Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Review: True Blood "In The Evening"

Non Spoiler Review:
In the Evening deals with the fallout from Terry's death as Sookie returns home to console her friends. Bill seeks help in his attempt to prevent his visions from coming to pass, finding an ally in Eric desperate to save Nora. Sam and Nicole part ways. Within the vampire camp Jason moves to save Jessica.

Another good one, In the Evening continues to accelerate developments with the Hep V and it looks like that whole plotline is reaching its climax soon. Eric and Bill working together is always fun, as well as Sookie returning to the real world to help out her friends. Alcide...well, the werewolf storyline looks like it's come full circle, unless it yields a surprise, which is doubtful.

Spoilers Now!
Eric sends Willa back in to find Pam and advise them of the True Blood contamination while he takes off with Nora. Their escape is discovered and as the facility goes on lockdown Jason is sent to general population. Eric and Nora hide beneath one of the True Blood trucks and drive out.

Willa advises Pam of the Hep V situation. Pam wants Tara and Jessica in on the scoop, but tells her to keep it to themselves given the humans mustn't suspect they're on to them. She sends Willa back into gen pop .

Eric arrives at Bill's mansion with Nora, begging him to heal her if he can. Nora refuses to take Lilith's blood and Bill will honor her dying wish despite Eric's protests. He leaves them alone.

Sarah arrives at the governor's mansion to find the house open and Burrell's head at the foot of his statue. She vows his death won't be in vain. She calls in the state senator to tell him they're very close to bringing their ultimate goal to light. She needs his help to keep the governor's death a secret and announce he is in a safe location while the senator covers for him in the legislature. Sarah will assume control of the facility. The Hep V will not take long to spread. 

Warlow and Sookie wake up in the daylight. She warns him he shouldn't get ahead of himself thinking they're going to get married. Sookie hears Arlene's voice from the cemetery crying over Terry and realizes something terrible has happened. She appears back in the real world and goes to her side to console her. Arlene doesn't know who shot him, but explains what she did. She takes Arlene home to Holly to tell the kids. Lafayette, Sookie and Holly decide to check out Terry's safety deposit box. What they find is a letter to Arlene that holds a life insurance policy issued three days before. They realize he knew it was coming and had it all planned. 

Lafayette and Sookie return to Arlene's only to find her drunk. Sookie reads Adeline's mind and the two of them communicate. Holly's boys show up, as does Bill, walking in the daylight. Andy goes ballistic but Bill tells Arlene how sorry he is for her loss. He then addresses Andy that he's very sorry for his loss, as well. As a father they are both bound to protect their children, and wishes him the best, taking his hand. Bill speaks to Sookie, asking her for Warlow in order to save his progeny. He reminds her Tara is in jeopardy in the death camp and asks her to put her anger with him aside. 

Sam checks in with Lafayette, only to learn Terry's dead. He tells Nicole to go home to her mother as he's returning to Bontemps despite Alcide's warning. She decides to join him in the shower instead. Her mother later arrives and Nicole says her goodbyes to Sam, promising to keep the truth secret and to call her if he needs anything. 

Jessica is brought in to see Jason who explains he's getting her out of there. She's resigned to her own fate, though, but does want to thank vampire James for being so nice to her. Jason brings him in and she asks him for some privacy. She wants to know how James could have been so selfless. He explains he believes vampires choose to forfeit their souls and he made a different choice. She tells James they're all going to die in there and they're putting Hep V in the True Blood and not to drink it. Jessica wants him to make love to her as she's never been with a vampire, never mind one with such humanity.

Alcide drops his father off at home. He tells Alcide the pack life isn't for them and one day he'll realize it. Alcide returns to the pack and announces Sam and Nicole are dead. Rikki tells him he's lying and has Nicole and her mother brought out. 

Eric confronts Bill and promises to do anything he asks if he saves Nora. He believes in him. Bill explains the visions he's been having, and the one that has yet to come true—the death of Pam, Jessica, Tara and Eric. He needs to get Warlow so they can take him with them so they can stop it. Eric vows to go back with him if he helps Nora. Bill does so, getting her to feed from him. Nora doesn't feel any different so Eric thinks Warlow's blood might work. Nora tells him it won't be able to heal her. 

Pam is brought into her psychiatrist for her session. She proceeds to seduce him on the condition she gets back into general population.

Sarah finds Jason outside the door, telling him the governor is dead so any leverage he had is gone. She has him taken away and thrown in the female general population, cutting his wrist so the vampires smell his blood. Tara tells them to back off. But another vampire declares he's hers. 

