Author

Michael Arbeiter
Staff editor Michael Arbeiter’s natural state of being can best be described as “mild panic attack.” His earliest memories of growing up in Queens, New York, involve nighttime conversations with a voice from his bedroom wall (the jury’s still out on what that was all about) and a love for classic television that spawned from the very first time he was allowed to watch “The Munsters.” Attending college at SUNY Binghamton, a 20-year-old Michael learned two things: that he could center his future on this love for TV and movies, and that dragons never actually existed — he was kind of late in the game on that one.
  • Should 'Terra Nova' Get a Second Season?
    By: Michael Arbeiter Dec 20, 2011
    Terra Nova is the epitome of “high-concept.” When word started to spread about the show, it seemed like it was using all of the key words to hook us: time-travel, dinosaurs, futuristic society, Steven Spielberg. If there was one thing the series did not seem to be, it was simple. But where Terra Nova didn’t quite excel over the course of its inaugural season was its fleshing out of everything it presented to us. Combine that with the fact that the series still doesn't have a second season order and we're forced to wonder: can Terra Nova really work as a continued series? Last night's season finale leaves us with a cliffhanger, but we wonder if it's one that will ever be satisfied. Beyond the initial thrill of the concept of humans living among dinosaurs, we don’t get a lot. The science-fiction aspects are swept under the rug. The human interest aspect is played up, but we’re never given much of a reason to invest in the characters. Terra Nova’s most interesting moments actually came from its inspections of the politics and ideologies of the society, but we’d need more of this to really hang our hats on it. Most of what Terra Nova gives us is surface value. There isn’t much to the huge-selling dinosaur aspect other than the fact that occasionally, we get to see a dinosaur (pretty infrequently, actually). Coming from the man who made the greatest dinosaur movie there ever was, we should have expected more. Terra Nova’s corrupt governments and hostile takeovers filled the pilot, finale and a few odd episodes in between, but everything surrounding this was primary filler material. We got some very basic television drama stories: the amnesia episode, the not-who-he-says-he-is episode, the trapped-in-a-small-location episode. All the while, it seems as though we’d have been better served learning about how the past and future worlds can coexist, the inherent flaws in a society run by one man, or how the world of the 2100s came to be the way it was. The season did have its higher points. The idea of a mole in society was interesting. The delicate relationship between a previously imprisoned father and his three children seemed like ready material for stories in the Shannon household. But Terra Nova seems to embrace so fondly the “everything should work out neatly” mentality, which sort of robs the characters who might otherwise be interesting of some of their value. We might be seeing a second season of Terra Nova—the decision has not yet been made. But if we do, hopefully the series will work toward enriching its characters, its world, and the laws of its reality, and not just kind of pass the time with stories about Zoe’s school play until the explosion-filled finale. Does anyone think Terra Nova can carry a second season? What might it have in story for adventures to come?
  • Martin Freeman is a Spirited Bilbo Baggins in New 'The Hobbit' Image
    By: Michael Arbeiter Dec 20, 2011
    The Hobbit movies should have a good deal of confidence. Its sister series, The Lord of the Rings, was one of this generation's unforgettable cinema experiences. By nature, The Hobbit (split into two parts: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: There and Back Again) is somewhat more of a personal story. And it's one that many of us are quite excited for. We've seen a whole bunch of dwarves (seriously, like tons) from the movie so far, and now, our excitement should be multiplying: Martin Freeman portrays the legendary Bilbo Baggins below, complete with his staff, pack, and the spirit only a hobbit could embody. We're in for an unexpected journey worth taking. The Hobbit reaches theaters Dec. 14, 2012 and debuts its new trailer tomorrow! Source: Warner Bros.
  • Jeremy Renner Forgot About 'Mission: Impossible 4': Late Last Night
    By: Michael Arbeiter Dec 20, 2011
    Last night, Jeremy Renner visited Late Night with Jimmy Fallon to talk about how busy he's been shooting movies like Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, The Avengers and The Bourne Legacy...so busy, in fact, that he actually sometimes forgets what movies he has done. Tom Cruise dropped by The Late Show to talk about performing acrobatic stunts hanging a hundred and forty stories over Dubai in Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, and how he and the producers managed to convince the city of Dubai to let them use their landmark building, the Burj Khalifa, in the movie. Also on Late Night, Mitt Romney showed up to read the night's Top Ten List: "Top Ten Things Mitt Romney Would Like to Say to the American People." Prepare for the expected joke about Newt Gingrich, and the more surprising joke about We Bought a Zoo. Finally, Seth MacFarlane appeared on Conan to talk about possibly putting an end to Family Guy, "almost" being involved in a murder mystery surrounding Tyra Banks, and the fascination with freezing yourself to live forever.  
