Psych You Out In the End

Psych and USA were one of the trailblazers in the nascent idea of basic cable original program. Monk and Psych were the Friday night dream team pulling in viewers when network TV usually bombed. USA didn’t stop with these two shows: it expanded its own lines of quality programming that viewer’s love. But USA overreached, bringing in too much new materials and moving fan favorites against network prime time TV. Going against Criminal Minds, can anyone wonder why ratings dropped for Psych?  This is a damned sham because it’s the funniest show on Television.

Or it was. After eight seasons (and a musical) the show bowed out Wednesday night. But not in a spectacular Psych 55a0824c-8373-4b6a-a165-a8ed6b4aa5faway. Instead, the show ended in a romantic movie cliché (fair warning: spoilers ahead) peppered with Psych moments.

Psych started with a simple premise that could have sunken very quickly. But as James Roday and Dule Hill were allowed to be themselves and help direct the direction of the series, the show bloomed. Witty banter, pop culture references, and men screaming like girls abound, Psych took on every genre added humor and tribute and usually nailed. Take the classic episode Tuesday the 13th–hilarious, creepy, and honoring of the genre all at the same time.

But not all the episodes are this top notch, including the finale.  Shawn decides he can’t take his long distance relationship with Juliet anymore and decides to move to San Francisco to be with her. He spends most of the episode neglecting to tell Gus. In fact, he leaves with no word just DVDs that explain his parting. Then comes the romantic comedy ending: Gus goes to San Francisco! And everyone lives happily ever after. The End.

The writers tried to make it where Shawn grew up into a mature relationship. I find it hard to believe that Shawn would just up and leave Gus for a woman.  But the growth that they plan for Shawn is negated by the fact that the whole act is selfish and keeps Gus trapped under his thumb. Juliet chose work over Shawn and now Shawn chooses her over his best friend.  Once again, Gus chooses Shawn over everything else as he always does.

zap-psych-season-8-episode-10-the-breakup-photos-20140325The episode heaps on the cheese. Each DVD was something sappy and contains very little of the Shawn Spencer wit. Everything is tied too neatly.  Lassie is chief, the new detective is amazing and Woody–he’s just Woody. Even the less attractive best friend gets what’s coming to her: McNabb gets to be a detective.

But here’s what was good about the finale. There was a concrete conclusion and there were several instances where the episode felt like Psych at its best. These include Gus discovering a dead body and the two men driving  driver’s end car with two steering wheels and fighting over who is in control. These moments become less prevalent as Shawn becomes introspective and sad. Psych is always best when it’s being funny or spoofing a genre. Drama is not its best component.

What I will miss most about Psych is that laughter that get every week.  I will miss Shawn’s ignorance and Gus’s grimace. I will Lassie—hell, I’ll miss everything about Lassie. I’ll miss Henry’s wisdom (I had already desperately missed the great flashbacks). But most of all I’ll miss watching Roday and Hill working off each other. Their spark and comedy made the show. Here’s hoping that that spark doesn’t fade.

Costner vs Neeson

Aging action stars are all the rage in Hollywood right now. But how do dramatic Hollywood stars stack up?

A Movie to Kill

Director McG stays in his favorite genre: spies. Three Days to Kill attempts to add a real storyline to a shoot ‘em up but adds too much cheese for the movie to stand on its own.

amber-heard-in-3-days-to-kill-movie-2Kevin Costner is Ethan Kenner a CIA operative who opts out after he finds out he has brain cancer. He heads to Paris to spend time with his estranged wife and daughter before he dies. But he is brought back into the fold to catch a terrorist only he has seen. When he is promised a magic experimental drub as payment, he can’t turn down.

