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Jarrod writes...

Hi Greg! I was very sorry that again, i could not make the gathering this year, I had the time, but not the funds. :-( Very sad. Anyways, my question is:

Have you seen the new Transformers movie yet? I just saw it tonight, and it is amazing! I do not know if you even like transformers, but I figured as one cartoon guy to another, What do you think? Thanks!

PS- Oh and I love the comics, and I cant wait for Bad Guys!

Greg responds...

I have seen Transformers, and I enjoyed it. But that's not the same as thinking it's very good. I thought the movie had a lot of problems. A lot of logic gaps. Fight photography that got on my nerves because it made it difficult to tell who was who -- although to be fair my color deficiency may also have played a role in that. But I was dreading it a bit, so I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed it.

Also, I do NOT know the Transformers cartoons (any of them) at all. So I have no emotional connection to any of the characters, human or robot. And I still don't, I'm afraid.

Response recorded on July 17, 2007

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Charisma82 writes...

Have you ever seen the movie "Dead Poet's Society"? (Robin Williams and Ethan Hawke were in it, if that helps ring a bell for you). If you have, what was your opinion on it? If you haven't, then I would highly recommend you see it. It is definitely in my top 10 favorite movies of all time. I would write a ramble or something on the movie, but I don't want to in case you haven't seen it. Heck, I still might right something on it even if you haven't seen it… but at a later date…

Thank you for your time and all that you do.

-Charisma82

Greg responds...

I've seen it. I remember being a bit frustrated by it. There's a lot of good performances, but -- SPOILERS -- I remained unconvinced by Sean Leonard's demise -- though my father felt that given the era it was set in, that it was fairly realistic.

Response recorded on June 01, 2007

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Antiyonder writes...

You mentioned not hearing about Daredevil The Director's Cut, so I'll explain it as much as I can. Daredevil as was originally planned was R Rated. Characters like Foggy Nelson and The Kingpin (who's sense of menace is built upon more) got more screen time. It includes a murder subplot missing from the theatrical cut, which had Coolio playing accused murderer Dante Jackson (Though his name was left in the credits in the theater). Overall the murder case plays a part of how Wilson Fisk was revealed as the Kingpin.

As the commentary would describe it, the Director's Cut puts more emphasis on Matt representing the underdog, less on the love story. You'd probably like it (better than the theatrical cut).

Greg responds...

I saw Daredevil on a plane, and I'm generally more forgiving of movies on a plane. Having said that, my memory of the film is pretty vague.

Response recorded on April 12, 2007

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Emperor Auladarr I writes...

Not really a question but a bit of info:

Mr. Weisman,
You said you wished to know what had happened to the elves at Helm's Deep in LOTR: The Two Towers. It is my belief (if I'm reading Tolkien's original work correctly) that the elves there all "died." The quotation marks are used because on Middle-earth, the elves are immortal. If they are killed, they are re-born, so to speak, some time later with full memories of their past experiences.
Just thought I'd share that...although, by the time you read this, I'm sure you'll have sated your curiosity.

Greg responds...

It's been years and years since I read Tolkien, and it may be true that in the book the elves all died. But I see NO indication of that in the movie. So when I comment on the movie version of Return of the King, I think it's fair to ask the question what happened to the elves from the movie version of TT.

Now of course, we very dramatically see one elf die. The guy we've met before, whose name escapes me at the moment. But I saw no indication that either he was the last one left and/or that all the others died after him.

Given how the movie presents the elves as SO much better fighters than anyone else we meet, I likewise find it hard to believe that so many humans survived and not one elf.

Keep in mind, though, that I DO love these movies.

Response recorded on November 11, 2005

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Buffy Season Two Character Countdown

As noted yesterday, I'm as big a geek -- if not bigger -- than anyone in the room.

So now, for no particular reason, I've put together a countdown of the GREATEST BUFFYVERSE characters from Seasons One & Two.

I thought about doing Season Two separately, as if it stood alone, but that felt artificial. (Like the rest of this feels natural? Yeah, right.) Think of the Buffyverse as an eight year horse race. You're not sure which nag is going to go the distance... But cumulatively, you begin to discover things.

So here's the top 30 characters of the Buffyverse for Seasons One & Two combined. In reverse order...

#30 - The Judge. Medieval demon raised by Spike & Dru to burn the humanity out of, well, humans. Killed by a rocket launcher. (Previous Rank: Did not appear in first season.)

#29 - Mr. Norman Pfister, a.k.a. Worm Guy. One of the assassins hired by Spike to kill Buffy. Could transform his whole body into worms. Stomped by Xander & Cordy. (Previous Rank: Did not appear in first season.)

