Archive for May, 2006

Review: Criminal Minds 105 – 122

Wednesday, May 31st, 2006

In the true CBS sense, this procedural show is episodic in nature, with characters getting only the slightest hint of background. In this particular series, characters seems excessively cold and stiff (making it hard to let them grow on you). But the stories are entertaining enough to make this series, once again, not must-see TV, but still watchable nonetheless.
Still, I wonder, looking at CBS’s prime-time schedule, do they themselves notice they have the least versatile line-up (80% procedural cirime shows) all the networks ?

Review: The Unit 104 – 113

Wednesday, May 31st, 2006

This midseason replacement on CBS already has a green light for a second season, doing favorably well in the ratings. From a strict entertainment angle, it only ranges somewhere in the middle. A mission based series, every episode is independently watchable, with only a few story points stretching in between. From a dramatic viewpoint, it’s not really strong, and it mostly hammers on the same subjects. This makes it definitely not must-see TV, but if you have enough time (and military is your genre), this might be something for you.

Review: Everybody Hates Chris 101 – 122

Tuesday, May 30th, 2006

One of the UPN shows that survived the hack and slash fest for the merger with WB to form CW, and that wasn’t so surprising, having the best ratings for this network, and that on a Thursday no less. Since it’s still your basic comedy, based on Chris Rock’s experiences in his eighties youth, don’t expect anything as outrageous as his one man show comedy routines. It’s all neat, with stories confined to his life at home or at school, and the occasional imaginary fantasy outbursts. Some running gags feel more like repetitions of the same joke, and by the end, you can fill in some of the jokes yourself. For a comedy, it’s acceptable. But if you’re hooked on Chris Rock, you’ll feel a bit disappointed as it never reaches the “hilarious” level.

US Box Office

Monday, May 29th, 2006

Memorial Day is good business for the box office, and so X-Men 3: The Last Stand opens a record Memorial holiday earning, no less than $120.1 million. For the usual three day span, it’s $103.1 million, enough for a 4th place of biggest US openings (behind Spider-Man 2, SWIII and Shrek 2). Not too shabby is the Da Vinci Code, at number 2 with $43 million (with a satisfying $145 million cume in its second week). Over the Hedge will have to do with the number 3 spot with $35 million, with a $84 million cume, also after just 2 weeks.
Fourth is MI:III, in its fourth week it manages only a meagre $8.5 million, the lowest of cume for the series till now ($115.8 million after four weekends. The first movie did $145 million, while the sequel did $177 million in the same period).
Rounding out the top 5 is Poseidon, with just $7 million, you could say this ship is heading for a disaster (with a $46.6 million cume, it probably won’t cover even a third of the budget of the movie by the end of its run).

Review: Lost 201 – 224

Sunday, May 28th, 2006

Answers are revealed and more questions pops up. It’s like a wild-goose chase, but the changing nature of it means you just can’t let it go. That’s still the strength of this series. The whole formula works, the continuing story, with flashbacks from only one character every episode. It even works for a guest star, the story is still so enganging it doesn’t even matter who is the star of the week. Meanwhile, all sorts of dilemmas continue to stimulate your brain, but you’re as close to finding the truth as a mouse is able to find the exit of a 2 million square foot maze. And as a tradition, the season finale opens a few more canisters of brain food, which we’ll only be able to taste in a few months when the next season starts. And they say those people on the island have it bad, how about us ?

Review: Silent Hill

Saturday, May 27th, 2006

I should’ve known. Video game. Horror genre. Recipe for disaster. Good horror comes by only once or twice a year, and this one is definitely not it. Spawned after a game series (already up to 4), it means the various scary stuff (which works fine if you have a joystick in your hands) are just there with no reason. No need to explain how detrimental it is for a movie.
This means, people with weaker nerves will be yelling like little girls throughout the movie, but people generally waiting for something good will soon be bored.4.

Review: X-Men 3: The Last Stand

Saturday, May 27th, 2006

Change…Evolution… and all. Yeah, change it definitely is, evolution I’m not so sure. Difference is Bryan Singer spent 6 years on the previous 2 movies. Brett Ratner less than a year. After helming movies like Red Dragon and the Rush Hour series, Ratner proven himself an able director, though not anywhere near extraordinary. With this movie, he has his biggest budget till now, and that probably changes a man. While still not close to Singer’s instinct for this franchise, he does take on a more grand, closer to the comic book feel (visually at least). So it’s still a good movie to see, but lacks Singer’s subtlety towards relationships, meaningful dialogue and story altogether. So even while this definitely is the movie with the most sacrifices, less drama will hit you because of this. So, will this series stay a trilogy, or was that sneaky trick Rattner put at the very end of the reel another sign ? No matter, my recommendation is still to see this one.8-.

Review: South Park 1001 – 1007

Friday, May 26th, 2006

Halfway through its tenth season, it’s the same quality you’d expect from the previous nine years. Sometimes plain dirty and flat in your face, sometimes sharp social critisism sugar-coated in a layer of sarcasm. In a world with stricter censors, they’re still able to pull off the most daring stunts, and they should be congratulated for that. Short seasons (7 eps per half year), but plenty of fun nonetheless.