Eric prays to Godric as Nora begins to succumb. A flashback to 1665 reveals Eric was asked to find the Lady Gainsborough (who enjoys the company of the king) from plague infested London. Eric tracks her down but not before she's already afflicted. Eric promises to take her somewhere more peaceful but she doesn't want to die in his presence. Instead he took her to Godric, who made her a vampire. In the present, Nora tells Eric to let the others walk beside him. She dies in his arms.

The Verdict:
In the Evening was another strong one, though the flashback at the end seemed a bit overdrawn and unnecessary given Nora was already on the verge of death. Nice to see Eric and Bill working together again, and it looks like Bill's vision of the sun room could actually unfold with all of them enjoying Warlow's sun-tolerant blood.

If Alcide's arc all this time has been to get him pushed out of the pack, then it's been a ridiculous waste of screen time to go through the endurance test of having his character immerse himself within werewolf society for nothing. So I have no idea what the writers are planning for him, but it would be nice to see Alcide get some direction to his life. He's been wasted for two seasons.

Andy took Bill's apology a bit too easy. Unless he's secretly planning to strike back at Bill it didn't ring very true at all. Their reactions to Bill walking in sunlight were fun, though.

Sarah doesn't have the chops to be the new big bad, so I think she'll likely be dispatched when everything goes down in the facility. Hopefully that will allow the writers to clean house of a lot of annoying characters like the Newlins. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Review: True Blood "Don't You Feel Me"

Non Spoiler Review:
Don't You Feel Me brings several plotlines to their climax, as Bill takes drastic measures to save his progeny. Sookie deals with her feelings for Warlow. Jason embarks on his plan to rescue Jessica, as well. Eric realizes all his planning hasn't amounted to much.

After a contrived episode last week, Don't You Feel Me really picked up the pace. As usual, Alcide's plotline struggles, and as yet there is no clear indication what sort of direction the werewolves are going. However, the big surprise was the developments for Terry and Arlene, but even that didn't bring the dramatic impact one might expect.

I have the feeling the season is going to shift into a different direction, given Burrell's plot against the vampires is quickly reaching its peak. That leaves the question of who is the season's ultimate big bad?

Spoilers Now!
Bill hears Sookie's screams but it's Warlow who arrives to pull Lafayette off her. Sookie stops him from killing Lafayette so Warlow uses his fairy powers to throw her father out of his body. Lafayette regains his senses and Sookie orders daddy Stackhouse out of her life forever. 

Lafayette gets filled in on Warlow's abilities, but the latter is called back by Bill. Sookie tries to prevent him from going and asks him to trust her, vanishing with him. Bill is alarmed when he loses his connection and goes to find Jessica, only to realize she's been taken. He seeks out the scientist to induce a coma so he can communicate with Lilith—which means removing nearly all his blood to bring him close to death.

Pam and Eric face each other off as she grows incensed he made another vampire. But instead of fighting, both strike at the snipers positioned behind the the grates and kill them both. Eric spies Newlin behind the glass, who protests his innocence in the matter. More soldiers arrive to disarm them.

At the LAVTF centre Jason impresses the recruiter with his vampire-killing history. He's brought to the internment camp, only to run into Sarah. Jason acts like they've just met, and she asks to speak to their new recruit in private. Jason warns her he's getting Jessica out of there, and if she tells them, he'll reveal what a whore she is. She later turns the tables on him and brings him in to view the copulation study, looking at what drives the vampire libido, which in this case involves Jessica. He watches her brought in to James, who explains what they're supposed to do. James refuses to commit rape, so he's shot with ultraviolet light. Jessica acquiesces but he's adamant he won't go through with it, so Jessica is taken away.

Nicole warns Sam that Emma is terrified about not seeing her grandmother. She doesn't think the solution is to run. As night falls, Alcide shows up at his father's motel room, who reveals Sam is there. He and Alcide go to the room but it's empty. Alcide plans to go after them but orders his father to stay. Sam has taken Nicole's advice and arranged a meeting with Martha as long as she doesn't take her back to the pack. Sam tells them to take care of one another. Later, Alcide finds Sam and faces him down, but Sam is tired of fighting. Alcide lets them go, but warns Sam if he shows his face anywhere that his pack can find him he's a dead man.

Andy's daughter recovers and asks for a real name. He calls her Adeline.

In their refuge, Warlow asks Sookie to tie him up before his blood lust comes upon him. When darkness falls he is no longer a creature of light. On the previous occasions they'd encountered one another he'd already fed. Sookie binds him to a tree and waits, allowing Warlow to lament how she found out the truth about her parents. She's the only one of them that is blameless in the matter. He fills her in on his origin and has waited so long for her because she's special. If she had agreed to be his, his pain as a vampire would be over. Sookie allows him to feed from her, and then feeds from Warlow, as well, then proceeds to have sex with him. 

