For the bulk of every Rocky and Bullwinkle episode, moose and squirrel would engage in high concept escapades that satirized geopolitics, contemporary cinema, and the very fabrics of the human condition. With all of that to work with, there's no excuse for why the pair and their Soviet nemeses haven't gotten a decent movie adaptation. But the ingenious Mr. Peabody and his faithful boy Sherman are another story, intercut between Rocky and Bullwinkle segments to teach kids brief history lessons and toss in a nearly lethal dose of puns. Their stories and relationship were much simpler, which means that bringing their shtick to the big screen would entail a lot more invention — always risky when you're dealing with precious material.
For the most part, Mr. Peabody & Sherman handles the regeneration of its heroes aptly, allowing for emotionally substance in their unique father-son relationship and all the difficulties inherent therein. The story is no subtle metaphor for the difficulties surrounding gay adoption, with society decreeing that a dog, no matter how hyper-intelligent, cannot be a suitable father. The central plot has Peabody hosting a party for a disapproving child services agent and the parents of a young girl with whom 7-year-old Sherman had a schoolyard spat, all in order to prove himself a suitable dad. Of course, the WABAC comes into play when the tots take it for a spin, forcing Peabody to rush to their rescue.
Getting down to personals, we also see the left brain-heavy Peabody struggle with being father Sherman deserves. The bulk of the emotional marks are hit as we learn just how much Peabody cares for Sherman, and just how hard it has been to accept that his only family is growing up and changing.
But more successful than the new is the film's handling of the old — the material that Peabody and Sherman purists will adore. They travel back in time via the WABAC Machine to Ancient Egypt, the Renaissance, and the Trojan War, and 18th Century France, explaining the cultural backdrop and historical significance of the settings and characters they happen upon, all with that irreverent (but no longer racist) flare that the old cartoons enjoyed. And oh... the puns.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a f**king treasure trove of some of the most amazingly bad puns in recent cinema. This effort alone will leave you in awe.
The film does unravel in its final act, bringing the science-fiction of time travel a little too close to the forefront and dropping the ball on a good deal of its emotional groundwork. What seemed to be substantial building blocks do not pay off in the way we might, as scholars of animated family cinema, have anticipated, leaving the movie with an unfinished feeling.
But all in all, it's a bright, compassionate, reasonably educational, and occasionally funny if not altogether worthy tribute to an old favorite. And since we don't have our own WABAC machine to return to a time of regularly scheduled Peabody and Sherman cartoons, this will do okay for now.
If nothing else, it's worth your time for the puns.
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For the first part of The Borgias Season 3, it seemed like Rome was doomed. Caterina Sforza (Gina McKee) seemed to be building alliances that threated the very existence of The Borgia Pope (Jeremy Irons), Rodrigo Borgia's dynasty. And with Juan Borgia dead at the end of Season 2, the Pope's army was basically destroyed. But, the pope's other son, Cesare Borgia (Francois Arnaud), has made it his mission this summer to take control and get Rome back on her feet.
After last week's episode, it was clear that the tides are shifting and that Cesare's plan to build a massive army is in action. But, the episode did leave some questions. Is Cesare building an army to support his father or to take his own power over Italy?
Until those questions are answered, here is the status on the two opposing armies in Italy at this point in the season.
Rome and Her Allies:
Leader: Pope Alexander, Rodrigo Borgia
Army's Commander: Cesare Borgia is the Pope's son.
Allies: 1. Michelleto (Sean Harris): Cesare's manservant who executes all of Cesare's evil plans. He is now watching over Cesare's sister-lover, Lucrezia Borgia (Holliday Grainger), in Naples.2. France: Cesare went to France and annulled the French King's marriage. In return, he got a French bride and a French army.3. Band of Italy's Bastard Sons: The second and illegitimate sons of Italy's greatest families have sided with Cesare instead of Caterina Sforza.
Lost Allies:Rome has the advantage right now.
