Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Pretty Little Liars: "We've All Got Baggage" Recap & Review

Wedding bells and murder weapons. Ah, yes. What else would you expect from the town of Rosewood? As always, the Liars have their plates full, with Emily's eggs being stolen from a fertility clinic, Spencer’s mother coming clean about her cancer, Ezra returning with his newly written book that Aria ghostwrote in his absence, and Hanna finding herself unemployed. You know, the usual.

When a wave of dirty politics hits the Hastings’ Senate campaign, Caleb takes the fall for Spencer after a secret someone uses her IP address to send out damaging reports. Spencer’s mother fires Caleb after he falsely confesses and he is consequently kicked out of the barn. That seems okay with him, because he’s more preoccupied with the suspicion surrounding Spencer’s sister. After all, Melissa’s broken suitcase could be the murder weapon in Charlotte’s death. Plus, Hanna conveniently remembers an absurdly unforgettable run-in with Spencer’s sister back in New York. It's funny how something like this would slip her mind...until the perfect time to label Melissa as the next red herring.

Emily meets a friendly face while ordering textbooks at Hollis, only to later find out that he’s an undercover reporter. With this knowledge, she turns the tables and weasels information out of him, discovering that Melissa returned early from London and therefore could have made the infamous call to the DeLaurentis house on the night of Charlotte’s murder. Emily heads out to the diner where the landline originated in search of more answers, only to find the parking lot and building empty. A monster pickup truck then begins threatening her, repeatedly barreling down on the young woman as she tries not to get made into a crushed hood ornament. Emily conveniently takes shelter on top of a large metal storage container after the truck manages to run over her cell. While up there, Emily just so happens to come across a long metal rod that looks suspiciously like the murder weapon!

But of course, she drops it, allowing the chaotic truck driver to reclaim the piece. 

Meanwhile, Mr. Montgomery asks his daughter to be the wedding officiant for his and Ella’s impending nuptials as Hanna finds temporary work acting as Ella’s stylist. The wedding goes off without a hitch, but all isn’t well for Aria. Obviously, to up the melodrama, Liam assumes the worst in regard as to why Aria wants to stay in Rosewood. Apparently, it never ever came up that she previously dated the literary darling of her publishing house. So when Fitz accidently drops the histrionic bomb to her new beau over lunch, it racks Aria with unnecessary guilt later on as she officiates her parents’ second walk down the aisle. Then, of course, Liam comes to the wedding, and the two quickly make up over the ridiculous quarrel. The reunion seems sweet until a couple of unexpected visitors show up on Aria’s doorstep following the ceremony. Since Aria’s now officiated, Alison and Elliot come to her, insisting that she marry the pair right then and there. And by the look on Aria’s face, she’s not particularly comfortable with the idea. 

PLL these days is pretty hit or miss. Sure, the series has descended to more of a soap-opera level that forces you to suspend all disbelief at the door, but it can be fun in a campy sort of way. When it’s not so much fun though, it’s really just pure melodrama without payoff. In addition, the transition from past to present in the five year time jump is still rough. The Liars themselves blossomed nicely into their future versions, but the same cannot be said about the supporting players. One in particular: Caleb Rivers. Remember the days when he was the rugged, rough-around-the-edges bad boy?

Yeah, those really are just memories now, because there’s not a single fleck of that guy left. Now, Caleb looks like a polished country club hipster, sporting polos and bright colors. Seriously, what happened to the leather jackets and devil-may-care attitude? He’s now another stuffed shirt in a line of replaceable cookie cutter men. And even after all these weeks, we still have no clue as to what the heck happened between Spencer and Toby. There’s unmistakable hostility on his end, and the destruction of their relationship might help us feel better about the sudden ship between Spencer and Caleb. Answers, PLL. We need answers.   

Episode Rating: C


Monday, February 15, 2016

Movie Review: DEADPOOL

Based upon Marvel Comics’ most iconic anti-hero, Deadpool is the origin story of former Special Forces operative turned mercenary Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds). After nearly being killed in an off-the-books experiment by rogue scientist Ajax (Ed Skrein), Wilson’s left disfigured but gifted with accelerated healing powers. Upon adopting the alter ego Deadpool, the wisecracking “Merc with a Mouth” hunts down the man who destroyed his life.

As all moviegoers know, January is the worst month when it comes to film releases. And sadly, February rarely looks much better. Given this month in history also housed the releases of disastrous superhero adaptations such as 2003’s Daredevil and 2007’s Ghost Rider, it hardly instills confidence in audience members. Compound that with the fact that Ryan Reynolds has become a battle-scarred veteran of failed comic book adaptations (X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Green Lantern, and Blade: Trinity) and that Deadpool is Tim Miller’s feature-length directorial debut, walking into the theater with high hopes seems inevitably futile. So, is the fourth time really the charm for Reynolds?

