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.
  • Jesse Eisenberg Flick 'Zombieland' Is Becoming a TV Series
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 18, 2011
    This is the sort of thing that many of us will go back and forth on until it comes to fruition. Zombieland was a surprisingly well-received movie—although in retrospect, it doesn't seem that shocking. It had all the components of something today's audiences would naturally love: apocalypse, sub-beta male lead, super-alpha female love interest, self-referential breakdown of story structure via voiceover and funky SFX titles...the list goes on. So yeah, now it seems obvious, but nobody actually expected it at the time. But those behind it have high hopes a new incarnation of Zombieland: a TV show on Fox. It's hard to find a stance on this, considering how much I (and pretty much everyone else) love Zombieland. In the pros column, the movie was originally conceived as a TV show, but the creators were unhappy with the network's vision of it (and vice versa). The movie's success will likely afford the creators a little more leeway to manifest their series as they see fit (also a pro). Finally: Zombie Kills of the Week. But now for the cons. Despite (or because of) its open-endedness, I thought the ending to Zombieland was absolutely perfect, considering the main character's personal battles. However, producer Gavin Polone explains that none of the film's cast would be involved with the series, as one might expect. This does not necessarily destine the show to a decreased quality, but a lot of the fun of Zombieland could be attributed to the Jesse Eisenberg-Woody Harrelson-Emma Stone-Abigail Breslin-(Bill Murray) dynamic. There are so many things to consider. Can a new cast capture the flare of the old? Can a comedic zombie series stay fresh? Will it necessarily demand comparison to The Walking Dead? It's at least partially encouraging. With the film's writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick on board as the biggest pro of all, we can focus on the positive for now. It may not end up as epic as the movie, but you know the old saying: enjoy the little things. Source: Vulture
  • 'Hawaii Five-0' Recap: Ma'eme'e
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 18, 2011
    S2E5: This week's episode Hawaii Five-0 answers everyone's, especially Chin's, questions about Kono: She is working undercover for International Affairs, under the reign of Capt. Vincent Fryer (Tom Sizemore), to take down cop-gone-bad Frank DeLano (Billy Baldwin). The episode opens on a high school girls volleyball coach—loved by his students, faculty, alumni, everyone (isn't that always the case with teachers in these kinds of shows?)—murdered in his locker room after a big victory for his team. The Five-0 investigate his living quarters, which is a guest house on the property of the Joyners, a wealthy couple who let him live there for free, and find somewhat risque photographs of one of his students. All the while, Chin has reconnected with his ex-fiancee, who makes her own attempt at reaching out to the contentious Kono, to no avail. They speak to the girl, only to find out that the photographs were not taken by the coach, but by an advertising agency. The coach was displeased with his student's decision and she relinquished the photos to him. However, upon investigating a hotel reservation, the Five-0 finds out that it was not his student that the coach was sneaking around with, but the female half of the married couple who let him live on their property rent-free. New suspect: jealous husband. Instantly, this lead is terminated. The Five-0 go to confront the man, but he is shot dead by a distant gunman before he can reveal anything beyond, "They're going to kill my wife!" Chin and Lori stake out the hotel room (apparently, aforesaid wife has not checked out yet) to catch anyone who might be after her. To their surprise, Kono is the getaway driver for a thug who tries to break in to kill Mrs. Joyner. She speeds away, but she is caught by the Five-0, who take her into custody. However, while there, the team is visited by Capt. Fryer, who reveals that Kono is working for him undercover to take down DeLano. The team accuses him of using Kono to exact revenge on his crooked former partner, but Fryer and Kono insist they continue with their mission. Kono goes back undercover, helping DeLano coerce Mrs. Joyner (who they find at her hotel room) take out and bequeath unto them her safety deposit box—when the two are alone, Kono admits to Joyner that she is an undercover cop to put her at ease. The ending bank shoot out sees Kono reclaim her stance as hero, Fryer get his revenge on DeLano, and the team back together again. Top Five Moments from Tonight's Episode 1. Another LOST reunion. After the gift of John Locke helping out the force, Jin Soo Kwon interrogating Alexandra Linus/Rosseau is just some very sweet icing on a wonderful, wonderful cake. 2. Capt. Fryer's revelation. The team sort of had a collective "Oh, so that's what's been going on" moment when they find out the truth about Kono's recent shadiness. 3. Lori's flustered rambling in the hotel room to Chin about her hardly veiled attraction to Steve...and Chin's stoic, marginally interested responses. 4. Capt. Fryer's taking Steve's slap-in-the-face with dignity, and accepting the command to never mess with his team again. Admirable, considering that this is the same man who set out on a path of bloody revenge that endangered the lives of other police officers earlier that day. 5. Kono's coming back into her own during the bank scene, wherein she takes command by asserting to Mrs. Joyner that she'll be all right, and by pretty much winning control of the standoff.
