S2E7: Anyone who’s felt cheated all season by The Walking Dead might want to go back and watch all 6 episodes of Season 2 in one go. Whereas in Season 1, each episode felt like it could possibly run as an individual, tiny movie, Season 2 feels like six segments of a long film rife with emotional turmoil, the big questions and one final kick to the gut at the very end. It’s not the shoot ‘em up good time many zombie enthusiasts come to expect, but let’s face it, The Walking Dead is no longer just a zombie show. That aspect that drew us in from the first few episodes – fierce humanity in the face of a zombie apocalypse – has won out and it, alone, is the most important part of the show. This midseason finale was the culmination of much of this season’s constant questioning and the visual we’re left with is sure to keep us talking for the next few months while we await the series’ February return.
”Secrets get you killed.” –Glenn
At the outset of the episode, Glenn decides to tell the rest of the camp that Hershel’s barn is full of walkers. While this puts him in the doghouse with Maggie, he later explains that he only did it because that incident in the pharmacy made him realize he wants to protect her and whether the people in the barn are sick or dead, they’re dangerous. While Maggie takes this all very well, the folks in the camp aren’t as easy.
Rick sees this as quite a blow considering it’s his mission to convince Hershel to let them stay. Shane, on the other hand, completely blows up. As he sees it, they need to clear the barn or leave in search of Fort Bennett – and as far as he sees it, they can leave without Sophia because at this point, she’s probably dead. This assertion is particularly upsetting for little Carl, who says he believes Sophia is still alive. Carl wants to stay at the farm because he thinks Sophia would really like it. Of course, that innocent optimism is completely crushed by the episode’s end and it will surely be heartbreaking to see how it affects him moving forward.
”We don’t even know if we’re going to find her…I don’t.” –Carol
Meanwhile, Daryl is on the opposite side of the Sophia issue from Shane. He still believes they’ll find her. While Rick and Andrea put together a search plan for the little girl, Daryl tries to sneak off and search on his own, but Carol catches him and asks him to stay because he’s still injured. She finally says what she’s really thinking: that she doesn’t even believe that Sophia is still safe. Daryl’s anger towards his parents, who never bothered to look for him when he was lost as a little boy, bubbles up and he calls Carol a stupid bitch. They later apologize to each other and Carol says she still believes they’ll find Sophia – which just makes the end of the episode that much more difficult.
”I’ve given you safe harbor, my conscience is clear.” – Hershel
Now that the whole camp knows about the walkers in the barn, Hershel is even less inclined to let them stay on his property, but Rick continues to discuss the matter with him at length. He pits Hershel’s notion that these people he’s keeping are just sick – and not the living dead – against the fact that Rick and his band of survivors are living, and if the walkers merit safe haven, why don’t the living? Hershel is immovable on the subject, but Rick finally tells him that Lori is pregnant – a death sentence outside of a safe haven like the farm. This doesn’t change his mind immediately, but I’ll bet it plays as a factor by the time Maggie reams Hershel for his selfish decision.
After his daughter tells him he needs to do the right thing and help Rick and crew, Hershel finds that two walkers are free in the woods. He takes Rick along as a test while they wrangle the two undead beings. He finally says that if they’re going to stay, they don’t have to agree with Hershel, but they have to treat walkers the way Hershel does – like humans. (Though, I’m not sure yolking them around the neck and keeping them in a barn fed by live chickens is exactly treating them like humans, but whatever.)
”At least I can say when the world goes to shit, I didn’t let it take me down with it.” –Dale
The real issue of the episode is the Shane problem we encountered back in episode 2. He’s no longer trying to hide who he really is the way he did after shooting Otis. After attempting to break into the barn and getting fed up with Rick’s kinder, gentler decisions, he decides to take matters into his own hands and find the guns and mow down the barn of walkers. Before he gets to that, he finds out Lori is pregnant and confronts her about it. He says Rick is not meant for the world as it is and that he can’t protect her because he cares too much to make the tough decisions for her safety. He then asks the million dollar question: is it his? She says that even if it’s his, the child will never actually be his. Shane doesn’t seems to think this is a problem, because as he sees it, Rick isn’t going to survive much longer anyway.
While Rick is wrangling, Shane takes the opportunity to clear out the walkers, but first finds that Dale has escaped into the woods with the guns. He finds him and tries to take them back, but Dale threatens to shoot him. When Shane stands right up against the barrel and dares him, Dale sees what kind of a man Shane really is. Whereas most people would back down at the mere thought of being shot, Shane is quite literally staring down the barrel and laughing in Dale’s face. The new world really has turned him into a bit of monster.
Still, he’s got a point – the walkers are dangerous. So when he comes back to the farm with the contraband guns and starts handing them out, we see Andrea, Daryl, T-Dog, and most importantly, Glenn take up arms with Shane. Maggie doesn’t even protest after talking to Glenn about her near-death experience. As they’re about to bust open the barn, Hershel and Rick come out the woods with their walkers, which is the final straw for Shane. He starts shooting one of the walkers and asking Hershel how they could possibly still be alive after hits like that before finally shooting the walker in the head, leaving Hershel shocked, confused and distraught in the dirt. While Rick has his hands full hanging on to the other walker, Shane busts open the barn and opens fire on the freed walkers. The others seem put off by his sudden burst of anger, but can’t help but fire when faced with a barrage of walkers that would certainly kill them all. They mow down the zombies as Rick screams in protest and Maggie holds Hershel as they both weep together. It’s an incredible scene as both father and daughter have to watch what they see as their friends and family mowed down one by one.
