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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Series review: Frasier S1 (re-watch)

Frasier is a sitcom revolving around the radio psychiatrist Dr. Frasier Crane and the people close to him. His radio producer Roz Doyle, his younger brother - Dr. Niles Crane - who's also a psychiatrist, his dad - Martin Crane - who's a retired cop that has to move in with him because of an old injury, his dad's live-in physical therapist Daphne Moon and his dad's dog - Eddie.

The main cast: Roz, Niles, Daphne, Martin, Eddie and Frasier
Frasier is often hailed as one of the best written sitcoms out there, and I agree. It's very clever and witty, the stories are always interesting, none of the cast ever breaks character just to fit in a certain story line, and most important of all is that it's really funny.

Like all the best sitcoms Frasier is a very character driven show. Every conflict here derives from the characters own personalities and how they all differ from each other. And yet it never feels forced and it often manages to give us a touching conclusion to it's episodes. In the first season these conclusions belong to Martin and Frasier, but the rest of the cast all get their moments later on in the series.

The final episode of the first season is one of the best written sitcom episodes I have ever come across. It's up there with the likes of 30 Rock's "Reunion" (S03E05) and Malcolm In The Middle's series finale. Not only is it a terrific episode on it's own, but it's also a summary of the show as a whole with the story lines, conflicts, and general behavior and interactions of the main cast as they appear throughout the episode.

Frasier may be one of the best written sitcoms of all time and I relly enjoy watching it, but it's not laugh out loud funny all that often. Sure, there certainly are times when I've burst out laughing because of it, but it doesn't happen all that often. That and the fact that there a bit too many "awkward comedy" scenes in it keeps me from giving this season a full score. It's pretty damn close to it though.

Score: 8/9

Movie review: Prometheus

An exploratory team follow ancient directions to a distant planet in search of mankind's origin. It doesn't take them long to discover something much more dangerous than they expected.

Before I went to see this film I had barely heard a single thing about it. All I knew was that Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron and Michael Fassbender starred in it, Ridley Scott directed it, it would most likely have some connection to the Alien franchise. That's about it. And yet I was really excited to see it. I'm not even sure why. Great advertising I guess.

The movie itself is quite a slow burner. It takes it's sweet time building up the setting and some of the cast before finally delving into the action. I'm not saying this as a complaint, but as a compliment. I tend to like these types of movies, if the payoff is good enough. And it is here. While not being excellent, it do deliver entertaining and exciting action packed sequences throughout the second half. However, what it lacks is the deep character introspective it pretty much promises by the way the movie starts. That's not to say that the cast is filled with nothing but shallow stereotypes. Far from it. Several of the characters are interesting and engaging. But outside of Michael Fassbender's character - David - the movie doesn't really delve far into the psyches of the crew. We get a peek, but that's it. In fact, that's an issue with the movie all together. For a movie that's ultimately about finding answers, we don't get that many answers. The movie teases us by bringing up a heap of questions, but sidesteps us with the answers.

Unfortunately, the movie isn't without it's stupid moments as well. Where the two dumbest scenes both revolve around the geologist and the biologist. In these scenes they act so confoundingly idiotic - especially for crew members on an expedition like this - that they're nothing more than the equivalent of dumb blonds in a teen slasher.

David (Michael Fassbender)
On the technical side it certainly succeeds. It looks and sounds great and the acting occasionally shines. Noomi Rapace does a solid job - although her swedish accent peeks it's way through here and there, and Charlize Theron is great as the seemingly cold authority figure whose humanity still well up to the surface during harsh moments. But the stand out performance is definitely by Michael Fassbender as the robot, David,  whose curiosity is oozing out of his entire being. It's also aided by the fact that David is by far the most interesting and multi-layered character in the whole movie.

In the end I felt like it could have been quite a bit better. I was hoping for a smarter movie that's more character driven with the way it was set up. But as it is, I still really liked it as a theater experience. It was explosive and entertaining. And despite it's flaws I still think it's worth a watch.

P.S. The 3D is absolutely pointless. There is not a single scene in the entire movie that warrants a 3D viewing. In fact, I often took off my 3D glasses and noticed that quite a bit of scenes didn't even have 3D in them.

The good
Exciting entertainment
The visuals
Michael Fassbender/David

The bad
Lacks answers it sets out to provide
Not as character driven as it initially seems
Some dumb and unnecessary scenes

Score: (weak) 7/9