Book Review: "The Lovely Bones" by Alice Sebold.

I finished reading this book a few days ago, and I kept meaning to write a review, but kept getting too busy and forgetting. After seeing the amazing trailer for Peter Jackson's upcoming film adaptation of The Lovely Bones, I decided to check out the book. Of course, I had heard of it already, and it had been surrounded by mixed reviews. Some I'd heard had been super positive. Others I'd heard were more along the lines of "ugh...". And I can see where both sides are coming from.

The book beings with Susie Salmon (like the fish), a 14-year-old girl who is raped, murdered, and dismembered by a neighbor (I didn't mean this sentence to be basically word-for-word with wikipedia, but as I see whilst looking up some information, it is. Forgive me). So right off the bat, from chapter one, not only is it incredibly depressing, but you already know who the killer is. But the book isn't about a murder mystery. It's about how Susie's friends and family (and the police and killer) deal with the loss. And Susie narrates it all from her own Heaven, able to see all and hear all (including everybody's thoughts and emotions).

There really isn't a plot; most literary novels don't have much of one. Like I said, it's all about the characters. And sometimes that works out well. Who doesn't like a bit of character development? But sometimes... you just need a good plot, too, you know? And you really don't get it here.

All of the interesting bits--the inter-workings of Heaven, or the psychological nature of a killer--are horribly glanced over. There are bits and pieces here and there, but not nearly enough. The book is more focused on how much of a drunk the grandmother is, how annoying the mother is, how tragic the father is, how sexy Ray Singh is, or how strange Ruth is.

Ray was the almost-boyfriend, the guy Susie would have had had she not been killed. Ruth is the girl that Susie passes by as she's going to Heaven, giving her a strange connection to the "other world." Jack Salmon, the father, is a tragic character--wanting to be the hero, but just coming off as a bit deranged and depressed. The detective tries to be a hero, but gets mixed in with the worst character storyline of the book: Abigail, the mother. She's such a horrible character/person that I hated having to read any scene she was involved with. Maybe that's just a sign of good writing... that is, if that was the author's intent.

I haven't even mentioned the brother, Buckley, or the sister, Lindsey. The younger version of Buckley is better (though in no real way important). The older Buckley is angry and, honestly, annoying. Ironically, Lindsey is the opposite. When Susie first dies, the younger version of Lindsey is annoying, though as she gets older, she gets more bearable. And, amazingly, Lindsey stays with her first ever boyfriend (from the age of 13) for the rest of her life.

Honestly, the best characters, besides Jack, were Grandma Lynn, Ruth, and Ruana Singh (Ray's mother). Grandma Lynn was a wise old woman who knew how to keep things spritely and alive in an otherwise depressing setting. Ruana was just a mysterious woman (perhaps too mysterious); though she's mostly a static character, she is still interesting due to the intrigue surrounding her. And, of course, Ruth. Had this been any other genre, Ruth would have been one of if not the primary character(s). She's like the strange ghost hunter/psychic connection to the spirit realm who is out to find out what happened to Susie.

And although Susie is in everybody's head for the entire book, she barely touches on what makes her killer tick. There is only one real chapter where we learn a bit of what makes Mr. Harvey tick, but besides that, it's just little things here and there (like the dollhouses) that add to his creepiness. And while I did really appreciate the foreshadowing earlier in the book (which I of course only picked up on in 20/20 hindsight), Mr. Harvey's comeuppance at the end is less than half a page of lame summarizing, making the whole thing almost not even worth it.

Tonally, the book is strange. For the majority of the book, there's a weird mix of "depressing" and "uplifting," though leaning more toward "depressing." But then, in the last 50 pages or so, it suddenly shifts to "happily ever after" mode, which is a total shift from everything that had been happening. And like a lot of literary novels, because there is such little plot, it's one of those stories that just kind of... ends. There really isn't a "beginning-middle-end" formula to it, no "3 Acts."

I don't have completely negative things to say, however (I did, for all intents and purposes, like the book). What literary novels do is, because they have no plot, they have to make up for with pretty writing. The words must flow elegantly and make you feel swept away by the linguistics of it all (not to mention have some damn fine characters to keep your attention). And, for the most part, the novel was written very well. There are some dull stretches here and there, but it did manage to keep me reading... and as I'm not a huge fan of the literary genre (there are only a few literary books I've ever finished), this book deserves some giant socks, because that's a big feat (ba dum psh).

