Monthly Archives: November 2009

V Series Episode Four Review: “It’s Only The Beginning”

Valerie leaves the house on her own in this episode (and must seek comfort)

Note: As usual, minor episode spoilers, major series spoilers if you haven’t seen the previous episodes.

This blogger is more than satisfied with V’s fourth and final episode of 2009. We got more action, more technology, more Morena Baccarin, and finally more of our other chica Latina Lourdes Benedicto as Valerie Stevens! Even some humor! Bliss all around!

The Visitors practice what they preached when they first came by opening healing centers around the world. It is especially interesting to note how quickly they find perfect locations to open these centers, at least in New York City. They must have Sleeper Agents in the real estate business! They offer the best diagnostics ever, fast healing and a preventative “vitamin supplement” which of course is met with suspicion by the Resistance. The rest of the world seems OK with it as evidenced by the Centers’ months-long waiting lists. Unfortunately the Visitors have not developed the cure to the common cold (oh Anna, you’re so funny when you try human humor).

The Resistance investigates the “vitamin supplement” by following leads to a V-lab which kind of looks like the Fringe lab in terms of creepy things, sans the crazy old guy and the cow. During this whole episode the Resistance shows its strengths and weaknesses, and although everyone has their own agenda it seems that they work well together. The only one who seems to be a loose cannon is Georgie. In my head I keep referring to them as the Mini-Resistance because they are only four people, at times even less.

Our chica Lourdes’ character Valerie gets a personality! (sort of) and we discover more about her: the work she does, her work ethic, and her health issues. Turns out she will have an important role in the V/human saga after all. But I fear her character is being set up to die so her importance may be fleeting.

Chad Decker, a.k.a. The Only Reporter in New York does a story on the Healing Centers and he gets some startling news on his own health. Chad is another character that needs more development. For example, I want to know how he’s handling his fame.

Meanwhile, up on the mothership, Anna investigates the murder of valuable Sleeper Agent Wash Dale Maddox at the hand of the 5th column. The sentence for the traitor? To be skinned. Why exactly this is a punishment struck me as odd, since they all have artificial skin that in theory should be removable. Well apparently being skinned alive is a punishment worse than death. And there goes my theory of why the Vs never show their true form on the ships- I thought they didn’t want to risk any human guests seeing them.

Besides managing the media, we also see Anna managing her fellow Visitors’ opinions what with the whole 5th column rumors going around. We see exactly how she uses the Bliss we had heard about previously. Anna’s position is much higher than expedition leader. (As a side note, the Bliss reminded me of the Russian sci-fi novel Prisoners of Power -or the cooler movie adaptation The Inhabited Island– where citizens are controlled by a similar method only via radio waves.)

Teenager Tyler becomes less annoying, mostly because you know he’s gonna get it for being such a whiny brat. Even his mom ignores him, ha! Also I am more lenient towards him today because in his scenes we got to see some more above-the head-shots (which I really like) and the ship’s propulsion system (pure computer-generated magic). Speaking of special effects, I still cannot forgive the terrible green screen. Please fix that by March, dear ABC! Yes, March… we have to wait until March to get the next installment of the series. Will the Visitors march in March?? Sorry, couldn’t resist!

It’s going to be a long wait because of several cliffhangers, especially the final one. As Anna says at the end, this is only the beginning.

Note: As usual, minor episode spoilers, major series spoilers if you haven’t seen the previous episodes.

This blogger is more than satisfied with V’s fourth and final episode of 2009. We got more action, more technology, more Morena Baccarin, and finally more of our other chica Latina Lourdes Benedicto as Valerie Stevens! Much Bliss all around!

The Visitors practice what they preached when they first came by opening healing centers around the world. It is especially interesting to note how quickly they find perfect locations to open these centers, at least in New York City. They must have Sleeper Agents in the real estate business! They offer the best diagnostics ever, fast healing and a preventative “vitamin supplement” which of course is met by suspicion by the Resistance. The rest of the world seems OK with it as evidenced by the Centers’ months-long waiting lists. Unfortunately the Visitors have not developed the cure to the common cold (oh Anna, you’re so funny when you try human humor).

The Resistance investigates the “vitamin supplement” by following leads to a V-lab which kind of looks like the Fringe lab in terms of creepy things, sans the crazy old guy and the cow. During this whole episode the Resistance shows its strengths and weaknesses, and although everyone has their own agenda it seems that they work well together. The only one who seems to be a loose cannon is Georgie. In my head I keep referring to them as the Mini-Resistance because they are only four people, at times even less.

Our chica Lourdes’ character Valerie gets a personality! (sort of) and we discover more about her: the work she does, her work ethic, and her health issues. Turns out she will have an important role in the V/human saga after all. But I fear her character is being set up to die so her importance may be fleeting.

