Resin Heroes

Top movies of 2004
Here's my annual list of the top movies of 2004. Look for an in depth column on this subject appearing over at The Fort Wayne Reader in a few weeks. This year was one of the better years in recent memory for movies. It makes going to the cinema on a weekly basis worth while again!

(In an odd bit of coincidence, one actor appeared in two of the movies in this list in featured supporting roles. If you can figure out who HE is, send me an e-mail and I'll publish your name in this column.)

Here's the bare bones list:

The best movie of the year – Collateral. Tom Cruise plays Vincent, an assassin assigned to kill the prosecutor and witnesses of a major case set to go against a crime family in modern day Los Angeles. Jamie Fox plays Max, an unlucky cab driver that just happens to pick up Vincent as a fare but is wrangled into driving him around all night as he goes from hit to hit. Shot on digital video, Collateral gives it’s setting of L.A. an almost nightmarish quality. Eyes glow from ambient light and the night sky burns a putrid orange from the light pollution below.

The rest, in alphabetical order:
The Alamo – I thought The Alamo was a unique look at the Alamo siege while, at the same time, providing an interesting perspective on the defenders such as David (don’t call him Davy) Crocket. I felt that The Alamo did one thing that the multitude of Alamo movies and specials have failed to do; humanize the characters.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – The movie unfolds in a seemingly jumbled manner, with events from the past being intermingled with current and future events. But it somehow all works in the end. And on second viewing all makes perfect sense.

Garden State – It’s hard to say just how much Garden State hit home with me when I first saw it. Many of the details in the movie seemed to mirror my own life; from a death in my immediate family, growing older and even meeting friends from high school after not seeing them for nearly a decade. It is once in a rare while that a movie strikes me in such a way.

Napoleon Dynamite
– It’s wild and wacky. The kids and teens of today will be watching Dynamite on TBS twenty years from now reliving old memories. (And I along with them.)

Spartan – Spartan sounds like the generic spy-drama that has been made a million times before but Spartan is wholly different. Like in real life, the characters don't spell the plot out for the audience or talk in an unnaturalistic manner. And, like in life, the plot of Spartan is a bit messy. People are killed when the audience least expects it. Major characters die.

Read the top movies of 2003 (according to Dangerous Universe) here.

By Bert Ehrmann

Top television shows of 2004
Somewhere, somehow, the 2004-2005 television season became a goldmine of creative and interesting shows. Who would have guessed that one of the most viewed shows of the season would be about a group of people trapped on a desert island while a spin-off of one of the most horrible, and successful, shows of all time (Friends) would be struggling in the ratings? Every year people across the country hope for a good television season, this year the networks (other than the constantly good shows from HBO) delivered.

The best show on television this year would have to be David Milch's epic tale of life in a real frontieer town – Deadwood. I had been looking forward to Deadwood for some time ever since I saw the first previews on HBO late in 2003. Set in South Dakota in the late 1800's, Deadwood follows the boomtown of the same name. Here, the town of Deadwood is a haven for all things criminal and illegal being located outside the United States and out of the reach of any sort of real law enforcement. Not only is the story beind Deadwood a good one, it features some of the best characters to grace television screens since The Sopranos, namely Timothy Olyphant in a career defining role of Seth Bullock and Ian McShane as the criminal head of the town Al Swearengen.

I fell in love with the show shortly after the first episode and was watching it religiously week after week. I know a lot of people were turned off to Deadwood by the constant swearing by the characters in the first episode. (Which was toned back for subsiquent episodes.) However, I feel that what Milch was trying to show that the same ills that plague modern day society also plagued societies of the past.

Deadwood has got what a lot of other shows lack – a sort of true realistic grit.

The rest in alphabetical order:
Arrested Development Arrested Development follows the Bluth family as they cope with the head of the family, George (Jeffrey Tambor), being arrested for shady accounting practices at the family real-estate company. George is thrown in prison and the courts freeze the family’s wealth. Most families would be concerned with the father locked away in jail; the Bluths are mostly concerned about their lost money and the fact that they might have to get jobs and work for a living. Enter Michael Bluth (Jason Bateman), the only responsible member of the family who’s put in charge of the company and forced into the role of surrogate family head. Michael immediately puts himself at odds with the family after he tells them that the easy days of expensing luxury items to the company are over.

The comedy from Arrested Development arises from Michael trying to do the right thing by both his family and the courts and the family trying to stop him every step of the way in order to keep assets hidden and themselves a few dollars richer. It’s the family from The Cosby Show only dysfunctional in a 21st century kind of way.

– At first, I didn't care too much for Entourage. After watching the first episode I was a bit turned off by the characters. Sure, Entourage hit true as to what it's like for a group of guy friends to hang out together. But I didn't feel that I could like the characters. I was wrong. By the third episode I was hooked.

Entourage follows new hot movie star Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) who is coming off a highly successful movie and is trying to land his next role. In reality, though, the series focus is on a member of Vincent's "entourage" and friend from back home Eric (Kevin Connolly). Eric is thrust into becoming Vincent's manager and is tasked with landing his next role all the while Vincent and the rest of the entourage do their best to party and spend Vincent's money. My guess is that Entourage is the most accurate look into the Hollywood movie industray since Fox's 1999 failed sitcom Action.

LostThe series follows a group of airline passengers stranded on a deserted island after a violent crash. The survivors quickly realize that they must band together if they have any hope of surviving. Not only do they have to deal with the lack of food and clean drinking water, the survivors must also face a very large “monster” roaming the island when it makes it’s presence known by consuming the jet’s co-pilot. So far, the audience has yet to see the beast other than as it travels through the jungle knocking down trees.

Lost is so much more than a simple tale of people crashed on a deserted island. I would say that Lost is an interesting character study on the effects of a high stress environment on different types of people who’ve never met before suddenly forced to live together and depend on one and other for survival.

Veronica MarsThe basic plot of Veronica Mars follows teenage Veronica Mars as she deals with high school by day while working at her father’s detective agency by night. However, much like Lost, a simple synopsis of the show’s plot will not suffice. Like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Veronica Mars’s basic plotline is a springboard into something more. Much more. There are two levels of story in Veronica Mars.

A few years prior to the events chronicled in the show, Veronica Mars’ best friend Lily was murdered. When Veronica’s dad, then the city’s sheriff, placed the blame of Lily’s father, the town turned their back on him and voted him out of office. And when Veronica didn’t turn her back on her father like everyone wanted her to, she was thrown out of the popular group in school.

One level is the very basic Veronica solving cases. But there’s a whole other level to the series in a second underlying sometimes-disturbing storyline of Veronica looking for the murderer of Lily.

The Office Christmas Special – What can I say that I haven't said before about the greatness that is The Office? Simply put, The Office series, all fourteen and some odd hours, was the best fourteen and some odd hours of comedy on television. And The Office Christmas Special was the prefect ending to The Office series. It's a shame that it's all over for the show.

Read the top television shows of 2003 (according to Dangerous Universe) here.

By Bert Ehrmann

Television pilots
I've been making updates to the 2005-2006 television pilot season. Learn about the "gay brother" and French Connection: The Series. (Yes, I'm quite serious.)

Check out the updates here.

By Bert Ehrmann

Here's an interesting perspective on the tsunami(s) that ravaged parts of the world this week:

The figures, as of today 12/30/04, state that some 60,000 110,000 people have been killed by the tsunamis. If the current world population is around 6.4 billion, according to the U.S. census, then the tsunamis have killed 1/107,000th 1/58,000th of the world's population. Somehow it's odd to think that (technically) every person on the planet last Sunday had a 1 in a little more than 100,000 58,000 chance of being killed by the tsunamis, much better odds than winning the big bucks in the lottery.

Make a donation to the American Red Cross to help the survivors of this massive disaster

By Bert Ehrmann

The Aviator (2004)
The Aviator was an intenerating look into the life of Howard Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio) – then again there isn’t many other Hughes movie biopics to choose from. Screenwriter John Logan almost suggests that the mental illness Hughes was afflicted with was one of the driving factors behind his companies’ successes.

This movie does well where most other biopics fail – it focuses on a short given set of years on the subject and doesn't skip over the minor details in favor of painting a larger picture. Here, The Aviator focuses on about 20 years of Hughes life, from the late 1920's to the late 1940's and not into his later life. (Though this movie does not gloss over the long fingernail germ-a-phobe Hughes either.)

I still can't quite get over how harrowing the scene is where Hughes crashes a plane and is caught in the wreckage as fuel spills and burns around him. I literally had the sense that at any moment Hughes might burn alive even knowing that Hughes would live on for nearly thirty more years. 9/10

By Bert Ehrmann

Battlestar Galactica
Available on DVD today (12/28) is the best sci-fi mini-series to come out in quite some time; Battlestar Galactica. Last December, I described the series as:

The new Battlestar Galactica mini-series (…) could be one of the greatest sci-fi mini series ever grace the television airwaves. Period. It's nice to see a show that could have turned out bad instead exceed expectations. And I didn't even mind that Starbuck was a girl! (Read the whole review for yourself here.)

Pick up the DVD for yourself to see just what a quality sci-fi series looks like. (And no, neither of the Stargate series is "quality sci-fi, it's space-opera dreck that should have died out long ago.) And don't forget to watch Battlestar Galactica the series, spun out of this mini-series, premiering on The Sci Fi Channel Friday 1/14/05.

By Bert Ehrmann

Richard Matheson
Cool line about the end of the world from Richard Matheson's short story entitled "The Last Day," as the Earth slowly spirals into the Sun doomed to a fiery death:

The whole world was going. The staggering detail of evolutions and revolutions, of strifes and clashes, of endless continuities of centuries streaming back into the clouded past, of rocks and trees and animals and men. All to pass. In a flash, in a moment. The pride, the vanity of man's world incinerated by a freak of astronomical disorder.

This and other stories are featured in the book "Duel: Terror Stories By Richard Matheson."

By Bert Ehrmann

Sin City
Check out trailer for the upcoming movie adaptation of the comic book Sin City. This movie looks absolutely stunning.

See the trailer here. Read more about the Sin City video shown to comic book fans back in July here.

By Bert Ehrmann

Fox will be running a two hour block of their excellent series House Monday (12/27) night from 8:00 P.M. to 10:00 P.M. (EST). If you haven't seen the show, now would be a good time to start watching since these two episodes will be repeats. The first episode of the series will again be aired on Tuesday January 4. Check out House for one of the most unique title characters to come along in some time.

By Bert Ehrmann

Happy Xmas
Merry Christmas from Dangerous Universe.

By Bert Ehrmann

Dirty War
An interesting looking mini series about the possibility of terrorists exploding a "dirty bomb" in a city center is the theme of a movie premiering on HBO January 24, 2005 entitled Dirty War. (Though the lucky Brits saw it first last September.) From HBO:

A fictional thriller that features intrigue, espionage and breakneck-pace action, this HBO Films drama, based on extensive factual research, tells the hypothetical story of the planning and execution of a "dirty bomb" terrorist attack on central London and its terrifying aftermath. Warned by a number of sources that both terrorists and materials used for radioactive weapons have entered Great Britain, members of Scotland Yard - including an Islamic undercover detective and several high-ranking terrorism experts - do their best to identify and apprehend the perpetrators before their dirty bomb is constructed and detonated, but their efforts fall short. When the bomb goes off in the heart of London's financial center, the city's inadequate emergency-services plans are put to an immediate test - with disturbing results for a population ill-prepared to understand or obey anti-contamination and quarantine orders.

Supposedly, the movie is shot in a realistic documentary style, like Threads which also was produced and aired in Britain in 1984. (And is one of the most frightening films of all time about the terrors of full scale nuclear war.)

Learn more about Dirty War on HBO and BBC. Learn more about Threads in my article entitled "So it's the end of the world. Does that mean you've given up the right to be entertained?", on Ashley Pomeroy's site and Barry Hine's site.

By Bert Ehrmann

Kingdom of Heaven
Check out the cool looking trailer for Ridley Scott's upcoming Kingdom of Heaven here. You can read a bit more about this movie in my article "Summer movies are all the rage this winter."

By Bert Ehrmann

The Office – U.S.
More information on, what I assumed was dead, the U.S. version of the hit British show The Office, set in Scranton New Jersey and retitled The Office: An American Workplace:

"You know those Valentine's Day cards and Halloween cards you get when you're a kid?" said Daniels, a New York City native whose closest contact with Scranton has been a trip or two to the Poconos. "You'd turn them to the back and they'd say, 'Made in Scranton.'"

Turns out, those cards are produced at the Scranton-based Paper Magic Group. This is significant in that "The Office: An American Workplace" takes place at the fictitious Dunder-Mifflin paper distribution company (on the British version, whose reruns air on the cable channel BBC-America, the company's name is Wernham-Hogg)

"It seems to me that the people (of Scranton) have had an industrial history that's similar to England," he said.

"Also, it's close to New York, but not close enough that people would commute," Daniels continued, noting his assumption that most Scrantonians don't visit New York all that much, just like the residents of Slough don't often travel to London.

The city won't come up a tremendous amount in the show's first six episodes, but Daniels assured its presence will be felt. Through the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce, the show has received a number of Scranton-specific props — newspapers, phone books, posters — that have been incorporated into the scripts.

For instance, in one episode, a character becomes obsessed with Red Barons Bobblehead dolls. In another, the office staff orders lunch from Cugino's in Dunmore.

Read the whole story here.

By Bert Ehrmann

Fort Wayne Reader
Read my latest column entitled "Lost about what to watch on television this season?"

By Bert Ehrmann

Winter Solstice
It's the shortest day of the year for those living north of the Equator. Here's to longer days because somehow nine hours of daylight just doesn't cut it.

By Bert Ehrmann

Battlestar Galactica
Sci has posted some interesting looking teaser trailers for the upcoming Battlestar Galactica series on thier site. Each of these videos features a character from the series talking about themselves, the war with the Cylons and has them saying the (apparent) tagline for the series "The war is over, the fight has just begun."

See the videos for yourself here.

Battlestar Galactica the series starts airing on the Sci Fi Channel here in the U.S. Friday January 14, 2005.

By Bert Ehrmann

Lord of the Rings
Here's a thought – The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King special extended edition was recently released on DVD coming in at a whopping 4.3 hour in length. What I find odd is that director Peter Jackson fails to tell the whole Lord of the Rings story in 4.3 hours, but just the last third. (In fact the whole extended story takes something like eleven and a half hours to play out over three movies, more a mini-series than a movie.)

Think of it like this; in the same time that it takes The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King to play once Howard Hawk's The Thing From Another World would play 3 times, Memento 2 times or Narc 2 times. And each of these other movies actually tell a whole coherent story in their runtime whereas each Lord of the Rings movie is totally dependent on the other two to form some semblance of a story.

People will look back from the future and take pity on us for having sat through the The Lord of the Rings movies.

By Bert Ehrmann

HBO is starting to promote shows that will start premiering next year (2005). One show is called Unscripted and is from Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney – the team and brought K Street to HBO in 2003. According to Zap 2 It, Unscripted "will follow the lives of three actors (…) as they try to break through in Hollywood while also dealing with more mundane aspects of daily life."

The other new show is called Rome and, according to the site Ciran Hinds Work, is "A saga set during the last years of Julius Caesar's reign, centered on two Roman soldiers, Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo, and their families."

Unscripted is due to start airing in January while Rome won't hit television screens until next fall. The trailer featuring these two shows is called the "Yearender 2004 Television Spot" and is located in the video player.

By Bert Ehrmann

I'm shocked I'm beating Bert to this, but the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory teaser is out. You can watch it at yahoo. Hopefully Bert'll edit this and put some stills or the link up for you folks and make it a bit easier.

By Alex Faurote

What I am tempted to call the best movie of the year, Collateral, is out on DVD next Tuesday 12/14. Do yourself a favor and go pick yourself up an early Christmas present.

By Bert Ehrmann

Doctor Who
A teaser commercial for the upcoming series has been released on here.

By Bert Ehrmann

Land of the Dead
First look at the zombies of Land of the Dead here.

By Bert Ehrmann

Batman Begins
Check out the first teaser poster for the upcoming movie Batman Begins here.

By Bert Ehrmann

Play Half Life 2. Or I'll send over the Head Crabs

About 2 weeks ago, I embarked upon a quest once again into my Money, Time (and Blood) sucking PC. The good folks at Valve Software finally released the sequel to one of the most bad-ass PC games ever, and once again, it was time for me to pick up my crow bar and dent some skulls

That being said, a little background if you will... The story starts with our good friend/scientest Gordon Freeman performing a (supposively) routine Extra-Dimensional test in the Black Mesa complex, somewhere out in the desert of the States. Unbeknownst to him, the test goes horribly arwy, and Extra-Dimensional Aliens start showing up all through-out the complex. Gordon's ultimate role becomes one of escape from the Black Mesa Complex.

However, not all goes well for our good Hero, and Gordon (at the end of the first game) is offered a opportunity to serve the good G-man who has apparently caused the whole incident to happen. Gordon is then knocked out cold, until now....

As Half-Life 2 starts out, Good Ole Gordon is brought in to a location called City 17 (supposively a safe location from the invading forces on Earth) via a train, and once again begins his quest to pick up a crow bar, destroy aliens, and basically kick some serious ass. However, now Gordon faces a whole slew of new enemies, including the Combine, a "Gestapo" type organization who try and subject all surviving humans into slavery. Overall, it has a eerie semblance to War of the Worlds with all its Alien/Scientific Hooplah.

Right off from the start, you can really see the detail that the Valve developers had put into the game. The engine behind the game "Source", not only give the game its asthetic appeal with graphics, but it also brings in a bit more, by allowing the actual player to interact with the physics of Gordon's surroundings. Not only do objects move with certain characteristics (such as breaking a bottle), the game engine also allows you to pick items up, orient them to any position you want, or trash them. "From pebbles to water to 2-ton trucks respond as expected, as they obey the laws of mass, friction, gravity, and buoyancy".

With this implementation, a whole new aspect of First Person Shooters come into play. Gordon can now push around carts, pick up boxes, smash glass, explode "Flammable" Gas Drums, destroy fences, etc etc. To sum it all up: You can blow/break/smash tons of stuff, just for fun! One of the unique tools involved in this is the Gravity Gun, capable of picking up items and hurling them any direction that Gordon so desires. (I found this VERY enjoyable to torment NPCs with).

After playing it for the amount of time I've had, I've gotta say that Half-Life 2 rates about a 9.6 overall. Graphics, Gameplay, Sound (in surround), and Storyline all keep you in the game. I have yet to run across a dull moment, although I do wish for a flamethrower, so i could toast some "Head Crabs".

Check it out here: Half Life 2

Also Check out "Steam", Valve's Online distribution software if you'd like to purchase the game: Steam

By Mo Alexander

I guess the "fine arts" are truly dead. From BBC:

A white gentlemen's urinal has been named the most influential modern art work of all time.

Marcel Duchamp's Fountain came top of a poll of 500 art experts in the run-up to this year's Turner Prize which takes place on Monday.

Read the whole story here.

By Bert Ehrmann

War of the Worlds
The site for the War of the Worlds movie/remake, due in theaters next summer, has gone live. There's little there for the moment other than an image and tagline for the movie; "They're Already Here." I'm guessing that the image of the Martian hand holding the Earth will also be used as the main image for the teaser poster due out any day. I genuinely like this image and hope it is used as the teaser poster. It's simple yet carries weight and tells a story without being overbearing.

Check out the site and larger version of the image here.
Read previous Dangerous Universe War of the Worlds coverage here.

By Bert Ehrmann

The Heretic
I was looking through the reviews of the newly released Spider-Man 2 DVD on and noticed that the movie had almost 100% positive reviews. As I scrolled down the page I took note of a lone negative review from someone dubbed "The Heretic" who said about Spider-Man 2, "Boring, miscast, and one of the WORST movies of the year!" Which is a bit surprising since even I, a jaded movie going geek, thought that Spider-Man 2 was one of the best movies of the summer. I had to learn more about this reviewer.

When I clicked to read more reviews for "The Heretic", I was stunned to learn what this person thought about some of the best and worst movies and music in history. On the classic movie Scarface, which rated a 7.8 out of 10 on the Internet Movie Database, "The Heretic" says, "You're better off watching drying paint than this overrated garbage." Though "The Heretic" might not like a classic like Scarface, he/she really liked the the long winded stinker Pearl Harbor, 5.5/10, raving "Great performances, an original storyline, and an important lesson in history. You can't get any better than this. And "Pearl Harbor" is much better than the overrated and vulgar "Saving Private Ryan." (Of course, Saving Private Ryan only got 8.3/10 and voted the 59th most popular movie out of the top 250 on the Internet Movie Database as voted by thousands of site visitors.)

What really stunned me was that "The Heretic" seems to prefer the world's worst music when it comes to CDs. On Justin Timberlake's album Justified, "The Heretic" said, "Justified" is the greatest album of all time, and Justin won a Grammy like he deserved to. Music was pretty much worthless before Justin Timberlake." He/she went onto say about Hilary Duff's album, "Hardcore punk from the most exciting singer in years!" Interesting, somehow I've never heard the words "hardcore punk" and Hilary Duff in the same sentence. Perhaps they meant to say, "Wuss music from the singer trying to be most like Brittany Spears in years!"

Adding insult to injury, "The Heretic" had this to say about The Beatles, "I like teen pop like anybody else, but this is ridiculous. And who did their hair? I'm not liking it! And what's up with the song "Eight Days a Week?" Somebody better tell John Lennon that there are seven, not eight, days in a week!"

Is this reviewer stupid, in need of some serious medication, or scamming everyone in a complex piece of performance art? Heck, even I'm not sure!

You be the judge, read all of these "performance pieces" here.

By Bert Ehrmann

King Kong
The first look at Peter (The Lord of the Rings) Jackson's King Kong due in theaters Christmas '05.

Larger view here.

By Bert Ehrmann

Waiting for the snow to start in northeast Indiana. Christ, is it winter already?

By Bert Ehrmann

Fort Wayne Reader
Read my take on what's going to be hot in theaters next summer in my latest column up over at the Fort Wayne Reader; Summer movies are all the rage this winter.

By Bert Ehrmann

The Evil Dead
Say it ain't so, Raimi, say it ain't so. Why remake a classic like The Evil Dead!? From Yahoo:

The Spider-Man helmer, who shot to fame scaring the bejesus out of moviegoers as the writer, director and producer of the 1981 cult horror classic The Evil Dead, has unveiled plans for a remake, Daily Variety reports.

Raimi will develop the new Dead installment through his Ghost House Pictures with an assist from the production company Senator International and the film's original producing partners, Rob Tapert and Bruce Campbell.

By Bert Ehrmann

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Yahoo has posted a whole slew of images for the upcoming movie here.

By Bert Ehrmann

Movie Reviews
I've posted a few short movie reviews up over on the Fort Wayne Reader Forums here. Movies I've reviewed include; The Incredibles, Talk Radio, Cross of Iron and Dracula.

By Bert Ehrmann

Arrested Development

Hilarious. If you're not watching Arrested Development you don't know what you're missing.

By Bert Ehrmann

Snubbing Private Ryan
Interesting take on several ABC affiliates refusing to air the movie Saving Private Ryan over their objections to content:

"Saving Private Ryan" is just the kind of movie we should want people to watch. It's a great human story set in a crucial time. The folks at home might even learn a little history by the time the credits roll.

Sure, some of the language is salty. But that's how the soldiers talked in World War II. Sure, some of the footage is tough. But then again, the Normandy invasion wasn't exactly a picnic on the beach.

These were American boys, taking close-range German fire, risking and losing their lives. How is it supposed to look? What are they supposed to say? Isn't freedom what they were fighting for?

Maybe we'll have to limit ourselves to "Hogan's Heroes" reruns. Maybe Gomer can speak for everyone.

"Gosh, sergeant! I didn't know they'd be shooting at us!"

I suppose Tom Hanks could have read those lines if he had to. But somehow, "Saving Private Ryan" wouldn't have been the same.

Read the whole article here.

By Bert Ehrmann

Saving Private Ryan
Thank you "Miss. Nasty" for putting the fear of god into television programmers. From BBC:

More than 20 TV stations across the US have cancelled a broadcast of Saving Private Ryan over fears they could be fined for its violence and language.

The stations, all affiliated to the ABC network, do not want to risk a penalty for prime-time graphic war scenes.

I'd welcome a return to a kinder, gentler version of network television. Because, let's face it, bad language and violence are things that do not exist in the real world, they're made up for television. And we can erase these things from our lives if we erase them from television.

(Are people really this dumb? Thank god for HBO.)

By Bert Ehrmann

Willy Wonka
First look at Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka and a few of the other characters in the upcoming remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory here.

By Bert Ehrmann

The What? The Who? Oh yeah.. Um.. The Grudge.

Alrighty, Well I guess I really gotta stop doing this, cause my last couple of strikes at the theater have been tankers... And the Grudge wasn't any diamond in the rough..

Since Kristin and I had the past weekend to ourselves, we decided to try out something different at the movies, and catch a "promising" horror flick at the local AMC. Ergo, we decided to check out "The Grudge" starring Sarah Michelle Gellar. Dear god what were we thinking???

Our story starts out in Tokyo (Godzilla's stompin ground)with Bill Pulman doing a nose dive out of his 10 story apartment balcony into the street below. Of course no one knows what or why, but it you would think it would infuse a bit of the "serious tone" of the movie into the plot. ****BUZZZZ**** Incorrect! I actually found myself laughing at it.

The Scene changes to a young Japanese house-caretaker coming to visit some elderly white woman(???) at her home, only to hear odd noises eminating from the attic. OF COURSE she goes to investigate, and OF COURSE pays for her mistake by being dragged by whatever it is up to the attic.

Ok by this part I'm thinking that a lot of people are going to wander aimlessly into their own deaths, so I figure this might turn out to be good after all. Enter Sarah Michelle Gellar. Now, one would think that after her days of "Buffy-Dom" and "Scooby Doo-in", she would be ready to rock and kick whatever the hell outta whatever the hell the Grudge is.. Right??

*****BUZZZZZ******* "I thank you for playing Family Feud, you are the weakest link, GOODBYE." Buffy turns out to be the nurses replacement, and of course goes to visit the house to take care of the old lady for her "College Credits". Why the hell she is in Japan going to college is beyond me.

Being the next "Dumb girl in line to most likely get killed" She begins to take care of the old senile woman, until she hears noises upstairs on the second floor. So, she's JUST gotta go investigate, cause, she is Buffy after all.. Anyhow, she walks into a bedroom with the sliding closet taped shut with packaging tape. In the closet, appears to sound like, a cat.