I know this review might seem negative, but it's not a bad book. It's just a difficult one. And on top of the subject matter, I find it really hard to get through literary novels to begin with, as they're most times overly depressing with unlikable characters going through difficult situations with almost no plot whatsoever for hundreds of pages. But I did like it (I can't say 'enjoy'... as this is one of those books that you can't really 'enjoy' as much as 'appreciate'). I do think, however, that I will like the movie a lot more. At least from the previews, it seems to focus on certain aspects from the book that will keep the audience more engaged. Not to mention I've heard it really doesn't do much of a time-jump like the book did, and you know it'll Hollywood-ize the ending to make it more dramatic (unless Jackson wants to go the 'million endings with no dramatics' route again). So if you're a fan of depressing (or literary novels), you'll probably like this one. But if you hate depressing books or books with little plot, you should probably stay away. It's a good book, but it's not for everyone.

(P.S. I didn't even mention the craziest part of the book--the possession scene followed by a bunch of sex instead of doing anything, you know, important... and maybe less creepy. But maybe that's just me).



When I first saw the teaser trailer for this movie a while back, I was immediately excited for one reason: Ben Foster in a leading role. I've been a big fan of Foster's since I saw him in a little known (but brilliant) film entitled Bang Bang You're Dead, which, had it been a major studio film and not just a Showtime Original, should have won some awards (and given Foster some kind of Oscar nod). But since then, he's been getting some wasted roles, like Angel in X-Men 3, the Stranger in 30 Days of Night, or the crazy outlaw guy from 3:10 to Yuma. But, for the first time since BBYD, it seems he's been given something to work with once again, and I was excited.

Then I continued watching the rest of the teaser/trailer and realized how crazy awesome the film seemed with so little shown of it in said trailer. And from then on, I knew that if done right, this movie could be one of my favorite Sci-Fi films (or Sci-Fi/Horror). So how did it fare? Well, I'll get there in a minute.

The movie is a notable mix of familiar Sci-Fi (or horror) films, such as Aliens, Titan A.E., Sunshine, Event Horizon, The Descent, and a dash of Cube. And considering I only majorly disliked 1 of those films, those were some good odds. It's the future, and Earth is dying. So they send a space vessel, the Elysium, out into space to help (for reasons I don't want to spoil, though it's really not that hard to figure out). Next thing you know, we're watching Bower (Ben Foster) wake up from an extended cryo-sleep with loss of memory (which happens when you're in cryo-sleep for too long). After he orients himself, he is eventually joined by Lieutenant Payton (Dennis Quaid). The power is out, and the only door is locked shut. So Bower goes through the crawl space to get into another part of the ship and find a way to get the power back on. To do this, he must go through basically the entire ship to get to the power reactor thing while Payton stays behind to guide him via radio. But Bower soon realizes he's not alone. Among him are other survivors, including the badass foreign guy Manh (Cung Le), and a feisty woman named Nadia (Antje Traue). And then Payton soon discovers another, Gallo (Cam Gigandet), who seems a little crazed. But what exactly are they survivors from...?

Well, since I made a big deal of Ben Foster, I'll discuss acting first. Although Dennis Quaid gets top billing, Ben Foster is the main character. But is he able to show off his acting chops? Somewhat. This isn't a role as challenging and emotionally deep as the one in BBYD, but he does a pretty good job with it nonetheless. I was happy to see him given a good bit of stuff to do. Quaid, on the other hand, wasn't given much at all. He's basically locked in a room the entire movie asking if Foster's "Bower" is still there. He does do a few other things here and there, and the introduction of Gallo gives him some more interaction, but besides that, there isn't much.

And speaking of Gallo, one of my very few complaints is that I think it might have been better to introduce Gallo a little bit earlier in the movie. Not too early, but a little earlier than he was. And while we're on complaints, I just have a possible nitpick for a plot hole, but somebody correct me if I'm wrong. Throughout the movie, the characters are able to force open locked/shut doors to move around, yet there are other doors (such as the one out of the beginning room) that they can't. Are they just different types of doors or what?

I might need to see it again to get the full explanation of the "creatures," as it goes by really fast, but I liked what I gathered from it. It was original, and it wasn't some cop out "oh, aliens on board!" or anything like that (though there's a bit at the end that might make it moot anyway... who knows?). And speaking of really fast, those action scenes could have really been slowed down a bit. The action was crazy fast editing-wise. Not really shaky-cam, but just quick cuts. It was strange to go from slow, drawn-out frames of building tension to quick-cut action/suspense scenes. Though the action that you could make out was really freaking cool.

