Herc’s Popular Pricing Pantry
From David Goyer, writer of “Batman Begins,” “Man Of Steel” and the upcoming Superman/Batman movie!! The complete series set for “Blade: The Series,” $37.49 in 2011 and $31.93 in March, just plummeted to $12.99!! (68% Off!!)
New This Week
Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie , new to Blu-ray today, was the funniest motion picture released to cinemas in 1996. I peed.
A new sci-fi series set 15 years after a mysterious event somehow renders all motor vehicles and electrical devices on the planet (even the ones that run on batteries) useless, “Revolution” comes to us from J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot production company (“Fringe,” “Person of Interest”) and writer-producer Eric Kripke (The WB’s “Tarzan” and “Supernatural”).
It’s about a post-modern world in which everybody is forced to live like the Amish – except for all that abstaining-from-violence nonsense.
I’m going to lean into the spoilers pretty hard here.
There’s a mysterious fellow named Sebastian Monroe who oversees a post-electricity regional government called the Monroe Republic. Monroe dispatches a badass named Capt. Tom Neville (Giancarlo Esposito, who used to play Gus Fring on “Breaking Bad”) to find Miles Matheson (Billy Burke, dad from the “Twilight” movies), a former U.S. government employee who may know why the lights went out and, more importantly, may even have some ideas regarding how to get them back on.
Monroe believes if he can get tanks and bombers and flashlights working again he can destroy all the other regional governments and rule the planet. Which he’ll no doubt rename The Planet Monroe.
But here’s the bad news for Monroe. This Miles Matheson guy has grown so good with a sword in the post-iPhone era that he can singlehandedly defeat a whole platoon of Monroe militiamen, even though the militiamen have guns and Matheson doesn’t. (If “Raiders of the Lost Ark” hilariously demonstrated that a guy with a gun can easily defeat a really accomplished swordsman, “Revolution” demonstrates that this Matheson guy can somehow dodge bullets as easily as he can impale loads of gunmen.)
The pilot, directed by Jon Favreau (“Iron Man,” “Cowboys & Aliens”) filled me with questions like these:
* Why are the guys with the guns losing to the guy with the sword? Does it have something to do with that giant staircase?
* There more than 200 million privately owned guns in the United States. What kind of song and dance did the Monroe Republic gin up to get all those dues-paying NRA members to surrender their firearms?
* If electricity is truly no more, how can humans continue to function without the electrical impulses that allow them to think and move?
* Given that Matheson is such a super-high-value target, why do the guys sent to capture Matheson carry what look like old-timey muskets instead of machine guns, or even a nifty modern pistol like the one Esposito’s character utilizes early in the pilot? Didn’t the manufacture of bullets predate electricity?
* Why does Matheson wait around for hours for the Monroe militiamen to return with gun-toting reinforcements, only to explain to them that he doesn’t want a fight?
* Is it not a huge coincidence that Matheson’s fugitive nephew just happens to stumble onto a random farm on which an ornate and seemingly magical electricity-generating thumb-drive resides?
On the upside, some of the post-apocalyptic production design is dang cool. And even if all of the good guys feel undercooked I reatlly kind of liked Esposito’s ruthless/irritable militiaman. Also? Puffy-lipped 16-year-old Canadian Tracy Spiridakos, who plays Matheson’s bow-toting niece Charlie, is already hot enough, apparently, to pose shirtless for GQ!
By far the most interesting parts of the pilot are the 15-years-earlier bits, which feature powerless jetliners crashing to earth and a little-girl version of Charlie being told, more or less, that she’ll probably never taste ice cream again. (Though I like to imagine a curious passing Amish fellow peering at the ice-cream scene through Charlie’s window, then shrugging and remarking, “I believe I’ll go home and enjoy some ice cream, a confection invented more than a thousand years before the electric freezer.”)
Importantly, “Revolution” is not another show about cops or lawyers. (I was going to add “doctors,” but there is at least one doctor character in the show.)
I got all the way through the increasingly disappointing “The Event,” “Alcatraz” and “Terra Nova” series just because I was more intrigued by their premises than anything that was going on with “NCIS Los Angeles.” But it’s anybody’s guess how much farther I can coast on a show without power.
