Friday, 22 May 2009

Supernatural Season 4: Fucking Awesome

I think it's pretty well established that this blog is written by a continuity pedant. A well-constructed show is going to get more kudos from the Recapper than one that's not. It's certainly why the Season 4 finale of Supernatural was a truly awesome piece of storytelling, topping off the best season they've ever produced, and why I suspect the Smallville writers are about to have a lot of very angry fans burn them at the stake.

On a personal note, I started watching Supernatural because a friend of mine was a huge fan and she asked me to. She wanted someone with my...unique perspective on talk it over with. But in Season 4 I began watching for myself.

Week after week, starting about halfway through Season 3, the show began to shed its road trip, frat boy beginnings to construct a truly fascinating character piece that had me chomping at the bit for each week's installment. And in the final episode of this penultimate season, the writers delivered the goods, drawing together all the previously-unconnected elements of the show into one glorious, coherent whole.

This single episode not only justifies every seemingly crappy one I sat through in the first two seasons: it totally recasts everything that's come before as relevant and important. In the words of the recapping God, Demian, whose greatness to which I can only aspire, "Thrilling is a good word for it, friend of friends, though I myself am inclined to use awesome. More specifically, fucking awesome."

Couldn't agree more.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Smallville finale: whether you're a Chlarker, Chloiser or Cloiser you're still going to be pissed off

Smallville fandom is an unusual bunch. I defy anyone to find another show with such a polarised fan base; most of which live in complex fantasy worlds of their own devising.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not necessarily a criticism. Smallville is incredibly literal, has inconsistent characterisation, and no sense of continuity. It’s no surprise then that many fans see the main story as happening in a weird and wonderful place called “Offscreenville” where all the inconsistencies are explained by …well …basically making stuff up in their own heads. Thus we have Chlarkers, Cloisers and Chloisers (among many many others), all interpreting every minute detail of the show in a way that fits their own personal fantasy.

With such a diverse base of fans, all with wildly-divergent opinions on the plot and characters, it’s truly astonishing that in the final episode of Season 8, the writers have managed to do something unprecedented.

They’ve managed to piss them all off.

In one fell swoop, the writers retconned a retcon they had already retconned this season, assassinated Davis’ character, stomped on Chloe once again, made Clark out to be an even bigger jerk than previously, wedged in a ludicrous plot device to get rid of Lois in the first 20 minutes, killed Jimmy Olsen then retconned a “real” Jimmy to replace him, and managed to reduce Clark’s battle with an unstoppable alien killing machine to 3 minutes plus an explosion that killed aforementioned indestructible alien killing machine but not for some reason Clark. Oh, and Tess released Zod. Again. Because that’s original.

Viewers of the show have had to put up with a lot this season. For a start, the action moved mostly to Metropolis, with the tenuous link to Smallville maintained through improbable trips to the small town and its mysteriously-empty coffee shop. The producers also made the questionable decision of casting a whole heap of new characters, calling them “stars” but only giving them 13 episodes each. This made the narrative disjointed and resulted in some truly bizarre behaviour. Lois staying by Jimmy’s bedside in Edge City after the wedding, while his wife stayed in Metropolis (apparently having forgotten his entire existence) was one. Lois being strangely absent when her cousin had just run off with an alien serial killer was another.

While the Davis/Doomsday plot was seriously underdeveloped and required some massive and clumsy retconning to work, it was nonetheless interesting and the show had done quite a good job of building people up to the big battle between Clark and his nemesis. The only problem was it never happened.

Perhaps the great battle between Clark and the apparently unstoppable Doomsday fell into one of the great yawning plot holes that littered the mess that was this episode.

I suspect a lot of the show’s dedicated viewers went the same way.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Epic Fail

With a new contribution by guest writer RLB, the Recapper has started a new area of the site. Called "epic fail", it will contain all of RLB's reviews of movies and TV finales that disappoint.

As well as the previous review of Battlestar Galactica, RLB has now reviewed the latest X-Men film. The producers of this should have taken the advice of a certain US President who said, "it's the plot, stupid". Oh ok, they said "economy" but why let facts get in the way of a good analogy.

X-Men Wolverine: It's the Plot Stupid

By guest contributor RLB

I have seen X-men Origins: Wolverine and I don’t want to hold any punches… it was rubbish.

It pains me to say this as X-men is a great franchise (overall) and Hugh Jackman deserves any and all success in life. However, this movie fails, and I mean FAILS to deliver on pretty much any level. The major problem though, is the plot.

The first 20 minutes of the movie jump from scene to scene, erratically attempting to chronologue the life of Logan a.k.a ‘Wolverine’ from 1850 to about 1960 in his travels with his ‘brother’, Viktor. Aside from being so incredibly confusing that one is not actually sure where or what Logan and his ‘brother’ are doing, let alone why, it was filled with so many clichéd shots that one suspected one was stuck in a recruiting video for the US military. Epic shots of the American Civil War segued to valiant running-down-beaches action, brutally plagiarised from “Saving Private Ryan”, which then switched to hand-to-hand fighting in what the viewer is meant to believe is the Vietnam war.