Chad Decker, a.k.a. The Only Reporter in New York does a story on the Healing Centers and he gets some startling news on his own health. Chad is another character that needs more development. I want to know how he’s handling his fame for example.

Meanwhile, up on the mothership, Anna investigates the murder of valuable Sleeper Agent Wash Dale Maddox at the hand of the 5th column. The sentence for the traitor? To be skinned. Why exactly this is a punishment struck me as odd, since they all have artificial skin that in theory should be removable. Well, perhaps being skinned alive is a punishment worse than death. And there goes my theory of why the Vs never show their true form on the ships- I thought they didn’t want to risk any human guests seeing them.

Besides managing the media, we also see Anna managing her fellow Visitors’ opinions what with the whole 5th column rumors going around. We see exactly how she uses the Bliss we had heard about previously. Anna’s position is much higher than expedition leader. (As a side note, the Bliss reminded me of the Russian sci-fi novel Prisoners of Power -or the cooler movie adaptation The Inhabited Island- where citizens are controlled by a similar method only via radio waves.)

Teenager Tyler becomes less annoying, mostly because you know he’s gonna get it for being such a whiny brat. Even his mom ignores him, ha! Also I am more lenient towards him today because in his scenes we got to see some more above-the head-shots (which I really like) and the ship’s propulsion system (pure computer-generated magic). Speaking of special effects, I still cannot forgive the terrible green screen. Please fix that by March, dear ABC! Yes, March… we have to wait until March to get the next installment of the series. Will the Visitors march in March?? Sorry, couldn’t resist!

It’s going to be a long wait because of several cliffhangers, especially the final one. As Anna says at the end, this is only the beginning.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Television

Cronos, a Vampire Movie that Will Bug You (in a Good Way)

 

…and I promise it won't make you sparkle in sunlight. Love, The Alchemist

Cronos (1994) is a Mexican movie filmed in English and Spanish directed by Guillermo del Toro. It is different from any vampire movie you’ve seen, and bonus! No angsty teenagers. It begins with the following creepy narration:

In 1536, fleeing from the Inquisition, alchemist Huberto Fulcanelli disembarked in Veracruz, Mexico.  Appointed official watchmaker to the Viceroy, Fulcanelli was determined to perfect an invention which would provide him with the key to eternal life.  He was to name it the Cronos Device. Four hundred years later, one night in 1937, part of the vault in a building collapsed.  Among the victims was a man of strange skin, the color of marble and moonlight. His chest mortally pierced, his last words: “Sua tempore.” This was the Alchemist.

The introduction has a bit of a steampunk and clockpunk feel as does the antique shop of the old man (Federico Luppi) who stars in the film. Yes! An old man can star in a vampire film, and it can be good thank you very much.

Eventually the owner of a shady corporation, De la Guarda (Claudio Brook), finds the instructions for the Cronos Device and fixatedly seeks the device itself that has been lost. All he knows is that it is in an angel statue. His nephew, foulmouthed and oddly obsessed with rhinoplasty Ángel de la Guarda (Ron Perlman), is in charge of searching for any angel that might have the device within.

Our old man Jesús Gris lives a conventionally boring life with his dancing instructor wife Mercedes (Margarita Isabel) and little granddaughter Aurora (Tamara Shanath) who has an endearing relationship with Jesús. He finds the Cronos Device, and not knowing what he is doing, activates it. He starts to feel more energetic and looks younger, but at a price of course- he starts craving blood. Since he doesn’t have the instructions, he doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing and he seeks answers. Gris and the elder De la Guarda’s complementary searches clash violently as we unravel the mystery of the device.

The movie has a very international feel with the use of different languages in signs, buildings, and newspapers. It is set in 1997. The names of most of the characters have interesting meanings and have deep symbolism relevant to the story. Their use is typical of magical realism and the use of Christian imagery in Latin American fantasy. To not spoil anything I will just say that literally, Jesús Gris is Jesus the Gray, and Ángel de la Guarda means guardian angel, Mercedes is short for María de las Mercedes (Mary of Mercies), and Aurora means “dawn.” Knowing those meanings may enhance your enjoyment of the film. Or confuse you a bit.

Besides the unusual (for Hollywood) protagonist, the movie doesn’t depend on cheap thrills to scare you, uses plenty of dark humor throughout (the cremation scene is particularly funny) and realistic dialogue. This movie’s been around some time so forgive me if I’ve just discovered it- have you seen it? What did you think?

1 Comment

Filed under Movies

V Series Episode 3 Review: A Bright New Day

I has V-Visa now

I has a visa now!