Key Tactics and Advantages:1. Cesare won France to Rome's side. This means that he has to give them Milan and Naples, though.2. Cesare has also stolen the band of Italy's bastard sons from the enemy.
Disadvantages:1. It almost seems like Cesare is trying to build an army to support himself and not his father. This could create a division within Rome.
Leader: Caterina Sforza (Gina McKee)
Army's Commander: Rufio (Thure Lindhardt) is Caterina's lackey.
Allies: 1. No new allies at this point.
Lost Allies:1. Italy's wealthy families are now supporting Cesare.2. The King of Naples is now dead.
Key Tactics and Advantages:1. Leaving Milan's doors open to Cesare's army and leaving the city empty of defense.
Disadvantages:1. Lost alliances.
Follow Lindsey on Twitter @LDiMat.
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We are about to be three episodes deep into Season 3 of the Showtime series The Borgias and so far, it's clear that the world is against Rome. At the end of Season 2, we were left wondering if the Borgia Pope's enemies had succeeded in killing him. But during Episode 1 of this season, we learned that like a cockroach, the Pope can survive just about anything. He even came back to life after facing one of the deadliest poisons known at the time. But just because he is alive and now well doesn't mean that his enemies have given up the plan to take his life. In fact, this season, it seems like even more enemies have ganged up against Rodrigo Borgia and his unholy ways.
At the end of Episode 2, it was clear that Rome is heading towards war. But who is on whose side this week? Because The Borgias' shifting alliances always leave you scratching your heads, we're here to help you track where the battle lines are drawn. Who hates who? And what should their strategies be? Read on to find out!
Rome and Her Allies:
Leader: Pope Alexander, Rodrigo Borgia (Jeremy Irons): The Borgia pope is hated in the Roman Empire for his greed and the use of God to promote his illegitimate family.
Army's Commander: Cesare Borgia (Francois Arnaud) is the Pope's son and a former Cardinal who is now in charge of the Papal army.
Allies: 1. Michelleto (Sean Harris): Cesare's manservant who executes all of Cesare's evil plans.2. Cardinal Sforza (Peter Sullivan): He switched to the Pope's side when the Pope lived after being poisoned. The Pope has used this cardinal to help eliminate the enemy cardinals.3. Possible: Cardinal Farneze: We have yet to meet this character, but since the Pope's affair with Giulia Farneze has come to an end, she has asked him to make her brother a Cardinal — and Giulia and the Pope ended their affair on good terms.4. Possible: France: Unlike last season, France is in bed with the Pope. A new king rules France and is stuck in a marriage to a quite undesirable woman. When the French Ambassador asked the Pope to dissolve the King's marriage, Borgia saw this as an opportunity to create a new allie. Now, he plans on marrying Cesare to a French woman to build the alliance.
Lost Allies:1. Prince Alfonso (Augustus Prew): Alfonso refused to bed Lucrezia Borgia (Holliday Grainger) on their wedding night because he felt jaded by her family's intentions for the union. Alfonso instead spent their wedding night alone and crying as Lucrezia gave herself to her brother Cesare.
Key Tactics and Advantages:1. The Pope plans to pin Juan Borgias' (Rodrigo's second son who Cesare actually killed during Season 2) murder on Caterina. 2. The Pope eliminated the cardinals in the conclave who did not support the Borgia initiative. This was done by stripping them of their titles, riches, and property.
Disadvantages:1. The Papal army is defunct and not well manned.
Leader: Caterina Sforza (Gina McKee) and her family are openly against the Pope and his evil ways.
Army's Commander: Rufio (Thure Lindhardt) is Caterina's lackey who is in charge of building the Sforza alliances.
