TriStar Pictures via Everett Collection
An hour and change into Pompeii, there's a volcano. You'd think there might have been a volcano throughout — you'd think that the folks inhabiting the ill-fated Italian village would have been dealing with the infamous volcano for the full 110 minutes. After all, volcano movies have worked before. Volcano, for instance. And the other one. But for some reason, Pompeii feels the need to stuff its first three quarters with coliseum battles, Ancient Rome politics, unlikely friendships, and a love story. But we don’t care. We can't care. None of it warrants our care. Where the hell is the volcano, already?
To answer that: it's off to the side — rumbling. Smoking. Occasionally spiking the neighboring community with geological fissures or architectural misgivings. Pretty much executing every trick picked up in Ominous Foreshadowing 101, but never joining the story. Not until Paul W.S. Anderson shouts, "Last call," hitting us with a final 20-odd minutes of unmitigated disaster (in a good way). If you've managed to maintain a waking pulse throughout the lecture in sawdust that is Pompeii's story, then you might actually have a good time with the closing sequence. It has everything you’d expect — everything you had been expecting! — and delivers it with gusto. Torpedoes of smoke running hordes of idiot villagers out of their homes and toward whatever safety the notion of forward has to offer. Long undeveloped characters rising to the occasion to rescue hapless princesses who thought it might be a good idea to set their vacation homes at the foot of a lava-spewing mountain. The whole ordeal is actually a lot of laughs. But it amounts to a dessert just barely worth the tasteless dinner we had to force down to get there.
TriStar Pictures via Everett Collection
To get through the bulk of Pompeii, we recommend focusing all your attentions away from the effectively bland slave/gladiator/hero Kit Harington — sorry, Jon Snow (he's actually called a bastard at one point) — and onto his partner in crime: a scowling Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje — sorry, Mr. Eko (he and Snow actually trade valedictions by saying "I'll see you at another time, brother" at one point) — who warms up to his fellow prize fighter during their shared time in the klink, and delivers his moronic material with a sprinkle of flair. Keeping the working man down is Kiefer Sutherland — sorry, Jack Bauer — as an ostentatious Roman senator, doling out vainglory in Basil Fawlty-sized portions. When he's not spitting scowls at peasants, ol' JB is undermining the efforts of an earnest local governor Jared Harris — sorry, Lane Pryce (he actually calls someone a mad man at one point) — and his wife Carrie-Anne Moss — sorry, Katherine O'Connell from Vegas (joking! Trinity) — and finagling the douchiest marriage proposal ever toward their daughter Emily Browning — sorry, but I have no idea what she's from.
But questionable television references and some enjoyably daft performances by Eko and Jack can't really make up for the heft of mindless dullness that Pompeii passes off as its narrative... until the big showstopper.
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In truth, the last sequence is a gem. It's fun, inviting, and energizing, and might even call into question the possibility that Pompeii is all about how futile life, love, friendship, politics, and pride are when even the most egregiously complicated of plots can be taken out in the end by a sudden volcanic eruption. But you have to wade through that egregious complication to get there, and you shouldn't expect to have too much of a good time doing so.
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The genesis of Universal's 47 Ronin is almost as tragic as the actual history that the movie is culling from. As the story goes, Universal saw the sprigs of talent sprouting from fresh faced director Carl Rinsch, whose previous experience was limited to just a couple of commercials and a nifty short film. The studio decided to ease the new director into feature filmmaking by cutting him what amounts to virtually a blank check, and giving him charge over a multi-national samurai fantasy epic. Almost impossibly, the film isn't a complete disaster. It's just a minor one.