  • 'Terra Nova' Recap: The Runaway
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 17, 2011
    S01E04: Now we're getting to the good stuff! The hints of mysteries to come, the "Everything is not as it seems" speeches, the scenes that make you start to rescind your trust in characters you assumed from the getgo were 'good guys.' This is a good sign for Terra Nova. Tonight's episode, "The Runaway," brings an unexpected visitor to the Terra Nova society. During a twilight woods excavation, Lt. Washington and her protegee, Maddy's Hemsworthian love interest Mark Reynolds, discover a young girl hiding (from them). They take her back to camp and try to treat her medically, but she resists all help, kicking and throwing a violent fit. Of course, the Shannons are the ones capable of getting through to her: Elisabeth talks her into giving her name (Leah), and revealing her origins: she lives among the Sxiers, both her parents are dead, she's got a twin brother, and she has been told that Nathaniel Taylor is "the Bad Man." She claims to be trying to find the portal in order to travel back to the 2100s so that she might live with her grandmother. However, Jim informs her that this is impossible—one-way portal; that's an important enough factoid to keep repeating. Side-note: I noticed something else that was repeated in this episode—Zoe's carnivorous Venus flytrap. Could just be an innocent mention, but I'd be willing to bet all my Obamadollars that somewhere along the line, this plant comes into significant play. But back to the episode: the Shannons take in Leah, while Washington and Reynolds head into the woods to find Leah's misplaced backpack. Lo and behold, they are ambushed and taken captive by Sixers. Led by Mira, the Sixers pay a visit to Terra Nova with their hostages, demanding that Taylor give up Leah. But both parties agree to leave it up to the child: Leah chooses to stay with Terra Nova; the Sixers release their hostages and retreat. Taylor threatens them with war if another invasion is attempted. “Did the overachiever just kinda-sorta achieve? Instead of open-heart surgery, did she just do an appendectomy?” - Josh So all is well and good. The little girl chooses the good guys, and even manages to bond with the soldier with the attachment disorder. That very man and his faithful sheriff start up a healthy round of McCarthyistic interrogation, looking for every otherwise-innocent member of the Sixth Pilgrimage to find out who among their society is the ominous spy. Of all people, Malcolm shoots in and comes to a fellow scientist's rescue when the questioning gets a little too heated. We can see from Jim's face that he might be coming to realize that Malcolm is right, and their behavior is unjust.  However, the Terra Novians soon learn to never trust little girls: it was all a ruse, and Leah was just biding her time until she could get into the former residence of Mira to retrieve a locked container hidden beneath the floorboards. She is caught before she can reach the borders, and interrogated by Taylor and Jim. Leah reveals that Mira insisted that she would kill her brother if Leah didn't get the package for her, but Taylor doesn't buy it. Jim is less of a cold-hearted jerk (granted, his son didn't run off to join the Sixers or become a waterfall graffiti artist or whatever it is Taylor, Jr., up to) and decides to believe Leah. Off in the woods, searching for a runaway Leah, Jim gets snagged in a Sixer trap and is almost eaten by whatever kind of dinosaur is known for its slow reaction time and relative jumping skills. The dinosaur is disposed of by a Sixer, and Jim is taken hostage. "That's the way they used to do it." - Reynolds "Technically they will do it that way. In the future. Of course, they’ll also wear corsets." - Maddy And here comes the payoff. Not just of this episode, but of the entire season so far. Up until now, we've been served the idea that these people are living in a nice little, moderately dysfunctional society, with a few loose ends here and there. But Terra Nova comes right out and explains to us here, "There's a whole lot more going on." Mira explains to Jim that Taylor got on the bad sides of a lot of people back in the 2100s, and that he's up to no good. She dismisses the idea that Terra Nova is about a "fresh start," but refuses to reveal what she believes the society/project to really be. All we know: it's a bad thing. Which is a good thing (for us). Mira also earns a few of our sympathies by revealing she was never actually going to hurt Leah's brother, and that she just wants to see her own daughter again. Jim is released. Leah is safe, and is reunited with her brother. The two are given a new home in Terra Nova. It's probably the happiest, Spielbergiest ending in recent television, especially considering the foreboding message of evil one scene earlier. And then of course, there's the mysterious container: unopenable (they can travel through time...but they can't open a box). Malcolm keeps it in his cupboard, as ordered by Taylor, until someone invents a key. Or a hammer. Or something. So all that at the end there—Mira's whole shpiel—that's what we were waiting for. That's where the fun comes out. It's nice to see Jim and Elisabeth raise their kids in dinotopia. It's nice to see nerdy Maddy come into her own (a subplot this week has Maddy shy away from medicinal practice, and become officially 'involved' with her soldier of love). But the real fun is these mysteries that are building up. Taylor's "not what he seems" arc. The Sixers "unlikely good guys" story. Maybe it's none too shocking to some of you out there, but it's a fun twist. After all, I seem to recall another series that had a group of people suddenly stranded in a natural paradise/wasteland, initially fearing some "Others," who turned out to have a lot more going for them than anyone had thought. And that one turned out to be pretty addicting.
