Tuesday, January 31, 2012


I’ll admit it. I’m a sucker for BIG BUDGET sci-fi and fantasy movies! Every year the huge Hollywood studios pump out several $100 – $200 million dollar special effects opuses for fanboys to drool over in anticipation every year. The first of these mega-buck epics for 2012 is John Carter!
John Carter is Walt Disney Pictures’ attempt at another tent-pole film for a new franchise on the order of their Pirates of the Caribbean films. After failing with Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010), which cost an estimated $200 million to make and only grossed a little over $90 million in the United States, they are rolling the big budget dice with John Carter. The budget for John Cater is being estimated at $250 million and if the trailer is any indication, most of that was spent on the vast special effects to create the fantastic setting for the fantasy-version of the planet Mars.
John Carter the film is based on the novel "A Princess of Mars" by Edgar Rice Burroughs, published under the title "In the Moons of Mars" and serialized in All-Story Magazine in 1912. In the novel, John Carter is a former Confederate soldier, who, while prospecting for gold in the Arizona desert of the 1870’s is somehow transported to the planet Mars. It looks as though the film John Carter has kept the time and character intact; which is the only possible way that the fantasy setting of Mars could work.
The director of the film is Andrew Stanton, who was the director and writer of the Pixar animated films A Bug’s Life, Finding Nemo and WALL-E. This is his first live action feature, but his experience with the all CGI animated features should serve him well for the effects laden John Carter. Another former Pixar director, Brad Bird (The Incredibles and Ratatouille) has had great success with his first live action feature Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, so there is hope that Andrew Stanton might have similar luck with John Carter.

Portraying John Carter is 30 year old Taylor Kitsch, who is best known for his role as high school football star Tim Riggins on NBC's acclaimed television series "Friday Night Lights”, but will also be featured in another big budget film in 2012 Battleship. Playing the Princess Dejah Thoris is relative unknown Lynn Collins. Voicing (and motion capturing?) Tars Tarkas is veteran actor William Dafoe.
The special effects are headed by Steve Benelisha, who has worked recently on Captain America: The First Avenger and X-Men: First Class.
I think Disney is taking a real chance on John Carter, because the source material is not nearly contemporary or classic enough to be recognizable to a large enough audience to sell it on name recognition alone. Also, by releasing it in March, instead of the summer months when most blockbusters are released, they are almost already admitting defeat. Perhaps they are hoping to score at least the meagerly profitable numbers that Clash of the Titans made, which was released in April of 2010.
Whatever the reasons for such an early release, I most certainly will be headed to my local cinema on the weekend of March 9th to see the visual splendor of John Carter! Enjoy the latest trailer!

Sunday, January 29, 2012


"Overall, Underworld: Awakening achieves what it set out to do, which is build on the story and world of the previous Underworld movies, while still creating an exciting and visually stimulating supernatural spectacle!"

Action, Horror and Fantasy

Starring – Kate Bekinsale/Selene, Steven Rea/Doctor Jacob Lane, Michael Ealy/Detective Sebastian, Theo James/David, India Eisley/Eve, Charles Dance, Kris Holden-Ried/Quint

Directors – Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein

Writers – Len Wiseman, John Hlavin, J. Michael Straczynski and Allison Burnett

Rated R – for strong violence, gore and language

1 hr., 28 min.

Thanks to a New England snowstorm last weekend, I had to wait a week before seeing Underworld: Awakening. For reasons I can’t fathom, my local theater did not have the film showing on any of its ten screens, so I was forced to trek to a slightly more distant cinema to see it. Worst of all, this theater has no stadium seating and they were only showing Underworld: Awakening in 3-D! I don’t hate 3-D, but of the four films I have now seen in 3-D, I can honestly say that the process added little to nothing to any of these films. Fortunately, despite all these seemingly opposing events, I still enjoyed Underworld: Awakening immensely – with one caveat, which I’ll get to at the end of this review.

Underworld: Awakening is a sequel to Underworld: Evolution (2006) and takes place twelve years after “The Purge”. A prologue to the movie tells us that six months after Selene gained the powers of the Vampire-Corvinus strain and she and her lover Michael Corvin killed the remaining elder vampires, the human race discovered the existence of Vampires and Lycans, which began a worldwide purge of their species. Selene and Michael are captured by a medical corporation Antigen and frozen in a cryogenic state for study.

