If you happened to have caught the title of last night's episode — "The Children's Crusade" — before it aired, in all likelihood you were able to guess the entirety of the plot and could skip the latest Revolution entirely. Congratulations on your bye week! The rest of us sat through an episode that was somehow more predictable than we're used to, as well as a frustrating reminder of the show this might be if only the writers chose to focus on anything remotely interesting. Before you can say it, I know — I'm working on it myself, too.
Revolution, I think we can all agree, has one of the cooler premises of the fall (maybe the coolest) and perhaps since Lost, if we're taking strictly about science-fiction(y) shows. A world without power, 15 years later, struggling to cope with the reality of the situation while glimmers of electric salvation appear to a select few? That's awesome! There's so much fascinating material to engage with under that umbrella. Why, then, focus your storytelling on magic pendants? On kidnapped children, none of whom we'll ever see again?
Just over 10 years ago now, the first issue of Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra's Y The Last Man hit comic store shelves. The series follows an unremarkable guy, Yorick Brown, navigating an essentially post-Apocalyptic world that just lost all its men. Yorick, as the title suggests, is the very last one. The overarching plot of the 60-issue series is pretty airtight (even if some would suggest the big answers are ultimately "unsatisfying") but what defines Y's power is the episodic way it manages to explore every facet of its particular world. Revolution's environment is defined by its lack of electricity; Y's by its lack of men. And via a natural road-trip skeleton, Yorick and Co. see the ways in which that new order has affected every bit of society. What does religion, an intensely male-dominated pursuit in our world, look like without men? How might entertainment change? WHO WILL OPEN ALL THOSE TIGHTLY SEALED JARS? Every question is taken seriously.
We've seen Revolution try to tackle this at least a little bit, but seven episodes in I'm not sure it's ever done so effectively. For as expressive as Zak Orth's eyes might be, the characters just aren't interesting. I mean, we care about Miles' redemption (because we cared about Han Solo) and we're not eager to see Danny die, which is as close as we'll get to investing ourselves in him. But everyone remains an archetype — something no one in Y could be considered even pages into the first issue — and, more problematic for a BIG IDEAS show like this one, the world's issues aren't treated with much sophistication beyond "things are s**tty, huh?"
Last night's problem: orphanages and child kidnapping are s**tty. Charlie et al stumble on a band of kids desperate to find their friend Peter (PAN?!) who's just been taken by the Monroe Militia. "Where are your parents?" Charlie asks because you are of course required by TV law to ask this question, at which point the whole Children's Crusade steps into the light. Wearing looks both wearied and determined, defiant and scared, they explain their plan to retrieve the kidnapped Peter. Charlie immediately volunteers Team Danny to help.
Back in Philly, Danny is straight chiiillllllling with Rachel/Mom, who isn't much for breakfast conversation. Cheer up, Mom! You just reconnected with your son who you haven't seen in for freaking ever. Monroe, all-business all the time, interrupts to talk POWER PENDANTS. He's right now torturing a colleague of Rachel's to get more information! (I think what I like most about Monroe is his shading as a character.) Flashbacks to several years before the Blackout, when Rachel worked with her husband, the late Ben, to build electricity-generating devices. Here's the pendant for the first time, which actually shuts down electricity. A visiting Department of Defense rep senses some kind of military application, and offers a deal to Ben and Rachel's fledgling startup. Rachel's skeptical, but Ben counters. "In another month, we won't be able to keep the lights on." FORESHADOWING + IRONY.
Some wiener kids — a fat one, a Rue from The Hunger Games one, and a few others — tag along on the mission to free Peter (Pan). Miles leads them to a "conscription" facility where the Militia brainwashes/reprograms its new, mostly young recruits. How does he know about this place? Because he helped set it up, dammit, and it's here that he's going to atone for another sin of the past. Always making those amends, Miles! He and Charlie get into one of their now-classic Charlie-Miles standoffs about the merits of sending Charlie in to disrupt operations at the facility. "It's too risky." "I can handle it." "You don't know these people like I do." "He's my brother." "We're still talking about that?" "Pout." "I don't know why I even bother." Long story short, Charlie's quickly dressed in Militia cadet duds and ready to SABOTAGE all kinds of stuff.
