FlixChatter Double Review –Transformers: Age of Extinction

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Ted’s Review

After a three year absent, the Transformers are back on the big screen. They still have to deal with annoying human characters, fight the bad Transformers and destroy every big city as much as they could.

The movie picked up about 5 years after the last one, we’re introduced to some new human characters Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) and his daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz). Yeager is a failed inventor and he’s close to being broke and lose his farm. One day he found an old truck which happens to be Optimus Prime, he’s hiding from the government. Apparently after the events of the last movie, all of the Autobots are being hunted down by the CIA. The mission is being spearheaded by a high level CIA executive Harold Attinger (Kelsey Grammer). When Attinger finds out that Optimus Prime is hiding out at Yeager’s farm, he sends his operatives including its leader James Savoy (Titus Welliver) to bring Prime in. Of course things didn’t turn out well as they’d hoped and Yeager, his daughter and Optimus were able to get away from the agents. I was going to write more about the “plot” of the movie but let’s face it, no one go to see this movie for its plot, which by the way didn’t make a lick of sense. If you’re a fan of the previous three movies and enjoy all the explosions and robots fighting then you’re going to love this one. For anyone who can’t stand this franchise, I’d advise you to stay far away from it!

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Wahlberg stepped in as the new leading man this time and I didn’t think he was as annoying as Shia LaBeouf but he didn’t really add anything much to the movie. Since he’s done many action movies prior, the writers did write in scenes where he’s part of the action instead of just running and screaming like LaBeouf did in the previous movies. Young actress Nicola Peltz became the new eye candy in this one, when I say eye candy, I meant it literally. Bay pretty much focused the cameras on every part of her body, just like he did with the other pretty girls in the previous movies. Another young actor (Jack Reynor) showed up as her boyfriend and I think he’s supposed to play LaBeouf’s part because I found him quite annoying. Then later in the movie, Stanley Tucci showed up as this Steve Jobs type of a character. Grammer was pretty much your typical one dimensional villain, he’s bad, he’s greedy and he doesn’t about anyone but himself.

Now let’s talk about Michael Bay and his Bayhem. I don’t know if it’s possible but this movie might have had more climatic action scenes than any other movies I’ve ever seen. Bay kept blowing things up and robots smashing into one another for close to 3 hours! The man has no restrain and as long as people keeps paying to see this franchise, he’ll never stop. I remember a while back he said he’s done with the franchise but I guess the studio probably offered him money more than any average person would ever see in their lifetime.

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Now I do have a couple of good things to say about this movie. First, it’s the first movie to have been shot with the new IMAX 3D cameras and since I’m a big fan of IMAX, it’s nice to have seen it on the biggest screen. If you’re going to see it on IMAX, know that it will have aspect ratio switching. Second, the 3D effects were quite impressive, maybe one of the best I’ve seen. There were scenes where I felt like I was in the movie, Bay did a good job there with the 3D. Of course the 3D supposed to enhance the story and not be the story, so it gets tiresome about an hour into the movie.

The movie is expected to be the summer’s biggest hit and I have no doubt that it will be a big hit. If you’re a fan of the franchise then you’ll love it, but for me it’s another bloated piece of turd from a director who only cares about making money and not quality films.

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Ruth’s Review

Ok so this is not so much a straight-on review as my rant reaction to this movie [if you can even call it that]. I’ve only seen the first movie [only because I was at a friend’s party and everyone wanted to watch the Transformers movie], and frankly I had no interest in seeing any more from this franchise. The only reason I went to this press screening is because it was at the IMAX theater and this was supposedly the first film shot with IMAX 3D Digital Camera. Silly reason really, and definitely NOT a worthy one to waste three whole hours on (more if you include the bazillion trailers before the movie starts).

Pretty much the only thing one needs to know about the Transformers universe is this: the Autobots are the good alien robots and the Decepticons are the evil ones. The humans are disposable creatures, as interchangeable as the parts in a kid’s toolbox. So supposedly an epic battle had happened in the previous film that left the world in pieces, though you wouldn’t know that from looking at the shots of Chicago and Beijing as they look pretty much unscathed with all of the skyscrapers intact. For some reasons, the Autobots are now being hunted down by the CIA, whilst the top level CIA agent (Kelsey Grammer) happily makes deals with another group of alien robots as they agree to leave earth. Meanwhile, a lowly farmer inventor Cade Yeager (Mark Wahlberg) inadvertently discovered that a beat-up old truck is actually the leader of the Autobots, called Optimus Prime. So of course soon enough Yeager and his daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz) become fugitives themselves as they want to keep Optimus from getting caught. That’s pretty much the gist of it.

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As if the obtuse storyline wasn’t enough, Michael Bay‘s execution and directing style makes this fourth installment so unbearable in every sense of the word. At 165-min long, it’s overstuffed yet hollow, loud and verbose with nothing to say. As the end credit rolled, my hubby and I just shook our head. Yes I know it’s not the first time Hollywood studios spent a mind-boggling $180 mil budget on such a stinker, but this one is especially horrid with barely any redeeming quality whatsoever. Now, I’m not saying I can’t enjoy a movie about monstrous alien robots. After all, I LOVE Pacific Rim, which I’ve rewatched several times and still entertained by it. Funny that the lead character’s name is Yeager sounds just like Pac Rim‘s robotic weapon Jaeger. If only this movie is even half as entertaining!

