Monday, July 30, 2012

Play Them Ragtime Boos

Episode 16

The Ghostbusters are on vacation and heading to Louisiana in ecto-1.  They choose to visit a backwater town where the locals are being hypnotized into dancing by ghosts from 1942 playing jazz.  The event is forcing unstable time shifts.  The Ghostbusters lack their equipment since they left it back in New York City.  Can they find a way to silence an old jazz band with musical powers? 

A positive for this episode is that Slimer is practically non-existent in it.  The negative would be that the writer’s failed to capitalize on that.  It’s another low animation budget episode that hardly entertains and makes you hate the tune of ‘When the Saints come marching in’.

Homeless people avoid this place
As the Ghostbusters drive to their destination Peter mentions how badly he wants to go to Mardi gras but that’s not surprising.  Ecto-1 spins out of control but gets straightened out by Winston’s incredible driving as they continue forward.  Ray reads the brochure of the hotel they’ll be staying at and as they arrive the place is literally in shambles.  It looks like crap.  Peter snatches the pamphlet out of Ray’s hands, “This brochure was printed in 1925 Ray.”  How do you not notice that?  How do you even have a brochure from that long ago?  Ray’s often cluelessness amazes me.  A blond woman approaches them and speaks with an awful accent.  Peter suddenly decides that this terrible hotel will suit them just fine.  Is it because you’re attracted to the woman Peter?  Why do the other guys agree to stay there?  I’d hop in ecto-1 and move on.  Upon entering their room Winston says, “I know some roaches in New York that wouldn’t stay here.”  I think that might be the funniest line of this episode!  The room is dreadful but they decide to stay anyway.

Does this guy look familiar?
Malachi and his ghostly jazz band begin playing at midnight.  They draw in people from the town including Ray to come dance at their gazebo.  The guys watch Ray sleep walk outside while Egon yammers off some very wacky scientific jargon.  He does that quite often in this episode and I felt it was overdone.  He also claims Ray is possessed.  How could he know that?  There were no supernatural visuals to give it away.  It really looked like Ray was sleepwalking.  The guys follow Ray out to the street to see what’s going on when Peter says, “So why did Ray get invited to this party and we didn’t?”  The delivery of the line is funnier than the actual line, thanks Lorenzo Music.  Egon notices that the ghosts are shifting time with their supernatural music.  I don’t know how that works and it’s kind of lame.  The people begin to change cloths to different eras.  The blond woman throws some pixie dust onto the jazz ghosts and they disappear.  Better than a proton pack!

The woman explains that Malachi was a fantastic jazz player from long ago and has come back to play his music while turning back the clock.  He is apparently stuck in 1942 and wants to play ‘When the Saints come marching in’ for all eternity.  He must be stopped I’m sick of hearing that song loop!  They find out that the woman is into voodoo and that’s how she was able to stop the ghosts earlier.  I’d say it’s very convenient that the guys strolled into town precisely when these jazz ghosts started becoming so powerful.  I’d prefer it actually been a call and Peter wanting to stop off at Mardi gras on the way but oh well.  They decide to call up Janine and have her ship their proton packs to them.  If they were driving ecto-1 down here anyway why not bring the packs?  I’m sure there would be room. 

Malachi & his band
Later the guys are walking along and Winston says, “So this time warp stuff is a problem huh?”   I wonder if it is, come on Winston can’t be that stupid.  Ray adds an interesting notion, “Time is what keeps everything from happening at once.”  There is something about that line that is neat.  They approach Malachi and their cloths start to change while they jump around in time.  I haven’t the foggiest of how all this happens.  Eventually they randomly arrive back in the present, lucky for them.  Ray and Winston decide to head to New Orleans as their equipment should be there by now.  Egon busts out his spare PKE meter which he always has!  You can count on him to be somewhat prepared at all times.  He figures out that to beat the musician ghosts they’ll need to counter with some of their own music.  They could also use the proton packs that should be arriving shortly, either way Egon.   

He likes his work
They run into a snag when Ray and Winston inform the others that there equipment was shipped to Hawaii.  Janine I love your sense of humor but was that really necessary?  I doubt it was her but you never know.  The Ghostbusters are at a loss of what to do.  They decide to go to the convention that they originally planned on when they arrived to get parts to build a proton pack and trap.  At least from what I piece together that’s the plan, it’s not entirely as easy to follow as most episodes.  It’s cool to see Ray working on the equipment back at their hotel.  Peter always has something to say too, “Come on Ray there are guys at NASA that can do this on their lunch break.”  Really guys at NASA can make ghost busting equipment?  I know it’s a joke to make fun of how long it’s taking to make the proton pack but NASA?! 
  
Later on Ray sports his new proton pack and fires upon the ghosts but the pack overcharges quickly and explodes.  It would have been neat to have the theme music briefly for that moment but we are denied.  The part when Egon suggests for Ray to remove the pack is so calm and collective that it’s a strange experience to watch.  The pack is going to explode you guys should be in a panic or at least excitable mode!  After it goes boom Peter says, “Nice work Ray remind me to let you fix my stereo.

Can words describe this?
Egon has the last chance at stopping Malachi.  He uses a portable handheld computer device to program instruments to counter the music the jazz ghosts are sending off.  It’s silly but it’s the only option they can try.  Egon suggests all they need to do is provide air for the instruments not actually play them.  The woman gets in one shot, “Mr. Venkman seems to have plenty of that.”  She is referring to the air, ha-ha!  Before they head out Egon slams all jazz music fans by claiming rock and roll can defeat it.  The ridiculous factor lifts off and the Ghostbusters become the music busters as they change cloths and send off riffs against the jazz ghosts.  It’s not a total loss as you get to see some wacky outfits the guys wear.  They vanquish the spirits with a final send off and restore time to its proper place.  In the end Peter rushes onto a bus to New Orleans to catch Mardi gras which is over he just doesn’t realize.  The others get a free trip to Hawaii to compensate for the mix up with their gear.

One aspect I like about this episode is the Ghostbusters are away from the regular environment of New York City and never appear in their standard jumpsuits.  It’s neat to see how they must conform to circumstance to save the day.  It’s also great that Slimer is only in one scene.

