Archive for the ‘TV/Movies’ Category

Thoughts on “Ten Things I Hate About You”

August 8, 2022

I had watched this movie a long time ago, and remembered kinda enjoying it.  Then, I was reading “The Taming of the Shrew”, and musing about modern takes on the play that would be explicitly trying to tone down the purported misogyny, and remembered that I had picked this up cheap at some point and never watched it, and so decided it would be a good time to watch it, mostly in order to see how it tried to avoid the issues of the play while still staying true to the overall story.  And it turns out that what it did was removing the “taming” aspect of it entirely, which turns it into a more standard teen romantic comedy.

The basic idea does follow on from the basic structure of the play.  Kat and Bianca’s father is a obstetrician, and so sees a lot of teenage pregnancies and so does not want his children to end up in that state themselves, and so is a bit overly protective of them in that regard.  This is what spawns his demand that Bianca can’t date until Kat does, and Kat doesn’t date.  She’s also very aggressive, interrupting her English class to demand more women authors despite her doing that seemingly every class and doing it to a black teacher who points that out to her, and running over people in her soccer match in a way that would get her a red card in most games.  Meanwhile, a newcomer to the school falls in love with and wants to date Bianca, while she’s drawn the attention of the Alpha Jock of the school who simply wants to sleep with her.  The newcomer finds the guy to date Kat, and he and the Alpha Jock pay him to date Kat, where they clash at times but seem to start to care about each other.  Meanwhile, the newcomer isn’t on Bianca’s radar even as he tries to tutor her in French, because she’s interested in the Alpha Jock, but after a party starts to dislike him and like the newcomer, which culminates in them going to prom.  The Alpha Jock, upset that he paid money to Kat’s suitor to not get Bianca, reveals the deal and Kat storms off, and when he badmouths Bianca the newcomer tries to stand up for her and gets hit, but then Bianca clocks the Alpha Jock — who had sex with and then dumped Kat earlier when Kat didn’t want to have sex with him again — for her date, her sister, and herself, and the movie ends with Kat and her beau making up while Bianca dates the newcomer.

As it stands, there is no real taming of Kat in this movie.  Thus, it works a lot more like a standard teen romance where the two of them have to feel around their feelings for each other around a plot where misunderstandings can occur and get in the road than with him having to really break down her barriers and find a way to get her to let go of her issues and anger and become a better person.  So there is no speech where she talks at all about how she’s stopped being so much of a shrew and why she did that, and so no equivalent to the actual taming of the shrew or any real acknowledgement that she ever was.  So that aspect is totally lost.

What this does, ironically, is make it so that Bianca has the more interesting arc.  In the play, the audience’s perception of her moves from her being all sweetness and light to her becoming more of a shrew herself, while in the movie she is still somewhat sweet but is shown or at least talked about as being more selfish from the start, which she loses at the end of the movie.  There’s even a scene where the newcomer, frustrated with feeling that she is using him, asks her if she was always that selfish and she sheepishly and morosely says “Yes”, realizing that she has indeed been a bit selfish.  She also picks up or at least demonstrates that she’s not that different from Kat and has picked up her ability to stand up for herself, pushing the newcomer to ask her out and, of course, beating up the Alpha Jock at the end, while realizing that what he could offer isn’t worth having but what the newcomer has to offer is.  So she has the better arc and ends up being the most interesting and sympathetic character in the movie.

The movie itself isn’t bad, and is still a movie that I might want to rewatch at some point, so it goes into my closet of movies to rewatch at some point.  However, as noted, despite its copious references to the play and to Shakespeare — mainly names and the interest of one of the minor characters in Shakespeare — it doesn’t really capture “The Taming of the Shrew” because it leaves the taming part out (unless you count Bianca’s conversion as that, but she’s too nice from the start for that to work).  Still, that doesn’t count against it as its own work, but does make it a poor movie as a follow-on to “The Taming of the Shrew”.

Thoughts on “An Unquiet Grave”

August 4, 2022

The change in my opinion of “Shudder” exclusives is amazing.  After watching the first two — “Party Hard, Die Young” and “Scare Package” — I was pretty much convinced that their exclusives were just pretty much stupid movies and I was hesitant to pick up any more of them.  And then I accidentally picked up a couple others — “Stay Out of the Attic” and “Shook” — that I found a lot more interesting, and then I followed it up with the decent “The Cleansing Hour” as well.  So I went from avoiding “Shudder” exclusives to being willing to pick them up pretty much automatically.  My impression of the channel itself also changed, from worrying about whether it would be worth getting to picking up a Roku box in preparation for signing onto it at some point.

I have three sets of “Shudder” exclusives to talk about over the next few weeks, and I’m going to start with “An Unquiet Grave”.

The basic premise here is that the fiance of a guy died tragically, and he and her twin sister head out to perform a strange ritual to bring her back to life.  What he didn’t tell the sister is that the ritual isn’t going to bring her twin sister’s body back to life, but will instead implant her “soul” in the twin’s body, taking it over and effectively killing her.  The ritual works, but when the revived sister learns of what happens she isn’t happy with it, and a grave and the body seems to be active as well, and so he ultimately has to reverse the ritual and he and the restored twin sister have to bury the body again, and exchange a meaningful glance right before the credits.