The governor goads Eric that his death is imminent. They bring in Nora, who was offered up by Newlin, as well. Burrell wants him to feel the same loss he has and plans to inject her with a new creation called Hepatitis V. Eric rages as they do so. Burrell then visits Willa to reveal they're searching for a cure to vampirism, but she doesn't want to be treated any different.

Bill achieves his meeting with Lilith, who only annoys him with riddles. He challenges her wisdom for choosing the wrong fairy and dying the true death. She counters that the time to act is now and he can't come to her seeking answers again. 

Bill is revived and realizes he's out of time, so he drinks Warlow's blood. Bill steps out into the sun, unharmed. He arrives at the governor's mansion to a hail of bullets that do nothing, and instead controls the minds of the guards to shoot themselves, leaving just Burrell. He demands to know about the camp and the whereabouts of Jessica, then Bill rips his head off.

Terry shows up at Lafayette's giving him a safety deposit box key. He in turn alerts Arlene who tells Holly she thinks Terry is going to kill himself. Holly has an idea to get a vampire to glamor Terry. She knows one who owes her a favor. Holly arranges it and the vampire glamors him to forget the marines and the war. Terry wakes up, content. At work the next day Terry is quite cheery, but when he goes to take out the garbage he's shot. Everyone rushes out to the back to find him shot in the neck. Lafayette tries to hold Arlene back but she rushes to his side. She consoles him as he dies in her arms. 

Caged Eric watches Nora suffer, so calls upon Willa. She gets a word alone with a guard and glamors him to bring her to them. They make their escape through the prison and Eric (posing as a guard) enters the True Blood factory, which is being contaminated with Hepatitis V for release on the vampire population. 

The Verdict:
Don't You Feel Me was pretty good, and second best of the season, in my opinion. Most notable, of course, is Terry's death, which came fast and furious. It wasn't as touching as I thought it might be, but as soon as he was glamored I was certain the plot would play out over a few episodes, so at least it got resolved quickly. I have a feeling that means he's coming back via Lafayette's channelling at some point. I'm thinking that leaves only Andy and Arlene and Holly as characters who are still human.

I'm sure I'm not the only one wondering what is the purpose of Sam and Alcide's plotlines, which have sputtered along so lazily so far. Now it looks like it's being brushed off in a half-resolved manner. 

This is the first time the Warlow/Sookie pairing felt like it was working. I highly doubt she's going to get turned into a vampire/fairy, but who knows at this point?

Wouldn't all the guards in the internment camp be wearing the special glamor-proof contact lenses? Or did I miss an explanation?

The vampire plotline with the Hep V is also moving fast, and a surprise that Burrell was dispatched so quickly. Will Bill retain the benefits of Warlow's blood, or will it fade? I'm wondering what will happen once they eventually stop the True Blood distribution. Is there another, more dangerous threat waiting to carry the rest of the season?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Review: True Blood "F**k The Pain Away"

Non Spoiler Review:
Bill cleans up Jessica's mess at the mansion, and secures what he believes to be the final element in his plan to save vampire kind. Sookie attempts to get some answers via Lafayette. Jason meets an old flame. Eric embarks on a questionable plan. Pam gets some therapy.

While F**k the Pain Away was not as solid as last week, its saving grace was Bill and Warlow's interaction. What didn't work was Eric's ridiculous decisions, more useless Terry and Arlene subplots and the continued waste of Alcide. There was also a series of contrived events that were there for no other reason to advance the plot.

What I did enjoy was the backstory stuff—Warlow flashbacks tying the vampire/fairy storylines together, as well as more insight into Sookie's parents that provided answers to some questions going back to the beginning of the series.

Spoilers Now!
Warlow claims Sookie is his intended, and he's wandered the earth looking for her. On the night her parents were killed they were trying to kill Sookie, he adds. She strikes out at him. A distraught Jessica realizes she's killed all five girls. Bill detects something has happened with Sookie, tells Jessica to sleep it off and heads off to her house. Warlow warns Bill he best leave before he kills him. Instead Bill tells him, as his maker, that he commands him to come with him. And Warlow does.

Andy shows up at the mansion looking for Bill and walks in to find his dead kids as Jessica hides. He finds one still alive and takes her back to the sheriff's department where he searches the evidence room for some V. It manages to heal her and she reveals it was Jessica who did it.