I really do think this is one great Sci-Fi flick to add to a list of what is a not-so-great genre. There are few films of this genre--Space Sci-Fi/Horror--that are actually really good (Alien/Aliens and Pitch Black off the top of my head). But I think this is in my Top 5 of the list now. It has a great mix of slow-building tension, suspense, fun action, a bit of humor, a couple scares, great atmosphere, and good writing and acting. Not to mention the special effects, which I haven't really mentioned yet. They're few and far between, but when you see them, they're really good. And the creature effects are decent. They're like a bigger, more humanoid version of the creatures from The Descent. So if you're a fan of the genre (or Ben Foster), I'd say give it a try. I found it highly entertaining, and I know I'll be getting it on DVD when it comes out.

Royale With Cheese

(P.S. Not perfect, as you saw in my review, but I loved it just the same, so I gave it my high score).


TV Review: Spaced - The Complete Series.

Seeing as Shaun of the Dead is one of my all-time favorite movies (and I really like Hot Fuzz, as well), I've wanted to see this series for a long time. It's a short series, 2 seasons and 14 episodes long. But it's definitely fun. Directed by Edgar Wright, Spaced tells the story of Tim (Simon Pegg) and Daisy (Jessica Hynes), two strangers who meet after having some relationship issues and end up looking for a place to live. Tim is a comic artist trying to catch his big break, and Daisy is a writer who can't get over her writer's block. They grow a bond and eventually find a place, but it's advertised as only rentable to a "Professional Couple" only. So, of course, Tim and Daisy pretend to be in a relationship so that they can rent the flat. While there, they grow a friendship with the landlady, a drunk named Marsha (Julia Deakin) who is also the mother of a troubled girl named Amber. Then there's Brian (Mark Heap), a troubled artist who lives in the same building. Add in Tim's army-obsessed friend Mike (Nick Frost) and Daisy's shallow fashion diva friend Twist (Katy Carmichael), and you've pretty much got the main cast.

This is one of those shows that gets better as it goes on. Unfortunately, it only goes on for 14 episodes, so the upward slope takes a bit longer than hoped. It's not to say the show isn't good. Much like the other Pegg/Wright works, it's brilliant in its presentation. In fact, there are a ton of similarities (and shared jokes) between this show and Shaun of the Dead, for instance. However, I didn't laugh as much as I'd figured I would. The second season was better than the first, in my opinion, but throughout the whole series, I only laughed a handful of times. Nevertheless, the show was always amusing and constantly intriguing, mostly thanks to the likable (albeit strange) characters.

If the heart of the show is its characters, then the tone is its brain. It's a comedy, but it takes itself so seriously. Half the time, scenes are set up as horror scenes, but end up (because of its seriousness) being funny... again, much like Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz. In other words, if you liked the bizarre mix of tones from the aforementioned films, you'll know what you're getting yourself into with this show. It's exactly the same. And not only is the tone the same, but so is the editing style (juxtaposing different things to add humor... for instance, one group watching and reacting to skateboard accidents on TV while another character gets bad news... or repeating things that happened earlier on, but in a different way).

There are also a lot of movie or TV references, the biggest being Star Wars and Buffy the Vampire Slayer (and yes, there are a few zombie references, too... there's actually an entire episode dedicated to zombies, which is actually what later inspired Shaun of the Dead). There are also some other obvious ones, like The Shining and The Matrix. So if you're into catching those kinds of references, the show is full of them, from acting out entire scenes to just random bits of dialogue.

The acting is good, of course. Simon Pegg is his usual Simon Pegg self, which is always great. Nick Frost as the army-obsessed friend was fun to watch, as it was totally different from his characters in Shaun and Fuzz. I particularly liked Mark Heap's Brian, who is such a dysfunctional character that you never know how he's going to react. And Julia Deakin's Marsha was just bizarre to watch (and mostly creepy). There are also a few appearances by Peter Serafinowicz (who, of course, played "Pete" in Shaun of the Dead). There's also a fun, brief cameo by Ricky Gervais in one of the final episodes (though at the time of this show, I don't think he was big enough for it to really be a "cameo," but still).

I know this show has a ton of fans, and I can see its appeal. I didn't find it raucously funny, but I did find it highly amusing and sprinkled with genius. There were great characters and some great character development. The story is complete with every little detail wrapped up, which is nice, though I would have liked a bit more closure on the relationship between Tim and Daisy (I suppose the final shot of them could say it all, but come on!). Overall, if you're a fan of the Edgar Wright gang, you'll be a fan of Spaced.