This isn’t a bad movie.  The performances are good for the limited cast they have, the plot makes some sense, and the characters work well together.  About my only real and solid complaint is about the ending, since the twin sister was not at all happy about being deceived into giving up her body, which she expressed quite clearly on a number of occasions.  So, at the end, what does that look mean?  They have serious issues with each other and it could suggest that she might try to kill him in revenge, but we don’t really get a resolution to that arc (and, to be fair, we don’t really need one).  So it hints at something more but doesn’t establish what that might be.  Ironically, if instead of this being a “take over the body” story it was a “came back wrong” story, then the ending would have been perfect, with them sharing a look of relief mixed with worry that maybe it isn’t actually over.  As it is, again it hints at something that isn’t interesting enough for another movie or to leave hanging but is too big to just forget about.

The strange thing is, though, that despite the fact that the movie wasn’t at all bad and was even quite enjoyable, I have no interest in watching it again.  There just wasn’t enough of a plot or enough interesting character interactions or strong enough performances to make me want to rewatch it.  It isn’t just the fact that the plot and character interactions were so simple and straightforward that I don’t think I’d find anything new or interpret things in a new way on a rewatch.  I rewatch movies that have those traits all the time.  No, despite the fact that it was perfectly enjoyable and worked well enough I just don’t really care about it enough to rewatch it.

My hypothesis here is that it’s following a model that hits a lot of modern movies in general:  it’s just pretty shallow.  I’ve mused in the past about movies simply putting the tropes in but not really doing anything with them, which usually means that the movies end up being not at all good.  This one, I think, is a more competent version of those sorts of movies, but again it ends up being somewhat shallow.  Now, of course, when we look at traditional slasher movies being shallow isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but this is not a traditional slasher movie, and so is a movie based on a deeper concept.  And, again, all I can say is that it works fairly well but there’s nothing really special or interesting about it, which explains why I don’t want to rewatch it.

It’s a good enough movie that I might give it another shot at some point, and so it’s not going to go into my box to resell, but despite all the things it had going for it it’s not going into my closet for movies that I am likely to rewatch on a regular basis.  It’s still a pretty decent “Shudder” exclusive, though.

Shallow Thoughts on “Darrow and Darrow”

August 1, 2022

While working from home, my neighbourhood is both too loud and too quiet for me to work without my having some kind of noise on in the background.  It’s too quiet because it’s generally a quiet neighbourhood and so I end up with a lot of silence, which lets me hear every single creak or every single squirrel running along the roof.  But it’s also too noisy because it’s a main route to a few places and so it gets a bit of traffic, and it’s a built up area so there are often people doing outside work and yard work or walking down the street talking and so on and so forth.  On top of that, what I discovered while playing games like “The Old Republic” is that it’s nice to have something to look up at in those times when things on the screen aren’t really keeping my attention, which is why my main desk for games and now for working from home gives me a view of my main TV in the living room.

Thus, when I’m working from home what I want to find are things that I can watch on TV that I can look up at on occasion that provide some background noise but aren’t too distracting.  I often would watch some of the Lifetime movies when I had that as part of the cable package I had at the time, but the fact that they kept repeating the movies and weren’t putting out any new ones caused me to stop watching them and, eventually, to drop that package.  As part of the new package, I picked up a drama channel that ran some mysteries at a time when nothing else was on that started when my normal DVD watching finished.  Since I’m supposed to be going back into the office in September, I decided when I noted that I probably wasn’t going to be able to finish the ones that I had planned to finish this summer that in light of the fact that rushing these DVDs and trying to finish them tends to annoy me I would just hunt around and find something on TV to watch, which then left a gap that I filled with movies (right now, it’s the James Bond movies).  This also allowed me to switch watching those movies from around noon to early in the morning.

Which was good, because it turns out that they have a few series that they then, surprise, surprise, repeat.  It starts with a couple of the “Murder, She Baked” series starting Alison Sweeney, who I knew from “Days of Our Lives”, and then an archeological series starring Courtney Thorne-Smith, who I remember from “Melrose Place”, and then a crossworld puzzle themed one starring Lacey Chabert, who I know from “Party of Five”, and then “Darrow and Darrow” a law firm based series which is the subject of this post and whose star I didn’t know, and then a garage sale/antiques themed one staring Lori Loughlin.  I’m not all that pleased that they keep repeating, and it is a bit annoying that they have something like 10 or more of the last one and usually only about two or three of the others, but it works for my early morning vaguely paying attention period, as all the movies have recognizable faces that I recall and don’t mind watching (even “Darrow and Darrow” has Wendie Malick) but that I don’t really have to pay attention to and if I happen to look up I won’t really have missed much.

But this past run I ended up doing things that required me to sit for longer periods of time waiting for things to happen, both in terms of noting that if I waited for a while between runs I could reproduce an error more frequently and in terms of having to wait to see if in another error case the system would eventually recover or, for another problem, if it would eventually lock the entire system up.  While this covered a few days, a lot of it happened during the run of “Darrow and Darrow”, and I found that I was enjoying those more than the others.

One of the main reasons for that is that while paying attention to it I found that the series was funnier than I remembered it and funnier than the other movies.  Yes, all of them had their lighter moments, and yes, I had noted that the main character could be snarky in her court appearances, but there were a lot more jokes in general in the series than I recalled and they were a lot funnier than I remember.  Of course, I don’t remember any of them now, but do recall an interesting discussion between the main character and her love interest about grape soda — and how it tastes good but nothing like grape — and of course Wendie Malick’s character — the mother of the main character — having a tendency, when asked about herself, to make up jokes about her past, such as when there was a sharing session at the law firm and she said “Well, I shot a man in Rio just to watch him die”, and when they asked if she was serious she replied that of course she wasn’t, as it was Johnny Cash.  So paying a little more attention to the series it seems like there’s more humour in it than I originally thought.

