OK, so I wasn't really excited for this movie whatsoever. The trailer was relatively unfunny, and as trailers for comedies tend to use all the best jokes in them, that didn't fare very well. But then I get a text from a friend asking if I wanted to go see this movie. Sure, why not? I've got nothing better to do. And I have to say, this was one bizarre promotional stunt. Not only did they fill the trailer with most of the least funny jokes (which are actually funnier in context), but they didn't really portray the plot very well. Sure, the dinner is involved, but that's the climax of the movie. The rest of the film has very little to do with the dinner at all.

The movie introduces us to Tim (Paul Rudd), a businessman trying to get a promotion. When opportunity strikes, his boss (Bruce Greenwood) and a couple higher-ups (Ron Livingston and Larry Wilmore) invite him to a special secret dinner. Everybody is to invite a guest, and the guest has to be quite an idiot, usually with a bizarre skill. Enter Barry (Steve Carell), a very dim man with a penchant for the taxidermy of mice. After Tim nearly runs Barry over and then realizes his talents, Tim invites Barry to the dinner. This happens against the will of Tim's girlfriend, Julie (Stephanie Szostak), who walks out mad at him. And things don't get any better when Barry shows up thinking the dinner was that night, not the following, and exacerbates things. Long story short, Tim and Barry spend most of the next 24 hours trying to fix Tim's relationship, but Barry continually makes things worse--such as involving Darla (Lucy Punch), a long-time stalker of Tim's; Therman (Zach Galifianakis), Barry's boss who thinks he can read and control minds; and Kieran (Jamaine Clement), a self-absorbed artist that works with Julie.

This movie is down-right hilarious. I laughed even when other people didn't, mostly because the jokes are a mile a minute and I don't think the audience had time to process them all. The trailer really does show the lesser of the jokes, but most of them are actually funnier within the context of the film. The highlight of the film is not, surprisingly, Zach Galifianakis who--based on the trailer--I thought would steal the show. In fact, the best parts were a mix of Steve Carell and Jamaine Clement. Whenever Jamaine was on screen, he totally owned it. It was very reminiscent of Aldous Snow in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, except an artist instead of a rock star. Steve Carell didn't impress me in the trailer, but there is so much the trailer doesn't show. And you might be laughing at him, but you also feel bad for him for some personal issues that he's gone through.

This is where the film has heart. Yes, believe it or not, a movie about making fun of stupid people has heart. You sympathize with these characters and you root for them to actually win while cringing at everything they destroy around them. At times, it reminded me of Dumb and Dumber, which is pretty clear considering you're dealing with a very dim character who just doesn't "get it."

I'm going to keep this one short. If the trailers turned you off from this movie, just go check it out anyway. I went in with pretty low expectations and came out having really enjoyed it. The only negative I really have is the beginning, maybe the first 15 or so minutes. There are some chuckles here and there, but it doesn't start getting good until Steve Carell is introduced. It just takes a while to pick up steam. But I don't laugh that hard very often, and sometimes you wonder if it's the audience laughing that helps spark it. But I can assure you that I was usually one of the first to start laughing. So there you go.

A Keanu 'Whoa'

(P.S. And that's a pretty strong 'Whoa'.)



Going into this movie, I pretty much knew what I was going to expect: magic, decent special effects, Jay Baruchel bumbling around, Nic Cage hamming it up, and me leaving entertained. Well, one of those things didn't happen. Inspired by the Fantasia segment by the same name (and yes, the segment is partially included), The Sorcerer's Apprentice begins by telling us about how Merlin had 3 apprentices: Balthazar (Nicolas Cage), Horvath (Alfred Molina), and Veronica (Monica Bellucci). Horvath ends up turning on the others and joining up with evil sorceress Morgana (Alice Krige) to bring back evil sorcerers from the dead and destroy the world. But when Veronica merges herself with Morgana, Balthazar is forced to trap her in a Grimhold--a Russian doll-within-a-doll-type object. Over the years, he also traps other descendants/apprentices of Morgana in the Grimhold over the centuries, and eventually also Horvath. Balthazar is given the task of looking throughout the centuries for Merlin's successor, the Prime Merlinian, and finds him in Dave (Jay Baruchel). Dave is supposed to have the ability to defeat Morgana once and for all, but he'll have to stop the newly released Horvath and his newest apprentice, famous magician Drake Stone (Toby Kebbell), before it necessarily gets that far. And all the while, he tries to woo a childhood crush, Becky (Teresa Palmer).

There's really not a whole lot to say about the movie that you couldn't probably suspect on your own. One thing that surprised me, however, was how they mixed magic and science. I'm not exactly sure why they did this, except maybe to have religious zealots either love or hate them even more (depending, I suppose). It looked cool, though. Some of the special effects could have been better (any of the 'statues-come-to-life' bits in particular). But they weren't too bad.

I mentioned earlier that only one of my expectations wasn't completely met. That expectation was, actually, Nic Cage hamming it up. Oh, he has his moments ("I CAN READ MINDS!" being a personal favorite), but I expected it to be more consistent. Who doesn't love a batty Nic Cage? But the majority of the time, he's just your average "mentor" character. Jay Baruchel is one of those actors you probably really like or mostly tolerate, mostly due to his voice. Personally, I really like the guy--and considering How To Train Your Dragon is one of my favorite movies of this year so far, I can honestly say his voice isn't that bothersome to me. And I really enjoyed him in this. Oh, and Alfred Molina as the villain is, well... Alfred Molina as a villain. You've seen it before.

The movie was, of course, predictable, but I didn't expect anything different. I didn't go into this movie looking for another Inception. However, there were quite a few things that were too similar to other things. For instance, they--for whatever reason--seemed to mix the original "Sorcerer's Apprentice" song from Fantasia with the theme from Pirates of the Caribbean, and it was pretty distracting. I half expected Jack Sparrow to walk on screen. Then near the end, there are these black tubes of smoke blasting from the sky, and I almost screamed out "DEATH EATERS!" Finally, I just sat there at the climax of the movie waiting (and honestly hoping) for Jay Baruchel to go "KAME... HAME... HA!" That actually might have knocked my rating for this movie up another notch, really. Though we did get a kind of "Final Flash" in there (if you know anything I'm saying right now, high five). I'm pretty sure there was one other thing I noticed in there somewhere, but I can't recall it at the moment.

Anyway, this movie was pretty good entertainment. It was predictable summer fun. There really wasn't all that much I disliked about it. Though there is one scene that has horrible ADR. Baruchel is talking to another character in a car, and the shot is over his shoulder. You can see his mouth moving, and it's nothing remotely close to what he's saying. And this happens twice. But it's mostly a pretty harmless flick. It's not great by any means, but it strove for entertaining and that's what it got.

I Am McLovin!


TV Review: The Guild - The First Three Seasons.