  • 'Terra Nova' Season Finale Recap: Occupation/Resistance
    By: Michael Arbeiter Dec 19, 2011
    S1E11/12: Well, there you have it. A season of buildup—scattered hints and occasional insights into the master plan of the renegade son of the prehistoric society’s hard-boiled autocrat—all culminating in a very eventful two-hour season finale of Terra Nova. In short, Lucas, his business associates from the 2100s, and the Sixers wage warfare on Terra Nova and prehistory in general for a handful of motivations. Mira just wants to go back to the future so she can reunite with her daughter. The ecophobic businessmen just want to mine all the resources they can (apply your own political/capitalistic allegorical connotations). And I’m convinced that Lucas’ primary, if not sole motivation, is just the mere drive to undermine and destroy his father. In fact, the episode is actually a little too eventful. That is to say, I think the story and gravity of the events would have been better served if we had spread all of what we get in the finale out over a few weeks. Sure, the sheer volume of tonight’s activity might heighten the intensity, but this comes at the price of comprehensibility. A show like Terra Nova rarely boasts the quality of being too complicated. But the finale teeters on that line. There is a whole lot going on—so much so that I’m really only going to focus on the broad strokes in this recap. And perhaps this wouldn’t be as big a problem if the show paid more attention to how it delivers its plotlines and characters. But we’ll get to that. “Last thing I remember is the explosion.” – Jim “That was three days ago, Jim.” – Liz If you had forgotten that this was a Steven Spielberg production, this episode does a mighty fine job of reminding you. First of all, it opens with the eleventh pilgrimage delivering a man with a bomb strapped to his torso. When the bomb explodes, we get as dedicated an homage to Saving Private Ryan as I’ve ever seen, with Jim Shannon taking on the role of a deafened Tom Hanks. It’s also moderately important to note—even though it is barely mentioned or even alluded to much after the scenes to immediately follow—that Josh’s long-awaited girlfriend Cara also shows up on this pilgrimage, and is killed by the explosion. But that’s probably just so the show can ship Josh and Skye guiltlessly. Nice work. Jim finds himself in a the bed of a rundown hospital, three days later—by the count of his wife, who intercepts him leaving the building in a bewildered run-in with two armed soldiers. Liz explains to Jim, and to us, that Lucas, Sixers and co. have overtaken TN in the interim period (we even get a visual of Mira standing on Taylor’s veranda throne), and she bends her new level of authority a bit to send her husband home to see their children. This poses a bit of a problem for the viewer, especially once Mira shows up at Jim’s hospital bed demanding to know where he is. It is pretty unbelievable that such lax security would be the M.O. of a tyrannical militant society three days into its hostile (and well-funded) reign over enemy territory. But whatever, we’ll live. “They’re the Phoenix group. Private military. Killers for hire.” – Washington Jim sets out on his ad hoc investigation. His first stop: Washington, who is given a hell of a lot more character depth in this episode than she ever had before. Washington was left in charge by Taylor before he set off to oversee the arrival of the 11th, with Jim and the armed forces. After that, Taylor disappeared, extending Washington’s reign. She was forced to surrender when the invaders began killing civilians, and has been in a drunken stupor at Boylan’s as a means of coping with her handing over of the society to this tyrannical movement. But Jim knows how to rally. The mission to strike back is engaged. “You know, you have your father’s eyes.” – Washington While Terra Nova hasn’t always been fair to its minor characters, the season finale seems a lot like an apology letter to each of them: Washington, primarily an expositional character up to this point, is fleshed out and made the episode’s biggest hero when she helps the Shannon family escape from the guards who are hunting them, sacrificing her own life (she is shot dead by Lucas) to ensure the preservation of theirs. Malcolm is redeemed for all of his petty, cowardly and occasionally deceitful behaviors in the actions he takes to prevent the bad guys from following through with their mission…albeit via some pretty passive-aggressive tactics, like working as “slowly as he can” to repair their portal technology when he is forced