Now, one of the problems I had had originally with the show was that the lead, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, was probably the best looking of all the leads.  Sure, you could make a case for Lacey Chabert or Lori Loughlin, but to me, at least, as presented she was more attractive.  Now, that in and of itself wasn’t going to bother me.  But since these seem to be mysteries aimed more at a female audience, that means that there needs to be a love interest.  And the love interest here is the dorkiest out of all of the love interests.  So you have the most attractive female lead having the dorkiest love interest.  That didn’t seem to work.

On paying more attention to it, though, it became clear that that was the intent.  As a love interest, the focus is not on him being the traditional type of love interest, but instead on him being, well, a dorky love interest.  The reason is that the main character is presented as being a bit of a dork herself, which means that she should find a more dorky love interest interesting.  This is presented first by her daughter being presented as being a dork — interested in engineering and not getting along with people that well — and then having the main character note that her daughter isn’t that much different from her, which has Wendie Malick’s mother point out that that’s kinda the problem.  So the series establishes that the main character is a bit of dork by establishing that her daughter is a bit of a dork and is a lot like her mother, and so we can see that what she likes about her love interest is not that he’s incredibly handsome, but that he’s a bit dorky and awkward, kinda like her.

Of course, why I had issues with it was that early on her mother, when she meets him, comments that he’s an incredibly handsome man, and since compared to the typical love interest in these movies he wasn’t it really seemed out of place.  It would have worked better if the mother had first simply commented that he seemed interested in the main character, and then that he was handsome enough and was a dork like the main character was, all of which would have been accurate and not caused anyone to note that what she said didn’t seem accurate when compared to the other movies.  Once that was forgotten, the dork-to-dork attraction became more obvious.

Anyway, it’s a more interesting series of movies than I originally thought, and so at some point I might even be tempted to actually pay attention and watch an entire one.

Thoughts on “6:45”

July 28, 2022

This is another movie that I was looking forward to, because it promised to be another horror time loop story in the vein of “Happy Death Day”.  Now, while even the sequel to that movie wasn’t actually a good movie, there’s a lot that you can do with such a premise and if you implement it properly you can make an interesting movie, or at least a movie that’s interesting enough to escape the box to get rid of at some point.

This movie didn’t manage to implement the premise that well.

The basic idea is that a couple that has been having some problems — he cheated on her, which is revealed later — goes away to a remote island that the back of the box proclaims has a secret, and where the murder of a young couple happened a few years ago.  As they wander around the island, they themselves get murdered in a similar fashion, but time resets back to 6:45 in the morning — hence the title — and they have to live through the day to hopefully break the loop.

Now, my thought before watching the movie was that this would be a great premise to set up some kind of ritual sacrifice thing like we saw in “Midsommar” or in “Death of Me” (neither of those being all that great either) where the islanders have that ritual to give them some benefit but the two of them manage to foil it in a way that creates the time loop, meaning that they need to find a way to break the loop without it ending with the two of them sacrificed, which would suggest that both of them know what’s going on and have to work together to break it.  Instead, only the boyfriend realizes that it’s a time loop and so he has to figure this out on his own, which means that they don’t take advantage of what could have been a somewhat fresh take on the premise, as usually the one person has to explain the premise to someone every time around to get help but here the two of them could be trying to work together to solve it.  Which at some point could reference the problems they’d been having as they wonder if that could be causing the time loop, and leading to frustrated arguments between them.  As such, it reduces itself to a pretty standard time loop story.

That’s done poorly.  The main thing about a time loop is that things should proceed exactly as normal, and the main character isn’t aware that time is repeating until they hit a couple of loops and realize that the things that are happening again are things that really shouldn’t be repeating, and so the only way that things change is when the main character does things differently, usually to test the theory that things are happening again or to try to break the loop.  Here, at the start of the second loop the main character seems aware that it’s a loop — and they splash a big day counter to let us know that — and without doing anything differently we see different things happening (telling a story about the murders, for example).  This loses the big thing that time loops provide which is the slow build to the realization that the day is repeating which then leads to the main character trying anything they can think of to break the loop.  Here, things change early and often.  Moreover, he builds to the extremely frustrated “blow it all up” stage really early, and then they do what I sometimes do with stories where while it seems like I should have more in there I get bored of it and then just rush to the end.  They jump hundreds of days into the future to resolve the movie, when what we really want to see is that slow build to overall frustration and then to a solution.  Jumping more days in between would have avoided that issue while still giving us the sense that he’s been stuck there for a long time.

Also, the main character isn’t very sympathetic, which it turns out is because of how they wanted to end it, which I have problems with as well.  Eventually, he confesses the affair, she leaves and survives, the loop ends, he returns, and then the movie has him be arrested and implies that before he left he had killed her and so all of those events were some kind of hallucination or delusion.  That’s disappointing, but could be made to work.  Except he denies this to himself claiming that he was a hero and saved her when he didn’t actually do anything to save her, at least not anything heroic.  So all it does is serve to cement him as an abuser, which isn’t going to make us any more sympathetic to him, and his belief that he saved her is pointless and meaningless.  I think it would have worked better for him to have indeed taken a heroic action to save her, have them return and have her go off to talk to her mother who might have been worried when they couldn’t contact her for most of the day (the cell phone ran out of power) and then have him go back to the apartment and be arrested.  Then his protestations would have made some sense and we could wonder if it was all a delusion or if she had been killed by someone else while she was away and he was taking the blame.

