Thursday, January 31, 2013

Green Arrow Saves & Bonds With Diggle in 'Trust But Verify' Episode

Green Arrow Oliver Queen and John Diggle in "Trust But Verify"
In the Season 1 Arrow episode, "Trust But Verify," John Diggle's former military training officer appears on Oliver Queen's little book of men he must eliminate. John Diggle has a problem with this. John Diggle served with Ted Gaynor in Afghanistan, and this target hits a little too close to home for Diggle to sit by and watch.

After all, Gaynor is "innocent until proven guilty."

For sci-fi fans out there, Ted Gaynor is played by none other than Ben Browder. He is most famous for his role on Farscape, and the later seasons of Stargate: SG1. Oliver Queen is played by Stephen Arnell. John Diggle is played by David Ramsey.

The episode starts out with an armed robbery of an armored courier transporting cash. Oliver Queen studies video surveillance to deduce that these robbers have military training. Diggle agrees, but is skeptical that his former military leader is involved in any way.

Diggle sets out on his own to prove that Gaynor is innocent of any wrongdoings, so he takes Gaynor up on a standing offer to join his company, Black Hawk.Security. Diggle takes the job only after saving Gaynor from the hands of the Green Arrow. Oliver manages to swipe a flash drive from Gaynor's office before making a quick getaway.

Oliver later finds that the flash drive contains elaborate map of routes used by an armored transport service. 

As Diggle is learning the ropes from Gaynor, he learns of another ex-military guy that has recently been hired by Gaynor. Diggle wonders why Gaynor would hire such a loose cannon. Gaynor explains that everyone needs a second chance. Without this job, he would be "knocking off liquor stores for money."

~I found it very ironic that Gaynor makes this comment since you are wondering if he is really involved with the robberies.~

Oliver informs Diggle at Thea's Birthday party that a man involved with a failed heist has been wounded, and is bleeding. He knows, because he just foiled their robbery, leaving a man mortally wounded. As Diggle leaves the party, Oliver brushes the inside of Diggle's lapel with a bug to track and listen in on him.

If Gaynor is involved, then his guys would have dripped blood in one of the vans. Diggle goes back to the Black Hawk Security Warehouse to investigate the fleet of vans. When he finds fresh blood in a van, he is sobered to the reality that Gaynor is guilty. That, and the fact that one of the vans has a peel-away magnetic logo covering a fake company. The same van used as the getaway vehicle in the robberies.

As Diggle steps out into the warehouse, Gaynor comes out and forces Diggle to help with the next robbery, or his sister-in-law will die. Diggle complies. 

The next scene reveals Diggle standing in the middle of the road with a grenade launcher as an oncoming van is heading towards him. He doesn't step out as the van zips past him. This angers Gaynor, but Diggle starts blasting the Black Hawk team with his grenade launcher. Green Arrow joins the fight. Gaynor runs, and Diggle chases. The meet at a dead end against a fence. Gaynor calls Diggle's bluff, saying he won't shoot. Diggle fails to pull the trigger, but Oliver Queen zips an arrow into Gaynor's chest, saving Diggle.

David Ramsey as John Diggle in "Trust But Verify" Arrow, episode 11

A flashback to the island where Oliver was stranded reveals that the asian man he thought was being hunted, was really planted by the [bad] Military Leader. It was all a setup to catch Oliver Queen. I didn't see that coming. The flashback leaves us watching Oliver in a makeshift cage on an island at the hands of the bad guys.

Thea's Drug Use
Ever since her introduction to the show, Thea has experimented with drugs at the loss of her father and brother. In the past few episode before "Trust But Verify," Thea has appeared to clean up her act, since her brother Oliver is back. But, at her suspicion that her mother is cheating on Walter with Tommy Merlyn's dad, she decides to take the latest designer drug, called "Vertigo."

As a result of her indiscretion, she wrecks her brand new convertible that she receives as a birthday present. As she is walking out of the hospital, cops arrest her because she tested positive for narcotics.

This is a lead-in to the next episode - episode 12 - where Oliver Queen is drugged and taken captive by the Vertigo drug dealer.