Bay’s Transformers franchise should go down in film history as the quintessential piece of garbage, as it represents the worst thing that one dreads from a Summer blockbuster… vapid, trite, overindulgent, overwrought, plus a dose of self-satisfied smug-ness. After all, Bay remains defiant, here’s his response to those who are critical of his *masterpiece*: “They love to hate, and I don’t care; let them hate … They’re still going to see the movie! [per mtv.com]. Wish he were wrong but he’s not. As I’m writing this, the movie has made over $40 mil in one DAY, on track for a $100+ mil weekend [sigh] It’s ironic that the title tagline is ‘age of extinction.’ Well, it seems that creativity in Hollywood is on the verge of extinction [if it isn’t already]. The best line of the movie comes early in the movie, inside a ruined vintage cinema, when an older man lamented how all movies these days are sequels and remakes. Was Bay poking fun at himself and what he represents? Highly unlikely, considering his comment above.

You know something is out of whack when during watching a movie, you’re thinking about why so many good actors sign on to this and wonder how much money they made for it. That is if you’re not busy counting how many product placements are scattered during the action scenes [hint: it’s too many to count]. Every actor here is utterly wasted, Wahlberg is not immune to bad movies [The Happening, anyone?] but I’m still baffled as to why he signed on to do this. You would think he’s got enough cash that he never need to do a project only for monetary reason. Talented young actors like Sophia Myles and Jack Reynor probably just want the exposure one could get from mainstream blockbusters, but it’s still painful to see them in something THIS bad. Let’s hope they pick better roles in the future. As for Peltz, she is an exact embodiment of a damsel-in-distress, yet another eye candy type for the purpose of Bay’s unabashed female objectifications. As Wahlberg’s character complained about her daughter’s skimpy outfit, Bay set up a shot from between her thighs as she stood with her short shorts that barely covered her behind. Peltz was only 18 during filming, Bay’s nearing 50. It’s really a new low even for Bay.

I don’t know what’s worse, the wooden acting or the clichéd dialog coming out of their mouths. Even Stanley Tucci who’s always watchable even in a bad movie made me cringe here. His character is a multi-billionaire Tony Stark-type inventor who has been making man-made robots from the remains of the evil alien robots Decepticons. For someone who’s supposedly a brilliant scientist, his character does the most idiotic things throughout. In the third act, the main characters resort to dragging an alien *seed* that can turn organic material into metal. You’d think they’d be more careful with something THAT lethal, but it’s as if they’re dragging a body bag. It’s like watching a slapstick comedy except that it’s neither funny nor entertaining.

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I better end my rant now as I’m running out of adjectives to describe this movie. This FilmInk reviewer sums up my sentiment perfectly: “Transformers: Age of Extinction has appalling dialogue, deplorable representations of women, un-self-aware action sequences, very little humour and racial stereotyping. In other words, it’s a Michael Bay movie.” Suffice to say, this is by far the worst movie I’ve seen in a long time, rivaled only by Die Hard 5 but even that one is still more watchable as it’s only about half as long. I actually had to make a new rating graphic for this one as I’ve never given a rating this low before. I don’t care what state-of-the-art equipment is used to make this or even how good the visual quality is. I actually took my 3D glasses off a few times just to give my tired eyes a break. It’s really a sensory overload in the worst possible way.

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Well, what do you think of the latest Transformers movie? 

Special Collaborative Post: Recasting Jane Austen’s Screen Adaptation of Sense & Sensibility

Happy Sunday, everyone! Hope you’ve had a lovely weekend.

Today I bring you another collaborative post with a fellow blogger, and fellow British actor aficionado, Anna from Defiant Success blog. This will be a mini blog series of RECASTING Jane Austen screen adaptations. Anna wanted to do this in order of the book’s release, the first one happens to be my own personal favorite: Sense & Sensibility.

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Anna’s Picks

Romola Garai as Elinor Dashwood

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“Elinor, the eldest daughter whose advice was so effectual, possessed a strength in understanding, and coolness of judgment, which qualified her, though only nineteen, to be the counsellor of her mother, and enabled her frequently to counteract, to the advantage of them all, that eagerness of mind in Mrs. Dashwood which must generally have led to imprudence. She had an excellent heart; — her disposition was affectionate, and her feelings were strong; but she knew how to govern them: it was a knowledge which her mother had yet to learn. and which one of her sisters had resolved never to be taught.”

If you’ve seen Garai’s work in the brilliant (but unfortunately short-lived) TV series The Hour, you’ll know that her role of Bel Rowley has a few shared traits with that of Elinor. Reserved, levelheaded, (un)willingly keeps her feelings to herself…she just seemed right for the part. (It also doesn’t hurt that Garai has previously played another Austen leading lady, albeit a less sensible one.)

Carey Mulligan as Marianne Dashwood

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“She was sensible and clever; but eager in every thing; her sorrows, her joys, could have no moderation. She was generous, amiable, interesting: she was every thing but prudent.”


I was reminded of Mulligan’s work in An Education as I was sketching out this list. Her role of Jenny Mellor is that of a young woman with a deep admiration for the arts and is experiencing love for the first time in her life before the harsh truths about her lover come to light. That description could easily be applied to Marianne as well. (Again, Mulligan has previously been in an Austen adaptation, though her character is less appreciated.)

James McAvoy as Edward Ferrars

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“He was not handsome, and his manners required intimacy to make them pleasing. He was too diffident to do justice to himself; but when his natural shyness was overcome, his behaviour gave every indication of an open affectionate heart. His understanding was good, and his education had given it solid improvement. But he was neither fitted by abilities nor disposition to answer the wishes of his mother and sister, who longer to see him distinguished—as—they hardly knew what. They wanted him to make a fine figure in the world in some manner or other. His mother wished to interest him in political concerns, to get him into parliament, or to see him connected with some of the great men of the day. Mrs. John Dashwood wished it likewise; but in the mean while, till one of these superior blessings could be attained, it would have quieted her ambition to see him driving a barouche. But Edward had no turn for great men or barouches. All his wishes centered in domestic comfort and the quiet of private life.”

Yes, Austen specified that Edward is “not handsome” but considering the role has also been played by 90s-era Hugh Grant and a pre-Downton Abbey Dan Stevens, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I don’t think anyone will object to whom I’ve chosen. Anyway, McAvoy’s work in Atonement is what inspired me to choose him. Reserved and shy but passionate. (And yes, I see the irony of having him and Garai play love interests. It would certainly shine Atonement in a new light.)

Benedict Cumberbatch as Colonel Brandon

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“He was silent and grave. His appearance however was not unpleasing, in spite of his being in the opinion of Marianne and Margaret an absolute old bachelor, for he was on the wrong side of five and thirty; but though his face was not handsome his countenance was sensible, and his address was particularly gentlemanlike.”


Okay, I’ll admit the 1995 Sense & Sensibility film might have had some influence in this decision. (Another influence was Parade’s End.) There was just something about that description that made me think of Cumberbatch. (My money’s on the “not unpleasing” appearance.) And I bet that the scene of Colonel Brandon recalling his lost love to Elinor would be done beautifully in his hands (and voice).

Henry Cavill as John Willoughby

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“Elinor and her mother rose up in amazement at their entrance, and while the eyes of both were fixed on him with an evident wonder and a secret admiration which equally sprung from his appearance, he apologized for his intrusion by relating its cause, in a manner so frank and so graceful, that his person, which was uncommonly handsome, received additional charms from his voice and expression. Had he been old, ugly, and vulgar, the gratitude and kindness of Mrs. Dashwood would have been secured by any act of attention to her child; but the influence of youth, beauty, and elegance, gave an interest to the action which came home to her feelings.”

Basically that description there is Austen describing Willoughby as the most ridiculously handsome man you’ve ever laid eyes on. (Don’t quote me on that.) And I’ll admit I was slightly stuck on whom to cast in the role. Thankfully I’m on the internet enough to get a good idea or two, and Cavill certainly came to mind. I mean, look at him. It practically makes Willoughby’s philandering all the more stunning (though not exactly unexpected), doesn’t it?

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Ruth’s Picks

Andrea Riseborough as Elinor Dashwood

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I first saw Andrea in three films last year and was so impressed by her chameleonic ability to disappear into her characters. She’s in her mid 30s but looks youthful enough to pull off a 19 year old. I think she’d do Elinor justice as I think she can play ANY role convincingly. She has a quiet grace about her as well as a wise-beyond-her-years countenance that’d work nicely for this role.

Sophia Myles as Marianne Dashwood

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Myles has actually done an Austen adaptation before in 1999 film version of Mansfield Park, but it was a small role as Fanny’s sister. I actually thought she resembles Kate Winslet so much but that’s not the reason I cast her here. I had been impressed by her in Tristan n Isolde and the Moonlight TV show. She’s so grossly underrated but she is beautiful and has that innocent yet impetuous sensibility that would make her an excellent Marianne.

Tom Hiddleston as Edward Ferrars

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I always thought that Hiddleston is not classically handsome but yet he’s immensely attractive and charming. Now Edward is more on the shy side (unlike the more gregarious Hiddles) but I think the talented Brit can pull off reserve. Though he’s most well-known for playing the villainous Loki in the Marvel Universe, Tom has kind eyes which makes me think he’d suit this character. I also love that Tom has a soothing n gentle voice, more Dan Stevens than the stuttering Hugh Grant. Plus I think he and Andrea would make a lovely, albeit a bit unexpected, pair.
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Toby Stephens as Colonel Brandon

