Ten Scenes I Want to See on the Season Finale of True Blood

Full list and photo gallery originally published on Television Without Pity.

True Blood all but wrapped up its sixth season with last Sunday’s penultimate segment, “Life Matters.” With the finale airing in just a few short days, we countdown 10 satisfying ways the show could conclude its most recent batch of episodes. Knowing True Blood, we’ll probably be left with more loose ends than answers, but a fan can hope, right?

10. Pam and Eric Have a Moment
These two have been on the outs for far too long. The bonds between maker and made have always resulted in some of True Blood‘s most intense, captivating relationships — think of Eric and Godric, Bill and Jessica, Bill and Lorena, Tara and Pam, etc. And some of the most outstanding scenes from TB‘s early seasons involved Eric and Pam lovingly griping at each other — remember when Pam was pissed because Eric got blood in his newly-dyed hair? Since Eric set his progeny free and their relationship turned all Debby Downer on us, the show as a whole has lost a lot of its humor. In the second-to-last episode, it seemed like Eric was finally ready for a real reconciliation — until he decided to fly off into the sky like a commitment-phobic bottle rocket instead. Can’t they just rebuild Fangtasia and go back to being besties like we know they are deep down?

9. The Lilith Storyline Finally Ends
Enough with all this vampire religious mumbo-jumbo. That was so last season. Yes, True Bloodhas done well to include bits of mythology in the past — Maryanne Forster’s maenad in Season 2 was an excellent Big Bad, for example. But making Bill a demigod (or a prophet or part-Jesus or whatever) has, really, just made him boring. The fact that he’s almost invincible takes any tension out of his scenes, and Stephen Moyer’s face might be permanently stuck on “scowl” at this point. Instead of the fun, soapy Bill-Eric-Sookie love triangle that was the center of the show in the past, Bill now just acts like everyone’s humorless school principal, looking out to make sure they do what he says. In the finale, we hope Lilith abandons him as a failed disciple so he can get back to being good ol’ Vampire Bill again.

Head to TWoP to read the full post.

Box Office Preview: August 16

Originally posted by Film Journal International

Summer may be almost over, but distributors are still hoping to score blockbuster-sized ticket sales before kids and teenagers head back to school. The Weinstein Company’s Butler and Kick-Ass 2 (from Universal) are expected to earn the top two spots at the box office this weekend.

Predictors may expect Kick-Ass 2 (2,940 theatres) to attract more viewers. It has all the trappings of a summer smash, after all: a sequel about superheroes with a big-name star (Jim Carrey) and fanboy cred. But don’t expect this film to do Man of Steel-style numbers. The original grossed under $20 million its opening weekend in 2010. It did move a lot of DVDs and Blu-rays, however, which Universal is citing as justification for a sequel. Kick-Ass 2 is also down a major actor: Nick Cage, whose performance as a deranged Batman wannabe was a main draw for audience members, does not appear in this installment.

Carrey’s character is meant to fill Cage’s shoes, but the comedian declined to promote the film, and even bashed it on social media for its excessive violence in the wake of tragedies like the Newtown shooting. The other factor that gave Kick-Ass so much buzz was then-11-year-old lead Chloe Grace Moretz’s, um, colorful dialogue, which fully justified the feature’s R rating. But Moretz is 15 now, and hearing her curse like a sailor and ridicule her co-stars just doesn’t have the same double take-inducing shock value. Universal is predicting that Kick-Ass 2 will gross $19.8 million this weekend, an identical figure to the original. This number would fall just short of The Butler’s expected haul, however.

A historical drama depicting crucial moments in African-American history from the 1920s through the Reagan era, The Butler (2,933 theatres) reads more Oscar-bait than box office smash. But the Weinstein Company has been promoting the film like mad. The presence of costar Oprah Winfrey (who hasn’t played a role other than herself onscreen since 1998’s Beloved) alone should ensure a sizable female audience. Forest Whitaker is bankable as protagonist Cecil Gaines, and audiences will be looking forward to catching Robin Williams, John Cusack, James Marsden, Liev Schreiber, and Alan Rickman as assorted Commanders in Chief. The film also appeals to minority viewers and TWC has been promoting it heavily to church groups as well. In addition to all these demographics, The Butler is likely to gain a significant viewership from the overlooked 40+ set, who are drained from a summer’s worth of comic book adaptations. Finally, the film is rated PG-13, which gives it a greater built-in audience share than Kick-Ass 2, which is rated R.The Butler could easily earn $20 million this weekend, putting it just ahead of its rival’s predicted take.

Smaller releases Jobs (2,381 theaters) and Paranoia (2,459 theatres) also bow today. Neither has scored well with critics—Paranoia in particular is currently boasting a horrendous 2% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Jobs stars Ashton Kutcher as the celebrated Apple founder, and the actor brings enough appeal to likely land the biopic in third place. Both films should bring in under $10 million. With no other PG-13 comedies currently in theaters, expect We’re the Millers to continue to pull in its portion of younger moviegoers. As the sole recent animated kids movie,Planes is in a similar position, which should boost its sales as well—thoughDespicable Me 2, which came out over a month and a half ago, is still playing in over 2,000 theatres.

The Hills Alternative Ending: Six Scenes I Would Have Preferred

Originally posted on Television Without Pity

In the series finale of The Hills Kristin left for Europe after Brody revealed he was dating someone else; Lo moved in with her weird, old boyfriend; Audrina got a place by the beach; and it was revealed that the entire show was a carefully constructed fake, complete with painted sets and directors, confirming our belief that no group of people could actually all be that vapid and superficial in real life.

