Perfect Agent

Perfect Agent
Action/Adventure webcomic every Thursday; contains strong language and violence.

Monday, August 18, 2014

M. D. Waters has her Prototype deliver a powerhouse punch of entertainment

When M. D. Waters made her literary debut earlier this year with Archetype, a sci-fi suspense tale about a woman in a futuristic world found out the true secret of her supposed amnesia, it was a nice surprise to discover that it's concluding sequel would be released this summer.

Prototype picks up a year later from where we left off with Emma Wade, who knows that she's the Original Clone, the first in a sinister project designed to increase the scant number of fertile women in the dictatorial patriarchy that the USA has become.

 Emma has been on the run from both friends and foes, seeking out her true identity by searching for her parents who were once members of the resistance movement she joined up with. That journey has just become more difficult as the man who insisted upon being her husband,Declan Burke, makes a public announcement about her disappearance, including a huge financial reward to anyone who helps to bring his "wife" home. Emma's cover is quickly blown but she does manage to stay free long enough to make a new plan:

Emma decides that her best option is to return to the resistance, which offers quite a few dilemmas of it's own.

 Not only is there a lack of trust among the leadership about where her loyalties lie, Emma has to deal with her feelings about Noah, the man who loved her when she was fully human. He is willing to assist her in staying free but more than that intense involvement is a touchy issue.

Emma may not remember everything from her former life yet she does know that her ultimate goal is to live a peaceful life. That serenity is hard to achieve in the battle zone that is her life so despite her inner inclinations, Emma must take up her old warrior ways. Noah is reluctant to include her on spy missions but it is her chance at staying out of the hands of her would-be captors:

One of her worst enemies,however, is within the resistance. While Sonya was willing to use her medical skills to save the first Emma, she is far less inclined to keep the second version around.

Part of that motivation is due to Sonya's falling in love with Noah and becoming a mother figure to Adrienne, the daughter born to Emma and Noah as the transference between host and clone was completed. Emma is also determined to embrace motherhood as well as a new chance at love with Noah but torn as to do so without causing any lasting damage. Those choices become even more limited as a threat to the health of the clones could take Emma down before the bad guys close in. Nevertheless, being a part of her child's life makes Emma very willing to take whatever risks she can to do so:

I'm glad that M.D. Waters chose to make this a two part story instead of stringing this out over a series. I like a good series but some tales don't need to be told longer than they should, otherwise they lose their flavor like a stretched out piece of chewing gum.

 Fortunately, succinctness pays off in this instance. Both Archetype(which is now in paperback) and Prototype offer some good solid entertainment with engaging plot lines that only dip into low gear during the romantic portions. The love story is nicely done yet it's the hum of the action as Emma faces off against her enemies that keeps things going along at an agreeable clip.

I do look forward to what's next on the horizon for M. D. Waters, as her first and second impressions make a reader want to clear off space on her shelves for more smartly written female friendly adventure tales from her. Even if her next work goes off in a completely different direction, this is a literary lady to watch out for as her books make a powerful punch:

Friday, August 15, 2014

Bad Movie Month rides with Conan the Destroyer

Continuing our quest for Sorry Sequels this season on Bad Movie Month, we mount up with old school Arnold Schwarzenegger as Conan the Destroyer.

This 1984 follow-up to the unexpected hit Conan the Barbarian had a much different tone in dealing with the pulp fiction source material. Under director John Milius, the sword and sorcery story telling had a bit of an operatic approach to it(plus, having James Earl Jones as the bad guy helped out a lot).

With new director Richard Fleischer at the helm, the movie took on a comedic vibe that lead to a rather campy treatment of the characters and plot points. Many people feel that the lowering level of violence in CTD(which was PG, unlike the first film that earned a strong R rating) is to blame for the lackluster energy on screen but to my eye, it's the hokey jokey elements of the script that is the root cause of that evil:

The story line here has Conan and a comic relief sidekick being recruited by an evil queen named Taramis (Sarah Douglas) to escort her niece Jehnna(Olivia D'abo) towards her destiny, a search for a magic gem that opens a magic lock to a magic bejeweled horn to awaken an ancient god. Not too much magic involved, is there?

The big hidden twist(or not as hidden as our wicked queen would like it to be) is that Jehnna is meant to be a human sacrifice in order to keep the "dreaming god" from being uncontrollably cranky when he wakes up.