Allies: 1. Wealthy Families of Rome who hate the Borgias: Last week, Caterina assigned Rufio to start aligning the sons of Rome's prominent families to help her take down the Pope. The division was clearly shown at Lucrezia's wedding during Episode 2.2. King of Naples: Lucrezia's union with Alfonso was supposed to mean that Rome and Naples would be united, but because Lucrezia refused to part with her illegitimate son when she moved to Naples, Alfonso's uncle (the King of Naples) decided to pledge his allegiance to Caterina.
Lost Allies:1. Cardinal Orsini (David Dencik): After the Pope stripped him of his title, Orsini asked for a final confession. During this confession, he tried to kill the Pope. Instead, the Pope took out Orsini.
Key Tactics and Advantages:1. Create allies with all the forces in Rome that hate the Pope.2. By creating these alliances, it's clear that Caterina will have a larger and more dedicated army as opposed to the depleted papal forces.
Disadvantages:1. The Borgias never seem to die.
Follow Lindsey on Twitter @LDiMat.
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Widening the thematic scope without sacrificing too much of the claustrophobia that made the original 1979 Alien universally spooky Prometheus takes the trophy for this summer's most adult-oriented blockbuster entertainment. The movie will leave your mouth agape for its entire runtime first with its majestic exploration of an alien planet and conjectures on the origins of the human race second with its gross-out body horror that leaves no spilled gut to the imagination. Thin characters feel more like pawns in Scott's sci-fi prequel but stunning visuals shocking turns and grand questions more than make up for the shallow ensemble. "Epic" comes in many forms. Prometheus sports all of them.
Based on their discovery of a series of cave drawings all sharing a similar painted design Elizabeth (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie (Logan Marshall-Green) are recruited by Weyland to head a mission to another planet one they believe holds the answers to the creation of life on Earth. Along for the journey are Vickers (Charlize Theron) the ruthless Weyland proxy Janek (Idris Elba) a blue collar captain a slew of faceless scientists and David (Michael Fassbender) HAL 9000-esque resident android who awakens the crew of spaceship Prometheus when they arrive to their destination. Immediately upon descent there's a discovery: a giant mound that's anything but natural. The crew immediately prepares to scope out the scene zipping up high-tech spacesuits jumping in futuristic humvees and heading out to the site. What they discover are the awe-inspiring creations of another race. What they bring back to the ship is what they realize may kill their own.
The first half of Prometheus could be easily mistaken for Steven Spielberg's Alien a sense of wonder glowing from every frame not too unlike Close Encounters. Scott takes full advantage of his fictional settings and imbues them with a reality that makes them even more tantalizing. He shoots the vistas of space and the alien planet like National Geographic porn and savors the interior moments on board the Prometheus full of hologram maps sleeping pods and do-it-yourself surgery modules with the same attention. Prometheus is beautiful shot in immersive 3D that never dampers Dariusz Wolski's sharp photography. Scott's direction seems less interested in the run-or-die scenario set up in the latter half of the film but the film maintains tension and mood from beginning to end. It all just gets a bit…bloodier.
Jon Spaihts' and Damon Lindelof's script doesn't do the performers any favors shuffling them to and fro between the ship and the alien construction without much room for development. Reveals are shoehorned in without much setup (one involving Theron's Vickers that's shockingly mishandled) but for the most part the ensemble is ready to chomp into the script's bigger picture conceits. Rapace is a physical performer capable of pulling off a grisly scene involving an alien some sharp objects and a painful procedure (sure to be the scene of the blockbuster season. Among the rest of the crew Fassbender's David stands out as the film's revelatory performance delivering a digestible ambiguity to his mechanical man that playfully toys with expectations from his first entrance. The creature effects in Prometheus will wow you but even Fassbender's smallest gesture can send the mind spinning. The power of his smile packs more of a punch than any facehugger.
Much like Lindelof's Lost Prometheus aims to explore the idea of asking questions and seeking answers and on Scott's scale it's a tremendous unexpected ride. A few ideas introduced to spur action fall to the way side in the logic department but with a clear mission and end point Prometheus works as a sweeping sci-fi that doesn't require choppy editing or endless explosions to keep us on the edge of our seats. Prometheus isn't too far off from the Alien xenomorphs: born from existing DNA of another creature the movie breaks out as its own beast. And it's wilder than ever.