Technically, this isn't really a TV Review, per se, because it isn't for a TV show. It's for a web-series. I just recently got into this show. I'd heard of it before, mostly due to the commentary tracks on the Dr. Horrible DVD where they mention it (as Felicia Day stars in both). But I'd never gotten around to watching episodes. That is, until I saw them available through Instant Streaming. I watched the first season, thought it was alright--not what I was expecting, but fun. Then I watched the second season and was hooked. I went straight into the third and loved it. Let me explain briefly, though, how I went through these so quickly: each season is very short. The first season is only 40-something minutes; the second is a little over an hour; the third season is a bit longer than the second. So, essentially, watching a season is nothing more than watching a mini-movie.

So now I'm going to discuss the first three seasons in a bit of detail. But first, let me explain who everybody is and what the main point of the show is. The main character of the show is Cyd Sherman, also known as Codex (Felicia Day). She's obsessed with a World of Warcraft-type computer game (based on Felicia Day's actual past obsession with WoW) and plays a Cleric. She has an group of online friends that play together in a "guild," where they meet up at certain times of the day and quest together in game. Her guild-mates are the other main characters of the show.

First we have Sujan AKA Zaboo (Sandeep Parikh), a hyperactive, super-creepy stalker with an obsession with Codex. He plays a Warlock in game. Then there's Herman AKA Vork (Jeff Lewis), the Guild Leader, who is a middle-aged, balding man who believes in structure and rules. He plays a Fighter. Next in line is Simon AKA Bladezz (Vincent Caso), the only teenager in the group, and he often says perverted and/or rude things. He plays a Rogue. Then there's Clara... real name Clara (Robin Thorsen). She's a housewife with three kids, and she's horribly neglectful of them for the sake of the game. She plays a Mage. And, finally, there's Tinkerballa AKA Tink (Amy Okuda)... her real name is never stated. She's very distant and cold and often bitchy. She plays a Ranger.

Now that that is out of the way, let's get into each season.

Season One

Every episode opens with Codex talking to her webcam, usually talking about something that just happened (in the previous episode) and leading into the current one. She knows she has problems, but she can't get over them to the point where even her psychiatrist wants nothing else to do with her. The story kicks off when the guild realizes that Zaboo hasn't been online for about a day and a half--and then he shows up at Codex's front door. Having confused their online chats as flirting, Zaboo enters stalker mode and becomes obsessive with her, but Codex is too timid to kick him out or do much else about it.

Meanwhile, in their game, Bladezz gets himself banned for cussing. Codex, realizing that this is a great excuse to get everybody together face-to-face, schedules a real-life meeting with her guild (as they've never met outside the game). Of course, she has ulterior motives: first, she really wants to have her guild help her figure out how to get Zaboo out of her house; second, she wants to please her psychiatrist, who figures she should socialize outside of the internet.

Unfortunately, Vork announces that he had transferred all the guild funds to Bladezz's account, and they can't kick him out without losing everything they have. Bladezz, upset once he finds out about the attempted coup, begins to slander all of them. And things are only made worse when Zaboo's crazy mother shows up.

The interesting thing about the show is that every character is flawed--and I mean flawed. These aren't people (except maybe Cyd/Codex) that you'd be friends with on normal circumstances. Codex doesn't really have social skills (and I probably connected with her character the most because of this). Zaboo is a total creepo. Vork is overbearing, anti-social, and lives in a shed. Bladezz is just your typical a-hole teenager. Tink is bitchy for almost no reason (though she has some "good" moments). And, probably worst of the lot, is Clara--incredibly negligent of her young children, and in normal cases would probably be stripped of her family. However, despite these characters having these serious flaws, they're hilarious. The flaws are essentially the forefront of the show, as these characters have to learn how to start living life and being more sociable... and, of course, dealing with each other.

This is very obviously a first season. It's lower budget, and it takes a while to get the feel of the show (for both you and them). But the overall story is a good way to get to know the characters. And, by the end, pretty much all the stories are tied up. It's a decent season, but out of the first three seasons, it's definitely the weakest.

Season Two

Picking up not too long after the first season, Codex is now in a new apartment, as Zaboo's mother's antics caused her to lose her house. Zaboo, of course, follows her to her new place. But now he has some competition in the form of a good looking, martial-artist, stunt double named Wade (Fernando Chien). Codex, finally getting fed up with Zaboo, tricks him into leaving by saying he needs to "level up" before they can be at the same place be together.

So during this time, Vork volunteers to house Zaboo... of course, being bribed by in-game gold. And while he's gone, Codex can start trying to get Wade to take interest, but eventually finds out he has a "stupid hot tall girl" for a roommate, and while they aren't dating, they are friends with benefits.

In-game, the guild finds a special orb and Vork puts it up for bid. Clara and Tink fight for it, but when Clara's kids ambush her and distract her, Tink wins it. Vork refuses to re-auction it, and Clara vows revenge on Vork by bringing in a second character he doesn't know about and continually killing his character.

During this, Bladezz shows his interest in Tink, and Tink--despite being disgusted by Bladezz--decides to flirt back. She has him buy a ton of stuff for her, inevitably having him max out his mother's credit cards... and then gives him nothing in return.

Everything culminates when their server declares that it's going down for 4 hours due to maintenance, and the girls decide to have a party where truth comes out and revenge is both sweet and devastating.

This season was very good. Pretty much everybody has a side-story going on, and they all come together very nicely at the party at the end. It's actually kind of funny that the orb that Clara and Tink fought over has to do with side quests, and, really, this season is just a mix of "side quests." There really isn't one primary story, yet they're all equally important. And unlike the first season, this one doesn't have a happy ending. You might think Clara gets away unhurt in all of it, but her regrets come full-force in season 3... same with Zaboo, technically.

This season also had a more obvious bigger budget. On the cast commentary, they declare they went into HD, so that's one thing. They also gain an animated intro and theme. But you can also tell just from the locations. You get to see Vork's entire house, for instance. Oh, and the stuff between Vork and Zaboo is downright hilarious.

Season 3

This season picks up a couple days after the last one, as everybody is waiting in line for the release of the new expansion for their game. Vork has been camping out in front of the store for days (despite not needing to). Unfortunately, another guild--the Axis of Anarchy--cuts in front of them and starts trouble. The Axis of Anarchy includes the leader, Fawkes (Wil Wheaton), who often quotes philosophers, authors, etc.; Venom (Teal Sherer), the only girl in the group, who happens to be in a wheelchair and uses it to their advantage; Bruiser (J. Teddy Garces), a police officer who is the most visibly ferocious of the bunch; Kwan (Alexander Yi), a Korean man who has a woman named Nik with him to translate; and Valkyrie (Mike Rose), a wannabe jokester and closet homosexual.

The tension between the two guilds builds throughout the season as the Axis of Anarchy begins to take their trouble-making outside the game and targets Bladezz, getting him into some serious trouble. And on top of Bladezz getting tortured by the Axis, he's constantly annoyed by his younger sister.