Rating: 6.5 of 10
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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Station Identification

Episode 15

The writer for this one, Mark Scott Zicree, does another decent episode.  I like how he incorporates his ideas from his other works into this one.  He gives an introduction on the DVD and I’m becoming fond of his style.  What happens is ghosts use televisions to bring the characters on them to life so you can imagine how the Ghostbusters must intervene.  Zicree uses general ideas from other shows he was writing at the time as entities to feature as ghosts.  What I enjoy most is the concept of this episode.  The humor is well placed and mostly funny as well.

It’s been awhile since the Ghostbusters have had a call and they’re becoming rather bored.  Peter and Winston decide to play some ping pong to pass the time when Slimer eats the ball.  Peter gets pissed off at him as usual for ruining what little fun they were mustering up.  Janine then brings in an old television set she won as a prize when she was a kid.  She is trying to ease the tension the guys must be feeling after this long layoff.  They plug it in but nothing happens at first and as they all look at each other as to question it the dial turns itself to channel one.  Something doesn’t seem right about that!  A show called ‘Leave it to Woodchuck’ comes on while Ray and Peter chatter about how many times they’ve seen that show.  It’s an obvious parody to the old classic ‘Leave it to Beaver’.  Winston comments, “That’s funny I thought those we’re all in black and white.”  Janine replies, “You think that’s funny it’s a black and white set.”  Something strange is definitely going on here!

How much wood could a wood...
A huge ghost woodchuck comes through the television set as everyone backs off.  The guys didn’t have their proton packs on up until this point and when the scene shifted away from them they must have hastily put them on because in the very next image they have them on.  It would have been neat to see them defenseless against this giant foe for a moment at least.  They capture the ghost in the trap easily enough but the animation of the beams is off.  The animation overall wasn’t as good in this one so you’ll have to adjust to it.  The television is still on and a serpent like tube of toothpaste comes out next.  They capture that as well as we get to see two Ray’s in the same shot!  As they unplug the television Winston asks, “What show did you win that on Janine, the outer limits?”  A fitting question if you ask me.  They also notice they were receiving channel one.

The calls start to come in now so their unscheduled vacation is over.  As they arrive on the neighborhood scene ghosts are going crazy all around them.  Winston says, “I’d say this calls for a six pack.”  He swings around six ghost traps and throws them all at once onto the ground.  Want to be careful with the equipment Winston?  They trap the ghosts but it’s not as exciting as usual with the lower grade animation.  Down the street from them a local restaurant broadcasts it has the biggest television set in town so the guys head for it.  As they arrive it’s too late as ‘Power Guy’ who is the parody of ‘He Man’ breaches into the real world.  Egon throws out, “He doesn’t look so tough to me.”  Peter answers, “When’s the last time you had your prescription checked Egon?”  I wonder why they don’t open fire.  They sort of stand back and assume they have a chance without using their throwers.  The huge ghost starts a vacuum and Peter nearly gets caught until Slimer hears his cries of help.  Slimer saves Peter from being sucked into the unknown by being caught instead.  Winston helps Peter off the wall while saying, “He slimed you good and proper Peter.”  Peter vows to rescue Slimer upon having a moment of heart for what the little green slimeball did for him.
WBOO Tower - Central Park!

"Star Patrol"
As they track down the ghosts which leads into the night Egon guesses that all the ghosts in town must have formed together to make this mayhem.  It makes sense enough since they haven’t had a call for so long before all of this.  The ghosts are using the televisions as a doorway to go almost anywhere which is a neat concept.  They track the source to central park and discover the tower.  The head ghost announces that WBOO is on the air, cute name.  As the Ghostbusters enter the tower they get separated and have encounters with ghosts.  Winston has the funniest turn as he meets ‘Star Patrol’ or ‘Star Trek’.  My favorite moment in the episode is the three ghosts portraying to be ‘Star Trek’ characters.  The one ghost asks what the diagnosis is while the short ghost answers, “We’re dead Jim.”  It’s delivered really well.  Mr. Spook then decides the next course of action!  What a name, sounds familiar.  Meanwhile Ray finds ‘Gumbo’ a hybrid of ‘Gumby and Rambo’.  It’s clever.

Machine-Busters!
They meet back up in this haunted tower to find Slimer watching the food network.  Peter saves him by blasting the ghost but no trapping scene occurs.  Did it flee or is the budget on this episode that low?  If the writing wasn’t so interesting this could have been bad.  Slimer goes into dog mode to help the Ghostbusters find the ultimate source in the tower.  I’m still not a fan of how Slimer always helps out but I deal with it.  The finale is rather lackluster as the clown boss ghost transforms into an evil ‘Grimace’ from McDonalds.  Also why doesn’t the head ghost boss block the beams?  The throwers had no effect against him!  The Ghostbusters blast the dynamo which powers the tower and destroy it.  The head ghost vanishes not even to be trapped so I suppose his power was connected directly to the dynamo.  It doesn’t end as well as the rest of the episode actually was.

I hate to rag on this series but although the writing was solid in this one the animation for it is too dismal to tolerate most of the time.  It’s unfortunate as better animation could have lifted this one higher.  This sort of things happens in the series and I believe this is only the second time so far.

Rating: 7 of 10 

I mentioned how I detested the animation in this episode so here are a couple supporting images to how I felt.  It's funny to see now that I'm looking back on this show but it's obvious this episode didn't get the animation type of love the others did.  The bottom image isn't a goof but I wonder if they intended it to look like Grimace?  Will we ever know the truth?  These aren't the first animation errors in the series but I'll try to keep an eye out for any I see. 
Egon! Peter! Ray! &... Ray?!
Pe-gon? Eg-er?  What's going on here?!
Nothing 'Happy' about this 'Meal'

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Knock, Knock

Episode 14

What can be more thrilling than an episode about the doomsday door opening early?  We get an episode that can easily be made a movie due to its grand scale of ghostly threat.  The Ghostbusters must find a way to close the door before the world as we know it is no more.  With an epic finale and a nearly Slimer free episode it has to be a fan favorite!

It starts with the Ghostbusters tearing apart a bowling alley in true ghostbusting fashion.  I like how the ghosts get slammed into the ceiling just before their capture.  They head home hearing chants of victory from the crowd outside the building.