into their employ. In fairness, he does blow something up, eventually. Then there are the soldiers—the gunmen and Reilly, the bomb-defusing expert—who all have their moments in the sun at one point or another in the episode. The rough-around-the-edges Reilly even gets to display her softer side when she allows Reynolds a break from his shift to spend time with Maddy (which—and I don’t mean to sound like a total jerk here—in a time of climactic guerilla warfare is pretty damn irresponsible). And Skye does everything she can to make up for her malfeasance…it’s hinted that she even engages in some kind of sexual act with the enamored Lucas, who, incidentally, keeps calling her his sister to save Josh’s life after he beats up Emperor Lucas for being inappropriate with her. By the way, what is with TV and incest these past couple of weeks?! Exhibit A (spoilers). Exhibit B (super-spoilers). And now this, kind of…COME ON! “You’re a highly suggestible hypochondriac, Mr. Weaver. I suggest you see a doctor about that. – Liz” But of course, nobody is allowed to steal the show from the Shannons and Taylor. Liz has her moment of badassery when she cons the sleazy businessman of the future into retrieving her kidnapped husband (held by an ever-maddening Lucas) by tricking him into believing she has poisoned him, and then injecting him with a sedative after he has complied. Jim saves the day by outrunning two explosions, one Tyrannosaurus Rex, and singlehandedly taking down an entire troupe of trained military soldiers—he also cuts off all ties with the 2100s (or so we are led to believe, for now) for all of Terra Nova society, which is kind of a double-edged sword. And Taylor finally faces off with his son. Just to make sure we understand that he’s really evil, the show has Lucas manipulate his father with crocodile tears about his mother’s death and the guilt he has shouldered because of it…just before stabbing Taylor when he is at his most vulnerable. The stab is not fatal, but neither is the gunshot wound Lucas incurs courtesy of a nearby Skye (Taylor’s surrogate daughter, who probably just won his favor back). “That’s what this place is about. It’s about hope and a second chance. We cannot let them take that away from us.” – Liz So, when the episode leaves off, the future and the past are separated indefinitely, Lucas has hightailed it off someplace, and the Sixers have retreated to the mysterious badlands, from whence Jim and co. discover part of a 19th century ship…next season’s mystery: what the hell is going on in the badlands? But more or less, everything turns out okay back in the past. “A thousand people is all we’d have to restart civilization.” – Jim “A thousand people. That’s a good round number.” – Taylor That being said, the show’s Achilles heel is especially prevalent in this episode: it has a lot going on—it has its science fiction aspects, its ecological message, its family-trying-to-survive story, its political themes…but it doesn’t deliver most of them with enough sincerity. When actors are forced into really shallow scenes, spouting really hackneyed dialogue, it ruins the sincerity of what the show might otherwise be very successful in doing: telling a relatable story in a fantasy world. If we see another season of Terra Nova, we have new, more promising mysteries in store. Hopefully, the show will make an effort to bulk up some of its writing to better suit these new, potentially exciting storylines. So what might have brought the ship to the badlands? If there is another time portal, how did it get there? Where does it take you? And who is operating it? And how do the Sixers know about it? And, if they do know about it, why haven’t they tried to activate it previously? I hope you enjoyed this season of Terra Nova! Watch out for sonic waves!
  • Sneak Peek: Take a Wild Ride with Five 'The Adventures of Tintin' Clips
    By: Michael Arbeiter Dec 19, 2011
    The Adventures of Tintin comes out this Friday, and we've compiled a collection of clips in celebration of Steven Spielberg's adaptation of the Belgian comic book by artist Georges Remi. Tintin stars Jamie Bell as the title character, a sprightly young reporter investigating a story surrounding a sunken ship called the Unicorn. Joining Tintin is his loyal dog Snowy and the wily Captain Haddock (Andy Serkis), who are all in for much more of an adventure than they bargained for. Tintin approaches Captain Haddock in hopes of hearing his family secret about the Unicorn. But Haddock cannot help Tintin...at least not yet. The Adventures of Tintin comes to theaters this Friday, Dec. 23.
