Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Hannibal (TV Show)

Okay, before we get started, I have to admit that I feel like an idiot right now. Back when I wrote about unnecessary prequels and shows, I had mentioned this one and how I thought it was going to be about the relationship between Clarice and Hannibal, which is what I had been told at that time, and how I thought a show about Will Graham and Hannibal would be a much better fit considering there is more material there and while we already kind of know what was going on during that time, it would still be interesting to see. Turns out that the people making the show had the same idea because that's exactly what the show is about.

And I gotta say, for a show that I was ready to shoot down at the first episode, I have to admit that I was all wrong. I thought it was just going to be another corporate attempt to hook audiences with a familiar title. And while that may have been the case at the beginning, it's easy to see that the people actually making the show are actually invested in what they are doing. The tone is perfect, making you feel creeped out but always wanting to know what happens next. The storyline is good, with it being one continuous narrative rather than they just solve a different mystery every episode and we're done with it. And I think the casting is superb. I'm not familiar with the actor they chose to play Will Graham, but he does a good enough job, and is able to create his own character that's independent of Edward Norton's version of the character in Red Dragon, but is still a creation of his own. Laurence Fishburne, while he is different than Harvey Keitel and Scott Glen, is still a good Jack Crawford. He's tough as nails and very in-your-face when he has to be, but you can tell that he is concerned and really cares about Will Graham. Freddie Lounds, while usually a male in both the novel and the film adaptations of Red Dragon, has been turned into a female. Not exactly sure why, but the actress chosen is good at being bitchy and pretentious about what she's doing. I just can't get over the fact that she is Philip Seymour Hoffman in another universe. But of course, the one casting that I was going to be critiquing the hardest was that of Hannibal himself. He is played by Mads Mikkelson, better known as the villain in Casino Royale. At first, I thought this was the studio saying "We need someone that can play a villain, and we are too cheap to call Gary Oldman or Ralph Fiennes, let's just get this guy that played a villain in another popular movie". But again, much like the rest of the cast, he's different than the characters that I am used to seeing, but he still delivers. I'm actually able to forget that he is played by Anthony Hopkins. And since this takes place before he was caught by the FBI, that means we get to see a whole new side of him that we didn't get to see in Red Dragon or Silence of the Lambs, we get to see how he was with his patients and how he was with other people.

It's an interesting show, and I don't regret DVRing it at all. If you are a fan of the novels and the characters, then this is definitely worth a watch. Heck, I've even talked to other people who are not familiar with the story and they seem to enjoy it too.

Olympus Has Fallen

Action movies seem to be a pretty safe genre. If you make an action movie, and people really like it, then you can bask in the glow of the success that is yours. If the movie turns out to be crap, you can muscle your way out of it with "It was just meant to be a fun action movie!" Unfortunately, we seem to have more and more movies ducking behind that excuse rather than actually trying to make a good flick. I'm looking at you, Michael Bay, and whoever directed that god awful GI Joe movie. Not the new one, the first one. I haven't seen the new one but from what I hear, I'm not missing much. But I digress. Olympus Has Fallen is one of those movies where I went into it with the mentality of "It'll just be a fun action movie, nothing more", and boy was I surprised. This movie is like the first Die Hard if it was written by the head writer of 24. It has some good action, though I will admit, I found myself giggling at a bit of horrid CGI at the beginning, but it's only for a second and since this movie is focused more on practical effects for the rest of the runtime, I can forgive it. It has good action, the characters are cool, and the villain, who if it were written by anyone else would be witty and have a sympathetic element to him, is a completely soulless douchebag. And honestly, I don't mind that. If your villain is a terrorist who hates America with every fiber of his being, then I don't really think you need to make him sympathetic, you just need to get us to hate him. And they do a good job of that, half of it has to do with the writing and what he does, and the other half is the strong performance of the character playing him. While we are talking about strong performances, I have to bring up Gerard Butler. Of the action stars that have been coming on the scene in the past few years, he is by far one of my favorites. Sure, not all of his movies have been great (and I'm being nice when I say that), but the guy is a good actor and I think he is much like Liam Neeson in that we know that he can do more heavy dramatic stuff, but the one thing everyone likes to see him do best is kick someone's ass. And in Olympus, I feel like we got to see both sides of his acting ability, the ass kicker and the more dramatic side. Though, when it comes to the action, he is the love child of John McClane and Jack Bauer, he even has a badass torture seen that I thought was very reminiscent of some of the stuff we saw Jack do in 24. And again, much like an episode, or even an entire season of 24, there is always that scene where the audience learns the ultimate endgame of the bad guy, and you realize that there is so much more at stake than we first thought. You'd think that the life of the president would be as far as they go. But you would be wrong. DEAD WRONG. When I went into this movie, I had no idea I would be sitting on the edge of my seat during the final act, but there I was, almost falling off my seat.
So overall, I would really recommend this movie, especially if you are an action junky.

P.S- I'm thinking of starting a new grading scale for the movies I see here. I'll still be doing the regular letter grades, but I'll be adding an additional comment on the side. Something like "Buy it on blu-ray" or "Save it for the dollar theater" or the classic "Don't bother". I know that's not very original, some critics do that all the time, but I have had a number of people ask me stuff like that, so I figured I would give it a try on here.

Verdict- A-, buy it on blu-ray