Have you ever wondered how Felicia Day got her geek street cred? Have you ever wondered what the lives of hardcore gamers are like? Are you desperately in need of a show about the socially inept? The Guild provides you with answers to all of those questions and so much more. This quirky web series is available as long form episodes on Netflix.
Cyd Sherman (Day) is unemployed, socially awkward, and obsessed with playing a World of Warcraft-style online game. When one of her fellow gamers, Zaboo (Sandeep Parikh), misinterprets a mild flirtation as an invitation, things get real…literally. An series of events brings the entire guild, the Knights of Good, together in person. Despite spending countless hours playing together, they’re unprepared for what’s on the other end of their screens. Known only by her online name Codex, Cyd meets the rest of her group including a horny teen, surly pretty girl, awkward cheapskate, and an irresponsible housewife.
The show isn’t just for geeks. It explores geek culture with human relationships, broad comedic premises, and an interesting style. Each episode begins with Codex recounting her thoughts and feelings. Then the show explores an adventure and cuts to all of the different members of the guild. The show has an irreverent sense of humor and its unique style was an inspiration for Joss Whedon’s Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog starring Neil Patrick Harris. The series also features guest appearances by Will Wheaton, Erin Gray, Zachary Levi, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer alums Eliza Dushku and Tom Lenk.
This series is fresh and unique which is saying a lot considering not a lot of independently produced shows get this much attention. If you’re a geek you will enjoy how the series celebrates social inadequacies. If you’re a fan of comedy you will appreciate the offbeat humor. It’s a fun series that doesn’t take it too seriously while lampooning and celebrating people who take their gaming too seriously.
Check out The Guild on Netflix.
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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Lions Gate via Everett Collection
When we last left our heroes, they had conquered all opponents in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, returned home to their newly refurbished living quarters in District 12, and fallen haplessly to the cannibalism of PTSD. And now we're back! Hitching our wagons once again to laconic Katniss Everdeen and her sweet-natured, just-for-the-camera boyfriend Peeta Mellark as they gear up for a second go at the Capitol's killing fields.
But hold your horses — there's a good hour and a half before we step back into the arena. However, the time spent with Katniss and Peeta before the announcement that they'll be competing again for the ceremonial Quarter Quell does not drag. In fact, it's got some of the film franchise's most interesting commentary about celebrity, reality television, and the media so far, well outweighing the merit of The Hunger Games' satire on the subject matter by having Katniss struggle with her responsibilities as Panem's idol. Does she abide by the command of status quo, delighting in the public's applause for her and keeping them complacently saturated with her smiles and curtsies? Or does Katniss hold three fingers high in opposition to the machine into which she has been thrown? It's a quarrel that the real Jennifer Lawrence would handle with a castigation of the media and a joke about sandwiches, or something... but her stakes are, admittedly, much lower. Harvey Weinstein isn't threatening to kill her secret boyfriend.
Through this chapter, Katniss also grapples with a more personal warfare: her devotion to Gale (despite her inability to commit to the idea of love) and her family, her complicated, moralistic affection for Peeta, her remorse over losing Rue, and her agonizing desire to flee the eye of the public and the Capitol. Oftentimes, Katniss' depression and guilty conscience transcends the bounds of sappy. Her soap opera scenes with a soot-covered Gale really push the limits, saved if only by the undeniable grace and charisma of star Lawrence at every step along the way of this film. So it's sappy, but never too sappy.
In fact, Catching Fire is a masterpiece of pushing limits as far as they'll extend before the point of diminishing returns. Director Francis Lawrence maintains an ambiance that lends to emotional investment but never imposes too much realism as to drip into territories of grit. All of Catching Fire lives in a dreamlike state, a stark contrast to Hunger Games' guttural, grimacing quality that robbed it of the life force Suzanne Collins pumped into her first novel.
Once we get to the thunderdome, our engines are effectively revved for the "fun part." Katniss, Peeta, and their array of allies and enemies traverse a nightmare course that seems perfectly suited for a videogame spin-off. At this point, we've spent just enough time with the secondary characters to grow a bit fond of them — deliberately obnoxious Finnick, jarringly provocative Johanna, offbeat geeks Beedee and Wiress — but not quite enough to dissolve the mystery surrounding any of them or their true intentions (which become more and more enigmatic as the film progresses). We only need adhere to Katniss and Peeta once tossed in the pit of doom that is the 75th Hunger Games arena, but finding real characters in the other tributes makes for a far more fun round of extreme manhunt.
