Edge of a Million Maleficent Ways to Die Tomorrow in the West

I’ve had quite a banner summer at the theater. Here are just a few quick tidbits.

Maleficent

Maleficent (2014) – Rated PG

A vengeful fairy is driven to curse an infant princess, only to discover that the child may be the one person who can restore peace to their troubled land.”

I both look forward to and cringe with every non-animated re-imagining from Disney. Alice in Wonderland (2010) was a gorgeous confection.but ultimately shallow. Ditto for Oz the Great and Powerful (2013). Maleficent is much the same with CGI replacing plotting and character development. The story neuters the character of Maleficent, one of the great Disney villains.

Having said that, this is an enjoyable ride for the kids and Angelina Jolie IS Maleficent. Her performance at least partially redeems the movie.

A Million Ways to Die

A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014) – Rated R

As a cowardly farmer begins to fall for the mysterious new woman in town, he must put his new-found courage to the test when her husband, a notorious gun-slinger, announces his arrival.”

The Good: It is way funnier than Neighbors and Neil Patrick Harris is always delightful.

The Bad: It is just okay. Ted was much funnier. Joke delivery could use some work – it is pretty laconic, much like the Old West.

The Ugly: While trying to be edgy, it tells endless penis and fart jokes. The western setting may be offputting for some, tired for others.

Edge of Tomorrow

Edge of Tomorrow (2014) – Rated PG-13

An officer finds himself caught in a time loop in a war with an alien race. His skills increase as he faces the same brutal combat scenarios, and his union with a Special Forces warrior gets him closer and closer to defeating the enemy.”

Groundhog Day is a fantastic movie, heartwarming and funny. The concept is so beloved that many television series have produced their own version. The X-Files and Star Trek: TNG had time loop episodes, albeit played seriously. Xena had perhaps the funniest Groundhog Day episode. In spite of it being a tired concept, it has worked time and time again (forgive me).

My dear wife and I went to Edge of Tomorrow with little in the way of expectations. Tom Cruise’s science fiction thriller last year, Oblivion, was decent but a missed opportunity. Edge of Tomorrow is fantastic. Jenny and I couldn’t stop laughing through the first half of the movie as Cruise’s soldier character dies repeatedly.

Weekend Update – How I Met Your Mother

How I Met Your Mother (2005-2010)

Playing around with traditional sitcom structure, this Emmy-winning comedy about desperate bachelor Ted’s epic search for his soul mate tells the story largely through flashbacks, as an adult Ted recounts to his kids how he met their mother. As Ted bounces from one red herring to another, his best friends Marshall (Jason Segel), Lily (Alyson Hannigan) and Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) help keep him grounded.

The family finally finished the decadent Nip/Tuck. We were planning on moving on to Breaking Bad but last week How I Met Your Mother debuted on Netflix. You can now watch the first six seasons on instant Netflix commercial-free and that is exactly what we started this weekend. We had never seen the show but had heard good things about it. So far, 12 episodes into Season 1, it is hilarious.

The ensemble cast is wonderful. We love Alyson Hannigan from her turn as Willow in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and she is great here even if she is constantly upstaged by Neil Patrick Harris as Barney. Jason Segel is quite good as well and the height differential between Jason and Alyson is used to good comedic effect. Josh Radnor and Cobie Smulders round out the cast of five and are also quite capable but while they appear to be the central couple, the other three are more interesting (again so far – we are only halfway through the first season).

Bond Update: I reviewed Netflix’ cornucopia of Bond films recently while bemoaning the fact that none of the Brosnan Bonds were represented. Well new month, new Bonds – Goldeneye, The World is Not Enough, and Tomorrow Never Dies are now available for your viewing pleasure.

Dr. Horribles Sing-Along Blog – The Doctor is Out week

In honor of my sudden illness this past weekend, this week is The Doctor is Out week. In this case The Doctor is Out..of his mind! Dr. Horribles Sing-Along Blog is currently available on instant Netflix.

WATCH: Dr. Horribles Sing-Along Blog (2008) – NR – Not Rated.

“When he’s not busy breaking the law or trying to get close to his secret crush, Penny (Felicia Day), supervillain wannabe Dr. Horrible (Neil Patrick Harris) boasts about his exploits via his Internet video blog and dreams of defeating his nemesis, Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion). Conceived during the 2008 Hollywood writers strike, Joss Whedons quirky musical comedy originally debuted as an online miniseries.”

“Its curtains for you Dr. Horrible. Lacy, gently wafting curtains.”

Okay I have to admit to having drunk the Whedon-flavored kool-aid. In my opinion he created two of the best TV series ever made (Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly) and two flawed ones that I enjoyed (Angel & Dollhouse). He also wrote one of the best animated movies ever (Toy Story) and made one of my very favorite science fiction films (Serenity).

Joss Whedon made this with many of his friends and family during the writers strike. It was originally viewable as three webisodes. Despite never having a traditional broadcast, Time magazine named it the 4th best TV show of 2008.

Dr. Horrible is played to absolute perfection by Neil Patrick Harris. He auditioned for the role of Simon Tam in Firefly but did not get it. I have never seen Doogie Howser but I enjoyed him in Starship Troopers and Undercover Brother. His performance is quite nuanced.

Our hero, the pompous Captain Hammer, is played by Nathan Fillion. He is charming as always, has good comic timing, and works well with Neil.

Nathan Fillion starred in Firefly for Joss Whedon and when that was cancelled, Whedon put him in the seventh season of Buffy. Whedon did much the same thing for Firefly star Gina Torres, casting her in Angel.

Our love interest is the delightful Felicia Day, star and creator of The Guild. She was originally one of the Slayerettes in the seventh season of Buffy. I think she is my new favorite actress and I hope she gets bigger parts.

The only other star of note is Simon Helberg, who appears briefly as Moist. He is currently playing Howard Wolowitz in The Big Bang Theory.

The writing is superb and the framing device of this being the video blog of Dr. Horrible plays out great.

This short show (43 minutes total for all three acts) is absolutely hysterical and has great musical numbers (though not quite as good as those in Buffy the Musical). I highly recommend this show. I would actually go so far as to call this a classic and I will have to buy the DVD at some point.

People Watch: Jed Whedon appears as part of the Bad Horse chorus and frequent Joss Whedon collaborator Marti Noxon appears as a newswoman. Joss Whedon himself appears as the fist of Captain Hammer (when he punches the device on top of the van).