Tara finds Eric to tell him Pam's been taken. They follow the authorities to the camp and walk over with hands up to surrender (because this is the extent of Eric's planning these days). Inside Pam is led by an assortment of brutal experiments. After he's processed, Eric and three other vampires are brought into a circular room. They become part of a battle to the death which Eric manages to win. Later in the common room Eric asks if anyone has seen Pam, but gets no response.

Pam is being interviewed by a scientist for her cooperation in their study. They have a more intellectual interest in her—how and what she thinks about. She opts to cooperate in order to be fed by a living donor. She explains most humans are just food to her. On the subject of makers, she reveals hers released her, but she feels nothing about it. Humans love their pain, she says. Pain is a worthless emotion. For a time her maker was everything to her, he released her and it hurt. But she's over it. He's not sure he believes her.

Bill brings Warlow down to the lab and explains Lilith is guiding him. There is a flashback to 3500 BC when Warlow was visited by Lilith outside his village. She was drawn by his fairy blood and had sex with him. She told him he was destined to save vampire kind, and turned him into one. Bill extracts some of his blood, explaining he was made into their salvation.

Willa is alive, but Burrell plans to take her to the camp himself. Sarah advises him to move on and suggests they should have a baby. He refuses to have that conversation. Jason comes home to find Sarah waiting for him. She manages to seduce him again. Jason is then woken up by a frantic and scattered Jessica who has no where else to go. Jason admits he did love her. Jessica wonders if Bill might actually be the devil. Sarah walks out and realizes Jason had a vampire girlfriend. She calls Jessica a demon. Jessica pins her down but Sarah manages to renounce Jessica's invitation to the house and she's sent right into the hands of the authorities waiting outside, as Sarah called them too.

Alcide finds his father in a bar while he's searching for Sam. Alcide tells him to get out of his life and gives him some cash to send him on his way. Nicole and Sam wake up in their hotel but he won't let her call her parents for fear the werewolves will kill them too. Coincidentally enough, Alcide's father is at the same hotel and hears them arguing.

Back in vampire Oz, Jessica finds Tara in general population. Jessica is still struggling with her actions, and wonders if vampires deserve to survive. Willa is brought by them and recognizes Tara but they won't let her mix with them. Willa is taken to her own cell.

Terry calls up an old army buddy, Justin, and asks him to kill him. Terry can't pull the trigger, but he feels he deserves to die. Justin says he will. Terry wants a few days to get his affairs in order and doesn't want to know when it's coming.

Andy plans to kill Bill but Holly warns him Bill is stronger than him and he needs to look after his daughter. Deciding to save Jessica, Jason goes to the vampire police recruitment center to make things right.

Sookie tells Lafayette everything about Warlow. She needs to find her way back to the truth, and asks his help to communicate with her parents. Lafayette prepares for the seance and manages to summon Corbet and Michelle Stackhouse. Sookie learns that Warlow had spoken with her parents when she was a child, asking for Sookie and revealing she was fae. He showed them the contract their ancestor made and promised to make her a princess. He also revealed he was a vampire and intended to make Sookie immortal to protect her forever, horrifying Corbet. They told him to leave them alone, but Warlow warned he was coming back when she was of age. Corbet decided to end it so Warlow could never turn her into a vampire. Despite Michelle protests, she drove off with him.

Meanwhile, Warlow threatens to kill the Japanese scientist. He accuses Bill/Lilith of ruining his life by having him massacre his entire village. In a flashback Warlow returned home after many years and was welcomed by his father. They quickly saw he was different and he lost control and killed them all, except for Niall whose mother had hidden him. He left him alive. Warlow then found Lilith sleeping in her cave and used his fairy powers to bring in the sunlight and burn her. Warlow has no desire to save the vampire race.

Sarah has a surprise for Burrell and brings him to see Newlin. Newlin reveals they have Eric. Burrell rails against him for what he's done to her, forcing him to intern her there. Eric realizes his plan didn't work, and he's given a stake. Sarah has Pam brought out, revealing that's his progeny. The doctor tells Pam to prove how little he means to her. 

Sookie realizes her father was going to kill her. Corbet takes over Lafayette and explains he still loves her, but she's fallen for Warlow already. He grabs her and puts Sookie in the trunk of the car. At the river he takes her into the water and pushes her head under.

The Verdict:
F**k the Pain Away had some decent Warlow backstory that made sense of the tales Niall and Lilith have told, and puts everything in perspective. It was novel to have Bill be able to command him around, and despite the loss of his fairy blood supply, he seems to have the perfect hybrid sample in Warlow. If Warlow is being completely honest that he wants Sookie for altruistic means, that doesn't completely align with his massacre of the fairy night club. But speaking of massacring faeries, I was pleased to see that four out of the five fairy kids are out of the picture, and that actually made for a nice dramatic scene for Andy rather than his usual comic relief.