Meanwhile, Vork decides to step down as Guild Leader due to Clara's antics in the previous season, making him go on a journey of self-discovery. When the guild chooses Codex to become their new leader, Tink gets upset and decides to quit and join the Axis of Anarchy instead. Zaboo has also become preoccupied as he attempts to balance gaming with his incredibly domineering new girlfriend, Riley (the stupid tall hot girl, played by Michele Boyd).

On top of all this, Clara's husband finds a picture of her making out with Wade at the party. He almost leaves her, but she begs him not to (mostly so there can be somebody to take care of the kids while she plays the game). He stays, but only under the promise that they do more things together. Inevitably, Clara talks him into starting to play the game and eventually the guild, though he's terrible at it.

Everything continues to get worse, and the guild continues to fall apart. Codex struggles to find a way to keep the guild together, bring Vork back as the leader, break up Riley and Zaboo, get Tink to come back, and stop the Axis from destroying Bladezz's life.

This is definitely the best season. It has a solid story and some really good character development. Clara actually shows that her family is at least somewhat important to her (kinda), and Brett Sheridan, who plays her husband, is funny. Codex shows that there might be some kind of feelings for Zaboo after all (or at the very least, he's growing on her and she cares for his well-being). Zaboo begins to understand that he has to think about himself sometimes and look after his own well-being... not to mention there are some people that are crazier than he is. Tink and Bladezz both see that sometimes you can go too far (building on their actions from the previous season). And Vork realizes that, while everybody might dislike him, that's what makes him a strong leader (it makes sense in the show).

There's also some good suspense in this season. You feel really bad for Bladezz and hope he gets through things alright. And then the finale is great with a big battle royale between the two guilds. This season also really amped up the language. There is a large amount of cussing this season, which took a while to get used to, but it isn't really all that distracting.

Overall, this is an excellent season, and it made me really excited for the fourth season.


I watched the first three seasons through Instant Streaming, but I immediately went out and bought the first two seasons on DVD (they do sell them separately, but they also came out with a release that has them together). The only reason I haven't bought season three is because it's not available in any nearby stores right now, and I'll have to order it online. There are some excellent extra features on the DVDs. There are tons of bloopers, a table reading, audition footage, multiple commentaries, and much more (even some hidden things).

I suggest checking out the show free either online (YouTube or their website) or via Instant Streaming. If you enjoy it, definitely buy the DVDs, as there are some good special features. I'd say it'd be your kind of show if you like gaming or Felicia Day, but the former isn't really a necessity (I mean, if you hate Felicia Day--though I can't see how--you probably aren't bouncing in anticipation for this show). The show is more about the character interactions than the actual gaming (you never even actually see game footage or anything). I mean, it'll probably be funnier if you're a gamer, but I can see people enjoying this show and not being one. So yeah, check it out. And finally... this picture... mostly because Tink looks hot in it (though, unfortunately, you never really see anything like this within the show):

(P.S. Season 4 is currently being released online on a, I believe, weekly basis.)


2 In 1: A Very Potter Musical And A Very Potter Sequel.

A little over a year ago, a college-based production company called Team Starkid produced what is now a well-known stage play called A Very Potter Musical, a musical production of Harry Potter. It was performed in front of a live audience and recorded and put online. And it became an instant hit. Now, as of yesterday, there is another. Team Starkid has produced, recorded, and placed online A Very Potter Sequel, which is pretty much what it sounds like. Now that I've just finished watching this sequel (though it's actually more like a prequel), I've decided to comment on both.

A Very Potter Musical.

The story takes elements from Sorcerer's Stone, Chamber of Secrets, Goblet of Fire, Half-Blood Prince, and Deathly Hallows and mixes them together in extreme comedic fashion. The basic story is that it's Harry's second year at Hogwarts, and Professor Quirrel, sharing a body with Voldemort, has plans on using Harry to come back to power using the Tri-Wizard Tournament. Harry tries to win over Cho Chang (who herself is with Cedric Diggory) while completely ignoring Ginny, who obviously has a crush on him. Meanwhile, Ron starts realizing his feelings for Hermione, but he's not alone. No... Draco Malfoy also realizes his affections for the frumpy Hermione.

There's a whole lot more to it, of course. The whole show is about three and a half hours long, and it incorporates pretty much 5 of the 7 books (with its own mix, obviously). Its biggest focus is on Sorcerer's Stone (with Quirrelmort) and Goblet of Fire. Though in the latter half of the play, it does switch gears to the last couple books (but not so much Deathly Hallows, from what I can remember... it's been a while). These guys were quite ingenious in how they were able to get all the stories mixed down into one show.

They also found the right tone. There's no way a Harry Potter Musical could take itself seriously. So, knowing this, Team Starkid totally made it a self-conscious comedy. The comedy is basically total irony. It takes everything the audience would expect (either due to knowing the books/stories/characters or how the scene has set itself up) and turning it on its head. It takes expectations and uses them to a great advantage. And then, of course, a slew of running jokes (usually involving Draco). They also have fun with the actors. For instance, Draco is played by a female (to great effect).

Now, you can't discuss a musical without getting into the music. There's a good side and a bad side to this. The good is that the music for this is excellent. Like any musical, there are the fun, catchy tunes. But there are also the more dramatic, heart-felt ones. And the fun ones truly are hilarious. Not all of them are favorites, granted. But that's how it goes with any musical. You usually won't like every song. Hell, I don't like every single song in Little Shop of Horrors (which, for my astute readers will know, is pretty much my favorite). But almost everybody has a great voice. The best voices go to Harry and Ginny (Ginny probably has the best voice of the lot). And despite Cedric only having one line to sing at the beginning, he has a great one, too. There are a couple rough notes here and there, though. The toughest to listen to are Voldemort's, but that's mostly because the actor has to keep a raspy voice while singing.

Unfortunately, the biggest downfall to this production is its audio, which is a shame. Because it was performed live for an audience and was recorded during such, oftentimes the audience's laughter is louder than those on stage. And sometimes the music is louder than the singers, as well. So there are a lot of times, whether the characters are speaking or singing, you have no idea what they're saying (or have to listen very closely in order to hear it). However, the soundtrack is available to download for free, so you can get the songs that way with no laughter or music louder than the singing.

Overall, if you're a fan of Harry Potter, this is a 3.5 hour of hilarity. If you have the time and have not seen it, I strongly recommend it. You can find it on YouTube.

A Keanu 'Whoa'

A Very Potter Sequel.

The sequel sees the return of all the cast members (and maybe one or two new ones). The story mixes elements from Sorcerer's Stone, Prisoner of Azkaban, and Order of the Phoenix. It picks up right after the first story ends. Despite there being apparently nowhere to go story-wise from there, Lucius Malfoy has a plan. He figures that if he can kill Potter before his second year, everything will be better. So with the help of Death Eater Yaxley, Lucius gets his hands on a Time Turner and goes back in time to Harry's first year to try and destroy him. In Harry's first year, he makes friends with Ron and, eventually, Hermione. However, Sirius Black has escaped from Azkaban and is apparently after Harry. Because of this, Hogwarts must set up extra security, so the Ministry sends them Delores Umbridge to be Head of Security. Unfortunately, she's one evil lady, so Harry turns to the help of the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Remus Lupin, who is being adamantly pursued by Snape, still holding a grudge against him from long ago. This also introduces other characters, such as Arthur Weasley, Dean Thomas, Seamus Finnegan, Hedwig, and Firenze (as well as very brief appearances by Luna Lovegood and the other Weasley siblings).

