The High Countries

because it’s all paperweight…

Iron Man 2 (2010)

Rotten Tomatoes never lets me down. I’m serious. I go to check out what theater is closest — it uses Flixster, (the RT affiliate app on my iphone) and gets me there. What’s coming out next week? What’s good? What’s bad? What’s not worth 13.50-plus in IMAX? Same result every time. Rotten Tomatoes is genius!

Well, tally one in the let-me-down category now.

Recently, I made a mistake of checking for the first review of Iron Man 2 — the apocalyptically anticipated sequel to the 2008 blockbuster Iron Man. I found a review. It was from the floundering paper mill, The Hollywood Reporter, courtesy of our good friend (I don’t know him, who does?), Kirk Honeycutt.

“Well, that didn’t take long. Everything fun and terrific about “Iron Man,” a mere two years ago, has vanished with its sequel.”

Kirk Honeycutt, you’re a douche misinformed.

I do a little more research. This is the guy that LOVED:

Kenny Chesney: Summer in 3D

Death at a Funeral (yep, the new one)

The Back-Up Plan

Clash of the Titans

Remember Me

Green Zone

The Lovely Bones (arguably the most dismal movie of last year).

I’ve been bamboozled! I keep looking around….WHAT?! He HATED Brothers and Sherlock Holmes. I’ve been duped! So here it is; my attempt to rid the world of that dastardly first review.

Iron Man 2 was a total blast. The villains weren’t quite up to The Dark Knight standards, but this isn’t Batman’s world is it? We’re dealing with a new hero here. Rich, charming (oh man, is he charming), hilarious, and the king of any situation…drunk in the Iron Man suit — no problem!. He’s smarter than you. He’s got more money than you. He’s needs nothing you have and has whatever you might want. He is the perfect superhero and IM2 is his fueled, dying, sarcastic stage. The show lasts two hours, please stay through the credits.

IM2 also weaves the perfect intro into the “Avengers Era”. Clues throughout, a brilliant Easter Egg at the end and intertwining characters make it the perfect kickoff to the films leading into The Avengers, the anticipated superhero Magnus Opus set for summer 2012.

There were a few things wrong with this movie. Don Cheadle just seemed out of place. I’ll be honest, its tough to compete with Robert Downey Jr. on any screen at any time; he’s pure entertainment. Cheadle’s Lt. Col. James “Rhodey” Rhodes was, ‘mehh’. Terrance Howard didn’t steal the show, neither did Cheadle; we’ll call it a draw. Why can’t Stark just control both suits? There’s our fix.

Scarlett Johansson was perfectly cast as the busty poised Natalie Rushman/Natasha Romanoff and played it coolly across the entire movie. She had her scene. It was neat. It was quick. It was nothing new. Though, for some reason, we had to watch our boy Jon Favreau go all Mike Tyson and box some random security guard! I’m trying to watch Scarlet get her kick on!? I couldn’t’ focus during the fight anyway… I kept thinking Elektra…Elektra….why do I keep think … The suit! It’s the leather suit! Yep, got it. Elektra continues to ruin my life annually.

Once we got back to our boy Tony, everything in the world seemed right again. Oh! One more note — I love Sam Rockwell, I hope to never give him a negative review as long as I live. He was great as the “outcast younger brother” Justin Hammer. Well done, as always. And Mickey Rourke in tats wielding long blades of lightening … I’ll take it. But that’s not why we came to see the movie is it. We came for the man of the hour: Indiana Jones, Jack Sparrow, Jake Sulley!

This is Tony Stark, the most loveable playboy/superhero/billionaire on Earth — hopelessly in love with Pepper Potts almost as much as he’s in love with himself.

Kirk Honeycutt, you just…you really screwed the pooch on this one.

May 4, 2010 Posted by | Entertainment, Film Reviews, Lost, Movies, Television | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

LOST: Episode 6 — Doubting Thomas, The Island and Proxy’s.

Jack (Matthew Fox) finds himself where everything started.

Jack (Matthew Fox) finds himself where everything started.

It’s back to the land of the LOST. Except this week – it’s not so cut and dry. I mean, the castaways are back. Some of them at least, but this time the rules have changed. As always, Thursday morning was met with a recap of the previous night’s episode. I’ve heard many takes on this week’s (218/09) sode’:

You [we] learned absolutely nothing in 58 minutes of Lost that you didn’t know in the first 2. Complete filler.”

“It was good not great – talk about a bunch of biblical references.”

“I like the bible stuff – the writers are so smaaaart!”

“This may be my favorite episode of the season, thus far.”

And to think that the first and last comment came from two people who use to be dating.

