All posts by Sheldon Wiebe

TELEVISION: Ghost Hunters: The Haunted Former Funeral Home!

Ghost Hunters [Sci Fi, Wednesdays, 9/8C] returns with a genuinely unusual investigation. Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson, and their team, TAPS [The Atlantic Paranormal Society, pictured], are asked to investigate Buffalo’s Iron Island Museum [so-called because it’s part of the neighborhood that surrounded on all sides by railroad tracks]. The museum was originally a church, and then for a number of years, it was a funeral home.

The TAPS Team

Employees and visitors to the museum have reported hearing banging noises, seeing apparitions and – in the case of employees – finding locked doors unlocked. One museum employee suspects that the ghost of a young boy named Jimmy is a part of the haunting.

Once the team sets up their cameras and other equipment, they then search through the building for unusual occurrences. And there are unusual occurrences! Even the team’s newest member, Kris Williams, sees something. It’s her first such experience, so even while there’s stuff going on, the rest of the team is happy for her – and she is just thrilled, herself!

One of the things that makes Ghost Hunters work is that the guys aren’t deadly serious. Their sense of humor is infectious and helps keep the team relaxed and alert. In this case, when one member of the team hasn’t seen or heard anything, they give him permission to be, shall we say, less than polite? Another thing that adds to the show’s atmosphere is the manner in which some segments are shot in grainy black & white, evoking The Blair Witch. Between the humor and the suspense, the show certainly manages to enthral.

Iron Island is a good episode for opening the new season. There’s audio and video evidence that makes one’s spine tingle just a bit, and the team is still having fun checking for things that go bump in the night.

Final Grade: B

TELEVISION: Destination Truth – Big Feet, Mosque Ghosts and Real Weirdness

Josh Gates’ Destination: Truth opens its second season [Sci Fi, Wednesdays, 10/9C] by tackling two intriguing situations. First, Gates and his crew [pictured] travel to Queensland, Australia to investigate sightings of a creature called the Yowle [yow-lee] – a creature whose description is familiar to many different cultures, which have given the creature names like Sasquatch, Bigfoot and/or Yeti. The second investigation in the second season premiere concerns a haunted mosque in Malaysia.

Josh's Team

In each case, Gates and his crew follow their tried and true protocol: journeying to the sight of their subjects; setting up their equipment, and then waiting and watching for something to happen.

On paper that sounds pretty dull, but when members of Gates’ team encounter stuff that shouldn’t be there – like the shredded trees in Queensland, or hear sounds that have no visible source in the Malaysian mosque – it does give the viewer a bit of a jolt.

Unfortunately, the screener Sci Fi sent out was a rough cut that didn’t have the final portion of the episode – the part where they got the results of their collected evidence, so I can’t really say how things play out [not that I’d give spoilers, though knowing the results might have slanted my review differently]. The documentary style of shooting does have the effect of drawing the viewer into this world, though.

While I’m not exactly a fan of reality TV, the two case studies offered here present a certain amount of potential evidence of the existence of something that may not be from the realm of current scientific thought, and it would be interesting to see whether that evidence did support the existence of the Yowle, or the Malaysian mosque ghost.

Final Grade: B-

TELEVISION: And So It Begins… Again

This evening the new fall season of television programming begins with two returning series on The CW [Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill], one on TNT [Steven Bochco’s inept Raising the Bar] and one on Fox [Prison Break]. Overall, the new season looks a lot like the last one. Thanks to the writers’ strike, a number of series that might have been cancelled are reappearing, series like Life, Eli Stone, Pushing Daisies, Chuck and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles to name a few. Add to them the few buzzworthy new shows [Fringe, The Mentalist, and Eleventh Hour] and it still doesn’t add up to the anticipation for Fox’s Joss Whedon-created Dollhouse. Which is not to say that there aren’t points of interest on the fall schedule.

Mark Ben Holzberg/FOX

Continue reading TELEVISION: And So It Begins… Again

MOVIE REVIEW: Babylon A.D. –Even The Director Thinks It’s Bad!

How to explain Babylon A.D. … Okay, how about this: Babylon A.D. is the movie Children of Men would have been had it been directed by Ridley Pearson and edited by Ed Wood. Vin Diesel’s Toorop is the Clive Owens character; Michelle Yeoh’s Sister Rebecca is the Julianne Moore character, and Melanie Thierry’s Aurora is the girl whom Toorop must deliver from Russia to the United States – and for a similar reason.