Is Moira Queen Cheating on Walter?
Thea is distraught in this episode because she has seen her mother consulting with Malcolm Merlyn twice now. The first time was right before her father and Oliver left on the boat that went down in the ocean, and now, on the cusp of Walter's disappearance. Thea tells Oliver her suspicions that their mom is having an affair with Malcolm Merlyn. Oliver then confronts his mother, who lies to him, saying she is only consulting with Malcolm as a business consultant.

The Good Guys Bond
One of the most significant takeaways from episode 11 is that Oliver Queen and John Diggle really learn to trust each other. At the very end, Oliver entrusts his little book of names to John Diggle. Diggle returns with "I don't want to know any names in there until you tell me." They become closer as friends and teammates by the end of this ordeal (and episode).

Season 1, episode 11 was good. "Trust But Verify" will be available to watch online for a short time until more episode air.

I give it Z.Love's Stamp of Approval for an entertaining Television drama. 
Z.Love's Stamp of Approval

Please note that Z.Love does not endorse drug use as described in the above episode.

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Bourne Legacy Synopsis & Review

Jeremy Renner playing  agent Aaron Cross in The Bourne Legacy

The Bourne Legacy was a breath of fresh air.

Jeremy Renner was a good choice to show a different agent part of an op called “Outcome.”

First off, I really like this movie because it felt like there was a great plot and story to it, versus Jason Bourne running around kicking everyone’s butt for the sake of making another Bourne action movie. Matt Damon, your time is up. Step aside for Jeremy Renner.


Note: This is only a partial movie summary, because I don't want to ruin the ending.

Jeremy Renner plays agent Aaron Cross in the movie. He survives an attempt to terminate the agents involved with the program after concern by the higher-ups that their special ops programs are about to receive bad publicity. The argument from Retired Col. Eric Byer (USAF) – played by Edward Norton - who has a say on these programs, is that the science has already been developed. They can start back at ground zero and start new special ops programs in the event that Operations TREADSTONE and BLACK BRIAR get exposed by the media.

Col. Byer then makes the decision to terminate the program and all agents involved. These agents have been receiving a blue and green pill. The blue pill is for enhancing cognitive abilities and the green pill is for enhancing physical stamina and muscle recovery by 1.5%. The agents now all receiving a yellow pill. They think that the blue and green pills have been combined and this is the next generation pill. The reality is that this is the death pill.

So all of the operatives in various parts of the world are taking their yellow pills, except for the two on the remote snowy mountain – Agent Aaron Cross and an Outcome agent played by Oscar Isaac. They mail in his blood samples via unmanned aircraft. They are awaiting orders at the remote mountain cabin, and Aaron Cross hears something in the distance. He goes outside to separate because agent training kicks in. Agents split up to reduce the chance of both being killed in a single strike.

This was a smart tactical move, because the Air Force sent in an unmanned drone to blast the cabin with rocket-propelled missiles. Aaron Cross was still showing on the map, because of an implanted GPS inside his torso. He pulled out a reflective poncho and covered it with an aluminum pie pan to prevent the tracking device to give off his signal.

He had to then do an emergency removal of the tracking device, right there in the snow. That’s a trooper, right there. After removal, he stuck it in his mouth, because Agent Cross had an idea. Those nasty wolves that had been hunting him were going to be a new vehicle for the tracking device.
Aaron Cross had another run in with the wolves, and managed to force the Alpha wolf to swallow the tracking device. They then take off in separate directions.

There is another explosion from an air strike, and the wolf is blown to smithereens.

Aaron Cross 1, Wolf 0.

Col. Eric Byer and the command believes Aaron Cross is now dead. We don’t see him again until after a suicide killing at the local top secret research lab. All scientists working on the special pill formulas are killed except one – Dr. Marta Shearing (played by Rachel Weisz). She is traumatized by the mass murder at the lab incident and we see her back at secluded house in the woods, packing to fly to Canada. Agents come to her house and begin interrogating her, but don’t let in that they are going to kill her. After they find her gun, they attempt to make it look like a suicide in her own home.