Now me being a cat owner, I know for a fact that if a damn cat is put in a closet and the closet is taped shut, YOU DO NOT LET THE CAT OUT!!!!!!!! Buffy, being the brave chick that she is, rips down the tape, only to find a little boy and a black cat stuffed inside the closet.

Well, rather than bore you, Ill sum up. Basically Buffy finds out about "the Grudge" that is created when "unspeakable or horrific events happen" and how it decides to haunt the location and punish those who are stupid enough to visit the site. Buffy also gets to find out about how the family of the old lady dies, along with why Bill Pullman decided to do a Nose Dive off his balcony. Oh did I forget to mention that is a dumb kid and his mom doing all the killing? Yeah..

Good points of the Movie: Um gee this is a diffucult one.. Oh how about "Joxer the Mighty" being in it, that good enough?... Um gee Oh okay how about the scene with the crazed japanese nurse returning to her work with her jaw missing?

Bad Points of the Movie: The horrible acting, The SHEAR stupidity of the people in this movie, and how they "Just let themselves get killed". *Ever think about picking up a bat and BEATING DOWN the stupid little kid trying to kill you?!*, The poor sense of imagery and sets.. Its very clear that this movie was filmed under a fortune cookie budget, The Odd "Gurgling noise" that the Mom and kid made when trying to terrify and kill everyone, and the sad fact that I was REALLY rooting for Godzilla to come into town and smash the hell out it.

So, If you got 8 bucks to spend, save yourself the trouble and go rent some Godzilla flicks instead. Youll get the same effect, only there wont be any white people in it.

Here's the link for the website: The Grudge

By Mo Alexander

Best Buy
Best Buy to 20% of their customers, "Drop Dead:"

Best Buy estimates that as many as 100 million of its 500 million customer visits each year are undesirable. And the 54-year-old chief executive wants to be rid of these customers.

Read the whole story here.

I can see it now, Best Buy can hire ex-airport screeners to man their entrances and check people entering their stores. "Excuse me sir, are you carrying any major credit cards, debit cards, or large sums of cash? No? Just browsing? Sorry sir, I can't allow you on the premises unless you intend to spend $100 or more…"

By Bert Ehrmann

Veronica Mars
UPN has picked up Veronic Mars for a full season despite not so great viewer numbers. From Yahoo:

UPN has given the thumbs-up to critically acclaimed new dramas "Veronica Mars" and "Kevin Hill," giving both shows full-season pickups.

Read the whole story here.

By Bert Ehrmann

The Fort Wayne Reader
Check out my latest column up over at The Fort Wayne Reader, an ode to the television show Arrested Development; The Number One Comedy on Television Can’t Get Arrested.

Also, check out Dangerous Universe over on the Fort Wayne Reader Forums. From time to time I'll be posting interesting information over there. Be sure to read my movies of the week for this week where I give a short review to five movies (four of which you've probably never heard of before).

Visit the forums here.

By Bert Ehrmann

Star Wars, Episode III
See the trailer for the last Star Wars movie, Episode III, here.

Interestingly enough, this trailer was only supposed to be released to Star Wars Hyperspace members, who are paying a premium for content, on 11/4 and the general public on 11/8. (What a bone-headed idea.) Fortunately for the rest of us, the power of the Internet, and some very friendly people hosting the trailer, makes it so that everyone gets the opportunity to view the trailer on the same day.

By Bert Ehrmann

Lucas Does It to Me Again
I hate to admit it, but after reading about and watching the teaser for the next Star Wars movie, I'm almost interested in it already. This is like dating a girl, being cheated on, giving her another chance, having her cheat on you again, then seeing her at a party and thinking, "You know, she is pretty hott... and she has her moments where she's really fun to hang out with..."

By Alex Faurote

Batman Begins
Michael Uslan came to Ball State University last week and gave a speech and met with a few telecommunications classes. I didn't get to have him in a class of mine, but I did go to his speech. For those of you who don't know, Uslan is the producer of every Batman film (as he owns the film rights). While he couldn't reveal much due to contractual crap, he did say that the new Batman is more like the Michael Keaton Batman movie, in that it is gritty and dark like the 30's and 80's era comics were. Also, he's just as disgusted with the camp that was the last Batman movie. He wasni't much of a fan.

By Alex Faurote

Quote of the Day

From The Bad News Bears:
Tanner: Hey Yankees, you can take your apology and your trophy and shove it straight up your ass!
Lupus: And another thing, just wait 'til next year!

By Bert Ehrmann

WarHammer 40,000: Dawn of War Demo

Last weekend i picked up the local copy of PC Gamer, and in it contained the various odds and ends about new game releases, and a few up and coming titles. What I also was delighted to find, was that the mag came with a Demo Disc with WarHammer 40k on it.

Now, for those of you who werent D&D / RolePlaying Geeks like I was back in the day, WarHammer is basically using various armies of Marines, Orks, etc to bash one another to pieces, by just rolling some dice and moving your painted (and they take FOREVER to paint) Icons about the playing field.

Now that Ive had a full time job for 5 years, and a home life with my lady and two kids, the thought of me getting together with four to eight of my chums in some dark cellar to play WarHammer has passed. But Fear not! The boys and girls at Relic / THQ / Games Workshop have heard the cry of anguish, and have created WarHammer 40,000: Dawn Of War, for the PC.

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War is a science fiction real-time strategy (RTS) game set in the violent, post-apocalyptic universe of the 41st Millennium. Utilizing the exceptional game design skills of Relic Entertainment, Dawn of War provides an immersive entertainment experience of epic proportions. Command hardened troops, deadly vehicles and high tech weaponry with one goal in mind, the complete extermination of the opposition. Whether you lead Humanity's finest - the Space Marines, the diabolic and villainous traitors of man - the Chaos Space Marines, the brutal and savage beasts - the Orks, or the psychic and technologically advanced alien warriors - the Eldar, you control the action and the fate of your race! -- *Exerpt from THQ.*

At any rate, I popped in the demo, and immediately found myself back in the days of yore, only this time, I didn't have to keep track of all the crap happening on the battlefield. AND i didnt have to paint!!

Overall, I rate the Demo (for right now, til I get the full game) a 9.5. Overall attention to detail is there, gameplay is very addicting. For those of you who are / were StarCraft and C&C fans, youll definitely fall in love with this game.

So if you got 50 bucks just laying around at your house, go pick it up!

WarHammer 40k: Dawn of War

And for those of you who still want to collect minatures and fight with a good old fashioned pair of dice, head on over to the WarHammer 40k UK site.
WarHammer 40k UK Site

By Mo Alexander

Meet the new Daleks, same as the old Daleks? Read more here.

By Bert Ehrmann

2005-2006 Television Pilots
It's already started – I've begun my list of television pilots for the 2005-2006 season. Yes folks, networks are already planning on television shows you might not get to see for another two years now.

See the list here.

By Bert Ehrmann

Planet of the Vampires
I am stunned at the beauty/creativity of these posters created in the mid to late 1960's for the movie Planet of the Vampires.

View them larger here.

By Bert Ehrmann

The Donnas
File this under "D'Oh!" After I buy their latest CD I find from the official site (the free download is a sh*tty Windows Media File which is useless to me.):

10/27/04 / Atlantic Records responds to issues with The Donnas DualDisc

We know a number of you have already spotted the production error on the CD-side of the GOLD MEDAL DualDisc. This mistake occured at Atlantic's production plant, and we're sorry to report that the error is present on the entire run. Specifically, the final track "Have You No Pride" cuts off after 58 seconds on the CD side. However, if you listen to the DVD side, you can still enjoy the track in its entirety in 5.1 Surround Sound.

If you would like to return the DualDisc, please go back to your local retailer with your original receipt and they will replace it with the regular GOLD MEDAL CD. Feel free to keep the special black velvet limited edition cover. Unfortunately, the DualDisc is being recalled from all stores and will NOT be re-manufactured immediately, although we hope to announce plans for another run at later date (stay tuned to The Donnas' web site for details).

If you decide to keep the DualDisc, email us at:

[email protected]

and we'll provide you with a free, CD-quality download of "Have You No Pride."
Atlantic Records deeply regrets this situation, and we would like to extend our apologies to The Donnas fans and to the band.

By Bert Ehrmann

Titan Needs Women
Check out the first close-up photos from the Cassini probe of Saturn's moon Titan here.

Also, don't forget about the lunar eclipse visible from North America tonight. Learn more here.

By Bert Ehrmann

Bale is Batman
See this photo larger at

By Bert Ehrmann

The Donnas
The Donnas latest CD entitled Gold Metalhits stores today. (These girls sing their own songs and play their own instruments, unlike some people.)

By Bert Ehrmann

Land of the Dead
First, photos from the set of next year's Land of the Dead (or Land of the Living Dead according to whom you ask):

View them all here.

Secondly, read my latest column in The Fort Wayne Reader which features my review of the Land of the Dead script. Read this column here.

By Bert Ehrmann

Ashlee Simpson Can't Sing!? Shock! Horror!
From The Fort Wayne Reader:

Singer Ashlee Simpson's extra vocal help was revealed during a performance on "Saturday Night Live.”

For her second song on the show, Simpson had planned to perform new single “Autobiography.” Instead, the backing tape started playing “Pieces of Me,” the song Simpson had performed earlier. Furthermore, the first lines of her singing "Pieces of Me" could be heard again, though Simpson was holding the microphone at her waist.

Simpson’s record company said the embarrassing mistake was the result of a computer glitch. Simpson, the consummate professional, blamed the band.

It's not like anyone really thought that Ashlee Simpson could sing in the first place, right? I wonder if her mic was even live?

See the video for yourself here.

By Bert Ehrmann

Battlestar Galactica
I've seen the first episode of Battlestar Galactica the series which began airing on U.K. television Monday (10/18) night. If you liked the mini-series which aired on U.S. television last winter, then you'll like this new series. If you disliked the mini-series, then you'll dislike the series. (I wish life was that simple.)

I really liked the mini-series and really like the series.

Essentially, the series starts off five days after the end of the mini-series with the Galactica protecting the "rag-tag fleet" from Cylon attack. As if on cue, every 33 minutes the Cylons find the fleet and attack with the fleet barely able to evade destruction. It's only a matter of time before someone makes a mistake causing a loss of life. (And when there's only 50,000 total people left alive in the galaxy, every one counts!)

There were a lot of parallels between this first episode, titled 33, and the events surrounding 9|11. Onboard the Galactica, walls are plastered with photos of the dead/missing and pilots are forced to shoot down an civilian transport when it threatens the fleet in general.

I give 33 a 8.5 out of 10.

By Bert Ehrmann

Battlestar Galactica
It looks like the Brits get to see the new series Battlestar Galactica starting tonight, while we (in the U.S.) have to wait another three months until January, 2005 to view it for ourselves. Lucky limey bastards!

Link to a detailed episode description of episode one.
Read my glowing review of the Battlestar Galactica mini-series.

By Bert Ehrmann

Destroy All Zombies

My best score; Humans 3,785 – Zombies 0. Go humans!

Play it for yourself here.

By Bert Ehrmann

Fort Wayne Reader
Check out my latest column up over at The Fort Wayne Reader; "Do bad movies brain your rot? What was the question again?"

Also, check out a short story I've recently written; The Battle for Hill #551. In The Battle for Hill #551, a squad of U.S. Marines occupies a frozen hilltop at the height of the Korean War. Unbeknownst to the marines, a new terror weapon is about to be tested on them causing the recently dead combatants to return to life looking for vengeance.

You can download this story as either a PDF or plain text file here

By Bert Ehrmann

Deep Impact
An interesting tidbit of trivia I gleaned from the Deep Impact (Collector's Edition) DVD:

Scriptwriter Michael Tolkin was originally approached by director Steven Spielberg to write a remake of the 1951 sci fi classic When Worlds Collide. Toklin realized that the odds of two planets colliding were astronomical, but that a comet could conceivably threaten the Earth…

The rest is cinematic history.

By Bert Ehrmann

Christopher Reeve, 1950-2004
From Yahoo: "Superman" actor Christopher Reeve, who turned personal tragedy into a public crusade and from his wheelchair became the nation's most recognizable spokesman for spinal cord research, has died. He was 52. Reeve died Sunday of complications from an infection caused by a bedsore. He went into cardiac arrest Saturday, while at his Pound Ridge home, then fell into a coma and died Sunday at a hospital surrounded by his family, his publicist said.

Reeve will always be Superman to my generation.

By Bert Ehrmann

Fall 2004 Television
Right now, the best new shows on television are ABC's Lost and UPN's Veronica Mars. Desperate Housewives (ABC) is also getting positive reviews but I'm not a fan of the show.

Lost is great. It takes place directly after an airliner crashes onto the beach of a deserted uncharted island. After events in the first few episodes, the audience is not sure where the crash has taken place. (Think the Bermuda Triangle.) But the show is really more of a character study than anything else. What really happens when we stick people from all across the world together and force them to fight for survival?

Supposedly, each episode takes place just a few days after the previous. So, even at the end of season one the survivors might have only been stranded on the island for a little under a month. (So don't worry too much that the storyline will dry up and become stale.)

Read my review of the pilot episode of Lost.

Veronica Mars surprised me as to how good it is. When I first heard about this show (teen girl detective) the first thing that popped into my head was "Nancy Drew." But Veronica Mars IS NOT Nancy Drew. The first episode dealt with the death of Veronica's best friend, being ostracized by her friends, her rape, and police officers receiving sexual favors from prostitutes.

That synopsis sounds much darker than the actual tone of the show. Veronica Mars is more Buffy the Vampire Slayer in tone than L.A. Confidential.

Don't forget, later this month, The Office Christmas Special aires on BBC America with the DVD being released early November.

By Bert Ehrmann


These are too cool for words. I managed to pick one of these up and am very impressed. It has interchangeable arms with different hands and weapons.

Learn more here.

By Bert Ehrmann

The Incredibles
I can't wait for this movie. Heck, even the book on the art direction used in the movie looks (well) incredible.

See more on the book here.

By Bert Ehrmann

Fort Wayne Reader
Check out my latest column up over at the Fort Wayne Reader where I find the real threat to our nation's youth. (Hint, it's not drugs.)

By Bert Ehrmann

Do you have the guts (and money) to take a ride on a rocket-plane into space? Next stop personal rocket packs and flying cars!

By Bert Ehrmann

Gordon "Gordo" Cooper Dead at 77
One of the original Mercury 7 astronauts "Gordo" Cooper has died of natural causes at his home in California. From Yahoo:

On May 15, 1963, Cooper piloted Faith 7, the Mercury program's last flight, circling the globe 22 times in 34 hours and 20 minutes. The mission made him the last astronaut to orbit Earth alone and the first to take a nap during the journey.

Cooper became the first man to make a second orbital flight two years later during the Gemini 5 mission, when he and Charles Conrad established a space endurance record by traveling more than 3.3 million miles in 190 hours, 56 minutes.

Cooper gave his signature line during a 1995 reunion of surviving Mercury astronauts. When asked who was the greatest fighter pilot he ever saw, Cooper enthusiastically answered, "You're looking at him!"

It's a bit odd that on the day that private space flight is essentially born with SpaceShipOne winning the X-Prize that of the pioneers of human space flight has died.

By Bert Ehrmann

Cpl. Dwayne Hicks and Officer Alex J. Murphy
McFarlane Toys is releasing a new line of their "Movie Maniacs" figures. These figures, usually based on sci-fi or horror movies and television shows, consistently impress me as I currently own around a dozen of them. It looks like my collection's about to get a bit larger with the next series of "Movie Maniacs" which will include Hicks from Aliens and the title character from the movie Robocop. (There's also some figures from last year's dud Texas Chainsaw Massacre which I won't go into due to the fact that I vomit in disgust everytime I do.)

Read more about the figures here.

By Bert Ehrmann

Echo Boomers
An interesting story on 60 Minutes last night on the "Echo Boomer" generation, aka "Generation Y."

Echo boomers are a reflection of the sweeping changes in American life over the past 20 years. They are the first to grow up with computers at home, in a 500-channel TV universe. They are multi-taskers with cell phones, music downloads, and Instant Messaging on the Internet. They are totally plugged- in citizens of a worldwide community.

Essentially, they're represented as a group of kids who can do a lot of things at once, rely on one and other for advice, work well in groups, but have problems thinking creatively or on their own.

It's an interesting read but I suspect that much of this story is B.S. How can you accurately describe an entire generation of people living across the entire United States in broad, generalized terms? Coming from "Generation X" (aka the "Slacker Generation") I know how these broad generalizations can be a bit misleading. I never once found myself slacking.

Read the whole CBS story here.

By Bert Ehrmann

Yes, Virginia. There is a Media God.

Oh yes my friends. Farscape is still alive and kickin. My brother and I almost started out on our murderous rampage when we found out that Farscape was being cancelled. BUT! Due to the other crazed fans out there, the Sci-Fi channel is releasing a Mini Series called "The Peace Keeper Wars", which is supposed to tie up all the loose ends after the final episode. Now all i need is a good VCR.

Catch it October 19th at 9 PM!

Farscape: The Peace Keeper Wars

By Mo Alexander

Star Wars
Some interesting reviews on from people not liking the fact that the Star Wars DVDs due out next Tuesday (9/21) aren't the original versions of the films, but the Lucas versions redid with new computer special effects in 1997 and 2004. (I tend to agree with these comments.)

"Go to hell, Lucas. You have made a mockery out of something that was sentimental to me."

" These are not even the original movies! All in all, a major dissapointment."

"Films are works of art, they don't need to be "fixed".You don't see anyone going back to the Mona Lisa going "Hmm... I wonder if we should update this old painting... you know... make her look more modern and sexy?" Leave it alone!Lucas - do the right thing for once and give us the Original Trilogy... the demand is here."

" After all, it was the fans who made the original movies so successful, and we liked them just the way they were... :-("

" After reading about the 'enhancements', I canceled my order. I have no interest in seeing this version."

By Bert Ehrmann

The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury

Just checked this out from Netflix, and it has attained my "Must View" DVD Rating. If youre a fan of "Pitch Black" like Bert and I, check it out!

The Chronicles of Riddick: Dark Fury Preview

By Mo Alexander

Sin City
A more than interesting first look at the upcoming theatrical adaptation of Frank Miller's Sin City. Check out the video that was originally shown to fans attending the San Diego Comic Book Convention back in July. Amazing stuff. I can't wait.

By Bert Ehrmann

Fort Wayne Reader
My latest column has been posted online over at The Fort Wayne Reader: "You want Hollywood insider information? We got that too."

By Bert Ehrmann

Fort Wayne Reader
I've added two new columns I've written for the Fort Wayne Reader. The first is the continuation of one I wrote a few months ago entitled; "I was the first one on my block to watch an episode of 'The Office.' Beat that". The second is a look at the annual Wizard World comic book convention held in Chicago every year entitled; "Welcome to a Wizard World that's not ruled by 'Harry Potter'."

You can also read my latest article over at the Fort Wayne Reader site entitled; "So it's the end of the world. Does that mean you've given up the right to be entertained?" It's a humorus look at nuclear weapons and zombies. (I know, it sounds like the plot to a movie.)

By Bert Ehrmann

Aliens Vs. Predator Review (Ugh....)

Hoooookay... So apparently nobody else 'cept my lovely girl and I decided to go out and see this flick on opening weekend... So here we go...

The story starts off with a heat signature detected in Antartica by Weyland Industries. Rather than have some other corporation make the discovery of the century, Head CEO Charles Bishop Weyland and his cohorts decide to trek on down and get to the site first.

To their discovery, they find out that the heat source is actually a pyramid under several hundred meters of Ice. However, they also discover that there is already a well cut hole at a 30 degree angle right to the base of the pyramid. So rather than state the obvious who actually CUT the hole (lets see... little green men???) Ill proceed on..

Finally, our idiot band makes it to the base of the pyramid to make some shocking discoveries... One that the pyramids were built by the Mayans/Aztecs in worship of the Predator race (didnt they already do that in StarGate with the Egyptians?!?).. Two that the pyramids also served as a battle ground for the Predator Hunt.. And Three that the place served for a Breeding Ground for the Aliens.

Now, of course, all this is discovered, and things promptly go to hell. Half the excavation team is trapped in the "Sacrificial Chamber".. I dont think i need to tell you all what happens to them.. (Nice SHORT Incubation period though...) While the other half scrambles about only to be used as part of the hunt.

The end of the movie is somewhat lackluster, as you can imagine, with the Good guys fighting the big Baddie at the end. Rather than spoil it for you, Ill let you go pay your 8.50 to see the flick (haha!)

Good points of the Movie: Special Effects were very good. Predators had some new weapons to use, and the Alien characters' were very detailed. Scenery was very ornate, and detailed (cept for the Heiroglyphs.. Come on NOW!!), The Three different Predator Masks

Bad Points of the Movie: The horrible acting... The sorry fact that in the first 40 minutes of the film, 2 out of the 3 Predators that came for the hunt are dead..., The Lionesque sound effects of the Predators (its been 100 years since they visited, wouldnt ya think they would learn a few english words??), the horrible script and dialogue (Man, one thing you can always learn is STICK TO MAKING THE MOVIE JUST LIKE THE COMIC BOOK.), the whole kinda kissy kissy sub plot between the Human Enviromentalist and the Predator.

All in all, save your money. Wait for it to come out on HBO or DVD. I really really really wished I had gone and seen "The Bourne Supremacy.." instead of this rubbish.

To see more of AVP, head on over to the site.

Aliens Vs. Predator

By Mo Alexander

Justice League Unlimited
I have been very impressed with the new 'Justice League Unlimited' which premiered a few weeks back on The Cartoon Network. In the first episode Green Lantern, Supergirl, Green Arrow, and the classic character Captain Atom must deal with a gigantic nuclear powered robot unleashed in a North Korea like state. (Hmmm, North Korea and nuclear weapons. Sounds like the writers here are hitting on timely subjects.)

And the second episode was adapted from the comic book gods of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.

Plus, somehow some of voices of the Justice League characters are done by well known actors. George Eads 'CSI: Crime Scene Investigation', Eric Roberts (Fox's 'Doctor Who') and Nicholle Tom ('The Nanny') have all done voices for the show.

Do cartoons get any better than this?

By Bert Ehrmann

Doctor Who
Ladies and gentlemen; I present the next "Doctor Who" as played by Christopher Eccleston ('28 Days Later') and his companion "Rose Tyler" as played by Billie Piper. I love the Doctor's new costume.

Click here for a larger photo.

By Bert Ehrmann

Arrested Development
News about possible storylines coming in season two of 'Arrested Development'. It is a good sign that I laughed out loud twice while reading this article. From the New York Times, read the whole article here. (Registration required.)

And so the writers' room on the Fox lot is already decorated with multicolored cards listing ideas for the coming season. The writers want to make Tobias, the David Cross character, an understudy for the Blue Man Group, thus requiring him to constantly wait by the phone wearing blue makeup. They may introduce a new member of the family who — like the missing sister on "The Osbournes" — had previously refused to participate. "I'd love to go back through scenes from the first season and show her being blurred out in the background," Mr. Hurwitz said, laughing. Most audaciously, he would like Michael, Mr. Bateman's character, to chew out his son for being attracted to a cousin, then fall in love with a woman who will be played by Mr. Bateman's real-life sister, the actress Justine Bateman.

By Bert Ehrmann

Team America – World Police
Interesting and funny trailer for the upcoming Trey Parker and Matt Stone ('South Park') movie 'Team America – World Police' that purportedly puts a comedic spin on our current world terror situation. Regardless of the movie's content, I'm interesting in seeing it since it's done in the old school 'Thunderbirds' marionation style. ("Super-marionation!?")

See the trailer here.

Batman Begins
The first time I saw this trailer I was intrigued. The second, in a theater, I actually got goose bumps. I am a huge fan of director Christopher Nolan ('Memento', 'Insomnia') and simply cannot wait for this movie. (It doesn't hurt that part of the movie's being shot in Chicago, Illinois just few hours drive from where I live.)

See the trailer here.
See photos from the movie here.

By Bert Ehrmann

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The trailer for the upcoming movie 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' has been released. (Though I do find it odd that the trailer's available just about everywhere on the Internet other than the official site.) This trailer is a "teaser" trailer in every sense of the word – very little is revealed other than the Earth's destruction, the movie's tagline, logo, and "42". (If you don't understand what "42" means then you will after seeing the movie!)

The tagline to the movie is "The most astonishing adventure in the universe begins when the world ends. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Don't leave Earth without it."

Watch the trailer here.

By Bert Ehrmann

Rescue Me
FX and Denis Leary's new show 'Rescue Me' is pretty darn good. The show stars Leary as a New York City firefighter dealing with his inner demons from the events around 911 as well as past fires gone bad.

I would say that the pilot to 'Rescue Me', which aired last Wednesday (7/21) was one of the best hours of television I've seen in a long time. I just hope that the rest of the season of the show is as good as the first one.

In fact, Zap2It reports:
The drama about New York firefighters debuted commercial-free Wednesday (July 21) to almost 4.1 million viewers, the best for any new show on ad-supported cable in 2004. It ranks No. 8 all-time among series premieres on basic cable.

'Rescue Me' airs Wednesday nights at 10:00 P.M. (EST) on FX.

By Bert Ehrmann

Hopefully I'll be able to expand on this sometime. It deserves it. Meanwhile, this is gonna be short and sweet: Spider-man 2 is the greatest video game ever. Or at least that I'm currently playing. Wow. Also: hi, I'm Alex. I posted here a little over two years ago. Now I'm back.

By Alex Faurote

Half-Life 2: There is a PC God after all.

Two words are going to sum up the release of Half-Life 2: Holy CRAP!!!!!
Not to mention being one of the highly anticipated games of 2004, this little diddy is supposed to blow the doors off your house. And thats just from the PLOT!! "The story is penned by Marc Laidlaw, and award-winning horror writer, and the author of The 37th Mandala."

Now, if thats not enough to think about, the game's new Physics Engine will have you trying all sorts of tricks to eliminate the baddies of City 17. From Head Crabs, "War of the Worlds" Like Striders , to "Abyss" Like Hydras , this game is bound to scare the pants off of you.

This one I'm definitely selling several pints of blood for. Check it out here!

Half-Life 2

By Mo Alexander

Doom3 Release Date set for August 3rd. Anyone got $500 to spare???
Yep. You heard right. Doom 3 is finally going to be kicked out to the general public on August 3rd, and already my PC is crying about it.