Diesel & Thierry

Director Matthieu Kassovitz is on record as saying that Babylon A.D. is not the film he made – that it’s been re-edited by the studio and is vastly inferior to the film he created. Judging from the mangled editing of the many fight sequences [and you thought Batman Begins’ fight sequences were hard to figure out] and the drastic changes in overall tone from epic and sweeping to grungy and claustrophobic, I’d have to say that it’s entirely possibly that he’s right.

Diesel is energetic and hard as Toorop, but we probably were expecting that. Yeoh is enigmatic and wise as Sister Rebecca, but that’s not asking much of her. The surprise comes from Melanie Thierry who is quite possibly too ethereally beautiful to be believed – either that or the camera just really, really loves her.

It’s hard to tell if Eric Besnard’s script is any good because of the editing. God knows, there are enough signs of intelligence and, possibly, wit here to suggest that it might well be very good. The only problem is that whatever there might have been to add surprise and freshness to this unexpected hybrid of Blade Runner and Children of Men has been excised – leaving us with something that neither involves nor satisfies.

I hope Kassovitz gets a Director’s Cut when the DVD comes out. I’d love to see why he’s so adamant that the theatrical release is not the movie he made.

Final Grade: D+

TELEVISION: ABC Greenlights Five New Series

For the fall season, ABC greenlighted only a handful of new shows: the drama Life on Mars [based on the British, series of the same name]; comedies Scrubs [moving from NBC] and The Goode Family; and two alternative [reality] shows, the Untitlted Ashton Kutcher/Tyra Banks and Opportunity Knocks.

Nathan Fillion

Now the network unveils five new shows: dramas Castle [starring Nathan Fillion, pictured], Cupid and The Unusuals, and comedies Better Off Ted and Single With Parents. Although the announcement of the five new shows comes a bit later than usual, Stephen McPherson, President of ABC Entertainment notes that, “It was worth taking the time to go through the pilot process to really do it right,” said McPherson. “We’re excited about these series and feel they’re perfect additions to our dominant core slate of shows. These are the initial pick-ups, but there are a number of other pilots we feel will also get the go ahead in some form moving forward.”

Details on the new series are as follows:

Dramas

“Castle” is a comedic crime procedural about a famous mystery novelist, Nick Castle, who is bored with his own success. When a real-world copycat murderer starts staging scenes from Nick’s novels, Nick is teamed up with NYPD Detective Kate Beckett and the challenge gets his blood pumping as he steps in to help solve the crime. Nick and Beckett’s styles instantly clash and sparks begin to fly, leading both to danger and a hint of romance. Nick is kept grounded by his Broadway diva mother, quick-witted teenage daughter and his long-suffering ex-wife… who happens to be his editor. “Castle” stars Nathan Fillion as Castle, Stana Katic as Beckett, Molly Quinn as Alexis, Susan Sullivan as Martha, Monet Mazur as Gina and Ruben Santiago-Hudson as Capt. Montgomery.

“Cupid” is a romantic dramedy about Trevor, a larger than life character who may or may not be the Roman god of love, Cupid, sent to earth to bring couples together. As fate would have it, Trevor is under the care of famous psychologist and self-help author Dr. Claire Allen, who is also dedicated to helping lonely hearts find their soul mates. While she agrees with his cause, she questions whether he’s crazy or really is Cupid. “Cupid” stars Bobby Cannavale as Trevor, Sarah Paulson as Claire, Rick Gomez as Felix and Camille Guaty as Lita.

“The Unusuals” is a unique comedic procedural set in a New York police precinct. As a cop, it helps to have a twisted sense of humor, because every moment could be your last. Just ask Casey Schraeger, who started her day as an NYPD vice detective before unexpectedly being transferred to the homicide division. She quickly realizes that, not only does everyone in her new department have a distinct sense of humor, but also their own dirty little secrets. “The Unusuals” stars Amber Tamblyn as Det. Casey Schraeger, Jeremy Renner as Det. Joe Walsh, Terry Kinney as Sgt. Harvey Brown, Kai Lennox as Det. Ed Alvarez, Harold Perrineau as Det. Leo Banks, Adam Goldberg as Det. Eric Delahoy, Monique Gabriela Curnen as Det. Allison Beaumont and Joshua Close as Henry Cole.