#28 - Dalton. A relatively brainy vampire flunky, who appeared in a couple of episodes working for Spike & Dru. Burned by the Judge. (Previous Rank: Did not appear in first season.)

#27 - Luke. Still a fairly memorable first opponent for Buffy even a year later. (PR: #14. Okay, he's memorable, but not that memorable, falling 13 rankings with no where to go but down.)

#26 - Harmony Kendall - Made another humorous appearance. (PR: Honorable Mention.)

#25 - Hank Summers. Still, if barely, a part of his daughter's life. (PR: Honorable Mention.)

#24 - Willy. The weasley guy who runs the demon-bar hangout and plays both sides of the fence. (PR: Did not appear in first season.)

#23 - Amy. Back as a full-fledged witch. (PR: Honorable Mention.)

#22 - Ethan Rayne. Giles old chaos-worshipping "friend". (PR: Did not appear in first season.)

#21 - Uncle Enyos, a.k.a. Gypsy Man. Jenny Calendar's vengeance-seeking Gypsy uncle. Killed by Angel. (PR: Did not appear in first season.)

#20 - Jesse. (PR: #13. Drops seven rankings, and counting, as he's been totally forgotten.)

#19 - Jonathan (variously spelled Johnathan and Jonathon, a.k.a. Student and/or Hostage Kid and/or Freshman (which he later turns out not to be, unless he skips a couple grades by the time Buffy graduates). Jonathan with something like 6 appearances but VERY little screen time in each really makes an adorable impression, thus it's not surprising that he winds up playing an increasingly larger role with every year. (PR: Did not appear in first season.)

#18 - Whistler. The demon, played by the always interesting Max Perlich, who helped redeem Angel from the gutter. This guy interested me a LOT, but never (as I recall) returned. I always wondered if Doyle was a reworking of Whistler when they couldn't get Perlich to be a regular on Angel. (PR: Did not appear in first season.)

#17 - Kendra the Vampire Slayer. Came and went. But before you know how interesting Faith can be, she was very cool. (PR: Did not appear in first season.)

#16 - Principal Bob Flutie. (PR: #9. Drops 7 places and being still dead, likely to keep heading south.)

#15 - Darla. Appears in a wonderful flashback, where she sires Angel. (PR: #11. Only drops 4 ranks, and is likely to make a comeback, because death plays much more fast and loose with Darla than with Principal Flutie.)

#14 - The Annointed One. Spike just overwhelmed this guy (and then flambéd him). I suppose it was also a liability to have an eternally youthful child in an ongoing series. It won't take long before a growth spurt changes the kids looks significantly. (PR: #10. Another four rank drop and falling.)

#13 - The Master. Influence still being felt... (PR: #8. Down five rankings.)

#12 - Oz. Becomes Willow's guy after a slow burn. And gets to be a Werewolf to boot. (PR: Did not appear in first season.)

#11 - Jenny Calender, a.k.a. Janna the Gypsy spy. Becomes SO important that Angel has to snap her neck, breaking Giles heart -- and falling into a Buffy/Angel trap that is common to most TV dramas (except Gargoyles) which states that no relationship really has long term potential. (PR: #15. Actually moves up 4 rankings, while most are moving down.)

#10 - Principal Snyder. (PR: #12. Also moving up a bit.)

#9 - Spike, a.k.a. William the Bloody. Enters the list in the top ten.

#8 - Drusilla. This surprised me a bit. Would not have guessed that Dru would beat out Spike. But in their first season, she's actually a tad more important. His villainy culminates in hers. (Of course, both are overshadowed by Angelus) (PR: Did not appear in first season.)

#7 - Joyce Summers. (PR: #7. Holding her spot.)

#6 - Angel, a.k.a. Angelus. Really starts to come into his own here, but missed a couple episodes and Cordy had a headstart from season one. (PR: #6)

#5 - Cordelia Chase. And Cordy also begins to truly come into her own in this season. Evolving out of her funny but one-note stereotype from Season One and beginning a relationship with Xander that I was sorry never got to be played again in Angel (even historically). (PR: #5)

#4 - Willow Rosenberg. Xander's headstart kept him ahead in a season where they had a much more neck-and-neck pointscore. (PR: #4)

#3 - Xander Harris. (PR: #3)

#2 - Rupert Giles. Still a bit surprised how he continues to rank above X&W. (PR: #2)

#1 - Buffy Summers. (PR: #1)

Honorable mention goes to the following (for making one or two memorable appearances):

Catherine . Okay, normally, I'm not going to honorably mention someone in consecutive seasons, but that great scene where Oz is watching the Cheerleading trophy follow him with his eyes, is priceless continuity.