Aaron Cross springs into action from the pantry, taking out baddie #1 and #2 in the kitchen. Other agents come in with machine guns, and Aaron Cross eliminates them with ease.

Dr. Shearing and Aaron Cross then leave in his car to escape capture.

Driving away they have a “pull over” moment because Dr. Marta Shearing is freaking out. Aaron Cross basically says, “If you think you have a better chance running on your own, be my guest. They have unlimited resources and will track you down and kill you.”

Aaron Cross/Dr. Shearing also talk about the scientist mass killing at the lab. It happened because the top dogs in charge activated a form of mind-control to manipulate the lab scientist into going homicidal. Mind control is a dangerous thing, in the hands of the wrong people.

She then comes to her senses. He wants to know where he can get more pills. He has been without his blue pill for 51 hours. She then tells him that agents have been viraled off the green, meaning they no longer have to take it, but the agents were not aware of this. Having to continue to take pills keeps the agents on a short lease, dependant on their handlers and ultimately, their military superiors.

Aaron Cross is then determined to viral off of the blue pill, so he does not bottom out. He explained that he very smart before entering the program, and that going off the pill meant that he had even farther to fall, and people that stopped taking it spike downward. It would be the end of him.

So Aaron Cross and Dr. Shearing decide to go to the manufacturing plant in the Philippines.

Since I liked this movie and do not want to go any further, you need to rent or buy this movie to see what happens. The ending will not be spoiled for you.

This movie was definitely a breath of fresh air for the Bourne franchise. When the movie ended, I thought it could have keep going, and I would’ve kept watching.

The Bourne Legacy was not just a non-stop butt kicker, but filled you in on the chain of command, and what happens to an agent when a special op has been terminated. It makes you wonder if things like this go on in real life. Probably so.

I did not know the movie was going to end like it did. I was expecting more, and would've watched more because it was a good movie. I look forward to seeing more from Jeremy Renner.

I give it Z.Love's Stamp of Approval for being a good movie.

Z.Love's Stamp of Approval

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Joss Whedon's S.H.I.E.L.D. TV Show Anticipating Fall 2013 Debut

Marvel's S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Coulson

Is Joss Whedon creating a new TV Series for Fall 2013?

Why, yes he is, I am so glad you asked.

Joss Whedon is attempting to get his pilot for a TV series picked up on ABC.

What is it called?

The show is based on S.H.I.E.L.D. agents that work alongside the superheroes in the Marvel Universe, most notably the Avengers.

What does S.H.I.E.L.D. stand for?

Pre-1991 the acronym S.H.I.E.L.D. stood for: Supreme Headquarters, International Espionage, Law-Enforcement Division

Post-1991, the acronym S.H.I.E.L.D. stands for: Strategic Homeland Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate.

Will Marvel comic book characters make any appearances in the S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series?

Unknown, but Clark Gregg from the Avengers and Iron Man 2 will reprise his role as Agent Coulson. reported in August 2012 that S.H.I.E.L.D. got the green light:

"S.H.I.E.L.D. will be written by Whedon and frequent collaborators, his brother Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen. Joss Whedon also is set to direct the pilot, schedule permitting. Production on the pilot, which marks the first live-action Marvel TV project to get a green light, will start immediately. Joss Whedon, Jed Whedon, and Tancharoen executive produce with Jeffrey Bell and Marvel TV's Jeph Loeb."

ABC President Paul Lee said this about S.H.I.E.L.D. in an IGN interview:
"There is no question that it is part of the Marvel Universe. In fact, the story takes place after the battle for New York. This is S.H.I.E.L.D. They're following their own particular stories. There are characters in it, Coulson, who clearly comes from the Avengers. So it's part of the world, but we're going to be very, very careful that we don't tread on the toes of the features and build a whole new world. And that's what Joss Whedon does better than anybody else. He's built a world for us."