Twelve years later, Selene escapes the medical facility, but soon after begins having visions, which lead her to a vampire David, the son of Thomas, a Vampire Elder who leads one of the few remaining vampire covens that remain hidden from humans. David helps Selene rescue a young girl from Antigen, who Selene sees in another vision. Selene and David fight a group of Lycans, who are also after the girl, but she is injured in the fight. The girl, who is another hybrid, is not healing, so David takes her and Selene back to his coven to be looked at by a vampire physician.

Thomas blames Selene for the human’s discovery and extermination of vampires, so he is anxious for her to leave his coven, but David wants Selene to train his coven to defend themselves against both the humans and the increasingly violent Lycan race. Dr. Jacob Lane, the director of Antigen, was using the hybrid girl to develop an "antidote" to make Lycans immune to the deadly effects of silver and enhance their physical abilities. The girl, dubbed by Lane “Subject 2”, needs the hybrid genetic code to achieve this, so Lane sends a super-Lycan Quint with other Lycans to the vampire coven to recapture her. A battle ensues and many of the vampires and werewolves are killed, but Quint dispatches and nearly kills David before leaving with the hybrid girl. Selene heals David with her “immortal” blood and they depart to confront Lanne, Quint and the minions of Antigen.

To start, Underworld: Awakening is even more reliant on action and violence to carry its plot than any of the other three films. I assume that the filmmakers knew that anyone going to see a forth film in a series is going to be familiar enough with the Underworld mythology to not need lengthy bits of narrative to understand the whos, whats and wheres of the story. Even after having just watched the previous three films a few months ago, I was still a bit dazed by how briskly the plot points of Underworld: Awakening are gone over. I was able to keep up with the basic reasons for why Selene was motivated to rescue “Subject 2”, but I would have liked a bit more space between the action sequences to add some depth to the motivations of Selene and the other characters in the film.

Still, the action sequences are the main draw of the Underworld films and Underworld: Awakening does not disappoint in this regard. The opening sequence of Selene’s escape from the high-rise medical center is amazing. Selene demonstrates her uber-vamp powers on numerous occasions, where she seems almost to defy the laws of gravity. The Lycans in this film are very impressive, but the super-Lycan Quint – who is easily nine feet tall – is an amazing creature to behold. If I have any complaints about the special effects at all is that at times they are moving so quickly that you have little time to admire their detailed effectiveness.

Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein, who previously directed the supernatural thriller Shelter (2010), do a fine job recreating the dark-monochromatic look and feel of the previous Underworld movies. Len Wiseman, who previously directed the first two movies – Underworld and Underworld: Evolution – as well as having a hand in the story for all three Underworld films, wrote the initial screenplay for Underworld: Awakening. The three other writers, most notably J. Michael Straczynski of Babylon 5 fame, stepped in for rewrites, but there is so little narrative that is carried by dialogue, that I have to wonder what, if any contributions he or the others made to the script.

Kate Beckinsale steps back into the role of Selene after six years effortlessly. Her cool, hard, but still quiet deadly passion fills the screen for most the film’s short 88 minute run time. I do miss her interaction with her Lycan lover Michael – who only makes a brief appearance at the beginning of the film – and the leading male role of the vampire David played by Theo James is little more than male eye-candy. Veteran actor Charles Dance as the Vampire Elder Thomas adds a nice bit of gravitas to the film and Stephen Rea as Dr. Jacob Lane is quietly sinister as the head of the medical corporation Antigen. If Kris Holden-Ried, who plays the super-Lycan Quint, looks familiar, it is because he plays a similar supernatural creature on the TV Series Lost Girl. Holden-Ried’s facial features and physicality certainly add weight to his role as the ferocious uber-Lycan, but I wonder if he is in danger of being typecast in a way similar to that of actor Ron Perlman.

Overall, Underworld: Awakening achieves what it set out to do, which is build on the story and world of the previous Underworld movies, while still creating an exciting and visually stimulating supernatural spectacle! The one caveat with the film that I hinted at at the outset of this review, is that the film has a tenuous conclusion that leaves me wondering if the writers had planned on a longer movie, but didn’t have the budget to film it. Underworld: Awakening is in definite need of a sequel to finish the many plot-threads that were left dangling at the end of the movie. While I’m glad that the film should be financially successful enough to warrant a sequel and I’m sure I’ll be attending it as well, it might have been nice if Underworld: Awakening could have had a stronger finish that would not necessarily required one.

