Monday, September 1, 2014

True Blood 7.10 Series Finale: Weddings, Exploding Exes, and Faceless Futures

In the realm of TV, there are superb series finales which leave you with the existentialistic question of “what do I do with my life now?” and then there are the “welp, I guess that’s over” endings. After seven years, a dynamic first few seasons, and years’ worth of available literary source material, True Blood unfortunately falls into the latter category. I don’t know what I was expecting for final episode 7.10 "Thank you". Many main characters were already dead, dying, or had hit the road. What I will say is that I thought Sookie's fairy powers, which made a mysterious cameo in the first episode, would ultimately have a greater impact in the show's conclusion.

What Happened: 

Bill is rapidly dying from Hep-V and is so ill that he feels warm to the touch and Sookie can hear his thoughts wishing her a life full of love and babies. He alludes to the fact that this journey to death is making him feel human again. He implores Sookie to give him a true death at the hands of her powerful energy orb, the last speck of her fae essence. They eerily walk to the graveyard where Bill has a burial plot. They hug, smooch, and stare at each other, wasting crucial minutes of the finale. As tears stream down her face, Sookie tells Bill that she realizes that she can't lose that fae part of herself and dissolves her energy orb. That's when things get messy. Bill still asks Sookie to kill him (because that kind of guilt won't weigh on her, right?) Sookie breaks a shovel and painstakingly (no pun intended) stabs Bill through the heart giving way to an explosion of yucky guts and innards all over Sookie, who chooses to stay in the grave and weep in the mess.

What Should Have Happened: 

Bill is rapidly dying from Hep-V and is so ill that he feels warm to the touch and Sookie can hear his thoughts wishing her a life full of love and babies. He alludes to the fact that this journey to death is making him feel human again. He implores Sookie to give him a true death at the hands of her powerful energy ball, the last speck of her fae essence. They eerily walk to the graveyard where Bill has a burial plot. They hug, smooch, and stare at each other and then Sookie creates her energy orb and holds it between them. Something magical begins to happen and the light continues to grow and engulfs them both.

Bill: "Sookie, what's happening?!"
Sookie: "I don't know! I've never done this before"

An explosion of light and sound fills the screen. After all the fast forward scenes of New Blood we see a pregnant Sookie holding a large barbeque for family and friends as a now human Bill turns around at the head of the table and embraces Sookie. Sookie makes mention of their unborn daughter Claudine kicking inside of her implying that Sookie was able to maintain her fairy essence while also turning Bill human.

In Reality:

However, that was not the conclusion we were left with. While there is a barbecue with family and friends, a pregnant Sookie embraces a seemingly human, black haired man whose face we never get to see. A face which for all intents and purposes should have been Alcide's. Considering he could have given her love, marriage, babies, and not to mention numerous, sexy lap dances, there was no reason for writers to kill him off episodes prior. The season had been a rushed jumble of plots and storylines they tried to hastily tie up, and while the finale slowed things down with only three main plots, it didn't do much in the way of redeeming what had already been lost, creatively.

On a positive note, Bill informed Andy that Compton Manor would be his after Bill's death and asked him to rent it out, for one dollar, to Jessica and Hoyt. Jessica and Hoyt then got married at Compton Manor in a beautiful, quaint ceremony officiated by Andy Bellefleur. If you had been following Jessica's blog and vlog (two of the high points of the True Blood universe) then you'll love the adorable photos she posted of the wedding party. They can be found at:

All in all, I've been disappointed with the creative direction of True Blood for quite some time now. However, I stuck by because I was four years in and was reading every book in the Sookie Stackhouse series. Over time, many characters were losing their depth, but I still had my favorites, like Lafayette, Pam, Jessica and Jason, which made it worthwhile to watch. For that reason, I wouldn't mind spin-offs of a few of those characters, but I think for now we'll just go with, Thank you and farewell, True Blood.

What did you think of the True Blood series finale? What is what you expected? What would you have liked to see happen?

"If I Stay" Review

The heart of If I Stay was the connection and power of music to shape someone’s life, intricately weave lives together, and define love stories.

While Chloƫ Grace Moretz (Mia) gave a believable performance as a young woman embarking on first love and overcoming the fear of following her own passion, I was left wanting to see more emotion, especially due to the gravity of the plot. For someone who is repeatedly witnessing the tragic loss of every member of her immediate family, while no longer having a tangible connection to the living world, I wanted to see a bit more raw emotion from Moretz. Most times I could feel it rising up in scenes, only to be doused with a quick transition to a flashback or another scene; a good portion of the movie consists of Mia running around the hospital in a frantic daze as scenes jump from one to the other.