Comedies

“Better Off Ted” is a satirical office comedy featuring a successful but morally conscious man, Ted, who runs a research and development department at a morally questionable corporation, Veridian Technologies. No achievement is too far fetched and no invention too unorthodox for Veridian. Need a suicidal turkey? Done. Need a metal that is hard as steel but bounces – and is edible? Done and done. Ted loves his seemingly perfect job; he loves his superhuman boss, Veronica, and colleagues Lem, Phil and Linda, but he’s starting to take a closer look at the company’s extremely questionable practices… especially when they try to cryogenically freeze one of Ted’s scientists for testing purposes. Starring Jay Harrington as Ted, Andrea Anders as Linda, Portia de Rossi as Veronica, Jonathan Slavin as Phil and Malcolm Barrett as Lem,.

“Single with Parents” is a comedy about Lou, a woman in her mid-30s who is determined to have her own life despite her crazy blended family getting in the way. She’s thrilled that her divorced parents are leading exciting lives – really she is – except both of them rely on her way too much. Dad needs her as a surrogate parent and Mom counts on her 24/7 as a shrink and confidante. Lou has resolved to finally find a fulfilling life for herself. The series stars Alyssa Milano as Lou, Annie Potts as Elizabeth, Beau Bridges as Joe, Amanda Detmer as Sasha, Meagen Fay as Nancy and Eric Winter as Charlie.

MANGA: COWA! Something Completely Different From The Creator of Dragon Ball Z

Akira Toriyama is best known for the manga/anime series Dragon Ball Z, but he has done a good deal more. One of his most entertaining is COWA!, the tale of a half-vampire/half-werekoala named Paifu and his friends as they seek a cure for Monster Flu – a disease that affects ghosts, were-beings, vampires and all other monsters, but not humans.

cowa01

The world of COWA! is one where humans and monsters generally co-exist in peace – human children go to school during the day, while their monster counterparts go to the same schools at night. Paifu and his best friend, a ghost named Jose Rodriguez, are typical kids who like to play pranks, skip school and enjoy their lives/unlives. When a strange illness strikes their friends and relatives, the two set out to find the cure. They enlist the aid of a curmudgeonly former sumo named Mr. Maruyama – but known as The Volcano – and another kid, Arpon, who considers himself Paifu’s arch-enemy, tags along [to swipe the credit if they’re successful].

Toriyama’s storytelling is clever enough, and his art guileless enough, that COWA!, although aimed at younger readers, is terrific fun for everyone. The characters are beautifully developed; the plotting is more than sufficient to hold one’s attention; the twists aren’t telegraphed, and the ending is satisfying enough that I, for one, would love to see more of the characters.

The first chapter [sixteen pages] of the book are in color – and beautifully done – which allows the reader to imagine the “real” look of the black & white remainder of the story. It’s kind of amazing to see the range of color to be found in Toriyama’s nights.

COWA! is thoroughly delightful.

Final Grade: A

DVD REVIEW: I Got The Feelin’ – James Brown in the ‘60s

April 6, 1968 – just over twenty-four hours after Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated, James Brown took the stage at the Boston Gardens for a concert that was televised live – and simulcast on radio – and what riots had been on the brink of turning the city into a conflagration, simply went away.

I Got the Feelin'

Shout Factory’s three DVD set I Got the Feelin’ – James Brown in the ‘60s features The Night James Brown Saved Boston, a look back at what might just be the single most important music concert in history. Combining documentary footage of the riots that followed King’s assassination with clips from news reports of his death and interviews with members of Brown’s band, his manager, the former Mayor of Boston [who almost cancelled the concert], the Reverend Al Sharpton and more, the documentary that takes up disc one, paints a picture of an extraordinary evening that left Boston relatively unscathed while every other major city in America burned.

The seventy-five minute documentary includes television footage from Brown’s concert and shows his mastery of his music and his uncanny ability to read an audience. In one sequence, fans climb up on stage after Brown has waved the police back. Instead of showing fear, Brown shames them into leaving the stage – and carries on. The set’s first DVD also includes well over an hour of extra interview footage that adds to our understanding of the magnitude of what Brown did that night.

