Saturday, May 19, 2012

Thoughts: Prometheus Bound Review at Paper Wing theatre

o... I went to see "Prometheus Bound" last night at the Paper Wing Theatre. Consider me blown away.

Jourdain Barton's direction and approach the material is amazing and I absolutely LOVED LOVE LOVED this show! Based on the mythology of Prometheus, the Titan who dared to take a stand on behalf of humanity and deliver fire unto them. Often used as a symbol for Socialism and Communism, mainly because Karl Marx read the story in one way. Bartons' approach to the material seems far different, however... at least to this viewer. Prometheus is a champion of liberty and opportunity, a Titan who saw the potential of Man to harness the fire and find the arts, to find production, to lift the yolk of tyranny from their own necks through individual effort. Prometheus taunts the supporters of Zeus that have come to gloat, he mocks their subservience and glories in his own suffering because he has already seen what it will lead to. He has been gifted with blessing/curse of foresight and he knows what his actions have inspired from Man.

Timothy Samaniego is a compelling and amazing actor to watch in the title role, and the courage of Prometheus to stand so tall in the face of tyranny, to stand for liberty and self-reliance and the will and ability of humanity to overcome the yolk of power is amazing to watch. His suffering is palpable and the "advice" from those who visit him is absolutely relevant to the political climate of today. We feel his pain as he is chained to the rock, we feel his anguish as he's driven to bouts of madness through his visions, and we glory in his willingness to spit in the face of such punishment. Prometheus suffers but he knows the suffering will bear out in the end, and his purpose does not fall on deaf ears. I was nearly driven to my feet in glee from a transformation that takes place near the end of the show, embodied by the performances from Taylor Noel Young and the director herself.

Erik James Morton provides a slight comic relief in the role of Oceanus, an opportunist who is easily swayed by the motion of the times... the "get along to go along" sort of person, likened to that part in ourselves that choose to not make waves. (pun intended) He's willing to take to the defense of his brother, to dare offer advice to the ever so reasonable Zeus if only his brother will agree to just "get along" with the flow of the times... and the chained, beaten, battered, and tortured Prometheus treats his fellow Titan with nothing short of pity. He already knows where all of this could lead, after all. Morton pulls double duty in the show, so let me also say that the comic relief he brings to Oceanus is in stark contrast to the intense remorse of Hephaestus, the god charged my Zeus with the binding of Prometheus to the forsaken rock.

And then Tatum Tollner brings the audience to tears in the second act. Changed into a cow and chased to the ends of the earths by stinging gadflies as punishment from a jealous Hera, Io finds herself standing before Prometheus and is forced to recount her tale. She demands that the Titan tell her of her fate, to which the Titan complies and her suffering is not near its' end. Her only comfort will be in the knowledge that her offspring in several generations will bring about the end of Zeus' tyranny, that by the hand of her own descendant will Prometheus be freed.

And that brings us to Hermes, portrayed by the Lucas Tovey. Glittering and golden hued, Hermes is the very image of a God on stage. Lucas' has a demanding presence, but the image is not of heroism. His taunting, demanding, and threatening burn the audience to rightful anger as he delivers the demands of Zeus.

The Program offers insight to the director and her goals with bringing this vision to the stage. Producers Koly McBride and LJ Brewer have given voice to one of the most daring productions and their Gallerie Theater offers a proud opportunity for student directors to learn their own voices. I look forward to other productions in the small theater and give kudos to every single person involved with this production. As a fan of Greek Mythology it was an absolute thrill to see Prometheus brought to life on stage.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Abelar: tales of an ancient Empire RANT, FUCK THE REVIEW BULLSHIT!!!!


The long long long awaited sequel to "The Sword and the Sorcerer"?!?!?!! AWWW, FUCK YEAH!!!!

*sputter..... THE FUCK?!?!!*

So let me get this straight…. The long promised “sequel” to the “Sword and the Sorcerer” stars Kevin Sorbo and Michael Pare’, but neither one of them is supposed to be Talon. The story itself has nothing at all to do with Talon, with the evil Sorcerer from the first film, or with the Kingdom of Micah or his sister? Okay… so long as it has a three bladed sword we are going to be fine. Director Alber Pyun hasn’t really had much in the way of a decent film in a really long time, though I’m not going to sit here and pan the Max Havoc series into dust. This direct to DVD sequel has had well over twenty years to develop, even if the films original production company wouldn’t let the trademarks pass and allow Pyun to make an actual sequel with Talon. And as the movie starts… I’m treated to Michael Pare in a really REALLY bad wig, flanked by a pair of other Pyun regulars (Including martial arts star Olivier Grunier!) in the presentation of the films prologue…. And it goes on…. And on…. And on…. Pare is supposed to be a mercenary warrior with less than idealistic scruples. He slays some evil sorcerer, sleeps with the vampiric daughter, slaughters her after cutting his unborn child from her womb, and takes off. All in front of green screen with a number of drawings mixed and blended into the action, saving the cost of hiring actors or building a set or doing any number of things that might be considered a good idea when making a film. OOOOH!!!!! And Lee Horsely gets billed as “the Stranger”…. That could ONLY be Talon and you know he’s going to whoop some in this film! It can’t be that bad, right?!?!?!!