Sorry maybe next time Peter
Upon arriving back at the firehouse Peter and the rest of the guys notice a trail of food and slime leading to Slimer.  Janine is ticked off explaining, “I tried to stop him, but you guys don’t need a receptionist you need a babysitter, a whole platoon of them.”  It’s true that pesky green gob of goo is more of a rotten child if anything else.  Peter heads over with his thrower aimed and ready to blast Slimer.  Ray and Winston spoil the fun by tackling him as Peter begs, “Just let me blast him, once.  Is that really too much to ask?”  Egon claims they need the ghost for science so they can’t but it’s always fun to watch Peter lose it and try to sneak in a shot.  As they empty the trap it’s hilarious as Peter and Winston pretend to argue over who is supposed to do it.  They trick Egon into doing it instead which is a really neat moment in the daily routine of these characters.  They all head to bed after a weary night of busting ghosts.

Nice front door knocker
Meanwhile deep underground a construction crew is digging a new subway tunnel and run into a mean looking door.  The crewmen argue a bit over what to do until the boss says to drill through it, big mistake!  The door speaks, “Do not open until doomsday.”  This door is a signature icon in this series although only seen in this episode.  Whenever I think of this episode I always think of this door first.  It’s so creepy and scary.  The door decides to unleash doomsday early and the supernatural events begin immediately!  Subway trains come to hideous life while graffiti dances off.  Naturally the Ghostbusters get a call, “The subway systems messed up?” Janine asks.  “How can you tell the difference?”  Way to be a smart@$$ Janine!  The rest time the guys thought they were getting is now gone and they suit back up for work.  While walking down into the changing subway area Ray states, “It’s like the whole place itself is becoming evil, becoming alive.  Boy this is great!”  Don’t you just love his excitement?

One way to get some space on a train
The guys get on a subway train that pulls up without knowing it’s possessed by the other side.  Egon uses the PKE meter to determine that the source of the activity is down the line and this train will take them straight there.  How convenient!  They get more than they bargained for as ghostly passengers mean to help them to their ranks.  The theme music triggers and a wild romp through the tunnel and streets ensue.  It’s a classic moment and very well done as they eventually reach the end of the line.  Egon states that the energy being released changes the nature of everything it touches.  That’s some very serious stuff to deal with and I wonder what would happen if one of the Ghostbusters got hit with some of it!  Peter spots a lady in the distance and tries to help her in his often flirtatious manner.  It ends up being another ghost as he freaks out.  Winston stumbles upon an engraved message which Egon translates.  It explains that the doomsday door has opened although it wasn’t supposed to until the end of the world.  I’m very fascinated by this story and it has intensity written all through it!  The Ghostbusters continue on knowing they may not make it back alive.

Maintaining a heroic image
The finale awaits as they locate the source.  The environment is wild and hectic as they try to figure out how to stop this force.  Ray says, “I’m just glad we don’t actually have to go in there.”  He is referring to the other side of the door.  Egon replies that is what they must do in order to close it though!  He goes on to state that they need to pull back all of the energy that has escaped already but their proton packs don’t have enough power.  Ray begins to figure it out when he adds that inside the door is enough energy to accomplish that.  There is a blue orb manifesting energy beyond our world’s capacity just inside the gateway.  They must blast into the orb to supercharge their beams to reach out and pull back all the supernatural energy that has already released.  It’s such a neat concept!  They even use a capture mode on their packs I don’t recall them using before.  Peter suggests that Egon knew all this before they arrived which he confesses to.  If they knew then they probably wouldn’t want to do it but Egon really takes the reins in this event and shows leadership.  Peter also remarks to Egon’s statement as, “That’s a terrible thing to say but you’re right of course.”  He keeps it honest by admitting he wouldn’t want to die this way but who would? 

They close the door shut and prevent doomsday in a frantic finish.  As they make it back home Peter heads to the refrigerator to eat finding Slimer has already ate everything.  He loses it again shouting how he never liked Slimer.  The guys try to talk him down and it works enough that Peter feeds Slimer a pizza in secret to end the episode.  Peter does have a heart it’s just hidden behind high emotions and a unique sense of humor.
Peter in perfect form
This episode is one of the best!  From Peter’s continued hatred of Slimer, Egon’s intelligent solution to stopping doomsday and Ray’s excitement of the situation it’s no wonder this series started out on such a high note!  It’s not my top episode but it’s right up there with them.

Rating: 10 of 10
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The Dark Knight Rises (2012)


Batman is now gone as is Bruce Wayne who stalks alone in his mansion.  Gotham is now a city saved thanks to the legend of Harvey Dent.  The problem is there is a new villain coming to town to finish what Liam Neeson failed to do in ‘Batman Begins’.  Will Bruce Wayne snap out of his depressed funk and come to aid a city so desperate for anyone to clean up its own mess?  Don’t forget we also now have a woman dressing up as a cat now too.  True to Nolan’s style this movie turns and turns some more but will it be enough to be a satisfactory conclusion? 

Bruce Wayne is a busted former hero with bad knees and a severe case of shut in.  The catwoman easily sneaks into his mansion and snatches his fingerprints to later sell off to a ‘client’ of hers.  I’ll stop here for a moment.  Hathaway had big claws to fill so to speak since the last movie had one of the all time greatest villain performances to follow on not to mention the first installment of this series with Liam Neeson.  She did alright I suppose but I didn’t particularly care for her in this role.  It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t anything special either, I mean where’s the classic whip at?  It would have been more interesting to learn why she had decided to become the catwoman but the movie is already so lengthy with other less interesting things so we lose that chance.

Uh oh what are those other ‘less interesting’ things all of the batman fans out there question of me!  The character that Joseph Gordon Levitt plays is decent but since I’m not really a fan of his it derailed me a bit.  I really wanted to see a flashback moment when he saw batman as a kid that he talked about so as to get a visual on his story.  Maybe I missed a few things since Nolan loves to make movies so confusing when sometimes you need to just keep it simple.  We get brief moments when we discover what Bane really was and who he was supposed to be only to have it erased by, ‘It really wasn’t me!’ later in the movie.  So who was he, just another random guy in a prison for a crime?  What did he do to get there?  I always enjoy things like that but now I guess I won’t know.  He is simply a super strong man that has a darth vader like voice that wants Gotham to die.  I also wonder how he gets so many followers who would die rather than spill the beans.  I don’t know perhaps I just don’t get it.