Again, there is a lot more going on than just that, as this is also about 3 and a half hours long. But unlike the previous play, this sequel/prequel (depending on how you look at it) is more linear, I suppose. Because it only incorporates elements from 3 books (and really not all that much from Sorcerer's Stone except for it being Harry's first year, as well as the Mirror of Erised and the origin of the invisibility cloak), it seems more contained. The first one, while great and hilarious, had a ton of stuff going on in trying to incorporate stuff from nearly the entire series. This one is pretty much what would happen if you dropped Umbridge into the Prisoner of Azkaban storyline and set it in Harry's first year without Quirrel.

My biggest complaint from the first one was the fact that you couldn't understand half of what was going on. Thankfully, that's no the case this time. There are a couple times near the end where the music is louder than the singing. But for the most part, they seemed to learn from the first time. So that was excellent.

The humor this time is also a lot different than the first time around (though there is some of the same here and there). This one is a little more adult, which is funny considering the characters are supposed to be a year younger. There's a lot of cussing and even some sex jokes. It isn't crude, though, or over-the-top. Some of the jokes deal with giving an origin to some things from the first play (Ron's headband, a couple lines, etc.). The best parts, however, have to be Lucius, Lupin, Umbridge, and Goyle/Firenze. Taking a note from the actress playing Draco, the actor who plays Lucius is insanely over-the-top ridiculous in his movements. Lupin is the source of most of the cussing, and despite his humor being pretty much the same types of jokes over and over, it never gets old. And then there's Umbridge... played by the guy (yes, guy) who portrayed Voldemort in the first play. And he's one muscular guy... and he plays her like a bi-polar sadist with some childhood abuse issues and even some slight retardation. What's great about Umbridge is that right when a scene seems to be getting to the point where you think it's dragging on a bit much, Umbridge does something new and hilarious. Now, the guy who played Goyle in the first one is back, and he's given even more to do this time around. He plays Goyle to hilarity, but he truly shines when he portrays the Centaur Firenze, which--outside of Lupin's scenes--are probably the funniest parts of the entire play. This play also has Rita Skeeter (played by the girl who played Ginny in the first one), but she's not in it all that much, and none of her scenes are particularly memorable.

Now, the music is also different than the first time around. The music from the first play was heavier on the catchier tunes. This one is heavier on the ballads. I think while the songs in the first play are much funnier, I liked more of the songs in this one, which is intriguing to me (as I'm usually more of a fan of the catchy tunes). I'm anxiously awaiting the release of the soundtrack so I can get to know the songs better and tell for sure.

Overall, while I adore the first one, I think this sequel is even better. Though I said the songs in the first one are generally funnier, the whole of the sequel is funnier than the first. Most of the time, I couldn't stop laughing... and if it wasn't 3.5 hours long (and it didn't take me on-and-off all day to watch the whole thing, as I had to mix it in with getting some other things done), I would turn right back around and watch it again right now. However, I would strongly suggest watching the original first if you haven't (and shame on you if you haven't), as there are quite a few references to it in this one (more jokes will make sense, in other words). So yeah... what are you waiting for? Get to watching! Like the other, you can catch it on YouTube.

Royale With Cheese

(P.S. There is a great moment of improv where something goes wrong, and the guy playing Ron comes up with a great line to get around it.)


LKMYNTS: Spiral.

For this Little Known Movies You Need To See, I give you Spiral. It's (semi-)directed by the same guy who made Hatchet, and it stars the same guy from that, as well (actually, I think this one is moreso directed by said actor as his debut, with help from the previous director). And it's nothing like Hatchet. This movie is about Mason (Joel Moore), a extremely introverted painter with an anxiety disorder who works for an auto insurance telemarketing company. All he eats is peanut butter, apples, and milk. All he paints is women in apparently the same poses. He only has one friend in the world, who also happens to be his boss, Berkeley (Zachary Levi). After a devastating event where it seems Mason might have killed someone, he becomes plagued by nightmares and hallucinations of a waitress that tend to send him into panic attacks, forcing him to grab his inhaler. But then he meets Amber (Amber Tamblyn), a friendly new employee with an interest in getting to know Mason better. Slowly, they become closer and Mason even opens up a bit more... but Amber doesn't realize how extreme Mason's psychological problems are.

The best thing about this movie is how it keeps you guessing. You might think you've got it figured out, but it will still throw you for a loop. In fact, the ending totally makes the movie. And even after you learn the supposed truth, it's still ambiguous enough for you to look at clues throughout the rest of the movie that could negate even that. It's a total mind-freak. It's a very well-written movie.

And on top of the writing, the acting is superb. Between this, Hatchet, and Avatar (he was the jealous scientist friend), I'm going to really be keeping an eye on Joel Moore (he was also in Dodgeball, but, well, yeah). He's very disturbing in this movie, and you never know how he's going to react to something. I also hardly recognized Zachary Levi. I've only seen one episode of Chuck, but he looks completely different, and his character is totally different. Especially in the latter half of this movie (and the ending), Levi is great. And then you have Amber Tamblyn, who portrays pretty much the perfect girl. She's goofy, quirky, fun, pretty, and incredibly patient. She's almost too patient, actually. I actually wondered at a couple points why she was even bothering with Mason, who at first doesn't even seem to want to give her the light of day and is incredibly socially awkward. Anyway, what I find funny is how this movie is populated primarily with TV actors (there's even an appearance by Tricia Helfer of Battlestar Galactica), yet the acting is (sometimes infinitely) better than most Hollywood movies out there.

If there's anything negative about the movie, it's its slowness. The beginning is incredibly slow and slightly repetitive. It takes a while for you to get into the movie or care about what's going on. But once Mason starts to open up to Amber, it gets better. It just takes a while to get there, like I said. But totally stick with it--it's worth it.

One last thing I want to bring up is the poster. I noticed this while looking through movies to watch. There are at least 2 other movie posters that look exactly like this one. Well, technically, this movie's poster looks like the others, as the other movies came out first. Still, get some originality here. Check out the one up above for this movie, then check these out:

Anyway, definitely check this movie out. You can find it on Netflix Instant Streaming. There is great acting, great writing, and a mind-bender ending. Just stick with it if you think it's starting off slowly, though. Oh, and I didn't even mention the soundtrack. There is a ton of jazz music throughout the movie as Mason is a huge jazz fanatic. He's always listening to jazz records, so you hear it that way, but you'll also hear it as part of the actual soundtrack as well. Even if you don't particularly like jazz, you'll learn to like it within the movie.