As it is, we have an unsympathetic main character, a botched time loop story, and a nonsensical and uninteresting ending.  I don’t think anyone will be surprised when I say that this one is going into my box of movies to get rid of at some point, the second movie in a row that I was looking forward to that ends up that way.

Thoughts on “Ghost Whisperer” (Season 4)

July 26, 2022

As you might recall, Season 3 ended with a cliffhanger where there were six people standing around but they only cast five shadows.  I was curious to see what they were going to do with that set-up, which turned out to be … not much at all.  It’s referenced at the beginning of Season 4 as something for them to worry about, but then gets ignored as the professor from the previous seasons leaves to go on a sabbatical which very much upsets Melinda for … some reason, given that when professors take sabbaticals they usually come back after a year or so and while there’s some hint that he might be in danger none of that is referenced again, and it’s only in that arc that the “five shadows” are even mentioned.  Later, when Jim himself actually dies it isn’t raised.  So that entire cliffhanger pretty much just fizzles out.

Although, that might have been due to the change over in the creative staff, as the show creator who was also the head creative person moved out to become a consultant and was replaced, and the show changed significantly as a result.  A lot of the specific horror elements from the previous seasons were dropped, such as whatever was going on in the tunnels under the town (although they are still mentioned) and Melinda’s brother (who isn’t mentioned at all).  Instead, a group of women appear to act as some kind of guides to Melinda, warning her while she’s trying to get pregnant that her interactions with the dead might mean that death can touch her and the people around her, and there’s also an addition/focus on the advisory group called the “Watchers” who have plans of their own.  So it’s almost like another reboot of the show, as I noted it felt like in Season 2.

This is only more pronounced when we turn to the secondary characters.  The expert character of the professor, as already noted, leaves but is replaced with a Psychology professor who after a near-death experience can hear ghosts.  He starts out being in the same sort of jerk mold as the professor, but gets a lot of softening so that he’s just a bit snarky, and Melinda seems in general to be more comfortable with him than she was with the professor.  That being said, he ends up being mostly a sidekick for her and I didn’t think she really needed one, so he often doesn’t get to do much.  And so for the most part I feel that he’s another wasted character, but there are some times when the character really does allow for things to happen that couldn’t have happened otherwise.

Which leads in to what happens with the other characters.  As I noted above, Jim, her husband, dies from a gunshot wound while fighting off a killer, when the police detective helping them shoots him by accident (which his grief over the death of his daughter contributed to, which Melinda has to deal with in the next episode).  This leads to an arc where he doesn’t want to cross over — which was hinted at in earlier seasons — and Melinda wants him to.  Ultimately, he is following her around and someone near them dies, and so he jumps into the body and so “comes back to life” (which they call “stepping in” which the show explicitly notes they had talked about before) but has lost all of his memories of being either Jim or the original guy, which then sets up a long arc with Melinda trying to get him to remember being Jim while his family and other people work to get him to remember being the original person, and also Melinda wanting to let him in on her ghost-seeing ability — especially once they start dating — but his extreme skepticism over that makes it difficult and risks him seeing her as nuts — which he hints at and even explicitly says when she tells him — which, of course, keys into her old wounds of people thinking that she was weird and insane for being able to see ghosts.

Now, when I first started watching this arc, I thought that this was a completely bonkers plot.  And, to be fair, I still think it is.  However, it actually ended up, at least for the length of its run, fixing my issues with the secondary characters of Jim and Delia.  I complained that Jim didn’t have anything to do in the show other than be supportive and worried, and the loss of memory and attempts to recover that and the attempts for them to reconnect give him a lot of things to do, and since he was a ghost that appropriated a new body it’s even attached to the main premise of the show.  And I complained that his role didn’t leave Delia room to be the supportive friend, but the show uses this to convince Delia, at least in part, of the existence of ghosts and eliminate her skepticism when she becomes convinced that this really is Jim and not just Melinda hoping that this is Jim, and since Delia had lost her husband it makes her be a complete advocate for Melinda getting back together with Jim and taking her second chance, which then puts her squarely in the “supportive friend” role, which works really well.  Of course, they ultimately do have him resolve his memory issues, by having him remember being Jim but not remember anything from the time when he was trying to remember who he was, which I think was a bit of a mistake, as having him remember his experiences while dead would give him a unique view that would avoid him falling back into “supportive but worried” in future seasons.  But we’ll have to see how this works in Season 5.

This also is the case where Eli, the guy who can hear but not see ghosts, was actually useful.  As Melinda ran around trying to get Jim to recall his memory, it allowed Eli to take point on the normal ghost issue in the episode, particularly in one episode where she takes a road trip with him to try to get him to remember who he is before he decides to marry the woman that the original guy was going to propose to.  While there are a couple of small ghost incidents as complications for Melinda in her arc, the big ghost arc in that episode is handled by Eli and Delia, which allows for the show to maintain its original focus while still being able to have a mostly non-ghost arc with Melinda and Jim.

Now, this could be an objection to the storyline, as especially when Jim looks for the woman who might have been his fiancee and when the two of them start dating and Melinda keeps trying to hide her ghost abilities from him the plot really starts to be far more soap operaish than the show had been up to that point.  That being said, we’ve had three to three and a half seasons of a show with an empathetic character played by Jennifer Love Hewitt, and so in general we should come in at this point liking her and wanting to see her be happy or at least have her issues be resolved, and so we in general are probably going to be willing to suffer through that because we will ultimately care about what happens to her.  Thus, I noticed that the plot was very soap operaish but found that I didn’t really mind because Jennifer Love Hewitt plays it well and shows the emotions that she’d be going through well, so it was interesting enough, and the show is indeed smart enough to maintain some of the original tone and in general always have a ghost story in each episode, and so we don’t lose what was keeping us watching the show while adding the more personal story that does allow Jim to have an arc that is important, meaningful, and emotional.