There were some cool things I liked though.  I admired Alfred’s character in this movie.  He revealed quite a bit of insight as to what he wanted for Bruce Wayne.  You have a man tortured that was left to care for Bruce in light of the boy’s parent’s death.  They were living in a tomb that was slowly decaying Bruce for years.  He tried to spare Bruce the pain that Rachel didn’t want him by burning the letter she intended for Bruce to see.  Alfred didn’t want Bruce to be batman and go out seeking his death.  He wanted him to leave Gotham and find a woman to be happy with.  He wanted the sorrow and pain of his parents to remain in his past.  It was tough seeing the two part ways and one of the best moments in the movie was Alfred staring at all three tombstones of the Wayne’s a broken man.  Yes Bruce died or did he?

Let’s ponder on the ending of the movie when batman flies in his fancy aircraft out into the open water to save Gotham once and for all.  Batman has always stood to protect this city and it would have been fitting for him to make the ultimate self sacrifice to save millions by blowing up.  The conclusion that this movie is supposed to be might as well end with a tragic finale.  The people erect a statue of batman in honor of his fall and that moment would have meant more had he not survived.  They don’t know that so it’s still honorable for them but the viewer does which is us!  I know Alfred gets to see his fantasy of Bruce with a woman at the end living with a smile on his face but I’d like to see a movie dare not to conform to what the audience wants to see in the end, ‘the classic happy ending’.  The bad guys die and the good guys get it all.  This movie had a chance for the bad guys to still die but the good guy saving what for three long movies he tried to protect, Gotham.  He still did it but I wanted the trend to break.  It’s my own folly but do you at least think that would have been neat?

Did I like the movie is all you could wonder now.  I did.  It had its moments and then it didn’t but for the ending of a three movie set I’m still impressed.  It’s tough to make a trilogy where each movie equally entertains as these did but Nolan did pull it off in my opinion.  But where does this one stand compared to the other two?  I put this one a sliver under ‘The Dark Knight’.  The pure evil that was the Joker combined with Ledger’s performance is tough to beat but being only a hair under that should be satisfactory.  The question remains now is where does ‘Batman Begins’ rank among these three.  You have two of the movies to read now and you know I think these movies are all nearly equal to one another.  I’ll leave an annoying Nolan spin on it and leave you guessing until the review goes up later.


2nd Theatrical Viewing
I went to see this movie again in part because I had a ‘so many $$$ off coupon’ and I wanted to check out these awesome new ‘D-Box’ seats.  I probably wouldn’t have seen it twice in theater but the cards played out that way this time.  I’m going to go over a few things I didn’t the first go around and hope you enjoy my vantage point of the movie.

The Bat
If you saw the movie you know what this is, it’s the impressive aircraft batman flies in all sorts of wild fashion.  If you didn’t well now you know.  I liked ‘The Bat’ more than I originally did the first time I saw the movie, btw thanks Lucious for such a creative name for it.  I kept waiting for the true background on this flying menace but it remains a mystery.  What am I talking about you wonder.  ‘Hey Scott it’s a military thing.’  That’s the illusion batman wants you to believe and he is a master of shadows after all right?  ‘The Bat’ looks and maneuvers quite alien if you look with a more science fiction eye such as me.  I admired its foreign not of this world style as well as the inability to do any damage at all to it.  When the bomb went off at the end it doesn’t show ‘The Bat’ exploding and that’s because it didn’t.  It’s out there, released of batman’s control and now thinking on its own a way to destroy the earth.  Batman versus aliens would be an interesting concept and the connection is already there for us.  Trust your instincts and you’ll discover why this flying machine seemed so intimidating, powerful and unstoppable.  It’s from another part of this universe!

Bane vs. Batman
I’d like to hit on the two fights with these dudes.  The first one shows bane man handling batman while breaking him over his knee.  It’s what all true bat-fans wanted and they got it.  I’m specific and picky about fight scenes but this first one between them was powerful without all the CGI lasers or mystical visual powers many superhero battles have nowadays.  It was basic and blow upon blow to beat batman into defeat.  The camera work was good as I could follow the fight the entire time.  How many times have you watched a thousand cut fight scene and wondered what the h3ll was going on?  That’s what I figured.  The dialogue was also decent as bane put to shame all that batman stood for in few words while kicking his @$$. Batman also firing out that bane was thrown out of a league of psychopaths was pretty funny even though he should have kept his mouth shut.

Fight two!  Not as fun as the first one but finally batman decides to attack that mask covering bane’s face!  How did you not figure out that has something to do with being a weakness?  I don’t even know bane or what he is but I’d go for the mask, you always go for the face right?  Batman doesn’t man handle bane but he gets even with a bit of help from a high powered rocket into the chest of bane.  I liked the shots of bane punching the pillars and busting them apart.  The strength of that herculean man was rather scary but he should have just killed batman when he had the chance.  I know breaking his mind is fun and sinister but sometimes you need to play it by the book bane and that’s why you lost.

Catwoman
I’ll probably get horrendous hate mail for this when in fact I do start getting any mail at all but could the audience be given any reason to cheer or even like this character?  A thief with a record, mostly speeding tickets if you look closely at batman’s background check screen, looking for some ‘clean slate’ to erase criminal records and continue on being a petty pearl necklace stealing thief.  You want her to be the new love for Bruce Wayne’s tattered existence?  Her motivation is to put the rich people in the poor person’s shoes and bane accomplished that.  How in the world did she know how to drive batman’s bike anyway?  That seems like you need to log in some hours before even sitting on it let alone just hop on and start driving wild.  She’s eye candy but honestly Miranda Tate wins that category, in my opinion.  Perhaps I missed a few things about this character or it’s because she didn’t even own a cat, Isis!  That is a trademark pet but not even a cameo for this famous sidekick feline.  I’m mean I know but I wasn’t sold on catwoman and I gave her a second viewing to prove otherwise.

I would have liked to see Harley Quinn instead since some motivation for defeating The Joker would be reason enough to insert her into the movie.  I’m guessing the death of Ledger could have had something to do with leaving her out though.  It may have been for a matter of respects I’m not sure.

