Review: Torchwood: Miracle Day Ep. 04 “Escape to L.A.”

Torchwood: Miracle Day has been very casual in revealing the cause and ultimate agenda behind the so-called “Miracle Day” event which has turned everyone on the planet Earth with a unique form of immortality. There’s been speculation from new and old fans alike about the cause and reason. Some think it’s aliens from the future. Some believe it to be a government experiment that went terribly wrong. One thing the previous and third episode in this new season did dole out was that a major pharmaceutical company, PhiCorp, seemed to have been aware of the arrival of “Miracle Day” and planned accordingly even to the point of infiltrating governmental agencies to deflect suspicion from them. Which brings us to the fourth and latest episode: “Escape to L.A.”.

This fourth episode sees the latest incarnation of the Torchwood team arriving in Los Angeles with a plan to infiltrate one of PhiCorp’s many headquarters around the country and steal a server which may hold the information they need to expose the company to the world and finally get down to the bottom of what “Miracle Day” truly is. To say that PhiCorp has become more than just an ovelry opportunistic megacorporation after this episode would be an understatement. This episode had everything for pretty much all spectrum of Torchwood fans. It had some very emotional and quieter moments for some of the main characters (such as Esther Drummond and Rex Matheson). For those wanting a bit more action this episode had it as well as the team’s plans to infiltrate the PhiCorp server room runs across a few stumbling blocks in the form of a creepy hired assassin in the form of one C. Thomas Howell. There’s even a few lighter and funnier moments involving the team’s search for a base of operations while in L.A. with Rex sarcasticly commenting that Jack was trying to turn everyone he meets gay with Jack’s retort admitting to just such.

“Escape to L.A.” also continues to delve into the growing role of Oswald Danes (Bill Pullman still hamming it up as the twitchy, but smarter than he looks pedophile-murderer) in this new season’s scheme of things. While the last episode threw off the cloak of repentance Danes had shown on live TV this latest episode shows Danes as quite devious in trying to keep himself in what he thinks is the only way to protect himself from those who still thinks he owes society for what he had done. The interesting thing about what Danes does in this episode was that it put a voice into one of the themes being explore in this season. Danes sees those still living when they should be dead just like him being herded into places (abandoned hospitals and camps being built by PhiCorp) to be away from those still living in truth. It was interesting that he would be the voice for this theme and a counter to the fearmongering of a Tea Party politico in the form of Mayor Ellis Hartley Monroe (Mare Winningham). For once in this series, so far, I think many wouldn’t be too far off in saying they were rooting for Danes. He was the lesser of two evils in this episode even though it looks like it will be the catalyst which will propel Pullman’s character into the cult leader the season’s marketing had been hinting at.

While the episode wasn’t as good as episode 3’s “Dead of Night” it was still a very strong episode. This was an episode that actually added more pieces to the mystery of “Miracle Day” and just how far-ranging PhiCorp’s (and what could be others as hinted at cryptically in the episode’s final moments) role as the main antagonist for this new season. From how the episode ended for the Torchwood team it looks like we might see the team back on British soil as Gwen must now deal with her father’s safety.

The season continues to improve with each new episode and it’s a good thing this episode gave out more than just dribbles of clues. With only 6 more episodes to go it was high time the series went into the next gear as it races towards the answer to the question of “What is Miracle Day?”.

1st  Episode: “The New World”

2nd Episode: “Rendition”

3rd Episode: “Dead of Night”

What David O. Russell’s The Fighter Should’ve Shown

Everyone who has seen David O. Russell’s The Fighter knows by now the life and travails of not just Mickey Ward but that of his half-brother Dick Eklund. The film showed Ward at his lowest and struggles to get another chance to succeed and make a name for himself in the annals of boxing lore. The climactic bout between Ward and Neary to finish off the film was well choreographed and looked quite realistic (compared to the one’s for the Rocky series).

I am one of the film’s fans who would’ve picked another fight to truly make that impact to Ward finally making it big after all the drama and familial issues Mickey Ward had to maneuver to finally get his chance to shine. As great a fight as the Neary-Ward fight was in the end the one that should’ve been picked and re-enacted was the first of what would be called one of the greatest trilogy of fights between two fighters in boxing history: Gatti-Ward I.

The fight would earn Ring magazine’s 2002 fight of the year and the 9th round would go down as one of the greatest boxing rounds ever as both Arturo Gatti and Mickey Ward would not give an inch to each other. To be able to see this re-enacted would’ve been a dream of any boxing fan. It’s a good thing we have HBO to keep a visual record of the round so we can continue to watch and marvel at two fighters who actually deserve the label of having “heart and soul”.

