The Couch Potato Report – April 21st, 2012
Inside this week’s Couch Potato Report is a post apocalyptic divide, a fourth impossible mission, and the frozen planet.
I love the premise of this week’s first film, a made-in-Winnipeg horror/sci-fi/thriller…I only wish the film lived up to its potential.
THE DIVIDE begins with a nuclear attack that forces a group of nine strangers to barricade themselves in the basement of the apartment building they live in.
They don’t fully know what happened, or what is going on outside the walls they have around them and as the days go on, fear increases, trust decreases and supplies dwindle changing everyone.
I love that premise…that could have lead to a great, claustrophobic, intense film. Could have…but it didn’t.
Eventually THE DIVIDE features just about every cliché of films like this…including the one where people who are losing their minds shave their head!! That is a time tested symbol that a character has descended into madness and there is no turning back.
However, the main problem with the film isn’t all of its clichés, is the basement where they are contained. That set – which always looks like a movie set and never a real basement – is huge! There are multiple rooms and areas and sections for people to go into, and just when you think you’ve seen them all, the story calls for hidden ones. That erases any claustrophobia, and thus much of the tension.
THE DIVIDE has a very good cast – that includes Michael Biehn of THE TERMINATOR and ALIENS and Rosanna Arquette from PULP FICTION – and it has a few interesting twists and turns, but it doesn’t feature much suspense…and you can tell right from the start who will and won’t survive…so I won’t be recommending it.
Love the premise, love it!! Didn’t care for the movie.
Based on true events, this week’s next release was shot in Maple Ridge and Vancouver and offers up the very dramatic tale of a responsible and respectable 16-year-old high school student whose life and health change forever when her friends decide to beat her up – actually fight her and beat her up – because of some comments she posted about them online.
This film is called GIRL FIGHT.
In addition to beating her up, the friends decide beforehand that they are going to film it and put it online because they know it will become a viral sensation.
GIRL FIGHT is not a great movie – because it was made-for-television it is very, very dramatic, the acting is a little wooden at times, and the subject matter occasionally makes it difficult to watch, so I can’t fully recommend it. But I didn’t dislike it. I would say that this movie is just okay…so call that a mild recommendation.
Let’s move now to a film I did completely enjoy, and one I highly recommend!!!
Tom cruise stars in MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – GHOST PROTOCOL
A case could be made that this fourth instalment in Cruise’s hit and miss series is the best one, and I would probably agree…although I do still like the first one a lot.
In this one, the IMF is shut down when it’s implicated in the bombing of the Kremlin, causing Ethan Hunt and his new team to go rogue to clear their organization’s name.
MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – GHOST PROTOCOL was partially filmed in Vancouver and it is a smart and well made film, directed by Academy Award animation filmmaker Brad Bird – who gave us THE INCREDIBLES and made his live-action debut with this film – and what a debut!!
This is a tremendous action film…with a fantastic cast…and I suggest that you turn off your brain and enjoy it!!
Enjoying the movie SHAME might be a little bit harder. This is a small film starring Michael Fassbender from INGLORIOUS BASTERDS giving what is usually referred to in movie circles as a “daring performance”.
He plays a New York businessman with a dark and destructive secret…he is a sex addict.
His world is turned upside down by the arrival of his sister – played by Carey Mulligan of AN EDUCATION – and she brings with her some emotional baggage of her own, and reminders of a life that they would both like to forget.
Both Fassbender and Mulligan bare it all, physically and emotionally, and it is a raw and honest film that doesn’t necessarily tell you everything you need to know. Some of the blanks in the back story are left up to you to fill in and as a result SHAME is a movie that you will either find insufferable or interesting.
I found it interesting, and so call that a mild recommendation.
I have a trio of Television shows for you this morning, and all three can easily be described as guilty pleasures or as garbage.
This first one…SEASON FIVE of the partially filmed in Manitoba series ICE ROAD TRUCKERS is one of my absolute favourite guilty pleasure!!