Fans should be very excited about this new Joss Whedon TV series.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Review: Django Unchained is a Bloody Mess

Django Unchained starring Jamie Foxx

Django Unchained (2012) is one bloody movie. Of course, what Quentin Tarantino movie isn’t bloody?
{This review has movie SPOILERS.}

First of all, this is not a family friendly movie. The “R” Rating should obviously give that away. But just in case you were considering taking your 13-or-younger teen to this movie, don’t.

Django Unchained is a movie about a slave that turns into a bounty hunter, but the movie is filled to the brim with unrealistic blood shooting every which way from excessive gunfights, and foul-mouthed language (including the “N” word 30-something times).  Jamie Foxx plays Django.

I would never choose to watch this movie again. Once is more than enough for me. It is far too graphic and foul-mouthed. You leave the theater feeling filthy – like you are covered in the blood of all those people that died.

Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino obviously does not hold the view that less is better. Sometimes, it should be left to the viewer that the bad guys are disposed of. That is not the case in this movie. Quentin Tarantino makes sure to add yet another scene with Django killing yet more people.

Noble Characters?
Django Unchained would have been a decent movie if viewers would have gotten a sense that Django and his friend “Mr. Shultz” were noble men. This was attempted by the fact that Mr. Shultz let the slaves go in the beginning, and giving Django his freedom. But later in the movie, Mr. Shultz has Django shoot a man plowing a field while his 10-year old son watches. Shouldn’t the more noble thing be to take him in alive? Apparently not.

By the time all the killing is done, Django does not seem to have any grace or mercy toward anyone. Even Lara Lee Candie-Fitzwilly is shot dead. Only reason I can figure is that she was on the wrong side (and the wrong skin color).

 2 Things That Should’ve Been in the Movie (Based on the Dialogue):
1.       Mr. Shultz said they were going to search every plantation in Gatlinburg until they found the Riddle Brothers. The movie should’ve showed more searching. They found the plantation (ran by Don Johnson) on the first try. No searching was involved. 
2.       Mr. Shultz tells Django that Mississippi is full of slave-owners and that it will be very difficult to find out where his wife is because it is the center of slavery in the South. The camera has the words "Mississippi" (float across the screen), and Mr. Shultz and Django have no issue in finding Broomhilda's plantation (Candie-land) without being noticed. This should've been more challenging, since it is extremely rare for a black man to be a free man in the South, and especially in Mississippi. 

The dialogue says that they will have a difficult time doing things, but the visual movie does not show them to be hard. Anybody else catch this?

A Few Things That I Liked About the Movie:
1. The Django Theme Song
2. Jamie Foxx's acting (aside from the gratuitous killing)
3. Christoph Waltz's acting
4. The Tarantino-esque zoom in on Mr. Candie's (Leo's) face
5. Jamie Foxx bareback riding on the horse was pretty cool

The Ending:
The end of the movie, Django escapes from being sold to the mining company by telling the escorts a lie. He kills them and takes their guns and dynamite and rides off, leaving 3 slaves to free themselves, with one “hater” smiling because Django gets the best of the bad guys. This would have been the right time to end the movie. I could visualize Django getting his wife back and winning.

But the movie continued on about another 10 minutes, having Django killing every last man, and blowing up the Candie-land house.

Mr. Tarantino, in some cases, less is better, and your movies should use some of this restraint. It is called meekness. Just because you can show it, doesn’t mean you should. Because you have to keep going and pressing the issue, I think it actually takes away from your movie.

The most disturbing segment of the movie is when Leonardo di Caprio’s character let two dogs rip a slave to pieces, while everyone watches. Snippets of this are later replayed in the movie, as if seeing it once was not enough. Again, knowing the dogs were going to kill him was enough, but we had to view this multiple times -- Just sickening.

Every gun fight had blood bursting forth from the body. This was way too unrealistic. After a while, this just gets old.

Even though this movie attempted to be accurate in terms of race relations during the time period, I don’t think this movie does do anything to leave the movie-goer feeling good. The only thing in the end is that Django and his wife ride away on horses. Everyone else is dead.

Oprah endorsed this movie, while Spike Lee protested it.

There is nothing else to say about this gratuitous movie. 