While they obviously are in pain, it makes you wonder if Glenn got through to Maggie, maybe this whole ordeal will get through to Hershel? Though there was mention of Fort Bennett and in my limited knowledge of the books, that’s the gang’s next destination. Plus, in the final moments of the episode, they lose one of their major motivations for staying: Sophia.
The last walker to emerge from the barn is a little girl with a rainbow on her blue shirt – it’s Sophia. And here’s where we understand Hershel’s attachment to these walkers. Sure, we saw Amy turned into a walker in Season 1, but this is a helpless little girl turned into a bloodthirsty zombie. It hits home a little harder. The scene draws Sophia’s walk towards them out as Carol sobs uncontrollably and Daryl holds her back. Little Carl’s previous stalwart hope – and notion that Shane’s lack of faith was “bullshit” – is put to the test when he sees his friend turned all brain-craving. Rick marches forward, fully aware of what he has to do and shoots the undead version of Sophia in the head in a determined, borderline satisfied, way. It’s a stark contrast to the first scene of the series in which Rick hesitates to shoot the little girl zombie who’s running at him full force. Shane may have thought Rick wasn’t meant for this world, but could it be possible that he’s getting there? He’s even wearing a darker shirt now…
The episode didn’t leave us with too many questions – in all likelihood, this little incident just earned Rick and crew a one-way ticket away from Hershel’s farm, though it does make us wonder what will eventually happen to Lori’s baby – but it certainly showed us what the series is capable of, and that’s the reason it will be so hard to wait until February for more episodes. Say what you will about the pace, but these writers certainly know how to build to a hell of an emotional, stirring end.
The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.
The King Kong star will tackle the lead role in Blonde, an adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates' imaginary Marilyn Monroe memoir which will be directed by Andrew Dominik, the moviemaker behind The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.
The $20 million (£13.3 million) production will begin filming in January 2011, and Dominik is delighted to have found his Monroe.
He tells ScreenDaily.com, "Why is Marilyn Monroe the great female icon of the 20th Century? For men she is an object of sexual desire that is desperately in need of rescue. For women, she embodies all the injustices visited upon the feminine, a sister, a Cinderella, consigned to live among the ashes.
"I want to tell the story of Norma Jeane as a central figure in a fairytale; an orphan child lost in the woods of Hollywood, being consumed by that great icon of the twentieth century."
Monroe, born Norma Jeane Mortenson, died in 1962 at the age of 36 following a drug overdose.
Skewering the politics of the left--and Michael Moore in particular--is not a terrible idea for comedy but American Carol doesn’t do it very successfully. Using the hackneyed uninspired approach of spoofing Dickens’ A Christmas Carol director David Zucker’s version has the Ghosts of John F. Kennedy (Chriss Anglin) General George S. Patton (Kelsey Grammer) and George Washington (Jon Voight) visiting a liberal documentary filmmaker named Michael Malone (Kevin Farley) in order to set him straight and teach him not to hate America but to embrace it in all its glory. Their goal is to stop him from helping a group of Islamic suicide bombers make a new recruitment film. In a series of gags American Carol presents Malone as a man who uses the medium to bash his country. He is portrayed as sympathetic to Nazis and Hitler responsible for 9/11 in bed with Middle Eastern terrorists--wrong on every possible issue and overweight to boot. After pointing out all his perceived evil the ghosts try to get Moore er Malone to see the light and change his ways. Apparently David Zucker--aware most of Hollywood leans to the left--got a list of actors known to be supporters of the GOP and hired them all. Voight Grammer James Woods Kevin Sorbo Dennis Hopper Robert Davi ET’s Mary Hart country singer Trace Adkins and even Zucker veteran Leslie Nielsen signed up to bash Moore using a sledgehammer approach as a substitute for the lack of a clever script. Occasionally thanks to an inspired casting choice here and there Carol is kind of amusing such as in a scene in which Malone and Rosie O’Connell (get it?) guest on the O’Reilly Factor. With Bill O’Reilly playing himself (and doing it well) actress Vicki Browne really nails Rosie who is presented as so far left she makes Moore look like Ronald Reagan. As Malone Farley (younger brother of the late Chris Farley) looks reasonably like Moore but doesn’t really get the mannerisms right. It’s not enough to try and get by just by putting on a baseball cap and glasses and hoping for the best. Of the rest Grammer comes off well as Patton delivering his lines with a lot more panache than they deserve. You know what kind of movie you’re watching when even Gary Coleman and Paris Hilton turn up for a bit. Zucker--whose films Airplane! and the The Naked Gun series specialize in inspired sight gags--seems to have forgotten how to make this style of throw-it-to-the-wall-and-see-if-it-sticks style of comedy work. Surprisingly the jokes are mostly verbal in this outing and the whole comic soufflé falls flat. Also the events of 9/11 are still too close to serve as a gateway for a few of the gags employed here. The premise is promising but the Michael Malone/Moore character is so far out he doesn’t resemble reality much less the famous Moore. Blaming him for all the ills of the world may be cathartic for the ultra-conservative base Zucker is apparently aiming An American Carol at but there needs to be more than just a kernel of truth to make these jokes zing. Instead what could have been an amusing riff looks more like a propaganda film out to destroy Moore rather than spoof him.