Da Couch Tomato

An attempt at a new layout, with horrible glitches, and very minimal knowledge of HTML.

Apocalypse: The Second World War. 3/6 Shock

Shock is, of course, what you would feel when you learn of all the Nazi atrocities during World War II. This episode chronicles Hitler's breaking of the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact. Which of course resulted in the eventual German assault on Russia, the fall of Poland, and the beginnings of the Holocaust. This was before they discovered the most cost-efficient way to carry out the Final Solution.

*pic from natgeotv.com


Bored to Death

Bored to Death centers around a yuppie novelist (Jason Schwartzman) and his unofficial night job as a really bad private detective.

Somehow his run-ins with the Russian mob, among other things, make up for his mediocre life.

In his adventures, he reluctantly takes with him his editor (Ted Danson for the win) and his comic book illustrator friend played by Zach Galifianakis of The Hangover fame.

Galifanakis is a pleasant surprise; there's more to his boneheaded friend typecast.

The show does a good job of parodying detective stories and sit-coms. Down to playing with gadgets and undercover work. It also deals with how adults act like moronic kids because they've grown up to be mediocre.

The cinematography, at times, looks like a video cam that a friend used to record your moronic deeds, which is just as well.

I'm worried about the smallness of the locale. I've only seen a few episodes and they've all revolved around the suburbs and the three characters getting stoned while staking out a house. It may not be as exciting if you're into lots and lots of action.

I think if the writers can apply their dialogue wit onto utilizing the suburbs to the fullest, then the show is set.

So, yeah, so far, so far, Bored to Death gets an 8/10.


Apocalypse: The Second World War. 2/6 Crushing Defeat

All right, you can tell quite a lot from the title alone. Someone was crushingly defeated. Or defeated in a crushing manner. Not "crushing" like "I'm crushing on Kate Beckinsale Zooey Deschanel", but "crushing" like "crushing an empty soda can". (Why did I even include Kate and Zooey here?) And the highlights of this episode are the fall of Belgium, the fall of Paris, and the realization that General Charles de Gaulle was actually a huge man. As in you can literally see him towering over everyone, like Aragorn over hobbits.

*pic from natgeotv.com



This is a great documentary.

It's not new in terms of subject matter. It simply restates what Al Gore has already been reminding us since An Inconvenient Truth.

This film is similar, but not comparable with, Baraka, although Baraka was on a different level on its own. But Home is really commendable, especially in terms of cinematic consistency. It always maintains that feeling of grandeur, with vast, panoramic shots, and high-angle or bird's eye views, all meant to evoke "oohs" and "aahs" from the viewers, who are supposed to be reminded that we are measly, insignificant creatures in a complicated, biological web. Maintaining the high angles are possibly the filmmaker's way of showing us what God must feel like, looking down on his little menagerie.

Films like this would be very ideal for IMAX, as the vastness and scope of the images would just swallow you whole.

Minus points for the terrible grammar at the end titles. But then again, this is a French film. You can forgive the subject-verb agreement. It gets its point across, anyway.

*some info from IMDb

Home. France. 2009.

Original rating: Nine out of ten.
Lapses in subject-verb agreement: Minus half a point.
"We already know that" message: Minus half a point.
Final rating: Eight out of ten.


Band of Brothers. Part 7: The Breaking Point

This one now is about 1st Sgt. Carwood Lipton. It's amazing how Donnie Wahlberg can play a really nice guy. I don't know if he's a really nice guy in real life, though. Maybe. Who knows. I also realized that maybe sharing foxholes is the bonding activity that kept the men of Easy so unusually close.

*pic from photobucket.com


Band of Brothers. Part 6: Bastogne

Since this show tries to do a different point of view for every episode, this one focuses on Easy Company's medic, the half-Cajun Eugene "Doc" Roe. They even tried putting a romantic angle on it. Good thing they didn't pursue it. But the last shot was my absolute favorite.