Okay, after this long…. So long… very long series of scenes cut through with the opening credits, we’re finally brought up to date and the Vampire Queen is resurrected when some pirates open her coffin. I’m not sure how… her dust just spontaneously erupts in a fine display of talent from a first year CG student with eye problems. She slaughters the crew and … says stuff. I can’t understand a word through the terrible fake teeth and we have to suffer through this nonsense for the rest of the movie with other characters. She wants revenge on the Daughter of the Queen who hired Pare’ earlier in the credit scene, and so the “other” princess is sent to find him in the wake of her attack. The film starts to chop back and forth in time, showing us flashbacks and giving us a lot of exposition just to learn that the Queens’ sister is one of the many illegitimate children of Pare’ and she starts to meet the others and there are some truly awkward moments here. And this is where Kevin Sorbo comes in, with a passable performance as the half-brother rogue warrior snarking his way through the film. Blah blah blah… they’re being tracked by one of the vampire servants and blah blah blah, meeting a sister, another sister with HER daughter and there’s a full cast but they still need to find the father. AND WE SEE TALON!!!!

Talon says … stuff…. And leaves. He leaves? No fight, no significant moments, nothing but showing up and leaving…. THAT’S IT?!?!?!!!! Twenty years and counting for the much awaited “further adventures” of Talon and we get a snarky comment and a dismissive wave?!?! But then we see someone else has a triple bladed sword… it’s Michael Pare and now he’s in a bad WHITE wig, to indicate that he’s gotten older. And…. WHAT THE F??!?!!! This is where the movie completely jumps the rail because, right up to this point, there was a clear narrative. But now Pare has a fight with the vampires in the desert and uses the blades to kill them, they’ve captured the kids and sent them to the dungeon, but then a voice-over tells us he easily frees the kids and they’re off to kill the Vampire Queen. And then Pare is killed. And the narration goes on to tell us that Sorbo’s character kills the queen…. NARRATION?!?!?!!! WHAT?!?!!

Stunned. Jaw dropping stunned…. I shake my head at the end of this film and…. WHAT?!?!?!! Some vampire girl wakes in the middle of the desert and… starts to say stuff. The movie isn’t over… or… it is? Wait… Pare’ is back, and he’s not dead, and his two joker friends are back with him. He says something profound…. “Every man should lose everything at least once in life.” I JUST LOST AN HOUR AND FORTY MINUTES OF MY LIFE!!!!! And the triple bladed sword makes as much of an impact as… NOTHING!!! NOT A THING!!!! They manage to screw even that much up, and this movie reeks of filth and vomit! TALES OF AN ANCIENT EMPIRE?!?!?!! What is wrong with Albert Pyun?!?!!

1 out of 5.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Review: Avengers and 5 Guys Burgers


To say I’ve been looking forward to this movie would be an understatement. I grew up on comic books and spandex heroes fighting villains! I’m a fan boy at heart, a geek, a bit of a goof, and this film basically carries the promise to put all fan boy hearts into a stuttering patter of goodness and joy. High expectations are usually smashed with the reality of a film, but Marvel Studios did so right by their properties with the Iron Man, Captain America, and Hulk films that it was practically in the bag that this film would blow my freakin’ mind! Even “Thor”, the poorest of the films released, was still a decent action yarn and gave us a great performance from the films lead and showed promise for the Avengers. So was it as good as “all that”?

Writer/Director Joss Whedon tackled the Avengers with the eyes of a fan boy given his dream project. Not only would he have the studio behind him, he also had a capable cast of actors that each headlined their own franchise film recently. Those who hadn’t headlined did make a few appearances in some of those other franchise films, so audiences weren’t completely lost. Some replacement casting was necessary for Bruce Banner (the Hulk) when Edward Norton was replaced with Mark Ruffalo. So with the tools at his disposal, the faith of the studio, and high expectations from the fans, Joss Whedon presents what many are expecting to be the defining blockbuster film of 2012. Did he hit it out of the park?

Marvel Studios has been banking on this film being a hit. They’ve pretty much been working on this project for the better part of the decade. It was high profile and had huge expectations. Were they met?