 That plan doesn't work out well, although the part when Jehnna's virginity is supposed to be kept safe from Conan by captain of the guards Bombatta(Wilt Chamberlain-place your own ironic joke here) does.  Despite Jehnna's keen interest in romancing Conan, he regards her considerable charms with as much interest as he does the camel that gets punched in the head early on(a call back to the first film and a pointless one at that).

Much credit for that lack of lust goes to Conan's belief that his dead lover Valeria(from the original movie) will be restored to him by Evil Queenie. Too bad Arnie wasn't as devoted to his living life partners as his supposedly uncivilized character was to his deceased girlfriend but as Akiro would say, that's another story.

 Back to our bad girl ruler who,of course, has no intention of paying off her hired hand here and instructs Bombatta to "put a sword in Conan's heart" as soon as the first jewel heist is completed. Corruption, false promises and dubious game plan, Taramis sounds a lot like your average politician to me!

One smart thing that Conan does do in this otherwise goofy film is call upon his old wizard pal Akiro(Mako, reprising his role from CTB and adding some opening credit narration as well) to join in, with all the magic going on, plus pick up a new recruit named Zula(Grace Jones, making her film debut here).

This ragtag bunch stumbles across some trouble during their quest, which basically relies on Jehnna being lead by her mystical birthmark to wherever they're going, not the best way to plan a journey there. They run into a number of bad guys, including a wizard who guards the magic gem key in a glass palace in the middle of a lake and turns into a badly animated cartoon bird to kidnap the princess.

This whole thing sounds rather cartoonish to begin with and not in a good way there, which explains the cheesy special effects and make-up. The mirror monster that Conan has to battle alone would make the judges on Face Off wince in utter horror at just how bad looking it is. This creature is described as a "man ape" but resembles a lizard mask made with Play-do that's melted in a microwave to me:

The only saving grace of this movie is Grace Jones, as a warrior woman who throws in with Conan's crew after he gives her an assist with an angry mob. 

Her body language and facial expressions(particularly during the fight scenes) more than make up for the lack of dialogue given to the character and out of the entire cast, she's the most memorable.

 Grace Jones went onto other film parts after this such as hench woman May Day in the Bond film A View to a Kill and the title role in Vamp and like her debut in CTD, focused more on her powerful presence than allowed Jones to act out a fully developed character.

Granted, she may not be a Shakespearean actress but Grace Jones does and did deserve better written scripts.  Conan the Destroyer is mainly worth seeing for Zula, who I think should have gotten her own movie. Zula was one of the few fighting females on screen at the time that wasn't relegated to being a love interest and she's still an iconic figure to many of the Conan fans. Not to mention a welcome relief from the damsel-in-distress antics of Jehnna there:

 I know this is intended to be B-movie fare but the script really could have used some nuance, especially in characterization. Some of the basic formula plotting was most likely due to a rewrite but nonetheless, a little extra creativity certainly would've spiced things up.

For example,Bombatta-is he really that on board with the big "kill the girl for the god" plan, particularly a girl that he's probably known since "the day of her birth?"(they say "day of birth" quite often in this sucker)? Does he have some other motivation maybe, like an illicit love affair with the queen or something like that? I'm not asking for a big miniseries here, just a little more that "Yes, my queen."

Also, how is it that towards the end of the movie, Conan instantly figures out that he was set up all along for a fall and that the queen never meant to bring back Valeria? Did he take a magic smart potion or something when we weren't looking?  Seems like a lazy bit of writing to me, which is par for the course in a story that pretty much plays connect the dots. Conan fights at point A, Jehnna screams for help at Point B and a stupid joke is made at Point C before we get to the big fighty-Mcfight sequence.

Arnie made one more sword swinging movie after this one tanked(Red Sonja, with the same director) and then hung up his barbarian gear for good. Just as well, since such strong man sagas have a short shelf life as it is. Tune in next time on Bad Movie Month when we get our wolf on with Howling II and as for Conan, he may have a big sword but not much else in his arsenal to last one round in any true game of thrones:

Thursday, August 14, 2014

A final farewell to Tara on True Blood, being on Team Sandhya at Project Runway and the new Food Network Star is.....

Several good things happened on True Blood this week, as Eric was cured by Sarah Newlin's blood of Hep V and Violet was thankfully vanquished,during a waste of time villain rant, by Hoyt.