  • Sam Worthington and Liam Neeson Give Us an Exciting New 'Wrath of the Titans' Trailer
    By: Michael Arbeiter Dec 19, 2011
    Personally, I've had about enough of the Greek mythology movies that seem to be epidemic lately. But to be fair, Wrath of the Titans, sequel to last year's Clash of the Titans, seems to be a step above some of its recent company. Avastar Sam Worthington returns as demigod Perseus, who must defend his race against the uprising titans. It doesn't hurt that Liam Neeson, himself a figure beyond mortal, is back as Zeus, who instills in young Perseus that being half human makes him "even more powerful" than being a god. That's a message with some emotional weight. Maybe it's Marilyn Manson's cover of "Sweet Dreams" that really amps up the excitement of the trailer. But whatever it is, it works: the movie looks like it might be pretty cool. Wrath of the Titans also stars Clashers Ralph Fiennes and Danny Huston, as well as Bill Nighy, Rosamund Pike, Toby Kebbell and Édgar Ramírez. The film reaches theaters on March 30, 2012. Source: Apple
  • Official: 'Punk'd' To Return With Ashton Kutcher as Producer, Justin Bieber as First Host
    By: Michael Arbeiter Dec 19, 2011
    For some time now, we've heard whispers of the return of MTV's Punk'd, but until now it was not entirely official, leading some to believe that it we were all being...well, you know. But doubt no further: MTV has officially ordered a new Punk'd series. The new version of Punk'd will vary a bit from the old: Kutcher will only play producer as opposed to on-screen host. The new Punk'd will feature a different celebrity host every week, starting with Justin Bieber on the premiere. A while back, it was reported that Bieber might be the show's permanent host, but the one-host-per-week format might serve better in keeping the show fresh and lively. Bieber alone is a big enough sell for an episode of the prank series, but his victim will be just as noteworthy a member of the pop music world. MTV will be releasing further information about the revival of Punk'd during its NYE in NYC 2012 special on Dec. 31. Source: EW
  • Chris Evans Is as American as Apfelstrudel in 'The Avengers' German Trailer
    By: Michael Arbeiter Dec 19, 2011
    The Avengers has got some hefty anticipation attached to it. So naturally, it's like a blitzkrieg of excitment when a new trailer comes out. Unfortunately, non-German-speakers might need an aspirin and a lager in reaction to this news: the new Avengers trailer is entirely in German. I don't mean to take any schadenfreude in your angst. Sure, the release of the German trailer of The Avengers might seem kitsch, but it sure ain't dreck. In fact, this ersatz doppelganger might be more wunderbar than kaffeeklatsch! For those of us who do not in fact speak any German, we are in luck: the trailer has its share of cognates to maintain comprehension of the plot. Now, it's natural for people to afford a slightly heightened sense of significance to the few words they do understand in the slew of those they don't...but I don't think that's the case here. From what I can ascertain, the main leitmotivs of The Avengers are gentlemen, playboys, bombs, and Avengers. Seriously—that's not too shabby. The Avengers stars Chris Evans, Robert Downey, Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Samuel L. Jackson and Tom Hiddleston. The new Marvel film about this group of ubermensches will waltz to theaters on May 4, 2012. Only a masochist would miss this movie; it is sure to make its mark on our zeitgiest. Source: Heyuguys
  • Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum Suit Up in New '21 Jump Street' Poster
    By: Michael Arbeiter Dec 19, 2011
    Going back to school. Rodney Dangerfield did it. Adam Sandler did it. Gabe Kaplan did it. But those people got it all wrong. Now, in the upcoming film adaptation of 21 Jump Street, Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum will do it, and they'll do it unlike anyone else ever has! Except, I guess, Johnny Depp and all the guys from the original series. But here's the difference: this is a movie. So it's bigger, it's cooler, it's louder! It has more action, more comedy, more romance! More everything. Below, stars Hill and Tatum gear up and suit up...for the senior prom. The duo play a pair of cops who go undercover as students at their old high school (where Tatum's character was a popular jock and Hill's character was a gawky nerd) to bust a drug ring run by the well-liked, eco-friendly Eric (Dave Franco). Other familiar faces include Ice Cube, Ellie Kemper, Rob Riggle and Brie Larson. 21 Jump Street may be quite a stylistic leap from its source material, but it looks like a good deal of fun. The film, directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, comes out March 16, 2012. Source: Facebook
  • Daniel Craig Might Play James Bond Eight Times
    By: Michael Arbeiter Dec 19, 2011
    Here's the James Bond count as it stands: Roger Moore holds the record with seven potrayals of Agent 007 (Live and Let Die, The Man with the Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy and A View to Kill). Sean Connery, although the most iconic representation of Bond, was one shy of Moore at six (Dr. No, From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice and Diamonds Are Forever). Then you have Pierce Brosnan with four (GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World is Not Enough and Die Another Day). The current Bond, Daniel Craig, on his way to three (Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace and the upcoming Skyfall). But the franchise producer Michael G. Wilson is not content with these standings. He wants Craig to take the record with eight Bond films. This is far from a solid deal, but the fact that Wilson is so adamantly behind the idea as to come out and state, "Filming has gone very well [on Skyfall] and I'd love Daniel to surpass Roger's [Moore] record and do eight pictures," to The People indicates that there's at least a reasonable chance we'll be seeing Craig as Bond for many years to come.  Many people have a strong stake in their favorite Bond portrayer. Could Craig's usurping of the 007 crown anger the devout Moorists? And how would this commitment affect his decision to take on other films, such as any inevitable sequels of the upcoming The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo? To finish off the Bond count: Timothy Dalton was Bond twice (The Living Daylights, License to Kill), and George Lazenby played the action hero in just one movie: Our Majesty's Secret Service. Source: Cinemablend