(The Fighter review by Lisa Marie)


Trailer: Killer Elite (Theatrical)

Not to be confused with the 1975 Sam Peckinpah film about elite assassins, this 2011 action-thriller is purported to be based on the true life story that was the basis for the controversial novel, The Feather Men, by British author Sir Ranulph Fiennes. The film has quite the cast of testosterone with Jason Statham, Robert DeNiro and Clive Owen, but also Dominic Purcell and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje.

This action film is the first full-length feature for the Northern-Irish filmmaker Gary McKendry whose short film, Everything in This Country Must, was nominated for Best Live-Action Short Film for the 77th Academy Awards. It’s going to be interesting how this first major production turns out. One thing for sure the trailer made some great use of the classic Scorpion heavy metal anthem, “Rock You Like a Hurricane”. That use alone made this trailer a success in making me want to see this film.

Poll: Which Films Are You Most Looking Forward To Seeing In September?

One month ago, we asked you which films you are most looking forward to seeing in August.  The results of that poll can be found here but, in short, it would appear that, for the majority of our readers, August is going to be all about The Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, Conan the Barbarian, and Fright Night

(Though for me personally, August is all about One Day.)

So, what’s September going to be all about?  Well, why not let us know by voting in our latest poll?  As always, you can vote for up to four films and write-in votes are always allowed.  Happy voting!

(Personally, I’ll be voting for 50/50, Drive, Contagion, and A Good, Old-Fashioned Orgy.)

6 Trailers On The Way To A 1,000

Hi.  Good morning.  I’m sitting here in my beloved Pirates shirt with my hair a big mess and an aggressive kitty trying to dig his claws into my thigh as a sign of affection as I try to complete this thing known as “waking up” but I’m still a happy girl and I’ll tell you why. 

First off, we’re only six posts away from hitting that magical 1,000th post.  And, once we hit a thousand, Arleigh is going to give us all a 50% raise on our current Shattered Lens salary.  Yay!  I know I can really use the money as I’m getting ready to go back to school and get my master’s.

Secondly, I’m happy because it’s Saturday!  And that means it’s time for 6 more of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation Trailers.

1) The 10th Victim (1965)

This trailer is for the Italian satire/sci-fi film The 10th Victim.  As this trailer makes clear, the film’s American distributor wasn’t quite sure how to sell this particular film.

2) Chained Heat (1983)

By contrast, the distributors of Chained Heat appear to have known exactly who would be sitting in their audience.  Chained Heat has a reputation for being one of the sleaziest of the Women in Prison films and that’s saying something.  I actually saw this playing on cable once though I was kinda *ahem* tied up at the time and as such, didn’t pay too much attention to it. 

3) Penitentiary (1979)

Continuing on a prison theme, here’s the trailer for Penitentiary.  This film was made by Jaama Fanaka, the director of Welcome Home, Brother Charles.

4) Delinquent Schoolgirls (1973)

Yeah, I haven’t actually seen this film but I’m going to guess that the trailer is probably more exploitive than the actual film.  This is a classic example of the exploitation tease.  Also, this is yet another example of a ’70s trailer that makes me go, “Ewwwwww!” at the sight of a dumpy man running around in his  man panties.  I mean, seriously — ewwwww, 1970s, ewwww!

5) Manhattan Baby (1982)

The title makes it sound like a second-rate Broadway musical but actually, Manhattan Baby was (along with the far better remember New York Ripper) Lucio Fulci’s follow-up to the brilliant Beyond trilogy.  I’ve sat through this film a few times and I’m still not sure why it’s called Manhattan Baby.  Maybe Fulci was trying to start a trilogy of New York-themed horror films.  Maybe The House By The Bronx was meant to be next…

6) Return of the Evil Dead (1972)

This is the sequel to Armando De Ossorio’s Tombs of the Blind Dead and, arguably, the best of the Blind Dead films.

Trailer: Battleship (dir. by Peter Berg) Teaser

It was just going to take before someone in one of the major Hollywood studios decided to tap into the board game market and pick one to adapt into a big-budget blockbuster. It worked wonders for Dreamworks and their bottom line with the Transformers trilogy. This time around we have Universal Pictures ready and set to release in the summer of 2012 their very own board game turned film in the Peter Berg-helmed Battleship.

Yes, you heard it right. That classic naval warfare game that made long road trips both easier to handle and also ripe for arguments has now been made into a film. There’s not much else to say other than watch the trailer. I will say that Liam Neeson must need a new mansion.