All kidding aside, Doom3 looks to take FPS to the next level, with dynamic lighting, 8 point surround sound (Great, guess that means I need more speakers too!), bump mapping and a whole lot more. What does this all mean? Well, for one, your PC is gonna crank out FAR more polygonal triangles than you can ever count in one sitting.

Im rather excited about it, however, I realize that my poor poor recently purchased PC is going to need an overhaul if i plan on even trying to make this thing work. However, Ill be on the net, looking for you once its up and running!

For more specs, screen captures, and vids, head on over to the Doom 3 web site.

Doom 3

By Mo Alexander

DVD: The Last Samurai Review (Japanese Top Gun?)
After partaking in a little of the toastiness that Quizno's has to offer, my lady and I decided to park our butts on the sofa for +2 hours and finally watch The Last Samurai.
Now, I'm not a Tom Cruise fan. I've learned my lesson from watching such films as MI:2 (yech!), Eyes Wide Shut (it was on HBO, nothing else was on at the time.. I should have burned my TV instead..), and Minority Report (still dont understand that flick). But I digress.. and decided that maybe the cool Samurai parts in this flick would help it out some. And did they ever.
Our tale starts out with our title character, Captain Nathan Algren of the U.S.Cavalry (Cruise) being asked by the Japanese government to come to Japan to teach the Emperor's soldiers on proper combat tactics. These soldiers, in turn, will be used against the insurgents who are still loyal to the Samurai Code of Honor and Duty.
After Algren repeatedly tells the Emperor's advisors that the troops are not combat ready, Algren and the lot are thrown into a hasty battle with the insurgents, in which Algren is captured. (Cool Fog battle, by the way..) The leader of the insurgents, Katsumoto, has a vision that Cruise's Character will be a formidible ally in his fight against the Emperor.
As the story progresses, Algren becomes more and more intrigued by the life of the Samurai village. He also gets his ass handed to him several times (repeatedly even) by trying to learn the ways of the sword. As Algren becomes more and more involved with the lives of the village, he feels more at home with the people, than with his former masters.
In an ultimate showdown between the Emperor's newly equipped soldiers (Gatling gun and Howitzer Cannon's included), Algren rebels against his former masters, and leads the charge against the Emperor's troops.
After experiencing this DVD, I realized that they actually did a bang-up job with the entire flick. Unfortunately, echo's of "Shogun" come to mind while also watching it. Accuracy to detail was a must in this film, and it shows.
Several parts leap to mind as excellently portrayed: The battle in the Fog, the Ninja attack, and the final, Epic battle sequence. Swordsmanship was very authentic, not to mention down right scary at times.
Acting was not out of proportion either. Cruise's Character Algren was evenly balanced with the Samurai Overlord Katsumoto.
If you have a few hours to spend, or just want something you can skip to the battle parts for, pick this rental up! The Last Samurai

By Mo Alexander

Mo's Spider-man 2 Review (Oh yeah!)
Alrighty, its been a month, guess its time for me to do my usual duty and NOT be lazy and post something up on Bert's web site. This month's movie of choice: Spider-man 2. One word: Wow.

Our story line starts off with our Friendly neighborhood Spidey's alter ego Peter Parker doing what college boys do best: Study for exams, win the girl, maintain several jobs, and have time to go web slinging (What, no keg parties?!?) Anyhow, it appears that our good lad Peter is in a bit of a bind with having little to no money, a crush on Mary-Jane Watson, a failing college education, and no sense of direction. And to make matters worse, Peter/Spidey has a wonderful run-in with the creation of Doctor Octopus at a lab experiment. (Gee, seems like these things happen quite a lot in the Big Apple)

Ultimately the story line puts us into a climatic ending, where Spidey must save the day, and of course save the girl. However, the closure towards the ending can be a bit somewhat misleading....

My biggest thrill of this movie were the several instances of shear Comic-book style violence: Spidey and Doc Ock tangling outside a bank, the "hurling" of several vehicles this way and that, the use of large pieces of metal as baseball bats. Special effects in this film were FAR superior than its predecessor, giving Spidey 2 a "Money well spent outta my Wallet" award.

Overall acting and casting were very good. I felt the focus on Mary-Jane (Kirsten Dunst) was a bit too much, however Sam Rami picked a perfect actor (Alfred Molina) for the role of Doc Ock. Tobey Magiure faithfully reapplied himself for the role of Peter Parker.

So if you get the inkling to shell out 20 bucks for nothing, at least go spend it on Spider-man 2. You won't be disappointed.

Check out the Spidey 2 site here: Spider-Man 2

By Mo Alexander

28 Weeks Later
From all over the Internet the last few days, but specifically from Dark Horizons:

Variety reports that Fox Searchlight is putting together a sequel to 2002's Danny Boyle-directed "28 Days Later". For now the studio would confirm only that a sequel is in the works, sources said the tentative title is "28 Weeks Later" and that the studio is circling Rowan Joffe ("The Killing Fields", "Last Resort") to write the script.

Boyle is not expected to direct the sequel, though he and screenwriter Alex Garland likely will take producing roles alongside the first pic's producer, Andrew Macdonald.

In my opinion, any sequel to '28 Days Later' is a big mistake. '28 Days Later' is one of those movies that doesn't NEED a sequel. The movie has a natural ending and I could only see a sequel screwing the overall story of '28 Days Later' up. (Think what 'The Matrix' sequels did to the overall story of the first 'The Matrix'.)

It doesn't help that neither the director or writer of '28 Days Later' will be writing or directing '28 Weeks Later'.


By Bert Ehrmann

Salem's Lot
I really dig TNT's latest version of 'Salem's Lot' which wrapped up it's two night mini-series yesterday (6/21). It was creepy in it's own unique way – even if it was missing the Nosferatu-esque pale faced vampire as in the early 1980's mini-series. (And I can't tell you how much that vampire as well as the vampire kids tapping on their friend's window scared me when I saw the first 'Salem's Lot' as a child.)

'Salem's Lot' (2004) deals with a writer Ben Mears (Rob Lowe) returning to his hometown to write a book only to discover that a vampire has set up shop in a creepy old house. As vampirism spreads throughout the town, it's up to Ben and a few friends to rid the town of the vampire menace or die trying. (And be assured, at the end of the series most have died trying.)

This new series deals with vampires like they're almost a plague - something that spreads throughout a community from member to member eventually infecting everyone it comes into contact with. And these are old school vampires - sleeping in coffins, flying, afraid of crosses… It's the anti 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' even if there's nothing wrong with 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer.'

I kept thinking that even though I really didn't understand the ending of the 2004 series, the vampires aren't gone and are roaming the countryside looking for fresh meat, that 'Salem's Lot' would make a great regular series. There's something appealing about a man and a young boy traveling the country staking old lady vampires to their rocking chairs that just screams "high ratings" to me.

I give 'Salem's Lot' (2004) 8.5 out of 10 cloves of garlic.

By Bert Ehrmann

Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story
Who knew that anyone would want to make 'BASKETball 2'? I didn't, but someone did. And that's what 'Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story' is: 'BASKETball 2'.

'Dodgeball' is a movie of clichés. Every story point and character has been done before. There's the weak guy who's wife cheats on him, the nerd in love with a cheerleader, the cocky/self assured guy who gets the girl in the end, the weak team beating the strong...

If there was an original idea in 'Dodgeball' I missed it. Worst of all every plot turn and joke can be seen coming a mile away.

In 'Dodgeball', gymnasium owner Peter La Fleur (Vince Vaughn) is on the verge of loosing his small gym "Average Joes" to White Goodman (Ben Stiller). White owns a very large group of gyms, "Globo-Gym", with offices located across the street from Average Joes. To come up with the $50,000 required to save his gym, Peter decides to enter a dodgeball tournament in Las Vegas with (you guessed it) $50,000 in prize money. Not wanting Average Joes to stay in business, White enters his own team of heavies into the dodgeball tournament to stop Peter in his tracks.

Though I may have laughed a few times, I can't say that I really enjoyed 'Dodgeball' too much. In fact, the one shining moment was Jason Bateman ('Arrested Development') as airhead ESPN 8 announcer Pepper Brooks and his one-liners on the dodgeball games.

I give 'Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story' 5 out of 10 spit-takes.

By Bert Ehrmann

To believe the events of the pilot to the upcoming ABC series entitled 'Lost', an airliner can fall from 40,000 feet onto a deserted jungle island with at least 50 of the passengers surviving the devastating crash even though the plane broke up in the sky before impact. The audience must further believe that one of the jet’s engines can still be running on the beach even though it is separated from the plane.

That may be the biggest problem with the pilot; the viewer really has to suspend their disbelief in order to accept the events in 'Lost'. However, if they do suspend their disbelief, I am sure that they, like me, will really enjoy ‘Lost’.

In ‘Lost’, the crash of an airliner leaves it's passengers stranded on a deserted island. The people are a mix from all walks of life; a criminal in transit (whom I’d least suspect), a rock-star, a doctor, and an ex-Iraqi soldier to name a few. In the show, these characters must band together to find a way off the island after they learn from the sole surviving crew-member, played by ‘Alias’ veteran Greg Grunberg, that they are 1,000 miles off course with no real communication with the outside world.

It gets worse for the survivors when they start to be stalked by human-hungry monsters. Some of these creatures are large enough to topple trees as they walk, others are much smaller but no less dangerous.

(Though this last part might sound a bit odd, show’s creator J.J. Abrams somehow pulls this off. I chalk it up to extraordinary writing skills.)

At fist, I was a bit concerned with where the show was going. Most times, “people trapped on an island” themes like ‘Lost’ degenerate into ‘Gilligan’s Island’ or a variation of ‘Lord of the Flies’. (Or worse ‘Survivor’.) For the most part, ‘Lost’ avoids these clichés and is more of a Bermuda-Triangle type mystery show with the survivors trying to uncover why they crashed, where they are, and what exactly is living in the jungle.

It’ll be interesting to see where ‘Lost’ goes and how the creators keep the formula fresh and non-derivative.

I am excited about seeing this series on ABC next fall.

I give ‘Lost’ 9 out of 10 oxygen masks dropping from the ceiling.

By Bert Ehrmann

Apparently, HBO is hoping that 'Deadwood' will make a good replacement for 'The Sopranos' being that the later is entering it's last season. From The New York Times:

HBO thinks it may have found a series that — in some ways — can replace the mighty (and soon to depart) "Sopranos" as its centerpiece drama. The show is "Deadwood," the gritty, foul-mouthed Western.

The news on "Deadwood," HBO's latest drama series, has been highly favorable on two fronts. It drew the second-highest rating for any new drama in HBO's history, and it was also greeted with some of the best reviews that the network has seen at least since the start of "Six Feet Under" three years ago.

Read the whole story here. From TVTattle.

By Bert Ehrmann

The Manchurian Candidate
Check out the latest poster and trailer for 'The Manchurian Candidate' due in theaters at the end of July. I am really looking forward to this movie being that it is directed by Jonathan Demme ('Silence of the Lambs') and stars Liev Schreiber ('Sum of all Fears'). I love the movie's tag line; "This summer, everything is under control."

Watch the latest trailer here.

I also really like the teaser poster for the movie. It's very stark and simple, with a political pin bleeding down a white background. Teaser posters don't usually get any better than this.

The official site describes the movie as:
A psychological thriller, "The Manchurian Candidate" stars Denzel Washington as Army Major Bennett Marco, a career soldier who grows suspicious about his experience in Desert Storm after Squad Sergeant Raymond Shaw (Liev Schreiber), son of the powerful Senator Eleanor Shaw (Meryl Streep), becomes a candidate for Vice President.

Read more about 'The Manchurian Candidate' here at Dangerous Universe.

By Bert Ehrmann

Desperate Housewives
A lot of television shows borrow their overall plot or underlying story from movies. Of course there's shows that are spun out of movies, like 'M.A.S.H.' and 'Karen Sisco', but some television shows seem to borrow their underlying stories from movies to form the basis of their show.

A few years ago ABC's 'Veritas: The Quest' owed much of it's underlying ideas to the 'Indiana Jones' series of movies, at the same time ABC's 'Miracles' looked like a television version of 'The Exorcist, and CBS' 'Robbery Homicide Division' bore a striking resemblance to the movie 'HEAT' (1995). Yet none of these shows were directly related to the movies they were seemingly based on.

Next fall ABC will air a new show entitled 'Desperate Housewives', which could best be described as borrowing the underlying story from 'American Beauty' (1999) and turning it into a dramety. (I love that made-up word.)

'Desperate Housewives' begins as Mary Alice (Sheryl Lee though the part is to be recast) a seemingly perfect housewife goes about her daily routines only to put a pistol to her head and end her life. We then follow her friends - including Marcia Cross ('Melrose Place'), Felicity Huffman ('Sports Night'), and Teri Hatcher ('Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman'), who must deal with the suicide as well as their own suburban existences.

'Desperate Housewives' follows 'American Beauty' in that the main character narrates the story throughout and continues the narration even after their own death. Each story also follows a seemingly perfect suburban family existence that is shown to have problems within when more closely examined. Except in 'Desperate Housewives' these stories aren't all told within one family, as in 'American Beauty', but across four families.

Felicity Huffman suffers in silence, as a woman who has given up her career to raise four kids while her husband is often absent at work. Marcia Cross is the "perfect" housewife cooking gourmet meals only to find that her husband wants a divorce after coming to miss the woman he married saying that, "I can't live in this detergent commercial anymore." (Which could be argued is a direct lift from the Lester/Carolyn Burnham storyline from 'American Beauty'.) Teri Hatcher is a divorcee eyeing the new widowed next-door neighbor.

There's also another plotline of dubious behavior going on at Mary Alice's home, which may or may not have precipitated her death. I'm guessing that this is going to turn into the overall plotline for the series or at least the first season.

In the end, though, I found these similarities to 'American Beauty' to be more of a hindrance than help. I don't believe that I would watch more than one or two episodes of 'Desperate Housewives'.

I give 'Desperate Housewives' 7 out of 10 Tide commercials.

By Bert Ehrmann

Out on DVD today is the best movie (so far) this year – 'Spartan'. 'Spartan' follows an agent known only as "Scott" (Val Kilmer) working for an undetermined government agency. When the First Daughter (Kristen Bell) is kidnapped and sold into a slavery ring (the abductors think that she's just another girl), Scott must find her by any means. Let's just say that killing is one of the less violent options in Scott's pallet of persuasion. When it turns out that the President's advisors don't want the daughter to be found, Scott must go rouge to uncover the conspiracy.

It’s a shame that when ‘Spartan’ first came out it was pretty much overlooked by everyone. I don’t think it was in the theaters for more than a few weeks since it’s only pulled in just a bit more than four million dollars in it’s original release. To put that number into perspective, that’s about three percent of what ‘Shrek 2’ made it’s opening weekend. (Not what ‘Shrek 2’ has made so far or what it will make, but what it made in just its opening weekend.)

I guess there’s no accounting for taste in movies.

Read my whole review of ‘Spartan’ here.

Buy the DVD here.

By Bert Ehrmann

'Deadwood' is the best drama on television today. And last night's season one finale was probably the best hour of drama on television I've seen in several years. It'll be a long wait for season two.

By Bert Ehrmann

The Chronicles of Riddick
I am a huge 'Pitch Black' (2000) fan. I thought it was one of the more unique sci-fi movies in quite some time. In fact, I have been a supporter of the movie and constantly recommend it to my friends.

In 2002, director of 'Pitch Black' David Twohy released his next movie, a World War II submarine turned haunted house thriller entitled 'Below.' Again, this Twohy movie got a very limited release and wasn't in any theaters in my area. I had to wait six months before it came out on DVD to see 'Below'. Again, I thought that 'Below' was enjoyable and unique ride that most of the public missed out on.

After 'Below', I thought that David Twohy would be a director I would be following for quite some time. That was until I saw 'The Chronicles of Riddick'. Somewhere in America a church bell tolls for this movie - dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb...

In 'The Chronicles of Riddick' the Riddick character in 'Pitch Black' returns as a sort of the ultimate bad man of the universe. If the "Mercs" aren't hunting him looking to cash in on a massive reward other people are looking to use him for their own purposes.

Elsewhere in the universe, the Necromongers are traveling the planets and converting each planet's populous to their purpose of finding the "Underverse." Those who agree are converted, both physically and mentally, to this "religion." Those who don’t agree to the Necromongers are left behind when the Necromongers leave and destroy the planet. (Don't worry; this doesn't make sense to me either.)

Enter Riddick, the only man capable of defeating the Necromongers but unwilling to join the fight due to his disposition. (Of course Riddick does join the fight in the end, but I bet you saw that coming as much as I did.)

Most of 'The Chronicles of Riddick' story is unbelievable. The movie's essentially this odd Necromonger story overlaid with Riddick action sequences. Even these over the top action sequences are bad. If it's not Riddick and a crew of convicts racing the sunrise on a planet with a ridicules name before they're burned to a crisp by the rising sun then it's the Necromongers ground assaulting planets for little reason other than for the camera. (When was the last time you saw soldiers carrying battle-axes into combat? Apparently they do 500 years in the future.)

At times I found myself laughing at the sheer lunacy of the movie. And 'The Chronicles of Riddick' isn't supposed to be a comedy.

'Pitch Black' is to 'The Matrix' as 'The Chronicles of Riddick' is to 'The Matrix Reloaded'. Each of these original movies had much lower budgets than the sequels yet were more creative and interesting than the follow-ups. I'm not sure why. With these huge sums of money I would think that the sequels would be BETTER than the originals, not many times worse. Yet both 'The Chronicles of Riddick' and 'The Matrix' sequels were less interesting than the original. Many, many, times less interesting.

What upsets me the most is that the future established in 'Pitch Black' was believable to me. From the spaceships with passengers asleep in hibernation chambers, to no gravity within space ships, and to the fact that modern day religions were brought into the mix really made 'Pitch Black' stand out from the rest of sci-fi.

I could believe that this is how our future could turn out.

All this is gone in the sequel. 'The Chronicles of Riddick' is more 'Star Wars' than 'Alien' in its tone.

I gave 'Pitch Black' (2000) 9 out of 10 sonar images. I give 'The Chronicles of Riddick' 2 out of 10 weird costumes and odd haircuts.

By Bert Ehrmann

HBO is airing the season one finale episode of 'Deadwood' this Sunday (6/13). HBO describes the episode as:

The U.S. Army--under General Crook a.k.a. "Custer's Avengers"--rolls into Deadwood, prompting a parade...and business solicitations from Farnum and Tolliver. Swearengen delivers a tortured soul from suffering; Bullock reacts decisively to Russell's intentions regarding Alma; Con Stapleton's new commission proves short-lived; Adams shows Clagett where his loyalties lie; and Bullock and Alma have a late-night meeting.

It'll be a long wait until season two of 'Deadwood' airs on HBO. 'Deadwood' is one of the finest dramas on television these days. I wonder how I'll spend my Sunday nights now that 'Deadwood' is gone?

By Bert Ehrmann

THX 1138
Check out the trailer for the "new and improved" version of George Lucas' 'THX 1138' due out on DVD September 14, 2004.

View the trailer here.

I say "new and improved" since it looks like Lucas has gone and updated the effects of his first real film like with the late 1990's re-release of the first 'Star Wars' trilogy.

If this were just about any other film I'd want the movie to be digitally cleaned up so that it looked as much like the original print as possible and then released. I'm sick of people, especially Lucas, editing their old movies and re-releasing them into theaters where the original versions of those movies vanish. (I remember the original 'Star Wars' was an alright movie even before ILM went in and changed the explosion of the Death Star.)

Still, I've seen 'THX 1138' twice and have never liked it. So I'm not too shaken up about Lucas changing yet another of his films.

By Bert Ehrmann

The Jury
Premiering tonight on Fox is Tom Fontanta's ('Homicide Life on the Street', 'Oz') 'The Jury.' 'The Jury' flips the courtroom drama around and instead of focusing on the lawyers, focuses on (obviously) the jury.

Fox describes the show as:
Set in New York City, the series brings the viewer right into the jury room to watch the deliberators shout, beg, squirm, persuade, vote, then vote again until they reach a verdict in each gripping case.

The first scene of each episode opens at the end of a trial. For the remainder of the episode, the viewers follow the jury in their deliberations as the facts of the case are revealed through flashbacks of expert testimony, pre-trial conferences, witnesses' recollections and police interrogations. As facts are exposed, viewers will form their own opinions about the guilt or innocence of the defendant and the validity of the jury's ultimate verdict.

I'm a bit worried about the show since it appears as if Fox is airing the episodes out of order. Apparently, Fox hasn't learned their lesson since doing the same thing to 'Firefly' and crushing it into cancellation.

Dangerous Universe has been following the development of 'The Jury' since late last year. (Here and here.)

By Bert Ehrmann

Life As We Know It
Next fall there doesn't seem to be too many new television shows worth checking out. Sure, I'll watch a few new shows but probably won't stick around for the second episode.

Still, there always seems to be one or two shows of quality each season worth watching a throughout the entire season.

That's why I became excited when I heard that Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah, producers on 'Freaks and Geeks', were again producing a show about teens coming of age. (If you have yet to check out 'Freaks and Geeks' drop what you're doing, go out, and pick up the DVD.)

I've seen the pilot episode of this new show, ABC's 'Life As We Know It', and must say that it's no 'Freaks and Geeks.

In 'Life As We Know It' we follow three friends (Dino, Ben, and Jonathan) as they navigate the dangerous hormone shoals of adolescence. In the pilot, sex is mentioned, talked about, or shown, dozens of times. It becomes almost comical at the sheer amount of sexual discussion on the show. (I can imagine drinking games spouting up around this.) It wouldn't suprise me in the least if this 'Life As We Know It' draws protests from conservatives on the sheer amount of sex present in it. (Which for ABC struggling in the ratings wars can't be a good thing.)

At times I found myself confused at whom in the pilot I was supposed to be identifying with. Each of these three characters breaks the fourth wall, or turns and talks directly to the camera revealing their innermost thoughts. Though this technique is used to great success on such shows as 'Malcolm in the Middle' and with J.D.'s narration on 'Scrubs', with all three main characters doing this it sometimes gets a bit confusing. I'm still not sure who the main focal point is on the show or why I should care about any of these three young men.

(BTW, 'Life As We Know It' breaks one of my cardinal rules of high school drama – it shows adolescents from three different cliques hanging out together. In 'Life As We Know It' these friends are a hockey jock, a yearbook artist-type, and a straight-a student. The last time I checked, the hockey jock would be too busy beating up the yearbook kid to notice that he wanted to be friends.)

Worst of all in this new show, overexposed Kelly Osbourne (yes THAT Kelly Osbourne) has a starring role as the "I'm fat but I don't care" girlfriend of the yearbook kid.

'Life As We Know It' is almost a show for young women that instead goes after young male viewers. And I can't imagine too many young men liking the emotional content of the show or too many girls liking the constant sexual references either. (It's the perfect show – it upsets everyone.)

There were a few moments in the show that were good, but these were few and far between.

I give 'Life As We Know It' 3 out of 10 mid-term reports.

By Bert Ehrmann

On June 6, 1944, the 29th Division landed its 116th Infantry Regiment on the Dog Green Sector of Omaha Beach, where despite suffering horrific casualties they established a beachhead. By the end of D-Day, the 29th had two infantry regiments ashore along with most of the division's other units. As the division progressed in the Normandy campaign, fighting through the bloody hedgerows, it cemented its legend by taking towns such as Isigny (e-seen-yee), Vire and St. Lo. After the capture of St. Lo, which was viewed by the Allied high command as critical for the breakout of Patton's Third Army, the 29th along with the 8th Infantry Division would capture the port at Brest.

Learn more here.

By Bert Ehrmann

Arrested Development
This Sunday (6/6) Fox will FINALLY air the season finale episode of 'Arrested Development' after a more than a month gap between episodes (nice job Fox). Still, since 'Arrested' HAS BEEN PICKED UP FOR A SECOND SEASON BY FOX, it's official, I'm inclined to forgive the network for this flub.

The episode airs at 8:30 P.M. (EST) and is described by Fox as:
When George Sr. has a heart attack, the family heads to the hospital only to discover he’s escaped and is heading for Mexico in the stolen staircar with Kitty. Meanwhile, Lindsay decides to leave Tobias until a book he wrote a long time ago becomes a gay bestseller, and Buster and Annyong compete over women.

If you've yet to watch 'Arrested Development' then you're in luck. Fox is also airing the pilot episode Sunday night at 9:30 P.M. (EST).

Ahhhhhh, pure bliss!

Season 4 of Coupling begins airing this Sunday (6/6) on BBC America. Don't miss one of the best sitcoms on TV today. It's odd to put the label "sitcom" to a show such as 'Coupling'. It's so much better than most of the other shows out there with the same label.

By Bert Ehrmann

The Bourne Supremacy
I'm really digging the new poster for 'The Bourne Supremacy.'

Click for larger view.

By Bert Ehrmann

Mo's StarShip Troopers2 "Hero of the Federation" Review (Electric Boogaloo?)
Wow, Guess its been a while since I posted! Hoooooo boy. Where to begin on this one. Well, after stumbling across Bert's blurb on Starship Troopers 2 coming out on DVD on the first, fate would have it that my lovely girlfriend pick up a copy for us to watch. Lucky for us, it was only 6 dollars at BJs.

Well, the Movie begins with the usual propaganda about joining up with the Mobile Infantry, then quickly proceeds into turmoil with the mobile infantry stranded on a "undisclosed" planet with no chance of retrieval. First thing that youll notice is that the MI weapons have been changed from the good ole bullet-chompin Automatic Rifles to plastic rifles with Polariod bulbs on the end. Whether they are a new form of gun or what, i have no clue, but boy them bugs were getting severe cases of flashburn, thats to be sure! Also added in are the new "Super Guns" that basically make it look like the MI troops are carrying around large Railroad tracks to shoot the bugs with.

Okay, seeing this, I quickly realized the possibility that this movie is going to suck. But wait, maybe if I watch long enough, the acting will help it out, and maybe even a possible "pultizer prize" winning script could save the day. Man was I wrong.

Anyhow, the plot essentially gets the MI squad surrounded by the bugs, with zero chance of retrieval. But wait! There is an abandonded (just recently, mind you) fortress about a half a click away. Lets go stay there! So, of course the MI pack up and head to the outpost (or what I like to call the Red R2-D2). Soon as they arrive and find out the building isnt too secure (and doesnt really have power yet or a working radio) the bugs show up in a sandstorm. While the MI holds off the bugs outside, the Sgt. and LT in charge find out that a former Captain of the Federation is locked up inside, abandonded by his former comrades for killing a superior officer. Realizing that this might not be a good idea to release him, they leave him locked up to go back out and duke it out with the bugs. However, a private in the MI realizes that the Captain could save their butts, so she lets him out, and he proceeds to blow up the bugs surrounding the area with R2-D2's aerial depth Charges (you figure this one out.... its too early for me).