 I actually said "Thank you!" when he came in the nick of time to save Jason and friends from the gruesome torture she had planned for them and since Violet was the one that killed his mother, it was fitting that Hoyt do that bitch in.

 The biggest deal, in my opinion, was the wrap-up of Lettie Mae's insistence upon connecting with Tara from the beyond. Turns out that Tara had buried a gun in her family backyard many years ago, in order to not kill her mean bastard of a father that abandoned both her and Lettie Mae. The two of them made peace and Tara is free to move on in the spirit world, a right she has well earned if you ask me. Granted, I would've liked a better send-off for Tara but this is the one we're getting, folks, so let's just accept it.

Meanwhile, there's going to be more to deal with as Jason and Jessica need to resolve their feelings regarding Hoyt. Personally, I think letting him go again would be the right thing to do for both characters but if one of them gets to reconnect, that chance belongs to Jason.

Yes, I know, Hoyt and Jessica were each other's first loves but Jason was his best friend since they were kids and since he screwed up all up by getting involved with Jessica in the first place, a good redemption might be in fixing that broken bond there.

The main plot thread to be snipped is Bill refusing to take the Hep V cure-he would have to be the drama king, of course! I get why he feels the need to be noble and let Sookie have a shot at finding a mortal as a mate but instead of making everyone watch him slowly die, why not meet the sun? Don't get me wrong, I don't want Sookie to end the show in complete misery but dragging this out is going to be too much to take:

The winner of this season's Food Network Star was announced this past weekend and after the usual wrap-up/reunion deal, Lenny was proclaimed the champion.

Well, congrats, Lenny and I look forward to your "Cowboy Up" show when it hits the air. He's a fun guy with an infectious good nature and it's been a pleasure watching him for the past few weeks. Who knows, he might get even more popular than some of the FN regulars over time:

We're only three episodes into the latest season of Project Runway and already I have a designer to root for: Sandhya. She's won two challenges so far that have earned her praise for creativity from the judges and some side eyeing from her competitors.

What I like about her is her unassuming manner and willingness to blend her own unique style to the challenge at hand. Granted, that didn't work out so well for the Movie Night team challenge there but a lot of that mess came from her teammates,in my opinion, who acted horribly during judging.

The task last week was to do a futuristic look using 1990s nostalgia( it was all connected to the 20th anniversary of Marie Claire) and Sandhya was the only one to use a bright color. Her dress was the kind of outfit I'd expect to see in a sci-fi movie or TV show yet it didn't strike me as a costume. She even made the dress easy to sit down in(with an important adjustment to the back) and that was a real sign of a creatively practical person, something I think the fashion world could use there.

I don't know how long she'll last on PR but with any luck, Sandhya will make it to the end. Let's hope so, since it would be sweet for such a nice person like her to win this thing:


UNDER THE DOME: Looks like there may be a way out of Chester's Mill after all, thanks to that strange underground tunnel found in the back of Melanie's locker! Sounds wacky, I agree, but this is an interesting new development that should lead to something good before this season is done:

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Sharing a last laugh with Robin Williams

By now, we've all had at least a day or so to digest the sad news that Robin Williams has died,much too soon at the age of 63. I'm not here to go over the tragic details of his departure as his family and friends have suffered enough as it is about that.

 Instead, let us take a sentimental journey that ,from my personal point of view, shows exactly why his loss is being as keenly felt as it is by the vast audiences he reached throughout the years.

More than one generation has grown up with Robin Williams and appreciated the incredible variety and bounty of his talents in just about every entertainment medium. From his stand-up performances to films and beyond, Williams began his career as a comedian but expanded his horizons in other acting aspects, achieving not only awards from the entertainment industry but devotion from fans as well.

His first major platform was television, as an appearance on the short lived Richard Pryor Show lead to guest spots on Happy Days as the oddball space alien Mork from Ork which then landed him a series of his own, Mork and Mindy,with the delightful Pam Dawber.

That show ran for  several years and was one of the biggest sitcom phenoms of the late 1970s to the early 1980s. I was a huge fan and totally adored the totally unpredictable antics of Mork, plus the sweet romance between him and Mindy.

