Friday, May 18, 2012

Desperate Housewives Finale - A Spoilerific and Picture Heavy Goodbye

There is so much I want to say. It's hard to gather my thoughts on a series that I have loved for 8 seasons. Desperate Housewives was a clever parody on soap opera tropes while still being a well written show. I was instantly enchanted. Though never self referential, I always got the feeling that these characters knew they were in a crazy soap opera and they found it somewhat amusing. It's that kind of nod to the audience that got me to keep watching for 8 seasons.

The show dealt with issues such as suicide, domestic abuse, child abuse, matricide, patricide and of murder to name a few. Among all of this craziness, the show retained a sweetness and a theme of friendship that is sure to resonate past it's 8 seasons.

The 2 hour finale also saw the closing of several plotlines and sent all of the characters out of Wisteria Lane for their happy endings and even left the series open for another episode, albeit one without our favorite characters.

Let's say goodbye to those characters:

Susan Mayer 
This woman went through two husbands and more love triangles than I can even remember. She's always going to be that pretty girl that falls flat on her face, but always picks herself up. Goodbye Susan.

Lynette Scavo
Her relationship with her husband is to me how a healthy couple should be. Her legion of kids tells me that this girl really needs to up her birth control. She was always the housewife that was grounded in reality. She was also kick-ass: She saved Celia Solis from near death by plane, she stood up for herself when she was held hostage, She dealt with the killer of Wisteria while she was pregnant with baby Paige. What I adore most was her relationship with her first born daughter Penny. Goodbye Lynette.

Bree Van de Kamp

Called the Mayor of Stepford by her gay son Andrew. Bree tried her best to be the best mother and wife for her family, but sadly her family didn't want none of that. Her first husband Rex was into SM and was murdered by their pharmacist who later on became her fiancee. Rex was then slowly offed by Bree, though indirectly. Her second husband Orson tried to kill her friend Mike. Orson's mother in turn tried to kill Bree. Bree prevailed though. Her relationship with her gay son was it's own rollercoaster. Andrew tried to destroy his mother, slept with her boyfriend and then was abandoned on the road when Bree couldn't take anymore of his antics. After spending a considerable amount of time on the street doing you-know-what, Andrew and his mother grew close and she even came to accept that he was just born the way he is. He's gay and she loves him. I think I'll miss you most of all Bree.

Gabriel Solis

Where can I even begin with this one. She opens the series sleeping her beefy teenage gardener behind her working husband's back, and ends the series being the bread winner and still with her husband. Having so many ups and downs, it's amazing to see that Gabi and her longtime on again, off again husband have accepted that they belong together. Her relationship with her two daughters is amazing considering she never wanted to kids. Though she did suffer a miscarriage and suffered the loss of a child when her adopted daughter was taken away. Throughout the series, Gabriel proved that she was never as shallow as even she believed she was. I will miss you Gabi.

Mary Alice Young

Her suicide started the whole ball rolling. Her narration from the grave helped to bring the themes of the episodes together and her relationship with her friends was always sweet and devoted. The literally unseen fifth cast member, she wouldn't just narrate, she would be watching over her friends and family. She will be missed. Goodbye Mary Alice Young.

I highly recommend a viewing of this series. Very well written, very well paced and for a soap opera, the attention to continuity is amazing. 

And don't check it out for the strong men... 

...check it out for the strong women :-)

Most importantly, check it out when the complete series box set comes out in September. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Dark Shadows - A Fun Dark Romp

Tim Burton directs a movie staring Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfieffer, Helena Bonham Carter and Chloe Grace Moretz. A film written by Seth Graham-Smith (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies). A film with Colleen Atwood costumes and a score by Danny Elfman. I'm so already there. It's only a bonus that the movie happens to be based on Dark Shadows, a supernatural soap opera from the 60s.

I grew up with Dark Shadows, but was never really a fan. It was always in repeats in my youth and was always aired right before a cartoon I would watch. It would be like I would watch Robotech, but after the closing spooky credits of Dark Shadows. Or I'd be watching Jem and there'd be a commercial featuring Barnabas Collins right before the "... and now back to Jem" eyecatch.

I only started watching a handfull of the episodes before viewing this movie, as well as reading some literature on the subject. From what little I've seen and read, this movie is pretty faithfull to the material while also being it's own film. No previous viewing of the gajillion episodes will be needed for this film. This is a stand alone movie.

The story centers on Barnabas Collins, introduced via an awesome intro that takes place in the 1700s. He scorns the witch Angelique. Angelique then turns him into a vampire and he is eventually trapped in a coffin until reawakening in the 1970s, uniting with his 1970's descendants which include Elizabeth Stoddard, the matriarch. Her brother Roger and his son David, and her daughter Carolyn. Also joining the family is Dr. Julia Hoffman and the new nanny, Victoria Winters. Everyone has a past, everyone has a story and everyone gets involved.