Interestingly, what I noticed as the season went on is that while originally it was more of a straight ghost story, by the end it was turning into a show that reminded me a lot of “Charmed”.  A supernatural love story (Melinda and Jim) coupled with ancestral protectors and mysterious supernatural advisors started to feel a lot like “Charmed”.  The end of the season only made that more striking when the advice is that Melinda’s soon-to-be-born son is going to be some sort of powerful force for good that the opposing forces want to stop really reminds me of Piper’s children from “Charmed”, and it moves the show away from the more serious threads that they started with in the previous seasons towards a more direct “good vs evil” plot.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the fifth season.

That being said, it does maintain one thing from the previous seasons where it starts its last arc quite late, usually in the last three episodes.  Here, that involves a book called the “Book of Changes” — which, again, seems a lot like “Charmed” — that records information about Melinda and some important notes about her life, which the Watchers want to protect from a group of opposing people (implied to be evil) who want to get their hands on it.  Eli suddenly reveals that he had a friend/lover that is an expert on the supernatural, and then she is revealed to be interested in the collection that has the book while he is interested in getting back together with her now that he believes in the supernatural (that was apparently the big stumbling block with their relationship), then she gets killed by accident, and then he has to try to get her to cross over but she claims to have something else to do, but she crosses over once he decides to accept being the protector of the book.  This, of course, is handled over the course of three episodes and comes out of nowhere.  At the same time, they need to reveal that Melinda’s baby is going to be important and do that with a misdirection on it being a girl with a claim that “she will be important” but that “she can’t be saved”, which I guess refers to the lover but I’m not at all certain about that.  So this arc is rushed and comes out of nowhere with some references to previous things, so pretty much like the show has been doing up until now.

However, the season doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, but instead on dropping threads for the next season, like the issues around Melinda’s son, as well as Eli taking on the role of the protector of the book, which likely means that he will be moving on after this season (they explicitly say that he can’t stay in one place with the book).  Instead of ending on a cliffhanger, then, it ends by resolving the main arc of the season, with Jim-in-new-body remarrying Melinda to make that all legal.   Again, that’s a very “Charmed” way of ending a season, but at least it will avoid them raising something as a cliffhanger and then either resolving it in a perfunctory fashion or not at all, which was an issue with the previous seasons.

So, this season changed things up quite a bit, and in some ways that I, at least, thought were improvements.  However, the next season is the last season of the series, so perhaps those changes didn’t work out so well for the show.  I’ll see how that worked when I watch the last season, Season 5.

Thoughts on “13 Fanboy”

July 21, 2022

I probably should just stop anticipating things.  When I saw this movie, having liked the original movie, I was looking forward to seeing what they did with it, as it presented itself as linking back to the original movies through the original actresses (and one of the original actors for Jason himself).  That they were able to assemble these characters into one movie should really have been a boon for it as, well, where else were you going to get that?  All they had to do was come up with a decent story to tie all of this together and they’d have a pretty good movie.  Unfortunately, that’s what they failed to do.

The movie starts off pretty well, as it focuses on someone who wasn’t in the original movies but is set up as the daughter of one of the original actresses.  Her mother was killed by a strange stalker when she was a child, who threatened her mother and grandmother as well, before seemingly being killed by the grandmother.  Now, the daughter is being stalked by someone, and that stalker is also going after some of the original actresses, which then includes the grandmother.

This is where the movie loses it for me, because the last half of the movie focuses on the grandmother who is a much less interesting character than the daughter, and who also has a much less interesting connection to the original murders.  About the only interesting thing about her is that she has a more direct connection to Friday the 13th, but it turns out that she doesn’t have a personal connection to the killer, as it is revealed towards the end that the stalker and killer was the boyfriend of the daughter.  Or, at least, I think that’s what happened, because it’s dark, his face is different and, oh, yeah, the daughter doesn’t really react to it despite him trying to kill her!  In a movie where the daughter was the focus, this would have been a very dramatic and emotional event even if there was another killer (as there is).  But the shift to the grandmother makes this scene pretty much perfunctory.

I could have forgiven that if the link to the final killer was more interesting, but it wasn’t.  The ultimate killer is another actress from the movies who, I guess, wants to revive her own career and feels jealous of the others for getting more attention.  Her motivations actually aren’t all that clear, which makes sense because her being a killer and involved comes completely out of nowhere and isn’t hinted at except for perhaps one scene with Kane, who is her lover, that doesn’t really indicate anything because we don’t have much reason to think that Kane was involved as well, although maybe he was.  At any rate, it comes completely out of nowhere and so isn’t an interesting reveal in any way.  Now, you can point out that one of the things that I liked about the original movie was that the reveal of the killer came out of nowhere, but that was not because that reveal came out of nowhere but instead because the movie spent most of its runtime being studiously unconcerned with any of that.  No one really bothered to speculate about who the killer might be.  The hints and red herrings weren’t drawn attention to or even paid attention to for the most part.  That movie spent most of its time making it so that no one really thought about or cared about who the murderer is, so when it was someone completely unexpected we didn’t think “Nice twist!” or, given the evidence in the movie, “Huh?”.  We just accepted it and rolled with it in line with what the movie itself seemed to want us to do.  Here, the identity of the killer is the main plot and so to resolve in this way is, as usual disappointing.

