Time for a New Award Show?

Awards show is notorious for movies as “art.” It’s rare to find a film that is a good movie that wins any kind of award. TV has almost the same sordid past. Most things that are mainstream hits are ignored by the academies. The Golden Globe nominations prove this prejudice still exists.
The biggest problem with the movie nominations and this happens a lot. I have not seen or care to see but one of the movies on the list. Unfortunately Silver Linings Playbook is not playing near. The other issues are that, at the nominations, the movies had not even been released. These are mostly docudramas that screw up what really happened for entertainment value. Forget Lincoln, I’d rather watch Tommy Lee Jones in Men in Black 3. In fact, the only movies I have seen are those in the animated category (and this year they are all good competition!).
The Golden Globes are usually not completely against the grain with their television selections. In fact Katey Sagal won Best Actress in a Drama in 2011 for her work in Sons of Anarchy. But the rest of the cast and show gets snubbed. Like The Walking Dead, when it is nominated, it is for technical awards. Charlie Hunnam and Kim Coates have been snubbed just as much as Jon Bernthal was for his work on Season 2 of TWD. The two supporting actors have been ignored for any kind award for the work on their respective shows, and Hunnam can’t catch the attention of the votes even though he is a brilliant actor.
Instead we see shows like American Horror story get around the rules, by submitting as a miniseries though it is an actual TV show. Unlike the Emmy’, it only pulled one nomination in the major categories. There is also a few other odd ball nominations including Connie Britton in Nashville. Laurie Holden and Katey Sagal both kick her ass.
So I have decided to make my own awards and requirements that are the best of TV and movies as good TV and movies. Stay tuned for my take on what deserves an award.

Whedon’s Talent Pales on the Big Screen

Joss Whedon is best known for his TV projects: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spin off Angel, Firefly and the ill-fated Dollhouse. Each TV show pushed the limits of reality as well as told moral stories in new and intriguing ways. His big screen work has been minimal with his best work in the screenplays of Toy Story and Atlantis and culminating in his last two big screen productions Cabin in the Woods and The Avengers. Neither of these lives up to the Whedon reputation.

Vacation, I’ve got to Get Away

Cabin in the Woods, Blu-ray & DVD

Written by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard

This is possibly one of the worst horror movies I have ever seen. I was hoping that the Whedon half not responsible for Cloverfield would balance out the movie. But I was very wrong. The problem with this movie starts with the trailers.

From watching the trailer, I had a very different movie in mind. The trailer portrayed people being psychologically tested at their vacation cabin. The movie itself even hints at this with people in lab coats at a testing center and the two way mirror in the cabin. The movie abruptly curves away from that idea. Suddenly, the vacationers are being attacked by monster so they can be sacrificed to a god. The people in the test chamber are releasing the beings as the victims unknowingly call them out and take bets on what monsters they will choose. The sacrifice only counts if the victims choose their method of slaughter of their own free will. This begs the questions: What the hell are all the people there for? Just to house the beasts?

The movie becomes a more bizarre version of The Hunger Games as those in the control chamber cause an avalanche so the victims can’t escape. (It seems that that their free will can only go so far.) Zombies, mermaids, slashers, and a variety of mythological monster are released on the victims as well as the center itself leading to a blood bath that knows neither end nor reality. The twist? The people we are rooting for escaping can only save the world if they are killed.

In what is supposed to be poking fun at stock horror characters, each character is based on a movie stereotype: the jock, the slut, and the stoner. But any humor or sarcasm that was written in the screenplay was lost when portrayed by the actors. Chris Hemsworth does a horrible job, and I wonder how he went on to play Thor. Whedon alumni Amy Acker, Fran Kranz and Tom Lenk are the only actors that really put in a good performance. And it seems Kristin Connolly thinks she is Felicia Day but does a horrible job imitating the actresses.

The film does not know how to contain itself. It knows no limits to what is believable or what people want to see. Stealing evil creatures from other movies seems less like homage than a lazy stealing of other people’s ideas. Like Cloverfield, Cabin lacks a focus that keeps the viewer intrigued.

After watching the film, I totally understand why it took two years for the film to get a distributor. Sloppily thrown together, the characters never develop and the plot never makes much sense. Instead it seemed like I was watching Mystery Science Theater with out Mike, Servo or Crowe.

How Many Superheroes Does it Take to Save the World?

The Avengers, Blu-Ray & DVD

Written & Directed by Joss Whedon

I can hear you now, “What? You don’t like The Avengers? Are you crazy?” It’s possible that I am, but this movie was not a great move, superhero or otherwise. The characters are one sided and stereotyped, the plot is stilted, and the writing is weak.

