Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Montauk Monster: What the Freak is That Thing?!

You've probably all heard of it by now. An unidentifiable creature washed up on the shores of Montauk, NY- by 'unidentifiable' I mean it looks like a dog with the head of a bird. Now, a year later, something very similar has washed up on a nearby beach. I have my guess of what it is and where it came from, but what do you think it is?
I will mail a king-sized Snicker candy bar to the creator of the best explanation - by 'best' I mean funny, crazy, or scientifically mind-blowing. Just send your explanations to pacson78@gmail.com.

Fringe Season Finale = Letdown

I looked forward to the Fringe finale last Tuesday with great anticipation. I had discovered the show halfway through the season and, thanks to the magic of Hulu, was able to catch up on what has become my second-favorite show. It is like the X-Files (of which I was a voracious fanboy) except funnier and lighter. I also feel like it attains moments of real terror (i.e. the opening scene of the episode with the Microwave Lady- I almost soiled myself).
Leading up to the finale, things were really ramping up. Olivia was tumbling down the rabbit hole of scientific experimentation and weirdness that was her childhood, toggling between alternate universes. Walter- by far my favorite TV character in a long time- was led away by the Observer. By the end of the second to last episode, I was rubbing my hands together in fanboy bliss, anticipating a killer finale.
But what I got was just alright. Bad guys sneaking around opening portals to alternate universes and accidentally catching people and vehicles in the crossfire? That's okay, I guess. Bad guy trying to get to the other side to kill William Bell? Doesn't really mean anything to us yet. And then the reveal in the last five minutes of Leonard Nimoy as William Bell and them being in the Twin Towers? Cool, but it didn't really make up for the lack of intensity or significance in the rest of the episode.
It was, in a word, a letdown. It seemed more designed to set the stage for next season. Maybe Lost set the bar a little too high (I watched the two finales back to back), but I felt ripped off. I didn't want the whole thing to be about the Spock reveal at the end. Having just seen and enjoyed Nimoy as Spock in Star Trek just days earlier, I found it really hard not to think of him as Spock, except that he smiled. Note to J.J.: you might want to space out the Nimoy cameos.
At any rate, I am looking forward to a second season. Let's hope they give us a better season premiere than a season finale.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

My Predictions for Season 6 of Lost

Okay, those of you who saw last night's Lost season finale are probably still reeling from one of the most adrenaline-charged finale's the show has ever given us. [I would warn you of spoilers, but, honestly, if you haven't seen it yet, you either don't really love it or you shouldn't be looking at blog posts about it.] In past season finales, the first hour has been very slow, insignificant, all build-up to the more thrilling second hour. From the opening scene, however, this one gave us reveals, action, critical confrontations, and more.
How much more? How about the long-overdue scrap between Sawyer and Jack where the whiny, daddy-issues-laden doc got the tar kicked out of him (with a whopping crotch kick, no less)? How about the sudden and then abundant revelation of Jacob, not as a grisled old apparition in a cabin but as a flesh and blood, and even saintly, immortal guy? How about multiple shootouts between Team Jack and the Dharma Initiative? Jack even tried to gun down Uncle Rico, I mean, Ben's father. And it all ended-infuriatingly, I might add- with a mortally wounded Juliette whacking Jughead with a lava rock and the whole thing going kablooey. Boom! The end.
I know, I'm still recovering. But I do want to take this opportunity to go out on a limb and submit my predictions on the sixth and concluding season of Lost (yes, it shakes me to my core just to write those words):
Prediction #1: With the death of Jacob at Ben's hands, choas has just been unleashed on the Island. The final conflict will center around taking down the guy wearing Locke's skin.
Prediction #2: The Ajira folks are Jacob-followers. The Others, especially Ben, have been taking orders from the wrong guy (i.e. the guy who has been trying to kill Jacob). This same guy has been using Locke's issues the whole time to bring him in as his corporeal host.
Okay, other than that, I'm clueless on how this thing will end. What will happen with the '77 crew and the bomb? Will things reset? If so, how will it happen?
Share your predictions (if you dare, this early)...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The J.J. Abrams Binge and Impending Drought