*pic from photobucket.com


The Pacific. Part Two

HBO's starting to use the intro of "Previously...on The Pacific." It makes it seem too... pop. Action-packed again, as always. And great cinematography. This was warfare before night-vision goggles. Which makes me wonder how they were able to wage jungle warfare back then. Maybe, even if they couldn't see the Japanese, maybe they could feel them. Or smell them. I don't know.

*pic from aceshowbiz.com


How To Train Your Dragon. 3D

DreamWorks is the new Pixar.

Sorry. I just had to say that.

Before watching this, I researched on it, to find out if it was converted 3D or not. I couldn't find anything on the matter. So I decided, what the heck.

And surprise, surprise. I don't think this was converted 3D. Any 3D film that has me giggling like a kid is Real D 3D. There were times a when you'd think the Viking ships would smash your face in. And there would also be times when you would tilt your head unconsciously whenever a projectile is hurled in your direction. And this head tilt is a pure reflex action. This was thick, depth-filled 3D. Not like Alice in Wonderland. Sorry, Tim Burton.

This film still employed the rack focus technique, as discussed in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. But that's forgivable, as 3D cinematography is still in its infancy, if not non-existent. But what really got me was the dissolves. I don't understand why American filmmakers don't like the dissolve as a transition. It's simple, effective, and looks damn good in 3D. They employed a lot of dissolves in U2 3D, and it just blew my mind.

Now, moving on to the regular review.

If Pixar doesn't watch its back, DreamWorks could break the Pixar monopoly on quality computer-animated films. How to Train Your Dragon, though, was based on a book. It still can't do original screenplays like Pixar can, but it'll get there. Give it a few more flicks.

I loved the character designs here, especially the Viking hair. The dragon designs, not as much. Some looked really cute. Others looked plain annoying. Even the Night Fury looked like a Pokémon at times.

This, I believe, could be one of the best animated pictures of the year. That is of course if you could get past the Viking beards looking like Lord of the Rings, or the dragons looking like those flying reptiles from Avatar, or the dragon riding looking like Eragon.

And Gerard Butler, ye dinnae work too hard te heid yir Sco'ish accent. Aye ca' tell t'was ye tha mooment ye oopened yir mooth.

P.S. This review hyperlinks to all the other 3D reviews to date.

How to Train Your Dragon. USA. 2010.

Rating: Eight and a half out of ten.
3D-ness: Eight and a half out of ten.


Band of Brothers. Part 5: Crossroads

This episode was directed by Tom Hanks. Okay, so Tom Hanks can direct. A little. I mean, how hard is it, if Mel Gibson can win a Best Director Oscar for Braveheart? But somehow, this episode tries too hard to be fancy, when straight-up storytelling will do just fine.

*pic from hbo.com


The Pacific. Part One

Oh wow. Hanks and Spielberg teamed up again. Those World War II junkies really need their fix. You really can't help but compare it to Band of Brothers. Because they really are similar. Although the Pacific war came first. Just can't help thinking that the Pacific vets approached Spielberg and Hanks and told them, "Hey, do a series about us!"

*pic from reddirtkings.com


White Collar. Season One

If you were like me who watched the first episode of Chuck and said to himself, "Wow, this Bryce Larkin is good!" then quickly realized that the title of the show is Chuck and not Bryce, then here's your Matt Bomer fix.

Matt Bomer portrayed a super-agent in Chuck and now has parlayed his star turn to a show that now stars himself. In White Collar, Bomer portrays super-con artist/art thief/grifter Nick Caffrey who is now helping the man who caught him and put him in jail, FBI Special Agent Peter Burke, played by Tim DeKay.

If you've seen Spielberg's Catch Me If You Can, it's almost exactly like that. Just that part where Leo is already helping Tom Hanks solve white collar crimes. It's the buddy cop formula in a way, with the cool, suave, and slick con artist with the no-nonsense partner.