I also liked Clayface and the possibilities of someone with the ability to change faces would seem interesting and exciting.  I’m not sure how some of these could have fit into a big budget film though.  The movie has made millions so my theories of what could have been clearly don’t hold any merit but it’s fun to ponder.  My rating of the movie remains the same and it does conclude well enough.

Rating: 8 of 10
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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Xmas Marks the Spot

Episode 13 – Season 1

Isn’t it such a joy that we get so many J. Michael Straczynski episodes early on in this series?  The combination of Charles Dickens ‘The Christmas Carol’ and the Ghostbusters is fantastic!  I have always loved that story and now come to know that Straczynski also did.  He gives a brief introduction to the episode on the DVD collection, which you MUST own if you’re a fan.  I certainly liked this one and hope you will too as I go over it.

The past can haunt, even on Xmas.
The Ghostbusters are returning from an upstate call on Xmas eve through a terrible snowstorm in the middle of nowhere.  Sounds like a wonderful way to spend the holiday doesn’t it?  Egon showed a bit of displeasure about something Ray did on that call.  Ray goes on to mention, “I told her to keep the cat out of my way.”  Poor Ray, at least it’s not dead based on what he says.  Winston is bummed out about working on Xmas eve but Peter claims otherwise, “It doesn’t bother me, Christmas is just another day.”  It would seem Peter has some underlying issue about this holiday let’s be aware.  They come up to a fork in the road that none of them remembers so they pick the left route.  It turns out that they are in for a longer night than they might have expected.  Ecto-1 dies so they have to go out on foot.  In this weather that’s the last thing they wanted to do.  Peter gets sour over the holiday talk and walks ahead.  It’s now learned that his father wasn’t around for this holiday much and it hurt him more than he’d like to show.  Don’t you love character development?  I do, particularly of Peter and these early episodes.

Busting the 3 ghosts of Xmas!
As they push on they get caught in a wild whirlwind of snow that sends them sprawling everywhere.  When they emerge from the snow they see an old town in the distance.  Questions abound as to why it’s here but Peter just races down the hillside assuming they have a phone.  Remember the late 1980’s when a cell phone sounded so alien?  They walk into the town and see a ghost in chains darting away into the sky from a home.  Egon pulls out the PKE meter and gets strong readings as three more ghosts speed into the upper floor of the building.  Are you noticing anything at all about this yet?  The theme music kicks in and they race upstairs to face the ghosts!  An old man is frightened on the bed and screams for help.  They immediately fire upon the three ghosts capturing them quite easily and without a fight.  The old man becomes extremely happy and then puts up a fight about paying for the ghost capture.  He sounds a bit greedy wouldn’t you say?  Ray threatens to release the ghosts without payment but the old man finally gives in and tosses a single coin from 1837 to them!

The old man heads to the window with high confidence upon the ghosts being taken away.  He reveals himself to be Scrooge!  He vows then to fight Christmas with all he has.  The guys decide to leave town since no phone could be found I assume.  That crazy whirlwind of snow befalls them again and they find ecto-1.  Ray tries to start it and it works this time so they head home.  Egon has a moment of thought that he gets throughout the series where you know he’s onto something but he shrugs it off for the time being.

If you can't make bail...
Back at the old firehouse Egon heads to put the ghosts into the containment unit as the others go to pick up a Christmas tree.  You guys don’t have one yet?  Why did you wait until now to get one?  I thought they loved Christmas so much!  They were posing!  Janine and Slimer show no interest at all in Christmas which makes Egon wonder.  I tell you he’s onto something!  Meanwhile Ray, Winston and Peter put together the pieces of why Christmas is suddenly non-existent.  I love how Scrooge has become so popular and even has a bestselling book on the streets.  It’s apparent he took all the credit for defeating the three Christmas ghosts and has invoked his hatred for the holiday into the lives of all mankind.  That’s quite a feat to accomplish; he’s even more dreadful than I’d ever imagined him before.  Since Egon is about to put the three ghosts away they rush back to stop him.  Peter wonders what the big deal is though.  He hasn’t come around yet.

Sandman and 'negative energy' form ghost
Egon has already cleaned the trap when the others meet back with him.  They go upstairs to view the containment unit through a scope as Egon questions what is going on.  Peter asks if there is a way to release just those three ghosts but that’s not possible.  It is possible to travel back in time and capture them though!  I’m not bashing its just funny but that’s what makes it great!  The sorrow sets in that Christmas is forever gone.  The scene cuts and when we return they are in their jumpsuits.  This isn’t the time to be changing we must save Christmas!  They develop a plan to get the ghosts back where they belong which includes Egon going inside the containment unit!  How cool is that?  Well Peter checks Egon’s wrist when he suggests it and says, “Pulse seems normal.  Are you sure you didn’t hit your head?”  He thinks Egon has lost his mind, great stuff.

Samhain lurking
Ray, Peter and Winston head back to the time warp area while Egon heads inside the containment unit.  Egon asks for Janine’s help which she is always willing to do but not for Christmas.  Whenever Egon says Christmas she blurts out ‘Bah Humbug’ which he finds ‘fascinating.’  So Peter dresses in drag to try and convince Scrooge that Christmas isn’t all that bad.  It’s a bit funny but it’s not quite my taste as far as how the episode has come along to this point.  I do like the part in which Scrooge explained that in his childhood all he needed were his books.  Peter doesn’t agree claiming he needed more than just books.  He’s most likely referring to his father’s presence.  I really enjoyed Egon searching for the ghosts in the containment unit though.  He rigs up a device that opens a hairline incision that he can pass through.  He changes his molecular density so as to fit inside as well.  It’s explained in a way that makes it sound believable enough.

Egon finds the three ghosts and makes it out just as his rigged up device explodes.  Everything seems to be getting cut close as he makes his way back to the other Ghostbusters.  Eventually the original spirits get things set right and Peter learns to appreciate Christmas for more than just some bad memories in his past.  If it wasn’t for his character development in this one I’m not sure I would have liked it so much.  It has a feel good aura to it that I just enjoy we’ll say.  In the end you can hear Santa’s voice and wouldn’t it be awesome if they busted him too?  Here’s to Christmas in July!