Underworld: Awakening is a wild ride and a worthy addition to one of my favorite supernatural fantasy series! See it now or later, but don’t miss it.

TECHNICAL: Acting – 9 Directing – 9 Cinematography – 10 Script – 7 Special effects – 10
VISCERAL: Visual – 10 Auditory – 9 Intellectual – 7 Emotional – 9 Involvement – 10

Saturday, January 28, 2012


“Fright Night strikes just the right balance between horror and comedy, which I think even fans of the original film will appreciate.”

Horror and Comedy

Starring – Anton Yelchin/Charley Brewster, Colin Farrell/Jerry Danridge, Toni Collette/Jane Brewster, David Tennant/Peter Vincent, Imogen Poots/Amy and Christopher Mintz-Plasse/”Evil” Ed Thompson

Director – Craig Gillespie   Writer- Marti Noxon

Rated R – for bloody horror violence and language

1 hr, 46 min.

There have been a slew of genre movie remakes in the past ten years and more often than not, the original is superior to the remake. The few exceptions that spring to mind are: Death Race (2008), the Paul W. S. Anderson remake of the 1975 Death Race 2000 and Dawn of the Dead (2004) directed by Zach Snyder which is a remake of the 1978 Romero classic of the same name. Now another film can be added to this rare list of respectful remakes: Fright Night (2011).

While I enjoyed the 1985 film at the time, more recent rewatchings have not been as much fun; although I must admit I still like Roddy McDowall’s portrayal of Peter Vincent as a horror host. Because I’m not an uber-fan of the original, it probably allowed me to be more open to enjoying the remake.

The 2011 Fright Night follows the same basic plot of the original, with a few minor character, plot and mythology changes. One of the major changes from the original film is that Charley’s friend Ed is the one who discovers that Charley’s neighbor is a vampire and not Charley himself. The other slightly less important change is that Peter Vincent in the remake is a Los Vegas magician and not a TV horror host as in the original. I didn’t think either of these changes affected the overall tone of the film, which is still like the original a blend of horror and comedy.

Charley Brewster is a reformed nerd, who now has a girlfriend and has begun hanging out with the cool kids in High School. Charley’s former nerdy friend “Evil” Ed Lee tells Charley that their old friend has gone missing and they check in on the his house only to find it abandoned. Ed tries to convince Charley that his next-door neighbor Jerry is a vampire and that he is the one responsible for the recent rash of disappearing students. Charley is convinced only that Ed is delusional and is just desperately trying to get his attention.

Ed continues his surveillance of Jerry, until Jerry catches Ed and seemingly kills him. Charley now notices Ed missing and eventually begins to believe that Ed may have been right about Jerry being a vampire. Charley sneaks into Jerry’s house, where he finds that Jerry is storing victims in rooms hidden upstairs to feed on. After narrowly escaping Jerry’s house, Charley goes to Ed’s house to look for Ed’s research on vampires. It is there that Charley sees Peter Vincent’s web site on Ed’s computer, which claims that Vincent is an expert vampire hunter. Charley goes to Vegas and attempts to gain the aid of the flamboyant magician, but Vincent pretends not to believe Charley’s story and sends him on his way.

Charley attempts to barricade his home from Jerry the vampire, but Jerry attacks Charley, his girlfriend Amy and his mother Jane in his home, which they flee from in their mother’s car. Jerry chases after them and they survive, but Jane is injured in the fight. Charley once again pleads with Vincent for help and this time Vincent joins Charley to hunt down the vampire and stake him.

There is a lot to like about Fright Night. The direction by Craig Gillespie, who previously directed Lars and the Real Girl (2007) and Mr. Woodcock (2007), shows off a real talent for comedic pacing those other films did not. There are some scenes that stretch out to create tension and then speed up for the inevitable violent confrontation, which are then punctuated by well-timed humor. Some of this clever plotting and humor should be attributed to screenplay writer Marti Noxon, who wrote dozens of scripts for the similarly themed Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV program.

Anton Yelchin, who plays the teenage Charley and is best known to genre fans for playing Chekov in the 2009 Star Trek film, does a fine job playing a former nerd and growing teen, trying to fit into his new social situation. Colin Farrell plays the part of the vampire Jerry with a quite cool air in his human form. But as a vampire, his vicious and malicious ferocity is truly frightening. I also liked Toni Collette as Charley’s understanding Mother Jane and Imogen Poots as Charley’s sweet and strong girlfriend Amy. The standout performance for genre fans is David Tennant, who is best known for playing the Doctor on Doctor Who for three-plus seasons. Tennant as Peter Vincent the Goth Vegas magician is fantastic; playing both the drama-queen stage magician and the slightly cowardly vampire hunter!

