by Jess Lynde
By popular demand, Billie’s main site (http://www.billiedoux.com/) will now be featuring reviews for Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. However, since Billie simply cannot take on another show in her review roster, I will be pinch hitting for her. I know it won’t be quite the same as Billie reviewing the show, but I’ll try to do her justice.
Sarah Connor is one of the few shows that I started watching right from its premiere. I was a big fan of the first two Terminator movies, and even though I didn’t see the third movie (bad buzz killed my desire to see it), I was pretty intrigued by the idea of a Terminator TV show. Especially one focusing on Sarah Connor, the soft, doughy waitress who turned into one of the ultimate ass-kicking film heroines. I came to the show with high hopes, and although there were one or two weak episodes, on the whole, Season 1 didn’t let me down.
Reviews for the first five episodes of Season 1 will be posted soon, and I hope to complete reviews for the remaining four episodes before Season 2 premieres on Sept. 8th. These reviews were written as "retro reviews" after I’d already seen the entire season. Like Billie’s retro reviews, these focus on the episode at hand, and are spoiler-free for upcoming episodes.
The Season 2 reviews will be written as the season unfolds, and should be posted within a week of a new episode airing. These reviews will also be posted here on Billie's blog.
by Billie Doux
(This review includes spoilers!)
I'm going to pay this movie the ultimate compliment. It was so dark, edgy and realistic that I literally forgot I was watching comic book characters. That has never, and I mean never, happened to me before. In fact, it got so intense that at one point, I was flashing on Brian dePalma's Untouchables, which is probably my favorite crime movie. It was that heavy.
Heath Ledger was fabulous. Every time he was on screen I was on edge, expecting him to kill or mutilate someone, and I was rarely disappointed. The insane, homicidal Joker was almost like the grim reaper, three steps ahead of everyone else, killing both deliberately and randomly for the sheer, perverse pleasure of it. He felt unstoppable. I actually didn't think Batman would ever ultimately catch him; that's how good he was.
And it wasn't just Ledger. The Dark Knight had an unbelievable cast. Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman were wonderful; they always are. Maggie Gyllenhaal gave weight and depth to the two-dimensional Rachel. Gary Oldman was appropriately stiff and forthright as the stiffly forthright Commissioner Gordon. The supporting cast was jam-packed with familiar, talented faces from many of my favorite television shows. In such illustrious acting company as this, it says a lot that Aaron Eckhart's agonizing transformation into Two-Face was the standout.
Faces. Masked faces, mutilated faces, distorted faces, vulnerable faces. People in this movie were constantly turning into something I wasn't expecting. The Joker, who told people different stories about how his own face was mutilated, was obsessed with seeing Batman's true face. Were any of his stories true? I kept wondering if perhaps he did it to himself. Much like Harvey Dent did when he refused the skin grafts that would have given him a human face again.
I haven't mentioned Christian Bale yet. Yes, I think this movie belonged to Heath Ledger and Aaron Eckhart. But Christian Bale's nearly demented interpretation of Batman grounded this movie, just as it grounded Batman Begins. As the climax approached, I was starting to think that the movie would stay dark to the end, that there would never be a light at the end of the tunnel. But there was. It began with the two men on the ferries who unexpectedly couldn't bring themselves to sacrifice another boatload of people even to save themselves. And it ended with Batman's sacrifice of his own reputation in order to save the public face of Harvey Dent. In a last bit of symbolism, Commissioner Gordon even smashed the light, the bat signal that was always clouded and difficult to see, anyway.
Yeah, I know I was way late reviewing this movie. I wasn't even sure I wanted to see it. I didn't think it could be as good as everyone said it was. But I was wrong. It was excellent on pretty much any scale you would care to name: writing, acting, production, direction, supporting cast, special effects, you name it. It was so rich and full of depth that viewers will get more out of it with every subsequent viewing. It was even Oscar-worthy. What comic book movie can say that?
I think Heath Ledger would have been proud.
Four out of four stars,
(If you're interested, here's my review of Batman Begins.)
by Billie Doux
(This review contains spoilers. Go watch the movie first. Seriously!)
Jack: "Get rid of the last bad guy, and then there's cake."
I love Stargate, and I love a good time travel story. This was a terrific Stargate time travel story, fun and exciting from beginning to end. They thought big, they included characters and storylines from the entire series, the writing was tight, the acting on target -- there were no wasted scenes, no dull moments. We even had a literal time travel grandfather paradox. Good times.
I particularly loved the way they wove in Jack O'Neill, Vala, Teal'c, both generals, the president, and many of our old friends from Cheyenne Mountain. They even brought back the system lords, which was tremendous fun, and centered the story around Ba'al, who was always my favorite. I've always wanted to see Vala as Qetesh, and I loved that they made her the big, unexpected villain. Ba'al's intricate multi-generation plan, so clever and well thought out, completely quashed in a moment by Qetesh. She was really, really evil. More evil than Ba'al.
It was great to see all six members of the past and present team together at the extraction ceremony -- especially Jack, who was his usual self. ("Hey. Have you ever tried to find a bathroom in a pyramid?") We also saw nearly all of them die, which was surprisingly painful considering that we knew all along that it was a time travel story and everyone would almost certainly be back. I particularly felt for Sam, whose grief for Jack affected her to the point where she almost couldn't function.
One of my favorite moments was Daniel finding a book written by his alternate self in the bargain bin. (Loved the crackpot photo of Daniel on the book jacket.) And Daniel calling his other self on the phone and trying to get him to have faith in himself. In fact, Daniel's story was, with the possible exception of Cam's, the best in this movie. His stoicism and acceptance when he faced death, and when he lost his leg. His extremely dry humor. Daniel got nearly all the best lines in this movie. My favorites were his plaintive "Oh, shit" when he realized he was probably going to freeze to death alone, and when the president asked what he should tell Ba'al, and Daniel said it was probably best "not to mention us."
Most of the effects were excellent, some of the best in the series. Yes, the sinking ship didn't quite hold up, but I particularly liked the ships in formation attacking Earth, and the scenes in Ba'al's time travel stronghold. And the costumes and sets were all terrific. It made me wish that they'd all looked like that throughout the series.
It's a shame that it was only just over an hour and a half long. I wish we'd gotten more. There were two things in particular that I would have loved to see. How did Cam spend those ten years alone, waiting for his moment? I suppose we didn't need to see them; we can imagine them. And what did he do afterward? Did he just live out his life quietly in the corrected timeline, doing his best not to make timewaves? I think I would have felt better if he had just vanished when the timeline corrected. Although that would have left the photograph unaltered.
The other scene I would have loved to see was Vala talking with Ba'al's human host after the extraction. What was the poor guy like? Although he may not have been around long after centuries of possession, which was probably a good thing to skip right over.
The commentary mentioned that there could be more Stargate movies in the future, and I am definitely a captive audience. But "Continuum" felt like a final chapter to me. It brought the Goa'uld story to a satisfying end, incorporated numerous continuing characters from the ten-year run of the series, and just felt like a perfect place to stop, a fitting end to a very long story.
I just loved it. Can you tell?
Four out of four stars,