Random Thoughts on Movies: Prince of Persia and Robin Hood

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

It’s a movie based on a video game. How much are you expecting from it? Remember Super Mario Bros.? Mortal Combat? Tomb Raider? Doom? This is a notch above, but just barely. Game creator Jordan Mechner served as a producer and storywriter, so it looks at times very much like a live-action video game, with improbable logic and impossible physics. The story is about video-game level as well. Really, all this movie lacks is a controller. Gemma Arterton is pretty hot.

Rotten Tomatoes.com: “It doesn’t offer much in the way of substance, but Prince of Persia is a suitably entertaining swashbuckler — and a substantial improvement over most video game adaptations.” – 39% (Rotten)

Entertainment Weekly: “As sword-and-sandal fantasy movies based on videogames and starring a buffed-up Jake Gyllenhaal go, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time goes pretty well.” – B

Random Thoughts: Meh. It was OK for what it was.

Robin Hood

I wasn’t particularly keen on seeing this, but my son and his buddy wanted to see both of these movies, and they played as a double feature at a local drive-in. I volunteered to drive.

About 90 minutes into it, they were ready to leave. I didn’t argue. We were not Merrie Men.

Rotten Tomatoes.com: “Ridley Scott’s revisionist take on this oft-told tale offers some fine acting and a few gripping action sequences, but it’s missing the thrill of adventure that made Robin Hood a legend in the first place.” – 44% (Rotten)

Entertainment Weekly: “As you meander through the dense, dark forest of high-minded murk that is Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood, here are a few things that you won’t be seeing: a scene in which Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe) steals from the rich and gives to the poor. A scene in which he dons a disguise to win an archery contest, or gets Friar Tuck to carry him across a stream, or leaves the Sheriff of Nottingham fulminating in his boots. A moment when Robin’s men behave in a way that could remotely be described as ”merry.” A rousing sword fight. A pinch of lightness, frivolity, comedy, adventure, or – wait, I think this is the word I’m searching for – fun.” – C-

Random Notes: Rent the Disney version instead.

Survivor: Heroes Vs Villians

It’s here! Survivor 20, formally known as Survivor: Heroes Vs Villians,with “Outwit, Outplay, Outlast” replaced with “Return, Redemption, Revenge”. I love this! I had seen the cast list, of course, but actually seeing them on the screen again quickened my heart and shortened my breath. Rupert, you old softie! Good to see you again, brother! Stefanie! I’m still holding out hope you have a hidden longing for an older man that I can fulfill. Randy! I forgot what a dick you are. Same with Tyson. Boston Rob…I forgive you your past cockiness and douchiness. Marriage and fatherhood has softened up more than your abs.

I could go on and on. But it was good to see the old familiar faces once again. Say what you will about All-Star editions of reality shows, but there’s a reason they work, for me at least. If you spend a TV season investing emotionally in certain cast members, you want to know occasionally that they’re doing well. You don’t dump your friends after six months and lose interest in seeing them again do you? (I know, I know; you think it’s pathetic that I look at complete strangers on reality television in this light. Screw you.)

As the season progresses, I’d like to commend to you three entertaining sources of insight and analysis of HvV that I never miss.

First is Dalton Ross’ recap that appears on EW.com every Friday. Dalton’s been recapping Survivor forever, and provides a fan’s insight that’s dead on and hillarious to read. He generally spends a few days on site at the beginning of each season providing behind-the-scenes goodies such as the following that appeared in his recap of the season premiere:

” As some of you may know, often when there is a challenge on Survivor that is presented as a ”first team to three wins,” in actuality, it was something much longer. Take this reward challenge: What you saw on TV was a ”first one to three wins.” But in reality, the teams actually played all the way to five. Remember how the Villains went up 2-1 after Coach dragged Colby back to the Villains mat? In actuality, the Heroes had a whopping 4-0 lead when that contest took place, and that Coach victory merely got the Villains back to 4-1. But this was just the tip of the out-of-order iceberg, and what I am about to tell you is so convoluted and confusing we may need Lostexpert Doc Jensen to decipher it. The first-round match-up you saw with Stephenie and Cirie vs. Parvati and Danielle was actually round six and got the Villains back to being down only 4-2. But wait, it gets even more confusing. Remember how you saw Stephenie dislocate her shoulder and Probst remarked how she injured herself in the very first round of the very first challenge. Well, that was true, but it wasn’t the round you saw. The actual first round (that you did not see) featured the exact same match-up (Stephenie and Cirie vs. Parvati and Danielle) and it was actually a Heroes victory. Not only that, but the injury appeared to occur while Stephenie was slapping the mat with her extended arm to give her team the win. So, the round you saw presented as the first match-up was actually a rematch that Stephenie was participating in after she had already dislocated her shoulder! (How tough is she?) So, the injury happened in one place, but was edited into another. Now because this is all a bit hard to follow, let me be clear about one thing: There is no monkeying around when it comes to Survivor challenges. The teams compete and the winner is the winner. Nothing is rigged. When you saw people winning rounds, they were winning rounds, maybe just not in the exact order it actually happened. Like all elements of the show, the producers just often record much more than can actually show so then have to figure out the best way to condense it all. (For example, the one round where Coach dragged Colby to his mat took over nine minutes by itself. It was an epic duel that was mesmerizing to witness, but simply too long to show in its entirety) And Stephenie did injure her shoulder in that competition against those same players, just not in the round they showed us. I’m actually surprised they edited it this way because watching Stephenie dislocating it as she won, and then coming back to compete after injuring it was pretty dramatic in itself. Again, just not enough time.”