In the most rewarding surprise of the year, the Merc with a Mouth blows expectations out of the water with gratuitous violence, vulgar humor, and bloody satisfaction. Comic book origin stories tend to start slow due to character development, as seen in fellow Marvel movies like Captain America: The First Avenger. Breaking not only the fourth wall, but all the rules, Deadpool cleverly avoids this pitfall by way of nonlinear storytelling, jumping back and forth between past and present events.

Ryan Reynolds is no stranger to comedy, considering most of his successful early work was in this very genre, and his timing, crass, and delivery couldn’t be more on point than right here, made all the more riotous when coupled with the hilarious T.J. Miller. Not only is the acting superb, but the writing is gloriously raunchy. This isn’t a soft R-rating by any stretch of the imagination. It knows it’s pushing the boundaries, and plows through them unapologetically. Adding to the first-rate roster is director Tim Miller. Yes, this may be his first full-length feature, but this is no amateur at the helm. With previous visual effects experience on both X-Men and X2: X-Men United and stunning directorial work showcased in David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’s title sequence, it’s impossible to deny that the man has raw talent and an eye for stylized imagery.

Due to its gratuitous nature, Deadpool may not everyone’s cup of tea, particularly for younger audiences. The film’s numerous trailers give you an accurate idea of just what kind of experience you’re in for. So if you’re one of the many who reveled in the sneak peeks, you’re guaranteed to love this rip-roaring comic book adaptation. In fact, it just might leave you giddy upon exiting the theater.

At last, we can wash out the horrible taste from our mouths with FOX’s previous attempt.


And we can now revel in the foul-mouthed glory that is this…

Deadpool is undeniably the best laugh and action-pleaser seen this year.

5 out of 5 Stars

POSTER: By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46244159

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A Humorous Look At Why Valentine's Day Sucks...

Ah, yes. Valentine’s Day, that special time of year when Hallmark makes a killing, roses cost an arm and a leg, and you can’t escape from everything heart-shaped. It’s supposed to be about love and eternal happiness, but in actuality it’s just a headache and a half. Sure, if you’re like my folks who’ve been married for more than a quarter of a century, Valentine’s Day is just another routine of sweet gestures, flowers, and a quiet dinner.

For the rest of us out there though, it ain’t that simple.

What V-Day can really be is a freaking emotional MINEFIELD, no matter what relationship status you hold! Here is my Top 5 list of reasons why February 14th sucks.


Thanks to the unrealistic expectations Hollywood has ingrained into the mindset of the average modern woman, pretty much every man has been set up to fail spectacularly on this “special” night.

Sure, you could pull a Christian Grey and tell your significant other that you “don’t do romance.”

HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!! Yeah, hate to break it to you, but if you were hoping to get lucky, you’re gonna have to look to your right hand.

With that notion axed, you’re going to have to find something mind-blowing to sweep her off her feet. But when you’re competing against your lovely lady’s fantasy of Ryan Gosling passionately kissing her in the rain, your box of toothpaste-filled chocolates and ten dollar teddy bear don’t stand a chance.


Because of this commercially driven faux-holiday, the price of everything is going to SKYROCKET. Sorry, fellas, but that money you had set aside to fill up your gas tank will be flushed down the metaphorical toilet so you can buy ridiculous things like a singing stuffed animal that your girlfriend/wife probably won’t ever touch again after tomorrow morning.


Yep, like it or not, but when the fourteenth rolls around, you’re gonna find yourself in the world of COMMITMENT. For a reason unbeknownst to me, Valentine’s Day makes couples go crazy. If you’re in a new relationship, you now have to worry about what impression you make on the evening.

It’s just another date night…right?

Nope. For some, when you take someone out on February 14th, it can be a much bigger deal than you’d think it is. Some people see this invitation as a cue that you’re ready to take things to the next level.
Yep. While you’re innocently deciding on what entrĂ©e you want off the menu, the person sitting across from you may already be planning your guys’ wedding in their heads!

And if you’re in a relationship that's a bit more long-term, then prepare for grenades to start going off. Popping (or not popping) the question can honestly lead to a five-year relationship going up in smoke. Everyone knows that romantic gestures are all the rage during the holidays, whether it be performed on Christmas, Thanksgiving, or New Years. Valentine’s Day is no exception. If one member of the couple has previously expressed that it’s time to tie the knot, V-Day is the other person’s nightmare. If the woman wishes for her man to “put a ring on it” and the guy’s not ready to step up to the plate, he’s doomed for. And if the tables are turned, then the woman will be living in sheer dread for dessert time to arrive, because she knows there’s going to be a diamond ring hiding in her ice cream. The entire evening is pretty much like being trapped in a plane plummeting from the sky.
You won’t know when the crash will happen, but you knows it’s coming.


When the holidays roll around, some of those single folks out there seem to feel the loneliness more than ever. When Valentine’s Day is on the horizon…oh boy, can things get weird… You know when you’re at the bar and you have that pesky patron that just won’t leave you alone? At the beginning of the evening, you know this guy is easily the most annoying human being in the room. After a few cocktails though....
....this gremlin starts to look less and less horrible.
This same curious mindset can be applied to the days leading up February 14th. 