[NOTE: Minor spoilers for this episode, and big spoilers for episodes 1 and 2]

With the third episode of V, I can confirm that the series is going in the right direction. My doubts from Episode One have abated and now I’m brainwashed by the Visitors. I only have two requests: Fix that sub par green screen and kill off the teenager! Just kidding! His story just became less annoying interesting in this episode.

Episode Three begins with news of a credible death threat to the Vs, now that they have their visas and are able to move about New York City. The FBI is sent to protect the Vs on their first visiting day and since we know that the FBI has such a limited pool of agents (bit of sarcasm there) they have Agent Erica help out. She ends up discovering the Visitor surveillance technology, which is pretty cool stuff. Actually we see a lot more alien technology in this episode and get a look at their written language. Apparently they like to label everything like good space aliens. We also learn about Visitor culture; they are “connected” somehow but can be disconnected from something called the Bliss. This is very Odo from Star Trek Deep Space Nine. Or Borg perhaps. OR, closer to human teachings, Nirvana. It was only briefly mentioned so we can’t tell the nature of this Blissful state yet.

There is more talk of forming the Resistance movement, and previous episodes’ whispers of an alien against alien rebellion are better explained. The V non-human resistance group is called the Fifth Column and has a leader we have yet to meet. Or maybe we met him and don’t know yet! Every episode of V has proven chock-full of big reveals and I’m loving it.

Our main chica Anna, played by Morena Baccarin, has a disturbing yet hilarious scene where she tries to fake human empathy. We get a look at how she practices her appearances to get the best public opinion possible. Her main job on this episode was to counter the negative publicity generated by those protestors who were affected by the Visitor arrival. All those earthquakes in Episode One created panic and killed several hundred humans (I didn’t catch the exact number) and one woman in particular had a sad story about her dead husband. This widow, Mary Faulkner, had become the voice of the protestors and Anna did her best to make an example of Mary’s story, spinning it as much as possible as she did the death threat story from the beginning to get good Visitor PR. And yes we got creepy Anna stares.

As for our other chica Latina, Lourdes Benedicto (of part Dominican heritage), I am still waiting for her Valerie role to become something other than a girlfriend background story to elicit sympathy for the Ryan Nichols character.

As an interesting note, Diego Gutiérrez co-wrote this episode with Christine Roum.  Not sure what heritage Gutiérrez has, but since he has worked on so many projects from Argentina, I’m guessing Argentinean.

Next week is the fourth and final episode of V for 2009! This is a terrible way to cut up a series, but hopefully ABC will rebroadcast the show so others can watch and catch V fever- and the rest of us don’t forget about it by the time it comes back.

Leave a comment

Filed under Television

Can’t Stop the Serenity 2009 Charity Auction Starts This Week!

The CSTS logo for the 2009 charity events

Ever sail in a Firefly? Well if you haven’t I’d highly recommend it! The Firefly television series (2002) was short-lived but has a cult following and even a spin-off feature film, Serenity. Firefly follows the adventures of the crew and passengers aboard the spaceship Serenity. I wholeheartedly recommend this show to just about anyone, even people who never watch sci-fi. Bonus: If you love seeing Latinos in space, Firefly has a double dose of genre veterans:  Morena Baccarin (currently in the V series) and Gina Torres (currently in Flash Forward).

Fans of the series, or Browncoats, have been organizing a yearly event where they have charity screenings of the Serenity film. This worldwide event is called Can’t Stop the Serenity and so far this year it has raised US $128,000 mainly for Equality Now, a nonprofit organization focusing on women’s rights around the world. Besides raising funds for charity, CSTS is a fun event with costume contests, trivia, prizes, and special guests depending on the city. If you’ve ever watched Firefly, you’ll want to attend a CSTS near you. I went this year and had a great time with my fellow Browncoats.

Chances are you or someone you know is a Firefly fan, so help spread the word of the Can’t Stop the Serenity “Last Hurrah” auction. All proceeds will be donated to Equality Now and be included in the 2009 Global Donation Total. The goal is to reach US $150,000 for charity. Pretty cool for an event inspired by a canceled series!

Go see the auction list here. The auctions will go live this week on eBay. You can also donate without auction purchase at the Global CSTS Facebook Cause. Good luck to the bidders and Equality Now! This is definitely a win-win situation.

Leave a comment

Filed under Sci-fi Conventions & Fan Events

Three Super-Short Avatar Cast Interviews With Latino Flavor

The official Avatar YouTube channel posted several really short cast interviews.  I’ve listed the Latino actors’ ones below for your enjoyment.

Laz Alonso as Tsu Tey

Michelle Rodríguez as Trudy Chacón

Zoe Saldaña as Neytiri


Leave a comment

Filed under Movies