But Catching Fire doesn't vie for anything particularly grand. It entertains and engages, having fun with and anchoring weight to its characters and circumstances, but stays within the expected confines of what a Hunger Games movie can be. It's a good one, but without shooting for succinctly interesting or surprising work with Katniss and her relationships or taking a stab at anything but the obvious in terms of sending up the militant tyrannical autocracy, it never even closes in on the possibility of being a great one.
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Ever notice how television is just too good lately? Once upon a time though, the TV landscape was littered with lots of bad programming, like Saved by the Bell. Remember that show? If you grew up in the '90s, it would be damn hard not to. Let's hit the rewind button for a minute and revisit one of the guiltiest pleasure TV shows of the boom boom Clinton-era (no pun intended).
Zack Morris Was the Epitome of CoolHe got all the ladies, occasionally broke the fourth wall, and wore more product in his hair than an '80s rock star. For fans of the series, Zack Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) was the quintessential cool dude slacker. He also dated Kelly Kapowski (Tiffani-Amber Thiessen), the G-rated fantasy of every teenage boy in America.
Sometimes You Learned an Important Life LessonThere was the occasional episode where the writers would pack heavy themes into the show, like when Jesse Spano (Elizabeth Berkley, later of Showgirls career-ending infamy) got hooked on caffeine pills and nearly had a breakdown. Zack eventually came to her rescue, however, and by the end of the episode we learned that drugs were dangerous and bad, and that apparently, caffeine pills were a thing that existed. (Who knew?)
The College Years SuckedWhen the show ended in 1993, Zack, Kelly, and the rest of the crew all signed on for a spin-off series called Saved By The Bell: The College Years. The show was doomed from the start. For one, it aired in primetime on Tuesday nights, the original having gained popularity on Saturday mornings, and the only promising attribute new cast member, and former NFL player, Bob Golic brought to the new show (aside from bad acting) was an impeccably maintained mullet. Bless him for that! The network eventually wised up and cancelled The College Years after its disappointing first season.
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Last night, viewers were treated to a particularly emotional Grammy Awards. Naturally, the tributes to the deceased Whitney Houston were some of the most moving moments of the night, and in recent television. But many rising artists had a lot to celebrate; particularly, Adele, who swept the awards with four major wins. Check below for a complete list of winners from the 54th Annual Grammy Awards, and for a recap, hop over to our Seven Things You Need to Know About the 2012 Grammys list.
Album of the Year
21 by Adele
Record of the Year
"Rolling in the Deep" by Adele
Best New Artist
Best Country Album
Own the Night by Lady Antebellum
Song of the Year
“Rolling In The Deep” by Adele Adkins & Paul Epworth, songwriters (Adele)
Best R&B Album
F.A.M.E. by Chris Brown
Best Rock Performance
“Walk” by Foo Fighters
Best Rap Performance
“Otis” by Jay-Z and Kayne West
Best Pop Solo Performance
“Someone Like You” by Adele
Best Pop Duo/Group Performance
“Body and Soul” by Tony Bennett and Amy Winehouse
Best Pop Instrumental Album
The Road from Memphis by Booker T. Jones
Best Pop Vocal Album
21 by Adele
Best Dance Recording
“Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” by Skrillex
Best Dance/Electronica Album
“Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” by Skrillex
Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album
Duets II by Tony Bennett & Various Artists
Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance
“White Limo” by Foo Fighters
Best Rock Song
“Walk” by Foo Fighters
Best Rock Album
Wasting Light by Foo Fighters
Best Alternative Music Album
Bon Iver by Bon Iver
Best R&B Performance
“Is This Love” by Corinne Bailey Rae
Best Traditional R&B Performance
“Fool For You” by Cee Lo Green & Melanie Fiona
Best R&B Song
“Fool For You” by Cee Lo Green, Melanie Hallim, Jack Splash