47 Ronin follows the classic story of the titular team of warriors, a group of disgraced samurai who band together to seek revenge against a merciless warlord that betrayed and killed their master. But this isn't your grandfather's version of the story. 47 Ronin is an international affair, and it's covered with a veneer of Japanese mysticism and a thick coating of Hollywood lacquer, but east meets west rather uncomfortably, and it's mostly due to Keanu Reeves. Reeves' character is clearly crowbarred into the story that has no room for him, and it's plainly obvious where the seams of the story were stretched in order to patch him into the narrative. Reeves plays Kai, a half Japanese, half English orphan who is adopted by the samurai clan. His character serves no real purpose beyond being white, slicing things until they die, and playing the male lead of the most superfluous love story of the year. Rinsch simply can't make the inclusion of the character feel organic in any way, and "Kai" ends up feeling like a calculated studio move. It's a shame that the film spends so much time on Reeves when the real star is clearly Hiroyuki Sanada, who plays off the stoic samurai most believably among the rest of the cast.
It's also shame that with all the mysticism pumped into the story, there's no magic in the actual center of the film, the ronin themselves. The only personality trait a samurai is allowed to possess seems to be unerring stoicism, and between all 47 ronin, there are probably only three distinct samurai with any discernible character traits beyond an intense need to brood, and you'll probably only remember those three by the time the credits roll, only to promptly forget about them only a few hours later. Thankfully, Rinko Kikuchi's slinky and treacherous witch adds some much needed camp and personality to the mostly forgettable human characters.
And that's the issue with 47 Ronin. It's largely forgettable. When your film takes on a historical legend like the tale of the 47 ronin, a story that has been told and told again ad nauseum over the years, you really need to justify your own version. There are reels and reels of film dedicated to this story, and 47 Ronin doesn't manage to add anything significant to the canon. It promises to weld myth and history together, but does so clumsily, and while some of the action scenes are exciting, especially a particularly inspired set piece that involves the ronin noiselessly breaking into a heavily guarded fortress, the film is a bore when it's not clanking swords together.
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47 Ronin is a film with many stories. As much as it is a tale about the revenge of four dozen masterless samurai, it's also the tale of an inexperienced filmmaker swallowed up by the enormity of blockbuster filmmaking. Most of all though, It's proof that you shouldn't cram Keanu Reeves into a movie that doesn't really need Keanu Reeves. What you're left with is a dull and bloated samurai epic that has its moments, but feels largely unnecessary.
Last night the 2012 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, taped back in early November, aired in an hour-long TV special featuring musical performances by Rihanna, Justin Bieber, and Bruno Mars. Bruno brought his signature crooning and high energy to the runway with "Locked Out of Heaven" and "Young Girls," while Bieber showed off his smooth dance moves and interacted with the models in a giant pinball machine while singing his singles "Beauty and a Beat" and "As Long As You Love Me." Rihanna got into the spirit spirit of the catwalk by performing her new single "Fresh Off the Runway" in her own lingerie getup.
But the real talent of the night were the sexy "Angels" who walked the runway in an array of revealing lingerie costumes. This year's crop of heavenly creatures featured Doutzen Kroes, Adriana Lima, Joan Smalls, Candice Swanepoel, Lily Aldrige, and Erin Heatherton, among others. This year, we couldn't help but notice that the girls walked the runway in lingerie outfits that were almost dead ringers for well-known pop culture looks.
From Katniss Everdeen's "Girl on Fire" to the floating house from Up, a cheerleader from Bring It On to Beetlejuice, here are 15 looks that evoked pop culture's best when they hit the runway last night at the VS fashion show.
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[Photo Credit: Ivan Nikolov/WENN]
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What do you get when you mix an iconic musical and a weekly TV sensation? Glease! And I’m happy to announce that the New York storyline is finally back! And so is the I-really-can’t-believe-she-looks-that-fantastic Kate Hudson as the dance teacher from hell. Grab your leather jackets and poodle skirts because we’re headed to Rydell High in this week’s Glee recap.