Rating: 9 of 10

I loved to see all those ghosts from the previous 12 episodes that I'd like to share them here before I wrap up this review.  The containment unit always interests me to no end due to it's environment and appearance.  How did it get to look like it does?  It's creepy because the space seems infinite.  They really captured how dreary it would be with all these evil spirits wandering around.  I was surprised to see so many familiar ghosts from the series so far so without further delay here they are.
This bottom image is spectacular as it has the winged puma, Killerwatt, Samhain, What, Sandman, the sleepy ghost from 'Take Two' and so many more!  I was excited to see Sandman and Samhain again as I really enjoyed their featured episodes so far.  It's too bad we don't see anymore of most of these guys.


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Monday, July 23, 2012

Janine's Genie

Episode 12 – Season 1

I’m a fan of the original Janine and any episode that features her more is due to be one of the better ones.  This would be one of them although it’s a bit sillier than some of the previous episodes it’s still funny enough to be worth watching multiple times.  She’s also in uniform which for any die hard Real Ghostbusters fan is fun and exciting.  These writers, Jansen & Menville, are doing mostly decent for now but will they be able to keep it up?  They seem to enjoy writing Slimer into the show as much as they can which usually translates into the weaker moments in the show in my opinion.

One extra crispy Ghostbuster coming up!
Here we go.  The guys get a call to begin the episode as Peter warns Slimer to stay away from his watermelon before he leaves.  I wonder what is going to happen, argh!  Janine throws a fit about not being able to go out on calls so the guys decide, on a whim, that she can.  Who answers the phone or takes care of walk-in clients if she went though, Slimer?  That’s why you’re a secretary Janine.  Luckily it turns out to be not horrendous.  As they arrive at the scene of the ghost phenomena Janine is in full uniform dashing out of ecto-1.  Did she change in the ride there?  I bet those are some interesting deleted scenes somewhere in the vault.  As the ghostbusting begins Janine asks, “What do I do?”  That’s a reasonable enough question but I love Winston’s answer, “BLAST THEM!”  He’s so scientific isn’t he?  Janine stumbles into Egon and gets a bit lovey-dovey then accidently fires at Peter narrowly missing him!  I love the “Whoa!” exclamation by Peter!

She eventually captures her first ghost and goes banana’s.  Peter meanwhile remarks she almost caught her first Ghostbuster as well!  The theme music was rolling too which lifted the scene very well.  As they wrap it up Janine is aiming her gun inadvertently at Peter as he jumps out of the way hysterically while Janine says, “Is he ever serious?”  The comedic interaction of those two in this scene is really funny.  Janine mentions that this call has made her a full-fledged Ghostbuster as Winston replies, “Nobody becomes a Ghostbuster overnight.”  Didn’t you Winston?  Am I missing something here?  Peter gets excited as it’s “Bill time!”  His response to the client suddenly emerging from hiding is priceless!  This really is one of my top scenes in this series.

Can words describe this guy?
The old man who owns the building doesn’t have any money to pay but offers to let them pick one of his old antiques as payment.  Janine jumps at the offer and accepts.  Can you guess what she picked?  An old lamp the guys tease her about of course.  I usually could care less about Slimer but he’s eating the watermelon when they get back.  Nothing special about that except the fact Slimer is spitting out the seeds.  I’ve seen this green goober eat pencils so why spit out a seed?  Slimer gets chased away by all four of the guys upstairs as Peter discovered he ate his watermelon.  Why would the others even care or give chase?  It’s this tiny side event involving Slimer that’s lame but Janine Is now alone with her new lamp.  She rubs it to clean it a bit while ‘wishing’ she was the boss.  Surprise!   The ghost, I mean ‘genie’, inside has the actual power to grant wishes so now she actually is the boss.  The ghost genie looks funky and as Janine leaves he begins to release his pals from the lamp.

Peter is punishing Slimer by means of a spanking.  The other three guys watch on.  It’s a lame attempt at including Slimer in the episode.  Who spanks a ghost?  Peter usually would rather blast him or yell at him to get lost.  It’s these ‘dumbed’ down moments that I hate although Peter requesting a mitt before he spanked the green turd is mildly funny.

Another call has come in from the airport and the guys all line up in front of Janine hailing her as their boss.  Before they leave Janine cashes in her second wish that Egon fall in love with her.  She is sure breezing through these wishes isn’t she?  You only have one left Janine!  They all race off as Janine drives wildly out of the firehouse.  The ghost genie then releases all his buddies from the lamp and begins to take control of the firehouse.

Hope you brought enough traps!
In ecto-1 on the way to the airport Slimer is in a car seat with a steering wheel pretending to drive.  Can we give the Slimer stuff a break yet?  Hasn’t this episode filled the quota for this crap yet?  It’s a bit funny but it’d be better as a poster or something, not included in the scene.  It’s like Slimer is their dead little child who ate too many boogers in his living existence.  Would they actually buy Slimer a car seat with a steering wheel?  Crap maybe Ray would he’s like that.  Egon goes on a flirting frenzy with Janine that is silly enough to be chuckle worthy.  At the airport Slimer sniffs out the ghosts they’re after like a hound dog.  How much more can we take?  Use the PKE meter!  They would but Egon is immobilized by love and the others apparently failed to bring theirs.  I guess we are out of options except for Slimer, how sad.  Peter attempts to lure the ghosts out of their hiding with a joke, “Knock, knock.”  The ghost answers with the appropriate response ‘Who’s there?’  Peter continues, “Dishes.”  The ghost plays along.  Peter finishes with, “Dishes the Ghostbusters!  Come on out!”  It’s funny and it’s a visually neat scene to see all the ghosts.

Quirky and a bit wacky but it entertains.
They all head off in pursuit of the escaping ghosts while Egon is still in a state of being love struck.  Janine takes the PKE meter and notes that the signal is fading fast.  Peter keeping us entertained as usual states, “So is Egon.”  Sometimes these small jokes really hold together the episode.  They follow the ghosts onto a plane and while searching for them Ray blurts out, “Anybody seen a ghost?”  I wonder if that’s a tribute to the first movie.  The ghosts take over the plane and begin to take to the skies.  The scene is entertaining as the ghosts start a food fight and get into mischief with some of the passengers.  Naturally the Ghostbusters must stop them.  The theme music triggers which extends to new lengths as the Ghostbusters fly the plane all over town.  Whether or not they’d actually be able to fly it after the ghosts bailed is up to you but it’s not too bad a scene.  The ending is the best as they are all sitting in seats on the ground; it’s like something out of Looney Tunes which I also enjoy.

