The Couch Potato Report

There is some great stuff out this week!!!

The Couch Potato Report – September 21st, 2013

Located about an hour South-East of Vancouver, in Aldergrove, British Columbia, is the world renowned Bates Motel.

Run by Norma Bates and her son Norman, the Bates Motel is a small, twelve room respite for weary travellers that is in danger as a new highway is about to be built on the other side of town, basically killing off the majority of the traffic that now pass by on the existing highway.

Travellers will benefit from the new highway for many reasons, especially since it ensures they never have to stay at the Bates Motel…the same one from Alfred Hitchcock’s classic film PSYCHO.

BATES MOTEL is a contemporary prequel to what happens in that film as we meet a young Norman Bates and his mother, who is still alive. Both still go a little mad sometimes.

After the curious death of Norman’s father the two relocate and buy that old house and hotel overlooking the highway. But the buildings come with some problems of their own, and soon Norman and Norma are lying to the police, and – even though they are very close – they’re even lying to and keeping secrets from each other.

SEASON ONE of BATES MOTEL also introduces us to Norman’s half-brother as we begin to see where some of his madness comes from, and discover the madness he already possesses.

BATES MOTEL is a very, very violent show, so it isn’t for everyone…and the majority of the teen melodrama that arises from the fact that Norman is a modern day teenager isn’t interesting at all…but most of it is interesting as the show attempts to show us who Norma Bates is, and how who she is makes Norman who he becomes.

I really enjoyed it, and am really looking forward to SEASON TWO, and maybe a lot less teen melodrama and a lot more back story.

The Summer Movie WORLD WAR Z had so much bad buzz written about it – long before it opened – between re-writes, re-shoots and budget over-runs, it was very easy to go into it expecting it to be a complete mess.

The fact that it wasn’t a complete mess was such a nice surprise for filmgoers that it actually did okay at the box office. Now that it is available to watch at home, you can judge it for yourself…but trust me, keep those expectations low.

Based on the 2006 novel of the same name by Max Brooks WORLD WAR Z stars Brad Pitt as the only man who can save the planet after a zombie pandemic, and these zombies are unlike any you’ve ever seen before!

They move fast, incredibly fast, work together in packs and are almost completely unstoppable.

WORLD WAR Z is very good, but it is never awesome. The writing never comes close to the quality of THE WALKING DEAD, but I still really liked it as the zombies do things we’ve never seen them do before on screen.

So keep the expectations low, and you might enjoy it too.

My expectations were high heading into THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON of the Emmy Award winning series HOMELAND, after all this is the show that beat BOARDWALK EMPIRE, BREAKING BAD, DOWNTON ABBEY, GAME OF THRONES and MAD MEN last year and was named Outstanding Drama Series.

When I reviewed SEASON ONE, I said that I though the show was exceptional, but it wasn’t better than MAD MEN, and that is definitely true for SEASON TWO.

If this season wins the show an Emmy again, I’ll be shocked!! SHOCKED!!

Not because the show is no longer exceptional, but because it just isn’t as good as those other ones.

In this COMPLETE SECOND SEASON one-time terrorist Brody is now a U.S. congressman, and former CIA agent Carrie Mathison has returned to civilian life.

But when a new terrorist threat emerges their worlds are brought together again as she works to save the day, as he might still be helping others blow things up.

The problem here is that SEASON TWO of HOMELAND simply suffers from comparison, to itself. SEASON ONE was so good that SEASON TWO couldn’t possibly be that strong…and it isn’t. It does still have some great moments, and you’ll be guessing what’s actually going on almost the whole time, but as a whole I didn’t love it.

It has a very strong ending, and I never once disliked it, but THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON of HOMELAND doesn’t deserve another Emmy. It is worthy of your time, but not another Emmy.

THE BLING RING isn’t eligible for an Emmy Award, and it’s unlikely it will win any Oscars either.

This movie is as empty as the shallow, useless characters who populate it.

Inspired by actual events and people THE BLING RING is Academy Award nominated director Sofia Coppola’s latest, and it is a true let down. The woman who gave us LOST IN TRANSLATION, THE VIRGIN SUICIDES and MARIE ANTOINETTE has now delivered a film that I not only disliked, but I borderline hated it.