Now on to the ridiculous—Eric's idea that getting captured and imprisoned is the best way to get to Pam? Really. That worked out great for everyone, and the maker-on-progeny battle at the end could be seen coming a mile away. And where was Nora?

I do hope this storyline means the end of Sarah once and for all. While it was good to see Jason interacting with Jessica again, and possibly heading off on a rescue mission, it's time to ship off the Newlins to the true death. As for Terry, I don't think the writers intend a sigh of relief from the audience when he enlists his friend's aid to kill him. What is the point of this continued torture? It's been six seasons of this. Just get it done already.

The sole purpose for Alcide this week was to contrive to get his dad staying at the same hotel with Sam. I didn't realize he and Alcide were having that many problems that he would take a hissy fit on him the moment he finds him in the backwoods werewolf bar (are there any other normal establishments in Louisiana aside from Merlotte's?). It's really sad to see the same thing week after week with Alcide.

Then there's Sookie and Lafayette. The true story of what happened to her parents is welcome, but how on earth could Sookie get led out of the house, thrown in the trunk, driven to the river, escorted down to the water and dumped in without once using some fairy blasts (that she can now conjure at will)? Come on.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Review: The Walking Dead 112

Non Spoiler Review:
Rick and company return to town to a few surprises. When it looks like the opportunity to act is at hand, Rick may have misjudged the situation.

Issue 112 was fast-paced, providing some tense moments and accelerating the story quite a bit this month. The result wasn't entirely unexpected given the scope of the Negan problem, but it will definitely make things interesting next issue.

Spoilers Now!
While Negan makes himself home playing pool at Spencer's former abode, Rick returns to find the gates unopened. He gets the news from Olivia what's happened and confronts Negan about murdering Spencer.

Negan just wants a thank you, reiterating how calm he has been with Rick despite his son killing his men, and now saving him from a traitor in his midst. To show his good nature he refuses any offering, but Rick insists he take half like they arranged.

While Negan loads up, Rick rushes to get Andrea to the tower, realizing they might not get an opportunity to take out Negan again. As everyone scrambles into position, Negan's truck leaves the town, only to see he's being charged by Rick. The driver and a couple of other men are shot, leaving Negan to face Rick. Rick pulls out his gun to end him, only to have it shot out of his hand. The rest of his people are disarmed by gunfire, and Negan gleefully chides Rick for being so foolish to think he wouldn't be prepared. The reason it sometimes takes so long for him to arrive is because he has a host of armed men taking up positions throughout the area, just as he has now. And Rick needs to realize how screwed he is.

The Verdict:
Well, I would have been considerably shocked had Rick put a bullet in Negan's head. Instead we get confirmation that his adversary is a little more intelligent than he gives him credit, and all along the bulk of his forces have remained mostly hidden. Whether this information will actually get out to Jesus and Ezekiel given the tense stand off we're left with remains to be seen.

This was a pretty linear issue and moved briskly, so there's not much else to discuss. Negan still appears to have his code of conduct in place. Whether that will help Rick at this point, I don't know. It seems there's going to have to be some sacrifice next month in order for the rest of the community to get out of this situation.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Review: World War Z

Non Spoiler Review:
World War Z has had an interested journey to the big screen, first carrying the weight of an extremely popular novel (one of my favorites), a troubling series of rewrites, and trailers that indicated the movie was World War Z in name only. What we start out with is retired UN operative Gerry Lane, who is called back into action as he and his family witness a zombie outbreak firsthand, and one that quickly cripples the globe. He is tasked with sourcing the cause of the infection and find some manner to fight it, all in hopes of making it back to his family.

World War Z stars Brad Pitt as Gerry Lane, and Mireille Enos (The Killing) as his wife. But Pitt seriously overshadows the rest of the cast, and everyone in the film is a secondary character. Directed by Marc Forster (Quantum of Solace, Finding Neverland), writing credit includes the likes of the abominable Damon Lindelof (Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest!), and J. Michael Straczynski in what was a turbulent process to get on film.

Max Brook's novel was a groundbreaking work exploring the geopolitical, economic and religious aspects of a zombie apocalypse on a global scale. It was an anthology of stories covering ten years of conflict, tied together by the consistent thread of the interviewer, who is a UN representative recording events for posterity. It also takes place ten years after the fact. In contrast, this interpretation throws us into the action at the beginning of the outbreak and follows Gerry on his quest to find the origin, and a possible cure to the virus. 