So Here’s What You Missed on Glee:
The New Schue: In the choir room, Will announces to the group he is leaving McKinley at the end of the week and they rightfully freak the eff out. Not to worry, New Directioners — it’s Finn to the rescue! Now that he’s found his voice, he uses it to try and calm the frantic glee-clubbers down, saying that he’s got some great ideas for sectionals. “We’ll all be dead by then!!” Screeches Tina. (Side-Note: This scene is amazing and once again Sugar asks my favorite hard-hitting questions, “Who’s gonna drive the bus?!”) Just then Coach Sue enters the chaos and demands that everyone head over to Figgins’ office. She pounces right on in with her verbal claws: “This is just another one of your ill-conceived, bizarrely sentimental schemes that displays absolutely no forethought and appears immediately ridiculous to everyone in America except you.” Burn. Sue says that if Finn takes over the Glee club, then her reign of niceness at McKinley is over and she then proceeds to trash and terrorize the halls of McKinley in a giggle-worthy, déjà vu scene.
Finn goes into the teachers' lounge to apologize to Sue for the ridiculous outburst that the writers forced him to utter last week: “I’m sorry, that word was offensive and it just came out wrong and it’s not what I meant to say.” Unfortunately, Sue does not want to hear his heartfelt and honest apology and tells him that he has hate in his heart and, oh, p.s. she has also booked the auditorium for the next few weeks. (Side-Note: This is absolutely ridiculous. It took a real man to approach to Sue and apologize/admit that he was wrong. I’m so glad that Finn is finally finding his voice and becoming more confident, even if I’m the only one who sees it.) Finn has the brilliant idea to have the Grease boys rehearse in Burt’s auto shop and we then witness a very pelvic-thrusting performance of “Greased Lightening.” (Side-Note: Sam, Jake and Ryder killed their dance moves in this. Joe was just kinda… there.)
T and A: Over in New York, Cassie tells the class she is tired of their pathetic ways and has brought in some of her top dancers to help whip them into shape. And no surprise here: Brody saunters into the room, looking all brooding and handsome and sexy and such. (Side-Note: Sorry, was I swooning back there? Before you threaten to take away my high pony Finchel lovers, may I just remind you that I’m a Leady shipper… not Brochel. Crisis averted.) Rachel tells Brody all about an off-Broadway audition she has coming up and before she can even say “gold star,” Cassie interrupts their little pow-wow and offers some harsh but seemingly good-hearted advice. “Skip it Schwimmer, Ivan will eat you alive.” But Rachel says that she’s sure she can handle it and even suggests that Cassie audition for a role too. Cassie quickly dismisses her suggestion and then asks Brody if he’d be willing to be her new TA, a role that he immediately accepts. (Side-Note: Hmm, I don’t know you guys. I’m getting a weird sexual tension vibe here.)
Kurt is here! Kurt is here!! Kurt is HERE!!! (Side-Note: Can you tell I missed him?) A few days later, Kurt is helping Rachel stretch in her NYADA dance room while simultaneously trying to convince her that they should go back and see the McKinley musical. Cassie enters the room and this is the first time that our porcelain and professor have shared any screen time. Kurt exclaims, “It’s an honor to meet you, Miss July and, oooh! You’ve got some abs!” Cassie then lends her opinion on the matter, telling our NYC duo that they should go because this would be their perfect opportunity for post-breakup closure. (Side-Note: I don’t want closure! I want reunions and sparks and kisses and love! Sorry, too much?) Kurt admits that he needs to see “him” and we all know just which gel-loving cutie he’s referring too. “I’m living off of Ambien and The Notebook.” Cassie — in a sneaky and uncharacteristic move — offers the besties her frequent flyers miles and is practically insisting that they leave this weekend. (Side-Note: What the hell are you up to miss lady?!)
Avoiding Curve Balls Bitches: Marley is having trouble fitting into her Sandy skirt. “I don’t understand, it fit fine yesterday,” she quietly panics. Turns out that our new bitch-and-a-half Kitty went backstage in the middle of the night and downsized her clothes so that our new favorite glee club sweetheart would start to think she was gaining weight. Marley turns to her amazingly wonderful momma and expresses her concerns, but here Momma was quick to pump her up: “I didn’t raise a victim or quitter, I raised a star. You have control over your life and your body. You are thin and beautiful.” But to make her daughter feel better, and to ensure the mom-of-the-year award from me, she announces that they both will be on a strict diet. (Side-Note: This kinda bothers me. Marley is super skinny and we already know her mom is great with a needle. They should just alter the skirt, hide it from Kitty and ta-daaaa! Problem solved.)