After neutralizing the bug threat, and re-establishing the electric perimeter, the MI has the fortune to receive some of their former team from the lines back into their fold. Lucky them, right? Well turns out, the bugs have figured out a way to "infect" and take over humans by, you guessed it, forcing a smaller bug down the Hosts throat. (Gee this almost sounds familiar... where have I heard of THAT idea before...)

After several Deep throat kisses between the MI squad (and a few un-necessary viewing of the naked Bimbo from the former team), half the MI squad is infected and awaiting pickup from the Navy, so that they may send their spore to all Mankind.

I wont spoil the ending for you, but it makes you wonder just what in the hell was the writer thinking when he developed this script?!!!

High Points in the movie: Bug animation. They did a really kick ass job with making the bugs still seem real, even if it was on a low budget. The Lightening Field.. Makes bugs burnt to a crisp

Low Points in the movie: Geez, so many of em.. what to choose... Lets start with the bad "flashbulb" weapons the MI had, the Frogger like radar setup the MI had, the terrible, TERRIBLE acting, the horrible dialogue, the fact that the MI Sgt in charge was in fact the Captain from the Roger Young from the FIRST MOVIE.

Im sure I could go on, but Ill spare you, the gentle reader, of any more suffering. If you really really really want to see this movie, RENT IT.

Starship Troopers 2

By Mo Alexander

Garden State Trailer
One movie I'm looking forward to most this summer is Zach Braff's ('Scrubs') 'Garden State.' 'Garden State' follows Andrew Largeman (Zach Braff) who returns home for his mother's funeral after being estranged by his family.

I've been excited about this movie ever since the first trailer for 'Garden State' was released back in April. What amazes me is that every time I watch the trailer it makes me want to see the movie even more.

My guess though is that since this is an independent movie, the city that I live in won't get the movie for several weeks after it's official release. (Which is par for the course.) Too bad for me!

Watch the trailer here.

Ladder 49 Trailer
I've been waiting for the trailer for 'Ladder 49' for some time now ever since I heard about it last year. The story of the movie follows firefighter Jack Morrison (Joaquin Phoenix), who relives his past as he is trapped in a burning building awaiting rescue.

Though I can't say that this is the best trailer in the world, it's been my experience that the first trailer of a movie isn't usually any indication of the quality of the finished movie. Plus John Travolta, who also stars in the movie, isn't my favorite actor but that's another story.

Watch the trailer here

Cellular Trailer
The movie 'Cellular' has been getting a lot of online buzz lately. What made me most excited about it was the fact that Larry Cohen wrote the story – the same Larry Cohen who wrote 'Phone Booth'; in my opinion one of the tightest dramas I've seen in a long time.

In 'Cellular,' a young man gets a phone call from a woman who's been kidnapped and who's husband and son is in danger of being kidnapped too. This young man must stay on the line with this woman as his cell phone's battery slowly dies to try to save her and her family.

Watch the trailer here.

By Bert Ehrmann

Out on DVD today is the sequel to one of the most interesting movies of the 1990s; 'Starship Troopers.' This direct to DVD sequel titled 'Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation' sports perhaps the WORST DVD cover-art in history. The cover is so awful it makes me wonder if whomever designed it was even the least bit familiar with Photoshop.

But since I don't judge the quality of a DVD by the cover I'll pass judgment on the DVD until I get to see it. (Still, that cover makes me want to puke.)

Extras on the DVD include: Commentary by director, writer, and producer, "From Green Screen to Silver Screen" featurette , "Inside the Federation" featurette, Photo gallery, and a DVD-ROM link to Starship troopers PC game.

Buy the DVD here.

Also available on DVD today is season 3 of 'Coupling'. Season 3 marks the departure of the character of Jeff, my favorite, and therefore the last season of the series with the original cast.

According to Amazon:
At the end of Coupling's outrageous second season, Steve and Susan have split up; Jeff and Julia are living in a state of perpetual arousal and perpetual confusion; Jane continues to be a man-eater in sincere search of love; Sally is Sally, vain and neurotic; and Patrick well, what can one say of Mr. Tripod, the love beast? How can their lives possibly get wackier? Find out in the third season of this hilarious, critically acclaimed U.K. comedy hit!

If you're suffering from 'The Office' withdrawal then try getting a fix off a season of 'Coupling.'

Buy the DVD here.

By Bert Ehrmann

The Day After Tomorrow
Once upon a time, the writing/directing/producing team of Dean Devlin and Rolland Emmerich were the "It" boys of Hollywood. Their first few movies (namely 'Universal Soldier' and 'Stargate') did reasonably well at the box office cumulating in the mega-hit 'Independence Day' released summer of 1996. Sci-Fi fan-geeks the worldwide knew that this team's next release would be a "guaranteed smash.

Their next movie, 'Godzilla', was released with a massive advertising and marketing push with gigantic billboards around the country informing the public "Godzilla's tail is as long as this billboard." This time, though, lightning didn't strike again and 'Godzilla' wasn't the gigantic hit everyone has assumed it would be. In fact, the Devlin/Emmerich team would split and go their separate ways producing their own movies.

Since then, neither Devlin nor Emmerich's movie's ('The Patriot', 'Eight Legged Freaks') have reached the heights of their previous efforts. And I am assuming that Emmerich's latest movie, 'The Day After Tomorrow', is an attempt to regain some of the excitement from previous efforts since the overall plot bears a striking resemblance to his last big hit; 'Independence Day'.

'The Day After Tomorrow' is a disaster movie of the top level and, more importantly, a good one.

In 'The Day After Tomorrow', the world's weather has gone wacky after years of pollution and greenhouse gasses, which have shifted the climate into another ice age. The ice age begins as continent sized "super storms" brings heavy rain, tidal waves, snow and ice, and, worst of all, extreme cold weather at the storm's center. It's cold at the eye of the storm that everything freezes solid, including people, in a few moments.

(In the movie, it is decided that everyone in the U.S. living above a line marked by the city Indianapolis, Indiana would be abandoned to the storm and everyone living south of that line would be evacuated south. Since I live in northeast Indiana, well north of Indianapolis, I'd be forced to brave twenty feet of snow and temperatures of 150 degrees below zero without help. Admittedly, this weather would be a below average winter for my area.)

After the ice age strikes (which might be a good title for the sequel), Scientist Jack Hall (Dennis Quaid), who has been warning the world's leaders for years about this coming storm, is forced to trek an ice-bound east coast to a frozen New York City to rescue his son Sam (Jake Gyllenhaal) holed up in a library with other survivors.

The first hour of 'The Day After Tomorrow' is essentially the storm wreaking havoc on (mostly) New York and Washington D.C. Though we do see tornados devastating Los Angeles and hail obliterating a Tokyo street, almost all the movie takes place either in, or in-between, Washington D.C. and New York. The second half of the movie is of Sam and the survivors trying to survive a very cold New York while his father and scientist team try to survive the storm on their way to New York.

The movie is not without it's problems though. The dialogue is wooden, the overall story is not believable, and there are as many holes in the plot than the average block of Swiss cheese. (And I'm sure that even the lowliest of scientist could poke holes into the "science" used in the movie than I ever could.) Especially disappointing is an upbeat "we've learned our lesson" ending. In a storm that would have killed millions, perhaps billions, of people world-wide, I could only imagine the deaths that would follow the storm from famine since the world's food producing regions are now under twenty or thirty feet of snow and ice.

Still, 'The Day After Tomorrow' is an enjoyable ride - even if it's a forgettable one that few will remember in a year's time.

I give 'The Day After Tomorrow' 7.5 out of 10 snow cones.

By Bert Ehrmann

Check out the new poster for the movie 'Collateral.'

View the poster larger here.

This poster is a bookend that goes along with the Tom Cruise version of the poster released last week. How badly do I want to own these posters, let me count the ways…

Also, a review of the 'Collateral' script, abet an early draft, has gone online over at Screenwriter's Voice. The reviewer gives the script a thumbs-up with a few minor caveats. (Then again, the version of the script reviewed was a very old one so I'm guessing that a lot has changed from that version to the version that we'll see on theater screens this August.)

Read the review here.

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Over at the official blog for the 'Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy', you can check out a test of the Marvin the Paranoid Android costume as well as read a self-interview with writer Karey KirkPatrick. I'm digging all this access early access to the movie. This is a lot more than the usual studio supported movie site with some photos, a movie trailer, and the poster. (To me, that screams brochureware.)

I like this format of movie marketing. It makes me feel like I'm part of the process. (Even if I'm on the other side of the planet.)

By Bert Ehrmann

Check out the trailer for Oliver Stone's next movie 'Alexander.' If I hadn't just seen 'Troy' a few weeks back, and been disappointed, I think I would be more excited about 'Alexander' - which looks a whole heck of a lot like 'Troy' visually.

However, I'm willing to give Oliver Stone ('Platoon', 'The Doors', 'Any Given Sunday') the benefit of the doubt. I'm excited about seeing 'Alexander' though not nearly as excited as I would have been before 'Troy.'

View the trailer here.

The official site for the describes the movie as;
ALEXANDER, Oliver Stone's sweeping historical saga that charts the life and legend of one of the greatest figures in world history. The story is an epic that is as daring and ambitious as its subject, a relentless conqueror who by the age of 32 had amassed the greatest empire the world had ever seen. Past and present collide to form the puzzle of the protagonist, a tapestry of triumphs and tragedies in which childhood memories and Alexander's rise to power unfold side by side with the later day expansion of his empire, and its ultimate downfall. From his youth, fueled by dreams of glory and adventure, to his lonely and mysterious death as a ruler of a vast state, from the tumultuous relationship with his parents-a powerful king and a queen determined to put her child on the throne at any cost-to the rousing brotherly bonds with his closest companions and vast army, as they fought from the sun-scorched battlefields of the Persian Empire across the snow-peaked mountains of India, the film chronicles Alexander's journey to become a living legend, a man who embraced the ideal that power has a destiny.

By Bert Ehrmann

The Village
I'm not too thrilled over the teaser poster for M. Night Shyamalan's next film 'The Village,' see below. It just doesn't draw me in enough or to make me immediately drop what I'm doing and go see the movie. Then again, the teaser posters for 'The Sixth Sense' and 'Signs', M. Night's previous films, weren't any better – and those two movies turned out all right.

See the poster larger here.

(Don't get me wrong. I'm a huge Shymalan fan and will be seeing this movie opening night. It would take more than a bad teaser poster to pull me away!)

Read about and view the trailer for 'The Village.'
Read about the connection between 'Signs' and 'The War of the Worlds.'
See images from the 'Signs' movie trailer.

By Bert Ehrmann

Fort Wayne Reader
In recognition of the release of the last chapter of the 'Lord of the Rings' series of movies on DVD (it's a coincidence really), here's my latest column from the Fort Wayne Reader; What does New Zealand have to be proud about? (Other than 1 billion in gross ticket sales.)

By Bert Ehrmann

Lord of the Rings
Out on DVD today is 'The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King;' part three of one of the most overrated movie franchises in history. If you've got four hours to kill and are already familiar with the other two 'Lord of the Rings' movies, watching this movie might be a good way to fill up this time.

Read my review of 'The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.'
Read Mo's review of 'The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.'

Buy the DVD here.

By Bert Ehrmann

Poster Poster
Take note of the two posters below. The one for the movie 'The Hunted', was created back in 2003. The other for the upcoming movie 'The 24th Day' was created this year to promote the movie at the Cannes Film Festival.

Notice the similarity?

From the colors, type treatment, placement of the characters, and to even the poses of these characters I'd have to say that at the very least the designers for the poster to 'The 24th Day' were extremely "inspired" by the poster to 'The Hunted.'

Though I'd like to say that all movie posters are unique, that isn't always the case. Check out the poster for 'Underworld' and the television show 'Birds of Prey' to see what I mean.

By Bert Ehrmann

I am extremely excited about seeing the upcoming movie 'Collateral.' Hopefully it'll be the most interesting movie of the summer - 'Troy' certainly wasn't. Director Michael Mann ('Heat', 'Ali') and the Tom Cruise factor really seem to be the perfect match. Mann's got his directing chops down pat and Cruise is really the ultimate lure to get people into the theaters.

I would go see ANYTHING directed by Mann. If his next movie was about a leaky faucet I'd be first in line to see it.

Take note of the 'Collateral' trailer, released a few weeks back which I gushed over here, and now the teaser poster.

I love the tagline from the movie, "It started like any other night." Does movie marketing get any better than this?

View a larger version of the poster here.

By Bert Ehrmann

A brand new season of 'Coupling', it's fourth, is currently airing over in England on BBC Three. These new episodes will be exported here in the U.S. on BBC America starting Sunday, June 6. Until then, season 3 of 'Coupling' is airing on BBC America Sunday nights with a marathon of season 3 episodes airing Sunday, May 30th.

Season 4 marks the departure of fan-favorite Jeff (Richard Coyle) and the introduction of new character Oliver (Richard Mylan). It's too bad that Coyle has left the show. In many respects some of the funniest jokes/situations on the show have come from Jeff and the trouble he gets himself in.

I can't wait for the new season but will settle for reruns of the previous one.

By Bert Ehrmann

Is it just me, or does it seem as if May is the time to release really, really long epic movies? 'Gladiator' came out May 5, 2000 with a running time of two hours thirty-five minutes and 'Pearl Harbor' was released on May 25, 2001 with a running time of three hours five minutes.

May 2004 is no different. 'Troy', released 5/13, has a running time of nearly three hours. And I must say that this long running time is very noticeable. Though there are several problems with the story, the main fault of the movie is the length. It's too short to tell all the interweaving stories within 'Troy' but almost to long for focus to be held within the confines of a theater.

I found myself doing a hack-editing job in my head as the movie progressed, taking note of scenes that could be cut that would not affect the overall story. And I must say that there are quite a few. From Achilles (Brad Pitt) constantly stating that he's going to be remembered millennia from now, his meeting up with his mother, and warrior Ajax's (Tyler Mane) story arch could all get the axe with no noticeable effect on the overall story.

In fact, whole characters and subplots could be cut from 'Troy' to speed it along. I think 'Troy' is a great less than two-hour movie trapped in a good three-hour movie.

'Troy' is Hollywood's latest incarnation of 'The Iliad.' (Though I've never read 'The Iliad' so I'm not sure how loose an adaptation 'Troy' is.) In 'Troy', we follow power hungry Agamemnon (Brian Cox) looking to control the known world via threats, negotiations, or war. Agamemnon has set his sights on the city/kingdom of Troy controlled by its good king Priam (Peter O'Toole). Agamemnon uses his brother Menelaus (Brendan Gleeson) loosing his wife Helen (Diane Kruger) to pretty boy Troy prince Paris (Orlando Bloom) as an excuse for invasion.

At the invasion, the world's best warrior Achilles and his men, a sort of Greek Special Forces, follow Agamemnon to Troy for glory but not necessarily the ideals of the war. And these are just some of the storylines playing through the movie. Along with these are the love story between Achilles and Troy priestess Briseis (Rose Byrne), Paris' brother Hector (Eric Bana) and his one on one grudge match with Achilles, Hector's family, and on, and on.

Though the stories contained in the movie may be too many, the battle scenes in 'Troy' are interesting. I especially liked the boat landing scenes on the outskirts of Troy ala the 'Saving Private Ryan' D-Day scene replacing rifle shots with arrows as Achilles and his men fight their way up the beach under heavy fire.

But as interesting as these battle scenes might be, they do not make up for a story that contains too much material even for a three hour long movie.

I give 'Troy' 7 out of 10 achilles heels.

By Bert Ehrmann

The Incredibles
Check out the incredible trailer for the next Pixar ('Finding Nemo', 'Monster's Inc.') animated 3D movie; 'The Incredibles.' I have a good feeling about this movie.
See the trailer here.

By Bert Ehrmann

I received an e-mail a few weeks back from Geoff Beckett cuing me on his new toys about to be released onto the market; the "Shockini." The Shockinis are in the Stikfas vein - a toy that's designed to allow people a high degree of customization to create whatever character they wish on the toy body. The first version of the Shockini is a sort of blank slate where any character can be created with paint and a little imagination.

Available for preorder is the blank Shockini, in off white, and a few different pre-painted robot versions of the toy. In the future theme packs will be released allowing people to customize these characters into World War II characters, cowboys, skeletons, robots and more.

Right now the Shockini's are available for preorder, see below, and should be hitting the market late this month. If you are into collecting toys, then you'd better checkout the Shockini or get left behind when they start disappearing off toy shelves!

Check out the Shockinis here and here.

By Bert Ehrmann

28 Days Later…
This Saturday (5/15) HBO's airing the best movie of 2003 (according to Dangerous Universe at least); '28 Days Later…' The movie follows bicycle messenger Jim whom awakens from a coma only to find a disease has ravaged Great Britain turning the "infected" into bloodthirsty killers. Jim meets up with the few remaining survivors who escape the infected plagued London to Manchester, where a military radio broadcast states that they have security from the infected and a cure to the disease.

Except the cure might be worse than the disease.

Watch '28 Days Later…' again but this time try it alone and in the dark. See just how long it takes to turn those lights back on.

Read why Dangerous Universe picked '28 Days Later…' as the top movie of 2003.

By Bert Ehrmann

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The first photo from the set of next year's 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' has been released over at the official site for the movie. Don't expect to see Martin Freeman (Arthur Dent) in character, though. It looks like everyone's wearing street clothes and other than Warwick Davis (Marvin the Paranoid Android) I'm not really sure who's who.

If I had to guess, I'd say that starting with the man in the camo jacket in front right to left it's; Martin Freeman (Arthur Dent), Mos Def (Ford Prefect), Sam Rockwell (long hair!?) (Zaphod Beeblebrox), Zooey Deschanel (Trillian), and Warwick Davis (Marvin the Paranoid Android).

It's nice to know that 'Hitchhikers' is FINALLY in production after many years of development hell.

Visit the official blog for the movie here.

View the image larger here.

By Bert Ehrmann

The Chronicles of Riddick Movie Trailer
I was, and am, a big fan of the movie 'Pitch Black' (2000). I thought that most of the movie was innovative and found myself looking forward to a possible sequel. (BTW, if anyone has an original draft of the Jim and Ken Wheat version of the 'Pitch Black' script I am interested in obtaining a copy.)

Unfortunately, four years out from 'Pitch Black', the sequel, 'The Chronicles of Riddick', doesn't look like something I'd be interested in seeing. What once was innovative now looks like just about every schlock sci-fi movie out there - space ships and ray guns. This time the focus of the movie is squarely on Riddick (Vin Diesel) and I'm not sure that's a good idea. (Diesel is the only actor mentioned in the credits seemingly forgetting Judi Dench -- and she's even a Dame!) I thought that the parts of the original movie that worked weren't necessarily the parts with Riddick.

Is this movie going to be like 'The Matrix' sequels - a great origin movie and horrible follow-ups? Time will only tell.

View the trailer here.

By Bert Ehrmann

Penn & Teller: Bullshit!
How and the world could I have never heard of the show 'Penn & Teller: Bullshit!' which started airing back in January 2003 on Showtime and is currently in it's second season? I pay attention to television news - I read the papers - I watch commercials. (I know, I'm sick.) Yet I've never heard of this show other than when I stumbled across it a few weeks back on my own. (Granted, I don't have Showtime, but even when I didn't have HBO I still heard about 'The Sopranos.')

'Penn & Teller: Bullshit!' features magicians Penn and Teller going after people who claim that they can talk to the dead, alternative medicine, alien abductions, and many more. Most of the things Penn and Teller investigate boil down to money - there's money in making people believe that the dead can be contacted or that eating lilac root can cure cancer. (Which it doesn't so don't even try.)

Although Penn and Teller are really following in Harry Houdini's footsteps (who did his own debunking at the turn of the century going after the spiritual movement) Penn and Teller's caustic tone really fits our jaded twenty first century.

I cannot recommend this show enough. Even if you believe in the subjects they cover, and by Penn and Teller's own figures many of us do, after watching 'Penn & Teller: Bullshit!' you'll go away with (at least) a new view of these things that we believe in.

Buy the season one DVD here.

By Bert Ehrmann

Collateral Movie Trailer
With the 'Collateral' trailer, we're introduced to Max (Jamie Foxx) and Vincent (Tom Cruise). Max is a cab driver whose cab has been hired for the entire evening by Vincent to finish up some real estate deals. We quickly learn that Vincent isn't interested in peddling Florida swamp land as he is revealed to be a contract killer after a man falls from a building dead onto Max's cab. The best few lines from the trailer on the incident go;

MAX: "You killed him?"

VINCENT: "No, I shot him. The bullets and the fall killed him.

I've been waiting for 'Collateral' for some time now. I'm a fan Tom Cruise and absolutely adore director Michael Mann's ('The Last of the Mohicans', 'Heat', 'The Insider') work. Heck, I even liked the first episode of Mann's last scuttled television work - CBS' 'Robbery Homicide Division' (2002) which no one but me seemed to watch.

Watch the trailer here.

The Bourne Supremacy Movie Trailer
I liked 'The Bourne Identity' (2002) when I first saw it in theaters and picked up the DVD soon after it was released. I thought that 'Bourne' was the perfect mix of real life espionage along with the fantasy elements of a good James Bond movie. Apparently, 'Bourne' did well enough in the theaters to warrant a sequel; 'The Bourne Supremacy.'

This time Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) has been discovered living in a Mediterranean paradise by the U.S. government and it's up to Bourne to remove the threat to him.

Check out the trailer for the amazing realistic car wreck (I suspect it's a real unscripted crash!) with Matt Damon at the wheel. Talk about whiplash!

Watch the trailer here.

Each of these trailers, 'Collateral' and 'The Bourne Supremacy', look utterly cool.

By Bert Ehrmann

Van Helsing
With a crack, the first shot across the bow of the 2004 summer season was delivered to America with the release of 'Van Helsing.' Unfortunately that shot was misplaced, landing somewhere between "typical summer movie" and underwritten/over-action average movie.

'Van Helsing' follows Gabrial Van Helsing (Hugh Jackman), not Abraham Van Helsing as played by Anthony Hopkins in 'Dracula' 1992, charged by the Catholic Church with hunting down men possessed by evil. After battling Mr. Hyde (who's posing as The Hunchback of Notre Dame) Van Helsing is sent to Transylvania to help Anna Valerious (Kate Beckinsale) destroy Count Dracula and his three vampire wives. If she cannot destroy the Count, an oath given by one of her ancestor's dooms nine generations of her family to an eternity of purgatory rather than entrance to heaven.

In Transylvania, Van Helsing fights werewolves and meets up with the Frankenstein Monster while trying to learn about his own past, he has no memory, and figuring out how to kill Dracula, the old "stake to the heart" trick won't work on him.

Though I'm sure that this sounds like a lot of story it really isn't much compared to the action in the movie. There are more large action set pieces in Van Helsing that in a whole season of Chuck Norris' 'Walker, Texas Ranger.' If it's not the vampire wives attacking on wing, the wolf-man attacking by the full Moon, or the seemingly 'Gremlins' inspired vampire babies attacking by night, it's a horse chase or Van Helsing climbing on ropes or the Frankenstein Monster having his head split open.

The movie is full of inconsistencies in the plot. It's almost like the story was quickly thrown together around the large action scenes.

I still can't quite figure out why it takes using the Frankenstein Monster to give life to Dracula's babies, all born dead, or why he'd even want to bring the babies to life in the first place? In the movie, we learn that Dracula and his wives kill one to two Transylvanians a month for food. If these thousands of babies were brought to life how many people would they kill? In how long would they kill every living being on the Earth inadvertently destroying Dracula? (Maybe that's how Van Helsing should go about attacking Dracula - go after his food supply!)

Also, the Moon must operate at different cycles than the rest of the world in Transylvania. There's a full Moon every night except for two specific ones mentioned in the movie. Where I live there's no more that three nights of full Moon in a month and they're all consecutive.

(I know I shouldn't read too much into this typical summer movie, but come on! The filmmakers should have paid a bit more attention to the story and less to the massive digital effects permeating the film.)

'Van Helsing' isn't all that bad. Some of the action scenes are interesting and well choreographed. I especially liked the battle between Van Helsing and Hyde, though I still think that 'The League of Extraordinary Gentleman's' Hyde looked much better.

Essentially, 'Van Helsing' is that typical summer movie that's neither bad nor good. It's like dinner at McDonalds - quickly digested and quickly forgotten.

I give 'Van Helsing' 5.5 out of 10 cloves of garlic.

By Bert Ehrmann

I'm not sure what to make of the 'Catwoman' trailer. Essentially, Catwoman (Halle Berry) jumps around, rides a motorcycle, uses a whip, and lands on her feet (as all cats do) all to the booming sounds of a 1990's disco. But there's absolutely no dialogue making any judgment on the movie all but impossible. Comic book movies can look good ('The Hulk', 'Daredevil', 'The Punisher'…) but if they're missing that all important story element there's not much hope for it at the box office. I still can't get over Catwoman's costume - to say that it looks bad is an understatement.

See the trailer for yourself here.

The Day After Tomorrow
What I am assuming is the final trailer for 'The Day After Tomorrow' also takes the 'Catwoman' route by leaving the dialogue on the cutting room floor in favor of CGI and action. I can almost see the story behind 'The Day After Tomorrow' unfolding – lots of action and little story. . (It is a Roland Emmerich ('Independence Day', 'Godzilla') disaster movie after all.) My guess is that the story structure behind 'The Day After Tomorrow' will closely follow that of 'Independence Day.'

Still, I'm genuinely excited about this movie. (There's nothing wrong with a little brainless entertainment now an again.) 'The Day After Tomorrow' opens in theaters Memorial Day weekend.

See the trailer for yourself here.

By Bert Ehrmann

Fort Wayne Reader
I've added two of my latest Fort Wayne Reader columns to Dangerous Universe. Learn the secrets behind the movie 'Battlefield Earth' and why Disney going it alone in animated features might not be the greatest of ideas.

Brain-Farts - Random notes on the last few weeks.

Disney bets the mouse ears on going it alone in 3D animated features.

By Bert Ehrmann

One of J.D.'s (Zack Braff) internal monologues at the end of last night's episode of 'Scrubs' pretty much sums up the underlying themes this season:

"I guess in the end things seldom work out the way you expect. Sometimes fate is on your side. Other times, well, you've kind of sealed your own fate. Either way you have to trust that whatever is supposed to happen will happen. Besides, somehow you always seem to end up with the person you're meant to be with."