The best part about White Collar however is that they didn't make the straight-laced officer to be the dumber one of the partnership. Usually, in TV shows and movies such as this, the slick con man has all the answers and the rugged man of justice is a step behind. Not so in this series. DeKay's Burke is very much in control of the situation, and at times is smarter than Bomer's Caffrey.

It also helps that very early in the season, they already fleshed out the chracters of both leads, especially Burke. He's a loving husband and dedicated workaholic while Caffrey is a bit up in the air with things as he's trying to find his erstwhile girlfriend while helping out the FBI.

The problem with the show however, is that while we are supposed to empathize with Caffrey's situation, in every opportunity, it is shown that he is being played by his girlfriend. That fact undermines him.

Still, White Collar entertains as the chemistry between the two leads are just off the charts for such a new show. Burke is like the older, protective brother taking care of his petulant younger sibling. The weekly cases provide insights into their thinking and character while at the same time provide some tension as well.

The secondary and tertiary characters also bring something to the table.

Tiffany (Amber) Thiessen plays Burke's wife who is almost as smart as his husband. She's very much eye candy as well and I'm glad to say that she has aged beautifully.

Willie Garson (Sex in the City) is Caffrey's partner in crime, Mozzie, and provides some of the humor in the show as well. Garson is perfect for the role and again the partnership succeeds due in large part to chemistry.

In fact, this show is in a good place right now. The chemistry between the characters plus the fast-paced storytelling propels the show and it could only get better.

If you have time in your calendar for another fun and exciting show, do check out White Collar.

White Collar comes from The USA Network.

Rating: 8/10 Stars


Up in the Air

I thought this was going to be a rom-com. Surprisingly, it wasn't.

And thinking it was a rom-com, I thought it would suck. Surprisingly, it didn't.

Okay, I shall try something new with my reviews. I shall just try and explain the title, and hopefully get it all from there.

Up in the Air is, literally, about a man who looks like George Clooney who spends his life flying. Up in the air. On planes. More than half of the year, he is airborne.

"Up in the air" is also an idiomatic expression that means uncertainty. When you flip a coin, you wouldn't know if it would land heads or tails when it's still spinning in the air. That's the same principle here. Uncertainty. Jobs are not certain. Not even relationships. Not even families.

Those things may be uncertain. But I know two things that are certain. No, three things. One, Anna Kendrick is cute, and she's a great actress. Two, Vera Farmiga is hot. Three, George Clooney will always look good in a suit, no matter how old he gets.

Up in the Air. USA. 2009.

Rating: Eight out of ten.


The Hurt Locker


I tried watching this even before it won the Best Picture Oscar. Unfortunately, due to poor DVD burning, and other factors, I was only able to watch half. That was before the Oscars. Now I've seen the whole movie. After the Oscars.

The camera work was very appropriate for the movie, all hand-held and steady cam shots. No stationary cameras at all. This was the same technique employed in Rachel Getting Married, to give it that documentary or reality show-feel.

Jeremy Renner was good, I'll give him that. But I didn't really think he was Best Actor material. Well, maybe there was no other great performance for that year. I don't know.

Some really great actors made very short appearances. Guy Pearce at the beginning. Ralph Fiennes in the middle. Just like in a real war. Some really memorable characters come and go.

If you're looking for hard core war action, like in Band of Brothers, this is not the movie to watch. This is about a bomb squad, for crying out loud, not front liners. But despite just being a bomb squad, the tension and the paranoia they feel on a daily basis will be given to the viewers in a little over two hours. Just like in a real war.

Did Kathryn Bigelow deserve the Best Director Oscar? I guess so. Not to be sexist or anything, but this movie has no trace of femininity whatsoever. You wouldn't even know it's a woman behind the helm. Well, that goes to show how under-appreciated women are. There isn't even a single female character in the film. It's really a man's world. Just like in a real war.