Just as entertaining an insightful is Probst’s blog that appears on EW.com on Fridays. A must-read every week. A sample:

“Okay, without thinking it through – just off the top of my head – here are some overall thoughts about some of the returning Survivors:

Sandra Diaz – I am so glad she is back. I love her lippy way of telling it like it is. Courtney is also surprising me early on. I like how hard she fought in the initial challenge. Cirie is a legit, 100% full-on threat to win this game. Parvati, if given any kind of an opening will worm her way back into a solid alliance. Russell is a no-brainer. Take him out early or risk seeing him in the final again. Tom Westman, so glad he came back for another go. He needs a strong alliance and if he gets it, he will go deep. He’s a very good “people person.” Rupert, Rupert, Rupert. It’s hard for me to distinguish the Survivor Rupert from the real Rupert. Maybe there isn’t a difference anymore, but I know this… kids still love them some Rupert!”

Want your analysis a little more biting and a little less mainstream? Then you must bookmark Colette Lala’s “Bitchy Survivor Blog“. Colette, you da best!

“We’ve met them all before. We know their reputations. We’ve seen them at their best and, by golly, we’ve seen them at their worst. The Heroes sit in silence, their capes billowing in the breeze of the helicopters. They look hopeful and eager with promises of success and ponies in their future. Over in the Villains aircraft they’re smug, arrogant, smirks on their faces and an overwhelming amount of opportunites to annihilate their opponents waiting for them patiently on the beach. The gentle hairy giant known as Rupert tries to tell us that ‘good’ will win. I put my cigarette out on the kitten at my feet and I just laugh and laugh. Silly man! Thankfully, a voice of reason takes over. It’s Lucifer (Russell Hantz) fresh off of Survivor 19 telling us it’s a fact that Villains are smarter than Heroes. “It’s a proven fact.” He insists we google it. I did. I marched right over to my laptop and punched in “Are villains smarter than heroes?” I never got my answer cuz it took me to an Asian porn page, but I’ll interpret that as a resounding YES! If you can’t trust Lucifer, who can you trust? I mean, come on, seriously.

And then it happens… the line I wait for every season… I’m getting tingly all over just thinking about it… Dimples stands alone on a mess of rocks, violent waves crashing all around him, and we hear it… 39 DAYS, 20 PEOPLE, 1 SURVIVOR!!! *throws confetti in the air* I throw my top off and twirl around my living room. Hay day doh dee doh dee doh doh… I study the opening credits for clues, quickly decide I’d rather not know, and go back to my half Irish, half Salsa gyrations.”

If you’re more of a podcast fan, hurry on over to iTunes and subscribe to Armchair Survivor. Mike and Marji dissect each episode with brutal (and expicit, truth be told) honesty, and just may have you squirt a beverage out of your nose once or twice. They record their show live following Survivor and encourage chat and voicemail feedback.

These articles, blogs, and podcasts greatly augment my enjoyment of Survivor, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy them too.

“Mama Said There’d Be Days Like This”

Happy Thursday!