Fright Night strikes just the right balance between horror and comedy, which I think even fans of the original film will apreaciate. While this version of Fright Night is definitely more adult in its language and levels of violence than its predecessor, I never felt that any of it was gratuitous or unnecessary. If you’d like a break from the dark and dismal horror films of late, you should give Fright Night a try.

TECHNICAL: Acting – 9 Directing – 9 Cinematography – 8 Script – 10 Special effects – 9
VISCERAL: Visual – 9 Auditory – 9 Intellectual – 7 Emotional – 9 Involvement – 9

Sunday, January 22, 2012


"The action in Attack the Block is almost non-stop, yet the characters and the story are still well defined."

Science Fiction, Horror and Comedy

Starring – John Boyega/Moses, Jodie Whittaker/Sam, Alex Esmail/Pest, Franz Drameh/Dennis, Leeon Jones/Jerome, Simon Howard/Biggz, Jumayn Hunter/Hi-Hatz, Micheal Ajao/Mayhem, Sammy Williams/Probs, Nick Frost/Ron

Director/Writer – Joe Cornish

R – for creature violence, drug content and pervasive language.

1 hr., 28 min.

Director and writer Joe Cornish tells one one of his young actors in the blu-ray extras "Rap the Block" that he was inspired to make Attack the Block by the kids fighting off the aliens on their farm in M. Night Shyamalan's Signs (2002). He wanted to transplant that story into the inner city block of Heygate Estate of Southwark London that he grew up in, because he thought that the kids of the block would present a much more difficult problem to invading aliens. The aliens in Attack the Block never had a chance!

The story begins with a young woman heading home at night from work when she is surrounded by a gang of teenagers from the block, who threaten her with a knife and and demand her valuables. The mugging is interrupted by a ball of fire that falls from the sky, smashing into a near-by car. The kids investigate and find an alien creature, which the leader Moses kills defending himself. They take the corpse of the alien back to their block, thinking that it may be worth something. They store the body in the weed room of their friend Nick's top-floor block apartment and return outside to do battle with more of the invading aliens that are raining down on their block.

What separates Attack the Block from the more recent alien invasion movies is that the main characters are all young kids. More importantly, these young teenagers are street toughs who must overcome their own inner block conflicts in order to defend their turf. You grow to like, or at least understand each one of these kids; particularly the quiet leader Moses.

The action in Attack the Block is almost non-stop, yet the characters and the story are still well defined. While the aliens are basically black furry men-in-suits, they are complimented with glowing teeth, which is all that you can see of them in the dark. For fans of pre-CGI monsters, the aliens of Attack the Block are a blast!

Give Attack the Block a rent and see if you like its unique take on the alien invasion genre. I know I look forward to returning to Attack the Block again.

TECHNICAL: Acting - 8 Directing - 10 Cinematography - 9 Script - 9 Special effects - 8
VISCERAL: Visual - 10 Auditory - 9 Intellectual - 8 Emotional - 10 Involvement - 10

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Underworld: Awakening is being released this Friday on January 20, 2012 and I will be the first in line! Okay. Maybe the first in line for the Saturday afternoon show, but still... FIRST IN LINE! Enjoy the latest trailer!

Monday, January 9, 2012


"This silly and childish plot is very appropriate, as it is aimed at children after all."

Spy-Satire, Action-Adventure, Comedy, Science Fiction, and Fantasy
Starring - Jessica Alba/Marissa Cortez Wilson, Joel McHale/Wilbur Wilson, Jeremy Piven/Danger D'Amo-Tick Tock, Alexa Vega/Carmen Cortez, Daryl Sabara /Juni Cortez, Rowan Blanchard /Rebecca Wilson, Mason Cook/Cecil Wilson, Ricky Gervais/Argonaut
Director/writer – Robert Rodriguez
PG – for mild action and rude humor
1 hr. 29 min.

Let me start out by saying that I was a fan of the original Spy Kids trilogy: Spy Kids (2001), Spy Kids 2: Island of Lost Dreams (2002) and Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over (2003). While the first film was clearly the freshest and most original, the two sequels still were entertaining.
Now, ten years after the first Spy Kids hit the theaters, Robert Rodriguez has written and directed a new beginning to his Spy Kids franchise. Having been forewarned about the abundance of – for lack of a better word – potty humor in this latest Spy Kid flick, I passed (gas?) on seeing this one at the theater and watched from the relative safety of my own home theater.