Leonardo di Caprio and Jamie Foxx in Django Unchained

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Looper Movie Plot Involves a Decision of Morality

Looper Movie Poster;

I rented Looper (2012) last night from Redbox. The story of the movie was not bad. I did not like the language. If you have a TV guardian - the foul language blocker - use it with this Rated R movie.

Looper is a movie that incorporates time travel in its story. And since this post has SPOILERS, do not continue reading if you don’t want the plot points of the movie to be revealed.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a character named Joe. He is what you call a “looper” because he does the dirty work for the mob of the future. They’ll want to get rid of a person, so they’ll send the person back in time 30 years to a location where a looper is waiting. The looper will then shoot the person with a blunderbuss shotgun, a short-range weapon that quickly kills a man.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt does not look like himself in this movie, due to obvious makeup adjustments to make his face look more like Bruce Willis playing his older self in the future.

In the future, time travel is banned, and only the rich and powerful mob has time-travel devices operated illegally. Since people are harder to kill in the future (due to more efficient identification processes), the mob sends a person back in time to 2044 to be taken out by a looper.

Part of the deal of being a looper, is that at some point the mob will decide to “close the loop.” When this happens, the looper in the future (which is 30 years older) is sent back with a bag over his head, and a large payday of gold bars instead of the typical silver. The looper usually won’t find out that he is closing the loop until after he tears open the victim’s covering to find gold bars. At that point, the looper can cash out and live out the next 30 years doing as he chooses.

One thing to point out is that some people have developed a telekinetic ability in 2044. Those with the powers are called TK’s. The extent of the majority of people is the ability to levitate quarters. That’s it.

The movie, Looper, is one that starts by following young Joe, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and then at the point where old Joe (played by Bruce Willis) is sent back, then we follow old Joe for a little while.
Old Joe is kidnapped and sent back so his loop will be closed, but first he must watch his love die at the hands of the kidnappers. As he is being handcuffed, he breaks free but still goes back in time. He does not wear his head-sack, so that young Joe can see that it is himself from the future.

Old Joe goes back in time to eliminate the new Mob boss, known as the “Rainmaker.” If there is no Rain-maker, then his wife in the future will not be killed, and he will be able to live out his life with the person that saved him from a life of drugs.

Old Joe brings with him the date of birth of the Rainmaker, and the hospital ID #. He then narrows it down to 3 children, and is determined to kill them to avert future events.

Young Joe separates from Old Joe after they dispute about what they should do. Old Joe is determined to take out the Rainmaker as a child, so he can resume his happy life. Young Joe doesn’t care about his life in the future. He wants to just kill his old self, in hopes that he can regain his freedom back – the freedom that was stolen when Old Joe came back in time, and aluded Young Joe at the moment he was to be killed.

Young Joe steals the corner of the map from Old Joe which has the coordinates of one of the children. He goes there and wins over the heart of the mother. After a brief stay on her farm, he finds out that the mother can levitate a metal lighter, and that her child has powers that go beyond the typical TK. He is very powerful and can destroy people and large objects when he becomes angry.

Meanwhile Old Joe is taken back to the mob headquarters. He breaks free and kills everyone except for his sole captor, a 20’s grunt that only wanted to make the mob boss happy, because he is a father-figure to him.
Old Joe finds out that the Rainmaker is with Young Joe, because Young Joe witnesses the boy destroy a former mob friend, Jessie. Old Joe instantly gets this new memory as it takes place on the farm, and knows where the Rainmaker is.

Old Joe then goes to the farm to find the Rainmaker, and attempts to coax Young Joe to run away, because he still can.

However, there is a moral concept that arises in the movie to be discussed. If you could go back in time to kill a person that does bad things, would you?

Many people say they would go back in time and kill Hitler. While you may think this is noble, it truly makes you no better than Hitler. The concept in play is: The end does not justify the means.

No person should commit an evil or a wrong in order to bring about a righteous ending.

Think about it, and if you want to watch a video interviewing people with the question: “Would you go back in time to kill Hitler as a baby?” watch at this link.

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