It was really until this morning that I realized that this episode really was something great. Granted, it was a caught-in-the-middle-of-a-much-bigger-story episode, but was that all? This week we opened with what we all thought was a flash back to the pilot. It was not. And we soon realized – crap, they made it. They made it back!? Then we got one of those 52 minute story’s explaining how they got where they just told us they’d be. Part of me felt like we could have done without that. Let me get straight to the point, though.

The most intriguing thing about last night’s episode was the fact that each person onboard the flight had to recreate the original flight sequence. We saw this clearly play out with jack putting his father’s shoes on Locke’s dead body in order to recreate the original flight. We also saw this when we noticed that Sayid was handcuffed to an officer of the law in order to become a proxy for Kate – who was in a similar boat on her maiden flight. And I thought that was it. That must be that Jack was himself, Hurley the same and Sun, too, right?

Wrong.

Think about it. Here we go.

Locke = Jack’s daddy – coffin-ized

Sayid = Kate, cuffed like a renegade.

Hurley = Charlie, with his guitar and carefree spirit (I made the second part up)

Sun = Sayid, who was looking for a lost love

Ben = Hurley, both ended up being late to their flights

Jack = Jack, because he is weak, and the only person weak enough to play Jack, is Jack himself. Pussy.

And now for the kicker….

Kate = Claire (Kate is prego with Jack’s baby from the night before). Whooooaaaa.

What is going to happen to the extra business classer’s that we got to meet briefly in last night’s episode? It hurts my mind to think about. I’m sure they’ll somehow find a gun, point it at someone and die – or they’ll shoot at someone in a raft as they’re paddling away, just before they jump points in time – wait a second!? Eureka!

As for Ben and his gladiator face, I think it’s obvious that he tried to kill my love, Penelope. Can’t you just see Ben about to execute Penny the same way Widmore’s boy Keamy did in Alex? And then, in walks Desmond – all excited because he just told Ben he wasn’t going to The Island. And then as Dez realizes that Ben always gets the best of everyone, Ben softly says, “Desmond, this doesn’t concern you. But if you stop me, I will hurt you.” What’s the only way Desmond will go back to the island – if Penny’s in trouble right? Maybe she dies, or is really hurt and the only way to save her is to go back. Back from where he once came.

Side note: Jack’s character arc coming on around with the inclusion of doubting Thomas (Jack: someone like me exists?!) and the Good Will Hunting-esque, “it’s not your fault” moment from Ben — of all people — was outstanding.

This is all turning out to get very good. Geeeeez, I love LOST.

February 19, 2009 Posted by | Entertainment, Lost, Television | , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Lost Through Four Episodes: The Little Prince

LOST Season 5 -- four down, thirteen to go.

LOST Season 5 — four down, thirteen to go.

“I’ve always been with you…”

–Kate

Such is life. Such is LOST. The all-consuming, abusive relationship I’ve been in for the past 5 years. To be honest, I couldn’t feel more at home with last night’s episode. It was one that fell through the cracks, sure, but when push came to shove – old habits die hard.

We’re 4 episodes in to LOST’s season 5 saga and I can feel the uneasiness building in the air. The premier was a bit weak. The follow up was stronger, but still lacked that spice of answers we all hold hope for. How bad does the audience want answers? Last night I was busy. So … I woke up at 6am this morning to watch last night’s episode. Is there a stronger word than obsessed?

I’ve always been with you LOST.

The 4rd episode – Jughead – did wonders for all of us. We felt like we got some info penciled into a few questions, learned a little about our boy Widmore and managed to make our way back a few decades and see some terrific footage of a blond cutie that may or may not be married to someone, may or may not be someone’s mother and may or may not be in love with Widmore. Answers? Eh, it’s a start. Any time we get Desmond on screen, we’re in for a solid single. Join that with Faraday’s theories of time travel, his professed love for Caroline and a hydrogen bomb hanging feet from the ground and we’re off to a good start. Jughead = money. My favorite episode since last year’s, The Constant. Season 5: I like where its going.

Then we hit last night’s episode: The Little Prince

Sitting there with my cup of morning coffee in hand, it seemed to me that the ‘ol LOST writers were getting back to their old tricks. Did anyone think for a moment that Ben wasn’t suing Kate? Do we need to hear Jack say, “I can fix this” one more time? Does anyone not know by now that Sayid is a little unstable and will be either bleeding, shooting or both in every episode until the finale? The answers to all of this is of course not. We’re fans. We’re loyal fans. We get it.

But then I stopped. Could The Little Prince be a look into something deeper? Probably not, but its worth a look. Thanks to the last two ep’s we know can see where this is going. Faraday (my boy!) and Caroline are falling in love faster than the DOW is falling past 7,000. Jack, despite his inability to see what we all see, refuses to stop trying and will forever fight for Kate – this could come into play big time if we’re in a LOST-esque gun-to-the-head scenario. And Aaron — our hapless hero caught in the middle — could play a KEY role. He’s seemingly the only person BORN on the island (that we know of)…. right? Op, Rousseau’s daughter — but she’s dead, dead. There is a high chance I’m going insane.