Marissa Cortez Wilson (Jessica Alba), a retired spy with a year-old baby, has managed to fool her husband Wilbur Wilson (Joel McHale) into believing she is an interior decorator and stay at home mom. Marissa is doing her best to win the affection of her twin step kids, but Rebecca (Rowan Blanchard) and Cecil (Mason Cook) are still not accepting her as a replacement for their real mom. Just as TV producer and star Wilbur’s new reality spy-hunting show is taking off, a real villainous spy known only as The Timekeeper (Jeremy Piven) is threatening to end the world by terminating time itself. Marissa is called back into the spy biz to hunt down The Timekeeper. Marissa’s kids are attacked by the Timekeeper’s henchmen, so she leaves her kids at OSS headquarters for safekeeping. There, Rebecca and Cecil meet former Spy Kid division head Carmen Cortez (Alexa Vega). With a little help from her brother Juni Cortez (Daryl Sabara), the kids join in the fight against the Timekeeper and bring back The Spy Kids!

This silly and childish plot is very appropriate, as it is aimed at children after all. Like the three other Spy Kids films, once the action commences, the kids are at the forefront of the story, pushing the adults to the side. Robert Rodriguez really takes full advantage of the freedom he’s allowed to do almost anything with the CGI technology and some of the chase scenes are genuinely exciting. The kids are both naturally energetic, if not great actors, but they play off each other particularly well. I did enjoy the robot dog Argonaut (voiced in a silly English accent by Ricky Gervais), although there was almost too much of him by film’s end.

My only real complaint with the film is the constant use of flatulence humor throughout the movie! Every time Spy Baby is on screen, she lets out vast gaseous clouds, which I’m assuming had the children in the theaters rolling in the aisles, but just left this former kid feeling… old. There is also one particularly nasty use of throw-up during a chase scene that made me feel a bit queasy. Mr. Rodriguez has kids of his own, so I’ll assume he knew that the children watching this film would love the “potty humor”, but I certainly could have done without it. Thank goodness I didn't see this in the theater in 4-D! I can only imagine how 3-D and "aroma-scope" would have added to these scenes!
If you have children, I’d recommend watching with them. I’m usually able to enjoy kid flicks, but as a middle-aged adult, I must honestly say that I was only mildly entertained.

TECHNICAL: Acting - 8 Directing -9 Cinematography - 9 Script – 7 Special Effects – 9
VISCERAL: Visual - 10 Auditory - 9 Intellectual – 5 Emotional - 8 Involvement -8

Sunday, January 8, 2012


Child of Fire is an Urban Fantasy novel that has been “on my radar” for some time now.  “Excellent reading…delicious tension and suspense”, Jim Butcher author of the Dresden Files Novels is prominently featured on the cover, and even though this is my current favorite author and series, I still did not purchase Child of Fire. What was my hesitation to read Child of Fire? The main protagonist Ray Lilly was clearly a former criminal and from my minimal research, did not seem like a particularly likeable character. I’m not a fan of the anti-hero; and yet Child of Fire still intrigued me.

Finally, after more than two years from its original publication date, I bought and read Child of Fire by Harry Connolly. I was right that Ray Lilly, Child of Fire’s main character was not your standard “hero”, but it turns out that he is fairly likeable.

The novel starts with Ray driving his “boss” Annalise Powliss on a mission to find the cause of children missing from the small town of Hammer Bay, Washington. Ray is a “wooden man” assigned to Annalise , who is an agent of the Twenty Palace Society – a group of sorcerers that hunt down and kill other users of magic. Ray, a former car thief, is released from prison by the Twenty Palace Society for the sole purpose of acting as a sort of body guard and servant to Annalise.  When they arrive at Hammer Bay, no one in town remembers the missing children and it quickly becomes apparent that magic is the key to their disappearance.

The tone of Child of Fire is very “noir”, but the action and mystery elements keep the story from bogging down and becoming too morbid – despite the many deaths of both the innocent and guilty. The magic in Child of Fire is very different from most other Urban Fantasy novels, in that it involves the use of written spells, as opposed to the usual verbal ones. Not much time is spent on either explaining the magical rules or the origins of the Twenty Palace Society that Ray and Annalise work for. This causes a bit more work for the reader than I’m used to, but it works for Child of Fire in that it forces you to focus on the plot at hand and work out the magical rules for yourself.