A Keanu 'Whoa'


Podcast: The Demented Encyclopedia #16 - Awesome Equals Christopher Nolan In This One.

I know I've already put one thing up today (check out the season 3 review of Avatar: The Last Airbender, if you would!). But I finally got done editing this awesome edition of The Demented Encyclopedia (took a little longer than usual...). So I figured I should put this up, as well.


For the second week in a row, Travis was unable to join us. Instead, Rachel has returned for another episode in his stead. This week, we discuss the career of one Christopher Nolan due to the recent release of Inception. If you notice something out of place on this episode, it's not your computer... We started the show with a brief plug before moving in to Nolan's body of work in chronological order. After a brief D-Bag, we went into Film vs. Film, or in this case, Scene vs. Scene. And finally, we wrapped it all up with our Mono-Dialogues of the Week. Now, that's how we recorded it... that's not to say that's how it ended up...

Thanks goes out to Kevin MacLeod's Imcompetech Website for the music. As always, you can use the player above to listen to the podcast, or you can search iTunes, where we are also available for download. The earlier episodes are being removed from the player for space, but you can still always download them on iTunes. Also, please become a Fan on Facebook... then you can give us your input for the podcast and will probably end up on the show during the D-Bag segment, as well as vote for which film in Film vs. Film won for the week. But as for now... enjoy!

TV Review: Avatar: The Last Airbender - Book Three: Fire.

This was probably my fastest watch yet. I recently finished re-watching the third and final season/book of Avatar: The Last Airbender (click here for my thoughts on Book 1 and Book 2). I mentioned in my Book 2 review how Book 2 would be both easier and harder to make into a movie. Well, Book 3 would just be nearly impossible. There's hardly a completely unnecessary episode, and the series finale alone is an hour and a half... and it still didn't have time to wrap everything up.

So getting to it, this will be the same as the others. I'll give a summary, give my thoughts, and discuss if it should be used for the movie version. Again, I'll probably reference the first movie (despite its terribleness) because, unless there's a total Retcon of the movie (a la The Incredible Hulk), we'd have to go by what it set up. So here we go...

Book Three: Fire (Season 3)

Episode 1: The Awakening
Synopsis: Aang wakes up from his coma on a Fire Nation ship. It turns out his friends (and more) stole the ship and have made their way back into the Fire Nation. But he's upset because the world thinks he's dead, and he feels he's let them down. He goes out on his own to try to reclaim his honor, but ends up caught in a storm. After persuading, his friends talk him into keeping the secret that he's still alive, and he ends up burning his glider. Meanwhile, Zuko and Azula are welcomed back home as heroes, with the Fire Lord congratulating Zuko on his success. However, he also learns Azula lied and gave credit of Aang's death to him... just in case he's really alive, which Azula suspects he might be.

Thoughts: A good opening to the season. It's an incredibly dark episode, which sets up the tone of the rest of the season perfectly. Aang doesn't show his comedic side in this episode. Katara is upset with her father. Aang burns his glider to continue the secret of him being dead. Azula plots against her brother, giving him glory on the thought that the Avatar might not be dead... it's all serious stuff. I also said at the last episode of the second season about Aang and Zuko switching roles. It's even more obvious in this episode (to the point where Aang talks about regaining his honor).

The Movie: Like every other opener of the previous seasons, this would would have to be in the movie.


Episode 2: The Headband
Synopsis: The gang steal Fire Nation clothes to disguise themselves, and Aang accidentally winds up in a school. There, he teaches the other students to loosen up a bit and live. Meanwhile, Zuko--who believes Aang is alive--hires a three-eyed assassin to find and kill the Avatar.

Thoughts: A fun episode, bringing back the fun side of Aang that the season opener was missing. And it also introduces a fun villain--Sparky Sparky Boom Man (or Combustion Man).

The Movie: Aang's half of this episode would be cut, but Combustion Man would have to be introduced.


Episode 3: The Painted Lady
Synopsis: The gang find themselves at a fishing village on the water, but the water has been polluted by a nearby factory that is pouring sludge into it. Katara takes up the guise of a village myth hero, The Painted Lady, and helps the sick and needy villagers. She also, eventually, takes on the factory workers to help clean up the water.

Thoughts: It's good for building Katara's character, but otherwise unnecessary. There's some fun comedy with one of the villagers who appears to be crazy, as well.

The Movie: This would almost definitely be cut.


Episode 4: Sokka's Master
Synopsis: Sokka, being the only person in the group who can't do any kind of bending, feels useless. So he goes out to train under a master swordsman, Piandao, and eventually creates a black sword out of a meteorite. Meanwhile, we start seeing Iroh--who has been imprisoned--start figuring out a plan to escape.

Thoughts: A really good episode that focuses on Sokka and his importance. There are some good scenes with the others waiting around, bored, without Sokka, and they learn how important he really is to them. And then, of course, Sokka learning swordsmanship. I also really like the side bits with Iroh that cover the next few episodes, showing how much of a genius the man really is.

The Movie: This would have to be incredibly shortened, as there is a lot of other stuff to get to. They don't necessarily need Sokka's sword or any of that. The sword doesn't exactly do anything major later on in the season. It's just character-building for Sokka. However, the Iroh stuff needs to be in there.


Episode 5: The Beach
Synopsis: Almost completely focusing on Azula, Zuko, Mai, and Ty Lee, this episode shows them on vacation at Ember Island. The island apparently has the magical ability to show people who they truly are inside. While there, they try to act like normal teenagers at the beach and at a party. Meanwhile, Aang and the others are attacked by Combustion Man for the first time.

Thoughts: This is a really fun episode, mostly to see Azula try to act normal and fail epically at it. Overall, this episode is to help develop the more troubled characters of the show, but is completely unnecessary plot-wise. Well, except for the Combustion Man stuff.

The Movie: Like I said, this is almost unnecessary except for the Combustion Man stuff. Normally I'm all up for having solid character development in movies, but there's way too much plot to cover for side trips like this.


Episode 6: The Avatar and the Firelord
Synopsis: While Aang discovers the history of Avatar Roku, Zuko follows the story of his great grandfather, Fire Lord Sozin, the man responsible for starting the war. He also turns out to have been Avatar Roku's best friend, and Roku turns out to be Zuko's great grandfather on his mother's side, giving more reason for Zuko's internal conflict.

Thoughts: This episode is very similar in style to "The Storm" from the first season. In other words, it's very good and gives a lot of interesting back story. We get to know about how and why the war started. And it's not just pure back story, as each story had purpose--they were given to help develop the characters of Aang and Zuko further, helping them to understand themselves and their destinies.

The Movie: I'm sure the background information would be given somehow, but I doubt they'd take 20 minutes to do it like this episode does. It would probably be given in a brief comment or story, taking no more than a few minutes.


