Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The End of Dexter

No spoilers here. I can't believe it's over... the final episode. I loved the show. Sure, some seasons were better than others (how do you top the Trinity Killer?), but I never thought any season was flat-out awful. Michael C. Hall was always phenomenal and kept Dexter interesting even through some of its weaker moments. All the actors and characters were pretty amazing. I really liked Doakes. "Stop grinning like a fuckin psycho and get back to work." Their scenes together in the first season were some of my favorites. He never fell for the phony smile or the box of donuts. Of course, I liked Deb too despite how crazy they made her in the last couple seasons, but everybody was great: Batista, LaGuerta, Masuka, even Quinn, and James Remar was perfect as Harry. It's so nuts how they got you to root for a serial killer and made him someone you can relate to... obviously, the fact he only killed bad guys (at least, that was his code) went a long way. Seeing him take out complete and utter scum was definitely a highlight. His uncertainty at how to handle fatherhood, his difficulty with human interaction and human emotions, the playfully ironic (and sometimes quite funny) voice-overs, watching him always talk to his dad for advice and care about his sister, etc. all helped show different sides of him so he wasn't just a one-dimensional monster. Then of course, placing him next to the worst psychotic killers out there who murdered and raped innocent people made Dexter seem almost like a saint in comparison. I don't think any adversary came close to John Lithgow's character Arthur Mitchell. He was so fuckin good, and the parallels to Dexter's own life gave it another level. That season was incredible. I want to re-watch it.

Ok, spoiler time. I kinda like the ending and I kinda don't. I didn't see it coming at all. I was actually hoping Dexter would get away with Hannah and Harrison. I hated Deb dying. I know Dexter is a serial killer obviously, and he did get good innocent people murdered like LaGuerta, but they did so well with the character that by the end, you're really on his side except yes, there's still the LaGuerta thing (and Doakes and Prado's brother and quite a few others you forget about, which is definitely bad). But seeing Dexter finally feel so many emotions and care about people, not wanting to kill but to just be with Hannah and his son, I really wanted them to be happy together. Harrison needs a father even if Dexter is screwed up (no father is perfect, and if Dexter stops killing, they shouldn't be in danger especially in a foreign country far away where no one knows them). But I understand why they ended it that way, and killing LaGuerta really was wrong so they shouldn't just get away with that. Plus, from Dexter's point of view, he hurt Deb really badly when she found out the truth about him yet even when he decided to not kill Saxon, Deb still ended up dead so to him, it must seem like no matter what he does, he hurts the people he loves, but Deb told him not to blame himself. It was kinda comically funny how easy it was for Dexter to steal Deb's body to put on his boat, but I guess everyone was focused on the hurricane, he did wheel her out on the bed, etc. I did love him killing Saxon with that pen. I read about the other proposed ending where Dexter wakes up at the end to a lethal injection as he sees all the people he murdered watching from the other side so the whole show was his life flashing before his eyes as he died, but I don't really like that either. Isn't death too easy of a way out? And you expect him to be dead or in jail. I just don't think Dexter would abandon his son since Harrison really does need him, but again, I kinda do like Dexter all by himself, completely alone and avoiding any human contact. I don't know how I feel about a spin-off or a new series. I wish the end was the end, but of course, if something makes a lot of money, they got to milk it for all they can. I would watch more, but Michael C. Hall would have to come back, and I hope the motivation wouldn't be purely financial.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Hot Girl of Horror #23: Odette Yustman

I've only seen one film of hers: Cloverfield, and I liked it a lot even though I'm sick of the found footage gimmick, but I thought that movie used it well without being annoying. Actually, I guess she had a tiny role in Transformers as a "socialite." Poor girl. I was curious about The Unborn, but I ended up skipping it despite the attractive poster (they really used her to sell it, didn't they?). Looks like the only other semi-horror flick of hers would be And Soon the Darkness. The reviews for it are pretty awful, but damn, can I live on that island? Amber Heard and her in bikinis? Good casting. Ok, I just found out something disturbing. She was in Kindergarten Cop. I have no idea which kid she played in that, and I don't want to know. Thanks IMDb. Update: she is awesome in the show Banshee, and if you haven't seen that show, you should correct that ASAP. Nudity aplenty... err, I mean an amazing story and characters but actually yes, it has both. She is a real badass in it too.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Are practical FX making a comeback?

I certainly hope so. Don't get me wrong. I think CGI can be an excellent tool and accomplish amazing things when it's not overused or abused, which is quite rare, but I grew up on Aliens, John Carpenter's The Thing, Predator, The Terminator, etc. so for me, nothing comes close to practical FX. I watched Movie Magic all the time as a kid. I loved it to death, and the fact these people could make real, moving monsters was just unbelievably incredible to me. Try to think of a CG werewolf that compares at all to An American Werewolf in London. I can't think of any computer-generated monsters that can stand up to Rob Bottin's phenomenal work on The Thing. I know some types of movies like superhero films probably couldn't be done without CGI, but even in that category, part of the reason why The Dark Knight was so exceptional is Nolan kept the computer effects to a minimum. Look at how little the shark appears in Jaws or how Ridley Scott creatively kept the titular creature hidden so much in Alien. One of the problems with CGI is people don't think there are any limits to it yet time and money are always obstacles so if you don't have the room in your budget to correct a computer effect or enough time to make it as photo-realistic as possible (or you have 500 shots to do when you can only manage 200), you're going to end up with sub-par results. There's just something so much more engrossing and exciting about real stunts and real creatures that physically exist in our world. Actors can give better performances, and filmmakers are forced to deal with real-world limitations, which so often end up improving the final product.

The Harbinger Down Kickstarter was insanely fascinating to me since Alec Gillis actually explained why studios opt for CGI when practical is usually cheaper (and better), and the reasoning blew my mind. They only care about the tax incentives from farming computer effects out to labor in other countries. You can see how the business side of filmmaking has completely overrun Hollywood. Everything has to be a franchise now with a brand name, endless sequels, merchandising tie-ins, and of course, the latest crappy computer effects to wow kids who've never seen practical FX. It's really a shame, but projects like Harbinger Down give me hope. I thought the days of practical-FX creature features were behind us so I'm extremely pleased to see someone pick up the torch. Fire City is another one I'm greatly anticipating, and as long as we've got some filmmakers like Adam Green who insist on using practical (so glad he used real wolves in Frozen and decided not to rely on shitty CG blood in the Hatchet films), there's still a chance the pendulum could swing back in the opposite direction. Ok, that'll never happen, but I can dream, and I'm going to do what little I can to help. I know tons of people like me want to see more practical FX, and thankfully, as already noted, some talented people in the industry like Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff, Jr. are pushing for this as well. Plus, you'd think with the popularity of shows like Face Off, more studio executives would get the hint, but obviously, they're blinded by box office numbers. If more and more practical-FX movies come out and do well though, who knows. I just want to see real monsters again. I know they're only one piece in a much larger puzzle. You need a great story and fantastic characters too, but for horror films especially, the FX matter. If Aliens or John Carpenter's The Thing were redone with crappy CGI (wait... The Thing was... yeah, I'm trying to forget the awful prequel), they would definitely lose something. So much of their incredible magic would be gone, and we can't let that happen. At least, not without a fight. If we want to see more practical FX, we've got to support those films. Of course, they need to be quality movies too, but heck, I'd still rather see a flawed practical-FX monster flick than some stupid CG SyFy piece of shit.

So are practical FX making a comeback? Probably not, but dammit, I hope so. I really, really hope so.

P.S. Can someone tell them to stop using CG blood? It sucks.
P.S.S. Why isn't Movie Magic out on DVD?