  • Transformers 4 Is on the Horizon
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 17, 2011
    When I was in eight grade, one of my best friends threw me a surprise birthday party. She accidentally forwarded the mass e-mail invitation to me. Needless to say, come party time, I was unsurprised. But not half as unsurprised as I am at the news of another Transformers movie in the works. I know. That was quite possibly the most roundabout, unwarranted, horrendous introduction to a story on all of the known Internet. The worst part is, it's not entirely true. But that comes with the territories. The Internet, eighth grade, friendship: they're all fertile grounds for lies and deception. I'd now like to segue from the word 'deception' to the formal name 'Decepticon,' and to reiterate that there is, according to Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner, a fourth Transformers film being planned. Hopefully it's planned a little better than my eighth grade surprise party, which may or may not have actually happened (it's hard to tell now). One thing's for sure: neither event will have involved the presence of Shia LaBeouf. The Transformers series star stated previously, right around the time Dark of the Moon blastsploded into theaters, that were a fourth film to develop, he would not be on board. His reasons? The will to grow, experience new types of filmmaking, and to create different characters and stories. A pretty noble rationale. Far more noble than that behind his absence at my eighth grade surprise party, if you ask me. But the former Sam Witwicky won't be the only one expected to Shia-way from the inevitable Trans4mers. Michael Bay has been suggested to relinquish his directorial chair unto another filmmaker looking to get on board with the wildly successful franchise. Shia mentioned around the same time he made his own statement of eventual absence that Bay would likely not be interested in a fourth movie. Bay currently has his sights on Pain and Gain, a crime film on a much smaller scale than that to which Bay is accustomed. So, new star, new director...we may be saddled up for another Transformers movie, but it's shaping up to be one unlike its three predecessors. Maybe a new director will offer an entirely new perspective on the interplanetary war between the Autobots and the Decepticons. Perhaps new audiences—if there are indeed ones untapped by the first three movies—will be drawn to a different vantage point. Or, perhaps we'll be in for Transformers: Jumping of the Shark...a ruination of the incredibly popular series. Nobody knows this for sure. The movie itself was something we could all hang our hats on...but what we're in for with this movie? Well, that'll be much more surprising. Much like my eighth grade birthday. Which I imagine you're beginning to suspect I spent alone. Source: Indiewire
  • Kurt Sutter's Biting 'Sons of Anarchy' Renewed for a Fifth Season
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 17, 2011
    Kurt Sutter is a wild card, but he makes it work. A lot of people in show business know they need to walk a thin line with what they say—celebrities are often called on late night talk shows to apologize for comments they don't remember making. But Sutter is happily vocal, and rarely expletive-free, regarding any opinion he might have (including AMC's removal of Frank Darabont as The Walking Dead showrunner). But like I said, he makes it work. And that's because Sutter is responsible for Sons of Anarchy: a series so good, he can get away with saying almost anything. And I'm not the only one who thinks so; Sons of Anarchy has been picked up for a fifth season by FX. It's not a simple financial move. The network truly appreciates Sutter and his brilliant series. Said FX President John Landgraf, "Everyone at FX is very grateful to [executive producer] Kurt Sutter, his many writing, directing and producing collaborators and his masterful cast for making such a compelling and beautifully crafted show." Few who have seen Sutter's (simplistically put) motorcycle gang series can disagree. It is rife with interesting story, high-stakes, and worthwhile characters. Enough good stuff to keep everyone coming back each week and each season. Sons of Anarchy airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on the FX network. The fourth season finale will air on Nov. 29. Source: TVLine
  • NYCC 2011: 'Red Tails' Panel Offers Action-Packed Footage & Stories from a Real WWII Pilot
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 17, 2011