By Bert Ehrmann

The season 3 finale of 'Scrubs' airs tonight. From NBC on the episode:

The day of the wedding Turk (Donald Faison) picks up an extra shift at the hospital to get some extra time off for his honeymoon. Inevitably, what should be a very simple procedure turns into a life and death situation when Turk discovers complications with his patient and he gets stuck at the hospital. Meanwhile, a very stressed out Carla (Judy Reyes) tries to manage the situation at the church while her groom is missing, her brother Mark (guest star Freddy Rodriguez) continues to antagonize her, and her guests are becoming unnerving. After telling Elliot (Sarah Chalke) he is not in love with her, JD (Zach Braff) tries to put together the broken pieces of their friendship by getting Sean (guest star Scott Foley) back together with Elliot.

Doesn't it seem like just yesterday that season 3 premiered?

By Bert Ehrmann

The Last Samurai
Out on DVD today is 'The Last Samurai' starring Tom Cruise and Ken Watanabe. 'The Last Samurai' follows Nathan Algren (Tom Cruise), a down on his luck military officer sent to Japan to train their army to fight the samurai, the only roadblock in the way of a "new Japan." Algren is captured by the samurai and falls for their ways.

Read the whole review here.

Buy the DVD here.

By Bert Ehrmann

First look of Christian Bale ('American Psycho', 'Empire of the Sun') as Batman in director Christopher Nolan's ('Memento', 'Insomnia') 'Batman Begins.' Look for 'Batman Begins' to hit theaters sometime next (2005) summer.

View this image and other Bale as Batman images over at the official 'Batman Begins' site.

By Bert Ehrmann

Lost in Space TV
I was looking through a recent copy of Adweek and found an image from the upcoming 'Lost In Space' TV pilot directed by John Woo. Here's a first look at young Will Robinson:

Click for a larger view.

If this show is picked up for the 2004-2005 television season it will air on The WB.

By Bert Ehrmann

Two new interesting movie trailers have appeared online over the last few days.

The Village
M. Night Shyamalan's follow-up to 'Signs' takes place in a small village located in the Pennsylvania countryside in the late 19th century. The big difference between this village and every other little hamlet around the country is that the woods surrounding the village is inhabited by "creatures". Are they monsters or something else? (The original title to this movie was in fact 'The Woods' changed when another movie already had registered that title.)

'The Village' opens in theaters July 30.

See the trailer here.

Aliens Vs. Predator Featurette
Another featurette for the upcoming movie 'Aliens Vs. Predator' has appeared online. This time, learn more about the characters of the movie. (Is it me or do I see all these featurettes turning up on an AVP DVD sometime early next year?)

I still don't have high hopes for this movie. Check out the original Dark Horse comics that went onto inspire the movie. The 'Aliens Vs. Predator' comics are among some of my favorites. In fact, I own a page of original art from one of the later issues. Perhaps that's why I'm so suspicious about a movie version of AVP; I don't want it screwed up!

View the featurette here.

By Bert Ehrmann

Arrested Development
In another turnabout for Fox, the last episode of 'Arrested Development' WILL NOT air this Sunday (4/27) as previously reported, then retracted, reported again, and now (finally?) retracted. (Whew!) According to TV Tome:

"Let Them Eat Cake"
(The last episode of season 1) will reportedly air either May 30th or June 6th, likely the latter.

In 'Arrested Development's' place, Fox will air another episode of 'Malcolm in the Middle.' I'm a little ticked about Fox not being able to make up it's mind on when the last episode of 'Arrested' is going to air. However, I would be less ticked if Fox actually airs the episode on one of the two dates above and Fox renews 'Arrested Development' for another season. Is that too much to ask?

I'm doing my part, have you done your part and signed the petition to save 'Arrested Development?'

By Bert Ehrmann

Ricky Gervais
An extremely interesting interview with Ricky Gervais (David Brent from 'The Office') up over at The Onion A.V. Club:

The thing about the entertainer was that, again, there's a theme in The Office that's, I suppose, a bit insular and a bit obtuse for the general public, but it doesn't matter. For me, it was a bit of a Trojan horse to have a go at bad comedy. I loved the idea that Brent thought he was funny but wasn't. He used other people's catchphrases. You go into a pub when there's a hit show on, and there's people shouting the catchphrase. What are they doing? What's the best they can hope for? We chose one big one: "Whaassuuuup!" Everyone was doing that for about six months. I never quite understood it. I don't know if it's tribal, or if they have nothing else to say. Like, if there's a lull in the conversation, someone thinks, "Well, I'd better say 'Whassup!' I'll bring this party around." [Laughs.] And also sneaking in clichés. There's one ad lib where I start going on about smoking dope and getting the munchies. You go to these comedy venues where comedians are still talking about smoking dope and going to all-night garages, and the people who go out once every three years to see comedy are crying with laughter, like it's such a new observation. [Laughs.] So I wanted to sneak that in. I was in L.A. a couple of months ago, after the Golden Globes, and I went to The Comedy Store. I saw eight comedians—one of which was really good, Ahmed Ahmed—and he was the only one out of the eight whose catchphrase wasn't "What the fuuuck?" [Laughs.] Seven different comedians. Weren't they sitting backstage going "Oh! I say 'What the fuck.' I better not..." [Laughs.] "What the fuuuck?" Brilliant.

Read the whole interview here.

By Bert Ehrmann

Big Fish
Out on DVD today is Tim Burton's ode to life, death, and what a weird and wonderful world we live in even if it's only visible through someone else's eyes; 'Big Fish.'

'Big Fish' is a joy to watch, it's one of the best movies so far this year. (It was released late last year in limited theaters in attempt to garner Oscar consideration, but to no avail.) The movie shifts from reality to Tim Burton's off-sense of reality quite easily.

The reality portion of the movie is a son coming to terms with his often-absent father before the father's death from cancer. The off-sense of reality comes into play as we view the "tall-tales" his father told over the years about his life.

Read my whole review of the movie here.

Buy the DVD here.

By Bert Ehrmann

Man on Fire
I'm not sure what happened with the movie 'Man on Fire;' it starts off interestingly enough but somewhere at about the halfway point falls apart.

'Man on Fire' takes place in Mexico City, where kidnapping has become a sort of cottage industry. Wealthy people are snatched off the streets and ransomed for their kidnap insurance. As long as the kidnappers demands are met, they'll let their hostages go. If their demands are not met, anything is possible.

Enter John Creasy (Denzel Washington) an out of work alcoholic ex-Marine looking for a job in Mexico City. Although he's never been a bodyguard before his resume includes some serious counter-terrorism experience. Because of this, Creasy is hired to protect young Pita (Dakota Fanning) from the bad men.

The first half of the movie is Creasy getting to know Pita and their friendship bringing life back to Creasy. He was so damaged by what he did in the past, previous killings are mentioned, that it takes the friendship of a little girl to turn him from drink and suicide. (I know it sounds corny but somehow works within the context of this movie.)

Oddly enough, it's this first part of the movie that works. The relationship between Pita and Creasy is believable and well drawn out. It's what happens next where the movie loses its balance. It's just when the overall plot of the movie takes shape, Creasy on the warpath, that things stop working.

At a piano rehearsal, Pita is kidnapped. Creasy does his best to protect her, he kills some of the kidnappers who turn out to be off-duty cops, but is eventually shot down him in a hail of gunfire. Pita is taken and ransomed for millions of dollars. After a botched ransom drop-off, all hope looks lost and Creasy goes on the warpath to avenge Pita's death and kill everyone involved in the kidnapping.

It's that simple; Creasy finds and kills everyone involved one by one. There's no real plot going on other than Creasy working his way up the rung of kidnappers, violently torturing them for information, and then moving onto the next involved person. And there's simply nothing much in this story that we haven't seen before.

Worst of all, Tony Scott's ('Top Gun,' 'True Romance,' and 'Spy Game') directing becomes too over the top and distracts from what story there is. The camera moves, angles switch, and colors change whenever an action scene is taking place. Scott seems to prefer a "style" to "substance" way of moviemaking - as long as the movie "looks" good, the audience shouldn't notice that the plot is non-existent.

I'm still not sure how Creasy, who's shot at least three times in the chest during the kidnapping, is able to operate his vengeance spree just a few weeks after the shooting. Even later in the movie Creasy takes a shot in the chest and is still able to fight on the rest of the movie.

I give 'Man on Fire' 5 out of 10 dishes best served cold.

By Bert Ehrmann

Fail Safe
Saturday night (4/24) at 6:00 P.M. (EST) The History Channel will air George Clooney's 'Fail Safe' (2000). This version of 'Fail Safe,' the original 1964 version starred Henry Fonda and Walter Matthau, was shot in black and white and broadcast live. Though I don't remember any major flubs by the actors in this live broadcast, I seem to remember Walter Cronkite stumbling over a few of his lines introducing the show to the audience.

'Fail Safe' takes place in the 1960's at the height of the cold war and follows a bomber accidentally sent to attack Moscow with nuclear weapons after an electronic flub. We follow the military trying to call the bomber back (which to the bomber crew would be breaking a long-standing order), the crew of the bomber debating on what to do, and the President of the United States and his Russian translator trying to avery an all out nuclear war between the two super-powers.

I haven't seen 'Fail Safe' since it originally aired on CBS live almost exactly four years ago. I was a bit disappointed to see that a DVD version has been available overseas for some time but not over here in America. Four years is a long time to wait for a repeat!

By Bert Ehrmann

State of Play
'State of Play' on BBC America follows the turmoil over the apparent suicide of political assistant Sonia Baker (Shauna MacDonald) who was having an affair with a politician, David Morrissey (Stephen Collins). (Sorry, since the whole story takes place in Great Britain, I don't know my House of Commons from my Queen Elizabeth. I can't be more specific on the British political system.)

Things become complicated when a murder and shooting that took place the same day becomes linked to Baker's death, calling into question whether her death was a suicide or murder.

'State of Play' is a drama more at home with the 1970's conspiracy movies, like 'All the President's Men' or 'Marathon Man', than with TV dramas. The current political drama on U.S. television, 'The West Wing', shows an overall positive view of the American political system. After the first episode, I think that 'State of Play' might take another look.

The only drawback to the series is that some of the characters have very thick accents. I find myself constantly backing up to watch a scene over again to catch a line of dialog that I missed. Still, that's not really the show's problem since this accent would be perfectly normal for Great Britain. (I suppose I should consider myself lucky that this show's even airing over here!)

Check 'State of Play' out; I'm sure you'll find yourself enjoying it as much as I do.

'State of Play' airs on BBC America Sunday nights at 9:00 P.M. (EST) and Friday nights at 8:00 P.M. (EST) in case you're already busy Sundays watching 'The Sopranos.'

By Bert Ehrmann

In case you're used to 'Scrubs' airing Tuesday nights…

A "very special" episode of 'Scrubs' will air tonight (4/22) on NBC at 9:30 P.M. (EST). (I haven't the slightest idea of when this show's going to air either. NBC shuffles 'Scrubs' around the schedule like a crooked poker dealer might move the queen of hearts in a deck of playing cards.)

By Bert Ehrmann

Arrested Development
TV Tome is reporting some interesting news on the future of 'Arrested Development':

Fox will air repeats of AD in its usual time slot this summer. This DOES NOT GUARANTEE a new season, but it sure does look good.

An article in the Philly Inquirer (NOT THE TABLOID MAG) has quoted Fox insiders, who say "Arrested Development is a lock for the fall", despite their ratings. Very Good News.

Also, don't look for last Sunday's (4/18) episode of 'Arrested Development' to air anytime soon. Fox is going to air the season finale this Sunday (4/21) instead of showing the skipped episode. Hopefully, this missing 'Arrested Development' will be shown sometime during the summer as reported above.

In a last minute change, Fox will show last week's preempted episode Sunday and the season finale next Sunday (5/2).

By Bert Ehrmann

By Bert Ehrmann

Arrested Development
Interesting article on 'Arrested Development' over at Zap2It:

After only six episodes had aired, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association had seen enough to nominate "Arrested" for a Golden Globe as best comedy series (it lost, but only to the equally groundbreaking Britcom "The Office"). The BBC quickly snapped up rights to air the show in the United Kingdom, where "Arrested Development" will premiere next fall. And March's TVLand Awards cable telecast included an award to "Arrested" as a "Future Classic."

"This show has been fighting for its life, frankly," (Ron) Howard concedes. "The network has been extraordinarily supportive, I think, but 'Arrested Development' is something new and I don't want that 'newness' to scare people off, because the show is actually very accessible and very relatable. In some ways it's unconventional, yet it works in conventional terms for anyone who wants to just kick back, relax and enjoy a funny show."

Or; it was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Read the whole article here.

By Bert Ehrmann

Two interesting releases are out on DVD today.

The Office
Arguable the best comedy series to grace television screens in the last 25 years, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant's second perfect season of 'The Office' is finally released on DVD here in America today. (It's been out in Great Britain for some time.) If you've never seen this Golden Globe winning best comedy and best actor in a comedy series of 2003, please stop what you're doing go out and pick up this DVD as well as the first season. You don't know what you're missing.

Now if BBC America will only air the final 'The Office' Christmas special over here…

Read more about 'The Office;' Dangerous Universe's pick as best show of 2003.

Buy the DVD here.

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
Also available today is 'Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World,' one of the best movies of 2003. (What a great day for DVD releases!) Russell Crowe and Peter Weir's epic adventure takes place on the high seas aboard the British ship "The Surprise" as it is chased, and chases, the French ship "Acheron" during the Napoleonic War in 1805. 'Commander' is a movie that should be shallow but is surprisingly complex.

I rated 'Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World' 9 out of 10. Read the whole review here.

Buy the DVD here.

By Bert Ehrmann

Kill Bill Vol. 2
To say the movie 'Kill Bill Vol. 2' is the continuation of last year's 'Kill Bill Vol. 1,' would be an understatement at best. 'Kill Bill Vol. 2' is really a movie onto itself. Although it would be a good idea for a moviegoer seeing 'Kill Bill Vol. 2' to have viewed the first one, it isn't really necessary.

In 'Kill Bill Vol. 1' "The Bride" (Uma Thurman) was a member of the "Deadly Viper Assassin Squad" - a sort of anti-'Charlie's Angels" who were out to do harm rather than good. After becoming pregnant and deciding to leave the squad for a normal life, "The Bride" is shot down at her own wedding by Bill (David Carradine) and left in a coma for four years. "The Bride" decides to seek revenge on the squad members, all of who took part in the wedding attack, leading up the chain to Bill.

In part two of the series, there are two members of the assassin squad left alive before the final battle with Bill. What follows is some of the most harrowing few hours in movie history. (Not wanting to give too much away.) Someone is bitten on the face several times in a most surprising way by a black mamba, another person is shot in the chest point blank by a shotgun, a most unique fight scene with "The Bride" battling assassin squad member Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah) in an old trailer, and a fight with the combatants entirely seated at a kitchen table.

Most claustrophobic of all is the scene where "The Bride" is literally buried alive. In one shot she's nailed into a wooden coffin, dragged across the ground, and dumped into a grave. The camera is placed in the coffin with "The Bride" and we're with her as we hear the grave filled shovel-by-shovel full of dirt from above. If ever I noticed how good sound editing can be this was the moment.

Tarantino has a way of resurrecting movie stars lost careers. Both John Travolta and Robert Forrester careers were injected with renewed vigor after starring in Tarantino movies. (In an odd twist of fate, Travolta stars in the mega-budget 'The Punisher', which opens the same day as 'Kill Bill Vol. 2'.) I have no doubt title star of 'Kill Bill' David Carradine's stock as an actor will rise after starring in the 'Kill Bill' movies.

(In fact, the last I heard of Carradine, he was shooting a movie in my hometown of Fort Wayne, Indiana back in the late 1990's. To say that very few movies have ever been shot in Fort Wayne is an understatement. As far as I know this movie, with Carradine as an aging musician, has never seen the light of day.)

The 'Kill Bill' series is a fine addition to Tarantino's growing list of great movies. (Is this man capable of making a bad movie?) It's a good feeling to know that at only 41, Tarantino has many years ahead of him to make many more fine movies.

I give 'Kill Bill Vol. 2' 9 out of 10 exploding hearts.

By Bert Ehrmann

BBC America
A couple of interesting shows are premiering on BBC America this week.

Last night (4/15) BBC America had the premiere of the Canadian hit 'Trailer Park Boys.' This series follows Julian and Ricky, two friends who've just been released from prison and find their home trailer park being run by a thug with a gun. Shot faux documentary style (ala 'The Office') this comedy series has been a hit north of the border for several years now.

Although the first episode had it's moments, the character "Bubbles" was one of them, I'm going to hold judgment on this series until several more have aired. (The first episode was essentially character introduction to the audience.)

'Trailer Park Boys' airs at 9:00 P.M. (EST) on BBC America.

Premiering Sunday (4/18) on BBC America is 'State of Play.' This six episode series is described by BBC as "a gripping political conspiracy thriller set against the background of government and national press." Unfortunately 'State of Play's' Sunday time-slot, 9:00 P.M. (EST), puts it up against 'The Sopranos.' Don't despair if you want to see the show, though. 'State of Play' episodes re-air on BBC America several times during the week, the most convenient being 8:00 P.M. (EST) Fridays.

By Bert Ehrmann

Arrested Development
'Arrested Development' will NOT air Sunday night (4/18) on Fox as scheduled. Don't worry though, 'Arrested Development' hasn't permanently been pulled from the schedule. Fox is shuffling around shows that were preempted by the President's press conference last Tuesday and has moved the episode of '24' that was due to air Tuesday into 'Arrested Development's' time-slot.

By Bert Ehrmann

Napoleon Dynamite
An interesting trailer for the upcoming 'Napoleon Dynamite' hit the net a few days back. It looks like it's from the same school of film-making that Wes Anderson attended.

See the trailer for yourself here.

By Bert Ehrmann

By Bert Ehrmann

The Manchurian Candidate
Check out the trailer for the upcoming Jonathan Demme ('The Silence of the Lambs') version of 'The Manchurian Candidate.' This remake stars Denzel Washington and Liev Schreiber ('The Sum of All Fears').

View the trailer here.

The original version of the movie deals with a group of soldiers who come to realize that they were captured during the Korean War, brainwashed, and turned into sleeper agents to work for the other side.

I've seen the original John Frankenheimer ('Ronin') and Frank Sinatra 1962 version of the 'The Manchurian Candidate' and liked it very much. The original is so full of political intrigue and government conspiracy it would make 'The X-Files' blush. Just the opening scene with the American soldiers being brainwashed are transported to all sorts of locations while their captors transform into all sorts of people, abet all in the soldier's heads, is classic. Pure Frankenheimer.

'The Manchurian Candidate' draws on all sorts of imbedded human fears. Like the fear of loosing our identity or of being so under someone else's influences that we cannot tell it from our own.

I have to admit that I have no idea on the legitimacy of the idea of being brainwashed in the ways presented in 'The Manchurian Candidate.' As far as I know the science behind it is as real as the science that allowed that bus to jump the unfinished bridge in the movie 'Speed.'

I only hope that the remake of 'The Manchurian Candidate' can hold a candle to the original.

(What's odd is that I notice Tina Sinatra, Frank's daughter, is listed as a producer on the new version of 'The Manchurian Candidate.' So I suppose the Sinatra family owns the rights to the story.)

By Bert Ehrmann

Kill Bill
Quentin Tarantino's love letter to Asian Kung Fu movies, 'Kill Bill - Volume 1', is released on DVD today. 'Kill Bill - Volume 1' is kinetic, fun, and genuine.

Buy the DVD here.

By Bert Ehrmann

The Alamo
Remember 'The Alamo'? Touchstone Pictures sure hopes you will, especially since 'The Alamo' was supposed to open in theaters back on Christmas day, 2003 and not mid-April, 2004. The official word from the studio was that director John Lee Hancock needed more time for special effects. But rumors abounded that the real reason for the delay was that the movie badly needed reedited.

Regardless on the reasoning behind the delay in 'The Alamo's' release date, I can report that the finished product is a fine movie indeed.

'The Alamo' follows the lead-up of the siege of the Alamo by the Mexican army lead by General Santa Ana, the defense of the Alamo, the eventual defeat and massacre of the defenders by the Mexicans, and the Mexican's eventual defeat by the forces of Sam Houston.

This sounds like, and is, a lot of story to cover in a little over two hours. (In fact it's one of the movie's few weaknesses.) But somehow director Hancock manages to (mostly) pull the movie through.

'The Alamo' differs from the previous incarnations of the Alamo story in that the defenders of the Alamo are presented as mere men with all the character flaws that go along with putting one pant leg on at a time. Davy Crockett (Billy Bob Thornton who delivers a fine performance) doesn't go to the Alamo to defend it; he goes there because Texas was the next wild frontier. William Travis (Patrick Wilson - the actor, not the drummer of 'Weezer') has abandoned his wife and children for career and is in command of the men only because the regular commander is away on business. Jim Bowie (Jason Patric), a drunk dying from tuberculosis, and his volunteers arrive at the Alamo to steal a cannon for General Sam Houston (Dennis Quaid) since the Mexicans have been defeated at the Alamo before (off screen) and aren't expected back for some time.

But in these character traits is where the movie excels. It is even more touching that these men with all their flaws still defend, and die at, the Alamo to the last man. These men weren't the mythological heroes that they have become in modern history, but real people who ended up defending the Alamo because to circumstance.

The real weaknesses of 'The Alamo' is the length of the build-up to the battle, some plot-points that are seemingly abandoned, and the lack of focus on almost anything but the defenders of the Alamo. Though we do catch a few fleeting glimpses of what it's like to serve in the Mexican army but not nearly enough insight is given.

Still, I'm not sure that there's anyway around some of these weaknesses. If Hancock had made the build-up to the battle shorter, the audience would have missed out on knowing the defenders of the Alamo and wouldn't have cared as much at their sacrifices. And if there was more focus on the Mexican army I would suppose that the movie would have been even longer and wouldn't have flowed as well as it does.

Although I have no way of knowing whether this version of the Alamo story is genuine, it does feel genuine. And sometimes that's enough.

I give 'The Alamo' 8 out of 10, even if it is lacking a basement.

By Bert Ehrmann

HBO is running the first three episodes of 'Deadwood' tonight (4/9) back-to-back beginning at 8:00 P.M. It's the perfect time to catch up on any missed episodes or to relive the series to date.

If you have HBO and aren't watching 'Deadwood' then there's really no hope for you. Instead, please tune into 'Hope and Faith' tonight on ABC and politely turn your brain off.

By Bert Ehrmann

Movie Trailers
Three new and interesting movie trailers/documentaries have popped up on the Internet the last few days.

Kill Bill – Volume II
The trailer for 'Kill Bill – Volume II' is an interesting one that's a good tease for the sequel to last year's hit movie 'Kill Bill.' I'd go see 'Kill Bill – Volume 2' just to see the dude who trains "The Bride" (Uma Thurman) to fight. Than man has some serious eyebrow action!

View the trailer here.

Garden State
Where did this movie come from? I've read a bit about it here and there but haven't found too much about it. Then this trailer hit the net (I originally saw it before 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind') and knocked me over.

This is how to make a trailer. This is how to tease a movie. I cannot describe the lengths I'd go to see 'Garden State' after seeing this trailer.

Is it just me or does Zach Braff (J.D. on 'Scrubs') the writer and director of 'Garden State' look more and more like he's about to ditch TV and become a "legit" movie actor?

Folks, I predict that Braff is the next Tom Hanks – the guy who turns his career on television into a highly successful movie career. Hopefully, we'll be hearing from Braff for some time to come.

View the trailer here.

Aliens vs. Predator
Finally a featurette on the making of 'Aliens vs. Predator.' Learn what it takes to screw-up one of the best franchises in film history. (Hint, start by giving the film to director Paul Anderson, then caricature the 'Alien' and 'Predator' characters…)

You'll see what I mean.

View the featurette here.

By Bert Ehrmann

An interesting article on what it’s like to be a traditional 2D animator living in a 3D world:

For decades, Southern California was the ultimate destination for self-described "animation geeks." But shifts in the industry - a growing appetite for computer-generated graphics and the chronic issue of outsourcing - have eliminated 1,000 jobs in the last three years.

It's a frustrating time for animators: Television appears to be a lively circus of work, with new shows, concepts and packages arriving seasonally, but much of the work is being done overseas. According to the Animation Guild, there are about 1,600 union members currently employed. But for the first time in 70 years the Walt Disney Co. doesn't have a traditional animation feature in the pipeline. ("Home on the Range," Disney's last-in-the-can 2-D feature, was released Friday.) There is only one hand-drawn feature in production - "Curious George" for Universal Pictures. Disney began streamlining its traditional animation units nearly four years ago; since then several hundred jobs have vanished from Southern California and Florida.

Some animators have been out of work for 18 months or more. Some have taken part-time jobs in art supply shops or bookstores. Others have become gardeners, chefs, teachers and real estate agents. While a number are making strides to transition into 3-D, or computer-generated imaging, others figure it looks like a good time to delve into long-sidelined projects. Then there are those who are simply stuck, lost or in denial. They vent and carp with friends or on the busy Web site, or sit at home and obsess. As with many laid-off populations, occasional rumors of suicide pepper conversations.

In the last couple of years, it had become catch as catch can, with many bouncing from studio to production company…

Read the whole article here.

By Bert Ehrmann

Fort Wayne Reader
My latest column is up over at The Fort Wayne Reader: Now it can be told — DU answers your fan mail. (Even if it's fan mail from the voices in my head.)

By Bert Ehrmann

Forever War
I'm getting a bit ticked off at Sci Fi Channel as of late.

Exactly two years ago today, Sci Fi Channel announced that they were turning the book 'The Forever War' into a mini-series. Since 'The Forever War' is one of my favorite books of all time, I was extremely excited at the prospect of seeing William Mandella doing battle with the extraterrestrial Taurans.

The other day, Sci Fi Channel is announced new shows for their 2005-2006 season and 'The Forever War' isn't one of them. Instead shows with titles like 'The Man with the Screaming Brain' and as what happens when "…the mini-series 'V' meets 'Sex and the City'" are going to be shown instead. 'The Forever War' is getting passed over for this!?

(And my friends wonder why they don't watch Sci Fi Channel anymore. Could 'The Man with the Screaming Brain be the cause?)