The sequel to Child of Fire, Game of Cages was published last year, and I’ve already bought this – with plans to read it in the coming months. If I like that as much – and hopefully more – than the first novel, then I will more than likely buy and read the third novel, Circle of Enemies – published in August of 2011 – as well.

TECHNICAL: Plot – 9 Characters - 8 Style - 9 World building – 9 Big Finish - 9
VISCERAL: Imagery – 9 Creativity – 9 Intellectual – 8 Emotional – 9 Involvement -9


A fairly recent trend in publishing is to create "trailers" for novels. Here is the full trailer for the Twenty Palaces books, created by Wyrd Films.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


On the right column of this page, you will see at the top of the column a new poll that I’ve posted. This first poll includes the titles and release dates of all of the SF, Fantasy or Horror films that are being distributed to movie theaters between the months of January and February of 2012. I’d like anyone who reads GUARDIANS OF THE GENRE! to place a vote for any of these films that you plan on seeing at the theater.

Beside the fact that I’m genuinely interested in finding out which of these films you are planning on seeing, if enough people are showing interest in a specific film, it may be enough to inspire me to see films that I might not have been interested in seeing already. Unlike last year, I will be reviewing every film I see at the theater, whether I loved it or hated it, so this is your opportunity to influence my decision making process.

In the current poll, the only film I currently plan on seeing is Underworld: Awakening. I’ve seen the other three films at the theater and own all three Underworld films on DVD/Blu-ray, so seeing this latest for me is a no-brainer.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012


I’m not a fan of the post-apocalyptic sub-genre of science fiction. Even when they are combined with action (e.g.: Mad Max or Book of Eli) I usually find them too downbeat and depressing. When they are done as straight drama (e.g.: On the Beach or The Road) I find them so depressing as to be unwatchable.
The latest post-apocalyptic film being released is The Divide. If the plot description provided by Anchor Bay is any indication, there is a definite horror slant to the story, which seems to concentrate on the psychological terror of being trapped and dying in a post-nuclear world. Here is the official description:

In this graphic and violent, post-apocalyptic thriller, nine strangers-all tenants of a New York high rise apartment-escape a nuclear attack by hiding out in the building's bunker-like basement. Trapped for days underground with no hope for rescue, and only unspeakable horrors awaiting them on the other side of the bunker door, the group begins to descend into madness, each turning on one another with physical and psycho-sexual torment. As supplies dwindle, and tensions flare, and they grow increasingly unhinged by their close quarters and hopelessness, each act against one another becomes more depraved than the next. While everyone in the bunker allows themselves to be overcome by desperation and lose their humanity, one survivor holds onto a thin chance for escape even with no promise of salvation on the outside.
This is only the third feature film by director Xavier Gens, who previously gave us the crime-drama Frontier(s) and the action-crime film The Hitman, which were both released in 2007. These films were visually stunning, but because of their subject matter, not really of interest to me. The Divide has one major attraction going for it for genre fans and that is Michael Biehn, who plays Mickey the paranoid superintendent of the apartment building that the group of survivors is hiding in. Biehn has been featured in several genre films; most notably The Terminator, Aliens and The Abyss. So for his presence alone, The Divide may be worth at least a rental.

The Divide is being released to theaters January 13, 2012. Check out the trailer and see if The Divide is a film worth a trip to the theater for you.

Monday, January 2, 2012


"If you are like me and were a fan of Sherlock Holmes, then I recommend that you see Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows before it leaves the theaters!"

Mystery, Suspense, Action, Adventure and Fantasy

Starring - Robert Downey Jr./Sherlock Holmes, Jude Law/Dr. John Watson, Noomi Rapace/Madam Simza Heron, Rachel McAdams/Irene Adler, Jared Harris/Professor James Moriarty, Stephen Fry/Mycroft Holmes & Kelly Reilly/Mrs. Mary Watson
Director - Guy Ritchie
Writers - Michele Mulroney & Kieran Mulroney
PG-13 - for intense sequences of violence and action, and some drug material.
2hr., 8 min.

When I went to see Guy Ritchie’s first Sherlock Holmes film in 2009, I was as skeptical as any fan of the original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories, as to whether Ritchie’s “modern” approach to Holmes and his Victorian era London would work. However, when I left the theater, I was a convert and was as reenergized in my love for the iconic detective as much as I was upon my first viewing of Jeremy Brett’s first portrayal of Holmes in the 1984 British Granada Television’s adaptation of "A Scandal in Bohemia".