Best Rap/Sung Collaboration
“All Of The Lights” by Kanye West, Rihanna, Kid Cudi & Fergie
Best Rap Song
“All Of the Lights” by Jeff Bhasker, Stacy Ferguson, Malik Jones, Warren Trotter & Kanye West
Best Rap Album
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West
Best Country Solo Performance
“Mean” by Taylor Swift
Best Country Duo/Group Performance
“Barton Hollow” by The Civil Wars
Best Country Song
“Mean” by Taylor Swift
Best New Age Album
What’s It All About by Pat Metheny
Best Improvised Jazz Solo
“500 Miles High” by Chick Corea
Best Jazz Vocal Album
The Mosaic Project by Terri Lyne Carrington & Various Artists
Best Jazz Instrumental Album
Forever by Corea, Clarke & White
Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album
The Good Feeling by Christian McBride Big Band
Best Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music
“Jesus” by Le’Andria Johnson
Best Gospel Song
“Hello Fear” by Kirk Franklin
Best Contemporary Christian Music Song
“Blessings” by Laura Story
Best Gospel Album
Hello Fear by Kirk Franklin
Best Contemporary Christian Music Album
And If Our God Is For Us… by Chris Tomlin
Best Latin Pop, Rock, Or Urban Album
Drama Y Luz by Maná
Best Regional Mexian Or Tejano Album
Bicentenario by Pepe Aguilar
Best Banda Or Norteno Album
Los Tigres Del Norte And Friends by Los Tigres Del Norte
Best Tropical Latin Album
The Last Mambo by Cachao
Best Americana Album
Ramble At the Ryman by Levon Helm
Best Bluegrass Album
Paper Airplane by Alison Krauss & Union Station
Best Blues Album
Revelator by Tedeschi Trucks Band
Best Folk Album
Barton Hollow by The Civil Wars
Best Regional Roots Music Album
Rebirth of New Orleans by Rebirth Brass Band
Best Raggae Album
Revelation Pt 1: The Root Of Life by Stephen Marley
Best World Music Album
Tassili by Tinariwen
Best Children’s Album
All About Bullies… Big And Small
Best Spoken Word Album
If You Ask Me (And Of Course You Won’t) by Betty White
Best Comedy Album
Hilarious by Louis C.K.
Best Musical Theater Album
The Book of Mormon: Josh Gad & Andrew Rannells; Anne Garefino, Robert Lopez, Stephen Oremus, Trey Parker, Scott Rudin & Matt Stone (producers); Robert Lopez, Trey Parker & Matt Stone (composers/lyricists)
Best Compilation Soundtrack For Visual Media
Boardwalk Empire: Volume 1: Various Artists
Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media
The King’s Speech by Alexandre Desplat
Best Song Written For Visual Media
“I See The Light (From Tangled)” by Alan Menken & Glenn Slater, songwriters (Mandy Moore & Zachary Levi)
Best Instrumental Composition
"Live In Eleven” by Béla Fleck & Howard Levy, composers (Béla Fleck & The Flecktones)
Best Instrumental Arrangement
“Rhapsody In Blue” by Gordon Goodwin, arranger (Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band)
Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s)
“Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me)” by Jorge Calandrelli, arranger (Tony Bennett & Queen Latifah)
Best Recording Package
Scenes From the Suburbs, Caroline Robert, art director (Arcade Fire)
Best Boxed Or Special Limited Edition Package
The Promise: The Darkness On The Edge of Town Story by Dave Bett & Michelle Holme, art directors (Bruce Springsteen)
Best Album Notes
Hear Me Howling!: Blues, Ballads & Beyond As Recorded By the San Francisco Bay By Chris Strachwitz In The 1960s, Adam Machado, album notes writer (Various Artists)
Best Historical Album
Band On the Run (Paul McCartney Archive Collection — Deluxe Edition), Paul McCartney, compilation producer; Sam Okell & Steve Rooke, mastering engineers (Paul McCartney & Wings)
Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical
Paper Airplane, Neal Cappellino & Mike Shipley, engineers; Brad Blackwood, mastering engineer (Alison Krauss & Union Station) Producer Of the Year, Non-Classical Paul Epworth
Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical
“Cinema (Skrillex Remix)” by Sonny Moore, remixer (Benny Benassi)
Best Surround Sound Album
Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs (Super Deluxe Edition), Elliot Scheiner, surround mix engineer; Bob Ludwig, surround mastering engineer; Bill Levenson & Elliot Scheiner, surround producers (Derek & The Dominos)
Best Engineered Album, Classical