I am not some geek looking for my quick sci fi fix – I don't like most sci fi . I am not one of those people who watches, or likes, 'Farscape.' (I know, shock horror!) Read exactly what I feel about the current state of sci fi here.

The earliest 'The Forever War' will grace television screens is (probably) sometime during the 2006-2007 season. Up to five years after it was first announced and all that time languishing in the dreaded "development hell".

Sci Fi Channel, I'm waiting.

More on 'The Forever War' on Dangerous Universe:
The planned, though never filmed, PBS mini-series.
Drawings inspired by 'The Forever War' book. 1 | 2 | 3
The original press release announcing Sci Fi Channel's mini-series.

By Bert Ehrmann

Freaks and Geeks
Out on DVD today (4/6) is the best series ever to focus on what it is like to be a teen in America‚ no matter what the decade. 'Freaks and Geeks' the DVD set features 6 disks with all 18 episodes including a director's cut of the pilot, deleted scenes, 29 audio commentaries, and much more.

I cannot recommend 'Freaks and Geeks' highly enough – it's a pure joy to watch. It's a shame 'Freaks and Geeks' died after one season on television. It's a mind bender that the series has been off the air for nearly five years. How time flies.

Buy the DVD here.

By Bert Ehrmann

I went into ‘Hellboy’ hoping that it would be another ‘Spider-Man’ (2002) or ‘X-Men 2: X-Men United’ (2003). Unfortunately, ‘Hellboy’ really disappointed me. I have been waiting for this movie for months now, ever since the first trailer hit the Internet late last year. Although ‘Hellboy” isn’t bad on the scale of The Hulk’ (2003), I would put it on par with the let-down that was ’Daredevil” (2003). At best ‘Hellboy’ is an average movie, at worst it is a bad one.

‘Hellboy’ tells the story of the “Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense”, a secret government agency charged with combating occult forces that threaten the world. (Think ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ with government funding.) The Bureau is headed up by Professor Bruttenholm (John Hurt) who’s been combating the forces of evil since World War 2. During one of his missions with a group of American soldiers in Scotland, Bruttenholm foiled an attempt by Grigori Rasputin (Karel Roden) to destroy the world. (Madmen wanting to destroy the world have always confused me. Are they going to be somewhere else when the world goes “boom”?) During the battle, one “thing” slipped through from the other side – a baby demon the soldiers name “Hellboy”.

Flash-forward to the present day and the adult Hellboy (Ron Perlman) has become the chief slayer of evil for the Bureau along side the aquatic psychic Abraham 'Abe' Sapien (Doug Jones/ David Hyde Pierce), pyrotechnic Liz Sherman (Selma Blair), and FBI agent John Myers (Rupert Evans) tasked to keep Hellboy out of trouble and out of the public eye.

I’m not sure where ‘Hellboy’ went wrong. How hard can it be to set a few large action pieces between some bits of story? It must be very hard since ‘Hellboy’ fails on this level. Although one of the action pieces in ‘Hellboy’ is very good, the rest are lack-luster. It isn’t because of the action pieces that the movie falls apart though. ‘Hellboy’ doesn’t work because of an overly complex story.

At several times during ‘Hellboy’ I found myself confused at the turn of events or what certain parts of the story had to do with the rest of the movie. Several plot points went unexplained or lead nowhere in the overall scheme of the movie.

I felt that if I had read more of the ‘Hellboy’ comic books I might have had a better understanding of the movie’s overall plot. And that may be the biggest problem for ‘Hellboy’; I was somewhat familiar with the Hellboy character and know a bit of the back-story. And if I can get lost in a story that I am somewhat familiar with, what about the rest of the millions of people out there who have no idea who Hellboy is?

I give ‘Hellboy’ 4.5 out of 10 chunks of brimstone.

By Bert Ehrmann

Century City; We Hardly Knew Thee
‘Century City’, the legal drama set in a future Los Angeles, was canceled yesterday due to poor ratings. The main problem behind ‘Century City’ was that the focus of the show was on the cases worked by the law firm rather than the people working within and their lives some twenty-seven years from now. Worst of all were the cases handled by the law firm.

Cases like the one about the man wanting to make a clone of his clone… Or the kid who wants to stop growing so that he can remain a child star… Even worse was the woman with a penis implant who’s sued by a man that she’s had sex with the night before for emotional damage… (Folks, I can’t make this stuff up. It just writes itself.)

‘Century City’ wasn’t bad. It just wasn’t all that good. And in the cutthroat world that is network television not all that good is a death sentence. If the focus of ‘Century City’ was on the characters of the law firm and their lives in this futuristic L.A., the show might have had a chance for survival. Heck, the show might have even been interesting.

Instead, the show’s creators decided to focus on the weird and wild court cases that must exist in 2030. Right? I know that 2030 sounds like a long way off, but twenty-seven years ago it was just 1977. And in 1977 things weren’t all too different than today. I suspect that if someone traveled from the past to today most of what they see would be familiar to them. People still drive cars and watch TV. McDonalds is still serving up burgers and kids still misbehave at the grocery store.

It’s in the details that things are different. And that’s where most sci-fi shows focusing on the future go wrong. They try to focus too much on the big picture, which doesn’t change as much as we’d like to admit, and not enough on the details.

My guess is that in twenty-seven years, cases handled in the courts of L.A. will be much like the ones of today. Things like parking violations, robbery, and speeding tickets will be what keeps tomorrow’s courts busy, not penis implants and clones. The stuff of reality doesn’t necessarily make for good television. But apparently the stuff that makes up the wild court cases of ‘Century City’ doesn’t make for good television either.

I give ‘Century City’ (overall) 3 out of 10 “what if’s”.

By Bert Ehrmann

Nestor Carbonell
In an interesting twist of fate, actor Nestor Carbonell (Batmanuel on 'The Tick') was up against himself last Tuesday (3/30) night in the network ratings wars. On CBS Carbonell played Tom Montero on the series 'Century City' while at the same time on NBC he was playing Doctor Ronald Ramirez on 'Scrubs'. Since The Futon Critic is reporting that 'Century City' has been canceled, as of 4/1, I'd say that the Doctor Ronald Ramirez won his time slot.

The problem with 'Century City' is that the show just wasn't that good. All of the cases handled by the firm on the series were too high profile and a bit unbelievable. More on 'Century City's' demise tomorrow.

By Bert Ehrmann

Jack Black
Good news on the Jack Black front. From IMDB:

Academy Award-winning producer-director Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King) has selected Jack Black (The School of Rock, Shallow Hal) to star opposite Naomi Watts in his remake of King Kong as the filmmaker-entrepreneur who captures the giant ape and brings him to New York as a freak-show attraction…

Does this mean that Jack's about to go legit? Is he going to pull a Tom Hanks on us and make the switch from comedy to drama? Only time will tell.

By Bert Ehrmann

Two DVDs are being released today of some interest.

The first is 'Jem - The Compete First and Second Seasons'. Jem was a cartoon in the 1980's chronicling the life of rock star Jem who did battle with the evil "Misfits." In reality though, the Jem cartoon was an attempt to market dolls to little girls. Unsurprisingly Mattel, who has the "little girl doll market" cornered with Barbie, released 'Barbie and the Rockers' the cartoon to try and capitalize on and take away some of Jem's popularity.

Read more about Jem here.
Buy the DVD here.

Also being released today is the remake of 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre', one of the worst movies last year. Read my review of the movie here.' The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' also won a "DUie" this year for "Freakiest Moment in a Movie":

…The “super-freaky” moment in a movie goes to the entire The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2003 version. During the entire movie I kept feeling that the audience was looking around at one and other thinking, “Man, you bought tickets to this movie too!? Why? Freaky!”

Read all of this year's DUie's here.
Buy the DVD here.

By Bert Ehrmann

I am very happy at where David Milch is taking 'Deadwood' after seeing the second episode of the series.

This episode of HBO's 'Deadwood' takes place immediately after the events of the first. Bar owner and general really bad guy Al Swearengen (Ian McShane) has to deal with the consequences of the massacred family on the road to Spearfish when a little girl survivor is brought back into camp threatening Al's stranglehold on Deadwood. (Road Agents robbed and killed the family rather than Indians like everyone assumes. And if people are being massacred by white-men then that's a reason for the real law to show up in town.) Sol Star (John Hawkes) and Seth Bullock (Timothy Olyphant) try to fit into town and buy the lot their miner's supply store sits on from Al. He's not interested in selling since Seth represents a bit of order. Meanwhile, Wild Bill Hickok (Keith Carradine) reveals that he might not become a miner after all and is more interested in gambling and drinking the night away.

Can Timothy Olyphant be any better in the role of Seth Bullock? I've always thought that he was a good actor, but he's absolutely stunning in this role. Timothy can go from nice guy one moment to scary guy the next with just a lowering of the eyes. And he's one of the good guys!

The one major complaint I've been hearing about the first episode was the amount of swearing. Admittedly, it was a lot. I think Milch was trying to get some of those words out of his system after working at network television the last few decades by filling the first episode with "colorful" words. See how many swear words are in a typical episode of 'NYPD Blue' or ''Law and Order.' About the worst you'll hear on one of those shows is "ass" or "damn." You'll hear A LOT worse in 'Deadwood'.

In the second episode of 'Deadwood', the amount of swearing is less than in the first but those words are still there.

It's a fallacy for people to assume that those sorts of words were an invention of the 20th century. I think that the first word spoken by a caveman was probably rock, and the second was f*cking to better describe said rock. Still, I find it interesting that no one has complained about the amount violence in the first episode, an entire family gets hacked to pieces off screen, but people choose to complain about the language instead.

Still, if you're not watching 'Deadwood' you don't know what you're missing.

I give the second episode of 'Deadwood' 8 out of 10 gold laden creek beds.

By Bert Ehrmann

The Sopranos
Does this mean that Adriana's going to be whacked this season to free up her schedule to jump shows!? From CNN:

LOS ANGELES, California (Hollywood Reporter) -- After a lengthy search, Drea De Matteo of "The Sopranos" fame has landed the role of Joey Tribbiani's sister on NBC's upcoming "Friends" spinoff series, "Joey."

Thanks to Michael for the heads up.

By Bert Ehrmann

By Bert Ehrmann

Shattered Glass
I found the move 'Shattered Glass' to be enjoyable. A bit overdone, but enjoyable.

'Shattered Glass' follows Stephen Glass (Hayden Christensen); writer for The New Republic* who gets caught up in his own lies when it is revealed that his stories were works of fiction in a magazine that prides itself on being right.

'Shattered Glass' is interesting in that Stephen Glass doesn't have to do much to fool the editors and fact checkers of The New Republic to get his stories in print. Although the details of his stories are works of fiction there's no way for an editor to easily uncover these lies. He writes about hackers, young republicans, and anything else an editor can't pick up a book and see if the facts are accurate or not. He presents fiction and sells it as fact.

Glass' downfall comes when an inquisitive reporter at goes to write a follow up article on the hackers, but can't find any of the sources that Glass identified.

The movie gets a bit slow in the third act as we follow Glass and editor Chuck Lane (Peter Sarsgaard) slowly deconstruct, and disprove, the hacker story. The movie gets a bit slow and since most of the end weighs on Christensen's acting abilities, things somewhat fall apart.

Still, 'Shattered Glass' isn't all that bad and seeing the inner workings of a magazine like The New Republic is interesting. The movie would be even better if scandals like that presented in 'Shattered Glass' didn't happen as often as they do these days. (Jayson Blair of The New York Times and just recently Jack Kelley of USA Today were caught fabricating stories.)

I give 'Shattered Glass' 6 out of 10 bottles of Windex.

*For the 'Star Wars' fans out there, Stephen Glass was the writer for the magazine The New Republic. Hayden Christensen also happens to star in several 'Star Wars' movies that features The New Republic as a style of government. THEY ARE TWO SEPERATE THINGS YOU YO-YO HEADS. Thanks to Jay for this joke that nearly slipped from my hands.

By Bert Ehrmann

By Bert Ehrmann

How do I like 'Deadwood'? Let me count the ways...

It's been a long time since I've seen a western as fine as HBO's 'Deadwood.' I suspect that 'Deadwood' will be the show that redefines the western as 'The Sopranos' has come to redefine the mafia drama.

'Deadwood' is the story about the town of the same name in South Dakota. Built on Indian land and not under the laws of the United States, anything goes. It's a criminal's dream come true. Drugs, prostitution, gambling, and generally cheating a man out of his pay is the norm in Deadwood. If there wasn't so much money to be made, there's gold in the surrounding hills, the average person would avoid Deadwood at all costs. But the greed gene seems to be as common in people from the 19th century as it is to people in the 21st as the masses flock to the little town in the hills looking to make a fortune but finding much less.

David Milch, show creator and best known for creating 'NYPD Blue', hits a home run with 'Deadwood.' He's created a show that transcends the usual dreck that the rest of television dramas have become, and reaches out for something more. 'Deadwood' brings a breath of fresh air to the television landscape via the dirt and mud of Deadwood.

'Deadwood' follows as ex-Marshal Seth Bullock (the great Timothy Olyphant) and his partner Sol Star (John Hawkes) setting up shop in Deadwood looking to earn a buck. They are joined by Wild Bill Hickok (Keith Carradine) who rides into town looking to duck a warrant from another town but is drawn into a seemingly endless game of poker and drinking.

The best character of all is Al Swearengen (played to the hilt by Ian McShane) a "business" man supplying the miners with prostitutes, liquor, and drugs. Though not an evil man, Al just lacks any form of conscience. He'd have no qualms about having a drink with you one minute and sending one of his thugs to gut you with a knife the next if he thought he'd benefit from your death. That's what separates Al from the average murderer - Al would only kill you if it would benefit Al.

In fact, 'Deadwood' is swimming in great characters. Even the supporting characters seem to have fully formed back-stories. From Calamity Jane swooning over Wild Bill one minute and cursing like a sailor the next to Trixie, Al's best whore who's a certified survivor.

Al's racket on the town is put into jeopardy with the arrival of Wild Bill and Seth, both ex-lawmen, who might supply some order to the chaos that Al leeches off of.

If this first episode is any indication on the quality of the rest of the series, there are twelve episodes in 'Deadwood'; I can't wait to see where the rest of 'Deadwood' will take us.

I give HBO's 'Deadwood' 9.5 out of 10 whisky shots.

By Bert Ehrmann

21 Grams
I was more than a little disappointed in '21 Grams.' After seeing all the attention the movie has gotten over the last few months, I was expecting much more but received less.

'21 Grams' follows three lives intertwined by an accident. Jack Jordan (Benicio Del Toro) is a born again Christian who accidentally kills Christina Peck's (Naomi Watts) family in a hit and run accident. Paul Rivers (Sean Penn) plays a math teacher who receives Christina's husband's heart in a transplant.

The movie is about how many lives can be affected by a single action. It's also about how guilt can rot a person to the bone. Except these two themes get lost in an odd movie edit. These stories are played out of order. One minute the Del Toro character is in jail, the next he has a different hairstyle, and then he's in church with the family. I was constantly playing catch-up with the story. Not totally sure what I was seeing or what was going on.

I'm not totally sure if the story wasn't good or if it was a bad edit.

It's a hard movie to follow. I'd say that it was a movie that requires multiple watching's to totally understand, but I'm not going to be the person to watch it again any time soon.

I give '21 Grams' 4 out of 10 guilt trips.

Buy the DVD here.

By Bert Ehrmann

My new movie reviews are being syndicated over at Crazewire. You can read them there a few days before they're posted here. For example, the 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' review that was posted here today was posted over there last weekend.

By Bert Ehrmann

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
The movie 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' is what would happen if the movie's writer Charlie Kaufman ('Adaptation' and 'Being John Malkovich) wrote the screenplay to 'Total Recall' instead of Ronald Shusett. Each of these two movies deals with (essentially) the same subject of meddling with memories, but approaches these themes in two different ways. (Most notably there is no trip to Mars and the line "I'll be back" is never said in 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind'. Which is a good thing!)

In 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind', Joel Barish (Jim Carrey) undergoes the erasure of his ex-girlfriend Clementine (Kate Winslet) from his memory after a painful breakup. During the procedure, though, Joel decides that he doesn't want to loose these memories and tries to protect Clementine by hiding her away in the deepest recesses of his mind.

I found the movie to be extremely innovative and entertaining. 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' plays out like some extended nightmare taking place mostly in Joel's head like some chess game. The technicians tasked with removing Clementine, played by Elijah Wood and Mark Ruffalo - who gives one heck of a performance, wonder why this erasure is so much more difficult than the others as Joel fights for control of his mind.

The use of spotlight lighting and out of focus visuals adds to the nightmarish quality of the trip through Joel's mind. (I've had dreams with the sort of visions used in the movie and I have to say that those weren't good dreams!)

The visual effects are also top notch. We watch as pieces of Joel's life disappears from his memory one at a time - literally. One minute Joel and Clementine are walking down the street. A beat later Clementine is gone and Joel is rushing off to try to rescue another memory of her from another time in life. We watch as the titles of books in a store disappear and as a house disintegrates before Joel's eyes as these memories are erased.

If a person's essence is contained in a varied assortment of memories, what happens when we start deleting ones that we don't like? Do we change ourselves in the process?

'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' is a thinking person's movie. I suspect that it is the opposite of the other big movie opening this week, 'Dawn of the Dead.'

I give 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind' 9 out of 10 memory wipes.

By Bert Ehrmann

An interesting article about the production of the television series 'Scrubs' is up over at the Apple site:

At best, TV production is an elaborate game of “Beat the Clock,” only with costly penalties when the clock wins. So last summer, between seasons two and three, the “Scrubs” producers and editors set out to relieve some of the headaches of creating so much in so short a time. As one key prescription, “Scrubs” became the first network TV series to be edited entirely using Final Cut Pro.

It’s a tough task, because “Scrubs” is quite the ambitious show. Unlike a sitcom shot with multiple cameras in front of a live studio audience, “Scrubs” is filmed on location in an abandoned hospital using a single camera. “This is like making a little movie every five shooting days,” says editor John Michel, who created the editing style for the show when he and executive producer Bill Lawrence developed the pilot. “Doing a single-camera show is a lot more work,” Michel says. “We do a lot of setups. And,” he adds, “it moves very quickly.”

Read the entire article here.

If 'Scrubs' is edited and composed on off the shelf software, then what's stopping the rest of us from making our own television shows (other than talent, experience, and creativity) with the same software? It's an interesting time in that the same tools that the professionals use can be used by just about anyone.

(Not that just anyone can pick up a copy of Final Cut Pro and become an ace editor. When oil paints became refially available to the masses not everyone who picked up a brush could paint like a master.)

By Bert Ehrmann

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
Three very interesting 'Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow' teaser posters have appeared online. I'm really digging them. Teaser posters, ones that are released months before a movie, are usually a whole heck of a lot more interesting than the final posters, unveiled much closer to the movies release date. Whereas the teaser poster usually has at least some artistic merit, the final poster usually does not.

I've always thought that the teaser poster's job is to get the public aware that a movie exists and the final poster is to sell that movie to the public.

View the posters at a larger size here

By Bert Ehrmann

It's a bit odd to think that a decade has passed since the release of Weezer's first CD most commonly known as "The Blue Album". To celebrate this first decade of Weezer, Geffen is re-releasing "The Blue Album" as a two CD set. The first CD is the original album remastered for the 21st century. On the second CD are rare recordings, b-sides, demos, and other goodies (the kitchen tapes).

I still have my copy I bought ten years ago while in my first year of college. This is one of the best CD's of the 1990s, and I can't imagine that with additional material it could be any better.

Buy the CD here.

Past Weezer news on Dangerous Universe
Maladroit news.
=w='s "Blue Album" is eight.
Mad Kow the song (not the disease).
Weezer and Tenacious D.

By Bert Ehrmann

War of the Worlds
Interesting news from Dark Horizons:

Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise will bring "The War of the Worlds" to the big screen with Cruise expected to star. Depending upon how long it takes to find a script that both could agree on, production could begin late 2005 on the sci-fi epic based on the classic H.G. Wells alien-invasion novel.

Learn more here.

The last time I heard of someone trying to adapt 'The War of the Worlds' for the big screen was in 2001. I seem to recall that version being set in present day with the Martians attacking major cities including those in America. Then, New York City was really attacked on 9/11 and disaster movies were put on the shelf. I guess people are finally taking those movies off the shelf. (I bet if movies like 'The Day After Tomorrow' do well disaster movies will fly off the shelf.)

By Bert Ehrmann

Arrested Development
Don't miss a special episode of 'Arrested Development' airing Wednesday (3/17) night at 9:30 P.M. (EST) on Fox. Julia Louis-Dreyfus ('Seinfeld') guest stars as a blind lawyer prosecuting George Sr. (Jeffrey Tambor) while at the same time sleeping with his son Michael (Jason Bateman).

Next Sunday (3/21) starting at 2:30 P.M. (EST), FX will run a marathon of 'Arrested Development' episodes.

By Bert Ehrmann

Aliens Vs. Predator
Check out the Internet only trailer for the movie 'Aliens Vs. Predator.' It shows a little more of the movie than the previous trailer, which was made up mostly of clips from the older 'Aliens' and 'Predator' movies. It's still too early to judge whether or not 'Aliens Vs. Predator' will be a winner or not. (My guess is that it will not.)

Watch the Aliens fight the Predators here.

The Day After Tomorrow
There's also a new trailer out for the movie 'The Day After Tomorrow' opening in cinemas next summer. 'The Day After Tomorrow' looks like the standard disaster flick that Roland Emmerich has been known for directing in the past. (Think 'Independence Day' with out of control weather replacing the marauding aliens.) This time though the disaster action takes place on a global scale when the world's weather goes wacky leading to another ice age.

See New York City demolished by a giant wall of water.

I Robot
The last interesting new trailer is that for Wil Smith's 'I Robot.' The movie follows Smith as a Chicago homicide cop investigating a murder. This murder is a bit unique in that it appears as if it main suspect is a robot, breaking its deepest and most secure programming to not harm humans. And if one robot can break this programming what’s stopping the rest? Is this murder just a murder or the first shot in a rebellion?

Witness the robot rebellion here.

By Bert Ehrmann

I must admit that I really enjoyed David Mamet's latest movie; 'Spartan.' There were a few flaws in the plot and I found the female characters delivery of dialogue a little wooden, but overall the movie was very entertaining.

'Spartan' follows an agent known only as "Scott" (Val Kilmer) working for an undetermined governmeny agency. When the First Daughter (Kristen Bell) is kidnapped and sold into a slavery ring (the abductors think that she's just another girl), Scott must find her by any means. Let's just say that killing is one of the less violent options in Scott's pallet of persuasion. When it turns out that the President's advisors don't want the daughter to be found, Scott must go rouge to uncover the conspiricy.

The movie sounds like the generic spy-drama that has been made a million times before. 'Spartan' is unlike those movies. Like in real life, the characters don't spell the plot out for the audience or talk in an unnaturalistic manner. The dialogue is also top notch. Just like in life, the plot of 'Spartan' is a bit messy. At one point, Scott makes detailed plans about rescuing the girl, only to see his plans go up in smoke when he has to think on his feet or loose her. People are killed when the audience least expects it. Major characters die.

I think that's the real power of this movie is that it's just about impossible to see what's going to happen next. Each scene unfolds like a mystery to the viewer. In any other movie the plot unfolds in the "normal" manner – characters go from A to B to C. In 'Spartan,' the characters take this same trip just down a road that the audience has bever been down before!

Unfortunately for 'Spartan,' the movie is doomed for failure. I haven't seen any advertisements for the movie, television or otherwise, and the only trailer I saw for it was the one I downloaded myself. It's a shame that more people aren't aware of this movie and won't get the opportunity to see it. It reminds me a lot of another overlooked movie that was great but died from a fouled marketing approach; 'The Way of the Gun.' Each movie deserves a fate better than was delivered it.

I give 'Spartan' 8.5 out of 10 CIA Spooks creeping around your door.

(It was an odd trip to the mega-multiplex-movie-house since 'The Passion of Christ' was playing on several screens. As I was entering the movie theater people were leaving 'The Passtion of Christ' in tears. Middle-aged women were bawling to their husbands as they tried to find their way to their parked cars. (Though I couldn't be sure that they weren't crying over Jim Caviezel. Everytime I see him act I want to cry too – and not in the usual good way.)

By Bert Ehrmann

Green River Killer
This could be an interesting mini-series. From The Futon Critic:

UNTITLED GREEN RIVER KILLER PROJECT (ABC, New!) - The Alphabet has given a script commitment to producer Stan Brooks (of the upcoming telefilms "The Legend of Butch and Sundance" and "Dynasty") to develop a four-hour mini-series about the decades-long quest to capture Gary Leon Ridgway, Washington state's notorious Green River killer. John Pielmeier ("Hitler: The Rise of Evil" ) is on board to write the script to the project, which Brooks will executive produce via his Once Upon a Time Films. The mini-series will explore the case from the point of view of King County Sheriff Dave Reichert, who was a rookie detective when the string of murders first came to the attention of police. In total, Ridgway plead guilty to murdering 48 people last fall however investigators suspect he killed even more people. The case offers an interesting "Silence of the Lambs"-esque twist in that Reichert met with serial killer Ted Bundy who offered his help to track down Ridgway. ABC and Brooks are targeting the project for a possible 2005 premiere should it get greenlighted.

By Bert Ehrmann

The Thunderbirds are Go!
The (somewhat) popular late 1960's Supermarionated show 'The Thunderbirds are Go!' is being turned into a movie entitled 'Thunderbirds.' After seeing some photos from the movie, I have come up with some interesting taglines I think would work with this 21st century version of 'The Thunderbirds:'

"Queer-Eye for the Thunderbird Guy."
"The Thunderbirds are Gay!"
"The Thunderbirds are Metrosexual!"

By Bert Ehrmann

Fort Wayne Reader
My latest column for The Fort Wayne reader discusses the similarities between philosophers Thomas Paine and Stanley Milgram. No, not really. This time I look into some of the more interesting television pilots being worked on for next season.

By Bert Ehrmann

Dawn of the Dead
If you're interested in the upcoming remake of 'Dawn of the Dead', be sure to check out the new DVD for the original 'Dawn of the Dead' being released from Anchor Bay. This DVD has an audio commentary with George Romero and Tom Savini as well as theatrical trailers, TV spots, and advertising art.

If life is cheep than this "dead" DVD is even cheeper. The price is really low for such a DVD.

Buy the DVD here.

By Bert Ehrmann

The official site for the upcoming HBO series 'Deadwood' has launched. View commercials for the series and download a 'Deadwood' desktop for your computer. Be sure to read series creator David Mills' interesting take on 'Deadwood'.