Episode 7: The Runaway
Synopsis: Toph begins to run con jobs in a small town, and Katara strongly disapproves, causing a rift between them. They learn a lot about themselves in the process, but end up caught by Combustion Man. He uses them as bait to catch Aang, but Katara ends up saving the day and they escape.

Thoughts: This episode is mostly to develop Katara yet again. She's accused of being too motherly and strict, while Toph is accused of not following enough rules. Toph does receive some development in this episode, but not as much as Katara. The bit with Combustion Man is good, too, showing Katara's quick thinking in using her own sweat to do some Waterbending.

The Movie: I think this would be a fun episode to see on screen if there would be time. I think, if I were writing the script, I'd put this episode in the first draft but might cut it in subsequent drafts after I realized how long the movie was going to be with it in there.


Episode 8: The Puppetmaster
Synopsis: The gang stumbles across another small village that is plagued by a creature on the full moon. Every full moon, villagers go missing, never to be seen again. They shack up at an inn with a sweet old lady named Hama that actually used to be from Katara and Sokka's water tribe. Feeling a connection with Katara, Hama takes Katara out during the full moon to show her a powerful Waterbending ability. As it turns out, Hama was kidnapped from their tribe when she was younger and was held prisoner in a Fire Nation prison. She then taught herself to take and control water from everything around her, realizing that there is water in every living thing. So she teaches herself Bloodbending, which allows her to completely control another person like a puppet, but it can only be done at the full moon when the Waterbender is at his/her most powerful... and really can only be done by a master (such as Katara). Hama is revealed to be the one kidnapping the villagers, as she's getting her twisted revenge for what the Fire Nation did to her. Katara, who doesn't want to do Bloodbending and thinks it's wrong and sadistic, is forced to use it against Hama when she nearly has Aang and Sokka kill each other.

Thoughts: This is one of the darkest and scariest episodes in the entire show. There's another that's up there with it, and it's also in this season, but this one is by far the creepiest. The way Bloodbending is portrayed, from the animation to the sound effects to go with it (not to mention just the music playing over the scenes) makes you squirm. It's not like a fluidly moving marionette. No, it's like something out of Silent Hill--sharp movements, crackling bones, twisting limbs where limbs shouldn't be able to twist. You're completely with Katara on how wrong and sadistic it is. This is one heck of an episode.

The Movie: Oh, this should definitely be in the movie. If any of the side-stop villages are visited in the film, this should be one of them. It would be a very dark movie overall, and this would fit in with the tone perfectly. Not to mention if handled right, the Bloodbending would look so creepy.


Episode 9: Nightmares and Daydreams
Synopsis: With the planned invasion just days away, Aang gets anxiety nightmares. He tries to stay awake after a while, but that just causes him to hallucinate. Though the gang finally gets Aang to rest after 3 days.

Thoughts: This is one of the strangest and funniest episodes of the whole series. And what more would you expect from anxiety dreams and hallucinations? At one point, Appa and Momo start talking to him before arguing with each other, which turns into an over-the-top samurai battle between the two creatures. It's totally bizarre, but hilarious.

The Movie: This should be cut. There's no way it would fit with the dark tone of the movie, and it's way too cartoonish for a live-action movie.


Episode 10: The Day of Black Sun, Part 1: The Invasion
Synopsis: It's the day of the eclipse, and many characters from past episodes return to help in the invasion. Of course, they successfully penetrate the Fire Nation forces and get into the capital city. But once within the palace, Aang realizes nobody's home.

Thoughts: It's really cool to see a bunch of past bit characters return (mostly from season 1, but there are others). And you're cheering along with them as they successfully defeat the Fire Nation army and break in to the palace. And then your heart just sinks when you realize nobody is there.

The Movie: This would probably be at the mid-point of the movie, which makes sense considering it's mid-way through the season. But it would definitely have to be there, specifically for what happens next.


Episode 11: The Day of Black Sun, Part 2: The Eclipse
Synopsis: Sokka and Toph help Aang go below the palace and find the Fire Lord before the eclipse has passed and it's too late. However, they run into Azula, who stalls them until the eclipse is over. Meanwhile, Zuko takes advantage of the eclipse to confront his father about all his evil ways and how he (Zuko) is going to free Iroh from prison and go join the Avatar to help him (I know I haven't included Zuko bits in the last few synopses, but there have been some brief Zuko moments where he really challenges who he is and the choices he's made). The eclipse ends, and the Fire Lord attacks his son. Zuko, however, redirects the lightning attack as Iroh taught him and escapes. When he goes to free Iroh, he realizes that Iroh has already escaped. Back with Aang and the others, they realize the day was a bust. The Fire Nation has raised their War Balloons and sinks their submarines, their only way of escape. So the gang (and a couple other of the younger characters) is forced to leave on Appa, while the rest of the troops are to stay and be arrested. At the end, we see Zuko following Appa in an air balloon.

Thoughts: A very good, though sad, episode. Azula shows her devilish nature in keeping them preoccupied long enough for the eclipse to end (though she does announce that they have captured Suki). Zuko shows his next leap of character development in facing and denouncing his father, showing his love for his uncle, and declaring his fate as helping the Avatar. And then, of course, the gang has to flee to fight another day while the rest of the invasion force is captured.

The Movie: Like I said for the last episode, this definitely has to be in the movie for multiple reasons.


Episode 12: The Western Air Temple
Synopsis: The gang travels to the Western Air Temple (the only air temple they had yet to visit in the show) to stay low and figure out what to do next. Sokka declares that the new plan is the old plan, where Aang masters all 4 elements and that he now needs to find a Firebending master. Zuko desperately tries to prove that he's changed to the gang, but it's only after he helps defeat Combustion Man that they decide to trust him and bring him on to teach Aang Firebending. Though Katara, still hurt after Zuko's betrayal at the end of the previous season, doesn't trust him and threatens him that if he does anything that even remotely seems bad, it'll be the last thing he ever does.

Thoughts: This is pretty much the episode most people waited for--where Zuko joins the gang and becomes one of the good guys finally. It's like when Buffy fans waited for everyone to accept Spike into the party. It's just good stuff. And you're rooting for Zuko the entire episode, despite him continually screwing things up.

The Movie: Yeah... this has to be there.


Episode 13: The Firebending Masters
Synopsis: Zuko tries to start teaching Aang Firebending, but realizes he can't for some reason. He realizes he had been using his anger and hatred to Firebend, but now that he doesn't have those things anymore, he has nothing to draw from. So Zuko takes Aang to the temple of the supposedly extinct Sun Warriors, those who learned to Firebend from the dragons. Of course, they learn the Sun Warriors still exist, and they send Zuko and Aang to meet with the Firebending Masters, who turn out to be the final two existing dragons. By the end of the episode, Zuko regains his ability to Firebend, and Aang loses his fear of it (after having burned Katara in the first season).

Thoughts: A good episode overall. It's fun to explore the source of Zuko's Firebending ability and how it stemmed from his anger. Also, there's some beautiful animation with the dragons sequence near the end.