I’m growing more and more intrigued to the Faraday/Caroline storyline — I won’t lie. And I finally want Jack to suck it up, have some faith, and trust someone else — I’m almost rooting for him. That’s a first, I think. I want Locke to start killing everything in sight. And finally – maybe I’m the only one – does it seem like Juliet’s into Sawyer?

Ben’s into Juliet. Juliet’s into Sawyer. Sawyer’s INTO Kate. Kate’s … into me … okay, she’s mostly into Jack. And Jack’s into his Dad, because Jack is gay. But he loves Kate. So he’s into her, supposedly. So at least that’s clear as mud.

I’ve always been with you LOST.

Last night’s saga (and all four ep’s this season) have proven to us all that we’ve always been with Lost. We’ll always be with LOST. No matter how many times it betrays us, no matter how much abuse we take, we’ll be right there … loving it.

Millions of questions to answer. 30 episodes left.

I’m so there.

February 5, 2009 Posted by | Entertainment | , , , , | Leave a comment

LOST in the…Two Moments

Lindeloph (left) with Cuse (center) in their home -- the editing bay

Lindeloph (left) with Cuse (center) in their home -- the editing bay

Well, it’s all happened at once now hasn’t it? What used to be my wishful thinking has all come crashing down in a heap of escaped dreams. If only I had had the chutzpah – if only I were Jewish. Prepare yourself for the letdown…

A couple weeks back, as I was leaving my place of work, I was walking down a long stretch of road — no cars, no people to speak of, just me and another bloke. As we walked towards each other – we were both trying to exit the premises – all I could notice was the fact that he looked like he was from the east coast. He had on a big coat, his cap, and was holding a briefcase. The only other thing I immediately noticed was his glasses – black, hard rimmed glasses on an unforgettable face; well, unforgettable for a few.

You’ve got to be kidding me. There’s absolutely no way? Well, considering I am in Burbank, CA, close by to many of the major studios, I suppose, in reality, there actually is a way. I continued on my line. The closer we got to each other, the clearer the face and facts became. I’ve done it. I’m walking stride for stride with Damon Lindelof. This is unreal.  Consider the facts here for a moment if you will:  I write nearly every week about LOST — the show the consumes my thoughts, invades my personal sleep and generally spites me around every turn. I created this blog to vent about my glee for the show and combined cynicism it brings to my Wednesdays, and I was now walking in step with its masked man; its proverbial Wizard of Oz. It all happened so fast.

And then we just kept walking. And walking.

To say that my brain was going crazy would actually be false. He was on his phone, I was listening to my Ipod — let’s be honest though, I had it on pause, just kept the ear buds in to be cool. We walked step for step for the next full minute. The entire time I was deliberately looking away from him, as if to say I didn’t know it was him. As we walked — it must have been a block or so — I made the strict decision not to say anything. I wouldn’t bother him. In an ideal world he would have handed me the summary of Season 5, but it probably would have just been too weird, so we just kept our pace. I wasn’t going to say anything. I didn’t say anything. I didn’t want to be that guy. Oh, my spider-senses were tingling.

For the next couple weeks I milled that night over in my mind. It’s been my dream for 4 years to be a writer for LOST, to start wherever possible, shouldn’t I have said something? I feel as though I made the right decision – nah, I know I did – I just wonder what would happen if I saw him again.

I did.

Two weeks later, I got a call from my roommate who works at the Disney/ABC Lot in Burbank. He invited me over for lunch and we walked down to the Disney cafeteria. On our way over, we walked right past the LOST writer’s offices and I decided it would be best to just take a deep breath and not focus on the past. We kept walking. I kept thinking. I settled for a salad at the cafe (what?!) and we made our way outside. We hadn’t sat down for more than 5 minutes when low and behold, out of the commissary, five feet away, the entire LOST writing crew plops down, save one: Carleton Cuse. I looked at Todd and he at me as I mumbled the words, “Well, that makes twice…” There I sat, trapped in my own skin, this time confronted with the option of not ruining a phone call, but a large group lunch.

Out walks Carlton.

Son of a…!