I have my Tostitos, my bean dip and my Stewarts Orange and Cream nearby, ready to watch this week’s installment of Survivor: Tocantins. Random Thoughts as the episode unfolds:

  • Did you know that Benjamin Wade was fired from his woman’s soccer coaching position? Seems he told the athletic director at his school that he was going to be gone for a week, but ended up missing school for almost two months, without a note from home. He’s not worried, though, because he’s off to persue a career in Hollywood, because his popularity on Survivor will open doors for him. And why not? It certainly opened doors for…um…you know, that other guy that became famous after Survivor
  • Two hot babes were voted out in the first two weeks of the season. Hope that trend reverses. They don’t have that many to lose.
  • “She just insulted all of our intelligences.” Can that be grammatically correct?
  • Erinn doesn’t know when to stop talking. Just like her parents didn’t know when to stop adding “n”s to her name.
  • What the hell kind of animal is that with the flexible snout they show during the opening? Creepy.
  • In each of his EW.com blogs so far this season, Probst has wisecracked about Sierra marrying a Survivor producer. Think she’s gonna?
  • Oh, yeah…Debbie! Has she done anything noteworthy yet?
  • Jerry’s having problems with the beans. Aren’t beans standard Army-issue grub?
  • “We’re a force to be reckoned with.” As long as there’s not a challenge that involves catching fish with a net.
  • I’d hate to be the caller in one of these challenges. The losing team always blames the callers and votes their ass out.
  • Maestro looks pissed.
  • Brendan and Taj off again to Exile Island. It’s tough enough not to look suspicious without Probst stirring the pot.
  • “Winners always find a way to win. Losers always find a way to lose.” Wonder what his record was when he still had a soccer team to coach? Because his Survivor team sucks.
  • Crap. The Tostitos are already gone. Do I bother making popcorn, or just grab the Fritos?
  • “You’re like my assistant coach.” Aw, that’s swell, Little Buddy! Maybe he’ll let you carry his jacket at the next TC. I wouldn’t let myself get too associated with him, though. No matter what he thinks his standing is, he’s annoying a lot of people. You don’t want to be caught in that backlash.
  • “He loves me.”? “Everyone can see it.”? “Maybe he’ll promote me”? Never mind what I said before. Good luck with all that.
  • I forgot I had some chips and French onion dip. The popcorn and Fritos can wait for Lost.
  • Brenden and Taj choose Stephen and Sierra as their Mini-Me’s.
  • Sandy: “I know I’m a sex kitten this morning. There’s no doubt in my mind.” And the men all remember they have an appointment on the other side of Brazil.
  • Sierra runs like a girl.
  • Erinnnnn – hush! Your mouth is a shovel that’s digging a deeper hole!
  • Jalapao wins! Erinnnnn will be going home, no matter what Jerry thinks.
  • Or not.
  • The owls are not what they seem.
  • Maestro is still pissed. I’m concerned about his blood pressure.
  • “I am so true that existing around people that smile evilly when somebody else is on their knees kills me.” Huh?
  • “To me, it looks like she’s just here to lie and deceive and, you know, get ahead any way she can.” Unlike everyone else in the game, right, Assistant Coach?
  • Brenden finds the HII by lifting up the backside of the skirt and seeing the hole.
  • “I like seeing people cry when you crush their dreams.” I don’t want him to be my assistant coach anymore.
  • Jerry: “I think the leader should be Brenden.” And Maestro’s smile turns upside down. Ha!
  • “I basically told everybody with my eyes what they needed to get.” I think I laughed harder than Erinn did at that.
  • Jerry’s thinking maybe he should have kept his mouth shut.
  • First 2 votes Jerry; Erinn’s smiling smugly. She’s toast.
  • Or not.
  • Poor Maestro. Erinn’s still around, plus nobody wants him to be the leader. Been a tough day.
  • “Jerry, the tribe has spoken.”

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Why Probst Thinks We Should Watch Tocantins

Besides being a Lost and 24 dweeb, I’m a big fan of the granddaddy of so-called “reality shows”, Survivor.  I just caught the end of the first season, but I started watching religiously during the second season, and always look forward to the next.

Survivor: Tocatins begins this Thursday, Feb. 12. If you don’t know, host Jeff Probst writes a weekly blog at EW.com following each episode. In the current (Feb.13) edition of Entertainment Weekly, he tells us why we should tune in to the 18th season of the venerable series:

The first thing is CAST, CAST, CAST. (Here’s a tease: “Dragon Slayer” – just wait.) I’m putting my reputation on the line: If you don’t love this cast, I’ll offer to switch EW.com blogging jobs with The Bachelor’s Chris Harrison. And get ready for a BIG TWIST in the first five minutes that has lasting repercussions. Hint: Can you ever change a first impression? We’ll find out. As for THE BLINDSIDE, it is taken to a whole ‘nother level. We set a new record this season. Beastly. And the TERRAIN? High desert, 120 degrees, snakes, injuries, and a stunning river oasis. Exile Island will totally destroy them. Tocatins is so good, it may just crack out top five seasons ever.

If you’re a Survivor fan, you owe it to yourself to check out Jeff’s blog, and writer Dalton Ross’ recaps every Thursday at EW.com.