I liked the daughter character, but disliked the grandmother character who gets the focus for most of the movie.  Add that to the twist ending that comes out of nowhere and isn’t properly developed, and this is a movie that I will not watch again, and so it goes into my box of movies to get rid of at some point.  It’s a shame, because given the premise and the fact that they managed to sign on so many actors and actresses from the original movies one would have liked them to be attached to a better movie.

Thoughts on “Graveyard Shift”

July 14, 2022

This is the last of the movies in that four-pack of Stephen King movies, which means that I’ll talk about the entire pack at the end of this post.  This is King’s version of a vampire story — although not the same as “Salem’s Lot” — but it features a much more animalistic vampire, in the sense that it seems to be an actual vampire bat that can control rats in some way instead of a more human-like vampire.  In theory, that’s something that you could do something with, but the monster doesn’t appear until the very end of the movie and the details of it aren’t properly explored.

Which is a shame, really, because the main flaw in this movie is that it’s just so incredibly boring.  We start off with a long sequence showing a death from rats and/or the monster, but for the most part the rest of the movie devolves to a jerk boss, small-town bullying of strangers and people who are different, and a sequence where they are trying to clean up part of the cotton mill where people have died and trying to keep the rats away.  The bullies are there and are annoying, but the protagonist and his love interest aren’t all that interesting of characters either and don’t really do anything.  Towards the end, we get the actual attack with them running for their lives, but since most of the characters aren’t all that sympathetic and the others are boring we don’t really care that much about it, and the flight and attack itself isn’t all that interesting.

The movie, at least, is also inconsistent wrt the boss character.  He’s a complete bully and set up to be a jerk, and yet at one point in the movie he is rather brave in attempting to fight the monster, and failing in the attempt.  But he also, before that, also goes nuts and tries to kill the two main characters, in a scene that seems to do nothing more than gravely injure the female lead.  Having that sort of shift in character isn’t a bad thing, necessarily, but as noted the movie seems to build that character to have the traits and to act the way it wants him to act rather than in ways that follow on from the character as established.  I can’t help but imagine that in the original work King made the character more ambiguous and the movie just really didn’t manage to bring that all together at the end.

That being said, again, the big flaw in the movie is that it’s just terribly and incredibly boring.  There is not enough action and not enough characterization to keep the audience engaged and engrossed in the movie for its entire runtime, which given that it’s only an hour and a half long is not a good sign.  I came out of that movie not wanting to ever watch that movie again … and decided that about half way through.  I don’t know if it’s the story, the adaptation, or both, but this movie really didn’t work.

From the four-pack, then, “Silver Bullet” is the most entertaining, but isn’t really anything special.  “The Dead Zone” has its moments and is again well-acted, but again isn’t all that special and has its own issues.  “Pet Sematary” is more confusing than anything else and so isn’t all that entertaining.  “Graveyard Shift” is just boring.  Still, as a Stephen King pack I will put it on the shelf with my main movies, at least until I run out of room.

Next, I return to individual movies for a bit, leaving series and Stephen King aside for a while.

Thoughts on “Ghost Whisperer” (Season 3)

July 12, 2022

What I noticed in Season 2 that carries on to this one is that it almost seems like they rebooted the series after Season 1, at least in spirit, because the plot lines of Season 2 seem to work better for a first season than for a second one, and the plot lines of Season 3 seems to work better as a second season than a third season.  The second season introduces Melinda’s brother and some additional details about the town, and has the start of the plot where Melinda meets someone new and has to try to hide her abilities from her, and introduces the expert character who can explain things to us and to Melinda, while the third season addresses the issues with her father and also introduces us to the reason why the town that she moved into has far more spirits than she might have been used to, and also introduces us to what might be an opposing group.  We find out about dark spirits in Season 2, and Season 3 gives us a home for at least some of them, and explains why they might be getting more aggressive and powerful than, again, Melinda was used to.

The issue with this, of course, is that we already had a Season 1 that the show, obviously, didn’t officially abandon, and so we are watching all of this in the light of Season 1.  So we wonder what happened with that dark spirit from the first season, that doesn’t seem to have been resolved.  We find that the plot where Melinda has to hide things from Deliah makes Deliah a less interesting character than Andrea was and want her back (or at least I do).   The seasons don’t seem to fit together, and yet it’s supposed to be one continuous story.  It’s a bit disconcerting.

This isn’t helped by the fact that the show doesn’t really do well to develop its own arcs, whether in a season or between seasons.  For the second season in a row, Season 3 tries to resolve its main arc in the last three episodes after mostly ignoring it for the entire season.  The big issue is over resolving Melinda’s parenthood issues, especially wrt her father, but we only get a little bit of that about mid-season, and while there’s a link to her brother from last season for most of the season he shows up once or twice with a hint that her father has some kind of devious plan for her.  The show implies that her father is dead, but her turns up still alive, and eventually it is revealed that he isn’t really her father, but her real biological father is someone that the guy she thought was her father — and who abandoned her — killed him because he was in love with Melinda’s mother, but since she is uncovering it which would get him sent to jail he tries to kill her but she is saved by the ghost of her biological father — who wanted revenge for being killed — who ends up killing him.  That’s definitely far more of a soap opera plot than we wanted, but more importantly it sidesteps all of the supernatural stuff and dream stuff that had been hinted at before.  It does allow Melinda to resolve her issues with her mother, but it’s a far too quick and messy way to resolve what is the main arc for the season.  They also set up a cliffhanger for the next season — as they did in Season 2 — with there being six people and five shadows, and the only reason that I’m interested in that at all is that so far the show has been pretty good at adding interesting supernatural lore, and so I’m hopeful that they will explain it as lore and not as something trivial like someone there is really dead, because the person who mentions it is the professor and, well, he can’t see ghosts so how would he see six people if one of them was a ghost?  (Unless, of course, he’s the one who’s actually dead …).