The Most Meh Film of 2011: Cowboys and Aliens (dir. by Jon Favreau)

For about a year now, I’ve been seeing the trailer for Cowboys and Aliens before every single film I’ve gone to see.  And now, finally, the Jon Favreau’s latest film has been released.  I saw it on Friday afternoon with my friend Evelyn and our reaction to it can be summed up in one word:


Seriously, this might not be the worst film of 2011 so far (not as long as Priest, The Conspirator, The Beaver, and Sanctum continue to exist in our reality) but it’s definitely one of the most meh films of all time.  Cowboys and Aliens epitomizes everything that we mean when we say “meh.”  It’s not exactly terrible but it’s not good either.  What it is, ultimately, is very forgettable. 

This is one of those films where everything just seems to be a little bit off-track.  It’s like a car that technically runs but the whole time you’re inside of it, you know that there’s a chance the engine’s going to explode and you’re going to be stranded in Oak Cliff* with a dying cell phone.  You’re just happy that it gets you to your destination so you can get out of the car, not because you actually enjoyed the trip.

If you want to get into specifics, I’d point out that:

1) Daniel Craig isn’t all that believable as a notorious gunslinger.

2) Harrison Ford looks annoyed to be there.

3) The cast is full of excellent character actors — like Sam Rockwell — who essentially get to do nothing.

4) The aliens basically look like leftovers from Skyline andBattle L.A. 

5) The action sequences are pretty boring (there’s not one moment that makes you gasp and go, “Wow!”) and are so badly edited that it’s difficult to keep track of who is shooting at who. 

6) For the first quarter of the film, we’re watching a bad western and then, suddenly, we’re watching a boring, uninspired science fiction action film. 

7) A major plot point essentially centers on Daniel Craig (with the aid of some helpful Indians, of course) going on a “spirit quest.”  Seriously, filmmakers today use spirit quests and sweat lodges in much the same way that filmmakers of the 60s used garish acid trips.  It’s all an excuse for a bunch of zoom lenses and bright color filters.

8 ) Finally, and this is most fatal of the film’s flaws, it just takes all of this so seriously.  There’s not even a scene of a brave gunslinger shouting, “Draw, you four-armed bastard!” at an alien.  Seriously, this should have been a fun film.  Instead, it’s just another overproduced, forgettable establishment film.

Jon Favreau is a likable enough actor (even if he does seem to be fated to spend his career competing for roles with Kevin James) and he’s made some likable films (Elf, Iron Man, Zathura)  but Cowboys and Aliens could have been made by just about anyone.  It’s a film that feels like it was put together on an assembly line.  Originally, me and Evelyn swore that, if Cowboys and Aliens sucked, we were going to react by running down to the front of the theater and entertaining everyone by doing the Timewarp.  However, by the time it became apparent just how meh this film was, neither one of us really felt like creating a little sexy civil disobedience.  Quite frankly, we just wanted it to end so we could move on to the next film.


*Oak Cliff, for all you Yankees out there, is a neighborhood of Dallas.  I used to live there but I was only a few months old at the time and I still wouldn’t want to end up stranded out there.


Review: Funerary Bell – The Coven

Funerary Bell formed in Finland in 2007, and The Coven is their first full-length release. For a week or two now it’s served as that album I put on when I can’t decide what I want to listen to, and I’ve come to like it quite a lot.

Vision of the Undead (World)

It might be the album’s lack of distinguishing features that makes it so appealing to me. It’s not distorted or lo-fi to the point of obscurity. There are no unearthly shrieks, just standard death metal growls and some menacing whispers. It never bombards, never gets all that fast, pays ample homage to black metal’s punk/thrash roots without ever breaking from its plodding, eerie pace for more than a few minutes…

It’s really just standard oldschool black metal. But that’s not something I ever really hear these days. Maybe this sort of music isn’t actually that hard to find. I’m not one of those people with the time and resources to keep up with every new release within any particular genre. Yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of material similar to this gets released and promptly forgotten every year without my ever noticing. But this is the one I happened to stumble upon.


I think what I like best is the tempo. Their determination to never get too hasty gives the album a high degree of consistency. It’s always either a slow plod or a thrash beat. There’s not much else. So it transitions from track to track without ever changing the vibe, letting you just kind of chill out and enjoy the dark feeling without many highs or lows. And the subtler effects of tremolo picking and occasional keyboard organs stand out a bit more when there’s nothing else competing with them.