James Brown Live at the Apollo ’68 features performances culled from Brown’s performances at the legendary Apollo Theater and his performance of Out of sight from the acclaimed concert film, The T.A.M.I. show. One again, we can see the power that Brown had to command an audience’s attention – and devotion.

The final disc of the set is James Brown Live at the Boston Garden – April 5, 1968. Yup, it’s the concert that Brown gave the night after the Martin Luther King assassination. The DVD is a combination of the televised show plus additional audio from the FM radio simulcast. Despite the fact that the public television station remote crew had never recorded anything like the Brown concert [they had been doing classical concerts, primarily], the WGBH crew manages to capture the raw energy and power of Brown’s performance.

Besides the monumental importance of the Boston concert in terms of helping keep the city’s black population from falling into rioting, this disc shows that – even with an inexperienced crew televising the event – Brown was a masterful entertainer. His band is as tight as a band can be and yet swings like mad. Brown’s vocals pivot from a hushed moan to a full on wail in the turn of a phrase. The music is all. Brown uses his music to project hope and life into an arena – and city – where it had been thought lost only the night before. It’s a masterful performance – perhaps the best single performance of Brown’s long and illustrious career.

The set also includes a twenty-four page booklet that details the life of James Brown.

Grade: I Got the Feelin’ – James Brown in the ‘60s – A+

Grade: Features: B+

Final Grade: A

TELEVISION: Stargate Atlantis/Stargate Universe – Just Some Thoughts

The news came out, this week, that Stargate Atlantis was being cancelled in favor of one or two annual direct-to-DVD movies – the first one to wrap up the series’ final storyline – and where have we heard that one before? Still, the puzzling thing is that the series is being cancelled after its ratings rose this summer – which makes as much sense as the little pig in the straw house moving into his brother’s brick one and having the middle pig take it down with a bulldozer in a fit of envy.

cast_season5

The main reason we’ve been given is that making the series in Vancouver, British Columbia is getting to be too expensive, though I humbly suggest that if the series was being produced in the U.S., its rising ratings would pretty much preclude such a move. So, why then, would MGM and the Atlantis production team go in this direction?

After a quick run through the season’s first six episodes, it’s certainly not because of any loss of quality – a potential reason that was rendered unlikely by the way that more people are watching, on a regular basis. With the franchise maintaining its usual high level of quality – of the six episodes, only Ghost in the Machine – which was hampered by Torri Higginson’s decision to not return] was less than a B effort – the rest ranged from A [The Daedalus Variations] to B- [The Seed]. Certainly, the show’s writing, production, direction, effects and performances have been as good as usual.

The answer is given, and quite clearly, in the press release for the upcoming series, Stargate Universe. In it, Brad Wright and Robert C. Cooper are quoted as saying, “In ‘Universe,’ we plan to keep those elements that have made the franchise a success, such as adventure and humour, while breaking new ground in the relationships between mostly young and desperate explorers, thrust together and far from home. Above all, we believe the Stargate self remains an enduring icon with infinite potential as a jumping off point for telling stories.”

It’s the “let’s get a cast of younger, more kick-ass military and civilians – nothing wrong with kick-ass civilizations – and punch up our numbers in the 18-24 demo… and the ‘tween demo.” After all, nobody’s watching the old fogies on Atlantis except, well, more people than did last year – thereby punching a bit of a hole in the typical variety of network thinking.

What’s the big plus, here? It’s that the mainstays of the Stargate creative team remain aboard – even though they aren’t the young pups they were when they convinced Richard Dean Anderson into signing up. Happily, unlike the creative teams of other series, they get to space out their writing in such a way that they are still capable of writing engaging and entertaining episodes – unlike the Star Trek duo of Rick Berman and Brannon Braga, who were completely out of touch with their audience by the time season two of Enterprise came around [not to mention that ghastly series finale].

Stargate has survived big changes in the past. When Michael Shanks left, Corin Nemec stepped in and the show rolled on [and a lot of fans wouldn’t have minded if Nemec had stayed on]; Richard Dean Anderson left – for perfectly good reasons – and was replaced by Ben Browder, whose character injected a fresh enthusiasm to the series that almost made up for the introduction of the Ori. Claudia Black came aboard the SG-1 franchise at the same and her charming thief/con artist fit in – after awhile…

Then there were the changes on Atlantis, where a first-season regular departed after getting a buzz from Wraith venom; Dr. Elizabeth Weir, the leader of the Atlantis Expedition, became a Replicator and was replaced by Col. Samantha Carter – whose successes while in command got her moved out and fussy, protocol-happy Richard Woolsey took over [and discovered that protocol is pretty much just another word in the Pegasus Galaxy].