And finally, why was it entitled "The Hurt Locker"? Because the war zone is one big locker of hurt. Of pain. Of misery. Of suffering. And of unnecessary deaths. And for adrenaline junkies like Sergeant James, he prefers being trapped in this war zone locker of hurt over the relative freedom of civilian life. And his bomb suit, which supposedly protects him, also traps him; it ties him to his job, forcing him not to leave the job unfinished. Everyone on the battlefield has a job to do. Just like in a real war.

*some info from IMDb

The Hurt Locker. USA. 2009.

Rating: Eight out of ten.



Have you ever seen something promising go down faster than you can say "crap"?

Virtuality starts off with a great idea for a TV series: A TV series about a reality show that documents a starship voyage to find habitable land in a star system near the Milky Way.

The crew is composed of engineers, doctors, physicists and botanists who are given Virtual Reality modules to keep them sane. Unfortunately, a virtual man starts harming them in their fantasies.

For some reason, this virtual man's violent acts cause the crew to push through with the voyage despite the fact that their only doctor discovers he has Parkinson's disease.

This is where the whole thing goes awry.

Some of the crew take to finding out who the virtual man is and killing him; which they aren't able to. Others abandon it and simply take it as a sign to "live."

They had to turn this TV pilot into a two-hour movie without closing it off properly. An accident causes the captain's death. The crew's designer and engineer makes a confession to someone on earth that he thinks the captain was murdered. The second mate is reluctant to be the new captain. And the psychologist/reality show producer discovers soon after the death that the captain was having an affair with his wife. So who then, killed the captain?

Is the capatin even really dead? Because the way the "movie" ends, it doesn't seem that way. It's like the writers were hoping they'd get a sequel or an actual TV series. Well, it actually looks like they do. But with a movie, you still need some closure of sorts.

So, because it's only this movie's first half that's good, I'm giving this 5/10. Too bad for Clea DuVall.


New York, I Love You

Apparently, the saying "Too many cooks spoil the broth" does not hold true in collaborative works.

And this film is one such example.

This is pure collaboration, from the acting (a star-studded cast, for a non-mainstream film), to the writing (several writers doing each individual segment), to the directing (several directors directing those individual segments).

The choice of using several points of view becomes appropriate once you realize that this is not a love story set in New York; this is a love story about New York. And New York, as we know, is a melting pot. Countless stories happen on its streets everyday. And this is what the filmmakers tried to capture: the multiplicity of New York City.

None of the segments were actually bad. Some were really good, some were good, while some were so-so. But no bad ones. Probably because there was no attempt to tie all the segments together as a unifed whole. You can think of it as several short films about love in New York City. With no pretensions about being one single, solid piece.

Anyway, I would love to mention each of the individual actors and directors that lent their talents to this work, but Blogger only allows tags with a maximum of two hundred (200) characters. Which really sucks. And so, you can just click on the IMDb link below to view the credits.

*some info from IMDb

New York, I Love You. France/USA. 2009.

Rating: Seven and a half out of ten
Ethan Hawke's speech about vaginas and G-spots: Eight and a half out of ten.



When you see the trailer, you'll go, "Ooh, wow, angels!"

And you'd go watch it, because the last good movie on angels you've seen was probably Michael. The one with John Travolta. Unfortunately, I haven't seen that in its entirety. The last angel movie I've seen was Date with an Angel. The one with Emmanuelle Béart. And I was still a kid when I saw that. So I guess that doesn't count.

Anyway, if you think this is an angel movie, I'll tell you right now that it's not.

It's actually a zombie movie. A zombie movie pretending to be an angel movie.

What good is Paul Bettany's angelic face if he gets reduced to a zombie slayer?

Zombieland was way better.

And I still don't like you that much, Dennis Quaid. Sorry.

*some info from IMDb
pic from My Space

Legion. USA. 2010.

Rating: Four out of ten.