This is a movie about a group of fame-obsessed teenagers who love social media and the internet. Something isn’t real, unless they can post about it.

Their hobby of stealing from their friends and schoolmates becomes a habit when they start to break into celebrities homes in order to find things to wear and sell.

Yes, they watch entertainment and gossip shows and go on websites to track celebrities’ whereabouts, and when they are out of town, then rob them…and you won’t care.

THE BLING RING may appeal to teenagers who wish they could live the lives of the people in the movie, and think what they’re doing is cool, but no one else.

I didn’t care about the characters in it, I didn’t care what they were doing, I didn’t care who they were doing it to, and I hope you never have to watch this movie.

It is not only a complete disappointment from a great filmmaker, it is a complete waste of time!!

Now to a non-time-waster!!

Also based on true events, the Norwegian film KON-TIKI is – on the other hand – an impressive piece of filmmaking.

KON-TIKI is the story of explorer Thor Heyerdal’s epic 1947 crossing of the Pacific on a balsawood raft in an effort prove that it was possible for South Americans to settle in Polynesia in pre-Columbian times.

At the time the prevailing theories all stated that Polynesia had been settled by peoples migrating from the west and so Heyerdal set out on the 7000 kilometre journey to discover the truth.

KON-TIKI was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Oscar at the 85th Academy Awards and its a wonder to watch as it is full of amazing scenes and moments. Plus, as the men sail on their raft you feel how dangerous and claustrophobic it would have been to be there.

Due to the fact that this is a movie about people drifting on a raft, there are a lot of times when nothing is going on, so KON-TIKI does slow down at times, but the majority of it moves at a great pace, and as a whole it is a very impressive piece of work that I can easily recommend.

I can also recommend the documentary WE STEAL SECRETS – THE STORY OF WIKILEAKS, but only mildly.

This is a film about the creation of Julian Assange’s controversial website Wikileaks and how it facilitated the largest security breach in U.S. history.

WE STEAL SECRETS – THE STORY OF WIKILEAKS is a very interesting documentary, that I do mildly recommend you see, even though it is never compelling. It really is just information, a lot of information, and most of it is presented on screen as the film has no narrator.

Even though what’s being presented is interesting, there is so much of that and after a while it becomes too much…which is why I can only mildly recommend it.

Fun, pure fun, that is the only thing I wanted when I pressed play on THE SMURFS – THE LEGEND OF SMURFY HOLLOW, and fun is what I got!!

Based on Washington Irving’s short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”, THE LEGEND OF SMURFY HOLLOW is a twenty-two minute animated retelling of the classic tale…Smurf style!!

You get exactly what you think you get with this realease, and so if your kids, grandkids…or even you, love the Smurfs, then don’t miss THE SMURFS – THE LEGEND OF SMURFY HOLLOW!

Finally this week is the blu-ray release of a horror classic, 1958’s THE FLY.

Having successfully discovered a means of teleportation by sending plates and champagne from one end of his lab to another a scientist decides to try and send a human through…he decides to send himself through.

But all does not go well as a fly is sent along with him, and their DNA gets mixed up and one partially becomes the other, and vice versa.

I never actually noticed until I watched this great looking and sounding new blu-ray – and it’s wealth of special features, old and new – that THE FLY is actually set in Montreal. That is just another thing to enjoy about this great film, which lead to RETURN OF THE FLY and CURSE OF THE FLY, and the 1986 remake from Canadian David Cronenberg.

Don’t swat this fly, pick it up and enjoy!!

The classic fifties horror film THE FLY; the fun short story THE SMURFS – THE LEGEND OF SMURFY HOLLOW; the interesting but never compelling documentary WE STEAL SECRETS – THE STORY OF WIKILEAKS; the impressive Academy Award nominated historical drama KON-TIKI; the uninteresting style over substance drama THE BLING RING; THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON of the exceptional show HOMELAND; the entertaining – if you lower your expectations – zombie drama WORLD WAR Z; and SEASON ONE of the made-in-British Columbia PSYCHO prequel BATES MOTEL are all available now, either on disc or on demand.

Coming up next week, my review of the number one film of the year, IRON MAN 3.

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!