For J.J. Abrams acolytes, like myself, this week is a virtual feast, so much so that I move to have this week renamed Abramsfest in the annals of our civilization. No, seriously. Last week, we were treated to Abrams’ Star Trek. Tonight, we will see the season finale of his TV series Fringe- and what a funny, morbid, intriguing first season it has been! Then, to top it all off, Lost’s awesome fifth season comes hurtling to a close tomorrow night. I almost can’t contain myself… uh, I said almost.
Is there anyone else out there who can’t concentrate at work, home, or church because of this crazy Abrams binge (which rhymes with Fringe coincidentally)? Does anyone else have so many theories swirling in their heads they can’t drive properly?
On the downside, this binge has me fearing the impending cut-off of the Abrams awesomeness. What will I do with my time or my brain for that matter?
I don’t want to think about that too much. Let’s just enjoy this deluge of Abrams awesomeness while it lasts!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Finally Boldly Going: Review of J.J. Abrams' Star Trek

“To boldly go where no man has gone before.” I never considered the irony of that trademark phrase in the Star Trek universe until now. After seeing J.J. Abrams’ breathtaking reboot of the Star Trek franchise this weekend, the old universe feels anything but bold. ‘Thoughtful,’ ‘clever,’ and ‘sterile’ come to mind but not ‘bold.’

Oh, no- the old Trek was a bunch of well-mannered future people talking analytically about galactic problems, which were actually metaphors for sixties-era problems, and then walking calmly to resolve them while dressed in pajama-like jumpsuits. Yeah, you had the occasional cartoon phaser fight and groovy, scantily clad space ladies, but it never really breathed. It never felt visceral. It was anything but bold.

I am happy to report that, as of this weekend, Star Trek finally makes good on its promise of boldness. Star Trek has never felt so kinetic, alive, or thrilling as it does in the reboot. People actually sprint down the corridors of the Enterprise. Instead of single photon torpedoes plopping out of the Enterprise’s innards at a time, they fly out rapid-fire accompanied by a host of gun turrets. And I haven’t even discussed the characters, but I will…

Let’s start with James T. Kirk. Even in William Shatner’s green-alien-lady-macking prime, he couldn’t muster half of the presence Chris Pine does as his replacement. Pine nimbly dances from machismo to self-deprecating comedy to fear, the whole time convincing you that this is who Kirk really was meant to be, this is the kind of guy that saves the universe, not that impish guy with the weird diction from the Priceline commercials.

Spock has always been the coolest of Trek characters, what with the mind-melding and the death-gripping and the constant sense of icy logic. But, early in the new film, Abrams shakes the Vulcan’s very core, giving us a Spock who is suddenly fallible and aggressive. He’s still Spock, but he has a weakness that makes us want to root for him even more.

The other crew members are great, too. Maybe I’ll discuss their turns in a future post. Needless to say, they take a bridge that had become inhabited by a group of jolly senior citizens and imbue it with real tension, humor, and, yes, action (Sulu swordfighting… ‘nuff said!).

It is not a perfect movie. I found the new Chekov to be more annoying than anything. I didn’t quite believe the Uhura/Spock relationship, mostly because of the lack of setup. Some major plot points are overly coincidental. Catchphrases and easter eggs thrown in from the old series do feel a bit overbearing by the end. The opening scene and the spacedrop scenes are so awesome that they do eclipse the climax.

But this movie is more consistently fun, thrilling, and engaging than any Star Trek film before it, hands down. It’s also sleek and sexy and kick-butt, which is something Trek has never been. It is more fun and funnier than last year’s Iron Man. This Star Trek is finally bold.

Just a side note: I watched it dressed as Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy in a theater with a bunch of other Trek geeks. I won a Xbox 360 for my costume, further adding to the overall awesomeness of the event. Woot!