I wish I could tell you all that I did the proper thing, just a ‘thank you’ or a ‘I love your work’ type of quip. I wish I came bearing great news of great joy, but I don’t. I sat there like a lump, afraid of burning any future bridges and focused on professionalism – its all very elitist and lame, isn’t it? If I had to live it over, I would’ve done it differently. What exactly this different thing would be, I do not know, but I can say this: The next time I see Mr. Cuse or Mr. Lindeloph, they will know the name Bryce VanKooten. I vow to you on the foundation of this blog. I hereby swear that nothing on this side of Saturn’s rings will keep me from telling them that they can keep their money; I’ll work for free. I’ve never wanted anything more than a position within the LOST writing community. The next time I see their face(s), I’ll make it happen. Perfectly honest, I’ll make it happen, you can bet that freeeaking island on that one.

September 18, 2008 Posted by | Entertainment | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Pineapple Express (2008)

(Left to Right) Seth Rogan, James Franco and Danny McBride walk back from a long, crazy night.

(Left to Right) Seth Rogan, James Franco and Danny McBride walk back from a long, crazy night.

One Crazy Night

High as a kite — eh, a great summer escape.

by Bryce VanKooten

There I was, back in high school, watching two grown men wander the streets of their hometown in search of friends and foe, drugs and dreams. I didn’t have to try very hard to see them walk through their front door to standing parents, awaiting their arrival; their disapproving looks saying it all. Before speaking they pause, minds spinning from the night’s many adventures, they rewind, trying to start from the beginning.  Then, very slowly and seriously, they begin, “You guys…I can explain. This could have happened to anyone.”

Armed with a throwaway job as a Process Server and a mediocre high school girlfriend (the very cute, Amber Heard), Dale Denton (Seth Rogan) has his daily sites set on two things: getting high today and preparation for his high tomorrow. Generally, the only thing deterring him from these goals are the minor obstacles in his path – new costume ideas for the next ‘serve’, scraping together enough cash for tonight’s purchase, calling his girlfriend – and even they rarely seem to keep him from his hazy utopia. In Denton’s eyes, he lives in the pinnacle of life’s glorious drag, sucking down joints like yesterday’s leftovers. Its comic genius, I must admit and no joke is lost among the laborious scenes of everyday puffing.The mellow attitude with which the film opens is only enhanced after we meet Saul Silver (James Franco), Dale’s just-as-lazy drug dealer. If Dale’s a pothead, I’m not sure where that puts Saul — maybe, Dale in a decade?

**Spoiler(s) ahead**

The movie stays in its smoky saga only long enough to paint the scene. After Dale witnesses a cop’s murder by the hands of a crocked dealer (Gary Cole) and leaves a joint of the infamously rare Pineapple Express at the scene of the crime the movie switches gears after he finally begins fearing for his life after realizing the rare weed’s traceability and just like that, we’ve got a full blown mouse hunt on our hands. Between Silver’s lackluster zeal for much of anything and Dale’s predisposition to practicality, the jokes are brilliantly normal and the comedy perfectly understandable. What did we expect, really? Every Apatow movie to date has been about the average man; each time finding himself in an increasingly more improbable, but never impossible, situation. Pride yourself on cleanliness and 1980’s comic books and you could be a 40 Year-Old Virgin. Hook up with a girl out of your league and both of you could very well be unhappy and Knocked Up. Follow around high school boys trying desperately to swipe the V-card and successfully purchase alcohol with a fake ID and I guarantee you the footage will be Superbad. Pineapple Express is no different. Smoke enough weed in a short period of time and this could actually happen to you, there’s not a doubt in my mind.

Don’t read me wrong here, this movie becomes more and more outlandish with each passing turn, but the jokes are never too far – save the fighting ninja warriors, those were a bit much, I suppose. After these modern-day Cheech and Chongs realize their notorious stash of PE can be traced back to them, they decide to sprint for the middle man — tweener-dealer Red (Danny McBride) and easily the funniest character of this film (and maybe the entire last year).

Each twist of fortunes finds Red fighting against someone else and by the end of the film the now-famous clip of the neck brace-wearing Red chirping, “thug life…” has never rang truer. With the dealer’s goons (The Office’s Craig Robinson and Superbad’s Kevin Corrigan) hot on their tracks, the three underdogs embark on the save-all-except-themselves mission using the PE to finance the necessities: Slurpees and snacks. After Dale gets arrested for blatantly selling to minors, their plan seems thwarted — all hope lost. Arms behind his back, trying to explain to the driving police officer, Dale glances up to see his counterpart – a Slurpee-holding Saul – standing directly in front of the speeding vehicle, willing to take a hit for his friend. The slushy drinks erupt, mostly on the windshield, make the Police cruiser now both their getaway and a seemingly obvious hit-and-run homicide. Misconception…all one big misconception, but hilarious nonetheless. I wouldn’t want to spoil the rest of the film for you, but bottom line: it’s worth a watch if you feel like a night off from responsibility.

August 6, 2008 Posted by | Entertainment, Film Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment