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THE STRAIN and THE LEFTOVERS…  supernatural TV shows with potential?

THE STRAIN and THE LEFTOVERS… supernatural TV shows with potential?

Posted on July 18th, 2014

by Coop Cooper

“The Strain” (FX channel Mondays at 9pm Central) – “The Strain” is a modern update of “Dracula” that mixes science into the mysticism of vampires. When a international flight from Berlin lands in New York with all of the crew and passengers either dead or in some strange state of hibernation, Ephraim Goodweather (Corey Stoll) and his Center for Disease Control team investigate, suspecting a rare viral outbreak. They soon discover a giant sarcophagus filled with dirt, teeming with worm-like parasites. After a series of brutal deaths, they begin to suspect that something larger is responsible for the outbreak and is attempting to escape the airport. Meanwhile, a shadowy millionaire (Jonathan Hyde), who arranged the delivery of the sarcophagus, attempts to secure it while a mysterious old pawn broker with a sword cane (David Bradley) tries to convince Goodweather to destroy the coffin before it leaves the airport.

Adapted from a series of comic books, this story isn’t very original as it culls many derivative ideas from a multitude of horror films…

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NOAH (on DVD)…  too weird to recommend to anybody

NOAH (on DVD)… too weird to recommend to anybody

Posted on July 16th, 2014

by Coop Cooper

The movie narrates hastily through the book of Genesis, explaining how after Cain killed Abel, Cain’s progeny – with the help of fallen angels – spread across all the land and created a Godless industrialized nation. Only the last of the descendants of the third brother, Seth, continued to protect creation, the last of which is Noah (Russell Crowe) and his family. When Noah receives a vision that the Creator will destroy the world by use of water, he seeks out his grandfather Methuselah (Anthony Hopkins) for guidance with the help of the fallen angels who become his protector. Methuselah gives him a seed, a relic from the Garden of Eden and the vision suddenly becomes clear to Noah. He must save as many of Earth’s creatures by building an ark using wood from the planted seed to carry them through the coming flood. The life-bringing streams created by the seed attract the animals to the ark, but they also draw the attention of bloodthirsty humans, especially Tubal-cain (Ray Winstone), the self-proclaimed king of all men.

Director Darren Aronofsky is a self-proclaimed atheist which makes this biblical subject matter an odd choice for him to adapt…

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THE LEGO MOVIE (on DVD)…  the surprise twist makes the movie

THE LEGO MOVIE (on DVD)… the surprise twist makes the movie

Posted on July 16th, 2014

by Coop Cooper

Anyone who reads my weekly articles knows I often avoid reviewing rated G and PG films. Most kids are easily entertained and having them read my review of “The Lorax” where I theorize the film represents a political ideology, probably isn’t going to dissuade them from wanting to see fluffy Dr. Seuss creatures. The review would actually be for the parents who would probably appreciate knowing if the film is laden with incessant bathroom humor or if the disturbing nature of the story might make little Timmy cry. Sorry parents, but with a few exceptions (see my review of the wonderful “How to Train Your Dragon 2”), I’m not often willing to take one for the team when there are so many other, interesting offers out there. But every once in awhile when I get enough recommendations from those whose opinion I trust to see a children’s-film, I can’t ignore it. For this reason, I watched “The Lego Movie” which was released on DVD last week…

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HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2…  best movie of the year?

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2… best movie of the year?

Posted on July 16th, 2014

by Coop Cooper

If the first “How to Train Your Dragon” was “Star Wars”, then the second film is both “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi” all rolled into one. I was a huge fan of the first film, going so far as to say it was the best Dreamworks Animated film ever, possibly surpassing anything put out by Disney’s Pixar as well. This sequel ups the ante with a more mature story, more action, continuing character development and gorgeously updated animation.