Over at Kitty’s sleepover, Marley is looking for some healthy snacks to munch because the alternative (Krispy Kremes, kettle corn, and chocolate cake) doesn’t really fit in with her new diet. Kitty then pulls Marley aside and suggests that she try a truly heinous diet technique: “binge and purge.” (Important Side-Note: I know that a lot of young girls read my recaps, so I want to take this quick moment to tell all you lovely ladies something extremely important. Please don’t ever resort to bulimia because you are worried about your weight. It is an extremely unsafe, unhealthy, and disgusting disease. You are all absolutely gorgeous and should never let anyone tell you otherwise!) While Marley is in the bathroom, Kitty leads the ladies in rendition of “Look at Me I’m Sandra Dee.” It’s cute and all but I’m super pissed at Kitty right now, so that’s all I have to say about that.
Later, right before the musical, Marley is freaking out because she once again can’t fit into her costume, and Kitty encourages her to go up-chuck her problems. Ryder catches Marley mid-vomit fest in the bathroom and rather than having a full-on sob-story moment, he tells a sweet and funny tale and says her that he doesn’t want to kiss a girl with barf breath. (Side-Note: Crap. I love him.) To help further shake away her nerves right before she goes onstage in her sexy Sandy getup, Ryder says, “You look amazing, you sound amazing, this is going to be amazing.” Then he oh-so sweetly gives her a kiss and of course Jake sees the whole thing. (Side-Note: I’m not really one for love-triangles. I always always stay on one side and then I never budge. But this is really confusing me y’all!)
NEXT: Brittana, Finchel and Klaine!!
Brittana: Apparently when Principal Figgins called Wade/Unique’s parents to congratulate them on their son’s new roll as Rizzo, this was the first they were hearing about it. They are proud of their son’s life choices — Yay! A refreshing change to see in parents — but they are concerned with Wade’s safety as Unique. “We’re pulling Wade out of the play and we’re asking Wade not to dress like a girl during school hours.” (Side-Note: Well crap, I withdraw my compliment.) Now we’re short a Rizzo but not to worry gleeks, the one and only Santana is back and ready to slip on the Pink Ladies jacket!
In our first post-Brittana break-up, we see that Brittany is filled with only happy thoughts upon seeing her former lady love. “The important thing is that she’s here and the show can go on.” The only one who does not seem too thrilled to see the McKinley High graduate is Tina who was ready and more-than willing to take on the lead roll. (Side-Note: As much as I love me some Santana, I do wish that Tina would finally get some time to shine.)
Backstage, Brittany and Satana exchange I miss you's and Santana admits that the only reason she agreed to do the play way so that she could see Brittany again.(Side-Note: Awwww!) Britt Britt admits that she is single, but Santana gently reminds her that it would be all right if she was. But then Miss Lopez admits she’s glad that her ex isn’t seeing anyone. (Side-Note: Squee!) She then walks out onstage to pour her heart out on “There Are Worse Things I Can Do.” Unique and Cassie (all the way in NYC) join in on the ballad and we then see something mind-boggling: Cassie and a shirtless Brody are totally hooking up! (Side-Note: It makes sense that two super hot people would join forces to be a super hot couple, but this is just bizarre.)
