Saturday, April 30, 2016
Below are images from "THE FLAME TREES OF THIKA", the 1981 adaptation of Elspeth Huxley's 1959 memoirs. Directed by Roy Ward Baker, the series starred Hayley Mills, Holly Aird and David Robb:
"THE FLAME TREES OF THIKA" (1981) Photo Gallery
Tuesday, April 26, 2016
"DEADPOOL" (2016) Review
The Hollywood industry received a great surprise when it discovered that a low-cost superhero movie became the first box office hit for 2016. The movie? "DEADPOOL", which is based upon a character from Marvel comics and the "X-MEN" franchise.
Actually, "DEADPOOL" is the eighth installment in the "X-MEN" movie franchise and it starred Ryan Reynolds in the title role. This was not the first time that the character appeared in one of the franchise's films. Nor was it the first time that Reynolds portrayed the character. He also portrayed Wade Wilson aka Deadpool in the maligned 2009 film, "X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE". In the 2009 film, he was a mutant special forces operative who worked under U.S. officer, William Stryker. Wade is transformed into Deadpool, a being with the powers of former mutants who were either dead or captured by Stryker. In this film, Wade is simply a well-trained former Special Forces operative who becomes a mercenary. He meets escort Vanessa Carlysle at a local bar and they become romantically involved. A year later, Wade collapses after proposing marriage to Vanessa. He is diagnosed with terminal cancer and decides that he does not want her to watch him die. A recruiter for a secret program approaches Wade with an offer of an experimental cure for his cancer. Wade finally decides to undergo the procedure. Unfortunately, Wade meets Ajax aka Francis Freeman, a weapon expert and leader of the program. The two end up disliking each other and Ajax subjects Wade to days of torture that eventually triggers the latter's latant mutant genes, which cures his cancer. Unfortunately . . . Ajax continues to torture Wade and ends up disfiguring the latter's face. Unwilling to subject Vanessa to deal with his disfigurement, Wade leaves her, changes his name to "Deadpool" and searches for Ajax in revenge for what happened to him.
What can I say about "DEADPOOL"? Well . . . it is rather funny. It is a very witty film, thanks to Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. Even the movie's opening credits featured more of the movie 's sharp humor and ability to mock the comic book hero genre. And the screenwriters, the producers and director Tim Miller were lucky to have Ryan Reynolds as the star of the film. The actor seemed well-suited for the film's style of humor and the main character in general. It is not surprising that the character's penchant for breaking the fourth wall and mocking the comic book movie genre - especially the "X-MEN" film franchise - appealed to so many moviegoers. I certainly found it appealing. The film's sharp humor seemed to manifest in the supporting cast's performances as well. For me, the funniest performances - other than Reynolds' - came from T.J. Miller as Wade's best friend Weasel; Leslie Uggams as Wade's elderly and sardonic roommate, Blind Al; and Brianna Hildebrand as teenage X-Men trainee, Negasonic Teenage Warhead. Even leading lady Morena Baccarin, who portrayed Vanessa Carlysle, had her moments of sharp humor, especially in the movie's first half hour. And although voice actor Stefan Kapičić portrayed X-Men Colossus in a straightforward manner, his interactions with Wade provided the movie with a good deal of humor.
What else did I like about "DEADPOOL"? Well . . . nothing. I hate to say this, but aside from the movie's wit, I was not impressed with "DEADPOOL". Not one bit. For a movie that was supposed to mock comic book hero films, it eventually sank into one. This was pretty obvious in the movie's last half hour, as Deadpool prepared to rescue lady love Vanessa from Ajax and the latter's assistant, Angel Dust. And what led Deadpool and Ajax to become such bitter enemies? They pissed each other off. Simple as that. Between Wade's uncontrollable sarcasm and Ajax's penchant for torture, they became enemies. And Deadpool sought revenge against Ajax for the torture and leaving his face scarred. Ajax retaliated after a near miss and went after Vanessa in revenge. I have never felt so disappointed over a pointless movie plot in my life. It seemed so weak.
To make matters worse, the Vanessa character was also a mutant named "Copycat". For some reason, the producers and screenwriters decided to remove her mutant abilities and simply portray her as Wade's girlfriend. Baccarin made a big deal about how Vanessa was no "damsel in distress" . . . that she was a kickass. Yes, Vanessa managed to escape from being tied up on her own. And she even managed to drive a pole (or stake) into Ajax, even if her action failed to cause him any harm. But in the end, she was a "damsel". Finally, there is the matter of the Wade/Vanessa romance. Overall, I had no problem with it. Reynolds and Baccarin made an engaging on-screen couple. They even provided a good deal of pathos, when the scene demanded it. But could someone please explain why it was necessary to include a montage of Wade and Vanessa in a series of sexual positions as a means of conveying their love for one another? A sexual montage? Really? What is this? "CINEMAX AT NIGHT"? Accuse me of being a prude if you like. But I stand by my words. I would not have minded if there had been one sex scene. But a montage? I get the feeling that the screenwriters and Miller had included this scene for the benefit of the immature fanboys.
Actually, this entire film seemed to be an ode to comic book fanboys. This is the only way I can explain this pointless film. I find it ironic that many "X-MEN" fans and Reynolds had put down the 2009 film that first introduced the character. I would not regard "X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE" as one of the best Marvel films, let alone one of the best in the "X-MEN" franchise. But I thought it was a hell of a lot better than this mess. No amount of sharp humor, breaking the fourth wall or comic performances could save this movie . . . at least for me.
Sunday, April 24, 2016
Below is a list of my top five favorite episodes from Season Three (2010) of NBC's "CHUCK". Created by Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak, the series starred Zachary Levi:
TOP FIVE FAVORITE EPISODES OF "CHUCK" SEASON THREE (2010)
1. (3.18) "Chuck vs. the Subway" - Charles "Chuck" Bartowski's sighting of former C.I.A. agent Daniel Shaw in Los Angeles sets off a chain of events that leads to the criminal spy organization The Ring's control of the C.I.A.
2. (3.03) "Chuck vs. the Angel de la Muerte" - When the dictator of a fictitious South American country is nearly assassinated during a trip to Los Angeles, Chuck, C.I.A. Agent Sarah Walker and N.S.A. Agent John Casey discover that Chuck's brother-in-law, Devon "Captain Awesome" Woodcomb is the dictator's current physician. Armand Assante guest-starred.
3. (3.19) "Chuck vs. the Ring, Part 2" - Chuck, his friends and family band together to rescue his boss, General Diane Beckman, from the Ring. Meanwhile, Chuck has to deal with the fallout of his sister, Ellie Woodcomb, discovering his profession as a spy. Scott Bakula guest-starred
4. "Chuck vs. the Other Guy" (3.13) - Chuck assembles a team to rescue Sarah from an emotionally devastated Shaw after he learns that she may have been responsible for the death of his wife, a fellow C.I.A. agent.
5. (3.05) "Chuck vs. First Class" - Havoc reigns on a flight to Paris when Chuck meets an attractive businesswoman, while doing battle with a Ring agent during his first solo mission. Kristin Kreuk and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin guest-starred.
Saturday, April 23, 2016
Below are images from Series One of "POLDARK", the 2015 adaptation of the following novels by Winston Graham -"Ross Poldark" (1945) and "Demelza" (1946). Produced by Debbie Horsfield, the series stars Aidan Turner in the titled role:
"POLDARK" SERIES ONE (2015) Photo Gallery