While Williams did move onto films, he always came back to TV one way or another. He was one of the trio of comedians that started up Comic Relief on HBO(to raise money and awareness for the homeless), hosted the Academy Awards. did guest star roles on both sitcoms(Friends) and dramas(Law & Order:SVU) and most recently, had a starring role on The Crazy Ones with Sarah Michelle Geller.  It was good to see someone like Williams return from time to time to the stage where we all first met him, back when he and The Fonz were the coolest guys on the planet:

Most of his early films were firmly in the comedy realm such as Moscow on the Hudson, the live action version of Popeye and even The World According to Garp, which veered towards drama.

Williams was able to demonstrate his serious side as an actor slowly but surely, with roles that called for him to be a rule breaking yet kind hearted sort such as Good Morning,Vietnam and The Dead Poets Society. While I did like his rebellious DJ in the former, his work in the latter film as English teacher John Keating, who dared to encourage his students to seek mental independence truly moved me.

 I even tried to write some poetry after seeing the movie in theaters(it was terrible, so not my literary format) and while the art of poetry is still somewhat elusive to me, Williams helped me and many others to better appreciate this seemingly simple yet tricky to grasp pageantry of words:

His dramatic skills grew larger as he tackled more difficult parts in films like The Fisher King,Awakenings and Good Will Hunting, with the last one earning him an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in 1997.

Don't get me wrong, Williams was still considered a comic genius but folks happened to be pleasantly surprised that there was more in his bag of tricks than a goofy grin and quick joke to be made. In fact, you could say that Good Will Hunting is a sterling example of just how great his verbal skills were.

It's not easy to go from mocking analysis to a tender remembrance and then right into some serious heartfelt advice but Williams did that in more than one scene in this film. No doubt many actors envied him that elegant ease of style and performance:

Now, like any artist, Williams had his film flops, some of which made money anyway(Hook,Jack) and quite a few that did not(Death to Smoochy,Toys and Bicentennial Man).

However, there is still some fun to be had even in those movies and if I had to watch Death to Smoochy again, that wouldn't be such a bad thing. One of my personal favorites of his less than successful films is Cadillac Man, a 1990 comedy where Williams plays Joey O'Brien, a fast talking car salesman with many problems, several of which are women.

During a very hectic day at work that could change his whole career, an irate husband(Tim Robbins) of one of his co-workers decides to confront his wife about her adultery and winds up taking the whole place hostage. It does tread towards the dark side at times but everything works out well at the end in a TV movie kind of way.

There's quite a cast on board, with Lori Petty, Fran Drescher and Annabella Sciorra, plus Robbins but the whole film depends on the charisma of Williams' character and he really holds up his end here. Not a great movie by any means but a pretty decent one and well worth watching, if you can find it:

Williams did make a name for himself as a family friendly performer with the likes of Mrs. Doubtfire, voice overs for animated features such as Aladdin and The Night at the Museum films(as well as more adult comedies such as The Birdcage), yet his more darker side emerged in certain roles later in his career.

One of those was One Hour Photo, where he was "Sy, the Photo Guy", whose friendly exterior as the chain store film processor barely did the deeply lonely and disturbed man within. His attachment to one of his regular customers, a typically happy family, causes him to step outside his secluded little world as he discovers a secret that could ruin that perfect picture of domestic harmony.

Williams should've gotten an Oscar nom for that film, in my opinion. His subtle performance, as well as the visual style of the director/writer Mark Romanek, allowed for a quietly sinister tension to build up over the course of the film and create moments of terror without being explicitly violent or unleashing a torrent of backstory. I remember taking my sister to see this film and afterwards, she remarked that she "forgot it was Robin Williams"- a true hallmark of a fine actor with such a strong mainstream presence:

It is with a heavy heart that we say goodbye to Robin Williams, one of the marvels of the 20th and the 21st century. Sincere condolences go out to his loved ones and out of the kind of decency that Williams showed to others, let us leave them alone to mourn in peace.

Robin Williams was not a perfect person and was open about his personal struggles, yet that does not mean we should rip apart what privacy he had left. For such a good hearted man to be overwhelmed by that most vicious of personal demons,depression, is perhaps a call to us all to be more willing to assist those suffering with the same or similar affliction with compassion and understanding.

May he rest well and I believe it is right to say that we will never have a friend like him again:

Monday, August 11, 2014

Raking up a few future fall reads

It may be too soon to talk about reading plans for the fall but then again, I thought the end of July was too soon for stores to start back to school sales, so in the interest of being flexible yet organized, I have a small list to share of my literary goals this autumn.