World War Z struggles on a variety of fronts. As far as characters, there is little for the audience to grasp onto aside from Pitt's struggle to keep his family safe. But we get one scene of them pre-outbreak to forge a connection, and the rest is everyone on the run. Brad Pitt does what he does best—play the relatable everyman. He doesn't break out anything new here. We really only get a few short scenes with his UN boss, as well as another Israeli character later on that feel more like additions just to keep it from becoming a one man show.

We get plenty of shaky cam and aerial vistas of cities burning, and hordes of people flooding streets. I can't fault Forster's direction very much at all, because he did serve up heaps of beautiful scenes of civilization coming apart. But it ended up as more of a picture book than an actual narrative. The soundtrack was interesting, and reminiscent of 28 Days Later in some of its tones.

There's plenty of gold to mine as far as story, but the film moves much too fast to take advantage of any of it. An attempt is made to explore the initial stages of the outbreak, unfortunately the exposition we get comes so fast and furious by way of hard to hear news broadcasts and very quick one-on-ones between Pitt and the officials he encounters we're left wanting more and the whole thread is abandoned later on. The same goes for the various locales we visit, with hints of what's happening at various points around the planet (again via flashes of newscasts or snippets of dialogue), but never slowing down enough to get a sense of scale.

It's also hard to believe that the virus could be simmering for a couple of weeks behind the scenes (infection happens extremely fast) without major powers like Washington getting the hint something terrible was about to happen (yet Israel was able to construct a ginormous wall around Jerusalem). The timeline just doesn't add up.

The reactions of the characters fail to ring true, as well. Considering civilization is collapsing and everyone is losing somebody close to them, Pitt and family, and everyone else who manages to escape to sea, seem to be doing an admirable job coping with their abrupt lifestyle change without any post-traumatic effects.

The vast conceptual change from the book is abandoning the lumbering-type zombies of The Walking Dead in favor of the jittery, sprinting, swarming undead that would leave the infected of 28 Days Later in the dust. While it certainly creates a sense of immediate crisis, the overall idea falls flat. I can't see the world being able to fend off such a relentless onslaught for any length of time the likes of which we get in the first three quarters of the movie.

After such a frenetic pace, the final act hits the brakes and is considerably slow, transitioning into a different film in many respects. This was a rewrite of the original ending apparently, and it didn't work for me. While the discoveries made are an innovative twist, they're not that surprising to anyone familiar with the genre, and we're left with an expected ending, which really can't be anything else given the unmanageable story World War Z is grappling with.

Surprisingly enough, there is very little blood and no gore whatsoever. This is your family-friendly zombie movie. It never really occurred to me until I was watching Pitt pound a zombie with a pipe, only to notice that the violence was happening completely out of frame. So for those queasy about such things, World War Z would be a safe introduction to the genre.

World War Z is 28 Days Later on a global scale. Its scope is too vast to contain in one movie and fails because of it. While it remains entertaining as a popcorn flick, there's just not enough of anything to sink your teeth into and leave you with something new and exciting for the genre. It is certainly not an adaptation of Max Brook's novel, and is similar just enough that it might have gotten sued had it not bought the rights to the name. It's not the epic global apocalypse that fans could wish for, and something of that scale deserves a season long HBO miniseries (which I highly doubt we'll get now). It's entertaining, but forgettable in the long run.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Review: True Blood "At Last"

Non Spoiler Review:
At Last indeed! At last a pretty damn good episode of True Blood that covered a lot of ground and advanced everyone's storyline. Ben reveals a secret, while Sookie plans the perfect date. Eric has grand plans for Willa. Alcide and his pack continue to be ornery. Bill and Jessica team up to carry out his plan to save vampirekind.

Definitely the best of the season so far, At Last moved briskly with plenty of interesting developments. Some may have predicted the twists, but I still found them enjoyable and left with the impression that the season is moving with a sense of direction.

Not all is repaired—the werewolves continue to run around in search of a storyline, Jason's actual role this season keeps attaching itself to various characters, and Terry and Arlene continue to take up unnecessary screentime. 

Spoilers Now!
Niall catches up with Nora and demands an explanation. She fills him in about Lilith and the need to destroy her. The mistranslation she discovered is that the progeny led Lilith to the sun. She gets excited by the scent of his fairy blood so he tosses her away—directly into a bunch of the governor's soldiers who capture her.

Ben and Sookie tend to Jason, who is far more wounded than they thought. While she calls for help, Ben sprouts fangs and cuts open his arm to give Jason his blood. Sookie comes back to find Jason alive and well. Niall returns and suggests this is a family matter, so Ben leaves.