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Yes I know it’s no surprise you’d see Toby on here but really I can’t imagine anyone else I’d want in the role. He’s done two Brontë adaptations, Charlotte’s (BBC Jane Eyre 2006) and Anne’s (The Tenant of Wildfell Hall), but never Austen’s. I could just picture his melancholic expression as he beheld Marianne for the first time playing the piano. He’s perfected that pining look as Rochester pining for Jane. Now obviously the impossibly fine-boned actor can’t be described as ‘not handsome’ (how Brandon’s described in the book) but the important thing is that he captured the essence of the character the way he did with Rochester. Plus, like Rickman, Toby has voice to die for, so I’d want an extended scene of his Brandon reading to Marianne [sigh]
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Aaron Taylor-Johnson as John Willoughby

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Initially I was thinking of Ben Barnes, who’s played Dorian Gray before, but I feel that he’s not seductive enough as Willoughby. Aaron on the other hand, is what I’d consider not simply handsome, but a truly beautiful young man. On top of that, he oozes so much sex appeal with just the way he stares at you with those gorgeous blue eyes. At 23, also pretty close to the character’s age in the book (25). Willoughby is supposed to be an instant charmer, all swagger and undeniable passion, but not in a malicious kind of way as he earnestly does love Marianne. Interestingly, his hair here reminds me of Greg Wise’s wavy locks in the 1995 version as Willoughby.


Well, those are our picks for the main characters Sense & Sensibility. Let us know your thoughts and feel free to offer your own picks in the comments!

Friday Guilty Pleasure Flix: CBS’ Vampire Show Moonlight

Happy Friday, all! Time for another guilty pleasure post I’d say… wow, the last guilty pleasure flix post I did was The Saint nearly a year ago.


I didn’t exactly have a specific movie in mind but it just so happens that my friend at work lent me her Moonlight dvd yesterday, so voila! Why limit it to movies as we all have our own guilty pleasure tv shows, don’t we? Well Moonlight was the quintessential guilty pleasure for me, as it’s not exactly the best-written show and it’s often too slick for its own good. But oh man, there hasn’t been a show since that’s as addictive. Every week I’d be tuning in and when it’s over I couldn’t wait for the next episode! Aussie Alex O’Loughlin was the main draw for me obviously, though he isn’t the most expressive actor, he somehow fits the role of the vampire detective like a glove!

A fan-made Youtube video lists 8 Things They Love About Moonlight that capture all the reasons I love the show. The main addictive factor is the romance between the vampire hero Mick St. John and his human love interest, reporter Beth Turner (as in ‘turn her’ get it? 🙂 ) played by the lovely and talented Brit Sophia Myles. Their forbidden romance is the pièce de résistance of any vampire love story and Alex and Sophia got the chemistry thing right, oh la la! Just check out one of my favorite episodes below after Beth took black crystal, an ecstasy-type drug made out of vampire blood:

As if that weren’t scorching enough, throw in the ‘ex-wife’ Coraline (played by Shannyn Sossamon) who’s as psychotic and obsessive as she is sultry. She’s the one who turned Mick into a vampire and somehow came back from the ‘dead’ and masquerading as Beth’s photojournalist, Morgan. The retro flashback scenes of Mick/Coraline are pretty fun to watch and often the sexiest episodes of the show (see below when Mick attempts to expose Morgan’s true identity). There’s also the suave and witty BFF Josef (played with aplomb by Jason Dohring), the seen-all, been-there-done-that 410-year old vampire who works as hedge fund manager by day. His scenes w/ Mick is always full of amusing repartee.

Oh and the soundtrack is pretty great, too. Moonlight‘s peppered w/ awesome songs every episode from The Fray, Evanescence, Jamie Cullum, Lapush, Fauxliage, etc. People have been posting ’em on YouTube and one of my faves is Let It Go by Canadian band Fauxliage.

I was so bummed out when CBS yanked it out in mid 2008, and frankly it was pretty dumb on CBS’ part IMO. As I said previously in my farewell post to Three Rivers (Alex’s show post Moonlight), it’s hugely ironic that it got canceled right at the massive upsurge of the Twilight hysteria. Ever since then, two vampire TV shows have gained popularity: HBO’s True Blood and WB’s The Vampire Diaries. The first cater to adults with its more risqué scenes; whilst the other is geared for teens. That means Moonlight would fit right in between the two as the only vampire show for its demographic on network TV.

Anyway, let bygones be bygones I guess. O’Loughlin is now starring in another CBS show Hawaii Five-O, and I think that one has been more well-received than his previous two CBS shows. But parts of me still miss Moonlight… ah well, at least I’ve got the dvd to go back to.


Ok now your turn, what’s your guilty pleasure TV show(s) or favorite show that’s been canceled? If you’re a fan of Moonlight, I’d love to hear it, too!