First up is a Jane Austen themed double feature, centering on the very self centered Emma in reinterpreted form. Emma,Mr. Knightley and Chili Slaw Dogs is the second book in Mary Jane Hathaway's Jane Austen Takes the South series and it's leading lady is Caroline Ashley, an aspiring journalist who has put her career plans on hold in order to help out at home.

Her best emotional support comes from Brooks Elliot, a journalism professor who gets as much as he gives in his platonic bond with Caroline. However, those boundaries are severely tested when a charismatic newcomer enters their lives and true feelings may have to be reveled.

 While Emma is not my favorite Austen novel, I have grown to appreciate it more and with the end of the Emma Approved web series drawing near, this is a good way to keep that Highbury buzz alive:

 For something a little more traditional, I have Joan Aiken's Jane Fairfax, which, as the cover art puts it, tells "the secret story of the second heroine in Jane Austen's Emma."

I've had this book on my Austen TBR for some time now(yes, I do keep specially themed to be read piles, that is how turbo nerd I am) and after reading Aiken's Mansfield Park Revisited earlier this year, her style of Austenesque writing is most agreeable to me. Therefore, I shall not neglect this book any longer!

It is fun to consider the secret subplot of Jane's romance with Frank Churchill, along with exploring the character's hidden personal depths that are rather strongly hinted at in the original book. Getting a look at Miss Fairfax away from Emma Woodhouse's insistent spotlight should be an engaging entertainment but there is an advantage to using that shadowy off stage status to keep what needs to be hidden tucked away:

Fall does feel like the right time for historical fiction and I have another pair of books that should fit the bill quite nicely. The White Princess picks up from where the last book in Philippa Gregory's Cousins War series ended, with Elizabeth of York having to marry the conquering Henry Tudor despite her deep affections for her vanquished uncle, Richard the III.

I did enjoy the Starz White Queen miniseries based on these books last summer and do wish that some more of that story can continue on screen. Gregory has a new title coming up this season that gives us more of the early Tudor days and includes Elizabeth of York, so that might happen but at least we still have plenty of these portraits of past political and personal struggles to read and perhaps learn a few lessons from:

My other historical pick is more closer to home, as Erin Lindsay McCabe's debut novel, I Shall Be Near To You takes place during the American Civil War. Rosetta is the heroine of this tale(based on several real life accounts) and her devotion to her husband Jeremiah is so great that she can not bear to part with him even as he enlists in the Union army.

She disguises herself as a man and joins up for the war,managing to be placed within Jeremiah's troop as well. Keeping such a secret is almost as dangerous as being on the battlefield but Rosetta is determined to do her best on both fronts.

This is my second book from Blogging For Books and it turns out that it will be out in paperback next month(they send me the hardcover edition,which is why that cover art is shown here) so my write-up for ISBNTY should be rather timely for reading groups looking for another intriguingly romantic story to savor:

For the last but far from least on my reading list, I'm taking on another Author Triple Play as I did with Donna Tartt this summer(have one more book to go on that front) and this time, I'm tackling head on the "Demon Dog" of  modern day crime literature, James Ellroy.

Ellroy's wild man writing style combined with a darkly erudite view of American society has gotten his work to be considered as the next level in pulp fiction.

He's coming out with a new book this fall called Perfidia(which I will talk about more in my Sept/November Book Preview post later this month) and it occurred to me that this sounds like the perfect time to go through his Underworld USA trilogy.

That set of three titles spans over a decade of time, starting in the late 1950s with American Tabloid that follows a group of behind the scenes men who do the dubious bidding of well known figures such as Howard Hughes and J. Edgar Hoover and then goes into the JFK years in The Cold Six Thousand with a wind up finish at the crest of the 70s with Blood's a Rover.

I did meet James Ellroy once, very briefly at BEA. He was signing ARCs of Blood's a Rover and I just had to get a copy, plus see the great man in person.

The guy is a strange one and not into impromptu chats, which I know from seeing him in various interviews,  but it was quite the experience to be in his presence, however limited.  He was being very gregarious with the folks ahead of me in line but his personality retreated once it was my turn. He wasn't rude to me or anything like that, don't get me wrong.