    Sure, superheroes are the big sell at New York Comic-Con, but real-life heroes are none too shabby either. That’s the message to take away from the NYCC panel for Red Tails, the upcoming George Lucas-produced, Anthony Hemingway film about the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African Americans to fly for the United States military in World War II. The panel was comprised of the film’s co-writer, Aaron McGruder (who is famous for creating The Boondocks), and two cast members Michael B. Jordan (of Friday Night Lights fame) and Leslie Odom, Jr. (CSI: Miami), as well as graphic designer Craig Hammick (Star Trek). But the breakout highlight was Dr. Roscoe Brown, who himself was a real Tuskegee Airman who flew for the U.S. against the Nazis. Brown commanded a good deal of the discussion, applying a helping of severity and history to the Lucasfilms production. Brown explained that as a child in the 1920s and ‘30s, he and his peers would read pulp magazines about World War I heroes—Flying Aces—and dream to be like them. The panel offered its audience a look at the Red Tails trailer, after which Brown remarked that the footage “takes [him] back fifty, sixty years, and [he’s] young again.”   In addition to the trailer, attendees also got to see footage from the upcoming movie, in which Jordan's character goes head-to-head with a Nazi fighter plane, and becomes the first black soldier to take down an enemy flier. Dr. Brown also expressed that although the triumphs of the Tuskegee Airmen were a step for civil rights, the problem was hardly rectified immediately. In returning to society after the war, Brown sought employment as an airline pilot, only to be turned away immediately solely for his race. This drove Brown to become better, and to develop a more versatile area of expertise.  Although Brown’s words were the most fascinating, the other men shared some interesting thoughts as well. Aaron McGruder explained that in order to write the movie well, he needed to “stop trying to make a movie about black heroes…[and to] step back from the enormity of the history…[and to] focus on the fun…and good storytelling.” The actors shared stories about a boot camp they endured to prepare for the roles, with which Brown and some other Tuskegee Airmen were involved. Brown joked about the cast members: “These guys were pretty soft when they started. It was our job to toughen ‘em up.” Brown eventually laid to rest his playful mockery and admitted how proud he was to be associated with the men involved in the film, and how glad he was that the movie was being made.   Although it may not have been the flashiest presentation at NYCC this year, it was certainly among those with the most heart and sincerity. Dr. Brown's addition to the panel reminded us where many stories come from: real history, about real people. He didn't just give us a history lesson, he gave us a reason to care about this movie, and possibly a better understanding of something many of us are fortunate enough to have not experienced firsthand.
  • Our Favorite Trio Becomes Mysterious in New 'The Three Stooges' Silhouette Poster 
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 17, 2011
    The The Three Stooges movie is a tough one on which to form a concrete stance. On the one hand, many of us wouldn't be necessarily opposed to a Stooges "re-imagining"—although it would probably be better suited as a short, rather than a movie. It could be something quick and self-aware, landing between homage, parody and deconstruction. But what they're going for with this one seems a little...easier. The Farrelly Brothers are an accomplished duo. I, like most people, am a big fan of their early movies, which were not too complicated, but still very funny (I think every single person I know has Dumb & Dumber somewhere in their Top Ten). But placing the Stooges on a reality show (as is the premise of this movie) seems a little too simple -- the kind of choice they didn't really have to be entirely conscious to make. But that's looking at it through a negative lens. I am just as willing to believe this movie could turn out to be terrific. Some call the casting of the titular trio (Sean Hayes as Larry, Will Sasso as Curly and Chris Diamantopoulos as Moe) underwhelming, but having two relative unknowns on board might actually prove beneficial to the delivery of these very familiar characters. So really, it's a toss-up. But check out the silhouette poster, and decide for yourself whether or not this film will inspire any nyuks. Source: ThreeStooges.com
  • NYCC 2011: Is The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo a Superhero?