Academy Award Winners 2009

Here now are the Oscar winners (and nominees), in the order they were presented.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role
•Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds
•Matt Damon, Invictus
•Woody Harrelson, The Messenger
•Christopher Plummer, The Last Station
•Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones

Best Animated Film
•Fantastic Mr. Fox
•The Princess and the Frog
•The Secret of Kells

Best Original Song
•“The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)” from Crazy Heart, Music and Lyric by Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett
•“Almost There” from The Princess and the Frog, Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
•“Down in New Orleans” from The Princess and the Frog, Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
•“Loin de Paname” from Paris 36, Music by Reinhardt Wagner, Lyric by Frank Thomas
•“Take It All” from Nine, Music and Lyric by Maury Yeston

Best Original Screenplay
The Hurt Locker, Written by Mark Boal
Inglourious Basterds, Written by Quentin Tarantino
•The Messenger, Written by Alessandro Camon & Oren Moverman
•A Serious Man, Written by Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
Up, Screenplay by Bob Peterson, Pete Docter, Story by Pete Docter, Bob Peterson, Tom McCarthy

Best Animated Short Film
•Logorama, Nicolas Schmerkin
•French Roast, Fabrice O. Joubert
•Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty, Nicky Phelan and Darragh O’Connell
•The Lady and the Reaper (La Dama y la Muerte), Javier Recio Gracia
•A Matter of Loaf and Death, Nick Park

Best Documentary Short Film
•Music by Prudence, Roger Ross Williams and Elinor Burkett
•China’s Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province, Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill
•The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner, Daniel Junge and Henry Ansbacher
•The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant, Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert
•Rabbit à la Berlin, Bartek Konopka and Anna Wydra

Best Live Action Short Film
•The New Tenants, Joachim Back and Tivi Magnusson
•The Door, Juanita Wilson and James Flynn
•Instead of Abracadabra, Patrik Eklund and Mathias Fjellström
•Kavi, Gregg Helvey
•Miracle Fish, Luke Doolan and Drew Bailey

Best Adapated Screenplay
•Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire, Geoffrey Fletcher
District 9, Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell
An Education, Nick Hornby
•In the Loop, Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche
Up in the Air, Jason Reitman and Sheldon Turner

Best Makeup
Star Trek, Barney Burman, Mindy Hall and Joel Harlow
•Il Divo, Aldo Signoretti and Vittorio Sodano
•The Young Victoria, Jon Henry Gordon and Jenny Shircore

Best Actress in a Supporting Role
•Mo’Nique, Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
•Penélope Cruz, Nine
•Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air
•Maggie Gyllenhaal, Crazy Heart
•Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air

Best Art Direction
Avatar, Art Direction: Rick Carter and Robert Stromberg; Set Decoration: Kim Sinclair
The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Art Direction: Dave Warren and Anastasia Masaro; Set Decoration: Caroline Smith
•Nine, Art Direction: John Myhre; Set Decoration: Gordon Sim
Sherlock Holmes, Art Direction: Sarah Greenwood; Set Decoration: Katie Spencer
•The Young Victoria, Art Direction: Patrice Vermette; Set Decoration: Maggie Gray

Best Costume Design
•The Young Victoria, Sandy Powell
•Bright Star, Janet Patterson
Coco avant Chanel, Catherine Leterrier
•Nine, Colleen Atwood

Best Sound Editing
The Hurt Locker, Paul N.J. Ottosson
Avatar, Christopher Boyes and Gwendolyn Yates Whittle
Inglourious Basterds, Wylie Stateman
Star Trek, Mark Stoeckinger and Alan Rankin
Up, Michael Silvers and Tom Myers

Best Sound Mixing
The Hurt Locker, Paul N.J. Ottosson and Ray Beckett
Avatar, Christopher Boyes, Gary Summers, Andy Nelson and Tony Johnson
Inglourious Basterds, Michael Minkler, Tony Lamberti and Mark Ulano
Star Trek, Anna Behlmer, Andy Nelson and Peter J. Devlin
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers and Geoffrey Patterson