Set five years after the first film, the Viking village of Berk has fully embraced and integrated pet Dragons into its culture. Astrid (America Ferrera) and her friends compete in dragon racing games while Chief Stoick (Gerard Butler) and the other citizens collaborate with the dragons to provide for the community. Meanwhile, Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) and his dragon, Toothless, explore the surrounding lands, charting new territories and new species of dragons. They soon run afoul of a band of mercenaries who are capturing dragons for the warlord Drago (Djimon Hounsou) who is enslaving dragons to expand his massive army to conquer Berk and then the world. Opposing Drago is the mysterious ‘Dragon Rider’ Valka (Cate Blanchett) who is a protector of wild dragons and has a secret connection to Hiccup. In order to save the dragons, Hiccup, Stoick and Valka battle Drago and his evil ‘Alpha Dragon’ which has the ability to turn the benevolent dragons against their masters…

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EDGE OF TOMORROW…  great, but ALL YOU NEED IS KILL is still a better title

EDGE OF TOMORROW… great, but ALL YOU NEED IS KILL is still a better title

Posted on July 16th, 2014

by Coop Cooper

Taking place in the near future, the Earth’s United Defense Forces attempts to repel a invasion of alien machines nicknamed ‘mimics’ from the European mainland. A cowardly military bureaucrat, Major William Cage (Tom Cruise), is ripped from his cushy PR position after offending a commanding officer. Branded a deserter, demoted to private and thrust onto the front lines, Cage is promptly killed in the first battle. Instead of staying dead, Cage wakes up to find himself repeating the same day over and over again, only to be killed in the same battle every time. Using his foresight in battle, he saves the life of Rita (Emily Blunt), also known as the ‘Angel of Verdun’, a legendary soldier who learned her skills while trapped in a similar time loop. Rita recognizes Cage’s condition and resolves to train him to become the ultimate soldier so they can finally win the battle, close the time loop and change the outcome of the war.

The film does make some very nice homages, particularly to Robert A. Heinlein’s novel Starship Troopers which “Edge of Tomorrow” is almost an adaptation of – minus the time travel…

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MALEFICENT…  a surprisingly good fairytale upgrade

MALEFICENT… a surprisingly good fairytale upgrade

Posted on July 16th, 2014

by Coop Cooper

In a Medieval era-like fantasy kingdom, a wise, winged fairy named Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) guards her enchanted woodland and its creatures from the harm of outside forces. She befriends a human boy, Stefan (Sharlto Copley), who strays into her domain and they develop a deep bond. Years later, Stephan’s father aims to conquer the woodlands, prompting a vicious battle with Maleficent and her creature army. After Maleficent critically wounds his father, Stephan begrudgingly betrays Maleficent, but opts to amputate her wings instead of killing her. Stephan eventually becomes king and the embittered Maleficent retreats into solitude.

Here’s where the classic Disney “Sleeping Beauty” story kicks in… When news arrives that Stephan has had a baby girl named Aurora (Elle Fanning), Maleficent invokes a vengeful curse that dooms Aurora to a never ending sleep on the event of the girl’s sixteenth birthday. The only antidote to this curse once it sets in is a kiss given out of true love. Stephan exiles Aurora to the countryside to be raised by three good fairies (Lesley Manville, Imelda Staunton and Juno Temple) in an attempt to thwart the curse. Since the inept fairies continually fail to keep the pure and joyful Aurora safe until she is sixteen, Maleficent finds herself in the ironic position of protecting the child…

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X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST…  almost the quality of THE AVENGERS

X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST… almost the quality of THE AVENGERS

Posted on July 16th, 2014

by Coop Cooper

In the near future, the world is all but destroyed as out-of-control robots known as ‘Sentinels’ hunt down and eliminate the last of the mutants. Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart) hatches a plan with a handful of surviving X-Men to stop the Sentinels by using a form of mental time travel to prevent a key event in 1973 that lead to the mass production of the killer robots. Wolverine (Hugh Jackman), the only one with the brain-healing capacity to survive the trip, has his knowledge/memories transported back into his younger body in the 70’s and goes about tracking down the 60’s-era X-Men team which has disbanded since averting the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. In that same timeline, Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) wages a one-woman war with the U.S. Government, ultimately targeting Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage), a scientist who created the Sentinels and has been experimenting on mutants to discover how to best destroy them…