The plot is easily divided into three sections: putting the team together, the team fights with each other, and the team beats up the bad guys. It’s this final third of the movie that finally has good kicking evil’s butt. I had no fun watching the team squabble with each other and try to beat each other up. You’re all superheroes; no one’s going to win. It seems they forgot they had to work together to beat up the bad guy. But when this happens, the movie is everything it could be: gorgeous fight sequences, teamwork, and defeating evil. Each team member comes alive as they use their unique talents to win and the movie should have focused more on this.

It also suffers from one dimensional characters. The characters are stereotyped to a fault because there is no time for character development in this mess. Hawkeye and Black Widow have the most depth out of all the characters.  But if Hawkeye hadn’t been hijacked by Loki, the two would have been reduced to stereotypes. The Hulk is a giant nerd, Iron Man shows nothing but sarcasm, and Captain America is so anal I wanted someone to remove the stick from his butt. I have seen the movies that focus on these characters alone: the characters are all well developed with a variety of emotions and desires. But Whedon has pared them down to one note characters that you don’t even like. (I loved Captain the America the best out all the movies but hated his character in The Avengers).

Whedon, the king of witty comebacks (see any episode of Buffy) looses his magic here. Dialogue is childish and very rarely funny, even when it was meant to be. For such simple character and plot delineation, the movie was often time confusing. Why are the characters where they are? What is the point to this other than looking cool? That is the movie’s fatal flaw: looking cool without substance.

I think that is overall my issue with the movie. Whedon has written for Marvel and can write good comic book issues. But a movie is not a comic book, and this translation into live action leaves me wanting more.  With this current reincarnation of Batman and the X-Men franchise, I have become accustomed to much more depth in my comic based movies. I expect characters I care about, deep storyline, and real life parallels; Avenger falls short on all of that.

It looks good, there is a lot of butt kicking, but the story is at a loss.

“You’re a Thundering Loonie!”

From badly accented demi-gods to pot heads, the latest of Whedon’s work is sub par. When not writing for Disney, his work on the big screen falters, and he cannot recapture that magic from Buffy. Many of his big screen works are simplified ideas of characters and themes. Long live the Whedon TV show!

It’s Elementary

Elementary, CBS

The game is afoot! CBS’s newest police procedural takes a Sherlock Holmes spin. The series premier of Elementary aired last Thursday bringing in a very different Holmes and Watson to skeptic fans. Can Elementary hold its own? Watson is a girl?

I, personally, was very excited to see Johnny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu take on the roles of Holmes and Watson. They are both fabulous actors and they bring a lot to their characters. I have always been a Sherlock fan. Jeremy Brett is my favorite Holmes, and Jude Law won me over as Watson. But Miller and Liu carve out a niche in the Sherlock Holmes fandom.

Elementary takes the detective in a different direction. Confronting Holmes’ drug problem head-on, Watson is a sober live in companion hired by Sherlock’s father. As ex-surgeon, Watson herself has a deep, complex past that lends to a more developed character. In order to start again after rehab, Sherlock has been shipped to a crappy apartment building in New York City, and he is doing the same thing he loved to do in England: solve crimes. Watson goes with Holmes while he is consulting for the police department and finds that she loves the investigating herself. The two become a team on more than just a “say no to drugs” level.

As any police procedural viewers are presented with weekly cases, and Sherlock helps solve them. These original cases do not yet copy those of the classic Holmes tales but puts him in new, modern situations. In the pilot, Holmes is confronted with a wife killer who uses an unusual method to kill his wife. Using keen observations, psychological profiling, and leaps of logic, Holmes is able to see things that the police have missed. But this talent comes without a price.

Sherlock is a brash but charming eccentric detective. Miller plays Holmes’ ticks with grace and finesse and viewers marvel over his dedications the same way one marvels at Spencer Read when he comes out with some amazing fact. Holmes will do whatever it takes to get to the bottom of the case including getting verbally rough with a witness. But Miller manages to make you like his Holmes because we can clearly see the driving force: solving the puzzle. With a zeal that puts Gregory House to shame, Holmes’ obsession is the puzzles in the crimes, and now with out the drugs he needs them more than ever.

Liu is the more reserved Watson who has a fiercely independent streak. But she harbors a secret past that Holmes and the viewers are salivating to hear about. She’s not your average happy go lucky Watson. She gives a nice balance of stability while Holmes bounces around the room, while having her own dark side. There is great chemistry between the two and it’s great to watch them work off each other.

It is hard for many people not to compare this with the BBC Sherlock, a drama that was nominated for several Emmys. But the two shows are so different. One is a police procedural while the other is British detective story. As for a comparison, all I can give you is that Elementary has the more likable Holmes while Sherlock has better writing.

Elementary is a joy to watch and gets your brain thinking. It has a unique quirky side that does not diminish the dramatic aspects. It is in fact, my dear Watson, one of the best new shows on television.