Romy Shiller

Archive for April, 2013|Monthly archive page

TV Review – ‘The Walking Dead’ and our fascination with zombies

In review, TV on April 26, 2013 at 7:26 am

[published  April 17, 2013]

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[spoilers]

About: The Walking Dead is an American horror drama television series developed by Frank Darabont. It is based on the comic book series of the same name by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard. The series stars Andrew Lincoln as sheriff’s deputy Rick Grime, who awakens from a coma to find a post-apocalyptic world dominated by flesh-eating “walkers”, resembling zombies. He sets out to find his family and encounters many other survivors along the way. The eponymous title of the series refers to the survivors, and not the zombies.

I rented the television series The Walking Dead as a part of Zombie [pop culture] research – I really wasn’t going to write about it here. “What more is there to say?” I thought. It is a fact that zombies are a big pop culture draw.

However, I thought about this ‘draw.’ Vampires are sexier, smarter, faster etc. It is quite straightforward for me to understand this fascination. So why zombies who are ugly, dumb, slow etc.? The comparison is a good one. Both die as human and transform into other humanoid forms. Both feed on humans and animals…The metaphors for the vampire come quickly – eternal youth, beauty, strength – never ‘dying’ – in the sense of being gone forever. In both cases, death in the traditional sense is circumvented.

So, I looked at our fascination with zombies. Zombies stop at nothing to get what they want – food/flesh. Regardless of imminent threat or danger they persist.  Not because they know better, they simply don’t care. If we need to confront our worst fear that would be it. There is no ‘desire’ here, on our part – the cultural desire for youth [creams, Botox, plastic surgery etc.] or strength [gyms] – there is just threat and fight. There is a fear. Additionally, there is the anxiety of becoming one and losing self.

There is a lot to confront here. A lot of it is psychological: The whole “maybe suicide is a valid option” thing, morals changing because of circumstance – “kill or be killed”, for one… Predators in the television show are also human eg. The Governor.

There is so much gore. Entrails, brains, blood, guts, and amputations…the squirm factor is exquisite.

I like this television series for many reasons. Firstly, there is an arc to the characters – most develop over time and learn something about who they are and their world. Also, certain high-profile deaths are shocking and unexpected. This is unique and other television shows usually keep their stars around, you know?

Unfortunately, I think I can predict the hook-ups but you never know: Daryl [I have a major crush on him] and Carol. Rick and Beth – Carl might get jealous because he has a crush on Beth, he also has to deal with someone taking the place of his mother … Carl is a very complex character actually. I imagine that his arc, over time, might be very special.

The actor interviews are some of the best I’ve ever heard and some of the actors have English accents. I did not know that: Rick, The Governor and Maggie…

The series has been well received and has received many award nominations including ones for the Writers Guild of America Award and a Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series (Drama). The series has also attained strong Nielsen ratings, surpassing various records for a cable series, including receiving 12.4 million viewers for its season three finale to become the most-watched drama series telecast in basic cable history.

It was announced on December 21, 2012 that The Walking Dead has been renewed for a fourth season

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A Good Day to Die Hard: Die Hard 20, I mean 5

In Film, review on April 3, 2013 at 2:57 pm

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ABOUT: A Good Day to Die Hard is a 2013 American action film directed by John Moore and written by Skip Woods. Featuring the John McClane character that was based on the protagonist of Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp, it is the fifth installment in the Die Hard film series. Bruce Willis reprises the lead role of John McClane, who travels to Russia to help his estranged son, Jack (Jai Courtney), out of prison, but is soon caught in the crossfire of a terrorist plot.

I was going to call this review The Spectrum of Crap but readers might get the wrong [or right] idea. See, there’s good junk food and bad junk food but it’s still junk food. I’d call this film almost medium crap, just passable junk food. On second thought, it’s just plain crap. If you think that I’m biased – girly and over-educated – read this review by Adam [here]

CGI and many, many explosions later, I still didn’t care.

A franchise can make big bucks – good or bad. So far, the film has grossed over twice its budget. I mean, I went – I was curious.

Critic Andrew O’Hehir says, As for Irish-born director John Moore, he of “Max Payne” and “Flight of the Phoenix” and the 2006 remake of “The Omen,” he stages all the scenes in which Willis’ stunt double has to jump through a window with aplomb, and that happens about six times. Someone has to direct this kind of grade-C, bargain-basement, Hungarian-shot sequel, if only to raise enough cash to send Willis back to his third-act career doing mildly self-mocking roles in smaller movies. “A Good Day to Die Hard” ends with the recent, and somewhat non-terrible, Rolling Stones single “Doom & Gloom,” which is a reasonable point of comparison. Like Mick and Keith, Willis plans to keep on delivering his limited shtick until he drops dead or the world comes to an end, and we all know which of those things is likely to come first

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It’s satisfying to see things smashed to bits. There is a comfort factor in knowing the main character. I’m trying to find the positives here. Seeing what John’s son looks like as a grownup is nice. “I was in L.A. boarding a plane home to Australia when my manager called and said I had to get off because they’d like to see me test with Bruce,” recalls the actor, whose other credits include the Starz show Spartacus: Blood and Sand and last year’s Jack Reacher. “I had to literally walk off the flight. I was tempted to say, ‘I’m sorry, Bruce Willis is calling me.’ But they would just have thought I was a crazy person.” 

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Bruce Willis’ acting felt lazy and bored. If I played the same character for like a thousand times I might expect my audience to fill-in-the-blanks too. You know, I couldn’t find a Bruce Willis comment on this film. THAT says more than if he said something…

The family story was a cliché. The daughter calling during a car-chase fell flat. The action plot was terrible. How many times can one be stabbed or fall down several stories and not need a band-aid or stitches or something?

Anyhow, in the hands of a better script and director the elements of a mysterious and damning file, uranium, Chernobyl and the location of Moscow could be fun or Bond-esque. A reunion with an estranged son could have been dramatic. The action sequences could have been thrilling.

I can do leaps of faith but there must be coherence. If the reality of the world we’re watching involves magic, superpowers or transformation it has to be believable on some level, you know? Critic Ian Buckwalter says, This is the Magpie School of action filmmaking: Anytime things start to make so little sense that you might lose the audience, just throw something shiny up on screen to distract.

Anyhow, see it, don’t see it – determine your crap-tolerance level and proceed.