Best Cinematography
Avatar, Mauro Fiore
The Hurt Locker, Barry Ackroyd
Inglourious Basterds, Robert Richardson
•Das Weisse Band (The White Ribbon), Christian Berger

Best Original Score
Up, Michael Giacchino
Avatar, James Horner
•Fantastic Mr. Fox, Alexandre Desplat
The Hurt Locker, Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders
Sherlock Holmes, Hans Zimmer

Best Visual Effects
Avatar, Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham and Andrew R. Jones
District 9, Dan Kaufman, Peter Muyzers, Robert Habros and Matt Aitken
Star Trek, Roger Guyett, Russell Earl, Paul Kavanagh and Burt Dalton

Best Documentary
•The Cove, Louie Psihoyos and Fisher Stevens
•Burma VJ, Anders Østergaard and Lise Lense-Møller
•Food, Inc., Robert Kenner and Elise Pearlstein
•The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers, Judith Ehrlich and Rick Goldsmith
•Which Way Home, Rebecca Cammisa

Best Editing
The Hurt Locker, Bob Murawski and Chris Innis
Avatar, Stephen Rivkin, John Refoua and James Cameron
District 9, Julian Clarke
Inglourious Basterds, Sally Menke
•Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire, Joe Klotz

Best Foreign Language Film
•El Secreto de Sus Ojos (The Secret in Their Eyes), Argentina
•Ajami, Israel
•La Teta Asustada (The Milk of Sorrow), Peru
•Un Prophète (A Prophet), France
•Das Weisse Band (The White Ribbon), Germany

Best Actor in a Leading Role
•Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart
•George Clooney, Up in the Air
•Colin Firth, A Single Man
•Morgan Freeman, Invictus
•Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker

Best Actress in a Leading Role
•Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side
•Helen Mirren, The Last Station
•Carey Mulligan, An Education
•Gabourey Sidibe, Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
•Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia

Best Director
•Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
•James Cameron, Avatar
•Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds
•Lee Daniels, Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
•Jason Reitman, Up in the Air

Best Picture
•The Blind Side
•Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire
•A Serious Man

Traditionally, I miss work or school for the Oscars. This year is no different. Hehe.

And can I just say that Kathryn Bigelow is mega-hotness.

*some info from oscars.org
pics from IMDb


An Education

Okay, first of all, I didn't like the subject matter.

I never really liked older man-teenage girl romance flicks. That's just...eeewww. At least for me.

But, this film was well-executed.

First, the screenplay was by Nick Hornby. That's the Nick Hornby. It's not based on a Hornby book; he wrote the screenplay based on the memoirs of Lynn Barber.

Second, Alfred Molina was awesome. Alfred Molina is a terrific actor, and he just nails every scene he's in.

Third, Carey Mulligan was surprisingly great. And she got a Best Actress Oscar nomination for this performance. Of course, she's not really sixteen. I mean, this is the movies, for crying out loud. No one really plays their age. And yes, sometimes she comes off as too smart for her age. But she is really pretty. She reminded me of Katie Holmes. A lot. Even her mannerisms and facial twitches were all Katie Holmes. And I also couldn't help but see the parallelism between Katie Holmes and Carey Mulligan's character. Hello, older man=Tom Cruise. Eeewww.

Fourth, Olivia Williams' acting was excellent. She brings out the human side in all seemingly bitchy teachers. And she's totally believable. It's like you've had, or you've heard of, a teacher like that, some time in your scholastic past.

Fifth, Peter Sarsgaard was despicable. Which means he's good. Older men who prey on vulnerable teenage girls should always be despicable.

So there you have it. Those five points I just mentioned override my abhorrence towards the subject matter.

And before I end this, let me just explain the title. The education in this movie happens on two levels: her education in school, and her education in real life. Just watch the film to figure it out.

*some info from IMDb

An Education. UK. 2009.

