, and I'm okay with her and Nick hooking up.  Never did like Juliette, honestly.  Too bitchy.

And last, but not least, Netflix has Daredevil.  13 episodes, all available right now.  I been watching them the last week or so, and frankly, I think Netflix and Marvel did an awesome job on this one.  I have no idea who the actor is who plays Murdock (Daredevil) or Nelson (Murdock's law partner), but they both do excellent jobs.  The supporting cast, quite simply, is composed of Vincent D'onofrio, Deborah Anne Woll (True Blood) and Rosario Dawson.  Pretty sure you know them, so I don't need to talk about the acting any further.  The series is incredibly gritty.  Daredevil is basically a blind human with heightened senses of hearing and smell, and has no other powers.  So how does he go about beating the crap out of the entire cast of evildoers?  Painfully so.  There's parkour and boxing and general ass-kicking in abundance, and while I might not buy his face-off against the Ninja (I think it should have been more even, because I saw the ending coming from a mile away), there's still a fucking NINJA in the show.  Can't really beat a Ninja.  Or, as the Ninjas tell it, "only a Neenja can stop a Neenja."  Including my horrible japanese impression, thank you very much.  Other than that one lobsided fight, I found the whole series eminently watchable, and can't wait for next season to show up on netflix.  Which, if netflix's other shows are any indication, won't be until maybe 2018 or maybe 2020.  No nudity, but that's not really a downside, since Deborah Ann Woll and Rosario  Dawson don't get a ton of screen time, so you'd be more likely to see the male cast naked.  Which, hey, if that's your thing, great, but like I said, no nudity to speak of here, and pretty sure nobody wants to see Vincent D'onofrio naked.  Maybe one day Marvel will embrace adult viewers in their comic book adaptations and show some female nudity, but for now, it looks like us geeks will have to stick to Friday the 13th remakes to fill our boob quotas.

Okay, that's all I got for this week, so far.  Til next week, or the next time I find a good movie.

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