The Movie: Like I've said before, I might put this in the initial script but cut it later. In fact, I might go so far as to film this sequence but probably end up cutting it from the final film. It'd be good for an extended version. It has everything visually appealing for a live-action movie, but overall isn't completely necessary. They could easily have Zuko still know how to Firebend and not have to do any of this.


Episode 14: The Boiling Rock (Part 1)
Synopsis: Sokka takes his turn to go off on a mission with Zuko alone. Zuko tells him that war prisoners would probably be taken to The Boiling Rock, an almost inescapable prison. Sokka wants to go and free his father, though isn't completely sure that he'll be there. Unfortunately, after they get there and their method of escape is destroyed, they realize that Sokka's father is, indeed, not there. However, Suki is, and Sokka decides to try and help break her out instead. Another prisoner gets word of the escape plan and demands to join in. But when the time comes to escape, Sokka hears of a new shipment of prisoners that could include his father. So he, Zuko, and Suki stay behind while the other prisoner and his companions try to escape... and inevitably fail. And fortunately, it was for the better, as Sokka's father was with the new group of prisoners.

Thoughts: Of the "Zuko Field Trip" episodes, this is the only two-parter, which is a bit strange. Sure, it's focusing on rescuing Hakoda and Suki, but my biggest issue with this season is just that. It seems every time they rescue or find either of those two characters, they're forced to leave them again immediately after. So it feels as if all the rescue or meet-up episodes are pointless or redundant. However, it's still a good, fun episode, and the teamwork between Sokka and Zuko is a pleasure to watch, as their chemistry is really funny.

The Movie: With Suki cut from the first movie and possibly not introduced in the second, this two-parter would become a lot shorter. It would also become slightly unnecessary. I would definitely cut all the side stuff with the other prisoner. Actually, I'd probably cut this whole sequence to begin with. It's good development for both Sokka and Zuko, but it's just taking time away from other important things.


Episode 15: The Boiling Rock (Part 2)
Synopsis: They come up with another escape plan, this time involving the hostage-taking of the warden. But their plans become a bit screwy when Azula, Mai, and Ty Lee show up. Of course, they still end up escaping, but only because Mai decides to help Zuko instead of fear Azula. Azula goes to attack Mai, but Ty Lee sticks with Mai and attacks Azula first, taking away her bending abilities momentarily.

Thoughts: Really, the only important part of this episode is Mai and Ty Lee turning on Azula, which is the first major thing to cause her to eventually snap and lose it. The new escape plan is fun, and the fight scene between everybody on the gondola is a lot of fun, too.

The Movie: Like I said, the only important thing is the Mai/Ty Lee thing. But I could put that in another scenario just as easily, maybe even closer to the climax.


Episode 16: The Southern Raiders
Synopsis: Katara decides to take her little field trip with Zuko now, as Zuko knows who was responsible for killing her mother all those years ago. He takes her to the Southern Raiders' ship, where Katara goes on a rampage. But she discovers the captain isn't the right man. Zuko and Katara hunt him down, finding that he's mostly a pathetic old man living with his mother. She takes pity on him and doesn't kill him, learning that vengeance wouldn't have solved it. However, she also takes a lesson from the trip and decides to forgive Zuko, fully accepting him as a part of the team.

Thoughts: Of all the "Zuko Field Trip" episodes, this is probably my favorite. Remember earlier how I was saying there was one other really dark episode in this season? This is it. Katara is almost Azula-level crazy in this episode. She's not one to be reckoned with. Really, Katara is frightening in this episode, doing some Bloodbending, as well as some amazing Waterbending that we haven't seen before... though probably because it's fueled by pure rage. This is a really good episode.

The Movie: I would definitely include this in the movie. There is a lot of Katara stuff in this season, but of the character development necessary for her, I'd probably say this one and The Puppetmaster would be the best ones to include. It shows a darker side of her character, but also her moral side to contrast with. It's also good for her development in her relationship with Zuko, finally forgiving him and accepting him.


Episode 17: The Ember Island Players
Synopsis: The gang, now staying at Zuko's family home on Ember Island, decides to check out a play based on their adventures. But what they discover is how distorted and wrong the show gets it, yet also how right, emphasizing their flaws and how everybody else perceives them. This forces the gang to evaluate themselves and their relationships with each other.

Thoughts: Quite nearly a filler episode through and through, this is pretty much just a creative way for the show to do a "montage/recap" episode to catch everybody up before the series finale. But this even proves how great this show is, by taking something as overdone as a montage/recap episode and making it humorous and purposeful, using it for one last stretch of character development before the finale. The ending is also perfect when you think about it in context with the recent movie adaptation. It's like M. Night Shyamalan only watched this episode before making the movie. In fact, somebody else thought this, as well (click here to see what I mean). There's also a funny line during the play that portrays when Jet is fatally wounded at Ba Sing Se. Zuko asks "Did Jet... die?" Sokka replies something along the lines of "You know, they left it really ambiguous." It was just one of the many fan-based self-referential jokes in this episode.

The Movie: No way. The only part of this that might be incorporated is Aang questioning Katara about the status of their relationship due to them having kissed at the Invasion and not having brought it up since.


Episode 18: Sozin's Comet, Part 1: The Phoenix King
Synopsis: When Aang reveals he was planning on waiting until after the comet to take on the Fire Lord, Zuko reveals that his father is planning on using the comet to destroy the Earth Kingdom much like Sozin destroyed the Air Nomads the last time the comet came around. Aang becomes conflicted in how to defeat the Fire Lord. Everything he's been taught and everything he stands for involves not taking his life. In the middle of the night, he sleepwalks into the ocean and, along with Momo, ends up on another island that disappears. All the others wake up the next morning and begin searching for him. They put Zuko in charge since he was the master at tracking Aang in the past, and Zuko takes them to June, the tracker/assassin from the first season. Meanwhile, Fire Lord Ozai decides to turn over his title to Azula, as he's planning on becoming the Phoenix King, ruler of the world, after he destroys the Earth Kingdom.

Thoughts: Basically just an introduction to the finale. This 4-part finale is shown as an hour-and-a-half movie (without commercials), so this is really only the first 20 or so minutes. There's really nothing all that exciting, as most of it is setup for later.

The Movie: This would definitely be there. I'd like to say they could cut the "missing island" stuff, but they can't, as that's pretty vital to Aang's revelation. Though they might be able to cut down on the searching bit a little, I suppose.


Episode 19: Sozin's Comet, Part 2: The Old Masters
Synopsis: Still on the island, Aang summons the last 4 Avatars from the spirit realm and asks each of them for advice on how to defeat the Fire Lord. They all basically have the same reaction--that Aang needs to suck it up and kill him for the good of the world. Meanwhile, when June is unable to find Aang, Zuko uses her to find Iroh instead. In the process, they find themselves with the Order of the White Lotus, which includes King Bumi, water master Pakku, fire master Jeong Jeong, and Sokka's sword master Piandao. They are led by, of course, Iroh. Zuko has his heartfelt reunion with Iroh, and everybody decides to split up to do different things for this final battle. At the end, Sozin's Comet finally arrives, and Aang discovers his island is really a giant Lion Turtle, who gives him advice on what to do.