"Reorientation" could have been one of those great, world-specific moments we know the show is capable of if only it digs deep but proves instead another boring scene with predictable pontificating. "This will be the greatest thing the world has ever seen!" says the jerkwad lieutenant to his conscripts, in what might as well be a speech about anything and not specifically a MILITIA THAT HAS RISEN UP IN THE WAKE OF A CATASTROPHIC WORLD-CHANGING BLACKOUT THAT FOREVER ALTERED THE RULES OF WHAT "SOCIETY" EVEN MEANS ANYMORE. A kid who tries to leave is savagely beaten, which I guess demonstrates the severity of this particular lieutenant as well as that of the Militia at large but more feels like dramatic flexing. Moments later Charlie gets into a fight for some reason and is punched in the face. Oh, and then she's strapped down by Militia doctors and branded. Women, right?
Miles, meanwhile, has assembled his crack team of Lost Boys and Girls, Aaron, and the amazingly silent (and amazingly beautiful, never forget) Nora to take down the facility. They do this with relative ease! There's a sword fight, because of course, and somehow Aaron gets separated with the fat kid and his pendant acts up which gives a nearby lighthouse electricity and Miles notices and demands to know what's up and Charlie shish kabobs the jerkwad lieutenant (if there's another episode about Charlie's loss of innocence I'm GOING TO F**KING SCREAM) and the children all rejoice like Ewoks at the end of Return of the Jedi. There's a lot to mention at the same time there's absolutely nothing to unpack.
Back in Philly, Rachel has been struggling to reconcile her duty to the Rebellion (I think, but who knows, right?) with her allegiance to her son, who flashbacks reveal presented a complicated pregnancy. Her friend, The Doctor, has his daughter's life threatened should he not cooperate with the pendant search. Neville means business! Basically: PENDANTS. Everybody wants them.
Including Aaron, who recounts to Miles his own experiences with the device Ben gave him as well as coming clean about that woman, Grace, and how she might be important toward retrieving all of them. At the EXACT SAME TIME, Grace is cornered by the Department of Defense guy who was all over everyone's business in the flashbacks. The race is on to find the ten remaining pendants and save Danny and get back to Miles' bar in Chicago before closing time! Can they do it?
Three episodes left in 2012 and HOOH BOY here we go.
[Image Credit: NBC]
Revolution Recap: Aaron's Party (Come Get It)
Revolution Recap: Throw Charlie From the Train
Revolution Recap: They Killed One of the Leads But It' Wasn't Charlie, Miles, or Aaron
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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.
Oz, The Great And Powerful, one of the multitude of Oz films due out soon, has announced that it will begin filming next June. Robert Downey Jr. has signed on to play the wonderful wizard himself, but heavily rumored director Sam Raimi still claims that he has not officially joined the film.
Oz, a prequel to the original Judy Garland film, follows the wizard’s humble origins as a circus wrangler who is carried to Oz in a balloon. The script for the film comes from Mitchell Kapner, of The Whole Nine Yards.
Clash Of The Titans 2, the creatively titled sequel to this spring’s Clash Of The Titans, has gained a tentative start date of February 2011. Titans star Sam Worthington revealed that the sequel will be shot in 3D, avoiding the post-production 3D conversion that made the original nearly unwatchable. Jonathan Liebesman is taking over as director for Louis Leterrier, who decided not to return for the sequel. Liebesman is mostly known for his work on horror films, most notably Darkness Falls which is about an evil tooth fairy.
Marvel’s film adaptation of its teen superhero series Runaways is starting production in January. The comic, originally by Brian K. Vaughan of Lost and Y: The Last Man, is about a group of teenagers who go on the run after they realize that their parents are supervillains. The project, which is being directed by Nick And Norah’s Infinite Playlist’s Peter Sollett, will continue filming through next July.
While we’ve had talk of a Runaways project for some time, Marvel seems to be gearing up the production for a 2012 release. 2012 should prove to be a big year for Marvel Studios, as the Spider-Man reboot, Wolverine sequel, and Avengers film are also scheduled for a 2012 release.
Source: Production Weekly
The Coen brothers could be adding a third Writers Guild of America Award to their impressive trophy case next month if they can nab best original screenplay for their quirky comedy Burn After Reading. The WGA, who announced their nominees today, presented Joel and Ethan Coen with best adapted screenplay last year for No Country for Old Men and best original screenplay in 1997 for Fargo.
Rounding out the contenders this year are Dustin Lance Black for Milk, Woody Allen for Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Tom McCarthy for The Visitor and Robert Siegel for The Wrestler.
The WGA’s best adapted screenplay noms include Eric Roth for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button with story by Roth and Robin Swicord; Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan for The Dark Knight with story by Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer; John Patrick Shanley for Doubt, based on the stage play; Peter Morgan for Frost/Nixon, based on his stage play; and Simon Beaufoy for Slumdog Millionaire.