Eva Green as Angelique.

The central story in all of the plotlines involved is Barnabas and his fued with the witch Angelique, who is very much alive in the 1970s and still trying to win his heart by any evil means necessary.

Keeping in mind that the source material for this film is a soap opera, I noticed that there is a lot of ground to cover and sadly not every character got to shine properly. I really wanted to say that the juggling of a huge cast of characters was successful in this motion picture, but it is not. Though it all does come together in the end.

The acting in this movie is hilarious. There are a lot of funny moments scattered throughout that are played as serious. A lot of the comedy comes from how serious the movie takes itself. I had a blast.

The performances are all top notch, I got the feeling I was watching a play at times, but I was left wanting more from those supporting the central story.

A huge plus for the movie was the pacing of the story. Graham's script allows the story to unravel organically. Not to say that it's slow though. Once the poo hits the fan, the poo hits the fan. The film concludes explosively.

I enjoyed the movie immensely and I had HIGH expectations. I was not disappointed. It needs to come out on Blu Ray already.

... The Carpenters make an appearance in this movie too ;-)

If you liked this article, check these out:

House of Dark Shadows - Now That's a Vampire Drama - The movie for the original series.

Let Me In - Vampires and Bullies - The remake of the awesome foreign movie Let the Right One In.Stars Dark Shadow's Chloe Grace Moretz.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Witches of Oz - Definitely Not in Kansas Anymore...

(the review contains spoilers, but you might want to read it anyway)

Ooooh Witches of Oz. Where can I begin? I know very little of this production. My first impression was that it looked like it was made by a group of Oz Book fans who wanted to put a contemporary spin to the Oz books that wasn't as dark as Syfy's Tin Man.

The story goes like this:

Frank and Maude in the late 1800s move to Kansas with their daughter Dorothy Gale. Dorothy gets lost in a twister with her dog Toto. With Dorothy missing for days, her mother, Maude finds a crystal ball in her lost daughter's room that shows that Dorothy is fine. She is in a fantastical land called Oz. Through the crystal ball, Frank, Maude and their new daughter watch Dorothy as she remains ageless and has many heroic adventures in Oz.

Frank is inspired and writes a series of books about Dorothy's adventures. The stories are passed on down to Frank's grandson's Henry, who eventually moves to the Kansas house with his wife Emily after Frank and Maude have died.

In 1992, another twister hits. In the aftermath of that twister, Henry and Emily find a little girl asleep in front of their house. It's Dorothy.

Dorothy grows up to believe that all she has experience in Oz was a dream. She writes a series of Oz sequel books that she feels are based off of her grandfather's classical books (which are now in public domain). She travels to New York to get her series of books published. She is not in Kansas anymore.

Thus begins our story, which I think borrows a little bit from Frank Beddor's Alice in Wonderland reimagining, Looking Glass Wars. That one needs to be a movie already.

I was immediately pulled into the story, though layered and twisted it can be. By twisted, I don't mean sick and nasty, but crazy and windy. Like a twister. There are a whole lot of twists in this 2 1/2 hour Oz outing.

Immediately, I fell in love with this new Dorothy, played here by Paulie Rojas. Paulie has these big wide expressive anime eyes that go perfect with this character. She is sweet, pleasant and very very easy to love.

Some big names make some appearances. Lord of the Rings alumnis Sean Astin and Billy Boyd appear. Christopher Loyd makes an appearance as The Wizard of Oz himself.

Mia Sara makes an appearance as Langwidere, kinda. Langwidere is a Princess who has possession of many heads (Mombi from the Return to Oz movie was given this character trait). Mia Sara plays one of the heads. Sadly, she doesn't appear in the movie as often as someone like her should. I mean, come on, she was in Legend AND played Harley Quin in Birds of Prey

There are also many cameos from Oz characters that are rarely seen on film. Off the top of my head I remember seeing Ozma, Jack Pumpkinhead, Tic Tok, The Witch of the East in her full glory and Locasta the other good witch. 

I felt that the movie was borrowing a little bit from Gregory Macguire's Wicked in their characterization of The Witch of the West, but oddly enough, that drew me in even more. A major plus for me was that her look was based off of how L. Frank Baum describes her in the books while still retaining her iconic imagery that was established by MGM.

The movie is not without it's flaws, but the spirit of the piece and the pacing of the film really kept me captivated. Though the story can be a bit topsy turvy at times, that just means I get to watch it again and uncover more layers, and I love a movie that lets me do that.