Martha alerts Alcide that Sam took Emma. Sam reaches the bitten Nicole and carries her off as Lafayette arrives to drive them to safety. In the morning Nicole comes to terms that her friends are dead. Sam tells Lafayette to go home and watch out for himself, then turns into a horse to carry Nicole and Emma.

The governor's men break into Ginger's house but find no one else. Burrell has her taken to camp. Meanwhile, Pam attempts to summon Tara, who returns but refuses to reveal where she has Willa. Eric intimidates her to confess she's at the fairgrounds and he goes off. Eric finds Willa  waiting for him. She reminds him she's on his side, but she feels she deserves to taste his blood. Eric takes her to an open grave in a cemetery and makes her a vampire, his second progeny.

Andy's girls can read Terry's mind about killing Patrick, which unsettles him and Arlene. The girls go through another growth spurt into teenagers and they sneak out in the night to party. Bill and Jessica are watching the house and follow after they steal the sheriff's car. At the liquor store the girls try to buy beer as Jessica steps forward and glamors the clerk. She introduces herself and invites them over to her place to party. They admit she smells kind of funny and isn't like them. Jessica confesses she's a vampire but can control herself. They head off together. Andy is frantic to find the girls missing, but has no idea how old they might be now.

Back home, Bill takes a sample of one of the girl's blood and heads down to the lab he's set up with the Japanese scientist. Bill reveals his hope to save everyone and asks him to map the genetic code of the blood and synthesize it. Bill adds that failure is not an option.

Sookie finds a drop of blood on the floor and concludes something is up with Jason's renewed strength. She uses her fairy powers to discern it's vampire. She goes to see Ben at his hotel to apologize for Niall's behaviour and invite him for dinner, then off to get groceries, as well as some silver that she plans to sprinkle on the meal.

Jason has an erotic dream about Ben given the vampire blood and confesses it to Niall, who makes a  huge intuitive leap that a vampire could have turned a fairy and created a creature with both powers. They conclude Ben is a vampire who walks in daylight and is, indeed, Warlow.

The two of them stake out the hotel as Ben gets in the shower. But Ben is waiting for them and disables Niall and glamors Jason to forget he ever came there, and to say good-bye to his grandfather. Jason leaves and Ben begins to drink from Niall.

Research on the blood has turned up plenty of anomalies, but the scientist finds it so unstable that it reduces itself to human blood outside its host. He can't replicate it. Bill reveals he has his donors upstairs and threatens the scientist to continue his work.

New vampire Willa is dazzled by her senses, but Eric is sending her home to show her father what he fears the most. Furious, she calls Eric a monster, but he wants her to prove to her father they were all once human and not to be hunted. He did not make her into a vampire on a whim.

Pam and Tara are on the search for food but have (another) argument. Tara runs off just as the governor's men capture Pam. The governor is still waiting for word about Willa—with new lover Sarah Newlin. They're interrupted with news that his daughter is home, but had to be invited in. Willa says she's still his child, but she finds herself drawn to his bloodied hand and Sarah shoots her.

Ben hasn't killed Niall but has drank most of his blood. He admits his family lived beside Niall's before he was born, and he was turned into a vampire. He spared Niall so that their line could continue and will spare him again. He opens up a portal and throws Niall through it. 

Sam takes Emma and Nicole to a hotel. As they commiserate over their losses they end up making out.

Ben shows up late at Sookie's, bearing flowers. She watches him eat but realizes the silver is having no effect. He asks why her previous relationship went south. Sookie doesn't want to be betrayed again and questions him what it is about her that he wants. He explains she understood him when they met. 

The girls want to go home but Jessica tries to get  them to stay until her father is finished his important stuff. They gang up on her and try to leave, provoking Jessica to lose control and feed on one of them. Andy tries to interview the dense liquor store clerk and Jason suggests a vampire glamored him. Andy asks if they can sniff out fairies, and Jason explains they're like catnip to them. Andy rushes off. Bill hears the screams from upstairs and finds a distraught Jessica has fed on all the girls. 

As Ben and Sookie make out on the couch, she abruptly tells him to get off her. She knows he's Warlow and she holds her glowing hand above him.

The Verdict:
The fairy girl plot finally got interesting. I doubt they're all dead, but that would actually be quite a cool development if that's the case. I didn't really see Ben turning out to be Warlow and I'm a bit confused about the whole vampire/fairy powers mix and how all that sorted out. But the twist was well-executed, as well as a humorous Jason dream sequence. There's been no real definition of fairy abilities like we've had with vampires, so it still feels like they're being written for storyline convenience (Sookie's potential vampire WMD, for example). Curious that he left Niall alive, and something tells me he's not as evil as we've been led to believe.