Ice Road Truckers is a documentary-style reality television series about drivers who operate trucks on seasonal routes crossing frozen lakes and rivers in remote arctic territories in Canada and Alaska.
There are huge risks involved, possibly even the loss of life, but there are also huge financial rewards to be had if they make it.
The truckers only have two months every year when they can haul vital equipment and supplies to remote outposts and communities and that – and the mechanical breakdowns and weather conditions – enable there to actually be some drama in this show.
ICE ROAD TRUCKERS is a show that I love to just sit down and watch, and if you have never seen it, I easily recommend SEASON FIVE…it is fantastic fun!!
Also fun, but not always funny – which is the main problem I have with it – is VOLUME 7 of AMERICAN DAD.
AMERICAN DAD comes from many of the same folks who bring us the much funnier FAMILY GUY and I must admit that I am quite surprised that the show has lasted seven seasons….and is still going.
It is about a CIA operative named Stan Smith and his less than normal family, which includes an alien and a talking fish. He will do whatever it takes to protect the family, and his country, and not always in that order.
Sometimes, on occasion, VOLUME SEVEN of AMERICAN DAD is laugh out loud funny…but not often enough for it to be a guilty pleasure of mine. Its juvenile, sophomoric, childish and sometimes borderline racist humour doesn’t always appeal to me.
But if this is a show you love, on a guilty or guilt free level, don’t miss it!!
One show that will never be a guilty pleasure of mine features a voice cast that I really like…including H. Jon Benjamin from ARCHER and Kristen Schaal of FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS…but I just don’t like BOB’S BURGERS.
This show is about a man named Bob who runs a restaurant with his family, including his less than trustworthy children.
I watched THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON of BOB’S BURGERS and – unfortunately – I did not laugh once…not once, not out loud, not quietly, or otherwise.
This one is not that good a show, although it does have a great cast, so you should just skip it…unless it is a guilty pleasure, than I say enjoy!! Enjoy BOB’s BURGERS…AMERICAN DAD or ICE ROAD TRUCKERS.
Guilty pleasures are fantastic fun…once we discover what the ones we love are!
Finally this week is another spectacular documentary series from the BBC Nature team…who also gave us PLANET EARTH, LIFE and THE BLUE PLANET.
In the seven part series FROZEN PLANET, they now take us to two disappearing wildernesses – the Arctic and Antarctic.
In the series we see life and death, and how people enjoy one and avoid the other in some of the harshest conditions on earth.
We also see how climate change is affecting landforms such as glaciers, ice shelves, and sea ice, and hear it all through narration by world-renowned naturalist David Attenborough.
Mostly, we get to see animals doing things that we have never seen on film before…using the latest camera technology…including watching a mother polar bear in hibernation and her newborn cubs, and seeing how a pod of killer whales get a seal off an ice floe, and so much more!!
FROZEN PLANET is insightful and entertaining and features some great storytelling and images. I highly, and very easily recommend it!!
The fantastic BBC Documentary series FROZEN PLANET, THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON of the not very good animated show BOB’S BURGERS, VOLUME 7 of the occasionally funny AMERICAN DAD, SEASON FIVE of the great guilty pleasure ICE ROAD TRUCKERS, the interesting drama SHAME, the superb action flick MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – GHOST PROTOCOL, the made-in-British Columbia GIRLFIGHT, and the made-in-Winnipeg post apocalyptic misfire THE DIVIDE are all available now, either on disc or on demand.
Coming up inside the next Couch Potato Report
SEASON ONE of the made-in-Toronto supernatural series LOST GIRL, Mark Wahlberg and Kate Beckinsale are wasted in the wannabe action film CONTRABAND, CINEMA VERITE will take us back to the start of reality television, and the new television mini-series based on the TITANIC promises one voyage, and a world of untold stories.
I’m Dan Reynish. I’ll have more on those, and some other releases, in seven days.
For now, that’s this week’s COUCH POTATO REPORT.
Enjoy the movies and I’ll see you back here again next time on The Couch!