Step aside Giants, Patriots, Packers and whatever other teams thinks that it stands a chance to make it to the Super Bowl this year — it's time for Team Hollywood to get in the game. (We'd draft you if we could, Tom Brady and Eli Manning!)
While we may not be looking for the sweatiest jocks in town, we definitely know how to scout. Whether it's scoping a good arm or projecting a new play, these are the stars that we choose to draft for Team Hollywood. This is guaranteed to be a championship winning team!
Sandra Bullock as Coach
Bullock must be one of the most well collected individuals when it comes to being in front of a camera. She knows how to remain calm when a storm (like Jesse James) attacks — and she always can plan her next strategy. She would be a PR dream come true if it came to leading a football team. And it doesn't hurt that she won an Oscar for role as Leigh Anne Tuohy in The Blind Side. (My pick)
George Clooney as Quarterback
He's great at devising new plays, especially if he's up against Brad Pitt's team. He also isn't deterred by old, grisly-like men who try to tackle him, especially if the playing field is in D.C.
Gina Carano as punter
If she can kick Michael Fassbender's ass, imagine what she could do with a football. (Aly Semigran's pick)
Joe Manganiello as a Running Back
This may be 98 percent based on the fact that he looks really, really good running through the forest in True Blood, so by the transitive property, he’d look great running to catch a pass on the field. The other two percent comes from sheer curiosity: what does a werewolf’s end zone dance look like? (Kelsea Stahler's Pick)
Angelina Jolie as a Running Back
She’d catch the defense standing and staring every time she runs with the ball — especially if she flaunts a leg, Oscars style. This could backfire, however, if the defense tries to tackle her… like, lustfully. (Brian Marder's pick)
Jason Schwartzman as the Placekicker
He’s plucky, he’s courageous, he’s wily. He might not be big, but he’s got heart, and the sarcastic wit that keeps the team upbeat in times of duress. Most importantly, when it comes down the last point of the game, it’s always the small guy who believed in himself when no one else did (I got all of my football knowledge from movies in the ‘90s). (Michael Arbeiter's pick)
Winona Ryder as the Wide Receiver
Her expertise in snatching and running (a football is about the size of a bag of Sachs Fifth Avenue garments, no?) will come in handy when fleeing from the authorities opposing team. (Matthew Patches' pick)
Channing Tatum as a Tight End
The reasons for this are obvious, but he's physically fit enough to be a fast runner and still broad enough to be an effective blocker. Plus, can you imagine that body in a football uniform? The title says it all — this guy deserves to strut his stuff out on the field. (Kelly Schremph's pick)
Taylor Kitsch as a Tight End
Tim Riggins lost his way when he left the Dillon Panthers, and Taylor has had some serious misfires in big-screen land. Let's get him back to TE, where he can work his magic on the O-Line AND catch Clooney's Hail Marys. (Shaunna Murphy's pick)
Justin Bieber as a Head Cheerleader
The swarm of screaming girls that follow him everywhere he goes would put any team's cheering squad to shame. Also, we could use "Boyfriend" or any of his other hit songs as the theme song for our team. Taylor Swift can be the co-captain. Why do girls become cheerleaders in the first place? Because they can't carry a tune!
And of course, Rob Schneider has to be the Gatorade jug! (Kate Ward's pick)
Hut, hut, hike!
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In a post-Harry Potter Avatar and Lord of the Rings world the descriptors "sci-fi" and "fantasy" conjure up particular imagery and ideas. The Hunger Games abolishes those expectations rooting its alternate universe in a familiar reality filled with human characters tangible environments and terrifying consequences. Computer graphics are a rarity in writer/director Gary Ross' slow-burn thriller wisely setting aside effects and big action to focus on star Jennifer Lawrence's character's emotional struggle as she embarks on the unthinkable: a 24-person death match on display for the entire nation's viewing pleasure. The final product is a gut-wrenching mature young adult fiction adaptation diffused by occasional meandering but with enough unexpected choices to keep audiences on their toes.