Inter-dimensional surgery?
The finale has the Ghostbusters discovering the source of the ghost activity is from that blasted lamp!  Janine decides to cash in her final wish to make the ghosts return to the lamp.  The ghost genie refuses and admits to lying about the whole genie act.  He just wanted the Ghostbusters away while his spirit friends entered our world.  Can we fault the ghost for that?  I suppose so since they’re up to no good!  Ray comes up with some rigged ghost traps that will attach to the lamp to reverse the flow of the escaping ghosts back into the lamp.  How that works is beyond me but its creative enough to seem that it would fix things.  Janine braves all in an attempt to correct her blunder by going into a very hostile firehouse environment.  It’s a cool character moment for her as she tries to finish what she accidently started.  The ghost genie tries to stop her as she smacks him away, “Outta the way creep!”  I don’t know why but that’s a funny line at this moment.  It transforms into a mutated, shaved, dog-like creature that I wouldn’t want barking up my tree.  Egon, Winston and Peter blast it as Janine attaches the cables and saves the day.

It wraps up nicely as the lamp disappears in a snap and the wishes enchantments with it.  It’s a fun episode with exciting situations but lack the mysterious evil spirits with hidden agendas and the sort.  I’d say this would be a good first episode to watch for many new viewers.  The only thing I’d change is taking out all the terrible Slimer moments or at least limiting them to one.
 
Rating: 8 of 10


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Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Green Mile (1999)


I’ve heard great things about this movie but for some reason I’ve never seen it until now.  It’s not that I avoided it deliberately but rather it wasn’t on my movie radar you could say.  I have wanted to see it for years and for a modest five dollars to own on DVD I finally did.  It’s worth that price with no doubt and the cast of the movie was what kept me into the movie.  At three hours in length you need something to keep you drawn in and shoddy acting won’t do that so I was pleased to say the least.

The story is solid and creative for starters.  The one part of it I didn’t bite on was when big old Jon Coffey was holding those two girls all bloody and dead.  Whether or not he did it when this scene is revealed early on in the movie is irrelevant.  When I saw the fifty white hillbillies all armed with a shotgun rushing toward him in the open I was almost certain they would have blown him away beyond recognition.  We’re talking about 1935 and a black man with two dead white girls at his side is going to get you killed fast.  When I was watching it I felt the father would charge right up and get instant retaliation but that doesn’t happen.  To me that scene was not very convincing considering the extreme situation poor Jon was in but the movie would be short had he died there.  I didn’t like that part but once I put it behind me and decided to give the rest of the movie a chance it worked out OK.

Taming Wild Bill?
I’d like to get into some of the performances, most notably David Morse as ‘Brutal’.  Why start with this guy right?  Well I’m not a fan of his from Disturbia to 16 Blocks but in this movie he did well and that’s vital because he’s more of a main character.  Now having Tom Hanks at your side for most of the movie is going to help anyone but I’ll admit he stepped up in a movie that needed strong acting to pull off the story.  Tom Hanks was amazing as usual so I don’t need to waste time going on about how well he did.  Michael Clarke Duncan did a pretty good job too.  I wouldn’t say he blew away all other performances because he didn’t but the fact he wasn’t dominating the screen time really helped you appreciate the scenes he was in.  Plus the mystery of what his character really is still resonates with you after the movie ends.  Michael Jeter one of my Jurassic Park III guys was here too and he did much better in this one I’ll say, ha-ha! 

The man I knew was in it before I watched, thanks to my wife spoiling it for me, is the magnificent Sam Rockwell.  I do want to say I wish I didn’t know he was in this movie because it would have been so awesome to first see him appear.  If you couldn’t tell already I’m a fan of his and his character of Wild Bill was brilliantly performed.  He really played the role of a completely wacked out killer to perfection.  For me him being in this movie made me like it more than I would have in the end.

I honestly don’t want to get into much of this movie but I do want to hit on the death of Jon Coffey.  When I found out he was innocent of killing those girls I naturally wanted to find a solution to free this man.  The explanation for him wanting to be killed is very well written.  It’s revealed how painful his life is with all the evil that goes on in the hearts of mankind.  He can feel extreme pains every second of his life and although he does have the ability to heal people no matter what their affliction he wants it to end.  The burden of such a gift is unbearable and it appears as though he has been at this lifestyle for years.  When he decides to share part of his gift with Paul (Hanks) it’s as though he wants to pass the torch somewhat just so his death is understood.  It’s not as sad as it could have been had they not known he was innocent but it still is tough to watch this man get fried for doing no wrong. 

All in all it is a lengthy movie and I had to take a ten minute break at one point to just be able to continue on.  Long movies aren’t exactly my taste but this one really does justify it.  I do recommend watching this but be prepared for it, set aside three hours or more to enjoy it.

Rating: 9 of 10

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Citizen Ghost

Episode 11 – Season 1

J. Michael Straczynski strikes again in another well written episode.  The origin of Slimer joining the Ghostbusters is answered as well as how he got his name.  I would say this episode has got to be a fan favorite due to the inclusion of how the story continues following the events with Gozer from the movie.  The firehouse gets rebuilt along with a bigger containment unit and a new ghostly foe emerges to pose a challenge the guys didn’t even see coming!

Spare me the crap and let's do this interview!
It all starts when Cynthia Crawford, making her second and sadly final appearance in the series, comes to the firehouse to interview Peter about the history of the Ghostbusters.  She meets Janine first and says, “You must be Janine Melnitz.”  “Well if I must I must though all things considered I’d rather be Meryl Streep.”  Janine answers back.  It’s not the funniest thing in the world but shortly later it amplifies enough to be more worth the initial dialogue.  Cynthia makes her way upstairs into Egon’s workspace where all the guys are.  She again starts off her conversation with, “You must be Dr. Peter Venkman.”  Naturally he replies with, “If I must I must but I’d much rather be..” when Cynthia cuts him off before he can finish!  She says, “If you don’t mind I’ve driven off that bridge already.”  That’s a cold statement to make upon meeting someone wouldn’t you agree?  It’s funny though and still gets better. The two of them head downstairs to Peter’s office area to begin the interview.