Throughout the changes – not to mention some of the best humorous eps on any SF series – the quality of the Stargate shows has been kept well above average. Now we’re going to be getting a series that features a younger cast that is stranded even farther away than the Pegasus Galaxy. The chances are that its creative team will be looking for fresh ideas – or at least, fresh spins on ideas – and that it will be worth watching.

It’s just too bad that Atlantis has to suffer cancellation because of it. And that idea for finishing off the final season cliffhanger with a direct-to-DVD movie? Still little more than an blatant cash grab.

DVD REVIEW: The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior – Fast Acting B-Movie Fun!

One of the mixed blessings of the continuing advancement of CG effects is that they make it possible for movies that might not otherwise exist to reach the public – usually in the form of sequels and/or prequels to theatrical films that earned enough to warrant a sequel/prequel, but maybe not quite enough to warrant a blockbuster – like The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior.

Box Art

The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior is, essentially, the story of how the young Mathayus [Michael Copon] became the warrior who would eventually become the Scorpion King. TSK2 is a jaunty little B-movie given more flare than it deserves by director Russell Mulcahy [Highlander], who almost made the resident Evil franchise interesting. Of course, in his RE movie, he didn’t have to contend with the stolid Randy Couture as Sargon, the brutish trainer of would-be Black Scorpion warriors and assassin of the king. Couture looks good in fight sequences, but has the acting chops of Howdy Doody.

Still, the adventures of Mathayus and his friends, Layla [Karen David] and the poet Aristophenes of Naxos – not Aristophenes of Corinth [that hack!] – [Simon Quarterman], are rousing fun in the tradition of spear & sandal/sword & sorcery epics of the sixties. You’ve got travel to exotic lands, messed up myths, and even an angry/jealous/lonely goddess [Astarte, played with cheerful malevolence by Natalie Becker].

Mulcahy keeps things moving at a quick enough pace that you might not even notice a scantily clad member of the group suddenly sprouting a couple of dangerous [and long] swords, and the effects are above average for a direct-to-DVD release. Plus, we get the usual gang of just-there-to-die-horribly characters to add the possibility of danger.

For a straight-to-DVD fantasy, TSK2 has a pretty decent assortment of bonus features: Deleted Scenes; Gag Reel; Fight Like an Akkadian: Black Scorpion Boot Camp [again, not quite the in-depth look at training it suggests, but still fun] Making of TSK2 [more a behind-the-scenes glimpse than an actual look at the making of the film]; Becoming Sargon: One on One Randy Couture [Couture discusses his time making the film]; On set With The Beautiful Leading Ladies [behind-the-scenes with Karen David and Natalie Becker]; Creating a Whole New World [Production design], and The Visual Effects of TSK2.

Grade: The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior – B-

Grade: Features: B+

Final Grade: B

MOVIE REVIEW: Death Race: Baby You Can Drive My Car!

The original, Roger Corman production of Death Race 2000 was a high energy, in your face film that [sadly] predicted the reality TV thing. In its highly campy way, though, DR2K mixed in social commentary through the race’s rules [Hit a pedestrian? Add points. The pedestrian is an old lady? Bonus Points!]. The remake is a grittier, nastier piece of work that pits prison lifers against one another – and the last driver left alive wins [win five races and go free – in theory].

Koehler, Statham, McShane & Vargas

Jensen Ames [Jason Statham] is framed for the murder of his wife and finds himself on Terminal Island [think Alcatraz, 2015]. The warden [an exceptionally elegant Joan Allen] asks him if he will take over for a driver known only as Frankenstein. Poor Frankie died in the last race and she needs to keep the myth alive to keep up the ratings on the race’s internet subscription pay-per-view. Ames is given Frank’s pit crew, an oddball lot that includes Coach [Ian McShane], the pit chief who stayed on after his sentence was completed; Gunner [Jacob Vargas], a master mechanic, and Lists [Frederic Koehler], who seems to know more about everything than anyone else in the film.