Finchel and Klaine: Kurt and Rachel are back in Lima and sauntering down the halls of their former high school reminiscing. In a super-sweet moment, we see them bump into Mercedes and finally get some info on what the diva has been up to in la la land. She’s been balancing classes at UCLA, recording back-up vocals, and she still talks with Puck all the time! The New Yorkers head backstage and we see our first Klaine and Finchel moment in nearly six weeks. It’s super-duper awkward and Finn thanks them for coming all the way to see their show. Kurt has a minor panic attack once Blaine walks away, saying it was a mistake that they came, but Rachel quickly calmed him down. “I’m going to be sitting right next to you and we’re going to be holding hands, and laughing and applauding and we re never ever going to let them see us sweat.” (Side-Note: I ship HummelBerry so freaking hard it's not even funny.) Blaine jumps right into a lovely version of “Beauty School Drop Out” and we see a tiny moment of Klaine eye contact that is heartbreaking.
During “You’re The One That I Want,” we see that Ryder and Marley are having a great time, but Rachel is having a more difficult time. She’s having an beyond sweet flashback to Season 1 when she and Finn first sang this song and in a kind of dream-like vision all of our favorite original couples are now moving and grooving on stage. Brittana singing sweetly to each other, Klaine is having one of their quirky yet adorable moments, Finchel is full-on rocking out with chemistry and even Mike and Tina are having a cute moment. (Side-Note: This whole dream sequence just hurt my heart. Why would you torment us by showing the whole gang back together like that? Rude!)
The Final Five: Rachel excuses herself to the restroom and calls Brody for a little ego-boost. (Side-Note: Come on, don’t get mad at Rachel, we all do it. When we’re feeling sad about a break-up, it’s always nice to have a fella who is there so make you feel better via some light flirting.) But guess who answers the phone? Cassie of course! Cassie reveals that this was to be one of Rachel’s nasty little life lessons. “Auditioning for an off-Broadway play, throwing yourself at an upperclassman, and telling me that I need to get back in the game?... I am the game Schwimmer.” (Side-Note: That was harsh bitch. Get a life.)
Rachel runs into Finn in the hall and they have a slightly awkward but mostly sweet conversation. Finn says that the entire time he was directing he was thinking WWRD: What would Rachel do? “You’re kind of my moose,” he tells her. When she corrects him with the correct word (muse) he simple says, “I know I just wanted to see you smile.” (Side-Note: Love this. I don’t know about you guys but I am now going to start calling soul mates, “mooses.” It’s like the new version of Friends’ references to lobsters!) But Finn quickly realizes that Rachel was crying over Brody and all hopes for a Finchel reconciliation in this episode quickly dissolved in front of me and somehow things are now even worse. Same things happened for Klaine. Blaine tried once again to apologize, Kurt said he didn’t want to listen and then the two New Yorkers headed back home. (Side-Note: This all just totally and completely sucks.)
Over in the choice room, Artie announces that Grease got a rave review and Mr. Schue says his heartfelt goodbyes to the glee club. “I love you guys and I’m really going to miss you.” Will offers Finn some last minute Sectionals advice, but Finn quickly cuts him off saying, “Mr. Schue, I’ve got this.” And for once we see that Finn doing just fine on his own.
Most Heart-Warming Moment: Hearing Finn tells Rachel about her four different types of crying.
Most Heart-Breaking Moment: Watching our hopes of a Finchel/Klaine/Brittana reunion shatter.
”I mean it’s not like we know him that well or anything” –Unique to Jake on Mr. Schue leaving
”I love it so much, I promise I won’t pee in it.”—Brittany about her Grease costume
Ladyboy can come, but if I catch you hiding your dinky between your legs and prancing around like Silence of the Lambs, you’re out.—Kitty
You can eat Kleenex, they taste like clouds.”—Brittany
Vote it out!
&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;a href="http://polldaddy.com/poll/6695056/"&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;What was the best song of the night?&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
All right Gleeks talk to me! What did you think of your favorite couple's moments at McKinley? Has your allegiance switched from Jarley to Ryley? We're you shocked to see that Cassie is a full-on student-sexing puma? Sing me your thoughts in the comments below!
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[Photo Credit: FOX]
'Glee' Recap: Call Sheets and Name Calling