Cynthia gets a bit startled when she meets the slimeball himself, Slimer.  She, for a third time, says, “You must be Slimer.”  Slimer starts the same reply as Janine and Peter but gets cut off by Peter this time!  She then points out that it’s a bit strange to have a ghost roaming free in the firehouse with them.  Peter gives one of his best lines in the series in reply, “Strange, weird, eccentric, sick that about covers it.”  It’s so funny how he doesn’t even defend it but that’s what makes his character better.  That leads straight to the back story this episode is all about when Peter explains among other things why Slimer is with them.

FLASHBACK

Some slight structural damages
After defeating Gozer the Ghostbusters return to the firehouse which is now in shambles.  Egon mentions how he will build a bigger containment unit this time and how important it is to destroy their current movie-esque jumpsuits since they absorbed a lot of psychokinetic energy.  I love it when they talk that lingo it makes it seem more true to the nature of the Ghostbusters.  Janine surprises them with their new duds afterwards which are now the different colored ones we’re all accustomed to.  It’s really cool to see the pieces of marshmallow still sticking to the guys too!

Stay Puft droppings remain..
Later Peter and Egon are going over the checklist of the containment unit to make sure everything is in order.  Of course Peter isn’t taking it seriously and gets caught not paying attention.  “Transwarp drive” Egon asks.  Peter confirms it while Egon says he’s not going to speak to him for awhile and that it’s bad for his health!  It’s a classic scene in the series.  As Egon leaves he reminds Peter to burn the old uniforms which Peter didn’t.  He promptly kicks the box right into a corner next to the containment unit of all places.  Way to go Peter, do you realize what you’ve done?!  It’s that lazy aspect of Peter that I like though and without this action it wouldn’t be an episode.  One last tiny crack remained in the containment unit and slowly seeped out ectoplasmic energy that went straight into the old uniforms.  I hope nothing supernatural happens because of that!

Food doesn't go through walls!
Weeks later I would assume as the guys fixed up the firehouse they had their first dinner back at the newly restored building.  Egon picks up a reading on his PKE meter which he even brings to the dinner table.  The man never stops working not even while he eats!  Slimer makes his presence visible when he floats in and snags their thanksgiving type dinner from the table.  Peter recognizes him immediately and the chase begins with the theme music kicking in!  Slimer goes through the front door thinking the food will come with him but gets surprised when he loses it.  He does manage to get away without the food as Egon wonders why he stuck around the firehouse when all the other ghosts didn’t after the containment unit exploded.  Janine claims it’s because he was lonely and the Ghostbusters were the only ones who paid attention to him.  She could be onto something.  Peter insists Slimer merely wants another shot at him.  They might both be right!

Creep-tastic!
As time passed Slimer had brief run-ins with the Ghostbusters and nothing of concern happened.  The funny scene was when Ray decided to name him Slimer to annoy Peter.  It’s a very creative way to pull that off and it works well.  Next Peter’s negligence shows its familiar face in the form of ghost specters.  They look and talk like the Ghostbusters and come complete with ectoplasmic proton packs!  The problem is that they want to bust the guys.  During the scuffle I like how Janine comes strolling in through the front door clearly after hours with a bag of groceries.  What is she up to?  Go home or are you hoping Egon will come downstairs for a midnight snack?  She does show interest in him as he saves her unaware behind from the specter Egon.  They get away and Ray says, “What we’re dealing with is us, those things look just like us.”  “Speak for yourself Ray I couldn’t look that bad on a bet.”  Peter replies.  Then Egon figures it out but in Peter’s version of the story nobody is to blame.

One of the best explanations for a ghost is then unveiled by Egon as they examine the now empty box.  He says ectoplasm is like putty and the more you add the bigger it gets.  He goes on to say they look like them due to the mental imprint left on things you touched.  It’s neat and justifies the specters soundly.

Ambushed!
As more time passes the Ghostbusters almost forget about their counterparts until they show up on one of their calls, nice awareness guys.  Peter nearly gets hit by his specter self as the two argue which one of them must be destroyed.  It’s a great scene to watch as the specters are trying to get rid of the Ghostbusters.  The others encounter the rest of them as they narrowly escape the ambush set up by the specters.  I like to think of it in that way.  How else could they attack the Ghostbusters while standing a chance?  They wait long enough in hiding, round up some minor ghosts to lure the Ghostbusters out into the open and then try to get them.  Later on the Ghostbusters discuss how evenly matched they are with the specters and figure out they need to find a way to drain their ectoplasmic forms.

There's not enough room in this town..
They soon get their wish as the specters sneak into the firehouse and steal ecto-1.  The proton packs were inside so that leaves them defenseless as the specters move in for the kill.  I always enjoy the episodes where the Ghostbusters are on the brink but manage to avoid the grim reapers grasp.  Egon figures out that every time the specters shoot their weapons it actually drains their ectoplasm so Slimer goes in place of Ray to try to get them to use as much as they can.  Of course Peter jokes that Janine should go and she attempts to throw a desk lamp at him!  It’s a nice little moment when Slimer comes to the aid of the guys to protect them.  My question is how would ectoplasm beams hurt Slimer?  Wouldn’t it make him bigger instead?  Let’s try to ignore that and appreciate the finale!  The ploy works and the Ghostbusters race out to get their packs from ecto-1.  Ray shouts, “Say goodnight fellas because the real Ghostbusters are here to stay!”  The capture sequence is fantastic and an excitement rushes through you as they trap the ghosts.

Slimer gets to stay for his role in stopping the specters although Peter would rather not want anyone to know he did OK it.  The flashback ends and as Cynthia Crawford leaves Peter thinks she is crazy about him.  She gives her report on television revealing that Slimer is the true unsung hero of the Ghostbusters while Peter shrugs it off as a ‘win some lose some’ philosophy.

Thus concludes one of the best through these first eleven episodes at the very least but I think I may keep the episode featuring the Sandman as my personal favorite at least for now.  This one is a close second so that warrants much praise nonetheless.  If you don’t watch many of these I’d highly recommend that you turn this one, it might make you think twice about putting your laundry off for another day at any rate!

Rating: 10 of 10


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