WGA members will meet simultaneously in New York and Los Angeles for the award ceremony on Feb. 7.
Burn After Reading, Written by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen, Focus Features
Milk, Written by Dustin Lance Black, Focus Features
Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Written by Woody Allen, The Weinstein Company
The Visitor, Written by Tom McCarthy, Overture Films
The Wrestler, Written by Robert Siegel, Fox Searchlight Pictures
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Screenplay by Eric Roth; Screen Story by Eric Roth and Robin Swicord; Based on the Short Story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. Pictures
The Dark Knight, Screenplay by Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan; Story by Christopher Nolan & David S. Goyer; Based on Characters Appearing in Comic Books Published by DC Comics; Batman Created by Bob Kane, Warner Bros. Pictures
Doubt, Screenplay by John Patrick Shanley, Based on his Stage Play, Miramax Films
Frost/Nixon, Screenplay by Peter Morgan, Based on his Stage Play, Universal Pictures
Slumdog Millionaire, Screenplay by Simon Beaufoy, Based on the Novel Q and A by Vikas Swarup, Fox Searchlight Pictures
Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story, Written by Stefan Forbes and Noland Walker, InterPositive Media
Chicago 10, Written by Brett Morgen, Roadside Attractions
Fuel, Written by Johnny O'Hara, Greenlight Theatrical / Intention Media
Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, Screenplay by Alex Gibney, From the Words of Hunter S. Thompson, Magnolia Pictures
Waltz with Bashir, Written by Ari Folman, Sony Pictures Classics
Dramatic Series Dexter, Written by Scott Buck, Daniel Cerone, Charles H. Eglee, Adam E. Fierro, Lauren Gussis, Clyde Phillips, Scott Reynolds, Melissa Rosenberg, Tim Schlattmann; Showtime
Friday Night Lights, Written by Bridget Carpenter, Kerry Ehrin, Brent Fletcher, Jason Gavin, Carter Harris, Elizabeth Heldens, David Hudgins, Jason Katims, Patrick Massett, Aaron Rahsaan Thomas, John Zinman; NBC
Lost, Written by Carlton Cuse, Drew Goddard, Adam Horowitz, Christina M. Kim, Edward Kitsis, Damon L. Lindelof, Greggory Nations, Kyle Pennington, Elizabeth Sarnoff, Brian K. Vaughan; ABC
Mad Men, Written by Lisa Albert, Jane Anderson, Rick Cleveland, Kater Gordon, David Isaacs, Andre Jacquemetton, Maria Jacquemetton, Marti Noxon, Robin Veith, Matthew Weiner; AMC
The Wire, Written by Ed Burns, Chris Collins, David Mills, David Simon, William F. Zorzi, Richard Price, Dennis Lehane, George Pelecanos; HBO
30 Rock, Written by Jack Burditt, Kay Cannon, Robert Carlock, Tina Fey, Donald Glover, Andrew Guest, Matt Hubbard, Jon Pollack, John Riggi, Tami Sagher, Ron Weiner; NBC
Entourage, Written by Doug Ellin, Jeremy Miller, Ally Musika, Steve Pink, Rob Weiss; HBO
The Office, Written by Steve Carell, Jennifer Celotta, Greg Daniels, Lee Eisenberg, Anthony Farrell, Brent Forrester, Dan Goor, Charlie Grandy, Mindy Kaling, Ryan Koh, Lester Lewis, Paul Lieberstein, Warren Lieberstein, B.J. Novak, Michael Schur, Aaron Shure, Justin Spitzer, Gene Stupnitsky, Halsted Sullivan; NBC
The Simpsons, Written by J. Stewart Burns, Daniel Chun, Joel H. Cohen, Kevin Curran, John Frink, Tom Gammill, Valentina Garza, Stephanie Gillis, Dan Greaney, Reid Harrison, Ron Hauge, Al Jean, Brian Kelly, Billy Kimball, Rob LaZebnik, Tim Long, Ian Maxtone-Graham, David Mirkin, Bill Odenkirk, Carolyn Omine, Don Payne, Michael Price, Max Pross, Mike Reiss, Mike Scully, Matt Selman, Matt Warburton, Jeff Westbrook, Marc Wilmore, William Wright; Fox
Weeds, Written by Roberto Benabib, Mark A. Burley, Ron Fitzgerald, David Holstein, Rolin Jones, Brendan Kelly, Jenji Kohan, Victoria Morrow, Matthew Salsberg; Showtime
Breaking Bad, Written by Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould, Patty Lin, George Mastras, J Roberts; AMC
Fringe, Written by JJ Abrams, Jason Cahill, Julia Cho, David H. Goodman, Felicia Henderson, Brad Caleb Kane, Alex Kurtzman, Darin Morgan, J.R. Orci, Roberto Orci, Jeff Pinkner, Zack Whedon; Fox