Sam's sudden make out session with Nicole is more than a tad contrived, but I'll let it pass given the rest of the episode was good. I was enjoying the team up with Lafayette so I hope they continue together. Lafayette doesn't have much left to do except channel spirits when plotlines require it.

Speaking of not having much to do, that includes all vampires unless you're Bill, Jessica and Eric. Pam and Tara used to be fun but they're just outright boring now. The capture of Nora and Pam came off as equally contrived, and not much of a surprise as we can assume Bill can see the future and accurately foresaw all of them imprisoned in Burrell's camp. I'm not sure if Willa is heading for true death soon, or not. She hasn't had a chance to grow as a character and might be easy cannon fodder to force Burrell to even further extremes.

Alcide and the werewolves continue to suck. That's all that needs to be said.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Review: True Blood "Hide and Seek"

Non Spoiler Review:
Eric grabs a bargaining chip in his fight against the governor. Bill makes a terrible error interpreting Lilith's messages, but gets a few ideas how he might save everyone. Niall stumbles upon a new ally.

Hide and Seek didn't offer anything that much new and exciting as the season gets underway. There's still plenty of running around without any apparent direction. In particular, the Eric, Pam, Tara, Nora constant bickering has grown tiresome already, the angry werewolf plot is spinning in circles, and, as usual, I'm enjoying the Bill and Jessica scenes more than anything. There is a glimmer of hope of the season's direction by the end of it, and an innovative idea from Bill.

Spoilers Now!
Willa is a vampire sympathizer and fills Eric in on her father's plans—he's created a concentration camp for their vampire prisoners. Eric realizes she's their only bargaining chip and takes her with them as they go on the run and leave Fangtasia behind, apparently forever, despite a heated argument with Tara and Pam over their plans. They take refuge at Ginger's where he calls the governor to inform him he has his daughter. The governor successfully traces the call and Eric prepares to flee, only to find Tara has made off with Willa.

Reverend Newlin is now a prisoner of Burrell's camp, and has a reunion with wife Sarah who is pleased to find him in his current condition. She's also discovered politics is more of a means to her end.

Niall investigates the fairy club in the woods, only to find it's been massacred by Warlow, who appears to exhibit some startling abilities he hadn't anticipated. Leaving, he runs into Ben, who recognizes him as the fairy leader and offers to join his army. They return back to Sookie's, who is surprised to see Ben again. When Niall senses something outside, he finds Nora instead and takes off after her. Jason, meanwhile, is acting much saner and tells Sookie the strange things the ghosts of their parents told him.

The police come to Martha's looking for Emma. Alcide and Rikki stall until Martha comes out. Rikki then threatens Emma to the breaking point so she shifts into a wolf, and when the police come inside they're fooled (despite the puppy wearing clothes).

Nicole and her friends show up at the werewolf camp with their message of coexistence, only to instigate a massacre as everyone shifts and takes them down one by one. Nicole escapes into the woods, wounded. Meanwhile, Sam has been watching the situation as an owl and takes the opportunity to run off with Emma, but realizes he has to help out Nicole.

Bill thinks Lilith's plan for him is to walk in the sun, only to be horribly mistaken. After he recovers from his wounds he sends Jessica to retrieve the Japanese scientist responsible for True Blood. He then goes to see Sookie to ask a big favor. She won't invite him in, but he is able to come in anyway, immobilizes Jason, and asks her for a sample of her blood in the hopes that they can make a synthetic version. She absolutely refuses, and he tells her she's dead to him.

On the way home Bill is stopped by Andy, who warns him of the curfew, but also fills him in on his daughters. Bill can detect the fairy scent on their teddy bear and suddenly has a new idea.

The Verdict:
A mediocre episode, Hide and Seek did reveal an innovative aspect to Bill's plan to try to synthesize fairy blood, which is one of the more logical moves on the series so far. And that suddenly brings Andy's annoying family to the forefront.

The werewolf plot isn't living up to my expectations yet, and as I've mentioned every week, Rikki in particular appears to be drastically out of character from what we saw of her last season. Even Alcide is meaner and crazier. It's just not making any sense.

Niall is growing on me, too, and it was nice to see a saner acting Jason, some promise that there's an explanation for his odd behaviour, and leads to a mystery of who and what might be the apparitions he's seeing as his parents. It's unfortunate that he's missed out on the fairy bloodline, because that would add a little bit to his struggling character right now much more than his werepanther plot ever did.
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