On that, the show elevates the professor to main credits, which means that he gets more attention and more time, which means that he takes time away from Deliah, which hurts both characters, because she needs more time to develop from the revelations of the previous season and she never gets that expect for an episode where her son Ned is the focus, and as I’ve said before I’m not that fond of the professor — named Payne, which is somewhat appropriate — and so would rather watch her, or at least a properly developed version of her.  They do resolve that issue with his wife from Season 2 … in one episode late in the season after having nothing else really reference it before then, and with it not really referencing her connection to the enemies that they went on to kinda ignore.  I didn’t mind the episode itself, but it came at an odd time and didn’t really pay off the dramatic hints from the previous season.

My biggest struggle with the series is, in fact, the secondary characters.  I don’t really care for any of them, but the worst part is that none of them really have a solid role to fit into.  As I’ve noted before, her husband is worried but supportive and can cause some issues with wanting to do things like go to medical school and have a child, but he’s far too prominent for a character who is basically just a really weak set of complications for Melinda as she goes around and helps ghosts cross over.  Very little is done with Deliah at all, let alone her being at first skeptical and later somewhat scared of ghosts.  She doesn’t even really get to be a sounding board for Melinda given her unease about the supernatural and the fact that Melinda’s husband needs to be given time, but again her issues don’t cause Melinda any significant problems.  The show did need an expert for Melinda to consult but he’s very annoying, Melinda doesn’t seem to like him very much as she snarks at him not in a teasing way but in a “You really annoy me and are an ass” way, and he doesn’t actually seem to know very much either.  He spouts off random supernatural facts that sometimes relate to what’s going on, but the facts are either too convenient or a bit misleading, and so Melinda still ends up doing the heavy lifting in the researching, and he doesn’t provide anything else.

Which leads to another issue with the show in general and this season in particular.  As the show itself notes, the ghosts are getting more powerful and more aggressive, and there are at least a couple of powerful supernatural opponents out there that oppose Melinda.  The issue is that Melinda just sees ghosts, and so has no actual defense against them, even in theory.  In an early episode, a pair of ghosts are threatening her and one of them has her in a chokehold and seems to be threatening to drag her away into the darkness, and all she can do is say that she isn’t scared of them, which, well, she is and that also doesn’t seem to take their power away in any way.  Now, it’d be a perfectly good approach to have the bad guys focus on force while she uses non-violent means, and while she does try to cross over ghosts peacefully the opposition are both too angry and evil to allow her to do that to them and are too willing to threaten her that way, highlighting how helpless she’d be if they, well, simply kept doing what they are doing to her.  A role for the expert character, then, would be to either be someone who could defend themselves — and therefore Melinda — from the more aggressive attacks, or else could teach her how to do that.  While the former would risk making that character more important to the resolution of the stories than Melinda, it would also allow the ghosts to threaten her when that character isn’t available while setting up suspenseful situations with them trying to get there in time and also forcing Melinda to face her fears as well.  And you could easily have the defense just be keeping it at bay allowing Melinda to cross them over her way.  But as it stands she seems to be facing ghosts that could cause her great physical harm if they wanted to and who seem to want to do that and yet for some reason don’t.  The normal ghosts are fine, as they could at least subconsciously want to be helped, but that doesn’t hold for the dark spirits.  Sure, they might prefer to corrupt her than kill her, but if that’s the case then a) that should be highlighted more often and b) the arcs should always be presented as plots by dark spirits to corrupt her, and they haven’t been so far.

In light of what I said above, though, I will give the show some credit for referencing her father in more episodes and so reminding us that the plot was out there.  My criticism is that the references rarely advance the plot, meaning that they have to develop and resolve the plot in the last three episodes, which is not enough time for a plot that was referenced throughout the entire season.

Now, after reading all of this, you might start to think that I really dislike the series.  But I don’t.  And the reason is that like last season in this season they still really manage to nail the sentimental stuff most of the time.  Yes, there are clunky episodes, but overall the stories of the ghosts, when tied to a sentimental outcome, work and evoke the emotions that they want to evoke in the stories.  What this means is that while when I started the series I was worried that it would be all sentimental and was pleasantly surprised that they had more horror and more arcs, right now I far prefer the standalone sentimental episodes — that make up most of the season — to the arc episodes because of how the show fumbles the arc episodes.  That being said, it’s not like the arcs are bad, but to use a “Great Canadian Baking Show” analogy they’re just a bit undercooked which means that the flavours don’t really stand out as much as they should.

So that’s the summary:  I like Melinda and her normal ghost crossing over plots, but find the secondary characters and the plot arcs underdeveloped and so disappointing.  Still, the show is good enough that it is still headed for my closet of things to rewatch every so often, and so it would take a terrible and disastrous season — in the vein of “The Nanny” or “Cheers” — for that to not happen.

What are the Movies in my Closet?

July 11, 2022

So after listing the TV series that I have in my closet, it’s time to go through the likely longer list of movies on the movie shelf in my closet.  There aren’t really any exceptions here, as there tends to be more room there and movies tend to be in more consistent packages.