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 17, 2011
    The best kind of thing that Comic-Con has to offer isn’t necessary new material from upcoming projects, but a great understanding behind the sorts of projects it does celebrate. NYCC hosted a panel on the debate over whether or not Lisbeth Salander, the main character from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, is a superhero. Brought to discuss were psychologist/writer Robin Rosenberg, who worked on the book Is 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' a Superhero?, Paul Levitz (DC comics writer), Tom De Falco (Marvel editor, creator of Spider-Girl), Danny O’Neil (writer for DC comics and Iron Man) and Danny Fingeroth (Superman on the Couch writer). In attacking the question at hand, the speakers needed to address the definition of the term ‘superhero’ itself. There are a handful of classic ‘superhero’ characteristics that Lisbeth (played by Rooney Mara in the upcoming film series) does possess. Her heightened abilities are no brainer—there are few who can match Lisbeth's photographic memory and hacking skills. Secret identity is a more debatable one; the panel argued that the persona the characters and readers see as Lisbeth is the identity she has created for herself, stemming back from her sexual abuse (origin story). What separates her from most classic superheroes is that she herself falls into the category of the type of victim Lisbeth has made it her life goal to avenge: abused women. In superhero mythology, more often than not, heroes are avenging a loved one in their quests to prevent and stop crime (Batman and Spider-Man are two big examples). After deliberating details like these, the panel spent a good deal of time focusing on the core of the issue of whether or not Lisbeth’s motivations and actions were truly ‘superheroic.’ The specific questions asked were, “Is she doing this for the greater good?” and “Can a superhero ever kill his enemies (as Lisbeth does)?” No real consensus was reached on this issue—as expected, the room was split, especially when posed with the latter question. The panel shared a scene from the Swedish Millennium Trilogy film series, wherein Lisbeth takes down a gang of bikers. They are not particularly evil men, more so just a nuisance to her at the time—although not exactly upright citizens, either. Furthermore, the panel cited Lisbeth’s embezzlement of criminals’ money in the story. The panel decided that she is not doing it as a preventative measure, to keep them from performing their malicious tasks adequately, but rather just for her own benefit. Of course, in a Machiavellian sense, this is a good act (her use of the money will be far less despicable than that of the original party), but her actions aren’t truly noble. Despite the lack of concrete conclusion, the panel was a fascinating analysis of both The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and the idea of a superhero, delivered by a group of people whose expertise are right on target for this sort of things: psychology and (more importantly) comic books.  And now the question is in your hands: Is the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo a superhero?
  • Charlie Day, Emma Stone and Jason Segel to Host 'SNL' this November
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 17, 2011
    So far so good, Saturday Night Live. This season has been largely a winner, opening with Alec Baldwin's stint on one of the show's funniest nights in quite a long time, and lasting through the episodes starring Melissa McCarthy, Ben Stiller and Anna Faris. But the real triumphs will take place next month, when three comic goldmines: Charlie Day, Emma Stone and Jason Segel. These will be first-time hosting gigs for Day and Segel, and Stone's second run on the SNL stage. Charlie Day is the Golden Goose of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia and his first big movie Horrible Bosses. We all know what he's great at: a sort of desparate, borderline-psychotic hysteria that would be tragic if you were watching it happen to a real person. Day will grace Saturday Night Live on Nov. 5, likely keeping a few voice-cracking tantrums in his back pocket for the occasion. Maroon 5 will serve as musical guest. Emma Stone did well last time around on Saturday Night Live, embracing her legion of nerdy admirers and launching herself full force into the comedy. Stone's second SNL gig will air on Nov. 12, backed up by Coldplay. Finally, the man who we can't really believe hasn't already hosted: Jason Segel. Segel is a tour de force of self-deprecating comedic roles, both on television (we recall his Freaks & Geeks glory days with heartfelt sigh) and in films. Perhaps the most versatile of these three skilled performers, Segel's might be the most promising episode on the horizon for Saturday Night Live. And that's saying a lot, considering this company of talent. Segel's episode will air on Nov. 19, with the glorious Florence and the Machine as musical guest. Source: TVLine
  • 'Reel Steal' Director Shawn Levy Attached to 'Pinocchio' Prequel About Gepetto
    By: Michael Arbeiter Oct 17, 2011
    I can almost guarantee that Toy Story is a near-exact illustration of what Shawn Levy's childhood was like: his best friends were his playthings that he always sort of knew, in the back of his head, were alive. And that's what drives him to make so many movies about non-living things becoming living things. As if both Night at the Museum movies and Reel Steel weren't enough, he's now taking a stab at the original toy-come-to-life story: Pinocchio. Only, he's not really focusing on the whole Pinocchio aspect (naturally); instead, he's working on a prequel about the love life of Pinocchio's father, Gepetto. The script is titled The Three Misfortunes of Gepetto, and it is written by Michael Vukadinovich. The newest entity in the cyclone of re-imagination that has hit Hollywood will follow the lonely puppeteer through an adventure to win the heart of a girl named Julia Moon. This name alone is a departure from the more European-sounding names of the original Disney film's characters (Pinocchio, Gepetto, Figaro, Cleo, Monstro...let's call Jiminy Cricket a tourist). A minor detail, perhaps, but should this indicate other, wider liberties taken with the story and character we know and love? But back to the matter at hand: Levy has a truly strange fixation on this whole "things coming to life" theme that doesn't stop at the works listed. He's also attached to a Frankenstein project written by Max Landis. Hopefully this will satisfy his craving for now...if Levy gets involved with any of those rumored projects like Toy Story 4, Short Circuit reboot or Indian in the Cupboard IMAX Experience (okay, that last one I just made up), someone might have to call a good therapist. Source: Deadline