The cast is a problem. Though I give Costner more credit for this role, he’s not the one that brings the movie down the most. Hailee Steinfeld gets staring credit but her portrayal of a teenage girl is truly one dimensional and stale. Though she has more emotion in 3 Days to Kill than she did in Ender’s Game, she does have the natural talent her Ender Counterpart Abigail Breslin had at an early age. Connie Nielsen as the wife was terrible and, like the daughter, the poorly written and relying on making the mother a nag. The movie does not even use its best character to her best ability. Vivi (played by the fierce Amber Heard) is negated to small roles egging Costner’s character to do her bidding without much explanation.

The movie tries to become a family oriented film but cliché after cliché bogs it down. He teaches his daughter to ride a bicycle, he teaches her to dance, the ex-wife gives in and sleeps with him, and more. The only saving grace in the humor that peppers the movie bringing enjoyment in the dullest or most sappy moments. Luc Besson is often a genius but his basic story is lost in the sap and I want to blame Adi Hasak for that, but I’m sure I can.

Non-Stop Thrills

Liam Neeson has turned into an action star. Many complain that he shouldn’t be. But he is and will continue to be a bad ass. Though critics have a point, he seemed like the least likely action star candidate, he does well with the persona and is always himself.  We love to watch him kick ass.rs_560x415-131016133110-560.liam.cm.101613

Non-Stop seems very out there, but it puts itself together well. An Air Marshal must find out who is killing a passenger every twenty minutes. But things get more complicated as things turn against him. His past and life as an alcoholic works against him as staff and passengers turn against him. But Bill never gives up intent on saving those on the plan.

Non-Stop doesn’t stop. The plot is always twining keeping the audience on its toes. What you think you know you don’t. And while the reasons behind the terrorist attack are lame, the actual process is gripping and exciting. You never know who to trust, even questioning the “hero” himself.

Bottom Line: Non-Stop is one if just plain fun (no pun intended).  It’s soars over 3 Days to Kill focusing on action and not family feel good cheese.

Is That the Sound of a Three Year Old?

No, It’s 300: Rise of an Empire

300 was an interesting movie. Zack Snyder did a fun color palate keeping true to the stories comic book origins and told an inspirational story about the Spartan people. Rise of an Empire is completely the opposite of the first movie with negative results. 

The plot to the sequel follows Xerxes’ naval admiral as she tries to conquer Greece. Artemisia attacks at roughly the same time as the Spartans’ 300 stood against Xerxes. The story flashes back to tell the story of how Xerxes become the god king and why conquering Greece is in his blood.  He sends Artemisia against the hero Themistocles who killed his father. Themistocles and Artemisia fight at sea blooding the water of Greece.

The first problem is that, like Avatar, too much time was spent on the cosmetic aspects of the film while negating the quality of the story. This might be acceptable if, in like Avatar, the movie looked was gorgeous but Rise of an Empire is over blown and often times uncomfortable. The movie has a surrealist look which is true of this movie. But Rise of an Empire goes too far. The movie is dark and grey contrasting uncomfortably with the light from the sun.  Instead of being realistic, this glare makes you squint for most of the movie.

300-Rise-of-an-Empire-ArtemisiaThe script relies too much on violence and sex to fuel the film. The nature of the movies is violent but the original was minimal on the gore. This one amps up the gore slowing down every injury and CGing massive amounts of gooey blood. And while there was sex in the first one, it propelled the story, truly making Gorgo fierce.  When the hero and the villain rip off their clothes in the middle of peace negotiations and ram into each other, it’s pointless and disturbing. The producers just wanted a reason to show Eva Green’s breasts.

The script also fails to integrate the three stories it tries to tell. The films features characters from the first movie, including the Queen and the hunchback, but these roles are small and often forced into the plot. Even Xerxes takes a back seat even though the movie spends a good chunk of time on his back story. One of the biggest roads blocks is the fact that they could not convince Gerard Butler to return. When questioned on why he didn’t return, Butler’s responses have been short and vague. I suspect he may have read the script and declined.

300: Rise of an Empire fails to live up to the quality of its predecessor. The plot suffers from lack clarity and energy from the first movie while upping the gore. Ina nut shell, this movie is a three year old screaming “look at me!”