Enough questions!!!!

YES!!! YES!!! YES!!!

I’m not going to be able to give you a critic’s eye view of things because this movie blew my mind! This movie was everything I was hoping for and more. Whedon was able to weave a meaningful story through complex characters with humor, action, and great attention to detail. He knew what the fans wanted to see and he gave it to them, from the spectacular to the little moments. Because as big and amazing as this film is, it’s the little things that gives the film more depth; The small jokes, the sniping remarks, the meaningful glances, and those iconic images from our childhood.

The ball is set to rolling when Earth’s mightiest Heroes are gathered to thwart the schemes of Loki (brother and enemy of Thor). The former Asgardian returns to Earth with a little help from the Tesserac (MacGuffin cube from Captain America). SHIELD has wanted to use the cube in order to create a source for self-sustainable energy, similar to Tony Stark’s (Iron Man) reactor. Loki wants to use the cube to bring an alien invasion force to earth. Because the cube exhibits some faint traces of gamma radiation, SHIELD brings in Bruce Banner for his expertise and the other heroes are gathered for various reasons. When everything is set to boil, the film could have exploded into action and many fans would have been sent home happy… but Whedon delivers some powerful dialogue and shows that these are not the “super friends”! Each character is driven by their own struggles, separated by egos and purpose, and the mixture of elements threatens to explode at nearly every turn as each “hero” questions the worth of the other. And none of them are wrong, none of them are right, and we see an eclectic group of people who all have their own stories to tell. And every story is told brilliantly.

5 out of 5.

Five Guys Burgers

“Better than In –N- Out Burger!”

Yeah, that’s the boast I read in a letter to the editor of our local weekly newspaper. And the boasting didn’t end there, with accolades posted along the joints walls when I stepped in. The long line moved at a steady pace, but the building was packed with people who all decided to take a chance on Salinas’ newest burger joint and sample their menu. It offered burgers and hot dogs and French fries cooked in Peanut Oil. There were shelled peanuts scattered about the place and the comparison to In N Out seemed obvious with their white and red motif.

I’m curious and it’s been a good weekend, so why not give this place a swing with a little taste of what they have to offer before I levy harsh and unearned criticism. I order the bacon cheeseburger, I grab up some fries, and the family orders what they want and we get a pretty hefty price tag attached to our weekend family lunch. The toppings are free, so I guess that’s kind of a bonus. Grilled onions, grilled mushrooms, several sauces, pickles, lettuce, the whole nine yards… I settle for my favorite toppings and skip on some of the stuff that aren’t my bag, baby. I munch of a few peanuts down, against doctors orders and I know I’ll pay the price later when it comes time for digestion. The burgers show up, we take our seats, and the eating begins.

The fries are good… fresh potatoes seasoned with salt and a few other flavors, fried in peanut oil. The cuts are fairly thick and there’s plenty of fluff inside. They take a decent dipping in the ketchup, I eat a few mouthfuls and I can’t complain. They’re good. They’re better than the King, the Clown, and the Red-head. But we’re comparing these fries to the string cut glory of In-N-Out, so we have to measure on those standards alone. And while the reach to touch that golden glory, the fingertips only barely graze and we realize that they aren’t QUITE that good. There are no animal fries here, folks. It’s just really good fries in a cup and that might be good enough, but not for the comparison.

The burger taste begins… the lettuce is fresh, the pickles are a sparkle on the tongue, and the bread has a little toasting to provide firmness. Bacon bonus points, since In-N-Out doesn’t offer it… but then we hit the meat of the matter. It’s got a fresh taste, but no real seasoning. The burger has a wet crumble to it, well cooked and decently prepared and it’s better than the Clown. I find it comparable to the red-head… but we’re supposed to be comparing it to another creature entirely and this burger lacks the salty tang of the Red and White. There’s no “special sauce” here, either…. There wasn’t an option for one, admittedly, though it gave us plenty of others. So it may not be fair to cut it short here… it’s a different burger. It’s not better or worse, but then I turn to my son: Big eyes, big smile, and he is voting this burger better?!?!!! WHAT?!?!?! This is a harsh betrayal from my own blood?!?!!!

The wife and I are aghast at this turn of events.

We save the secret battle for later and bag the rest of our fries and our hot dog. Making our exit from the establishment, my wife shells a pocketful of peanuts and we are gone. Several hours later, I warm up the bag and unwrap the foil around the secret battle. Hot dog… split and fried, no muss or fuss. It’s good. It’s really really god. This is what a hot dog should be in life and it’s delicious! Oh, hot dog….

4 out of 5.