The first episode of 'Deadwood' airs March 21st at 10:00 P.M. (EST) following 'The Sopranos.'

By Bert Ehrmann

School of Rock
'School of Rock' is a good movie. I got the sense that this was a serious attempt to market Jack Black to a wider audience than the college and high school kids who are already familiar with him. Although some would find offense with the 'Tenacious D' song, which Jack Black is a member, "F*ck Her Gently," I am sure that no one would find 'School of Rock' offensive.

The movie follows Dewey Finn (Jack Black) as a down on his luck lead guitarist looking for a new gig after being fired from his band. In need of some quick cash for rent, Finn takes a job as a substitute teacher posing as his room-mate Ned Schneebly (Mike White). At first, Finn plays it cool as the substitute giving the kids an all day recess. However, when he discovers that some of the kids are musically talented, Finn decides to form a band with the kids to try and win $20,000 at a local "battle of the bands" competition.

'School of the Rock' could easilly be titled 'Jack Black Lite' instead. Coke Classic is to 'Tenacious D' and Diet Coke is to 'School of Rock.' It's almost as good as the original but leaves a weird after-taste.

I didn't dislike the movie, I just wanted more. At times the Jack Black persona that I come to know and love boils to the surface, but not too often for my taste. Black's gone from his 'Tenacious D' days singing, "You don't always have to f*ck her had, in fact sometimes it's not nice to do." To singing the theme song from 'School of Rock', "Baby we was making straight A's, But we was stuck in the dumb days."

Hopefully this movie will bring Black to a wider audience allowing the more raw 'Tenacious D' persona to be shown to the masses. (It can't hurt the chances of a 'Tenacious D' movie to get made either.)

I give 'School of Rock' 7 out of 10 "Hey Ya's."

Buy the DVD here.

By Bert Ehrmann

Kingdom Hospital
I watched the premiere episode of Stephen King's 'Kingdom Hospital' the other night and was pleasantly surprised. This first episode ran as a sort of two hour long movie with follow-up episodes being an hour in length.

'Kingdom Hospital' follows Peter Rickman (Jack Coleman), an artist who is hit and nearly killed by a van while jogging. His damaged body is taken to Kingdom Hospital – which may or may not be haunted.

Most interesting of all was how the events of Peter Rickman being struck by the car. At one point a crow lands on his paralyzed chest and thinks*, "You look tasty. I think I'll start with your eyes." If there's anything more frightening than being at the mercy of a crow's beak then please let me know. I'm still having nightmares about this one.

Hopefully, the rest of the series will follow this lead's example and won't degenerate into the usual dreck that we've come to expect from commercial TV drama. Interesting is good, "just usual" is bad.

*The audience can hear (sometimes) what the animals around the hospital are thinking. I'm not sure if we can really hear tham or if this is just a figmant of Jack Coleman's mind.

By Bert Ehrmann

It's hard to believe that on March 7, 2004 Stanley Kubrick will have been dead for five years – half a decade. Although I don't think he'd have made too many more movies after 'Eyes Wide Shut', he was in his 70's and it was taking him anywhere from seven to twelve years to make a movie, it would have been interesting to see what he'd have spent the rest of his life doing.

By Bert Ehrmann

Zombie 73
I was looking through a copy of 'Kingdom Hospital' that I EyeTV'd the other night and noticed a commercial for the upcoming 'Dawn of the Dead' movie. Unable to resist, I went through the commercial (almost) frame by frame to see just what was going on in those half-second cuts Hollywood is known for. In one of those short cuts, I noticed that two of the zombies were wearing the SAME shirt!

In this photo, you'll notice that two of the zombies are wearing identical shirts with "73" written on the front.

What are the odds of two zombies shopping at the same store? Is there some zombie NASCAR driver with the number 73 that I am unaware of? I know that Dale Earnhart was number 3, so I'm sure it's not him.

By Bert Ehrmann

John Carter of Mars
Robert Rodriguez is set to direct a big screen adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs's book 'A Princess of Mars.' This is another attempt to bring a multi-volume set of books, eleven, to the big screen.

The John Carter of Mars stories follows John Carter, a Civil War officer from Virginia mysteriously transported to Mars. On the red planet, Carter finds that he has almost super-human abilities in the lesser gravity of Mars. There, he meets many different kinds of Martians most notible the six-armed green variety, the Thark.

People have been trying to bring the John Carter stories to the big screen for many years to now with little success. Can Rodriguez break the curse? Will the title of the movie be anything other than 'John Carter of Mars: A Princess of Mars?' Only time will tell.

By Bert Ehrmann

Spider-Man 3
Forget about this summer's upcoming 'Spider-Man 2', Sony is already planning on 'Spider-Man 3', eyeing a 2007 release date. From Yahoo:

Spider-Man 2 isn't even finished, but Sony is so confident the would-be blockbuster will be a blockbuster that the studio has given the green light to a third big-screen adventure featuring Marvel's signature superhero.

In a conference call with reporters Tuesday, Marvel Studios Chairman and CEO Avi Arad confirmed that "Spider-Man 3 is in development" and that the sequel will likely swing into theaters by 2007, though it's possible the movie could arrive earlier.

"The best case scenario I can tell you [is] 2006. It is a big movie, and we would rather play it safe and talk about 2007 at this point," Arad said.

A rep for Sony confirmed on Wednesday that the two studios have agreed to move forward on a new Spider-Man, but declined to elaborate further.

By Bert Ehrmann

From various sources around the Internet, with special thanks to Patrick Nunn for the heads up.

Cameras will role this June on a feature length version of 'Firefly' renamed 'Serenity' for the big screen. The entire cast will be back to reprise their roles and Joss Whedon, the show's creator, is on board to write and direct the movie.

Read more about the details to the movie here.

Dangerous Universe has covered 'Firefly' many times in the past and is a huge fan of the show. We wish only the best for the big-screen version of 'Firefly.'

By Bert Ehrmann

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe
I remember seeing the British version 'The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe' on PBS in the late 1980's and enjoying it very much. I recall that the storyline was interesting and that the British word for closet door is "wardrobe." (In Amercia, a "wardrobe" is a dresser.) I also remember that the British kids said "wardrobe" in an interesting manner. Like "whoah-drobe."

In attempt to cash in on the mega success of turning fantasy books into movies, ala the 'Lord of the Rings' and 'Harry Potter' series, Disney is turning the seven volume set of 'The Chronicles of Narnia' into a series of movies starting with 'The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe.'

'The Chronicles of Narnia' follows the Pevensie children who travel through their wardrobe (closet) door and journey into the magical realm of Naria. There, these children must do battle with an evil witch and team up with a talking lion Aslan. The story sounds odd, but is really good.

Expect 'The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe' (aka 'Long Title') to hit the big screen sometime Christmas 2005.

By Bert Ehrmann

A DVD set for the TV series 'Scrubs' seems to be in the works. From show star Zach Braff via America's Queen:

Question: Any hope that of us fans will get to see Scrubs released on DVD?
Zach Braff: Scrubs will be released on DVD very soon.

By Bert Ehrmann

Lord of the Rings
Does "Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" deserve eleven Academy Awards? Probably not.

It seems as a bit of over-reaction on the voter's part, to bestow so many awards to Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. I suppose if the previous two installments of the movie series had garnered more awards, two Oscars for "The Two Towers" and four for "The Fellowship of the Ring", the voters wouldn't have felt so strongly that The Return of the King was so overly deserving of awards.

I thought "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World" was a much better movie than The Return of the King. To me, Master and Commander was a better movie going experience.I've never read any of the books that the Master and Commander movie were based on and had no problem in following the movie.

I've always felt that to truly understand The Lord of the Rings trilogy the viewer should have a working understanding of the books. I can't tell you how many average people I've run into who have absolutely no idea of what's going on in The Lord of the Rings movie since they are unfamiliar with the source material.

Peter Jackson has created a fine trillogy of big/epic movies. I'm just not sure that it is a great trillogy of big/epic movies.

Read my review of Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Read Mo's review of Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Read my review of Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

By Bert Ehrmann

Union Station
I highly recommend the graphic novel (comic book) "Union Station." On one level, Union Station tells the story of the FBI chasing gangsters in 1930's Kansas City. On another it's a commentary on our modern times of government abuses. It's a very fun/informative read.

(And although comic books can be a lot of fun they very seldom inform!)

According to the publisher:
Kansas City, 1933. Frank Nash is a petty criminal who has been pinched by the Feds and is being brought back into town by train. When FBI agent Reed Vetterli heads down to Union Station to meet Nash and his uniformed escort, he has no reason to suspect that there will be any action. Neither does Charles Thompson, a reporter sent down to the station just to see what the fuss is for. Little do they know that Frank's buddy, Vern Miller, is going to bust him out. Nash may not be a big time player, but he's still earned some loyalty. The resulting clash ends in a massacre, with no one knowing who pulled the trigger first-or even who pulled it at all. Rumor has it that Pretty Boy Floyd was on the scene, but no one knows for sure, and J. Edgar Hoover doesn't particularly care. He just wants Floyd's butt in an electric chair, and when Vetterli, Miller, and Thompson find themselves in the way of Hoover's justice, they can't duck for cover fast enough.

Preview/order the comic for yourself here.

By Bert Ehrmann

Dawn of the Dead
The official web site for the upcoming movie "Dawn of the Dead" has launched. It's very cool/creepy. Learn what to do when faced with the zombie menace!

By Bert Ehrmann

Century City
Learn about "Century City," a new drama about the legal system in the future set to premiere Tuesday, March 16 at 9:00 P.M. (EST) on CBS. The official line of the show reads:

Nestor Carbonell, Viola Davis, Emmy award-winner Hector Elizondo, Ioan Gruffudd, Kristin Lehman and Eric Schaeffer star in CENTURY CITY, a legal drama set in the year 2030, where the lawyers find that though laws change, people remain the same. Heading the firm of Crane, Constable, McNeil and Montero are Marty Constable (Elizondo), who shares his insights and wisdom from the "old days," and Hannah Crane, (Davis) a strong, assertive woman who is determined to make the practice a success. Joining them is hotshot partner Darwin McNeil (Schaeffer), who is trying to make his mark in the legal world; earnest, self-critical Lukas Gold (Gruffudd), a lawyer focused on fighting cases that matter; new partner Tom Montero (Carbonell), a handsome, charismatic former congressman who hasn't left his politics behind, and the beautiful, genetically re-engineered first-year attorney Lee May Bristol (Lehman). In a time when judges can go before lawyers as holograms, the firm finds themselves in uncharted legal territory and their cases provide an eye-opening look into issues confronting society in the not-so-distant future.

Is it just me or does Fox's aborted pilotfrom last season "NYPD 2069" sound like the perfect bookend to this show?

By Bert Ehrmann

A (somewhat) important character to the series "Scrubs" died on last night's episode. The death was handled with a sort of odd reality. There was no artificial network hype leading up to the event. No character lying in his/her death bed giving the rest of the cast their chance at an Emmy. Almost no tear-jerking moments…

In Scrubs the character just died. One minute he/she was alive, the next they were not. It was really bizarre. A lot like real life. One minute our best friend is alive, the next they are not.

Can this show get any better?

By Bert Ehrmann

Fort Wayne Reader
My latest column has gone online over at the Fort Wayne Reader – "And the award goes to…Presenting the 1st annual DUie awards

By Bert Ehrmann

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
I (finally) got around to seeing "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World" and must confess that it's one of the finest movies of 2003. (I realize that as I write this it's 2004, but the movie came out in 2003 no matter what year I saw it.)

Master and Commander follows the crew of the British ship the Surprise as it is chased, and chases, the French warship Acheron* during the Napoleonic War in 1805. The movie begins as the French ship ambushes the Surprise doing great damage and killing or wounding a great many men. Capt. Jack Aubrey, Russell Crowe, the captain of the Surprise becomes obsessed with hunting down the Acheron – no matter the distance or the cost.

It's an odd movie in that it breaks a lot of general "action" movie cliches. The first time we see people aboard the French ship is when the crew of the Surprise sees them. There's really no POV of the French as they chase the Surprise going, "We will destroy them!" As in seemingly every other movie of this type.

And the "bad guys" aren't presented as all that bad. I got the feeling that what the French ship does in the movie is what the English would do or has done. In fact, at one point the doctor, played by the excellent Paul Bettany, tells the captain that, "He (the French Captain) fights like you."

Breaking one major cliche there's not one American in the movie, and everyone speaks with "accents." (The horror!)

I really liked the details of the movie. You really get the feeling that the ship's on "the far side of the world." All alone, no matter what happens. If the crew of The Surprise can't stop the French ship then no one can. When one of the crew members of The Surprise falls into the sea during a terrible storm you realize that if the rest of the crew can't save him there's no one else around to help. (It'll be a long time before there's a Coast Guard around to render assistance!)

The only thing I took issue with in the movie was the passage of time. I got the sense that the events of the movie takes place over the course of many months if not several years. But there was no way for me to know just _how_ many months or _how_ many years.

If you're interested in seeing a movie about the British Empire at it's very apex of power, Master and Commander is for you.

I give Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World 9 out of 10 doubloons.

* Acheron was also the name of the planet in the movie "Aliens" but is most commonly known as the "River of Sorrows."

By Bert Ehrmann

Dawn of the Dead
Keen new international poster for the upcoming "Dawn of the Dead" movie. I also like the domestic version of the poster released a while back too.


View the at full size here.

By Bert Ehrmann

This Friday night (2/20) at 10:45 P.M. (EST) HBO will air "Making Deadwood: The Show Behind the Show." Catch it if you're interested in HBO's newest original series "Deadwood." The special is described as:

"A look at the western drama about a frontier town in South Dakota in 1876. The 12-part series stars Timothy Olyphant, Keith Carradine, Ian McShane and Molly Parker, and was created by David Milch ("N.Y.P.D. Blue")."

I am extremely interested in Deadwood. Seeing the teasers that sometimes are shown on HBO for the show makes me excited about seeing it.

Episode 1 of Deadwood airs March 24 at 10:00 P.M. (EST) right after "The Sopranos."

By Bert Ehrmann

Captain's Blood
Enter to win a copy of William Shatner's (Billy S. to his close and personal friends) new Star Trek book: "Captain's Blood." Though I haven't read the book yet, I can only assume by the reputation of the author that this novel is the "Catcher in the Rye" of our time.

But seriously, this is a free book if you win. (And you really can't beat the price – 'nuthin!)

Enter to win here.

By Bert Ehrmann

Bloody Sunday
A pretty surprisingly good movie I saw over the weekend was "Bloody Sunday." Before I saw the movie, the only thing I knew about Bloody Sunday was that the U2 song of the same name dealt with the same subject and that the movie had been removed from Oscar consideration when it had been shown on British television before the awards nominations. (Apparently that's one of the things that you're not supposed to do – that and sending out DVD screeners to be dubbed and distributed on the Internet. A deal breaker for the Oscars.)

Bloody Sunday follows the events leading up to the shooting of several dozen Irish civil rights marchers by British Soldiers in 1972. The movie feels as if "you are there," like it's been shot on video by a news cameraman in the field.

The cameraman run with the marchers. Swivels and shakes trying to catch up with the action. It's a really neat technique.

Bloody Sunday deals with all sorts of subjects that are important in this modern day. One could easily draw parallels between the situation in Northern Ireland in the 1970's to the conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis as well as what's going on in Iraq.

Bloody Sunday is a damn fine movie as well as (I suspect) an important one.

I give Bloody Sunday 9 out of 10 helpings of Irish Stew.

Buy the DVD here.

By Bert Ehrmann

I held off watching "S.W.A.T." in the movie theaters since I thought that it would be a mindless action adventure movie will little on plot and a lot on "bang."

S.W.A.T. is a mindless action adventure movie with little on plot and a lot on "bang." S.W.A.T. stars Colin Farrell as a S.W.A.T. team member on the out with his Captain after he and his partner Jeremy Renner (whom you might remember from last year's reality show "The It Factor" on Bravo where he lands his role in S.W.A.T.) disobey orders ending up with an innocent bystander being shot. Sam Jackson plays Hondo, an "old school" S.W.A.T. team member brought in to form a S.W.A.T. team of newbies to get the press back on the L.A.P.D.'s side. And one of these "newbies" just happens to be Farrell. (What are the odds of that happening!?)

The action "really heats up" when Sam Jackson's team is tasked to move a criminal to a federal prison. All hell breaks loose when the criminal offers $50 million to whomever can break him out.

S.W.A.T. isn't horrible, it's a fun time waster best viewed in the company of others on alone on a Sunday afternoon. Just don't try to think too hard when watching the movie and you should be able to enjoy it.

I give S.W.A.T. 7 out of 10 chihuahuas.

Buy the DVD here.

By Bert Ehrmann

The Hunted
"The Hunted" stars Benicio Del Toro as Aaron Hallam, a military spook-assassin who's seen too much and has crossed over the line mentally. Instead of going after "approved" targets such as warlords or enemy generals, Aaron has returned home to hunt down real hunters and others not giving Mother Nature her due. Tommy Lee Jones plays L.T. Bonham, Aaron's mentor/trainer assigned by the government to stop Aaron's killing spree.

I genuinely liked The Hunted, I just wanted more. The movie starts out interestingly enough introducing Del Toro as a soldier who's seen some really horrible things (we get to see some of them) and Jones as a woodsman wearing a windbreaker in very cold temperatures. But little actual background is given for the characters. A little of Del Toro's character is reveled, but not too much. Just when we catch a peek into Del Toro's home life the chase starts.

Where the movie lost me is in the last hour. Essentially the last half of the movie is one long chase between the cops, Del Toro, and Jones. In a car, over a bridge, into a sewer system, and into a woods. Del Toro runs and Jones chases. In my opinion, it's a bit too much at the end.

Still, The Hunted isn't all that bad. It's an almost good movie – a movie that's so nearly good it almost counts.

I give The Hunted 6 out of 10 C-3P0 cereal boxes.

Buy the DVD here.

By Bert Ehrmann

Starship Troopers 2
Check out the trailer for the upcoming direct to DVD release of "Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation."

I find myself wondering if the events at the end of the original "Starship Troopers" will have any bearing on the events in this movie? What about the comic books? And the 3D cartoon? Will the cartoon's storyline have anything to do with the movie?

(Then I realize how geeky it really is to obsesses over a movie that flopped at the box office, no one outside of a few friends has seen let alone like, and can only offer up a paltry direct to DVD sequel.)

Now that you're interested in Starship Troopers, check out my "geeky" fan made poster to Starship Troopers 2 posted sometime back.

By Bert Ehrmann

Last week, Disney and Pixar decided to part ways. Originally, Disney would split the costs of producing Pixar's films and then split the movie's gross ticket sales. (If you take a movie like "Finding Nemo" which had a budget of around $100 million, $50 million of which Disney would cover, that made over $300 million at the box office, $150 million of which Disney would get, you can see why Disney liked the deal and Pixar did not.)

Pixar wanted to renegotiate. They wanted Disney to take a smaller cut of the gross but only have to pay distribution fees. Disney balked and told Pixar to look for a new partner. Which Pixar gladly did. Pixar has had a string of hit movies dating back nearly a decade bringing in billions of dollars ticket sales world wide. Disney hasn't had a hit animated movie for long time. Who wouldn't want to partner up with a studio with only hit films under their name? A small percentage of a huge gross is still better than no percentage.

It'll be interesting to see what happens to the properties that Disney now owns. Pixar has lost the character rights to all the movies that they have ever made. Will there be a "Toy Story 3," "A Bug's Life 2," and "Finding Nemo 2?" You can bet on it. Will these movies suck without Pixar's involvement? You can bet on it.

Disney/Pixar are dead. Long live Pixar!

By Bert Ehrmann

I would have liked the movie "Underworld" even better if the costumes of the characters would have been different. It's a shame that the tight fitting black leather wardrobe used in "The Matrix" keeps being recycled into movie after movie.

Still, Underworld is a satisfying "action-ride" movie where the werewolves (or "Lychan" in the movie) and vampires of old lore are at war with one and other. The vampires think that the werewolves are on the brink of extinction. In reality the werewolves are on the brink of a major attack on the vampires.

Scott Foley plays Michael, a man with a bloodline allowing him to survive both the transformation of becoming a vampire and a werewolf. The werewolves want to use him and the vampires want him dead. Kate Beckinsale plays a vampire hunter on the prowl for werewolf blood but helping Michael when she discovers some disturbing facts about her vampire kind.

Buy the DVD here.

By Bert Ehrmann

American Splendor
"American Splendor" is an interesting movie. The story is interesting, the direction is interesting, the acting is interesting…

American Splendor is the story of Harvey Pekar (as played by Paul Giamatti) who transcribes his life into a series of comic books. His life isn't all that unusual from everyone else other than his foul disposition and quirky manner. We follow his trials and tribulations; from a crappy job as a file clerk at a V.A. hospital, to having testicular cancer, and appearing (and melting down) on "Late Night with David Letterman."

It's an interesting watch. As long as you don't go into the movie thinking "X-Men" (the comics he wrote were a different sort of comic) you'll enjoy American Splendor.

Buy the DVD here.

By Bert Ehrmann

Freaks and Geeks
More information on the upcoming DVD and the "Special Limited Edition" DVD coming out this April.

By Bert Ehrmann

Fort Wayne Reader
Check out my latest column over at the Fort Wayne Reader. The subject this time – "Coming Soon: Hollywood's history of the world."

By Bert Ehrmann

The Beatles
It's interesting that The Beatles are getting so much press for it being 40 years since their first appearance on the "Ed Sullivan Show." I suppose that's what a "cultural moment" like The Beatles on Ed Sullivan does to our society – it's a sort of bearing rod on everything else. Since I was born more than a decade after The Beatles on Ed Sullivan, I'll have to take older people's word on just what it was like to see this happen live.

When I think of the "cultural moments" of people in my age range, most of these memories aren't that good. People don't gush over remembering the Space Shuttle Challenger blow up in 1986 or watching the first war in Iraq started live on CNN. I suppose it's better to have a warm and nice memory of rocking English tunes blaring from some black and white television set one night in 1964 than to have the memory of the contrast of white smoke on blue sky when an engineering screw-up leads to disaster.

By Bert Ehrmann

My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiancé
I hate to admit it, but I've been watching and liking Fox's "My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiancé" airing Monday nights at 9:00 (EST) and repeating Thursdays at 9:00 (EST).

I shouldn't like it. I usually don't watch or like reality shows. But last Thursday night when there was nothing on I watched it and laughed my @ss off.

The basic premise of the show is that a man (Steve) and woman (Randi) have to trick their families into thinking that they're getting married even though they're really not. Unbeknownst to Randi, her "fiancé" is really an actor hired to make her life miserable. If she's able to convince her family that she's marrying this oaf, she wins a million bucks. If she fails she goes home empty handed. All the while Steve's doing his best to make a fool out of himself in front of her friends and family sending her over the edge.

I don't think the show's funny because of the fiancé. The actor portraying him does some funny things but it's Randi's reactions to what he does that's so funny. To put it mildly she's a stuck up prude. The littlest things set her off. When he burps she reacts as if he just exposed himself. She tells Steve that a real boyfriend of hers wouldn't touch or kiss her in public. A joke on his part is met with wide eyed anger.

I can see where she gets this from, her family acts the same. They're the sort who seem to be hand picked by Fox for being unlikable. They don't know how to "roll with the punches."

Best of all Randi is described as a "catholic school teacher" in the show's promotional material. And if she teaches catholic school then I'm assuming that she's a religious person. And if she really is a religious person then she has to be violating a few of the Ten Commandments (the document, not the movie). Isn't "honor thy father and mother" one of the commandments? I suppose violating just a few of the commandments is made okay by the show's prize -- that million bucks. (Does God makes exceptions when that sort of money's on the line?)

By Bert Ehrmann

Buffalo Soldiers
I was a bit shocked to learn that "Buffalo Soldiers" had been released on DVD without me knowing about it. I love this movie. I walked into the mega-dvd store and there it was sitting on a shelf. No advance warning. Boom, there it was.

Buffalo Soldiers is set on an American Army base in Germany at the end of the cold war. The basic premise here is that the ills that plague the rest of society; drugs, gangs, and murder to name a few, might also plague the United States Army.

Since the movie was shot pre 9/11, many of the issues it raises hit a raw nerve. Still, I only heard about the movie when it's release date was pushed back, from 2001 to 2003, and the controversy the movie ignited upon release.

It's odd that a movie that's so good could be overlooked by so many.

More about Buffalo Soldiers.
Buy the DVD here.

By Bert Ehrmann

Mystic River
I saw "Mystic River" over the weekend. It's good, but I'm not sure that it's Oscar good. When a man's (Sean Penn) daughter is murdered both the police and locals from the neighborhood investigate the crime. It becomes apparent that the man's friend (Tim Robbins) is the murderer. Or is he?

The story of the movie is fine and the acting is good. But Mystic River garnered nominations for best actor Sean Penn, best supporting actor Tim Robbins, best supporting actress Marcia Gay Harden, best director Clint Eastwood, best picture, and best adapted screenplay. Six nominations!? I'm still scratching my head on that one. Mystic River is a good movie. But it's certainly not a movie that deserves six Oscar nominations.

(Then again, I wasn't too thrilled with some of the other choices of movies up for Oscar contention.)

There were a lot of other movies last year that I thought were better; like "Big Fish" for instance. It's a shame that they've been overlooked by a movie like Mystic River.

By Bert Ehrmann

Sorry about the Commercial Interruption
Watching "Traffic: The Mini Series" on the USA Network, I noticed a lot of commercial breaks the first hour of the show. Which is odd since you'd think that the first half of Traffic would be somewhat commercial free – to hook the people into the story and keep them from flipping away during commercial breaks. I have nothing against commercials. However, I take issue with them when the amount of commercials overwhelm the storyline of a show.When I looked at the first hour of Traffic: The Mini Series, there were 42 minutes of show and 18 of commercial.

That's ridiculous.

Back in the early 1990s, episodes of "Homicide: Life on the Street," minus the commercials, came in at around 48 minutes in length. That means that for every four minutes of show you had to sit through a minute of commercial. A few years later in the mid 1990s, episodes of "The X-Files," again with no commercials, averaged something like 45 minutes in length. For every three minutes of show there was one minute of commercial.

This trend of ever increasing commercial time has not let up over the years.