Ever since I first saw trailers for this movie, I wondered how this movie couldn't be fun. It just seemed like, at least on some level, there was no way this movie could disappoint. And I'm glad to say I wasn't. Jennifer (Megan Fox) and Needy (Amanda Seyfried) have been BFFs since the sandbox, even though Jennifer is the super hot popular girl who goes after lead singers, while Needy is the dorky girl who gets the drummer--Chip (Johnny Simmons), to be exact, the only one of the bunch who hasn't liked Jennifer from the get-go. And when an up-and-coming band, guy-liner and all, come to their small town, Jennifer tries to sex up the lead singer, Nikolai (Adam Brody). But after a fire burns down the bar where they're playing, the band takes Jennifer away to "safety." But when she returns, something is different about her, guys start dying, and Needy is totally freaked out.

The movie is more like a comedy with horror qualities than straight-up horror. Yes, there's the dark atmosphere, the tense moments, the bloody kills, and the scary music. But in between all that (and sometimes at the same time as all that), there's the comedy and wit that only Diablo Cody could write. She still uses her made up lingo that no teenager would ever say, but it isn't as prevalent nor as indiscernible as it was in Juno. It's thankfully used sparingly this time around, and you can actually see them using some of these terms... at least in a "best friend code" kind of way (Needy and Jennifer are the only two to use them, and moreso Jennifer). Though of course, the humor is dark as night (a sex scene juxtaposed with a murder in a comic fashion, or Adam Brody's complete lack of caring for the exploding bar or people running around on fire).

The story is entertaining, too. There are things that, at first, don't make sense, but when things are explained, you're like "Oh, okay then." And the beginning is a bit too slow. If there was any major negative to the movie, it's that it takes way too long to get rolling. I'm assuming it's to set up the relationship between the characters before the pace picks up, but there were other littler things that they could have trimmed down on--I don't think we needed to hear about 2 full minutes of the band doing their song before the fire started, for instance. You can also easily tell Diablo Cody was inspired by watching The Exorcist at like 3 in the morning, but I don't think that's a bad thing.

I also liked the way the movie showed the bond between Needy and Jennifer. There was nothing ever specific said about this bond they had, but the times when Needy just knew what was happening with her friend or who she was with... which all leads up to a pretty cool and imaginative final battle sequence. I can also say I was pleasantly surprised at the ending. For a mostly predictable movie, the ending was a nice little bit that makes me want some kind of sequel or spin-off (television or otherwise). If she works it right, Diablo Cody could make up her own Buffy-esque universe with her witty humor, unique language, and demon mythology.

But what's a review about a movie with Megan Fox without bringing up the acting? Believe it or not, she did pretty decently in this one. I'd equate it to Paris Hilton's performance in Repo! The Genetic Opera: she's just playing an exaggerated, crazy form of herself. She's supposed to be the hot girl everybody wants... just add the whole "demon that eats flesh to survive" thing, and you've got it down. Amanda Seyfried was pretty good in her role, too, and she handled the voice-over narration nicely (voice-over narration can fail so easily with the wrong person). And Adam Brody was funny with his role. But I want to, of course, give a shout-out to the one actor I didn't list in my summary: J.K. Simmons. He plays what seems to be the only teacher in the school, and he's quirky to boot. But I don't think it's possible to hate a J.K. Simmons role.

Overall, it's a really entertaining movie, one that I wouldn't mind seeing again (and again after that). I do love a good horror/comedy, though it's hard for them to find a good balance. I think this one did. I would have liked to see some actual nudity considering the movie has strong sexual themes (which makes sense with the type of demon it deals with), though we get none from either lead actress (or anybody else). It was all tease. But mostly, I have no real over-arching problems with the film. It was fun, entertaining, funny, and spooky at times. And the first time Demon-Jennifer smiles with the bloody mouth, it's freaking creepy. So if you're a fan of horror/comedies, I do give this one a recommendation.

Royale With Cheese

(P.S. I know, I might get flak for such a high score for this movie, and I might dip in reputation... but hey, I score based on entertainment value and I was entertained, so I'm not apologizing).



I've been psyched for this movie since the first trailer hit at the end of last year. I loved the look of it, and I love post-apocalyptic stories. I also loved the idea of "StitchPunk." The movie takes place in a future where machines and humans have gone to war and destroyed the planet. The machines are no longer functional, except for "The Beast," and the last human (a scientist) gives his life to create 9 little rag dolls that will help continue life on the planet. 9 (Elijah Wood) wakes up in this strange world and is found by the elderly 2 (Martin Landau). But when 2 is taken by The Beast, 9 is then found by the other remaining rag dolls, including friendly 5 (John C. Reilly); the leader, 1 (Christopher Plummer); the bodyguard, 8 (Fred Tatasciore); and the crazy one, 6 (Crispin Glover). They also eventually find (or are found by) 7 (Jennifer Connelly) and 3 and 4 (no voices). And after 9 accidentally awakens a machine while going on a rescue mission for 2, they must find a way to defeat it or be destroyed themselves.