Some people can’t stand the thought of being alone on this particular day. This may lead to irrational thinking. Remember four months ago when you were throwing your boyfriend’s clothes out your guys’ apartment window? Yep, that ass-hat who you swore to loath for all eternity. Now, come February, as you’re being bombarded by Valentine’s Day themed everything at the grocery store, you begin to take a walk down Memory Lane…with rose-colored glasses.
And now you're not thinking clearly....
....and you're feeling more alone than ever.

Worst of all....when the ghosts of boyfriends past comes seeking YOU out!
Just when you think it's safe to head out the front door, you notice a certain someone waiting for you, and you're all like....
And then you notice them suddenly showing up everywhere you go, because they want to talk with you....

They just need some love, right?
Not from you…please!


All your happily matched-up friends gab about their special plans for the evening, and inquiry inevitably shifts to you.

Friend: “So, what are your plans Sunday night?”

You: “Just staying in.”

Valentine’s Day suddenly makes those without a beau feel like that poor kid in high school who wasn’t invited to the BIG party.

You tell yourself you’re okay with it…
  But really...
So after all the horribly awkward "pity" stares from loved ones, you decide to embellish your plans. When you're asked the next time, you tell them that you're spending the night curled up on the couch with not one, but two delicious men....which is sort of true. You just fail to mention that their names happen to be Ben & Jerry.
After all's said and done, you're not getting out of Valentine's Day without some emotional scars.
There's only one thing left for you to do....
Disclaimer: I do NOT own any of these gifs, and I do not receive any compensation for their use. All rights belong to their respected owners. I just LOVE "Supernatural," and these guys just really know how to express my feelings. :-)

Monday, February 8, 2016

Review: WGN America's "Outsiders"

The first thing a casual viewer thinks of when hearing WGN America is either sports programming or off-air sitcom reruns. It’s not until the past couple years that the forty-year-old network has stepped outside its comfort zone by coming up with its own original programming. Since making headway, WGN America has produced the highly acclaimed period drama Manhattan and the dangerously sexy supernatural series Salem. Added to the roster this year comes the Paul Giamatti/Kurt Sutter original show Outsiders.

In the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky rests mountainfolk known as the “Farrell Clan.” Having shunned the conventions and comforts of society, these people live in isolation just outside the fictitious town of Blackburg where locals fear their unwelcomed presence on the rare occasion these outlaws make their way into town.  The Farrell’s’ idyllic, homesteading way of life suddenly comes under attack as a mining company gains approval to evict the clan from their beloved mountain to obtain the precious materials buried beneath the land.

This distressing news comes at an opportune time for Asa Farrell (Joe Anderson, “The Grey”), who has been imprisoned upon his return to the clan after spending a decade in ordinary society. Given that every other member of the clan is illiterate, Big Foster (David Morse) regrettably sets Asa free for his abandonment, as he needs him to read the eviction notice stapled at the bottom of the mountain. In town, widowed Deputy Sheriff, Wade Houghton (Thomas M. Wright, “The Bridge”), tries to warn his superiors regarding the inevitable bloodshed that will follow if they try to force out the unruly mountainfolk. His concerns are overlooked, and he’s now saddled with the ill-fated undertaking of having to remove the Farrells from their land.  

News of the eviction results in a power struggle in the clan as monarch Lady Ray (Phyllis Somerville) suddenly delays turning over her authority to Big Foster. As retribution, Big Foster leads a raid in Blackburg against a mobster that goes sideways, resulting in a tailspin of events.

In the hands of lesser minds, “Outsiders” could quickly dissolve into a ridiculous attempt to glorify violence with the use of hillbillies as a catalyst to convey the evils of coal mining. As a welcomed surprise to the network’s growing catalog, the series surpasses expectations with deeply layered subplots, compelling performances, and cleverly crafted dialogue. Its true endowment, however, rests in its perfect cast of character actors. Kyle Gallner (“The Walking Dead” and “American Sniper”) proves only further just how underrated he truly is with his portrayal as the charming backwoodsman Hasil Farrell, holding his own amongst a very talented, eclectic troupe.  Accompanying him is “Sons of Anarchy” alum Ryan Hurst, who steps back in to familiar territory as another ruffian outlaw, and David Morse as the aggressive and psychotic Big Foster. Thomas M. Wright, however, claims the title as the series’ official scene-stealer in his turn as the depressive Deputy Houghton.

Plenty of comparisons can be drawn between “Outsiders” and Kurt Sutter’s prized “Sons of Anarchy”, which is an amazing accomplishment for such a fresh faced series. Just as “SOA” paid homage to Hamlet, it’s impossible not to note the undertones of Macbeth in “Outsiders”. With copious amounts of moonshine, hunting, and criminal undertakings, fans of “Sons” and “Justified” will revel in WGN America’s unyielding newcomer.

Definitely a must-watch.

Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=49241888