The male lead, Adam, played by Jamie Blackley portrayed the dreamy, mysterious musician but was a bit bland, while his emotional tantrums often felt selfish and juvenile. While there was some chemistry between the two, young characters, I was left wanting to delve more into the parent’s relationship. Interestingly enough, the characters that gave the movie true depth weren’t the ones with the most screen time, yet they lit up the screen every time they graced it.

And while different people and age groups have differing opinions on the topic, I was a bit concerned with the amount of teen sex and teen drinking used in the film. Since I have not yet read the novel the movie is based on, I’m not sure if these were parts of the text. 

The conclusion came on an anticlimactic note as a Polergeist-like choice of either going into "the light" or staying on earth was highlighted by a build-up of crescendoing music and a mash up of Mia's memories and experiences flashing across the screen preceding her simply opening her eyes and Adam whispering her name. The screen goes to black and most viewers in attendance at my theater were confused about what to do next until the credits started rolling and a residual "okay?" was mumbled. All in all, while I loved the music and beautiful landscape of the film, on a scale of 5, I'd have to give it a 2.5.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Vent Blog: Why Mess With A Good Thanos?

If you know Marvel movies, then you know that the mid-credits and/or post-credits scenes that follow the awesome films are jam packed with foreshadows, spoilers, and Easter eggs. Therefore, at the end of the 1.5 billion dollar grossing superhero film The Avengers, I was genuinely mind-blown, freaked out and in awe of seeing the Mad Titan come to life on the big screen, if only for a few seconds. The man behind the amazing makeup prosthetics was none other than actor and stuntman Damion Poitier who's worked with Joss Whedon before in his shows "Firefly" and "Dollhouse" as well as working on "Charmed" and True Blood. As Thanos he looked amazing with a grin that could shatter worlds. The scene alluded to Thanos' presence in future Marvel movies and I was so excited! I started following Poitier's page for updates and found that the handsome actor is a genuinely awesome guy with an adorably geeky sense of humor with a love for two sweet pups. 

Imagine my surprise and anger to learn that in upcoming films such as The Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers: Age of Ultron, Thanos would be voiced and portrayed through performance capture by Josh Brolin. 


You can see Poitier in the top photo with eery, glowing blue eyes looking like a villain you could reach out and touch, but wouldn't want to because he'd crush you like a bug. The bottom photo is the performance capture Thanos, which to me is a disappointing and downgraded version. The muted purple tones and undeniable CGI-ness leave me shaking my head and shouting, "Poitier for Thanos!"
"Poitier for Thanos!"

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Mellow Mushroom: The Ol' Bait and Switch

Yesterday I trekked out to Mellow Mushroom’s Way Back Wednesday 40th Anniversary, flashback to 1974 prices. These prices were to include $2.50 small cheese pizzas, .30 Coke products, and .75 Budweiser, Michelob and PBR. I knew I was in for a wait; and a lot of people’s wait included a beer in hand. When I first turned into the parking lot there were cars everywhere, even along the sides leading into the main lot. Luckily I found an open spot recently vacated and didn’t’ have to worry about parallel parking just to get some pizza. The line was out of the door and the rain was coming down dousing prospective patrons, but also cooling down the outdoor wait. There wasn’t too much of a lag and my feet seemingly kept moving, even if only at a baby step pace. When I received my buzzer at 6 PM I was told it would be a thirty minute wait and I saw there were already people waiting in front of me, so I knew it was going to be a first come, first served situation. My friend wasn’t going to arrive until about 6:20, so the ETS (estimated time of seating) would work out well. The couple directly in front of me as we walked through the door and got our buzzers decided to seat themselves at a table that was recently wiped down. One of the servers told the wife that Mellow Mushroom was on a “wait” and that they were seating patrons that had already been waiting. The wife responded, “well, we’ve been waiting, too.” It was at this point that I scoffed in disgust and my head went side to side like a tennis ball as I watched this server professionally repeat to the lady that she would not be able to sit down until her buzzer went off because it was only fair to the patrons who arrived before her. The husband sheepishly stood behind his wife not contributing anything to the conversation. Mind you, they were directly in front of me in order and probably only had about 15 minutes left to go. Upset at the inability to seat herself, I suppose, the wife led her husband out of Mellow Mushroom.

I was very impressed with all of the Mellow Mushroom staff tossing up pizza dough, whizzing around with three to four pizzas stacked in hand, seating patrons, and maintaining composure and courteousness.

