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New TV Series: Whodunnit? (2013-) Projected 4 Stars

Finally a good reality show.

Finally a good reality show.

Just watched the first 3 episodes of ABC’s new reality show “Whodunnit?” and it is actually very good.  What makes this reality show good is that it doesn’t feel like one.  The participants are always performing a task which minimizes boring socialization.  In “Whodunnit?” there are 13 guests to live in an old mansion with the butler, the host of the show, Giles.  Every day, a guest is murdered (staged, but pretty realistic) and the remaining guests must attempt to solve the extravagant murder.  The killer is among them but nobody knows who it is, or if it is them self.  Everyone gets an option to visit one of three places for 30 minutes; the morgue to examine the body, the crime scene, or the last known whereabouts.  Since each person can only visit one place, they must converse with the other guests to gather a full story.  Some choose to be honest in return for reciprocal honest information, while others choose to lie or withhold information to heighten their own chances at solving the murder the most correct.  After the guests share/lie/not share information, Giles the butler gives the guests a riddle to solve that will give the last details of the murder needed, but once a guest (or pack of guests) solves the riddle, a bell rings and just those that solved the riddle can examine the last clue while the others return to the dining room.  Guests get a short time to converse again and come nightfall, each person must enter a room alone and give their full theory of the murder including which guest in the house they believe is the killer.  During dinner, Giles arrives and announces which guest was best at solving the murder which makes them “spared” from the next murder.  The remaining guests receive letters and open them one-by-one revealing if they are “spared” or “scared.”  There are 2 or more “scared” guests, meaning that one of them will be murdered next.  The episode ends showing the next murder the guests will have to solve.  “Whodunnit?” was viewed by 4.05 million people during its pilot, 3.20 million during its second episode, and 2.99 million this past Sunday.  I don’t see this series getting cancelled this season, but viewership must steady out around 3 million or it will not return next season.  Check it out On Demand for yourself and enjoy.

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New TV Series: Under the Dome (2013-) Projected 4 Stars

The Dome is not as visible as this poster makes it out to me

The Dome is not as visible as this poster makes it out to be

Got to watch the highly anticipated new CBS drama “Under the Dome” adapted from Stephen King’s novel of the same title the other day and it didn’t disappoint.  The series is slated for just a single 13-episode season, but there are rumors that it may be extended.  This is odd seeing that if they are somewhat true to the novel and the story ends after 13 episodes, what happens next? Anyway, if you end up watching the pilot (and I recommend you do) make sure you do not miss a second, especially the first few minutes.  In a small town, an invisible force field comes down slamming, creating an earthquake like reaction and also slicing a cow in half, which is incredibly gross and is on the screen for way longer than it should.  But that is the point of the plot, unusual things happen in this small town, and the $hit is about to hit the fan.  Dean Norris, Hank from Breaking Bad, leads well acted cast along with Mike Vogel (Bates Motel, Cloverfield, She’s Out of My League).  The series has no risk of getting cancelled because after 13 episodes, it (most likely) ends.  The second episode airs tonight on CBS at 10/9c.  Enough time for you to go On Demand and watch the pilot before tuning in later.  3,252 users on IMDb.com rate it 8.1 (good for a TV Series) and Fitch projects it to be 4 Stars upon completion.

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In Theaters: Man of Steel (2013) 3.5 Stars

Man of Steel dazzles in special effects, but fizzles in plot.

Man of Steel dazzles in special effects, but fizzles in plot.

Saw Man of Steel earlier this week at Showcase Cinemas de Lux in Randolph.  Solid theater as always and it seems they have IMAX screens in all rooms regardless if the screening is actually in IMAX format.  The film itself is full of intense fighting scenes and epic moments, but the plot is too  far-fetched to feel like it could possibly happen.  Alien planet, with a skull that has super powers put into a baby and sent to Earth while the alien planet explodes, BUT the rebel aliens were sent away just before the planet’s demise and lived to chase after Kal-El, the baby.  The film is still enjoyable if you can follow the plot, and the flashbacks work very well.  Henry Cavill can play the part of Superman because he is ripped out of his mind, but is way to modest and lacks intriguing dialog to be everyone’s favorite super hero.  Russell Crowe plays his role the best, having much more screen time than Costner, and Amy Adams plays a good Lois Lane with her resilient attitude.  Not sure about everyone else, but all I think about when seeing Michael Shannon play General Zod is him as Frankie Lombardo in Kangaroo Jack (2003).  Overall the cinematography is blockbuster-like, as expected, the acting is decent, but the plot is too crazy for many.  With a 7.9 on IMDb.com and 56% on rottentomatoes.com, Fitch’s film reviews gives it 3.5 stars.