Cainian Confessions II

If you’re looking for diversity, this isn’t the place. You’ll end the album without remembering any tracks distinctly, and only nod your head in recollection a few times on a second play through. The Coven doesn’t aim very high, and it’s really unremarkable on a track by track basis, especially the further in you get. But as a whole it’s a very nice background piece–something I’ve enjoyed far more in passing than during this more attentive listen through. There’s a decent chance I’ll forget about it entirely before long, but in the meantime it’s been fun. And maybe it’ll find a spot in my queue again this fall, once I’ve played all the classics to death for the year and still want to feel that early black metal vibe.

Scenes I Love: Hard Boiled

While looking over at something to watch as the night wore on I came across a film that I still consider to this day one of the best action films ever made. People may try and guess that I’m looking at a Michael Bay flick (wrong). Maybe it’s a John McTiernan classic 80’s actioner (wrong again). Or maybe it’s one of those Luc Besson Euro-action flicks which became such the rage amongst the hipster cineaste during the 90’s (wrong thrice). No the film I’m talking about comes from Hong Kong and was the last actin film directed by the master of bullet ballet himself, John Woo, before he left for Hollywood to try his luck.

The film is Hard Boiled and it has so many iconic film scenes that it would be difficult to just choose which one I love. So, I decided to go right at the beginning and picked the “Tea House” gun fight which opens up the film. To call this scene awesome would be an understatement. The scene looks like chaos the moment the first gun goes off, but looking at this scene over and over one cannot help but wonder at the musical-like dance choreography in how the gun fight unfolds from beginning to end.

It’s not a surprise that the musicals of the 50’s and 60’s were some of John Woo’s favorite films and it shows in how he choreographs and films the scene. Chow Yun Fat as the coolest cop ever to walk a beat with the kickass nickname of “Tequila” almost goes through the scene like Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly except this time the lead is not dancing in the rain or with Ginger Rogers, but shooting and weaving his way through a tea house full of Triad gangsters.

Two of the coolest sequences in this scene would be the body grind down the stair bannister and then the final climactic sequence in the end. Also, the way Chow Yun Fat and the main gangster look as they shoot it out reminds one of samurai dueling each other right down to the very stance they sometimes use.

Michael Bay and his supporters could learn and thing or two from Woo and this scene.

G.D. Spradlin, R.I.P.

Earlier today, I was looking through the list of recent death on Wikipedia (I do this several times a day.  It’s one of my morbid habits.) and I came across the name of G.D. Spradlin. 

G.D. Spradlin died on June 24th, at the age of 90.  While G.D. Spradlin is a great name, it’s hardly a household name.  However, if you’re in any way interested film, you’ve probably seen G.D. Spradlin at least once.  G. D. Spradlin was a character actor who played small but key roles in some of the best films of the 1970s.

Spradlin’s most famous role was probably as the corrupt Senator Pat Geary in The Godfather, Part II.  We see Sen. Geary a handful of times over the course of the film.  At first, he’s just another folksy politician who, behind close doors, proves himself to be coldly corrupt.  A bit later, we meet Geary again.  This time, Geary is sitting naked in a brothel, shaking as he tries not to look at the dead prostitute lying on the bed behind him.  Though it’s never explicitly stated, the suggestion is that the Corleone — the film’s “heroes” — murdered the prostitute and framed Geary for the crime.  To me, this is the pivotal scene in the film because it’s the scene that reveals just how much Al Pacino’s Michael Corleone has changed in between the two Godfathers.  The Michael from the first film might have ordered Geary killed but he never would have deliberately ordered the murder of an otherwise innocent bystander, regardless of her profession.  It’s lucky for Geary that Michael changed his ways because it gives Geary a chance to later accompany him and Hyman Roth to Cuba.  Finally, Geary shows up towards the end of the film, passionately defending Michael Corleone before a Senate committee on organized crime.

If you don’t remember Spradlin from The Godfather, Part II then maybe you remember him as the friendly yet sinister Gen. Corman from Apocalypse Now.  When Martin Sheen is briefed on the man he’s been assigned to kill, it’s Spradlin who does the briefing. 

Before going into acting, Spradlin was active in Oklahoma politics and he had the bearing of a man who was used to being in charge.  If he had gone into acting a little bit earlier, he probably would have played countless ranchers and bank presidents in various Westerns.  However, since he came to prominence as a character actor in the cynical cinema of the 1970s, it was his fate to play roles in which he epitomized the corruption of the American establishment.    Though his roles were rarely big, he brought an unexpected depth to all of them and, as a result, played a key role in some of the greatest movies ever made.

Not too bad for a man who was never a household name.