This movie has so much going for it, but it also has one major flaw. Let's talk about the good first. The animation is gorgeous. From the character design to the atmosphere created by the scenery and locations, I absolutely adored the visuals of this movie. It also had a ton of great and imaginative action sequences. 7 was a total badass.

I also picked up on a lot of underlying themes of religion and a hint of religion versus science/alchemy. For instance, the sanctuary--as 1 sees it--is a church, but he rebels against the safe haven of the library full of books about science and whatnot. Of course, there's the more obvious of matchup of machines (soulless AKA science) versus souls (religious). And the movie seems to be about merging the two--not in a scientology kind of way, but more in a "let's work together" kind of way. Or maybe I'm just crazy and reading too much into it, but that's how I saw it all.

The major flaw of the movie, however, was its incredibly short running time. The movie is barely over an hour long without credits (all together, it's 79 minutes). This greatly hinders the movie's potential. I found its biggest problems stemmed from this, such as not taking enough time to develop the characters and know enough about them and their backstories. The most we really get is how 5 lost one of his eyes, which is shown just minutes after you meet him. Sure, you eventually gained sympathy for them (primarily 3, 4, 5, and 7). It was hard not to like the cute 3 and 4. 5 is made purely for sympathetic reasons, and 7 is just an awesome character. But it would have been so much better had they all had more backstory. They were each unique, yes, but beyond the masks and personality traits, there was (ironically) nothing more than an empty shell/doll.

Another issue brought on by the short time span was a lack of plot explanation. I understood what was going on throughout the movie, but then the ending came, and I was like "...huh? Did I miss something?" In an attempt not to spoil things, let me say this as vaguely as possible (though there are probably mild spoilers anyway). What was the whole purpose of the amulet? It seemed circular in logic to me. It was there to release taken souls, but souls wouldn't have been taken without its existence. I was waiting for some higher purpose that never came.

Overall, though, I was highly entertained. It had beautiful animation and great action. There were some fun characters, too, but I just wish there was more depth given to them. The movie desperately needed to be longer and more fleshed out. But otherwise, it was a fun flick. And I'm scoring it based on entertainment value rather than "what it could have been" (I guess that makes me a glass half full kinda guy?).

A Keanu 'Whoa'


Book Review: "Percy Jackson, Book Five - The Last Olympian" by Rick Riordan.

So I finished the Percy Jackson series. The last book does well to wrap everything up, though the last book is about equally balanced in good and not-so-good. The Last Olympian sees Kronos making his final assault toward Olympus/New York. Typhon has escaped Mt. St. Helens and is making his way across the US, so the gods of Olympus must try to defeat him before he gets there. And with Poseidon fighting his own war underwater, this leaves Olympus open for assault, as the only guard is the "last Olympian," the most minor of the Olympians, Hestia--goddess of the hearth. Of course, Percy knows Kronos is separating the Olympians away from their home purposefully, but none of them will listen and protect their thrones. So Percy, along with his friends, must make the final stand alone.

This final installment is an interesting one. The first half of the book is filled with mystery and Riordan's signature ambiguity-for-the-sake-of-ambiguity. For instance, at the end of the last book, Nico comes to Percy with an idea to help him defeat Kronos, but for almost the full first half of the book, they talk around what the plan actually is, and you don't know what it's supposed to be until Percy is literally in the action of doing it. It's really kind of annoying.

Now, if Riordan does mystery well somewhere, it's with the "spy" of Camp Half-Blood. This is actually something that nobody knows, so he isn't just having them talk around it. And it's been around since the first book (if I remember correctly). And I have to say, I really didn't see it coming. I might have had a fleeting thought at one point, but I never seriously considered this particular character as the spy. However, at the same time, that's also because there really weren't enough clues... so it really borders on an "out of nowhere" twist, which bugs me.