Review: Jewel – Goodbye Alice in Wonderland

Thursday, May 25th, 2006

Over the years, from her debut a decade ago, every album has spawned several solid hits. With a distinct velvet-ish voice, providing a warm dynamic range and depth, belting out her own written lyrics, she’s gone from folky rock with a dash of Nashville origin to more popy tunes. Her last album, the dance-influenced 0304 from 2003, though, was quite horrible (it’s like a bad dream I’m really trying to forget). Luckily, she’s moving back to the more pop rock style (while leaving her country roots audible here and there) from the excellent This Way from 2001. Not totally bringin back the the piano/acoustic guitar set, it’s clear a seasoned (co-)producer (Rob Cavallo) is behind the wheels to ensure high quality sound on this album. And that makes this new album quite an easy listening experience (with enough uptempo songs balancing the moody ballads), though not as satisfying. Some some have less catchy and somewhat flat hooks, and some aren’t as fluid from verse to chorus as expected. Still, as a whole it’s as elegant as can be expected, making it a must-have nonetheless, if this is your cup of tea.7½.

Review: 24 – 505 – 524

Thursday, May 25th, 2006

Having an uninterrupted run since Januari, it’s also time for this season to end. All in all, another exciting day has gone by, and with 2 more seasons signed up, another cliffhanger is introduced to make Day 6 even more horrible.
The start of this day was quite personal and dramatic, and mostly held up till the end. During the last 2 episode it was clear the writers were rushing quite a bit (nitpickers are going to have a field day with this), and it’s a big question if they’ll pick up the pieces back up in Day 6 again. Adrenaline-wise though, it’s still somewhere at the top, though some room should be left for pity, because Jack Bauer will have a lot more to endure the next coming day.

Review: Hoobastank – Every Man For Himself

Wednesday, May 24th, 2006

It’s been over 2 years since The Reason hit the airwaves, while not overly exciting (it drags on too monotonic long), it was enough to stand out and be quite the hit of the year. The rest of the same named album was not, though.
How does the new album hold up ? For a rock album, it’s definitely diverse, but still in a boring kinda of way. The vocals don’t carry any emotional resonance, and the whole mix on the album is undynamic, making even the best guitar riffs sound bland. Usually, even though I don’t like an album, I can always accurately predict the potential hits (for the less picky crowd). On this one, I honestly can not. (I could choose the track “If Only”, but I doubt they’d dare release a song so similar to their own The Reason).4-.

Review: Prison Break 103 – 122

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2006

It’s that time again. It’s May, and the TV season is about to end. First on my slate is Prison Break (the rest of the other series are nicely queued up on my big hard disk), and that’s because I wasn’t wrong when I reviewed it when it premiered. Not only did it proof to be equal to 24, even airing side by side after 24 resumed its fifth season (excellent move from the Fox network) made it obvious it actually surpassed it in quality. Main reason for that is the time spend with the characters. Getting to know them better means deeper and more meaningful drama can be created. Plus, writing in such a confined space, and keeping it as thrilling and surprising as this whole run has been, requires the extra excellence from the writing and production team.
All in all, Mondays were the most exciting hours at Fox, and I can assure you, with the adrenaline produced by those two series paired together, it makes it a better cardiac work-out than a full two hours on a treadmill. Try to beat that combination !

US Box Office

Sunday, May 21st, 2006

Living up to its divine hype, The Da Vinci Code unravels a whopping $77 million dollar (top opening for this year). At the foreign box office, it even landed a record opening of all times, rushing passed Star Wars Episode III ($145 million) with $147 million.
At number 2, Dreamwork’s Over The Hedge earns a respectable $37.2 million. While not spectacular, in comparison, Disney’s The Wild opened with a mere $9.6 million. At 3, MI:III hangs on with $11 million, a considerable 56% drop, but good enough to push it beyond the $100 million cume. At 4, Poseidon sinks faster than expected, only $9.2 million in its second week. Roudning out the top 5 is RV, with $5.1 million.

Review: The Da Vinci Code

Saturday, May 20th, 2006

Is this movie really worth boycotting ? Well, after seeing it, I’d say no, it’s harmless entertainment. Revelations are shocking, but only in the sense of the story, not in reality (even if you take in account some facts are based on reputable research). It would even be blasphemy to call this blasphemy, because the ending has such nice wording to it, it can only strengthen one’s faith (if one had one to start with). Having saved myself countless days of reading, I’d say it’s another tip of the hat for Ron Howard, though the movie is less character based than we’re used to. The story is a high-speed cat and mouse game, chasing clues and secrets here and there. Sometimes convolution is too apparent, with unclear and changing allegiances and goals flying off the screen. Even ending on an anti-climax, I can still say it’s an entertaining movie all the way (though not worth the hype of the year award, and the trailer definitely sets the expectations too high).7½.

Review: The Last Holiday

Friday, May 19th, 2006

On the one hand we have singer Queen Latifah, who has proven her worth (even with an Oscar nom behind her belt), and on the other hand we have another singer LL Cool J, who hasn’t proven his worth at all over the years. Pair’m up, and you have something pretty mediocre. The story outline should’ve opened a whole box of possibilities, and some are used, but it’s certainly not edgy in any sense. Then there’s the comedy part, with even a few jokes misfiring, keeps it up at a decent level. Naturally, only Queen Latifah has the meatiest role, as most characters are stock items, with the usual turnarounds at the end of the story.
All in all, executed fine, but not perfect and a bit predictable.7-.