Rating: Eight out of ten.


Alice in Wonderland. 3D

By now, you will have noticed my obsession with 3D films. Well, let's not call it an "obsession", but rather, a "devotion" to what I consider the medium of the future.

As such, the first part of this review shall be devoted to its 3D-ness, while the second part will be the regular review.

First, I didn't like its 3D-ness. When I was in the theater, I could really sense something was amiss. This wasn't like Avatar.

So when I got home, I researched on it, and confirmed my suspicion: This film was shot in conventional 2D, with the footage converted to 3D in post-production. James Cameron, in all his Avatar arrogance, criticized this, saying that "It doesn't make any sense to shoot in 2D and convert to 3D." Tim Burton felt, however, that 3D cameras were too bulky and expensive, and that there was really no difference between converted 3D and those originally shot with 3D cameras. Well, maybe to regular moviegoers there isn't; but Mr. Burton, there is a difference, because I felt it.

Okay, how did I feel it? I could feel it in the depth of the shots. There was just not enough depth.

And now I consider myself a certified 3D addict. You know you're a 3D addict when you can detect the difference between converted 3D and original 3D footage.

And now, on to the regular review.

This version is based on, but is definitely not, the original Lewis Carroll books of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Those stories were more of a stream-of-consciousness hallucination all throughout. In this version, however, screenwriter Linda Woolverton attempted to put a narrative structure to it, and so it ended up as a retelling (which Tim Burton would vehemently deny). It worked, I must say. But I sort of liked the hallucinatory quality of the Lewis Carroll version.

The first part starts off in Victorian England. And for a moment there, I forgot that this was a Tim Burton film. I can't really imagine Tim Burton directing Sense and Sensibility. It only becomes Burton-esque once Alice enters Wonderland.

Among all the countless visual adaptations of Lewis Carroll's beloved tale, this version, I believe, is the one that truly puts the "mad" in "Mad Hatter". And we can thank Johnny Depp for that. His Hatter was bonkers. Like totally. And even the March Hare was cuckoo.

Helena Bonham Carter, a.k.a. Mrs. Tim Burton, was perfect as the Red Queen. Plus I loved how Burton made her head bigger. Bonham Carter brought a new edge to the Red Queen. Tyranny with insanity.

Anne Hathaway, I now have no doubt about your acting skills. Yeah, she was really great in Rachel Getting Married. But as the White Queen, you could see that she can take any role given to her, and execute it with style. And I now officially have a crush on Anne Hathaway because of her acting prowess.

Mia Wasikowska, I admit that I thought you wouldn't be able to pull this off. But surprisingly, you did. Good job. But you're still not as pretty as I thought you would be.

Crispin Glover, I don't even have to say anything. You are one talented actor. You may not be mainstream enough, but all your fans since Back to the Future know that you are one talented actor. I think I already said that.

And Alan Rickman, I'd know your Severus Snape voice anywhere. But I've nothing against you, as I like you as an actor.

The Cheshire Cat was the best portrayal of the Cheshire Cat I've ever seen, floating around like a ghost, disappearing in a puff of smoke. I can't help but compare this to the animated Disney version, where the cat was more of an annoyance that didn't really help propel the story forward. Oh, wait. The original didn't really have a story. Oh well. The only thing I didn't like was when they addressed the Cheshire Cat as "Ches". Please stop Americanizing Lewis Carroll's creations. Thank you.

And finally, great character design for the Jabberwocky. I think this design was lifted straight out of Sir John Tenniel's illustration. But why oh why did Mr. Burton decide to use Christopher Lee to voice this monster? Again, my only explanation: to milk Mr. Lee for all the movies he can make, before he snuffs it. Sorry if I sound so mean.

Anyway, I've learned a valuable lesson with this movie, one that could save me a lot of money. And that is: Never watch a 3D film that wasn't shot on 3D cameras. If it was just converted 3D footage, just watch it in regular cinemas. You should be paying for the 3D experience, not the conversion.