But there were also a few things introduced in this book that really had no major significance other than Riordan going "oh, it would be cool to include this." For instance, Pandora's "jar" or any of the "fatal flaw" stuff. None of that really ever came to fruition, and neither of those were really built up enough for me to care. In fact, because of something Percy does, his fatal flaw is supposed to be enhanced, but all that's basically ignored for the rest of the book after he's told that. As a side-note, I also found it strange that the book was called "The Last Olympian," because while Hestia was important, she wasn't title-of-the-book important. Unless I'm just completely missing some kind of obvious symbolism here.

Anyway, the whole second half of the book is non-stop action. The battle for Olympus starts halfway in and doesn't let down. I mean, there are a couple breaks here and there, but even those are filled with dreams that lead up to the next battles that are about to be fought. The action is cool, albeit predictable, though the writing did tend to get a bit confusing toward the end. And although I did (easily) predict what was going to happen during the climax with Luke/Kronos, there was still something in the way it was written that just made it feel forced and awkward. Not to mention (SPOILERS) that there's one of those endings that is so perfect and happy, it nearly feels fake; every important character with ties to the bad side gains redemption, all heroes get super rewards from the gods, and everybody lives happily ever after... though the Calypso thing made me happy. (END SPOILERS)

There was also a return of previous characters, such as Apollo, Hermes, Tyson, and Thalia. Of course, Hermes' attitude has completely changed, and he's no longer really likable, though I supposed understandably; Thalia has gone from the super-important "she'll be the best friend I've ever had" of book 3 to just some common, secondary character; Tyson, as well, becomes not much more than a character that's just kinda there; and Apollo... okay, he's still pretty cool. Gotta love Apollo. I also grew to really like Mr. D/Dionysus throughout the series, as well.

Overall, the book was enjoyable. There was an abundance of purposeful ambiguity, which, as I said before, is irritating. The action is fun, and the book moves very fast once the battle stuff starts up halfway in. I like that things were finally wrapped up or explained (I'd hope so, considering it was the last book). And there were even some things explained that I never thought about before, mostly things involving Annabeth, Luke, and Thalia when they were on their own. So I guess it was an adequate ending for the series. Will I ever revisit the series? Possibly. It has some good characters. And I'd like to read it from the start knowing everything I do at the end, to see if I catch some stuff early on. But until then, I'm satisfied enough.


TV Review: Dragonball Z - Season Eight.

This season picks up right where the last left off. Shin explains what's going on. Many a year ago, there had been a super powerful wizard named Bibidi. He'd had a creation, the ultimate unstoppable killing machine, Majin Buu. And Bibidi was the only one capable of bringing Buu out of stasis. But Shin defeated Bibidi, while Buu was kept in stasis, hidden on Earth. But now, Bibidi's son... you guessed it... Babidi has shown up to awaken Buu. I'm seriously not making these names up.

But all isn't as easy as it seems. Babidi has some helpers, including the King of the Demons, Dabura, who he has under his spell. Dabura has dangerous spit (again, not making this up) that turns anything it touches to stone. And the first two to fall prey to this attack are Krillin and Piccolo. And the only way to turn them back to normal? Defeat Dabura, of course. So Goku, Gohan, and Vegeta, against the better judgment given by Shin, go in after them and face a series of rather pathetic enemies until they get to Dabura. And if any of them get hurt (which doesn't happen up to this point), their energy gets absorbed into the space ship to help revive Buu.

But the season, at least at this point, doesn't purely focus on this. It also remembers that it has to finish up that little fighting tournament it had been showing before, you know, almost everybody left. All that's left are Mr. Satan, Android 18, a couple of random people named Killa and Jewel, and then Goten and Trunks dressed up as another contestant--Mighty Mask--to be able to fight in the adult tournament. It doesn't take a genius to figure out what happens here.

But back to the main plot, Gohan goes up against Dabura, though he shows how he's gotten a bit weaker over years without training. And during the scuffle, Vegeta loses his patience, which tips off Dabura to a dastardly idea. Babidi has the ability to take anybody with an impure heart and use that trace of evil to make them his slave. You see it coming a mile away, so I don't feel bad spoiling this, but he gives Vegeta a power boost and (somewhat) takes him over (Vegeta is a little too powerful, giving him the ability to ignore most of Babidi's commands).

But the point of all this? To give us the fight we've wanted to see since the end of season 1: the rematch of Goku versus Vegeta. And boy is it effing epic. I must say, their fight just goes on and on (multiple episodes), and not a second of it is boring. It's an amazing fight. Though I find it a little funny that the reasoning behind a decision of Vegeta's is essentially a mid-life crisis. Though I have to say, this season and the last seem to have a tendency to overuse the mushroom cloud to show a huge explosion. 