... a fairly low-wattage result. … though Esposito and Burke are both excellent — and Kripke and Favreau stage a classic swashbuckling swordfight for Miles that's easily the highlight of the first hour — far too much time is spent on the boring (Charlie) or annoying (Danny) teenagers, once again trying to force youth appeal into a show without bothering to generate characters that viewers of any age will actually care about watching. …
... Will "Revolution" be able to inject its tech-dystopia with real stakes if it's hard to care whether the younger characters live or die? Will it be one of those shows where the Big Concept crowds out the construction of a believable world and compelling relationships? I simply don't know … only time will tell whether this show will finally break the curse of every show from "FlashForward" to "V" to "The Event" and "Invasion" and "Terra Nova" and "V" and a dozen other shows I've spent too much time rewriting in my head. …
… the pilot, at least, is engaging and suspenseful... It’s appealing to people who have no patience for historical fiction (too many plagues, pilgrimages and lute players) or time travel (please), but do hanker for sword fights and the phhhttt of an arrow right through the neck.…
… the characters are fairly stock, the situations familiar and, some nifty digital backgrounds notwithstanding, the production continually felt more like an elaborate game of let's pretend than it did a window into some real other world. I didn't buy a second of it. ... The effect of the permanent blackout has included the partial destruction of the Golden Gate Bridge and the St. Louis Gateway Arch, which I am pretty sure would withstand a simple absence of power and would indeed be harder to destroy without it. (Although gunpowder does seem to still work.) But it does say "post-apocalypse." One might point out as well that humankind led a relatively civilized and technologically complicated existence before electric power and that the Industrial Revolution ran not on electricity but steam. …
... the writing can be a bit corny, the action sequences a tad ridiculous and the plot prone to nit-picking. … The hourlong pilot had a strong start and finish. It was the stuff in the middle that gave me pause. …
... I’m on the fence. In just one episode, “Revolution” feels already too rushed (trying to beat the cancellation clock, no doubt), concerned more with its melodrama and sword fights than easing us into the idea of what it’s like to cope without power. …
... a good adventure yarn, but the other reason we're likely to watch future episodes is that it grounds the action in thought-provoking themes. …
... a pretty solid hour of television, setting up the show's premise and in several instances defying TV norms with plot twists viewers won't see coming. So let's hope the following episodes will be as good. …
... One of the most intriguing series of fall … NBC hasn’t had much luck launching a serialized sci-fi show. Both “Heroes” and “The Event” started strong and fizzled. But there’s reason to hope here: Kripke honed “Supernatural’s” mythology and made that show a cult hit. “Revolution” may yet spark your imagination.
... you may find yourself remembering Flash Forward, another show with a brilliant opening scene that was all dumb questions with no smart answers. Not to say it may not have answers. It just needs to provide a few of them, and quickly.
... doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it’s a lot of fun. …
... For every arresting image, there's a lot of wandering around in the overgrown woods, and reason for skepticism as to whether audiences will patiently stick with the show. …
“Da Vinci’s Demons” is a Starz series that follows the adventures of artist-writer-architect-engineer-geologist-botanist-mathematician-inventor Leonardo Da Vinci as he uses his martial arts and swashbuckling skills to fight crime in 15th century Italy.
This new series comes to us from the prolific David Goyer, who earlier masterminded the one-season wonders “Threshold,” “FlashForward” and “Blade: The Series,” and has done a lot of superhero work, scripting or co-scripting both “Ghost Rider” movies and all three “Blade” movies, as well as the 1998 David Hasselhoff TV-movie “Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD,” “The Crow: City of Angels,” “Batman Begins” and “Man of Steel.” He shared “story” credit on both “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises” and, as a big-screen writer-director, Goyer’s credits include “Zig Zag,” “Blade: Trinity” and “The Unborn.”
... doesn't resemble Albrecht's old HBO output so much as it does '90s syndicated action dramas like "Xena: Warrior Princess" — albeit made on a much bigger budget and with lots of Starz-approved language and nakedness. … Like most of Goyer's solo creations, the show has more ideas than it knows quite what to do with; his best work tends to come with strong collaborators who pare Goyer's vision down to something manageable. The premiere episode is so overstuffed with incident, conspiracy and expository dialogue as to almost feel like parody, but the show settles down a bit in later hours. …
... glossy, silly, intermittently entertaining … Viewers face a slog right away in the opening episode, which has to set up not only the “Book of Leaves” story but also the demons in Leonardo’s past (annoying flashbacks and visions of his faceless mother) and the semi-historical rivalry between Florence and the Vatican, in which Leonardo is of course embroiled. …
... prefers to flaunt rather than follow, flagrantly borrowing from film, television and video games to create something new, inarguably flawed, possibly revolutionary and certainly fun to watch. …
... Historical accuracy is only hit-and-miss in Da Vinci's Demons. And that describes how entertaining it is too: More miss than hit, but it does grow on you. …
... plucky and occasionally fun … heads off in a lot of different directions, as our easily distracted Renaissance Man, Leonardo, discovers from a wayward mystic that he’s part of a kooky lineage of supergeniuses. This part of the plot puts Leonardo in the dangerously ho-hum genre of shows about differently abled sleuths who see details others don’t and whose minds run off high-speed broadband while the simpletons around them remain strictly dial-up. But Riley takes the role of Leonardo for a real joyride, giving “Da Vinci’s Demons” a spark of invention it would otherwise lack.
… Please. Give me something resembling coherent dialogue and plot. ... If Mr. Goyer fumbles the pilot in introducing Leonardo's world, he salvages the endeavor in episode two with a good story about da Vinci's inventions for the Medicis.…
... The plot strands don’t always come together smoothly, some of da Vinci’s mystical, drug-addled visions are pretentious, and the CGI re-creating 15th-century Florence is spotty. And the general tone of the show will not satisfy anyone looking for a serious take on a historical figure or era. But “Da Vinci’s Demons” is an entertaining series with one huge factor working in its favor: Unlike so much of what we see on TV lineups, it aims to be different.
... Some no doubt will say Da Vinci’s Demons is too slight or glossy. And while it might not be as serious-minded as Game of Thrones, it’s also not too distant a cousin. There’s a lot of material to mine here, and Goyer, Starz and Da Vinci’s Demons are off to an entertaining start. …
... Granted, Tom Riley’s anachronistic Da Vinci feels as much like a Silicon Valley eccentric as a 15th-century artist/inventor, but the show is still a good deal of fun, while indulging in all the lusty debauchery one has come to expect from period cable dramas. …
Call Me Fitz 3.x
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