Just in case you didn’t get the point (after this ramming), Logan and his “brother” are fleeing violence in the home and finding their ‘place’ in society as bringers of justice. What is missed here is WHO is Victor? The movie script hints and I do mean, blink-and-you-will-miss-it, that he is the illegitimate son of a man who had an affair with Logan’s mother, although it is never mentioned again. But hey, he’s only a major character. I guess that part was less important than the montage of brave American soldiers.

Logan ends up in a team of other mutants, led by the character from X-Men 2, Stryker. Logan’s involvement in this mercenary group, whose introduction to the viewers is as equally detailed as that of Victor, again lasts for about 5 minutes until our hero valiantly walks out to start a ‘pure’ life.

The nerd in me wants to point out again the glaring lack of any explanation of the characters and their powers besides a misshapen covert attack on a building by the team. By the end of this important mission, all the viewer knows is that one guy is fat and the other can move his hand(s)? really fast.

At this stage you seem to accept that this movie is poor and you’re happy that the special effects are cool enough to distract you. That is, until you learn that knowing and caring about this group of mercenaries is something on which the entire plot relies. It wasn’t until the end that I truly understood the depth of this rubbish. When the final villain, Mutant 11, walks on, I had to turn to my partner and ask who the hell he was and why he had his shirt off. (P.S Ryan Reynolds without a shirt is never bad).

The middle of the film is set around Logan’s new life and his girlfriend who gets killed by his brother, blah blah blah, and Logan wants revenge, blah blah blah and gets filled with Mutant metal making him a ‘serious badass’ blah blah blah. 1 hour of crap upon crap, made truly a religious experience by watching the now “Wolverine” take on a helicopter Jason Stathom style. (At least Transporter doesn’t take itself seriously!)

The introduction of the Gambit character, which has been highly anticipated by fans, was embarrassing. The bad acting on the part of Taylor Kitsch made the only ‘real’ mutant encounter abysmal. After telling Wolverine that he doesn’t believe he wants revenge on Stryker and Viktor he proceeds to kick Wolverine‘s butt...until that is Wolverine runs into (literally) Viktor and they start fighting. Wait, wait, this is the best bit! Upon seeing this, one would think that the Gambit character would believe Wolverine’s past claims of vengeance, oh no. In this movie, he jumps in at the last minute, SAVES Viktor and proceeds to kick some more Wolverine ass. What the?!?!? Couldn’t the writers think of a better reason for them to go at it? What about outfit envy?

In the final scenes “Wolverine” comes to know that his girlfriend isn’t dead (she was in cahoots with Stryker), and his brother didn’t kill her. Here is where it lost me…. Viktor then decides he should kill the girlfriend and Wolverine saves her. Then they go at it… again. Then the “big bad” comes on screen and the two brothers realise they need to unite to defeat him, and so are friends again. Then once the seriously hot Mutant 11 is killed, they are still kinda half friends and decide to that a “live and let live policy is probably the best thing for both parties”.

All topped with a clichéd scene where Professor Xavier comes and saves a young Cyclops form the evil clutches of Stryker. This is where you’re supposed to go “OOOH that’s where it all comes together!”. It is more like, “This is crap, you’re crap I want my life back.”

I won’t even mention the fact that the movie posters currently have Wolverine posing in a kick ass pose with mutants in the background like Silver Fox whose actual screen time is less than 2 minutes. Me thinks the marketing team were short on draw cards for bus stop posters and decided to throw anyone in there to ‘beef’ up the look.

Don’t get me wrong, Hugh Jackman and Live Schreiber can act (and Hugh is the best presenter of the Oscars ever), and “almost” save this movie from being anything other than a special effects bonanza, but even their acting can’t save the terrible storyline, abysmal script and poor delivery. Bryan Singer we need you!

Friday, 8 May 2009

The Recapper’s thoughts on Star Trek

Spock is hot.

What? What were you expecting?

Some cerebral, intellectual analysis involving lots of large words? This is not a cerebral film, people. This is big explosions and cool special effects and improbable science. This is good acting and fantastic characterisation and, oddly, amazing music. Damn that score was effective.

Unfortunately, this is also obvious product placement, women walking around in underwear for no apparent reason and rather clunky dialogue.

But ultimately, and this is not to be understated, this was effective.

It was believable recreations of characters that most people recognise even if they never watched Star Trek. And it was emotionally, if not intellectually satisfying. And in the end, if you walk out of the cinema on a high, what’s the problem?

Margaret and David gave it four stars. So do I. Go and see it. Hopefully they’ll make a sequel. Hopefully this sequel will have Brent Spiner. He’s also hot.