So let me start with the obvious ones:  the Star Wars movies, from the Prequels through Return of the Jedi.  However, I don’t have any of the new movies in there, as I hated the sequel movies and didn’t care enough for Rogue One to put it there.  Then I have the Star Trek movies, from the TOS era — which are the ones I enjoy the most — through the TNG era, but none of the Abrams movies.  I also have two thirds of the pre-Daniel Craig James Bond movies, as I picked up two of the three collector’s packs that came out some time ago.  I skipped the last one because the Brosnan movies was Die Another Day, which I wasn’t interested in and still haven’t seen.  I also have the Aliens movies, although the only two I care for and rewatch are Alien and Aliens, as I don’t care for the rest of them.  And I of course would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Lord of the Rings movies (the extended versions).

Of course, I also have a bunch of the MCU movies in there, in fact I have most of them up to Endgame, so it’s easier for me to list the ones I don’t have in there, which is basically the Iron Man movies, Black Panther, and Captain Marvel (which is odd because Shazam!, DC’s version of Captain Marvel, is on that shelf).  I also don’t have any of the Incredible Hulk movies, but I haven’t watched them and don’t own them so that leaves them out.  Keeping to the superhero theme, I also have Deadpool and Deadpool 2, even though the one I rewatch is mostly the first one.  I also have the Fox X-Men movies, both Stewart and McAvoy, along with The New Mutants, and the Raimi Spider-Man movies as I didn’t care for either of the other series and so don’t own them.

So other than that I have some other movies series, like the two Gremlins movies, along with the two Ghostbusters movies, the two Charlie’s Angels movies, the three Despicable Me movies, the Frasier Mummy movies, the Scary Movie movies and the series that inspired them the Scream movies, the two Addams Family movies, the Shrek movies, the Dirty Harry movies, the Predator movies (although I think I liked the first one the best), Johnny English and Johnny English Reborn, the two Airplane! movies and the Universal Dracula movies.  In addition, I have the 10 pack of science fiction movies in there — mostly for Oblivion — as well as the three pack that contained Aeon Flux, Ghost in the Shell, and The Island.  I also have the Jumanji movies, meaning the Robin Williams original and the first two remakes, along with Silent Hill 1 and 2 and the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, including Freddy vs Jason (but I don’t have the Friday the 13th movie in there), along with the Mortal Kombat movies (although again I only really rewatch the first) and the newer Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies and the two Scooby Doo live-action movies.  And of course, as I think I said elsewhere I have a collection of Stephen King movies, including Rose Red and Carrie, even though most of them are movies that I’m not that inclined to rewatch.

This leaves the list of individual movies, like Happy Death Day, The Blair Witch Project, The Widow, The Craft, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, The Changeling, both versions of The House on Haunted Hill, Thirteen Ghosts, Dark Shadows, Trick ‘r’ Treat, The Legend of Hell House, Oculus, and Cry_Wolf.  But of course I have a number of non-horror movies as well, like The Medallion, Mystery Men, Bedazzled, King Arthur along with Excalibur, The Incredibles, Clue, Free Guy, The Pink Panther (the Steve Martin Version), Top Gun, The Running Man, Galaxy Quest, Elvira’s Haunted Hills, Robin Hood:  Men in Tights, Spaceballs, Dracula:  Dead and Loving It, The Mask, Rush Hour, Beowulf, Street Fighter, Casablanca, and It’s a Wonderful Life.

Again, these all pretty much make sense, as any of them that I might question rewatching are ones that I actually have rewatched recently.  As I work my way through my stacks more movies will likely end up there, but for now that’s what I have to rewatch, both in movies and in TV shows.

Thoughts on “Silver Bullet”

July 7, 2022

So the third movie in that four-pack of Stephen King movies is “Silver Bullet”, which is King’s take on the werewolf legend.  It is narrated by the older sister of the boy that is arguably the main protagonist, who is crippled but has a motorized wheelchair thing built for him by his uncle to let him get around.  Well, it’s more like a go-kart or something like that than a mere wheelchair, and is called the “Silver Bullet”.  His sister is frustrated with him because he seems to be getting a lot of attention due to his disability and can cause frustrations for her and get away with it (one of the earliest scenes is a friend of his scaring her and getting her dress dirty while she was trying to flirt with a boy).  Oh, and at the same time there are some brutal killings happening, and late one night the two plots collide as the boy sneaks out to fire off some fireworks and runs into the killer, which as you might have guessed turns out to be a werewolf.  They need to convince their uncle that this is the case, figure out who the werewolf is, and then kill it with a silver bullet.

As with the other movies, it seems like there are a number of things that would work because King would let us in on the inner thoughts of the people involved but are missing here.  For example, why is the sister narrating and not the boy?  Why is the sister so easily frustrated with her brother when the only example that’s even close to him being mean to her is one that his friend did and that he was apologetic for?  What was the deal with the werewolf, anyway, who turned out to be the preacher who ended up trying to kill them off to hide his secret?  There are a number of details that probably should have been fleshed out that don’t really get fleshed out in this movie.

That being said, this movie is actually better than the others, mostly because of the actors.  They all do a pretty good job of making us care about their characters and want to follow what happens to them, and want to see them triumph at the end.  Special note goes to Megan Follows — known to everyone in Canada as “Anne of Green Gables” — who can make us empathize with the character even when it seems like she’s overreacting to what her brother is doing.

At the end of the day, though, it’s not a very memorable movie.  Other than my empathy for the characters given the performances of their actors, there’s nothing really new or interesting about the plot or the werewolf idea.  So, ultimately, it’s an okay movie that I might watch again at some point, but isn’t good enough to get into my regular rotation.