Ellroy is a deliberately reclusive person and I respect that, which makes me want to really tackle his over the top books all the more. I highly doubt that we would ever cross paths again and perhaps that's for the best as some things(and people) are better appreciated from afar:

 Well, those are my reading plans, which are subject to add-ons and expanded time lengths(I know that at least one of my summer reads is going to take a little longer to finish than expected) for now. Hopefully, I can make as much progress with them as my summer list, which has about two and a half books to go before New Year's Eve arrives. This is self assigned reading, so it's not like I have to do a last minute book report for class but it would be nice to enjoy a well earned sense of reader satisfaction:

Friday, August 08, 2014

Bad Movie Month cleans up after Species 2

Welcome once again to Bad Movie Month's look at Sorry Sequels, those film follow-ups that never quite measure up. Today's creature feature is Species 2, which hit theaters at least three years after the original Species film did in 1995.

Granted, Species wasn't a major league film but it did have a pretty decent cast(Ben Kingsley,Alfred Molina and Forrest Whitaker) and director Roger Donaldson at the helm. By the time the second film rolled around,however, the budget and style of the previous movie had clearly gone from high end to bargain basement.

Species 2 takes place a couple of years after the first one and focuses on a successful mission to Mars. The astronaut who stepped on the surface,Patrick Ross(Justin Lazard) is an all-American type, complete with powerful political daddy(James Cromwell).

 While everyone is thrilled about the space trip going off without a hitch(except for a mysterious seven minute blackout period), it turns out that Patrick had a close encounter of the worst kind. Sort sounds like that new summer show Extant, doesn't it, folks? Except for all of the gore and patchwork science that would make Bill Nye's head explode.

Seems that a dose of dormant alien DNA in the soil sample that he took "woke up" during the flight back home and oozed out to latch onto Patrick, transforming him into a sex machine that instantly impregnates women during coitus, causing the gals to drop dead as soon as they give birth to little boys. Patrick is at first freaked out by this and even tries to kill himself but to no avail, so he gets on board with the whole "I must breed" program:

 Meanwhile, Dr. Laura Baker(Marg Helgenberger,reviving her role from the previous film) has Eve, a clone of the original Species girl Sil, in her lab, where she performs tests on her "just in case" that particular race of space travelers comes back to Earth.

Since the way they originally arrived was via a transmitted formula that  our scientists just had to try out, wouldn't it have been smarter to throw that batch away? Then again, this was the same brain trust that thought creating a female would make it more "docile and easier to control."

Laura claims to be doing this in the most humane way possible but her idea of humane involves strapping Eve stark naked into a chair and blasting her with poison gas in order to show the military how well she heals from it-very nice, considering that a similar event traumatized the first Sil there! Anyhow, Eve appears to have some sort of mind meld with Patrick as she gets visibly aroused every time he's off making sexy time.

That connection is increased as the folks in charge start to realize that there's another sex starved space alien on the loose and Eve's dormant abilities are given a boost in order to track down Patrick.

You really start to feel sorry for Nastasha Henstridge here, who played Sil in the first movie and returns to a similar role that is a far lesser version of the original character. In that story, Sil was understandably terrified by the authorities and as she grew up quickly, relying on her innate alien instincts made sense but not without some hesitation on her part.

Eve, on the other hand, is a bland blank slate with her only functions being horny for Patrick and wanting to break out of her cell in order to mate with him. Yes, she does watch a lot of TV(at one point, it's mentioned that she learned to drive from The Dukes of Hazzard) and lets out a mournful sigh at her captive life but it's a token gesture at characterization at best.

Patrick does compliment her in vanilla pudding performance, as his lackluster chemistry with most everyone on screen makes a Ken doll look more realistic. Even the attempts at involving his dad into this sloppy state of affairs doesn't offer much to making Patrick somewhat interesting or worthy of our viewing time:

What also suffers in this sequel are the special effects, which are watered down renditions of the H.G. Giger designs for the alien invaders. Top that with some bad CGI and you have a mediocre mess on your hands and pretty much everywhere else.

You know a movie's bad when even one of it's co-stars(Michael Madsen, also reviving a previous role) is not afraid to call it crap. Mind you, he used the more profane term but still, willing to admit that this was a complete and utter cinema catastrophe. His performance is akin to the zombies in the Walking Dead(as are most of his films these days) but I have to give him credit for honesty on this one.

 It's a shame, since there is promise in the premise but instead you're left with unanswered questions such as "If the astronauts were supposed to be under a sex quarantine, why weren't they kept away from the public better?" and "Where did Patrick find all of those grimy undershirts to clothe his hybrid space children in before hiding them on the family farm?"