Two years later, Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows has upped the ante of the first film, by pitting Holmes against his greatest foe, Professor James Moriarty! Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is about two things: The end of Holmes and Watson’s partnership and the beginning of Holmes and Moriarty’s moral antithesis and commensurate rivalry.

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is based in part on "The Final Problem".  That story introduced Professor James Moriarty and also ended in Switzerland and the Reichenbach Falls. However, the film defers from the plot of the short story in many ways; adding many a complex plot thread that only adds to the fun and sophistication of the final problem.

Watson’s honeymoon to his new bride is interrupted by dozens of assassins, but a disguised Holmes is there to help save Mrs. Watson and dispatch the villains. Holmes informs Watson that Moriarty is threatening him and his wife, because Holmes has refused to cease his investigations into the plot of Moriarty to instigate war between France and Germany, by assassinating a key figure of the upcoming European Peace Conference. Holmes and Watson join forces one last time and head to France where Holmes believes the brother of a gypsy woman, Madam Simza Heron, has been coerced into Moriarty’s plot.

Guy Ritchie has taken a complex plot and integrated it with enough big action sequences and broad humor to keep the film steamrolling at an unrelenting pace! Yet, when the final scene occurs, it is Holmes’s trust in Watson and Holmes ability to outwit Moriarty that makes the finish of Game of Shadows so satisfying. If you were not a fan of the first film, than nothing I can say will convince you that Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is worth your time. However, if you are like me and were a fan of Sherlock Holmes, then I recommend that you see Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows before it leaves the theaters.

My rating for Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is 93 out of 100.

How I arrived at this grade is through a simple formula of criteria that I consider to be the basis of what is needed to evaluate a film. Every category is graded on a 5 to 10 scale, with 10 obviously being the highest and 5 the lowest. At some point in the future, I may go into detail on my system, but for now just know that the highest score I could give a film would be a 100 and the lowest being a 50.

TECHNICAL: Acting - 10 Directing -10 Cinematography - 9 Script - 9
Special Effects - VISCERAL: Visual - 10 Auditory - 9 Intellectual - 8
Emotional - 9 Involvement -10 = TOTAL RATING       93

Sunday, January 1, 2012


Many people go out on New Year’s Eve, to go dancing, drinking and generally make public spectacles of themselves. While in my youth, I may have indulged in such frivolities, I now spend New Year’s Eve at home with family and friends. Nearly every year since 1985, our local UHF TV channel 38 has run a Three Stooges Marathon. I have decorated my home in a Three Stooges motif and watched the classic shorts with family and friends, while enjoying good food, drink and company. This year was no exception! Not only were we able to watch channel 38’s “Best Stooges Episodes” marathon, but we also watched many of the Stooges shorts on IFC as well. Whatever your New Year’s Eve traditions are, I hope you all celebrated it with your closest family and friends!
This will be my third year posting on GUARDIANS OF THE GENRE! and I think the new year is a good time to start fresh with some new ideas. While I have spent most of my time for the past two years on this blog reviewing movies, TV programs, books and comics in my three favorite genres, I have also shared some of my other guilty pleasures as well; such as horror hosts, podcasts and filking. I have also continued to post videos of mine and other genre guardians’ Television appearances and related hosting gigs, which I’ve dug out of my personal video tape archives. While I plan on continuing to post entries on all these things, I will be trying to expand on the amount and variety of material that I’m interested in.
Because I have full-time employment that takes up the majority of my time during the weekdays, I usually only have time for short posts during that time and save my more detailed posts for weekends or holidays and vacations. I’d like to increase my output, but because my other genre guardians are not nearly as prolific as myself (yes, I’m referring you to Phileas, Maniac and even you Bones) I’ve decided to use a grading system on all my reviews from now on and not go into too much detail on them, other than to give my opinion of them. I also will be breaking with my standard of not reviewing anything that I didn’t like or enjoy. While I still prefer to write and read positive reviews of things, I do think constructively written critical reviews serve a purpose as well. So starting in 2012 I will be writing about the good, the mediocre and the bad in my three favorite genres. I hope that by doing this, I will be able to share with you even more of the things that I love about Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror.
I’m looking forward to a new and wicked cool year of GUARDIANS OF THE GENRE! and I hope you are too!