Movie Review: The Mechanic

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Released: 1/28/11

I like Jason Statham.  Though there is no rationale reason why I should – his movies are pretty universally terrible.  The Transporter wasn’t bad, I guess.  Crank was so bad it was almost good.  Everything else (of his films?) is a derivative of one of those and usually worse.  The Mechanic falls in that category.

In The Mechanic, Statham plays a hitman, Arthur Bishop.  The company he works for asks him to assassinate his mentor and best friend Harry McKenna (Donald Sutherland).  The only reason Arthur follows through with the killing is because the company gives Arthur “proof” of Harry’s betrayal of the company.  Arthur makes the hit look like a carjacking gone wrong.  Harry’s son, Steve, is out for vengeance, and attacks any carjacker he can find.  To protect Steve from doing something stupid, Arthur begins training him to be a hitman.  You can 100% guess exactly what happens the rest of the movie – the twists are the same twists that come in every Statham movie.

The Mechanic had over-the-top violence and a paper-thin plot (predictable and somehow implausible at the same time). Yet, I still like Statham.  I don’t know if it is fighting style or something else, but I will probably continue to put Statham movies in my queue, even if there exactly like all the other Statham movies.

WWYT Rating: 5.0

IMDB Rating: 6.6

Hallmark Movie Review: Tulips in Spring

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Aired: May 14, 2016 on Hallmark Channel

Tulips in spring is exactly what you’d expect, so is the movie Tulips in Spring.  Tulips in fall might a little bit more surprising.  But what do you know, Hallmark went with what was expected.

Rose loves flowers.  She is named after a flower, wears floral patterns, talks about flowers all the time, and her parents own a tulip farm.  So logically, she is an interior designer.  Sure, she tries some mumbo jumbo about not doing what is expected of her as the rationale for not taking over the family farm.  Of course, this means that without her the farm is struggling to survive (seriously, how did any Hallmark family ever run a business without a child?).  Anyway, when Rose’s father breaks his leg, she returns to help out while he recovers.  Upon her return, she discovers a tulip broker has entered the family in a special contest (one that will lead to added publicity and potentially save the farm).  Their efforts to grow a special flower, however, have been sabotaged by another tulip farm owner, Violet.  Since this isn’t tulips in fall, Rose saves the day, the flower wins the contest, Rose falls in the love with the broker, quits her interior design job and moves back home.

Tulips in Spring has some head scratching decisions – like Rose’s decision to become an interior designer and the threat Violet holds over the broker.  I would have expected that a broker would have way more leverage over a single tulip farm than the other way around.  The broker knows all the key retailers, and could get business from other farms.  But predictability is Hallmark’s strength (and weakness), so Tulips in Spring is exactly what you’d expect.

 

WWYT Rating: 6.22

Ranking: 29

28. The Country Wedding

30. Perfect Match

TV Review: The Night Manager

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Airs: Mini-series on AMC Tuesdays @ 10pm

Review: 1st episode

Have you seen MI-5?  If you liked 24, you’d love MI-5.  The reason I mention it is because watching The Night Manager reminded me of MI-5.  They are both British suspense shows, but other than that I don’t think they are that much alike.  That’s right, I am going with the they-are-both-British for the comparison (though neither is like Monty Python or Doctor Who).

Jonathan Pine (Tom Hiddleston) is the night manager of an upscale Egyptian hotel. The mistress of one of the hotel’s higher profile guests, gives him proof of an arms deal.  Pine passes along that information to MI-6 (see MI-6 vs MI-5 – more than just they-are-both-British).  This gets the mistress killed, though somehow Pine remains outside of suspicion.  Four years later, working as a night manager at a Switzerland hotel, Pine runs across one of the richest men in the world, Richard Roper, and the other end of that same arms deal.  Pine reaches out to MI-6 at the end of the first installment.  But based on every description of the show I’ve seen, they are going to ask him to infiltrate Roper’s organization.

Intriguing and suspenseful, The Night Manager, definitely has my attention for the remaining episodes.  Though if I were to have a small quibble, it’s that I would expect Pine to be a bit more composed.  I would guess that the night manager at an upscale hotel has probably seen just about everything and a good one would remain unflustered by just about everything.  On the other hand, no matter what you’ve seen, you probably aren’t prepared for the murder and general life-threatening situations that spying on a dangerous man might bring. I definitely recommend it if you liked MI-5, or if you’ve never heard of MI-5 and just like spy/suspense thrillers.

 

WWYT Rating: 7.75

Book Review: Royal Assassin (Book #2 Farseer Trilogy)

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Published: 3/21/1996

Author: Robin Hobb

Royal Assassin is an ill-suited title.  A better title might be The Boy Who Sits Around and Whines about Everything.  The title character, Fitz, calls himself an assassin, but he doesn’t actually do any assassinations.  He was assigned one assassination by the king in the entire book, and spends the entire chapter talking about something else, then at the end of the chapter he basically says “oh yeah, I poisoned him.”  He frequently goes out and kills some zombie-type things but that doesn’t really count as an assassination.