Seven talented actors who deserve more leading roles

Underrated, under-appreciated, criminally-overlooked, call it what you will but the fact of the matter is, these actors deserve better! They are constantly relegated to supporting roles, and worse, playing second fiddle to actors whose talent aren’t even on par. Yet time and time again they almost always overshadow the lead with their charisma and on-screen presence, which make you wish they had been given more screen time. With that in mind, here are seven fine actors who not only deserve it, but are more than capable to carry a movie on their own:

  1. Rufus Sewell
    Yes, yes I know, predictable aren’t I? But seriously, the reason I mention this Brit a bazillion times in my blog is because he just doesn’t get enough recognition in Hollywood. I mean, you already know how I felt about his involvement… or lack thereof, in The Tourist. Nothing against Johnny Depp but I certainly think Rufus can do an equally smashing job in his place. He usually steal scenes in practically every movie he’s in anyway (as my buddy Prairiegirl outlined in her b’day tribute), why not just let him ‘own’ the whole darn thing? As Roisin from Sundryanco Blog said in her brilliant comment, “Who needs the former two, when you’ve got two acting legends.” Hear, hear!
  2. Minnie Driver
    I’ve been a fan of Minnie since her excellent turn in Circle of Friends. There’s an inherent likability about the London-based actress that it’s so easy to root for her. She makes for an engaging and lovely leading lady in Return to Me, which unsurprisingly is a rom-com most people have overlooked. I also love her comical role as the egotistical Carlotta in Phantom of the Opera. She had a brief stint in the acclaimed TV series The Riches with Eddie Izzard, and was seen recently in Conviction. I’d love to see her get one of Jennifer Aniston’s roles for once, as it’s likely going to be a more watchable movie with her in it.
  3. Jamie Bell
    The ‘playing second fiddle’ comment I said above was pretty much dedicated to this 24-year-old Brit, particularly in the movie Jumper. Even just from the trailer, you could tell he’s the better actor than Hayden Christensen (though to be fair, Christensen was quite good in Life As a House). The BAFTA-winning actor does get the lead role in the British indie Mister Foe, but in Hollywood, he seems to be relegated to supporting roles, i.e. in The Eagle (whilst the beefcake with feeble talent Channing Tatum got the lead) and later in Sam Worthington’s thriller Man on Ledge. He’ll be starring in Tintin and Jane Eyre both due out next year, and hopefully more lead roles are in store for him in the future.
  4. Marisa Tomei
    She won an Oscar nearly 2 decades ago for her supporting role in My Cousin Vinny, but since then she never seems to be ‘upgraded’ to leading lady status. Sure, many of her supporting turn are quite memorable and has won accolades (i.e. What Women WantThe Wrestler), but I’m curious what she’d do if she’s given a chance to ‘carry’ a movie on her own. She seems to have a knack for playing women with emotional issues, but she’s always comes across endearing, not annoying. I’d think she’d be a good option for roles that normally go to Julia Roberts or Sandra Bullock, as she’s obviously as equally attractive and talented as those two movie stars.
  5. Sophia Myles
    Most of you probably have no idea who she is, but her face probably looks familiar to you. She’s one half of Tristan + Isolde as James Franco’s besotted lover and most recently was in Outlander as Jim Caviezel’s love interest. I first saw her in Mansfield Park and remembered her for her uncanny resemblance to Kate Winslet. But her excellent turn as Beth in the prematurely-canceled vampire show Moonlight is really one of the best thing of the series that made me wonder why Hollywood hasn’t quite ‘discovered’ her. I guess she’s got a pretty good gig right now in BBC’s seriesMI-5 alongside Richard Armitage, but with her talent and beauty, she could easily play roles that would’ve gone to Scarlett Johansson or Michelle Williams.
  6. Steve Zahn
    I just realized Zahn is a Minnesota-native, but that’s not exactly the reason for his inclusion. Known mostly for playing the ‘funny best friend,’ Zahn is so much more capable than that and has proven he’s got range in Werner Herzog’s Rescue Dawn. He’s also willing to suffer for his art, a la his co-star Christian Bale, as he lost 40 pounds for the role in that movie. His affable and naturally um, zany personality makes him so fun to watch (i.e. he makes Sahara more bearable, probably even more so if he had as much screen time as Matthew McConaughey!). I’m hoping that his moment to shine isn’t too far away in the horizon.
  7. Matthew Goode
    You’d think someone with his good looks would have no trouble finding lead roles in Hollywood. But Goode is much more than mere eye candy, which makes it all the more frustrating when he’s underutilized as the love interest in a vapid rom-com (read: Leap Year). Lately he’s all over the net as the rumor mill was working overtime in placing him as yet another possible contender for Superman. You already know who I think would be perfect for the role, but the tall, dark haired Brit as a superhero is an idea I can get behind 🙂 Of course I’d rather see him play various characters, and I’d think he’s poised to take over any role that’d normally go to the overworked (and overused) Ryan Reynolds or Sam Worthington.

Btw, you’re probably wondering why I didn’t put Timothy Dalton on this list, but I think I’ve made my feeling about him quite known all over this blog and especially this post. Besides, I’m planning on creating a dedicated list for seasoned actor of his stature sometime in the future.


Well, do you agree/disagree with my list? And while you’re at it, do share which actor(s) you think deserve to get top billing for a change.