Aldridge: Elmer Gantry, Byeong-Joon Hwang & John Newton, engineers; Jesse Lewis, mastering engineer (William Boggs, Keith Phares, Patricia Risley, Vale Rideout, Frank Kelley, Heather Buck, Florentine Opera Chorus & Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra) Producer Of the Year, Classical Judith Sherman
Best Orchestral Performance
“Brahms: Symphony No. 4” by Gustavo Dudamel, conductor (Los Angeles Philharmonic)
Best Opera Recording
“Adams: Doctor Atomic” by Alan Gilbert, conductor; Meredith Arwady, Sasha Cooke, Richard Paul Fink, Gerald Finley, Thomas Glenn & Eric Owens; Jay David Saks, producer (Metropolitan Opera Orchestra; Metropolitan Opera Chorus)
Best Choral Performance
“Light & Gold” by Eric Whitacre, conductor (Christopher Glynn & Hila Plitmann; The King’s Singers, Laudibus, Pavão Quartet & The Eric Whitacre Singers)
Best Small Ensemble Performance
“Mackey: Lonely Motel — Music From Slide” by Rinde Eckert & Steven Mackey; Eighth Blackbird
Best Classical Instrument Solo
“Schwantner: Concerto For Percussion & Orchestra” by Giancarlo Guerrero, conductor; Christopher Lamb (Nashville Symphony)
Best Classical Vocal Solo
“Diva Divo” by Joyce DiDonato (Kazushi Ono; Orchestre De L’Opéra National De Lyon; Choeur De L’Opéra National De Lyon)
Best Contemporary Classical Composition
“Aldridge, Robert: Elmer Gantry” by Robert Aldridge & Herschel Garfein
Best Short Form Music Video
“Rolling In The Deep” by Adele; Sam Brown, video director; Hannah Chandler, video producer
Best Long Form Music Video
“Foo Fighters: Back And Forth” by Foo Fighters; James Moll, video director; James Moll & Nigel Sinclair, video producers Grammy Trustees Award Dave Bartholomew, Steve Jobs, and Rudy Van Gelder
At some point in the early years of the 21st century a bunch of Hollywood executives must have gotten together and decided that animated films should be made for all audiences. The goal was perhaps to make movies that are simultaneously accessible to the older and younger sets with colorful imagery that one expects from children’s films and two levels of humor: one that’s quite literal and harmless and another that’s somewhat subversive. The criteria has resulted in cross-generational hits like Wall-E and Madagascar and though it’s nice to be able to take my nephew to the movies and be as entertained by cartoon characters as he is I can’t help but wonder what happened to unabashedly innocent animated classics like A Goofy Movie and The Land Before Time?
Disney’s Winnie The Pooh is the answer to the Shrek’s and Hoodwinked!’s of the world: a short sweet simple and lighthearted tale of friendship that doesn’t need pop-culture references or snarky dialogue to put a smile on your face. Directors Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall found some fresh ways to deliver adorable animation while keeping the carefree spirit of A.A. Milne’s source material in tact. Their story isn’t the most original; the first part of the film finds Pooh Piglet Tigger and Owl searching for Eeyore’s tail (a common plot point in the books and past Pooh films) and hits all the predictable notes but the second half mixes things up a bit as the crew searches for a missing Christopher Robin whom they believe has been kidnapped by a forest creature known as the “Backson” (it’s really just the result of the illiterate Owl or is it?).
The beauty of hand-drawn animation all but forgotten until recently is what makes Winnie the Pooh so incredibly magnetic. There’s an inexplicable crispness to the colors and characters that CG just can’t duplicate. It’s a more personal practice for the filmmakers and should provide a refreshing experience for audiences who have become jaded with the pristine presentation of computerized imagery. The film is bookended by brief live-action shots from inside Robin’s room an interesting dynamic that plays up the simplicity of youth ties it to these beloved characters and brings you right back to memories of your own childhood.
With a just-over-an-hour run time Winnie the Pooh is short enough to hold the attention of children but won’t bore the parents who will love the film mainly for nostalgic musings. Still it’s the young’uns who will most enjoy this breezy bright and enchanting film that proves old-school characters can appeal to new moviegoers.