Absalom. Vampire working for the Annointed One trying to raise the Master. The last champion of the Season One storyline. Buffy burns him.

Nurse Greenliegh. Eaten by fishboys. Probably gets extra juice because I like actress Conchatta Ferrell in just about anything.

Ted Buchanon - Psycho Robot Serial Killer. Lots of evil fun. Trashed by Buffy.

Devon - Dopey lead singer of Oz's band.

Inca Mummy Girl, a.k.a. Empada. Poor kid. She just fell apart on us.

Larry. School bully who turns out to be a sensitive gay guy.

Lyle Gorch - Cowboy vampire, barely smarter than his brother.

Chanterelle - Goofy vampire wannabe.

Detective Bob & Detective Stein - Each appeared twice. Bob was Snyder's cop. The one who helped Snyder cover up the macabre doings at the school. Stein was Buffy's vague nemesis. The one who questioned her about Ted's "death" and suspected her of Kendra's. Both are interesting and feel more important than they wind up being.

The Mayor. Doesn't appear at all. But Snyder's both scared of him and desperate to impress him.

And that's it. But Season Three just came in the mail today. It'll obviously take me some time to watch it. But eventually, I'll be continuing this pointless exercise...

Aren't you glad?


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Buffy Season One Character Countdown...

Yes, that's right, I'm as big a geek -- if not bigger -- than anyone in the room.

I bought the 1st and 2nd Seasons of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER on DVD. And I've been watching the episodes. Or studying them actually.

So now, for no particular reason, I've put together a countdown of the GREATEST BUFFYVERSE characters from Season One.

(WHY, you ask? Because it amuses me and appeals to my geeky mind. <Yeesh, what a dopey question.>)

Now, this is a truly subjective (if not pointless) exercise that I've tried to reduce to an objective task. I've awarded points per episode to each character based on a number of criteria. Then I totalled up the points for each character for the season. In case of a tie, I made a subjective call.

I tried NOT to make the point totals reflect what happened with characters in subsequent seasons. This is a countdown reflecting Season One only. Though I won't deny the fact that if a character reappeared later in the series, it probably meant that said character was memorable to the creators (and the viewers) in his or her original appearance(s). So I allowed some bias to filter in. But I tried to be strong.

Most of the results aren't particularly shocking, but a few things surprised me a bit.

Originally, I was just doing this for myself. But I figured, what the heck, might as well share my obssessive behaviour with you poor victims.

So here's the top 15 characters of the Buffyverse for Season One in reverse order...

#15 - Jenny Calender. In season one, she's merely the computer teacher/techno-pagan. But she already seems to have some interest in Giles.

#14 - Luke. The vampire who was the surrogate for the Master's "Harvest" during the 2-part pilot. An impressive first foe, who'd be topped many times over. But he set the bar well. He received the same point total as Jenny, and long-term she's MUCH more important, but in the first season, I think Luke's role was much more crucial.

#13 - Jesse. Jesse was Xander's best friend, who became a vampire in the pilot and was accidentally staked. Jesse would have been more important if anyone had EVER mentioned him again -- even in episode three. It strikes me as a very un-Joss like thing that Jesse completely faded from memory... INSTANTLY.

#12 - Principal Snyder. The new and harsh replacement principal makes an immediate impression.

#11 - Darla. The vampire who served the Master and was revealed as Angel's sire. Jealous, vulnerable, greedy and sweet all rolled into one. She was staked in her third appearance, but it's not surprising she came back both in flashbacks and in ANGEL.

#10 - The Annointed One. Also known as Colin and/or the Boy. This guy was built up to be VERY important in Season One, though he wound up not being important at all.

#9 - Principal Bob Flutie. The conflicted original principal of Sunnydale High. For obvious reasons, adjusted to be MOST sympathetic just before he was eaten by the quartet of Hyena-Avatars.

#8 - The Master. The main recurring villain for Season One. Staked at the end of the season, though his influence would continue into Season Two and beyond. (FYI, one of the DVD extras revealed that his real name was Heinrich Joseph Nest.)

#7 - Joyce Summers. Buffy's mom.

#6 - Angel. Made a pretty big impression in relatively few appearances. Obviously.

#5 - Cordelia Chase.

#4 - Willow Rosenberg.

#3 - Xander Harris. This surprised me. I would have thought that Willow and Xander would have been neck and neck -- impossible to declare as anything but a tie. But at least in Season One, Xander really got more screen time and a much bigger overall role in the series.

#2 - Rupert Giles. This surprised me a bit too, as I would have guessed that Xander & Willow would have both scored ahead of Giles. But nope. Not when you break it down.