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GODZILLA…  epic

GODZILLA… epic

Posted on July 16th, 2014

by Coop Cooper

Godzilla is back! It’s been a long time since we’ve seen the venerable lizard in American theaters. One of my favorites was “Godzilla 1985” that was Japan-produced, but released in the U.S. as a sort of remake of the original. However, after the disastrous 1998 Roland Emmerich production that had New York overrun with ‘baby Zillas’, like some sort of “Jurassic Park” knock-off, the giant monster hasn’t been in demand. Then in 2008, “Cloverfield” unexpectedly renewed interest in the genre and talk of re-resurrecting Godzilla began. The biggest risk was turning off modern adult viewers by making the film too goofy. I’m very relieved this wasn’t the case here…

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PENNY DREADFUL…  please don’t be the next HEMLOCK GROVE

PENNY DREADFUL… please don’t be the next HEMLOCK GROVE

Posted on July 16th, 2014

by Coop Cooper

Not since “Dexter” has Showtime taken a stab at another ambitious cable horror series. Now, with “Penny Dreadful”, the premium network attempts to capture lightning in a bottle again by putting famous horror literary figures in a weekly show. ‘Penny Dreadfuls’ were cheap pulp fiction novellas produced during the turn of the century. If Showtime does this show justice, they have a shot at emulating the tone and atmosphere of those namesake novels.

In Victorian London, American gunslinger Ethan Chandler (Josh Hartnett) is roped into an underworld where vampires hunt freely, scientists resurrect the dead and the supernatural is commonplace. Hired as muscle by the mysterious psychic, Vanessa Ives (Eva Green), Chandler aids Ives and a famous explorer named Sir Malcolm Murray (Timothy Dalton) in a rescue attempt to save Sir Malcolm’s daughter Mina from a vampire nest. Intrigued by this dark world he has discovered, Chandler is drawn in by Ives but seems to have his own dark agenda. Meanwhile, Dr. Victor Frankenstein (Harry Treadaway) helps dissect vampires for Sir Malcolm and accidentally creates new life…

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AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2…  they blew it

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2… they blew it

Posted on July 16th, 2014

by Coop Cooper

After a quick and confusing prelude that shows the last moments of the lives of Peter Parker’s parents, we learn that Spidey/Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is now at the hight of popularity in New York City. He thwarts a plutonium robbery by Aleksei “Rhino” Sytsevich, saves nerdy electrical engineer/Spidey superfan Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx) and makes it to his graduation in time to accept his diploma from his valedictorian girlfriend, Gwen Stacy. Despite his hubris, Parker is still haunted by the promise he made to Gwen’s dying father to stay away from her due to his dangerous lifestyle, so he begins to push her away. Meanwhile, Peter’s wealthy childhood friend Harry Osborne (Dane DeHaan) discovers he is dying from a rare genetic condition that claimed the life of his father, Norman (Chris Cooper)…

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ORPHAN BLACK, RICK AND MORTY and SALEM…  2 good TV shows, 1 bad

ORPHAN BLACK, RICK AND MORTY and SALEM… 2 good TV shows, 1 bad

Posted on July 16th, 2014

by Coop Cooper

“Orphan Black” – Premiering on BBC America last year, “Orphan Black” begins with a career criminal named Sarah (Tatiana Maslany) who witness her exact double committing suicide by jumping in front of a train. Sarah steals the identity of the dead double to rob her bank account, but instead she uncovers a group of clones the double was protecting… and Sarah is one of them. Sarah teams up with her clone sisters to determine where they all came from and why someone is murdering them one by one.

“Orphan Black” began its second season this month and only now am I discovering what a superior show it is. Its success is partly due to the twisty storytelling and witty dialogue, but mostly because of Tatiana Maslany’s uncanny ability to play multiple characters and completely disappear into them…

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