But that's not all. During all of this, not only are Gohan and Shin continuing after Dabura and Babidi, but Goten and Trunks find out what's going on from Videl (who started to go with Gohan initially at the end of last season, but ended up turning around) and head in their direction. But of course, the inevitable happens. While I would have thought it might have made a more poetic ending to have Goku/Vegeta be the final big fight, there's a lot more story to go, and they're not just going on and on about the most powerful being ever to exist for nothing. So of course Buu is going to be released.

It leads up to the "Final Atonement" of Vegeta. Now, throughout the series, Vegeta has had some good character building episodes. You think he'll turn better, though he usually reverts back to his arrogant, prideful self (with a smidge more humanity and caring than before). And that continued to build until the end of the Cell Saga, where he has a great ending to his character arch. But here, it continues. Of course, he reverts back to his prideful self, but this is the ultimate arch end (hence the title of the episode, "The Final Atonement"). And I have to say, while I didn't cry, I had the emotions going when he starts talking to Trunks, knowing what's about to happen. It's a touching moment.

Otherwise, the season is shaping up oddly. Buu himself is a good example of what the season is as a whole: darkness wrapped in childish stupidity. Buu really is an incredibly annoying villain, and is at times hard to take seriously. But while that's true, the action has been amped up tenfold; it hits harder and is much more hardcore than previous seasons. So there's this strange tonal mix of silly and awesome. But, for instance, Buu's biggest attack is that he points his single pink antennae (uh huh) at you and turns you into junk food--cookies, chocolate, candy, etc.--and eats you. While disturbing if you think about it, it's just plain silly looking.

Anyway, after the Vegeta bit, the story shifts completely. Everybody runs for their lives. The ones left behind at the tournament start hunting the dragonballs. Krillin and Piccolo take the kids to the lookout tower. Shin hunts for Gohan. And Goku finally rejoins the picture, coming in with his usual deus ex machina by telling everyone about a technique he learned in Otherworld called Fusion, where two people of equal size and power and fuse together into one for a short amount of time. And if they can learn this ("they" being Goten and Trunks), they might have a chance at defeated Buu. Meanwhile, Shin takes Gohan back to the world of the Kai's to release the "Z Sword" (which may or may not actually make the "Z" in "DBZ" make sense, as "Z Fighters" never did). So now we have different plots going on for different people who think they might be able to defeat Buu in different ways.

Of course, during this time, Buu is eating and destroying people, while Hercule Satan gets called on to help "save the world" again, seeing he took the credit for defeating Cell. So this keeps Hercule in the story (well, Videl's involvement would have done that anyway, most likely). Though that's not the only inclusion of comedy at the moment. The show has actually sunk as low as to use toilet humor. Yes, there are actually pee and fart jokes in the show now. For instance, Master Roshi--once an acclaimed and respected martial arts master--defeats a monster by farting in its face. Oh how the mighty have fallen.

There's a cool moment where Goku actually goes beyond Ascended Saiyan and becomes a Super Saiyan 3, though it drains a lot of his energy, bringing the time he has to train the boys to fusion to even less before he has to go back to Otherworld. Of course, this comes about from a total plot hole. Buu and Babidi are going after West City to destroy it, as they found out that's where Trunks lives, but that's also where the Dragon Radar is. So if the Dragon Radar is destroyed, they pretty much can't find the dragonballs to wish back everybody that died and whatever. So Goku sends Trunks after the radar, while he goes to distract Buu. Of course, to get to them, Goku uses instant transmission... which begs the question, why not use instant transmission to get to Capsule Corp in West City to get the radar to begin with, and not risk Trunks' life, as well as save some time?

Anywho, the story goes on, and the boys continue learning the fusion dance (which is one of those things where even the show recognizes how stupid it looks), while Gohan continues learning how to use the Z Sword on the World of the Kai's. Of course, neither turn out the way anyone expected. For instance, the newly formed Gotenks has an arrogance that could rival Vegeta's, and he won't listen to anybody. Meanwhile, the Z Sword breaks, releasing an elder Kai from within, who is just like a Kai version of Master Roshi. He decides to help Gohan release his inner power (didn't Guru back on Namek do this already?). Though it'll take about 25 hours and a lot of annoyances from this new, silly Kai.