Panem a reconfigured post-apocalyptic America is sectioned off into 12 unique districts and ruled under an iron thumb by the oppressive leaders of The Capitol. To keep the districts producing their specific resources and prevent them from rebelling The Capitol created The Hunger Games an annual competition pitting two 18-or-under "tributes" from each district in a battle to the death. During the ritual tribute "Reaping " teenage Katniss (Lawrence) watches as her 12-year-old sister Primrose is chosen for battle—and quickly jumps to her aid becoming the first District 12 citizen to volunteer for the games. Joined by Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) a meek baker's son and the second tribute Effie the resident designer and Haymitch a former Hunger Games winner-turned-alcoholic-turned-mentor Katniss rides off to The Capitol to train and compete in the 74th Annual Hunger Games.
The greatest triumph of The Hunger Games is Ross' rich realization of the book's many worlds: District 12 is painted as a reminiscent Southern mining town haunting and vibrant; The Capitol is a utopian metropolis obsessed with design and flair; and The Hunger Games battleground is a sprawling forest peppered with Truman Show-esque additions that remind you it's all being controlled by overseers. The small-scale production value adds to the character-first approach and even when the story segues to larger arenas like a tickertape parade in The Capitol's grand Avenue of Tributes hall it's all about Katniss.
For fans the script hits every beat a nearly note-for-note interpretation of author Suzanne Collins' original novel—but those unfamiliar shouldn't worry about missing anything. Ross knows his way around a sharp screenplay (he's the writer of Big Pleasantville and Seabiscuit) and he's comfortable dropping us right into the action. His characters are equally as colorful as Panem Harrelson sticking out as the former tribute enlivened by the chance to coach winners. He's funny he's discreet he's shaded—a quality all the cast members share. As a director Ross employs a distinct often-grating perspective. His shaky cam style emphasizes the reality of the story but in fight scenarios—and even simple establishing shots of District 12's goings-on—the details are lost in motion blur.
But the dread of the scenario is enough to make Hunger Games an engrossing blockbuster. The lead-up to the actual competition is an uncomfortable and biting satire of reality television sports and everything that commands an audience in modern society. Katniss' brooding friend Gale tells her before she departs "What if nobody watched?" speculating that carnage might end if people could turn away. Unfortunately they can't—forcing Katniss and Peeta to become "stars" of the Hunger Games. The duo are pushed to gussy themselves up put on a show and play up their romance for better ratings. Lawrence channels her reserved Academy Award-nominated Winter's Bone character to inhabit Katniss' frustration with the system. She's great at hunting but she doesn't want to kill. She's compassionate and considerate but has no interest in bowing down to the system. She's a leader but she knows full well she's playing The Capitol's game. Even with 23 other contestants vying for the top spot—like American Idol with machetes complete with Ryan Seacrest stand-in Caesar Flickerman (the dazzling Stanley Tucci)—Katniss' greatest hurdle is internal. A brave move for a movie aimed at a young audience.
By the time the actual Games roll around (the movie clocks in at two and a half hours) there's a need to amp up the pace that never comes and The Hunger Games loses footing. Katniss' goal is to avoid the action hiding in trees and caves waiting patiently for the other tributes to off themselves—but the tactic isn't all that thrilling for those watching. Luckily Lawrence Hutcherson and the ensemble of young actors still deliver when they cross paths and particular beats pack all the punch an all-out deathwatch should. PG-13 be damned the film doesn't skimp on the bloodshed even when it comes to killing off children. The Hunger Games bites off a lot for the first film of a franchise and does so bravely and boldly. It may not make it to the end alive but it doesn't go down without a fight.