Flash forward to now, where hour long dramas average anywhere from 45 to 42 minutes in length with no commercials. If you take a show like ABC's "Line of Fire," which some episodes come in at 42 minutes long, for every 2.3 minutes of show there is one minute of commercial. Shorter half hour sitcoms running just 19 minutes, like some episodes of "Scrubs" and the now defunct "Coupling", would have just two minutes of show for every one of commercial.

How close are we to the one to one ratio – for every minute of show one minute of commercial?

I can see why so many people dislike the commercial. There are twice as many of them now on some shows than just a few years back. In some cases television shows have gone from having a 4 to 1 ratio between story and commercial to being cut in half and having just a 2 to 1 ratio between story and commercial.

Why, as studies are showing, are people not watching commercial television anymore? They're sick of the constant commercial breaks. I'd much rather record a show to EyeTV, kill the commercials, and watch it commercial free later at my leisure. I'm not at fault for the death of commercial television, it's the constant barrage of commercials that are at fault. We've been overrun with commercials. They've gone from minor annoyance to constant interruption.

And I don't see these interruptions going anywhere soon.

By Bert Ehrmann

The Office
More on the American version of "The Office" casting news. From The Hollywood Reporter via TV Tattle:

NBC's three-month talent search for actors to inhabit "The Office" -- a pilot loosely based on the BBC comedy series -- may be coming to an end. Sources said the network and Ben Silverman's Universal-based Reveille and Universal Network TV are considering "The Daily Show" correspondent Steven Carell for the lead, a middle manager at a paper company, played in the original series by co-creator/writer/director Ricky Gervais. Rainn Wilson (HBO's "Six Feet Under"), Jenna Fischer ("Employee of the Month") and John Krasinski have been cast in the other three roles. Reps for NBC stressed that there is no deal in place with Carell. Sources said the situation is complicated by the fact that Carell is attached to another NBC series, the midseason comedy "Come to Papa."

The photos below are of the actors mentioned about. Carell was mentioned earlier this week here. I'm not sure if the photo of Krasinski is correct or not. There could be two different acting Krasinski's out there. Is it Riann as Gareth and Krasinski as Tim? Only time will tell!

By Bert Ehrmann

Traffic: The Mini Series
"Traffic: The Mini Series" which premiered in the USA Network this week was good. It wasn't great but still better than 90% of the dramas on television today.

The overall story of Traffic: The Mini Series is really four different stories interwoven into one overall arch. One plot has an illegal immigrant looking to find out what happened to his wife and child missing, and presumed dead, while being smuggled into the country. Another story has a son with a business degree being forced into the family business after the death of this father and finding out that some of his father's business dealings were less than legit. A third story is of a DEA agent involved in the smuggling of heroin from Afghanistan (or is he?). The fourth story is of the DEA agent's family dealing with his actions and of his son becoming involved in the drug scene in Seattle.

The stories are interwoven in that the heroin that's sold in Afghanistan ends up on the streets of Seattle by a smuggler who also was bringing in illegal aliens who... You get the picture.

I think that where the movie version of "Traffic" and the original British mini-series "Traffik" excelled is that these two original versions brought up all sorts of underlying social issues with the drug trade whereas this version does not do until the very end. (You'd think that in a six hour mini series some of these issues could be explored throughout the series rather than in the very last ten minutes.) Traffic: The Mini Series is a sort of watered down version of the first two "Traffic/ks".

I got the feeling that this series was really a pilot episode for a "Traffic: The Series" than a stand alone mini series. It wouldn't surprise me at all if Traffic returns as a regular drama series on USA.

It's a good drama but the underlying issues at hand go unexplored. I was hoping for more but will settle for less.

By Bert Ehrmann

The first season of the series "Roswell" (1999 to 2002) is coming to DVD February 17, 2004. Roswell followed three (at first) teenage aliens living among us in Roswell, New Mexico. They're able to hide themselves by posing as humans until one of the aliens rescues a girl from death by healing a gun shot received in a robbery. (Of course, the alien and human fall in love.) It's got the romance element for the ladies and sci-fi for the geeks. (Unless you're a "Lady-Geek" then it's got everything.)

Season one follows the aliens not quite trusting the humans that know their secret, but still working with them trying to learn of their true origins.

The first season of the show isn't that bad, I remember liking it quite a lot when it was first on. In fact, one of the first icon sets I ever made was based on Roswell.

Buy the DVD here.

By Bert Ehrmann

I'm getting excited about HBO's upcoming series "Deadwood;" about the town of the same name 100 plus years back. The story sounds like a realistic and gritty representation of life in the old west. (Hopefully more "Unforgiven" and "The Wild Bunch" and less last years TV movie of the week "The Lone Ranger.")

From the series trailer, changed a bit by your's truly for readability:

Maybe, we were just a dream that the hills dreamed. Maybe the hills were dreaming us before we ever got to them. Drawing us to them to give them something to watch until it was time to get turned upside down again by whatever made the Earth and stars or blown up by a comet or worn back to nothing by the wind and water.

Maybe we were just the hills entertainment. If that was it then we showed them a hell of a damn time.

Check out for more information. There's not much there yet though this will change as the series comes closer to air.

By Bert Ehrmann

The Office
It looks as if Steve Carell of the "Daily Show" might be playing the David Brent character on the US version of the Golden Globe hit "The Office." Read more about Steve Carell and The Office here. Thanks to "The World of The Office" for the heads up.

However good Steve Carell might be, Ricky Gervais will always be David Brent to me.

Can one of the funniest shows on TV survive a US adaptation intact?

By Bert Ehrmann

Freaks and Geeks
One of the all time greatest telvision dramas is coming to DVD – "Freaks and Geeks." If you're unfarmiliar with the show Freaks and Geeks, it follows two groups of teens, one are the "freaks" the other the "geeks", during the early 1980's in Michigan.

Freaks and Geeks was one of the most creative and frank looks at teen life on television. So, of course, it was canceled before the first season had completely aired. If you've never seen the series before then you MUST pick it up DVD. (The DVD comes out the week of April 12, 2004.)

The price is a bit steep, right now at $120, but well worth it. Now we just need the show "Undeclared," by the same creators of Freaks and Geeks, to be released on DVD.

By Bert Ehrmann

The Butterfly Effect
Who knew that a movie starring Ashton Kutcher would be good? Surely not me. I went into "The Butterfly Effect" thinking that it would be a diversion for a Friday evening which it was. The Butterfly Effect takes an old and tired story and gives it a new breath of life. I was surprised at how good the movie was. Best of all there are many, many, twists and turns along the way.

The Butterfly Effect is (basically) a two hour classic "Twilight Zone" episode. The story's been done a million times before and usually badly. You know the story; guy goes into the past and does something to screw up his present.

In the movie Evan Treborn, Ashton Kutcher, learns that by reading journals he's kept as a young child he can travel into the past at the point mentioned in the journals. Evan, of course, uses this ability to try and change his present. Little changes in the past can have huge effects on the present. A few words one way can turn your friend in life into a basket case confined in a mental institution. A few words another way and he's your smart room mate in college.

I think what I found most enjoyable about the story was that I could not tell where it was going. I had hopes onto where it could go and I had hopes onto where it should not go. It went to it's own place, like a story should.

By Bert Ehrmann

Traffic: The Mini-Series
Don't forget to check out "Traffic: The Mini Series" this week on the USA Network. The series starts Monday and continues onto Tuesday finishing Wednesday. Each night starts at 9:00 P.M. (EST). (Though I suspect that the series will be re-run for many Moons to come.)

Here's the breakdown of the episodes:

Episode #1.
A DEA agent searches for heroin; a man's father has ties to the underworld; a man learns that the ship carrying his family went down at sea.

Episode #2.
The DEA suspects Mike is a double agent; Ben assists Cho in illegal activity; a man investigates the death of his family.

Episode #3.
Adam vows to avenge the death of his family; Ben wants Cho to become legitimate.

By Bert Ehrmann

The Office
The Office wins best comedy and Gervais gets best actor in a comedy series at the Golden Globes. Wooooooh-Hooooo!

By Bert Ehrmann

In a pretty dumb move, NBC is moving it's new show "The Apprentice" to Thursday nights from 9:00 P.M. to 10:00 P.M. (EST). To make room for the show, "Scrubs" is being shuffled to a Tuesday night slot at 9:30 P.M. What I can't understand is why move the show? Are people who usually tune into NBC's Thursday nights for sitcoms really going to watch a reality show? (I won't watch it, and not because it's replacing Scrubs.)

What makes me mad is that Scrubs used to air at 8:30 P.M. Thursday nights. It was then moved to 9:30 P.M. to make room for "Coupling" – remember how big of a hit that was? Now it's being removed from Thursdays and placed on another night entirely. So twice in this last season people expecting to see Scrubs at a certain time have been/will be disappointed.

If there's one thing that TV's taught me, it's that the easiest way there is to kill a show is to move it around on the schedule so that people have a hard time of finding it. Nice job NBC!

By Bert Ehrmann

Let the Martian conspiracy theories begin. To you an I, the new photos of Mars might look like a desolate plain of sand and rocks. To others these photos represent sort of alien dumping ground. These aren't rocks, they're mechanical bits and pieces.

This has to be the dumbest thing I've ever read.

Read the conspiracies here.

By Bert Ehrmann

Cabin Fever
I watched "Cabin Fever" the other night. "Ugh" would be how I would describe it. It's indescribably bad. 1980's direct to VHS slasher flick bad. It's so bad that it makes the remake of "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" look good. Cabin Fever has just about no redeeming qualities. The characters are horrible. The story is bad. The overall actions of the characters is unbelievable. How the story is handled is unbelievable…

Cabin Fever deals with four (unlikable) teen friends spending the weekend at a cabin in the woods. Their fun is interrupted when a flesh eating virus begins to spread through their midst eating them alive one by one.

The plot sounds interesting but is handled in a bad way. What could have been interesting is turned to mud.

The movie's so bad that the Cerina Vincent character shaves her legs while nude in a bathtub, somehow she failing to notice that the skin on her legs has begun to decompose due to the virus and instead shaves the flesh off. Ick!

I know that the filmmaker Eli Roth wanted this movie to harken back to the old-school 1970's horror movies. But it doesn't. Those movies were, at least, watchable. This movie was not. Those movies were (sometimes) scary. This movie was not. Cabin Fever is like a big joke on the audience. It fails to deliver on any level.

It's not good. It rips off many other horror movies (the cabin in "Evil Dead" and the ending to the original "Night of the Living Dead" come to mind) not in an homage fashion. More of a "let's rip it off and call it homage."

The only reason to watch the movie would be to count how many times the work "f*ck" is said. Dialog in the movie goes something like, "Listen here you f*cking f*cker. You're a f*ck and if you come any closer to me I'm going to f*ck you up." Does the screenwriter kiss his mother with that mouth?

Avoid at all costs.

By Bert Ehrmann

The Fort Wayne Reader
Michael Summers, longtime contributor to Dangerous Universe, has gone legit. He and a pal have started their own bi-weekly free paper here in Fort Wayne, Indiana. It's called "The Fort Wayne Reader" and you can check out the online version for yourself here. I'm contributing to the paper by writing a column for it titled "Dangerous Universe." Let the branding of Dangerous Universe begin!

By Bert Ehrmann

Invader ZIM out on DVD (Coming SOON!)
Thats right folks. The first set of Animated Craziness is out on DVD in May 2004. Can you wait? I know I cant!

Invader ZIM!

By Mo Alexander

The Office
I've finally seen the last two episodes of the (dare I say) best series on television ever. These last two episodes make up the entire third season of "The Office", bringing the total episodes for the series to an unforgettable 14.

Season 3; You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll cringe. This season is really a perfect ending to the show. Loose ends are tied up while at the same time we see that even if the show ends, the goings on with the characters do not.

These two shows follow the wreckage that was left after the events of season 2. David Brent, after losing his job last season, is a traveling salesman by day and milks his pseudo-fame by night playing it up at bars and clubs around England. Tim's miserable at his job since his cohort Dawn has moved away to America. And Gareth's now in charge, temporarily filling in for David while the company, Wernam Hogg, looks for a replacement.

What makes The Office so great is the fact that it is much more than a comedy. It's really commentary on society masked as a comedy. That commentary can be summed by in a interview Tim gives on camera;

"The people you work with are people you're just thrown together with. You don't know them, it wasn't your choice and yet you spend more time with them than you do with your friends or family. But probably all you got in common is the fact that you walk around on the same bit of carpet for eight hours a day. (Snip) But, if I'm really being honest, I never thought it would have a happy ending. I don't know what a happy ending is. Life isn't about endings, is it? It's a series of moments. If you turn the camera off, it's not and ending. Is it? I'm still here. My life's not over. Come back here in ten years. See how I'm doing then. I could be married with kids. You don't know. Life just goes on. "

What I still can't figure out that at the end of the show, you're rooting for David Brent. (A man with whom you develop an intense dislike over each and every previous show.) I say it's a credit to the shows creators for making the views sympathize for such an unlikable character in the end.

I think it will be many, many years before anything comes around that is as good as The Office.

By Bert Ehrmann

Space: Above and Beyond
If things go as planned, "Space: Above and Beyond," covered many times at Dangerous Universe, will be out on DVD by the end of the year. Thanks goes to Michael Ujin Sanders for the heads up:

Space above and Beyond (snip) might well be out in the later part of the year (on DVD).

If this news is correct then I just may be the happiest man alive! I used to drive a an hour to watch the show in re-runs on the Sci Fi Channel at school Sunday nights. I even bought, and still own, the entire series (badly dubbed) on VHS. There would be nothing better in my opinion, other than the S:AAB Tech Manual that was talked about a few years back, than a S:AAB DVD with loads of extras and behind the scenes footage. Heck, I'd just settle on having the entire series mastered on DVD. My badly dubbed VHS copy is getting old!

I really want a S:AAB DVD!

Also look for "Harsh Realm" and "Millennium" to be available on DVD this year too.

Read the whole story here.

By Bert Ehrmann

It seems to happen every year; a show is announced by some network that, in the end, gets canceled before it airs. 2003 was no different. From Zap2It:

Taking a page from the FOX playbook, The WB has dumped the drama series "Fearless" before anyone, save some industry types and the nation's TV critics, got to see it.

"Fearless," based on a series of books by Francine Pascal, starred Rachael Leigh Cook ("She's All That") as a young FBI agent genetically incapable of feeling fear. The chief criticism of the series was that Cook's character came off more affectless than fearless.

"One Tree Hill" took "Fearless'" spot on the fall schedule and has been performing marginally, although the network has picked up a full season of the family drama. "Fearless" joins an ignominious roster of shows -- including FOX's "The Grubbs," "Septuplets" and "Manchester Prep" -- that have been announced as part of network lineups in recent years but have never made it to the air.

By Bert Ehrmann

Terminator 3
Terminator 3 in a nutshell: People are chased. Things blow up. There are plotholes galore. If you've seen the first two Terminators then you've basically seen all the plot elements here. It's hard to believe that a movie which reportedly cost over 170 million to make can look like it was shot on a $1000 budget.

By Bert Ehrmann

2004-2005 Television Pilots
It's that time of year again. Time for hundreds of hopeful television shows to shoot their first (pilot) episode only to be rejected by the networks in favor of far better shows. Like Fox's "Skin" or the NBC's version of "Coupling." See the start of the 2004-2005 television pilot season here. (Anything has to be better than last year. Right? RIGHT???)

By Bert Ehrmann

Big Fish
I went into "Big Fish" thinking that it would be an old school Tim Burton movie. Not that this would have been a bad thing, but this is what I was led to believe from the various trailers and television commercials that have been airing for some time now.

I couldn't have been more incorrect. Big Fish could be Tim Burton's first movie to deal with adult subjects. ("Planet of the Apes" doesn't count, it deals with adolescent subjects.)

Big Fish is a joy to watch. It's the best movie I've seen in quite some time. The movie shifts from reality to Tim Burton's off-sense of reality quite easily. The reality is a son coming to terms with his often absent father before the father's death from cancer. The off-sense of reality comes into play as we view the tall-tales that the father's told over the years about his life.

Like him spending two years in bed when his body grew too fast. Or him catching a giant catfish with the only lure that would work - gold. The son wants to know the real father, not the made up one of his father's stories.

The movie follows the son as he uncovers the "truth" about his father and learns that sometimes reality can be better and worse than fiction at the same time. The end of the movie is breath-taking and teary at the same time.

Big Fish is worth a watch just for the last thirty minutes alone. You'll definitely leave the movie at the least a bit emotional.

By Bert Ehrmann

Dawn of the Dead Trailer
My vote for scariest trailer of all time goes to the full "Dawn of the Dead" trailer. It not only features children/baby zombies but also more zombies than you can shake a stick at in a mall's parking as well as one of the creepiest trailer endings in history. (If I had seen the trailer in the theater rather than online I might have left the theater!)

Even if the movie's turns out to be no good, this trailer's one of the best I've seen in a long time.

Check out the trailer for yourself at Yahoo.

By Bert Ehrmann

Dawn of the Dead Poster
Really nice/creative teaser poster for the upcoming remake of "Dawn of the Dead". (View at full size here.) It's nice to see that the people who are marketing this movie are using the tag line from the first movie; "When there's no more room in Hell, the dead will walk the Earth." I give this poster an A+.

By Bert Ehrmann

Band of Brothers 2
New information on the upcoming sequel to the hit mini-series "Band of Brothers" that aired on HBO a few years back. From The Futon Critic:

THE PACIFIC (A.K.A. UNTITLED WWII PACIFIC THEATRE PROJECT) (HBO) - Bruce McKenna has been named the lead writer on the mini-series, a pseudo-sequel to "Band of Brothers," currently in the development stage at the pay channel.

By Bert Ehrmann

The Jury
More on the upcoming drama from most of the team that produced "Homicide: Life on the Street." From The Futon Critic:

CHICAGO ( -- FOX is calling in "The Jury" for midseason as the network has committed to five episodes of the drama in addition to its pilot. The 20th Century Fox Television project, which comes from executive producers Barry Levinson, Tom Fontana, James Yoshimura and Jim Finnerty, examines the legal process through the eyes of the members of a jury. Shalom Harlow ("How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days"), Billy Burke ("Wonderland"), Adam Busch ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer"), Jeff Hephner and Cote de Pablo all star in the ensemble drama which is expected to premiere this spring.

"The Jury" joins FOX's already busy midseason slate, which also includes the dramas "Still Life" and "Wonderfalls"; comedies "The Ortegas," "Cracking Up," "Oliver Beene" and "Cedric the Entertainer Presents"; and a half-dozen or so reality series including the reality soap "Forever Eden."

Read the original story here.

By Bert Ehrmann

James Ellroy's Television Pilot
James Ellroy, the man responsible for "L.A. Confidential" and numerous other outstanding works of both fiction and non-fiction, is working on a television series. From The Futon Critic:

THE ENFORCERS (New!) - James Ellroy ("L.A. Confidential") has signed on with Kerry McCluggage's Craftsman Films to develop a new L.A.-based cop series. The duo previously worked together on the failed NBC pilot "L.A. Sheriff's Homicide" when McCluggage worked at Paramount. The project is being developed internally at Craftsman for midseason 2005 consideration at the broadcast networks. Ellroy and McCluggage are executive producing along with Sebastian Twardosz.

By Bert Ehrmann

Good Luck Actors
It seems as if the presence of some actors/actresses in a television series guarantees success. Take for instance Jorja Fox, Amy Brenneman, and Sherry Stringfield. These ladies have starred in five hit shows over their career including "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation", "The West Wing", "ER", "Judging Amy", and "NYPD Blue." Jorja and Sherry were both in ER while Sherry and Amy were both in NYPD Blue.

Hire these actresses in your television pilot and you're guaranteed a hit.

At the other end of the spectrum are the actors/actresses that get cast over and over again in television shows that end up canceled. Take for instance Scott Bairstow and Rena Sofer. Between these two lie the wrecks of over EIGHT shows that lasted a season or less. Scott starred in "Breaking News", "Semper Fi", "Harsh Realm", and "Wolf Lake". While Rena was responsible for the US version of "Coupling", "The Chronicle", "Opposite Sex", and "Oh, Grow Up."

Hire these actors/actresses and pray for your show's life!

By Bert Ehrmann

Mars Movie
During the recent landing on Mars, I noticed a really nice animation used to show landing by the Spirit rover. This animation's been getting a lot of play on the nightly news. The clip has top notch quality animation on par with the best that I've seen on television. On par with that done on the television shows "Firefly" and "Battlestar Galactica. Some of it looks like it was shot by a shakey handheld camera adding to the realism of the shots.

Now I find out that there's a total of ten minutes of animation. From liftoff, to landing, to the Spirit rover racing across Mars. Exciting stuff. (I suspect more exciting than real life.) View the animation for yourself here.

Watching the animation, it's oddto think that people here on Earth can build a machine, launch it into space, and land it on a specific space on another planet. (Most of the time anyway!)

Speaking of Mars, I remember where I was the last time a rover landed on Mars. When the Mars Pathfinder landed on Mars back in 1997, I was in college taking a "Computer Art and Animation 1" summer course. It was my first exposure to Photoshop, a then brand new 4.0, and the Internet. I remember that the Pathfinder site was a huge hit generating tons of traffic for NASA. It was the first big mass "everyone needs to see this" hit on the web. The next hit was the release of the "Star Wars: Episode 1" trailer a few years later.

By Bert Ehrmann

Top Movies of 2003
2003's been a weird year at the box office. Movies like "The Hulk" and "The Matrix: Revolutions" should have been hits were instead flops. And the number one movie at the box office last Summer was an animated adventure instead of the standard action "blow stuff up" fare.

It'll be interesting to see just how the movie studios handle this Summer's mess in the years to come. I wonder if we'll see less action and more variety in movies for the coming Summer season. (Somehow, I doubt this.)

Best Movie of the Year – 28 Days Later: It's been nearly half a year since I first saw this movie and I'm still thinking about it. Movies don't usually effect me in such a way. Most times I forget about the movie until it comes out on DVD then debate whether or not to pick it up. With "28 Days Later" I was thinking about it from the time I left the theater to the time it (finally) came out on DVD.

I think it's the idea behind 28 Days Later that makes the movie memorable. The idea that over the course of a very short period of time everything that we know can fall apart permiates the film. That it's possible one day we could be going to the supermarket and the next we're fighting for our lives outside that same market. 28 Days Later hits home in the post 9/11 world that we live in.

Since the movie was shot on a digital camera it adds to the whole "you are there" creepy feeling. (If you've never seen the movie trust me, the world that 28 Days Later exists in isn't a place you want to visit!)

28 Days Later has probably single handedly reinvented the zombie/horror/holocaust movie. I would guess that this year's"Dawn of the Dead" remake owes some of it's being made to the success of 28 Days Later.

The rest, in alphabetical order:
Finding Nemo:
I've liked every Pixar movie that's come out since "Toy Story" back in 1995. Every single feature they've made since their first has been pure gold. Not one has been a "miss" and "Finding Nemo" was no exception. From the story that hits your heart to the animation that makes Pixar's ocean look more inviting than the real one, Finding Nemo's a winner.

Kill Bill: Kinetic action mixed with Tarintino's sense of dialogue is a pleasure to watch. And what is "Kill Bill" other than "kinetic action" and "Tarintino's sense of dialogue?" Best of all the fight scenes are about as far away from the "Matrix" style fight scenes as a movie can get. (And we're living in a world permiated with Matrix style fight scenes.) Kill Bill really harkened back to those old style 1960's and 1970's early asian kung-fu action movies. "Keeeeeeey-Ah!"

X-Men 2: X-Men United:
I didn't like the first X-Men movie. I found the storyline dull and the characters uninteresting. So I wasn't too excited when the second movie was released but still went to see it anyway. About a half hour into the movie I realized that X2 was great! The characters/plot elements were more inline with the stories that came from the comic books and the action was over the top in a good way. There were elements in the story that I felt that only a true fan would understand. (How lame is that?)

I find myself counting the days until the next X-Men is released.

By Bert Ehrmann

Top Television Shows of 2003
It's been a long year for television shows this season. Nothing new seems to be working. The big hit this season is a show that didn't premiere in the traditional Fall time slot rather starting last Summer;"The O.C." Failures seem to be more common than hits. (The US version of "Coupling", I'm looking in your general direction.)

Still, some great television shows were out in 2003. You just had to know where to look for them.

Top Television Shows:
Best Show of the Year – The Office: To say that "The Office" is a "mockumentary" on the workings of the modern corporation would be a disservice to the show. The Office is so much more. One one level it's one of the best written comedies to ever grace television screens. On another level it's a study between the relationships between the management and worker class in today's society. (Seriously.)

I discovered The Office last Summer on BBC America and then had to wait a few months for season 2. The weird nature of British sitcoms means that a full season of The Office is something like just six episodes long. (Six episodes of an American series is just a quarter or so of one season.)

Worst of all, season 3 of The Office is only two episodes long. (This season has already aired over in Great Britain.) The creators of the show, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, want to take it off the air while it's still on top. And believe me, this show is ON TOP!

Now I just have to wait until Season 3 pops up on BBC America. It's going to be a long wait!

The rest, in alphabetical order:
Arrested Development:
Who'd have thought that a sitcom from Ron Howard's company would turn out to be the funniest new show on network television? I can't say enough good things about this show. From David Cross ("Mr. Show") having a supporting role in the show to breaking the standard three camera sitcom format. Best of all is the use of a Segway in comedic situations. I never thought an overpriced personal transport could be funny!

Coupling (UK): No, I'm not talking about the US version of this show. Whereas the US version was simply bad, the UK version was genuinely funny. Several times during each episode I find myself laughing out loud. It's too bad that the best character of the series, Jeff, won't be returning for the season 4.

Scrubs: The third year of "Scrubs" should have been the one where the show jumped the shark. That's when series usually turn the corner from the original vision of the creators and become something different. Instead, the third season of Scrubs was the best yet. "Scurbs" follows the dev elopement of three doctors and their friends/co-workers in a Los Angeles hospital. In reality, Scrubs is really about is growing up. The characters introduced in the first season have grown into doctors of their own in season 3. That is what's so different about this show. The characters grow, and change, as the situations they're in change.

The Wire: After watching "Homicide: Life on the Street" this year on DVD, I can see how a show like "The Wire" really evolved from it. It's the thinking man's cop show. There aren't too many shoot-outs or car chases. Instead we see the drudgery that often follows police work on long term cases and views from the "other" side of the law. The Wire focuses on the nuances rather than the big picture. It's almost as if we're watching some great chess match; the police make their moves which are followed by the criminals. Like chess, the show can run slow but it's one heck of a ride.

By Bert Ehrmann