At the end of the first book Assassin’s Apprentice, Prince Regal (third-in-line to the throne, behind his father and brother) tries to kill his brother, Verity, and Fitz.  This treasonous act earns him a stern talking to.  It should come as no surprise then that in Royal Assassin, Regal starts committing treasonous acts several times over (poisoning his father, blocking/not passing along vital messages).  Fitz spends his time whining “what can I do?”  Um, YOU’RE AN ASSASSIN!  I get that you promised the king that you wouldn’t seek vengeance on Regal for trying to kill you before, but I am sure the king would make an exception if he saves his life.

That notwithstanding, let’s say that the whole assassination thing is out of the question.  How about spreading some rumors about Regal and all the things that he is doing to the king and kingdom?  The cook chastises Fitz later in the novel for not spreading any gossip.  That seems like a perfect opportunity to undermine Regal’s authority.

Perhaps worst of all was the “love story.”  It was bad enough for me to pine for Annakin and Padme.  Fitz stalks his love interest (creepily watching her doing chores without her noticing and constantly making excuses to do so).  Once he beds her, he lies to her and constantly puts her second (or third) behind his other duties.  When she finally calls him out, he has the audacity to be shocked and hurt.

Once the king finally dies, Fitz goes on a homicidal rampage – killing Regal’s lackeys IN FULL VIEW OF EVERYONE.  What the hell kind of assassin are you?  You had the allegiance of three armies to help you, and rather than use your training to kill them quietly in their sleep, you kill them in front of everyone throwing away all the goodwill you and your allies had built.

Royal Assassin is extremely well written, but logic holes that you could drive a truck through sink this novel to a poor rating.

WWYT Rating: 4.0 [I am far enough into book three* (Assassin’s Quest) that Fitz gets called out for all his idiocy that I mentioned above – either Hobb realized that she messed up or it was intentional (given how dumb Fitz so far in book three, I lean toward intentional)]

Goodreads Rating: 4.2/5

*You are probably wondering why I am reading book three given my low rating – but book two didn’t really end, so I am just plowing ahead.  I am glad I did, because the rating might have been higher had the calling out occurred in book two.

TV Review: Houdini & Doyle

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Airs: Mondays @ 9/8c on FOX

Review: Pilot

This is the time of year when networks traditionally wrap up their regular shows’ seasons.  In a desperate attempt to retain viewers through the summer, the networks also start airing new shows now.  These shows are rarely good – they are third-tier — not good enough to even rate as a midseason replacement (and those have rather sketchy survival ratings).  Houdini & Doyle is a FOX installment of such tier-three summer shows.

Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are thrown together on a case in London with supernatural elements, with opposite beliefs on the subject.  The police chief assigns a female constable to babysit them to get all three out of his hair.  The constable is capable, smart and has to deal with sexism, but her character has the feel of “we-need-to-add-a-female to this show to get people to watch it.”  I am not sure what purpose she has, the entire show could have been done without her, and the show is called Houdini & Doyle after all not Houdini, Doyle, & Random Female Constable. 

About 15 minutes in, I began to wonder what Doyle was doing on the show, too.  Houdini was smart, funny, and made all the observations that I thought should have belonged to Doyle (Houdini was the one who observed that the laundry facilities generated money and that there was missing money.  Houdini was the one who figured out that the underground trains ran every 17 minutes – both of these should have been discovered by Doyle).

Houdini & Doyle is a standard cop procedural.  The characters don’t work together as a team, in fact it was three individuals who happened to be working on the same case.  The only thing that saved the show from being completely terrible was Michael Weston as Houdini.  He was hilarious, and if it was his show alone I might consider watching it, but the dreadful acting from some of the guest stars (e.g. the world’s worst medium) and lack of cast cohesiveness isn’t worth my time or yours.

WWYT Rating 5.0

Nielsen Rating: 0.7 Summer shows get a bit more leeway, but this is a premier in the midst of finales.  Gotham doesn’t have record breaking ratings, but IMO this season might be the best show on network television.  All that, and they still only pull a 0.7 for the premier.  This will drop from even a paltry 0.7 to a rating that will probab

Movie Review: Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

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Released: 12/16/2011

I must have a lot of faith in Netflix suggestions.  I watched the first Sherlock Holmes, and I didn’t like it.  Yet for some reason I still put the second movie, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows on my list – solely because Netflix said I would like it.

Throughout most of Game of Shadows, I remembered why I didn’t like the first one.  When I reviewed St. Vincent, I talked about the importance of casting.  Sherlock Holmes is the exact opposite.  Robert Downey Jr. is not Sherlock Holmes.  Billionaire playboy, Tony Stark – Downey nails that part.  The quintessential master of observation and deduction, not so much.  And Jude Law as Watson is also miscast.  I spent most of the movie thinking that Law would have made a better Sherlock.

Despite the severe casting mistakes, there are some bright notes.  The special effects are amazing.  There is enough humor to keep you entertained.  Mostly, though, the ending was fantastic.  A good ending can make a movie and a bad ending (or one that doesn’t fit the theme and tempo of the rest of the film) can sink a movie.  The ending to Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows is almost enough for me to give this a passing grade.  Almost.

WWYT Rating: 6.49

IMDB Rating: 7.5