Arrayed against Ames’ version of Frankenstein are nasties like Machine Gun Joe [Tyrese Gibson], Pachenko [Max Ryan] and Travis Colt [Justin Mader] – killers who treat their vehicles as weapons. Furthering the goonage is Jason Clarke as Warden Hennessy’s head guard, Ulrich. To balance the villains, Frank’s navigator is a gorgeous female convict named Case [Natalie Martinez], and she even gets to take part in the action a couple of times.

The big surprise about Death Race is that it is infinitely better than anything else director Paul W.S. Anderson has ever done. The writing [again by Anderson] is tight – though his attention to detail still needs a bit of work – and he stages some pretty impressive races. Even more impressive is that practically all the stunts and driving were done… well… practically.

True, the cast isn’t required to do much more than hit one or two notes apiece, but they hit those notes with the kind of enthusiasm that communicates itself onscreen. Although darker than the colorfully camp original, Anderson’s Death Race is not without its humor – some of it telegraphed but done with panache, and some of it sneakier than you might expect from the guy who gave us the Resident Evil and the Alien vs. Predator movies. And you won’t find many who can out cuss the elegant Warden Hennessy when things start to go wrong…

With a big budget and marketing plan, Death Race could, finally, vault Statham to actual action star status [and well past time]. It’s not the greatest action movie ever, but it does hit just the right spot in terms of vicious action, ham-fisted social commentary and general mayhem.

Final Grade: B-

MOVIE REVIEW: Tropic Thunder: Apocalypse When?

Tropic Thunder may well be the most [deliberately] politically incorrect film I’ve ever seen – and one of the funniest. The fake trailers alone are worth the price of admission! Ben Stiller’s film takes aim at every level of Hollyweird culture, from trailers to fraudulent writers to explosive studio executives – and is on target far more often than not.

When the writer of a book about the Vietnamese War [Nick Nolte] suggests that a first-time director [Steve Coogan] send his actors into the jungle – which has been seeded with cameras and various practical effects [explosions, gunfire and the like] – the cast members find themselves mixed up with a heroin cartel headed by a twelve-year warlord [Brandon Soo Hoo].

Tropic Thunder Cast

The actors are a truly motley assemblage of stereotypes: Tugg Speedman [Ben Stiller] the action star seeking legitimacy; Jeff Portnoy [Jack Black], star of the Fatties franchise and drug addict, also seeking legitimacy; Alpa Chino [Brandon T. Jackson], a rapper breaking into the acting game; Kevin Sandusky [Jay Baruchel], an actor in his first big movie, and Kirk Lazarus [Robert Downey Jr.], an Australian actor with multiple Oscars, who has his skin darkens to play a black character. None of them really has much of a clue, which leads to explosive ranting by studio head Les Grossman [a virtually unrecognizable Tom Cruise].

Stiller’s direction is pretty much on the money as his movie-within-a-movie allows him to show Hollywood at both its strangest and its worst. When we see the trailer for Simple Jack, for example, we aren’t seeing an attack on the mentally handicapped – unless we’re looking at Tugg Speedman for playing a mentally handicapped man solely to win an Oscar – or Kirk Lazarus for explaining, in a very funny bit, why simple Jack didn’t work. And speaking of trailers, the fake trailers that open the film are spot on satires of specific genre trailers, and are among the funniest moments in the film.

Other highlights include black rapper Alpa Chino keeping Lazarus honest as he plays a black character, even while he [Chino, that is] tries to flog his line of merchandise on camera; Coogan’s director, Damien Cockburn, taking charge; Speedman using what he’s learned from Lazarus to wow his captors in a live, less-than-no-budget performance; that the film becomes a big honkin’ war movie even as it satirizes the culture that creates an Apocalypse Now; Matthew McConaughey’s turn as Speedman’s TiVo-obsessed agent, and Danny McBride who steals every scene he’s in as the film’s special effects expert, Cody.

Tropic Thunder may be the best film Ben Stiller has ever made. It’s loud and crass, joyously politically incorrect, and well under two hours and gives us all the action of movies thirty minutes longer. In a summer that has had a number of good comedies, Tropic Thunder literally blasts its way to the next level.

Final Grade: A-