Thoughts: This is where it starts its segue from setup to main story. There's still some setup here, of course, for the final battle. But the big part of this episode is Zuko and Iroh's reunion, which is great. There's a bunch of hugging and crying and apologizing, etc. It's really emotional. And you also get a fun, though brief, recap of how Bumi retook Omashu from the Fire Nation. The strangest part is the Lion Turtle, mostly due to the animation. The animation feels very different than usual (in fact, there are a few things in these final episodes that are different than usual).

The Movie: This one is tough. Bumi was cut from the first movie, and he could easily be cut from the second. Pakku wasn't in the first, either, nor was Jeong Jeong. And Piandao could easily be cut from this movie. That pretty much negates the entire Order of the White Lotus. It would cut some time, but not a whole lot.


Episode 20: Sozin's Comet, Part 3: Into the Inferno
Synopsis: Azula finally begins to snap the closer she gets to becoming Fire Lord. Zuko and Katara arrive to defeat her, but she challenges Zuko to an Agni Kai. He knows she's purposefully trying to split them up (as an Agni Kai is one-on-one), but he does it anyway. The fight goes on for a while before she attempts to kill Katara with a lightning blast. Zuko jumps in the way and saves her. Meanwhile, Sokka, Toph, and Suki try to stop the fleet of War Balloons that are going to help destroy the Earth Kingdom, and all almost die in the process. Finally, Aang faces Ozai and fails to defeat him, as he refuses to kill the man. Oh, and the Order of the White Lotus infiltrates Ba Sing Se and fights to reclaim it for the Earth Kingdom, as well.

Thoughts: There is a lot going on in this episode, and it's almost pure action. The fight between Azula and Zuko is amazing, mostly due to the mix between the visuals and the sound. The music and sound effects are really muted, making the fight seem that much more epic. The bits with Sokka, Suki, and Toph are probably the most suspenseful and emotional. When Sokka and Toph get separated from Suki, and then Sokka loses both his boomerang and his sword, and then when it seems both Sokk and Toph are about to die... it's all pretty hardcore. The rough part is when tears actually start welling up in Toph's eyes when she thinks she's about to fall to her death. The Ba Sing Se stuff isn't all that focused on. It's interesting, but not that major. But the fight between Aang and Ozai is where it's at. Aang attempts to use all the elements against him, and Ozai just keeps up his hardcore pace against him. Both prove to be totally badass. And by the end of the episode, it seems Aang is trapped and in trouble.

The Movie: Of course. Again, they might cut down on the Ba Sing Se stuff due to no real Order of the White Lotus (unless they have Iroh take the town back single-handedly, which I suppose would be pretty cool). Otherwise, all of this needs to be in there.


Episode 21: Sozin's Comet, Part 4: Avatar Aang
Synopsis: Ozai accidentally triggers the Avatar State in Aang, and Aang goes badass, summing all 4 elements at once to surround him like an atom. Then Ozai goes on the run, unable to even harm Aang or hide from him. In the end, Aang takes Ozai's Firebending powers away from him, a technique he learned from the Lion Turtle right before the battle. Meanwhile, Katara takes Zuko's spot and continues the assault on Azula. In the end, Katara gets her chained up and unable to get free. She heals Zuko. Sokka, Suki, and Toph finish off the War Balloons. Zuko is crowned the new Fire Lord and declares the war officially over. Zuko then goes to his father, now in prison, and demands from him the location of his mother. The gang (including Zuko and Iroh) hang out together, and everything ends as Aang and Katara kiss.

Thoughts: First, it's a bit bumming that Azula isn't killed. Sure, Katara takes her down in a pretty interesting way, but after what we saw in the "Southern Raiders" episode, this was weak in comparison to what we know she can do. Though I suppose it would also counteract the lesson she learned in that episode had she killed Azula, so... yeah. I think part of it has to do with the fact that Ozai isn't killed either. I think that one bugs me a little more... not for the fact that he's not killed, but for the way Aang takes him down. It almost felt like a deus ex machina. You don't even know that the Lion Turtle taught him that move until right when he does it to the Fire Lord. I think if it would have been set up better, it might have worked better. But as it stands, it's just kind of awkward. Everything else about the fight, though, is amazing on every level. The Zuko as new Fire Lord thing reminded me a lot of a kind of Return of the King-type story. Now, the one bit of information fans (myself included) are a bit upset with that is never resolved is Zuko's mother. The whole thing is played up quite a bit over the second and third seasons, but you never find out. I guess you can assume she's alive, maybe. But it would have been nice to have some sort of confirmation. So yeah, anyway, Mai is back and Ty Lee has joined the Kyoshi Warriors. And the ending was good, as it ended on the kiss between Aang and Katara, cementing their relationship for good.

The Movie: Yes, again, it would have to be in the movie. It's the ending. Not sure how they'd handle the "remove Firebending" trick, though. And I'd hope maybe to get some kind of answer to Zuko's mother. Otherwise, it could stay pretty faithful. If they had to cut down on anything, I'd say cut a bit from Sokka, Toph, and Suki's segment. The War Balloons thing got slightly repetitive after a while. Otherwise, good stuff.


One thing I didn't mention at all in this season's summary was the relationship between Zuko and Mai. It's built up in this season that the two of them are a couple. However, I've never really liked them as a couple. They're just kind of... boring. Of course, it's all important for when Mai decides to help Zuko instead of Azula. But as Mai is such a dull character (purposefully, at that), I never cared for their relationship. Much like everybody else, I actually liked the prospect of Zuko and Katara, which is hinted at as somewhat of a possibility. This begins even at the end of last season when they're trapped in the cave together before Azula shows up. And I know it had to be Katara and Aang at the end, but... it's kinda like... you know somewhere deep down that Buffy and Angel should end up together, but you'd rather root for Buffy and Spike, because it's just that much more entertaining (yeah, I had to go to another show to make my relationship connections). There's even a few jokes on this in the "play" episode before the finale.

I think that's about it, though. This is a great, dark season and an overall great way to end the series. I might have handled a couple things differently, but that's just me. I think this season found a good tone. When it was funny, it was really funny. When it was disturbing, it was really disturbing. The action was amazing... I'll just stop there, as you'll know I'll just gush over it all.

As for a movie version, including all episode stuff that's pretty important (not including those ones I'd say "I might include but cut later"), my version of this movie is at a guesstimate of 3 hours and 15 minutes if kept very similar to the show. I'm sure if you tried really hard, it could be cut down to 2 and a half hours, but it couldn't be any less than that. There's just no way.

Anyway, it's definitely a great season and a great end to a great show. Have I mentioned the word "great" enough? So yeah, go check this show out if you haven't already. These reviews were based on my second viewing, and they were still as good as the first time through (if not even better).