In Treatment, Written by Rodrigo Garcia, Bryan Goluboff, Davey Holmes, William Meritt Johnson, Amy Lippman, Sarah Treem; HBO
Life on Mars, Written by Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec, Scott Rosenberg, Becky Hartman Edwards, David Wilcox, Adele Lim, Bryan Oh, Tracy McMillan, Sonny Postiglione, Phil M. Rosenberg, Meredith Averill; ABC
True Blood, Written by Alan Ball, Brian Buckner, Raelle Tucker, Alexander Woo, Nancy Oliver, Chris Offutt; HBO
Episodic Drama - any length - one airing time
“Don’t Ever Change” (House), Written by Doris Egan & Leonard Dick; Fox
“Double Booked” (Burn Notice), Written by Craig O’Neill & Jason Tracey; USA
“Gray Matter” (Breaking Bad), Written by Patty Lin; AMC
“Pilot” (Breaking Bad), Written by Vince Gilligan; AMC
“Pilot” (Eli Stone), Written by Greg Berlanti & Marc Guggenheim; ABC
“There’s Something About Harry” (Dexter), Written by Scott Reynolds; Showtime
Episodic Comedy - any length - one airing time
“Believe in the Stars” (30 Rock), Written by Robert Carlock; NBC
“Cooter” (30 Rock), Written by Tina Fey; NBC
“Crime Aid” (The Office), Written by Charlie Grandy; NBC
“Crush’d” (Ugly Betty), Written by Tracy Poust & Jon Kinnally; ABC
“Succession” (30 Rock), Written by Andrew Guest & John Riggi; NBC
“Vote for This and I Promise to Do Something Crazy at the Emmys” (My Name is Earl), Written by Greg Garcia; NBC
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From the time he was a wee lad Brian Jackson (James McAvoy) yearned to be on University Challenge a popular British TV quiz show. He watched the show with his family as a child but never thought of himself as very clever like his streetwise buddy Spencer (Dominic Cooper). So when the working class Essex youth is ready to go to college Brian jumps at the chance of joining the college brainiac team. Even better Brian finds an added incentive—the sexy and smart team member Alice (Alice Eve). The team is run by a persnickety and uptight geek named Patrick (Benedict Cumberbatch) who makes people take their shoes off before entering his immaculate apartment. But as a group they're unstoppable. Along the way Brian meets some unconventional roommates including the politically conscious Rebecca (Rebecca Hall) who would rather organize rallies than go to school. Brian's worlds clash when Spencer comes to visit him at college just before their team goes on the show. McAvoy is the unsung hero of The Last King of Scotland co-starring with Oscar winner Forest Whitaker as the young doctor. He's a fine actor although you may only recognize him as Mr. Tumnus the faun from The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. As Brian McAvoy plays the romantic lead well--an affable ordinary guy who remains impossibly tied to his working-class roots. He alternately proud and embarrassed by his mum and her salesman boyfriend who are in sharp contrast to Alice's more liberal intellectual—and ultimately nude--parents (played by veteran British actors Lindsay Duncan and Charles Dance). McAvoy’s reactions are priceless. Starter for 10 also has a strong supporting cast even if their characters are a tad one-note at times. Stand out is Hall who plays Rebecca as a super-smart Annie Hall. Newbie director Tom Vaughan has successfully recreated college in the 1980s even for those people who didn’t live it. The clothing cars styles are all realistic charming in that ‘80s innocence. Particularly fantastic is the New Wave soundtrack which includes Motorhead Psychedelic Furs and Wham! It's obvious the British director has spent the decade in his hometown attending Tarts & Vicars parties (where you come dressed up as a prostitute or a priest) and listening to this music. The tender and painful love scenes such as the New Year's Eve moment between Brian and Rebecca are directed with lots of humor as is the inevitable fight scene that breaks out when Brian's worlds collide. Vaughan's sensibility to keep it tongue-in-cheek stops the movie from falling into a silly teen period romance. And although the phrase Starter for 10 is a particularly British expression the film translates well to a U.S. audience.