NEW SERIES! Flix Character Spotlight: Lord Marke in Tristan + Isolde

Welcome to a new FlixChatter series where I’ll feature a certain movie character every other week. You know how it’s like when you’re watching a movie starring a couple of famous actors, but the supporting actor ends up stealing every scene he’s in and by the end of the movie you care so much for his part than the main leads? Well, this series is dedicated to those actors, who refuse to let limited screen time impact the indelible factor of their performance!

Please note: this post may contain spoilers

Character Spotlight #1: Tristan + Isolde‘s Lord Marke

The dashing Roof as Lord Marke

I mentioned this role in my Birthday post for Rufus Sewell, and after a second viewing of the movie (thanks Prairiegirl!), my admiration for the Lord Marke‘s character is affirmed. Known by most in playing bad guys (The Illusionist, The Legend of Zorro, The Holiday), Sewell embodies the virtuous statesman with such grace and integrity.

Tristan + Isolde is said to have been the inspiration for Shakespeare’s Romeo Juliet, two lovers from warring nations thrown together by chance and fell in love. Set in the Dark Ages after the fall of the Roman Empire, the divided Britain faces Ireland as the all-powerful enemy who’s set to never them united. It was at one of the tribal meetings to unite the country that we first see the heroic and noble nature of Lord Marke, who selflessly saved young Tristan from danger, and lost his right hand in the process. Orphaned due to that brutal attack, Tristan was then taken in by Marke, who raised him as his own son.

Now, given it’s a love story between the star-crossed lovers, we’re supposed to care most about James Franco and Sophia Myles’ characters. Yet, as the story progresses, I find myself drawn to the wise and noble  — not to mention hot – leader with such deep, penetrating eyes. Sure, when you have a looker like Mr. Sewell, it’s obviously a given, but it’s the way he carries himself in the role that really gets me. I won’t go into too much detail, but you can easily guess that due to some political circumstance, Tristan unknowingly offered Isolde to Mark in the name of peace. So even though Isolde ends up marrying the King, it’s inevitable the young lovers would end up continuing their affair.

Lord Marke and his bride Isolde

As a woman, I feel for Isolde for having to marry one she does not love for the sake of political gain. But boy, it’s hard to feel sorry for her when you see the two of them alone in their bed chamber and witness just how tender and loving Marke was towards her [swoon] When I saw her crying I kept thinking, ‘what is your problem, woman?!‘ 🙂 In the commentary feature, writer Dean Georgaris explained how he and director Kevin Reynolds made sure that Marke is written as a good man, because it’s easy for the viewers to root for the young lovers if they had made him to be the bad guy. This way, the betrayal towards him is even more heartbreaking.

I love the bridge scene above when Marke lamented that perhaps Isolde had a lover – it’s clear he’s fallen hard for Isolde.  I can plainly see the guilt that ravages Tristan at the very moment.  and most viewers no doubt feel the same for even rooting for the unfaithful couple. There’s also the moment Marke confronted his wife in the jail cell. Right after Isolde tells him the truth about how she + Tristan were once lovers, the overwhelmed king falls silent, then turns around and leaves. It’s a devastating scene that seals my admiration for this character… and the immensely talented actor who portrays him so perfectly.

Au Revoir Three Rivers

As someone who was championing this show early on, I thought I’d write my response on the inevitable news. Earlier this week, I learned from the Three Rivers blog via Twitter that CBS has ‘pulled it from its Sunday night schedule,’ which essentially means they’re canceling it. I don’t know why they don’t just come right out and say it, as if saying otherwise would soften the blow to the show’s fans. It’s definitely a substantial setback for the lead actor Alex O’Loughlin, as the show was apparently already canceled in his own homeland Australia after just ONE episode! He wrote a heartfelt letter to his fans on his own’s My Space blog expressing his obvious dismay.

As some of you may know, I was pumped to see this as I was a fan of his former CBS show Moonlight. Although its debut didn’t exactly impress me, I was willing to still give TR a chance with a hope that it’d improve enough to get me hooked. Alas, it never happened. In fact, I ‘forgot’ to see it two Sundays ago and didn’t bother to catch it on Hulu right away. Suffice it to say, I lost interest. Therefore, this cancellation news wasn’t really a ‘blow’ to me, but actually a confirmation of what I’ve been feeling. Still, it doesn’t mean I don’t feel bad about the cast, and really, that’s the most disheartening part about this because IMO they’re perhaps the least to blame.

The series seems doomed from the get-go, what with the not-so-desirable Sunday night timeslot that are plagued with inconsistent airtime due to the NFL games over-run. Not to mention the episode switch snafu of the debut where “Ryan’s first day” got pushed to a second episode when it should’ve been the first. I was utterly puzzled seeing Ryan arrived on the job when he already was part of the team the week before. That’s a HUGE screw-up that no doubt led to some dismal reviews. But those are just the beginning. I think if the show were at least compelling and well written, people could easily forgive those mishaps and embrace it anyway. Which brings me to what I think are the two biggest problems with Three Rivers: the poor writing and lack of character development.