Last Friday, MTV chose to show an “alternative ending” to The Hills‘ simultaneously bewildering and vindicating finale (you’re lying if you didn’t scream “I knew it was fake!” at your TV when all was revealed). The network had been teasing fans for weeks, baiting nostalgia hounds and teenyboppers alike. When the thing actually aired, however, it was pretty disappointing. First off, the whole scene was just three and a half minutes long (and half of that was a rehash of the final episode). Yes, it was kind of fun to imagine that Brody ended up with LC… a final “F You” to Kristin, if you will. Of course, this ending would have been a whole lot more satisfying four years ago, when anyone actually cared about any of these people.

If, after watching the alternative ending you were as nonplussed as I was, you’re in luck. I’ve put together list of six ways I wish this farce would have ended. Think of it like the movie Clue, but with more self-tanner and less Tim Curry.

Read the full list on Television Without Pity.

Tyra’s Craziest Moments from The Tyra Banks Show

Originally published on Television Without Pity.

Oh Tyra. Ms. Banks is one cuckoo lady, y’all, and I am so thankful that someone was clever enough to give her her own talk show for five seasons. Of course, we can still catch all the crazy when America’s Next Top Model returns August 2 — and I expect to see even more weirdly sexual remarks and desperate grabs for attention this cycle, considering that male models are competing as well.

Unfortunately, ANTM has to focus at least part of each episode on the, you know, models. This sad fact means that Tyra has just a few brief minutes each week to unleash her apparently unbalanced mental state on her viewing audience. The Tyra Banks Show, on the other hand, gave her a whole hour five days a week to perform “social experiments,” talk to dwarves, creepily flirt with younger men, fall out of chairs, and fight for the cause she most believes in: teaching society not to discriminate against supermodels and other ridiculously beautiful people.

In honor of the return of Top Model — which has been absent from our screens for a full year, instead of the typical four months — let’s recount Tyra’s best talk show moments. I like to think of these eight clips as some of America’s best moments as well.

Go to TWoP for the rest of this article.

R.I.P.D.: The Dude vs. the Dead

Originally published on Television Without Pity.

It was with cautious optimism that I went to see R.I.P.D. I’m not normally one for action movies — which, in the age of Transformers, have become heavy on the explosions and light on the everything else. But, R.I.P.D. does have a few things going for it. It stars Jeff Bridges and it has an intriguing premise, based on a comic book by Peter M. Lenkov. It also does not feature a talking snail… like Ryan Reynolds’ other movie that’s opening this weekend.

I ended up finding most of the film pretty entertaining. R.I.P.D. won’t become a classic of either the action or sci-fi genres, but it provides enough excitement and laughs to justify its ticket price.

Reynolds plays Nick, a Boston cop who recently got his hands a little dirty when he and his partner Hayes (Kevin Bacon) stole some gold from a group of criminals they busted. Despite this momentary lapse in morality, Nick is a good guy who’s just trying to find a way to make a better life for himself and his wife, Julia (Stephanie Szostak). Early in the film, Nick, Hayes and the rest of the Boston PD are called to a warehouse, where a wanted offender is hiding out. For some reason the warehouse is also on fire (or maybe just filled with explosions, it was hard to tell). In the ensuing chaos and fighting, Nick is shot and killed.

Read the rest of the article on Television Without Pity.

Grown Ups 2: Nothing Will Ever Be Funny Again

Originally published at TelevisionWithoutPity.com

I just want to make it clear I have never voluntarily seen a Kevin James movie before I watched Grown Ups. I feel it’s important that I disclose this in order to maintain my integrity as a movie buff and as a human being.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: How could I have missed Paul Blart: Mall Cop, or that historically important gay rights film I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry? Unfortunately, digging through James’ past oeuvre is a bit above my pay grade, so let’s get right to Grown Ups 2, a film that made me want to shoot myself in the face.

In the first Grown Ups, five middle-aged men (James, Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, David Spade and Rob Schneider) reunite at the funeral of their old basketball coach, and decide to spend a weekend reconnecting at Lenny Feder’s (Sandler) lake house. They all bring along their wives and children, and various lame gags and general poor taste ensues. The sequel takes place three years later. All the characters — except for Schneider, who apparently had the decency not to inflict himself on the poor souls who already had to watch him in the original — have now moved back to their home town to spend even more time being not funny together.

Read the full review at TelevisionWithoutPity.com

Pacific Rim likely to squeak by Despicable Me 2 for weekend’s top spot

Originally published at Film Journal International

pacific rim

This weekend marks the seventh year in a row that Warner Bros. has opted to release a big-budget tentpole in mid-July. All the others (a mix of Harry Potterand Christopher Nolan films) were huge hits, and the company is hoping monster-movie Pacific Rim will reach similar box-office scores. However, Pacific Rim does not have the built-in fan base that Warner’s previous July releases benefited from, nor does it have any big-name actors attached. Charlie Hunnam, Charlie Day and Idris Elba are all somewhat recognizable from TV (“Sons of Anarchy,” “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and “The Wire,” respectively), but none have yet emerged as bankable film stars. Additionally, Pacific Rim (which chronicles the epic battle between giant sea monsters—Kaiju—and the robots humans have created to fight them) is quite CGI-heavy, meaning the stars are barely visible in the trailer, which consists mostly of larger-than-life battles and carnage.

Read the full article at FilmJournal.com