What I was not impressed with, however, was being told by our server, after being seated and ordering drinks, that they were all out of the small cheese pizzas that were advertised at $2.50. While I understand hundreds upon hundreds of people probably stopped by MM over the course of the day, the highlight of the day were the reduced prices (with no disclaimer of “while supplies last,”) so how is it that you run out the very thing that is marking the day?! And if you can make countless other varieties of pizza, why can’t you make a simple small, cheese pizza?! It felt like a classic bait and switch. At that point, after the driving, getting hungrier by the minute during half an hour or more of waiting, and finally being seated, how likely are you to walk back out through the crowd packing the doorway? Now, I have always loved Mellow Mushroom; there is one shop right down from my alma mater, so frequent trips were made. Therefore, I didn’t mind ordering from one of their many other delicious flavors at a medium size to split with my friend. Nonetheless, I was not happy about not knowing upon my arrival that small $2.50 pizzas were no longer available. A sign at the door should have been posted so people could make the informed decision to wait or not wait. Every so often I would cast my gaze upon the packed door and the huge line of customers continuously coming in and wondered if others would feel the same frustration. All in all: good pizza, bad tactics.


Monday, August 11, 2014

R.I.P. Robin Williams (7/21/1951-8/11/2014)
Photo Credit:
There are some actors and actresses you grow up with that you gain such a familiarity with their work that you can recite their lines back, word for word. One of those brilliant actors for many fans was Robin Williams. From his iconic roles as Popeye, Peter Pan, Mork from Mork & Mindy, to Mrs. Doubtfire, Genie, and his most recent TV work on "The Crazy Ones," Williams had an incredible filmography that will carry on for years.

Robin Williams' comedic timing was genius and you could only admire his dedication in throwing his body and his all into each and every skit, scene, interview, and stand-up routine. His stand-up, theatre, TV, Film, and charity work made him one of the most recognized names in Hollywood over the past 40 years.

Sadly, Williams was reported dead today of an apparent suicide due to a battle with severe depression. It just goes to show that you never really know what's going on in someone's life, and you have to appreciate and cherish every moment. I, personally, will miss the laughter Williams could incite. 

R.I.P. Mr. Williams

Sunday, August 10, 2014

True Blood 7.8 Recap - For Whom the Bell Tolls (Spoilers)

True Blood has fallen so far from its stellar, cohesive first few seasons that I think its ending will come as a refreshing release. Sookie and Bill back together feels forced down viewers' throats for the sheer purpose of closing out the show mirroring how their ill-fated love started in season 1. Even talk of Bill's past betrayal didn't seem to give Sookie any pause. Poor, sexy, shirtless Alcide. He never had a chance. Sookie has become a lackluster heroine for me who has replaced her former classy repartee with awkwardly timed 'f' bombs. I think I've even got Pam beat on my number of eye rolls when Sookie's on-screen.

Sarah Newlin gives herself up to Eric and the Yakuza as the cure to vampires suffering from Hep-V. The Yakuza plan is to synthesize her blood, but not to its full capacity. That will keep the money flowing in as the infected continue seeking out the 'New Blood'. A newly healed Eric tracks Sookie down at Bill's just to let her know that he is okay now. I guess he wasn't deterred by Sookie's scantily robed presence at Compton Manor. Although visibly shocked from learning that Bill has Hep-V, Eric chooses not to let Sookie in on the Newlin cure. After an impromptu trip to Fangtasia with some pseudo glamouring by Eric, Sookie tracks down Sarah in the Fangtasia dungeon-basement. "Even as the cure, you're still the f****ng problem." The Newlin's have always excelled at being thorns in sides.

Though she had her moments in the beginning of the season when I appreciated her sass, in the end, Violet was a whack job with a superiority complex and a horribly wicked sense of scorned revenge. However, she was the only legitimate villain of the final season and quickly met her true death at the hands of Hoyt. I suppose that was only fitting considering he unknowingly killed his mother's killer. Speaking of Hoyt, as a fan from the beginning of Hoyt and Jessica's romance, I loved seeing them back together with such instant on-screen chemistry. Apparently, even despite a glamour, Hoyt still loves Jessica deep down. And I'm all smiles! With Jessica and Jason seemingly tying up their complicated, sexual relationship as a "beautiful friendship," there is definitely hope that Hoyt won't go back to Alaska, or Bridget.

It took seven seasons for Tara's backstory to be fully revealed. She was killed in the first episode of season 7 as a main cast member only to be brought back as a recurring vision. Lettie Mae and Tara finally find the closure they need to allow them to both move on, albeit in different ways.

In the end, Bill chooses not to ingest Sarah's blood to save his own life. Season 7 has been the season of emo flashbacks of Bill's former life. Either the virus is affecting his reasoning skills or Bill is electing to succumb to the disease. Either way, I don't have the highest of expectations for these final two episodes. Oh, well - Hoyt and Jessica!!