I read this one comment from one of this article that exactly summed up my sentiment:

Connie Marshall December 1, 2009 at 4:31 pm
“The problem is simple: terrible writing from Carol Barbee, sappy stories and utter lack of character development. As one reviewer pointed out, you can’t bond to characters you don’t know anything about. Alex is an amazingly talented actor but Barbee didn’t give him anything to work with. I wanted to love this show the way I did Moonlight but it was impossible. I hope Alex dumps CBS and moves on to something worthy of him.”

The lack of character development really bugged me. This is Alex O’Loughlin’s vehicle and CBS made sure of that, yet I can’t bring myself to like his character Andy Yablonski. In fact, after a couple of viewings, I was rooting for other cast members instead of him. I wanted to like him so much the way I did Moonlight’s Mick St. John (more on that later), but Yablonski’s so ho-hum and uninspiring (which is ironic as he’s pegged as a ‘savior’). It’s not the actor’s fault as I think he’s doing his best with the material given to him, but man, he was basically given zero chance to shine. The rest of TR cast members Kate Moennig, Alfre Wooddard, Christopher Hanke, and Daniel Henney are also all very, very watchable, but they’re also wasted by the two reasons above. I couldn’t like Henney’s Dr. Lee as much I wanted to, either. We’re told his character was a ‘ladies man,’ but he never really came across that way. When they tried to show that seductive side of him, the scene was so lackluster and lame. I mean, the guy showed far more magnetism in his no-dialogue clothing commercials! It’s a moot point now but I thought I’d mention that just a couple of weeks ago, I read that Oded Fehr was joining the show — as if having another eye-candy doctor was what the show needed. I like the Israeli actor from the time I saw him in The Mummy series so his presence certainly couldn’t hurt, but I wish CBS had invested in some stellar writers instead.

They have had some pretty good guest stars on the show, i.e. Mandy Patinkin who played a car accident victim with Lou Gehrig’s disease. But overall the show is nothing more but an endless rotation of transplant donors/patients and a tedious hospital daily grind with impossibly attractive surgeons. My friend Becky mentioned that TR shares a similar problem with the fellow CBS show Eleventh Hour — which boast the ever-so-charming Rufus Sewell — in that it never let his character Dr. Jacob Hood go beyond his day-to-day job as a biophysicist. Like I said in my previous reviews, if I wanted to see the day-to-day “reality” life of a hospital, I could’ve just rented a documentary on the subject.

Ok, it’s no surprise that most of Alex’s fans — which surely made up the majority of TR viewers — immediately suggested bringing back Moonlight. Truthfully, that idea did cross my mind as well, and I tell you why. Moonlight had soooo much potential and given people’s never-ending fascination with vampires, such a show had far more appeal than any medical show ever would. It’s hugely ironic that it got canceled right at the massive upsurge of the Twilight hysteria. Ever since then, two vampire TV shows have gained popularity: HBO’s True Blood and WB’s The Vampire Diaries. The first cater to adults with its more risqué scenes; whilst the other is geared for teens. That means Moonlight would fit right in between the two as the only vampire show for its demographic on network TV.

The mesmerizing star-crossed lovers Mick & Beth

I’m not saying Moonlight was a perfect show as it’s got its own shares of problems, too. However, it did have a lot of great things going for it, i.e. fascinating characters and riveting love story. Alex’s Mick and his love triangle with his vampire ex-wife Coraline (who first ‘turned’ him) and his human crush Beth was the glue that kept me tuned in week after week. It was the ultimate guilty pleasure! Sophia Myles was PERFECT as Beth, she is a phenomenal actress who seemed to bring the best out of Alex (and vice versa) and their scenes together are downright addictive. Need proof? Just search for Mick/Beth on Youtube and you’ll get a slew of fan-made clips of the star-crossed lovers. Shannyn Sossamon as the seductive Coraline kept things interesting as she brought in the passionate fury that every vampire show has to have. Not to mention Mick’s mischievous BFF Joseph (played brilliantly by Jason Dohring of Veronica Mars fame) who stole scenes every time he came on. Check out the clip from the last episode. Starting at 03:00, that’s easily one of the most amusing scenes in the whole show. I love Joseph’s wicked sense of humor and I often thought his character was almost worthy of a spin-off! Unlike TR, Moonlight was more about the personal life of the vampire PI than his detective job, so the characters were nicely fleshed-out for viewers to root for.
….

Anyhoo, I can go on and on about this, but let me just close my Moonlight argument once and for all with how great the cliffhanger was of the last few episodes. In the final show, the DA (played by Eric Winters) was shown reading a document listing all the names of vampires living in L.A., which I thought makes for a terrific set up for season two! Mick and Beth were also shown finally consummating their season-long restrained passion for each other, which made us all screamed  ‘now what?!’ in agony when the end credits rolled for the very last time. [Sigh]

Ok, that’s my last rant about Moonlight as we all know there is no chance in heck that vampire show would ever see the light of day (pun intended) ever again.