*some info from IMDb and Wikipedia

Alice in Wonderland. USA. 2010.

Rating: Eight out of ten.
3D-ness: Five out of ten.


Survivor 20th Anniversary Season: Heroes vs. Villains Episode 1

For the record I haven't seen all the Survivor seasons. I think I've seen only four: Survivor 2, 3, and 4, and some episodes of the rest.

So I don't know most of the characters here in Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains. The ones I do know are Colby Donaldson, who now works part-time with Rachel Ray; Jerri, the girl who had the hots for Colby in Season 2; Russell, last season's puppetmaster who only lost because the entire jury was so pissed that they have been conned by him; and Boston Rob, the man who scored Amber and the most famous Survivor: Castaway of All Time.

For the record, I hated Boston Rob the first time I saw him because he double-crossed my favorite Lex in Season 3. But his love story with Amber is endearing, and along with his turns in The Amazing Race, has proven to be incredibly watchable.

Heroes vs. Villains is the theme and in the separate camps, it showed that the Heroes were well-organized and set themselves up quite well.

When it came to the challenges, however, while physically being superior, it turns out that the Heroes were mental midgets. They won the first physical challenge, the two-on-two pseudo-treasure hunt/football challenge because it was entirely physical. They won the first part of the immunity challenge, but lost out when it came to the puzzles because of the sheer brillance of Boston Rob.

The highlight of the show, however, would be Sugar's exposing her boobies while running for a touchdown. Reason Number 27 why I want to be part of the Survivor Crew.

I'm pretty sure that Boston Rob won't win because of the sheer nature of the game. But for now, he IS the show.



Valentine's Day

This movie is just a lame-o excuse to milk moviegoers' pockets on Valentine's Day.

The screenwriters attempted a multi-character narrative, with several subplots woven together. But it failed.

Did it fail because the multi-character style was confusing? No. Well, maybe just a tad bit confusing.

Did it fail because the weaving of the subplots wasn't tight? Not really. It was woven together quite well.

The reason it failed: the individual subplots sucked.

Jennifer Garner and Ashton Kutcher's subplot: Predictable. You could see it coming a mile away.

Jennifer Garner and the Little Kid subplot: No set-up. There was an attempt at misdirection. An attempt. Ho-hum.

Jennifer Garner and Patrick Dempsey subplot: Typical.

Topher Grace and Anne Hathaway subplot: Nice. But only because it's Topher Grace and Anne Hathaway.

Hector Elizondo and Shirley MacLaine a.k.a. The Old Couple subplot: I liked this. Even though it was a bit cliché.

Taylor Swift and Taylor Lautner subplot: Please. Abs + bimbo = bleh.

Ashton Kutcher and Jessica Alba subplot: Okay, then what? What happens to Jessica Alba?

Bradley Cooper and Eric Dane subplot: Where the hell did that come from? No set-up at all.

Julia Roberts and Bradley Cooper subplot: Boo. Just because Bradley Cooper didn't make a move doesn't mean that the subplot above was set up.

Julia Roberts and Little Kid subplot: Win. For being the only non-romantic subplot in the movie. Mothers, please bring a hanky.

Lesson learned: Multi-character and multi-subplot narratives are great, if the individual stories are great, and if they are woven together tight. It has to be all or nothing. You can't have some good individual stories and some not-so-good ones woven together. They have to be all good. Otherwise, it will seem like a smile with some teeth missing.

*some info from IMDb
pic from fanpop.com

Valentine's Day. USA. 2010.

Original rating: Zero stars.
Topher Grace and Anne Hathaway subplot: Two stars.
Hector Elizondo and Shirley MacLaine a.k.a. The Old Couple subplot: Two stars.
Julia Roberts and Little Kid subplot: Two stars.
Trying hard to copy Love Actually but failing: Minus one star.
Final rating: Five stars.


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