#1 - Buffy Summers. Duh.

Honorable mention goes to the following (for making one or two memorable appearances):

Catherine & Amy, mother & daughter witches. Amy obviously will become more important, but Catherine's end, forever imprisoned in the cheerleading trophy, was too cool.

Dr. Gregory. Buffy's biology teacher. Made two appearances before being killed by the She-Mantis. Was the only teacher who believed in Buffy.

The She-Mantis. A fun villain.

Harmony Kendall. Only made two brief appearances, but she stood out enough as one of Cordelia's "Cordettes" that she would wind up being brought back again and again. A certain comic timing, probably.

Hank Summers. Buffy's dad.

Joy. The Senior Cheerleader.

Sid. The human trapped in the body of a ventriloquist's dummy.

That's it. I'll have Season Two shortly. I bet you can't wait.


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SPIDER-MAN 2 - SPOILERS

Took the kids to see Spider-Man 2 yesterday.

SPOILER WARNING

The murder of all those doctors seemed gratuitous to me. Trashing them, sure, but why did the arms (particularly at this early stage) feel the need to kill. I know, I know, self-defense. But in a movie like this, where otherwise I thought it was more-or-less okay to bring my kids, I thought it was really unnecessary.

The death of Otto's wife didn't bother me. Except that it became gratuitous as nothing at all was done with it. Her entire character became gratuitous. And I like Donna Murphy.

I've already talked about my whole Kirsten Dunst would make the perfect Gwen Stacy but is unconvincing as Mary Jane Watson thing. Nothing in this movie convinced me otherwise, despite the "Go get 'em, Tiger" line at the end. I guess you just have to get used to the idea that they've combined these two characters into one and chosen MJ's name.

Peter's objection to dating MJ, because it could put her at risk seems a little preposterous given how much risk she's been put in over these two movies even though they haven't been dating. I don't mind this, I just wish that someone, specifically MJ in their last scene together would have pointed that out.

The theme of this movie is "LET'S REVEAL MY SECRET IDENTITY TO AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE". At the end of the previous film, it was beyond clear that MJ had figured out that Peter was Spider-Man. This is somewhat successfully slid by in this film. But by the end of the second film, the list of people who have seen Spidey's face is nearly endless:

MJ
Doc Ock
Harry
The New Green Goblin
About thirty-seven people on the train

and let's face it, even Aunt May seemed to be strongly implying that she had figured it out.

A little bothered by the way some of Peter's late-arrivals were staged.

Did he really lose THAT much time delivering Pizza.

But more importantly, it seems clear that being Spider-Man aside, he just flat out didn't leave enough time to get to MJ's show in the first place. Face it, he lost his mo-ped but arrived in the bad-guys car. And it took less than a minute to capture them. And he was still late. This bugged me because he was blaming Spidey for screwing up his life, when clearly if he had left for the play in a timely fashion, he would have arrived on time (and missed the crime completely).

I didn't quite know what to make of the whole thing with the landlord's daughter. Kept expecting her to see Peter with MJ in the last scene and turn into a super-villain or something. She was sweet. Didn't catch the character's name, though it's a very similar character to the character that same actress plays on Joan of Arcadia.

Everyone seems wowed by Molina's performance and by Doc Ock, especially as compared to the last film's Green Goblin. I have no objections to either Molina or Doc, but I don't get the raves. Green Goblin's motivations made a lot more sense to me than Ock's. Sure the arm effects were cool. But the whole AI thing effecting his brain seemed forced. And frankly, a bit unnecessary.

From all of the above, I'm sure it must seem like I didn't like the movie. But in fact I did. I even liked how nearly everybody now knows Parker's secret. How did it help any of those people to not know?


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WHATEVER HAPPENED TO SECOND & THIRD BASE?

The following RANT is somewhat ADULT. You've been warned.

There are two prime time television series that I'm fond of that I'm annoyed with for a very specific reason.

One is GILMORE GIRLS. The other is JOAN OF ARCADIA.

Last week, on Joan of Arcadia, 16-year-old Joan nearly decided to lose her virginity with Adam.

Last week on on Gilmore Girls, 19-year-old Rory lost her virginity with Dean.

In both cases, it's not the losing or not losing that bothers me.

It's just that in both cases, we've more or less been witness to these girls sexual awakening. And I've never gotten any indication that either girl has done anything beyond kissing, that neither guy has ever gotten past what we used to call first base.

One of my biggest pet peeves about television is that second & third base (including anything and everything in between kissing and sexual intercourse) do not exist. Oral sex? Doesn't exist. Touching and/or nudity without intercourse? Doesn't exist.

I don't need to see it. (Not that I'd object, but this isn't about me being a pervert for once.) But I would think that two shows as smartly-written as Gilmore & Joan should be able to find a way to suggest that such "intermediate steps" DO exist. I mean if they can talk about full-on intercourse, why can't they talk about things that are safer, younger, more exploratory, with FEWER consequences.

I feel it's TERRIBLY irresponsible to teach kids and teens that there's no way to express themselves sexually, once they've gotten past a kiss, except by going all the way. By hitting home runs, by scoring, so to speak.

Look, when I was a teen, there was a LONG, LONG gap between my first kiss and my first time engaging in sexual intercourse. There was a pretty substantial gap between my first kiss with the girl that I would end up losing my virginity to and the actual act of losing said virginity. In fact, in every relationship I ever had, up to and including my wife, kissing was a prelude to touching, etc., which was in turn a prelude to "making love"... assuming the relationship lasted that long.

The frustrating truth is that I really like both Gilmore Girls and Joan of Arcadia. I even really liked the episodes that are currently annoying me. But I'm still waiting for someone to brave the taboo and bring back second and third base.

PROPS TO "THE WONDER YEARS" for the only example of Second Base on a Prime Time series that I recall. But what was that -- ten years ago? Has there been no progress since?


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A Farewell to Joss...

Let me get this out of the way first:

I love the television work of Joss Whedon.

Love Buffy.

Love Angel.

Love Firefly. (I'm very much looking forward to Serenity too.)

I am stunned that after eight years (thirteen seasons worth of television) that I won't be able to get new episodes of a Joss Whedon series next year.

Yes, they claim they'll bring back Buffy or Angel or both in t.v. movies. But frankly, I don't want to get my hopes up too high.

This season of Angel was brilliant in episode after episode. The insane Slayer. The Angel muppet. The return of Cordelia. The return of Conner.

And last night's finale... was stunning.

---SPOILERS---

The really smart thing was what they left out -- ironically, mostly action. I mean face it, do we really need to SEE Gunn take out six vamps? Do we really need to see Illyria take out four demons in a car? Do we really need to see Spike take on a cult? (Well, actually it might have been fun to get a little more of this -- what with his Lone Wolf & Cub dilemma of fighting while holding a baby.)

Harmony was a bit weak, i.e. I don't mind that she betrayed Angel or that Angel knew she would, but how did she know anything to betray him with. And I've never understood the transition between the Lyndsey who left L.A. at the end of season two and the Lyndsey who came back midway through season five. Why was he suddenly Angel's enemy again? It was cool that Lorne shot him, but I have to admit I wasn't sure if it was justified. Didn't he deserve a chance at redemption? And what was the deal with Eve at the end?

But that's quibbling.

Wesley had a decent death. And an even better end. The Illyria stuff was all great.

And of course, the final final ending, with the four warriors against the horde and Angel's last line, "Personally, I'd like to
slay a dragon." was just brilliant.

This was, in my opinion, much superior to the Buffy series finale. Both had the problem of only having one hour to stuff a ton of content in. But again, Angel was much smarter about what it LEFT OUT. Buffy's finale just seemed VERY rushed to me. Anya's death barely registered, even with Xander. And did the First get any comeuppance at all?

And sure, I'll admit that the last couple seasons of Buffy suffered from a real one-step-forward-two-steps-back-then-the-SAME-step-forward syndrome.

But all these negatives are quibbling based largely on the superior quality of Joss' series in general.

How did this happen? (Not the great work. But the absense of it next year.)

Just a couple years ago, I was in Whedon heaven. Buffy. Angel. Firefly. And any minute the Buffy Animated Series (which I was SO dying to work on, but couldn't even get my foot in the door) and Ripper. How did five series (four set in the Buffyverse) drop down to zero in just 18 months?

Yes, thank god for Serenity, which is in production.

But whether he likes the grind or not, Joss was born for Series TV not one-shot movies.

I'm really going to miss him.

Guess it's time to buy the DVDs.


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Aris Katsaris writes...

<g> I'm asking this question with the assumption that it'll be past December 19th that you'll respond to it. And the assumption that you saw the movie. Uh... and the assumption that you took your family to see it also. :-)

What did you think about the Lord of the Rings movie? What did your children think?

Greg responds...

I have really loved BOTH LOTR movies. (See, you were right. It's past Dec. 19th. TWICE OVER.)

My kids, however, are six and eight. (Younger than that when the first one came out.) I don't think either film was appropriate viewing material for them. But I bought the DVD of the first one, so when their older, they can see it.

Response recorded on May 28, 2003


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