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In Theaters: The Internship (2013) 4 Stars

The critics look too much into The Internship; take it for what it is: FUNNY

The critics look too much into The Internship; take it for what it is: FUNNY

Another matinee showing yesterday but this time I went to Braintree AMC Theater and saw The Internship with Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson.  The price was relatively high for a mid-day screening at $8.75 per ticket, but is well worth it because of their new recliners, speakers, screens, and 4K projectors.  Also, their regular price is unbeatable at just 10.50 per ticket.  The Internship follows two men in their forties, Billy McMahon and Nick Campbell, as the company they sell watches for crumbles and ceases to exist, leaving them old and unemployed.  They apply for a summer internship at Google which makes for a very unique plot.  It has been 7 years since Vaughn and Wilson paired up in Wedding Crashers and the beginning of the film actually feels like they are on their way to crash a wedding.  If you look up other reviews online you will see a lot more negative reviews than positive and I don’t understand why because I really enjoyed the film.  Vaughn and Wilson have great chemistry and are hilarious in this PG-13 film that feels like it should be R rated.  Seeing Google headquarters is astonishing and all the young adult actors chosen were very talented.  Quick-witted as expected, The Internship is sure to fill you with laughter and satisfaction.  The critics are wrong on this one, 4 Stars from Fitch.

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In Theaters: This Is the End (2013) 4 Stars

Literally just saw This Is the End and I was laughing hysterically the entire movie.  With James Franco, Jonah Hill, Seth Rogan, Jay Baruchel, Danny McBride, and Craig Robinson playing themselves during an Apocalyptic attack, it is comedic genius.  The script is very well written in a sense that I feel this movie, though a wild idea and strictly meant for laughs, contains some of the better performances of each actors careers.  If you like any of these actors, go see this movie.  I promise that you will not be disappointed.  The seats may smell terrible and the popcorn might be stale, but you will laugh so hard you will forget that you are at Patriot Cinemas in Hanover, at least that’s what happened to me.

Is this considered "acting without acting"?

Is this considered “acting without acting”?

Continued: SPOILERS

The best part about this film is that you never know if the entire plot is dream, or all the actors stoned out of their minds.  Co-directed by Seth Rogan, he and Evan Goldberg (writer of The Watch, Goon, Green Hornet, Pineapple Express, and Superbad) created a comedic horror film without being  ‘Scary Movie-esque,’ which is very difficult to do and this approach may be the only plausible way to do so.  Goldberg wrote the short story “Jay and Seth Versus the Apocalypse” back in 2007 that was filmed but is actually just a trailer for an unmade film. See here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ehNFPShWTsg

The film starts out with Jay visiting Seth in LA for the first time in forever and they end up going to James Franco’s house warming party that features many more actors and celebrities playing themselves including Michael Cera, Jason Segal, Rihanna, Emma Watson, and Mindy Kaling, just to name a few.  Suddenly blue beams strike the Earth and lift people up to the sky indicating a possible alien attack but then there is a sink hole and, to quote a line from Jonah Hill, there are many fatalities.  Baruchel mentions many times that the attack may be the event predicted in the Bible, which eventually is the truth and each actor must prove their worthiness to be lifted to heaven.

IMBd users and critics gave this film a 7.8 rating; Rotten Tomatoes gives it 81% fresh; and, most of all, Fitch gives it 4 Stars.