I do hope that Alex’s contract with CBS will soon end so that he’s ‘free’ to find another show worthy of his talent. He’s got a new movie coming up with Jennifer Lopez (a rom-com, what else) called The Back-Up Plan. It looks pretty predictable and formulaic but at least he’s got the lead role that might get him noticed more in the movie biz. I also wish that Daniel Henney would also find another show soon. That guy has oodles and oodles of screen presence and I sure hope he’d join fellow Korean-American actors such as John Choo in Flash Forward and Ken Jeong in Community to star in a high-profile series. I was actually thinking of checking out Flash Forward but it, too, is facing an uncertain future as ABC shut down production when ratings plummeted.

CBS said it would complete production of its initial 13 episodes, so I may still watch the last five episodes. Oh well, I guess I have to find another show to root for. I wonder when they will air Miami Trauma, starring British actor Jeremy Northam (who’s delightful as Mr. Knightley in Emma, and deliciously evil in The Net). Too bad it’s yet another medical show but if it proves to be better than TR, I just might give it a shot on account of Jeremy!

Top Ten Movie Couples Wish List – Continued

As promised in my previous post of Top Ten Movie Couples, here’s the rationale behind my wish list of actor/actress pairings I’d love to see on-screen:

1. Gerard Butler & Eva Green
I love Eva in Casino Royale, she’s got the perfect combination of intellect + sex appeal. Pair her with the sexy, Scottish bad boy and watch the screen combust!

2. Russell Crowe & Amy Adams
Crowe is a sensitive hero despite his tempestuous aura, whilst Adams is the reigning sweet princess after her terrific turn in Enchanted. They’d be great in something like The Painted Veil, about an ordinary couple going through extraordinary circumstances.

3. Rufus Sewell & Aishwarya Rai
After being in a series of duds lately (including the now cancelled CBS show Eleventh Hour), Sewell ought to get a new agent already! He’s a great character actor who somehow often got cast as the baddie in a given love story (The Holiday, The Illusionist). I’d love to see him do a cultural romantic drama with famed Bollywood’s actress miss Rai (former Miss World 1994) where he’d end up getting the girl.

4. Christian Bale & Emily Blunt
If you’ve been reading my blog you know I love Bale in various romantic scenes he’s been in. Too bad he seems to gravitate towards tortured souls, desolate characters these days. I know he doesn’t like rom-coms, which is fine by me, but it’d be great to see more of him playing a normal guy dealing with relationship issues (kind of like what he did in Laurel Canyon), where he doesn’t starve himself or chop anybody off with an ax. Fellow Brit Emily Blunt stole scenes in The Devil Wears Prada and Jane Austen Book Club. She’s a beautiful & talented actress with great comic skills.  She’d be a suitable match for the ever so serious Bale.

5. Henry Cavill & Sophia Myles
My favorite underrated actor and actress, they both have earned their dues to finally hit the big time. Henry is tall, dark & handsome whilst Sophia is the petite, blond starlet (kind of the British Scarlett Johansson). He’s currently in SHOWTIME’s The Tudors and she was last seen in CBS’ Moonlight (which I think wasn’t a good enough show for her talent). I’d love to see these two in something like The Notebook or Before Sunrise.

6. Johnny Depp & Kate Beckinsale
Johnny is believable in almost anything he does, and I like Kate in Serendipity. She should do more drama/smart rom-com like that, so I’m glad she’s abandoned the Underworld franchise. Hmmm, I could see them do a remake of Wuthering Heights.

7. Timothy Dalton & Emma Thomson
My favorite Bond & Charlotte Bronte’s Rochester + classiest Jane Austen character (Sense & Sensibility‘s Elinor) – oh wouldn’t that be awesome! I can’t fathom why an impossibly good looking, classically-trained seasoned actor like Timothy isn’t busy fending off offers. He’s still dashing even in his early 60s! As for Emma, after seeing Last Chance Harvey, I adore her even more. It’d be great to see these two thespians work together in something like that.

8. Eric Bana & Halle Berry
Everyone may be swooning over Hugh Jackman more these days, but Eric is the ‘boy from Oz’ I find captivating. A former stand-up comic, the down-to-earth charmer makes any flix watchable, especially with his adorable accent. I just think Halle would be an interesting match for Eric in a smart thriller with a tangled love story thrown in.

9. Edward Norton & Maggie Gyllenhaal
These two are massively talented actor with an Indie/artsy flair. I’m surprised they haven’t worked together by now. Both are unconventionally good looking for those who favor brains over beauty. I’d say Edward is the anti-Matthew McConaughey and Maggie the anti-Megan Fox, and that’s a very good thing.

10. Daniel Henney & Rachel McAdams
I first knew about this incredibly hunky Korean/English actor from my sister in-law, and then saw him on-screen for the first time in Wolverine. In this increasingly global everything, isn’t it about time we have a real Asian heartthrob that isn’t known only for his martial art! Not sure yet about his acting skills, as he’s mostly done Korean movies, but US audiences will get a chance to see him in the new CBS series coming this fall, Three Rivers. I just pick Rachel because I thought she was great in The Notebook and Red Eye, I doubt I’d be paying much attention to anybody else once Mr. Henney is on screen though, ehm.