Of course, this leaves Buu to do whatever he wants. Only a fifth of Earth is still alive, and they'd do anything for a hero. So, obviously, it's time for Hercule Satan to step back into the picture. Mr. Satan travel's to Buu's house and... I kid you not... actually forms a friendship with Buu and gets him to stop killing and destroying. Yes, Mr. Satan is actually responsible for stopping Buu... at least this version (because we know there are more to come). And that brings me to one of the biggest logistical issues of the season. How does he get Buu to stop? The same way Goku usually tries: tells him it's bad, tells him he has a choice, and asks him to please stop. But my problem is... Goku didn't even try that. Why? He's known for doing that with EVERY villain. That's his thing. His willingness to see good in everybody is both his biggest strength and biggest weakness. But instead, Goku asks very un-Goku like this season, and just attempts to attack Buu straight on, without question or provocation. And he, for whatever reason, decides to not even bother asking him to please stop the evilness. Maybe they just wanted Mr. Satan to be heroic for once, who knows?

Anyway, the season ends on a sad and awfully dark cliffhanger (seriously, the last episode of the season was crazy dark, even for this show). There's only one season left, though it might be a while before I can review it, as it's been on "Very Long Wait" on Netflix for months now, with no signs of letting up anytime soon. But as for this season, it was a decent one. It was a bit all over the place at times with its ideas. As you can see in this review, the ideas are kind of all over the place with what happens. It's not exactly as straight forward or simplistic as previous seasons. This one is a lot more mystical, I guess you could say. But it wasn't a bad one. It was entertaining, even if Buu is an incredibly annoying villain.



I'd wanted to see this movie from the first time I saw the first trailer. I totally loved the concept, and it looked like excellent fun. But did it live up to its potential? Well, let's start off with the story. In the near future, a man named Ken Castle (Michael C. Hall) invents Nanex, a collection of nanobytes that are injected into your brain and allow others to control you. It first spawns a game called Society, the ultimate Sims (kind of like a real-life iLife). But then it extended into the prison program for death row inmates, to where if they can win 30 games, they're set free. It's called Slayers. Kable (Gerard Butler), with his player Simon (Logan Lerman), is the closest person to get to the 30 wins, and all he wants to do is get home to his wife (Amber Valleta) and daughter. But Castle won't have it, though he has to contend with a group of hackers (Ludacris, Aaron Yoo, and Alison Lohman). And then there's the media woman, Gina (Kyra Sedgwyk). And... hell, there's a whole lot of stuff going on, with little actually happening. The movie also includes John Leguizamo, Zoe Bell, and Milo Ventimiglia.

The movie is completely style over substance, though it tries to throw in some substance in the latter half of the film (I'll get to that later). But its stylistic nature is still pretty cool. However, I'm not sure that the Slayers stuff was done to its fullest potential, and it's really only in the first half of the film. And because the movie is more style than substance, it brings us to the film's biggest downfall: it's chaotic feel.

Especially the first half of the film, we get a whole lot of nothing. There's literally almost no story, as well as any character development or... well, anything but violence and style. Eventually, we start getting some semblance of a story, but then it doesn't really take it all to its fullest potential, either. I saw so many great places the story could have gone, but it didn't. It stayed at about as basic of a level as possible story-wise (though I suppose the bad guy motivations revealed at the end are pretty cool).

I would also have liked more out of the characters. They're all so one-dimensional, it's--dare I say--ludicrous (sorry, I couldn't help myself). The acting is fine, of course, and Michael C. Hall gives one heck of a performance for a character that could have been so boring otherwise. Though Terry Crews' Hackman was way over-the-top, though that was probably purposeful. Anyway, some characters were just a complete waste, like John Leguizamo's. He didn't really have much of a point except to extend on one portion (or type of character) of "Slayers" that is hardly mentioned or expanded on to begin with. Milo Ventimiglia must have just been desperate for a paycheck, because he just has some weird-ass role for only a couple minutes of screen time. And Kyra Sedgwick, while a key player, basically walks around cussing the whole time. There was no background to any character, no home lives, no anything. I would have liked to at least see maybe Simon's character delved into a little more, maybe add some psychology or something to it. It was just all so... flat.

Don't get me wrong, though. The movie is still quite a bit of fun. I especially like it around the middle of the movie where, essentially, Slayers meets Society. I really don't have too much to say about the movie. It was total style over substance, but a little more substance would have made the film so much better. It's entertaining for what it is, and the premise is still great (as are the last few twists of the story... which I still feel could have been delved into deeper). Oh, and be warned those of you who have a dislike for shaky cam. There's a good bit of it in the movie... and unfortunately, a lot of it during the Slayers bits, so you can hardly see what's going on half the time, anyway (those scenes should have decreased some shaky cam and added more time to make them longer and more fun). Overall, it was fun, but it could have been better.

I Am McLovin!