Following the big reveal – Ellen Tigh as the final Cylon – I was privileged to take part in a teleconference with Ronald D. Moore and Ellen Tigh, herself, Kate Vernon. The conversation on touched many things, including why Dualla, and a shocking new theory was submitted by one of the panel of journalists. In short, it was a blast.
When I scored a pass to see My Bloody Valentine 3-D, I wasn’t sure it was a good thing – but since I went into theater with absolutely no expectation, I was pleasantly surprised. I never saw the original, but this new version – written by Todd Farmer [from a story by Stephen Miller and the original screenplay by John Beaird] and directed by Patrick Lussier – contains all the elements of a classic horror movie: gore, mutilations, laughs, a genuine mystery and some gratuitous nudity.
More than twenty years ago, a miner named Harry Warden survived a mine collapse by killing the other miners trapped with him in order to make what little oxygen remained last until he could be rescued. Even so, he came out of the mine in a coma. A year later, he came out of the coma and when on a killing spree – first at the hospital, then back at the mine where a bunch of teenagers were partying in the closed tunnel. Only four of the teens survived: Tom Hanniger [Jensen Ackles], whose father owned the mine and who left town right afterward; Sarah [Jaime King], Tom’s girlfriend who winds up married to Axel Palmer [Kerr Smith], who is now sheriff, and Irene [Betsy Rue], who now has a thing for truck drivers [and provides the aforementioned gratuitous nudity]. Warden is reported dead – killed by then Sheriff Burke [Tom Atkins].
Now, ten years later, Tom has finally returned to town to sell his share in the mine’s ownership and everyone is unhappy about that because if the mine closes, the town dies. And the killings begin again. Since unreported details are accurate, the townsfolk begin to suspect that Warden is back. As the killing mount, we’re given scenes that implicate former miners, Tom and even Sheriff Palmer.
Director Lussier keeps things moving along at a fast enough clip that any plotholes are skimmed over before we can recognize them as such. The 3-D effects are frequently dazzling right from the second the Lionsgate logo appears [when the audience oohs and ahhs over the studio logo/introduction, you know the effects are special] and are used in ways both subtle and sledgehammer obvious [it’s the mix that makes the more obvious effects work.
The entire cast is better than average, which gives the film just enough humanity to make the horror work, and the resolution is shrewdly realized. Both Ackles and Smith are given more to do than they usually display [or in Smith’s case, got to do] on their hit TV series and they tackle their roles with enthusiasm.
My Bloody Valentine 3-D is one of the better horror movies of the last several years because it knows what it is and isn’t afraid to be just that. In that regard, it shares a lot with some of the great horror films of the seventies and eighties. It may not be the groundbreaker that Halloween and Friday the 13th were, but it’s better than most of the raft of imitators that followed them. In short, it’s good, bloody, sexy fun.
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“…You are one of a small number of trusted BSG enthusiasts with whom we are sharing a review copy.”
While that statement from the letter that accompanies the mid-season premiere of BSG [Sci Fi, Fridays, 10/9C], Sometimes a Great Notion, doesn’t exactly hurt my ego, it does come with some hefty caveats. I can’t give away a couple of HUGE plot points – like they’d have to tell me that in the first place – and then there’s the scene that has been withheld from screener in the interests of maintaining “the secrecy surrounding an extremely sensitive reveal” [which only guarantees that I’ll be in front of my TV for the premiere – but I’d have been there anyway, the ep is that good].
What’s left? Forty-two minutes of pretty frakkin’ awesome stuff! [Remember, I saw it without commercials.] Which means you should set your TiVo for an extra three minutes or so…
In the past, I’ve been known to complain about episodes that are way too talky and slow – episodes where it’s all about exposition, or recapitulation of themes that maybe didn’t need to be recapitulated – or about the Messiah Baltar [James Callis] and his harem. Well, Sometimes a Great Notion is a talky episode – the one burst of unexpected violence [not counting a fist fight in one of the Galactica’s corridors as a major character walks by] is one of things I can’t talk about – but even without the violence, so much happens here that it will be one of the best television episodes of 2009 [and that’s without the missing scene]!
The episode begins mere moments after the conclusion of Revelations with the various human and Cylon characters wandering about in a daze. The only one who is actively doing something, really, is Starbuck [Katie Sackhoff], who is looking for something. Before the teaser is over, there have been answers to at least a couple of major questions, including one about the Final Five – not to mention… but that would be too much to say here…
Essentially, Sometimes a Great Notion is about what happens when your biggest and best hopes and dreams are dangled before your eyes then ripped ruthlessly away. Some of the responses are dire [see HUGE plot point #2] while some are just there – a kind enervation. Then there are those who see the situation not as an invalidation of their hopes and dreams, but an opportunity to be completely free from any expectations, or prophecies. The characters who fall into these categories might not necessarily be the ones you’ll be expecting.
Written by David Weddle and Bradley Thompson [they wrote Revelations – every resolution of a cliffhanger should be written by the same writer[s] who did the cliffhanger] and directed by Michael Nankin, Sometimes a Great Notion is an amazing example of how a mostly violence-free episode should be done. Nankin’s pacing is best described as deliberate – just slow enough that we can pick up on the many subtleties of the episode [watch the reactions of the crew in the background after the announcement is made about the state of the Earth] – even as we watch the main characters fall apart, go into shock, or buck up and decide to keep going forward.
The bleached palette of the bleak Earth scenes contrast with the much warmer palette aboard the Galactica [warmer tones that make that one burst of violence even more mind-boggling]. It’s partly because of contrasts such as these that we buy into most of the responses to the news about the Earth – though, as in real life, some will never be understood. Though I haven’t said much about the Cylons who allied themselves with the humans, they, too, are caught up in the situation with an equally wide range of reactions – especially Leoben [Callum Keith Rennie] and D’Anna [Lucy Lawless].
Because of the missing scene, I can’t give Sometimes a Great Notion an unqualified A+ – but it is close to perfect as it can be without that scene [and I can’t wait to see what it is!].
Final Grade: A