P.S. Backstreet is definitely back, alright! (Go see the movie, you’ll know what I mean)

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In Theaters: Now You See Me (2013) 3.5 Stars

I went to see “Now You See Me” at Patriot Cinemas in Hanover last night and there was a surprising UPGRADE in the theater…new cup holders.  What a joke.  The place smells terrible and their seats have had gum on them from 1996, you’d think they would put whole new seats in but that will never happen.  Anyway, Now You See Me has received mixed ratings from critics; 42% on rotten tomatoes and 3 stars from rogerebert.com.  I was pleasantly surprised with the acting; Jesse Eisenstein is quick-tongued as usual, Woody Harrelson is charming, Mark Ruffalo is extraordinary, and Isla Fisher proves that she can be much more than a stage 5 clinger.  Big names such as Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine seemed to be unnecessary since their quotes are very high and their roles were fairly minor.

Seen in the trailer, Atlas switches the cuffs from his wrists to Rhodes'.

Seen in the trailer, Atlas switches the cuffs from his wrists to Rhodes’.

Continued: SPOILERS

The cinematography of this film may make you uneasy at times due to the fast paced camera movements and quick cuts.  However, this technique is only used at times but is always risky.  Changing the camera techniques throughout a film are a normal thing, but the timing of them are what’s important.  In the beginning, the changes are pleasant to the viewer, but near the 2/3rds mark they become distracting.  Director Louis Leterrier created Transporter 1 and 2, The Incredible Hulk (the Edward Norton one), and Clash of the Titans, all big action movies.  Now You See Me is more of a thriller than an action film, with much more dialog and important actors, so Leterrier’s normal form had to change a bit, which is noticed.

In the film, an FBI detective and Interpol detective hunt down magicians that have been brought together by a hooded figure forming “The Four Horsemen” whom, during live performances, rob a bank and steal from their benefactor.  They do not keep the money for themselves, but rather give it to their deserving crowds.  The action is based around a game of cat and mouse and the audience is clearly supposed to root for the magicians, with speculation of a fifth horseman hiding in plain sight.  All of the stunning magic performed by the four horseman are explained and visualized throughout the film leading up to a surprising ending that even I did not see coming.  The worst part about this film was the love interest that made absolutely zero sense.  No sparks flew and there was never enough screen time to build any time of relationship never mind a romantic one where a life threatening secret is on the line.  I gave this film 3.5 Stars because although it was good and I enjoyed it, it could have been better and the attempt at a love story ending was pointless.

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Just Watched: Argo (2012) 4.5 Stars

Yes, I know what you all are thinking, “how can you just be seeing this now?! you’re a damn film studies minor!”  Listen, I saw the trailer before it came out and saw Ben Affleck with a beard and a 70’s haircut.  At that moment I was out and I didn’t want to turn back.  It took being bored the other afternoon and Argo being the only Blu Ray disc in the house that I had not seen yet so I threw it in, and I’m glad I did.  Looking back I don’t think the trailer did the film justice, because if I had known it was going to be historical, suspenseful, funny, and half based in Hollywood during the early 80s, I would have gotten past Affleck’s terrible hair and went to the theater.

Argo f*** yourself

Argo f*** yourself

Continued: SPOILERS

The best scene in this film is easily when Lester, played by Alan Arkin pictured above, is being interviewed on the fake film ‘Argo’ and is questioned multiple times about what Argo actually is and he finally answers (with food in his mouth) “I don’t know, Argo f*** yourself!”  This becomes a tag line for Arkin, Affleck, and Goodman when going through with the plan and it is a simple but effective way to lighten the mood and get laughs from the audience.  Of course the plot of Argo is Tony Mendez, played by Affleck, leads a joint CIA-Canadian secret operation to extract six American fugitive diplomats from Iran.  There were many plans before the Argo fake movie plan but each of them were terrible with Jack O’Donnell, played by Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston, saying that plan Argo was “the best worst plan,” which is definitely was.  Argo is also directed by Affleck using great camera movements and cuts, especially during the end of the film where Mendez is trying to get the fugitives passed Iranian military at the airport.  The suspense and tension is so great that I began to sweat and my heart was racing.  That is when you know you are watching a great film and I regret overlooking it.

Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 96% fresh rating; Users on IMDb.com give it a 7.9 rating; Fitch gives it 4.5 Stars.