 Perhaps strangest one of all is "How did a cat get into the ambulance with Eve at the end of the movie?" While there were a plenthora of things that made no sense in this flick, that last one was a doozy, except maybe this one- "Why did alien Patrick look like a weird skeleton dog monster?":

One good thing came from the arrival of Species 2; this was the last film in this series to be released theatrically. The other two chapters to this slimy saga went direct to video and there was even a graphic novel adaptation of the story that was probably better written than this was.

Yes, I did see this when it first came out and was sorely disappointed. The original Species is still worth a look, in my opinion, but even if you're in the mood for less than serious sci-fi suspense, Species 2 should be avoided like the plague.

Tune in next time on Bad Movie Month, where we drop in on Conan the Destroyer, and as for Eve and Patrick, that is one love story that someone should have to say sorry for(Madsen's admission of guilt is close enough, I suppose):

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Making the best of what's left of True Blood, voting for the next Food Network Star and an outstanding Outlander premiere

There are only three episodes left of True Blood and while some characters are making the most of their remaining screen time count, others are wasting it big time.

 It's no surprise that Sookie and Bill would wind up in bed( or in this case, lying down by the fire) as his strain of Hep V is acculturating fast and furious and there's no hope of a ready cure in time. I was pleased to see a brief return of supernatural medic Dr. Ludwig(who apparently has good reason to fear Sookie's fairy godfather,who also stopped by) and even Hoyt with a new girl friend but can we please finish up with the Violet sub plot already?

I get it; she took Adlyn and her equally doofus boyfriend prisoner in order to lure Jessica into some kind of vengeance trap but can someone just stake Violet and get it over with?

So not interested in seeing this psycho bitch anymore, particularly since there are more important long term characters that could use the attention like Lafayette and Lettie Mae or Jason dealing with a Hoyt who has no memories of their friendship or even Sarah Newlin with her mental breakdown and Hep V cure running through her veins. Speaking of which, maybe Eric has enough strength to take Violet out if everyone else is busy at the moment, we shall see:

The voting is in on Food Network Star, as the Final Three made their pilot shows(with Robert Irvine directing) and it was up to the audience to cast their ballot either online or by phone.

I voted for Lenny, as his warm personality and cowboy charm made up for what ever stumbles he had along the way. Nicole is nice enough but her Coastal Kitchen concept is a tad unsteady, perhaps due to it being finessed into a regional rather than the international focal point that she was aiming for.

As for Luca, he's alright but as Shania Twain would say, he don't impress me much. While he is no doubt a feast for the eyes for some folks, I just find him a little bland there. I wish them both well but my personal pick is Lenny, who should have plenty of people willing to cowboy up with him:

The cable TV premiere of Outlander on Starz is this upcoming Saturday but the network has made the first episode available online for free since last weekend. That made many fans of the Diana Gabaldon novels upon which this show is based happy and may have also gained a few new ones in the process.

The premise of the plot is that former military nurse Claire Randall(Caitronia Balfe) is taking a second honeymoon with her historian hubby Frank( Tobias Menzes) to Scotland in 1945. While Frank is researching an ancestor of his from the 1700s who was a British officer known as "Black Jack", he and Claire comes across a circle of stones that a few of the locals still practice a few Druid rituals around.

When Claire returns alone to check out the stones, she winds up falling through time and landing in 1743, where Black Jack is pursuing a band of rogue Highlanders.

Turns out Frank's ancestor looks like him but the resemblance brutally ends there. Claire is then captured by the outlaws, who grant her some respect from her medical skills, and taken away with them. Their main concern is protecting Jamie Fraser(Sam Heughan), who has had trouble with the English and Black Jack in particular.

  Over the course of many events to come, Jamie and Claire fall in love and she has to chose between going back to her time or staying in the past with a man who may have been her true love all along.

While the show does stay true to the source material, it is not merely a script to screen translation. The characters are treated as adults and given time to develop into people we care about.

 The fantasy elements of the story are not overdone, which could be a risk with an adaptation like this. Yes, there are sexy moments but the overall story is made with mature audiences in mind and doesn't insult their intelligence at all. I was quite pleased with the premiere episode and look forward to seeing how the rest of the season plays out:


THE QUEST: Reality TV meets live action role play in this series where "paladins" are recruited to face an evil army and are tested by The Fates. A little corny but for light summer fare, corn sounds pretty tasty to me: