26 October 2012

Quick-Fire Reviews: Secret of the Wings, Today's Special, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, Arrow, and Beauty and the Beast

It's been FOREVER and a mutha f'in DAY since I've done one of these so let's dive right in!

Secret of the Wings

Secret of the Wings is the fourth in a line of Tinker Bell films set in Neverland's Pixie Hollow. This new one introduces fairy fans to the Winter Fairies through Periwinkle, Tinker Bell's long lost sister. Winter Fairies and Pixie Hollow Fairies are forbidden by law to cross into the other's realms. Will Tink and Peri overcome this oppressive rule and be sibling besties forever?

I love the Tinker Bell films; they're actually what made me like Miss Bell as I wasn't a fan before. The CGI is beautiful, the stories have sweet messages, and the voice cast includes Mae Whitman and Angelica Houston. Sadly Kristin Chenoweth did not return for SotW, but they signed Timothy Dalton so that's kind of the same thing, right? Out of the four films, Secret of the Wings is the weakest with a thin conflict and overabundance of cheesy montages. While the actual score is lovely, Disney still finds it necessary to pepper these films with cringe-worthy bubble gum pop songs about love and friendship. Dear Disney-- Please stop. However, the DVD is worth a purchase for the 22 minute Pixie Hollow Games short in honor of the Olympics. I love the clever production design for Tinker Bell's world-- overall it's a must for any Tinker Bell fan.

Today's Special

Let's see how many food puns I can include in this review. Today's Special is a delectable little morsel I selected from the varied menu of Netflix independent films. I had a craving for Indian and this movie sated my appetite nicely. Samir quits his sous chef position at a prestigious New York restaurant after his boss passes him over for a head chef position at another restaurant. He's about to leave for an internship in France when his father suffers a heart attack and Samir must run the failing family restaurant, a problem since Samir has no idea how to cook Indian food. 

A comfort food family comedy peppered with romance, Today's Special tries tackling the father/son relationships in Indian-American culture, as well as the beauty and complexity of Indian food. Personally, I would've loved a greater focus on the food and Indian culture than the bland characters. While Today's Special is enjoyable albeit cheesy, the film lacks the spice and flavor of the Indian food it promotes.

I counted 9 puns. Awesome.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Just in time for Halloween, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter is a piece of historical fiction about the true conflict behind the Civil War and one of America's greatest Presidents. Basically, Abe's father owes money to a creepy dude who turns out to be a vampire-- though no one knows it but us because we read the title of the film. Abe's mother becomes "mysteriously ill" because of 2 bite marks on her wrist. She dies, Abe's father dies a few years later, and Abe grows up wanting revenge against Creepy Dude because he somehow knows this guy was the cause behind his parents' deaths. Yet he still doesn't know vampires are real. Trying to kill the guy, he finds out the hard way that bloodsuckers exist. He's trained by Henry, a vampire hunter with a few secrets of his own, and together they must take down Adam-- the First Vampire who is intent on ruling America.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter has interesting slow motion action sequences with Abe doing crazy shit with an axe. I liked that. Everything else-- story, characters, conflict, romance-- progressed unnaturally fast and therefore made no sense for film but was probably well explained in the book. Suddenly Abe goes from being a terrible fighter to vampire slayer to law student to politician to husband to president. That's a lot for 105 minutes. And for those of you wanting to watch a scary movie for Halloween, this film is NOT it. Overall,  AL:VH is entertaining but forgettable.


And now we enter the realm of TV, specifically ever cheesy CW shows.

A friend recommended Arrow after seeing a few episodes for free on Hulu (hint hint), and as I told her,  the show's premise is Batman Begins meets Revenge with an emphasis on the latter. Based on the DC Comics character Green Arrow, the show follows trust-fund baby Oliver Queen who returns to civilization after his yacht sinks and he's marooned on an island for 5 years. Unlike Cast Away, this island is inhabited by.... well, we don't know who or what other than another dude with a hood and bow & arrow, but whatever it is it's dangerous because Oliver has scars EVERYWHERE (see photo).'

Pros: action, intriguing story, Oliver's abs, a crazy scene on a raft, and bow & arrows.

Cons: Oliver spends most of his time brooding, his delinquent sister keeps whining about the last 5 years as if she had been stuck on an island presumed dead... and continues her moodiness even after she sees the scars covering her brother's body, and the "love interest" is ridiculous. Overall, I'll keep watching because there's a lot of potential in Arrow.

Beauty and the Beast

The only thing redeemable about Beauty and the Beast is its use of the same names for its lead characters as those from the 80's series starring Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman. 

Nine years after college student/bartender Catherine Chandler's mom dies and she is saved by what she claims is a "beast" during a car-jacking that we all know was really a hit, Catherine is a NYPD homicide detective obsessed with her mom's murder yet still stunningly beautiful (good thing all that stress hasn't taken a toll on her looks!). During a random investigation, Catherine is searching for suspect Vincent Keller, a special forces marine she discovers is missing/presumed dead. But Catherine-- street smart detective that she is-- knows Vincent is alive... because she does, okay! She finds him/ he saves her-- I really can't remember/don't care-- and they reconnect.

Apparently our "Beast"-- made SO unattractive by a single scar on his cheek (the horror!)-- is hiding out from a military group because he was injected with drugs that made him turn into a dumbed down version of The Hulk. Despite his need to live off the grid, Catherine continuously shows up at his hideout every day to talk about her cases or her mother or life. Desperation thy name is Catherine Chandler.
Even after all those years on Smallville, Kristin Kreuk's talent still lies solely in her looks. Interrogations sound like heartfelt tete-a-tetes and any emotion other than "happy" is expressed by a furrowed brow and a look of constipation. The cast is, not surprisingly, attractive and one-dimensional, and I'm pretty sure it's shot in a Los Angeles sound stage rather than the great city of New York.

Tweens might keep this show going purely for the sexual tension between Catherine and Vincent, but I won't be watching.

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