11.22.63: Mini Series (2016)

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*CONTAINS SPOILERS*

What I liked:

  • The opening credits. Heck yeah, it summed the book up perfectly, all the smaller things that the show might have missed. It was engaging and looked good.
  • Daniel Webber as Lee Harvey Oswald. This guy was good. Seriously. There were times where you actually felt pity for this man, dirt poor and a wee bit cuckoo, and other times where you were just like “you ass”.

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  • Al Templeton flashing in between the episodes, explaining more about the past, talking about his research and what he discovered, as well as sharing some of the history. It keeps things relevant, so it wasn’t all blandly said in the beginning, and then things referenced throughout the film and then just not making sense later.
  • The tension that the show builds. While it lacks at times, it really kicks other times.
  • The show is engaging. It has a doomed air, and gives you all you need to appreciate the setting, the concept, and how it will come together.

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  • The performances all round were actually really good.
  • Obviously I was a fan of the romance between Sadie and Jake. Man. Lovely. It was captured rather well here, albeit so much more different than what it should have been like.

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  • How Jake also did things that were against his character, just to try and bend the past to his will, no matter that the past is obdurate, and does not want to be changed. I think a particularly crazy scene to highlight this was the entire debacle with Bill and the psych ward.
  • Bringing in the Harry Dunning story so effectively. This was a big thing for me, and I think Leon Rippy was a great Harry. Gosh, that story was so painful, and I am glad we got to see some of it.

What I didn’t like: 

  • How much it deviates from the book.
  • Johnny Clayton in the show was just not as terrifying as the book. His role was totally different, and he didn’t tear into town and wreck Sadie’s life under disguise or shockingly. They knew he was there. Also, I wish 11.22.63 had captured how loopy the guy was. WTF?! They touched on it but didn’t own it.

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  • The Yellow Card Man was also not as mysterious as he should have been, or as scary. The use of him was rather heavy handed, and the lack of explanation was also rather grating. It was an incredibly bizarre change for me, and not a particularly good character here, and he should have been.
  • The time jumped around a lot, and that left you feeling like things had been missed, and progression of certain other things had been overlooked.
  • Some things just didn’t have enough background, and so did not carry a lot of weight and came across as forced, which is unfortunate.

Rating:
GRADE 7
So y’all know I finished the book recently. I am still hanging. I have not stopped thinking about it since then, and I really had a hard time committing to another book. I tried man, I really tried. Other books just don’t look as great by comparison. Naturally I got my hands on 11.22.63 and decided to give it a go with my husband, who will never take the time to read the book, but with whom I really wanted to share the story.

Right off the bat, my husband loved it. He thought it was great, and was super flat when it was over, for so many reasons. I had an array of issues and niggles, of course, but that’s because I read the book. I continually reminded myself that it was obviously going to be different, and it was a huge book to bring to screen, and that the finer points would be missed. Unfortunately. That being said, and the fact that the show and the book are vastly different, it isn’t a bad show – it’s just not like the book. At all.

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The show felt a little bit confused about it wanted to be (for me). Like, did it want to focus on the romance? Did it want to be all about the JFK conspiracy? Did it want to be about time travel? These were not themes that had difficulty interacting in the book, but on screen it comes across as clunky, as though the writers didn’t know what was the most important thing to concentrate on. I was also really let down by how many characters got skipped over – the novel was so story-centric, and there were so many amazing characters that I was really excited to see. Mike and Bobby Jill essentially got a cameo. Ellie didn’t even make it into the story, as well as the array of gangsters that were skipped entirely. All those characters being forgotten and overlooked did not change the fact that Bill Turcotte became a big player in this one. Shockingly. Luckily he was a character that grew on me, otherwise we could have had issues.

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For the most part the show looked really good. The sets were great and looked legitimately old school. The directing made the show suffer a bit, and the pacing was off, and as much as my hubby was hanging on to every word to see what was cooking, so was I. This story was something different entirely, and they worked way more in depth with the whole concept of Oswald being used by the CIA for a hit.

I was so excited to see the relationship between Sadie and Jake. I mean wow, if ever there was an amazing romance, that would be it. I absolutely adored it. I think Sarah Gadon is gorgeous, and she and James Franco made for a good looking couple. She was rather different from what I imagined, and their romance was more fleeting that I would have liked – it was a super elaborate story in the books. However, Sadie and Jake fit together, and while the dance from the show was a little more stiff than I would have appreciated, I was thrilled to see it happen. The show managed to show how their relationship was not a simple, easy thing.

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Deke becoming a more central character was awesome, even if he still hung in the fringe a bit more than most. He was entertaining, and I wish we had seen more of him and Miz Mimi. As for Lee Harvey Oswald? Daniel Webber nailed him. Seriously. The show constantly had you suspicious of him, and did not beat around about painting him this dark, deranged cuckoo. I liked it. It was rather sinister. There were times I felt absurdly sorry for him, too.

Jake is from a totally different time, and the show addressed it quite well that Jake comes from a future where injustice is not taken so calmly, and the way he championed for Miz Mimi to be treated as an equal? Loved it. He gave that horrible petrol attendant the chirping of his life, and his decency at offering her even just a cup of coffee in a time where that was not acceptable was fantastic. The show didn’t spend too much time on it, but it did not overlook the fact that the sixties had some major issues.

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11.22.63 nailed the doomed, melancholic, bittersweet story it should be by the end. It might have been a mixed bag, but really got it rolling right by the end. Looking at how the ability to change the past will mess with you is great. Seriously, how do you know where you fit in anymore? Everything in the world is so precarious. The butterfly effect was explored quite well here.

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I particularly appreciated the smaller things that the show did, such as the grassy knoll umbrella dude and Oswald’s infamous backyard selfie. There were also plenty non-historic Easter eggs like “REDRUM” scrawled on the Texas Book Depository stairwell, and Franco’s “so good” over the pie, reference to The Green Mile’s “Old Sparky”, to name but a few.

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While this will never become one of my all time favourite shows, I appreciate what they went for, super large deviation and all. I think the biggest issue is that King’s work is really hard to bring to screen. Some have been done excellently, with the right people, and I was really holding out hope that this would come together like The Green Mile, but I was let down by that. However, I am convinced that if you watch this and haven’t read the book, you will love it. I am basing this on my husband’s reaction, who thoroughly enjoyed this and it stuck with him long after, and he is not one to really linger or get overly involved. If you have read the book, this will be a little jarring, but if you put that out of your mind, you will have a decent show to fill your time with.

SPOILER: The end was beautiful and crushing, all at once. It left you with that broken feeling, that feeling you were lied to, allowed to hope, even though you know it will be a tragedy, no matter how things go down. It was stunning and sad in equal measure, the perfect close.

Review: Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

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rise of the planet of the apes theatrical movie poster

“Caesar shows cognitive skills that far exceed that of a human counterpart. The drug in his system has radically boosted healthy brain functions.”
– Will Rodman

SYNOPSIS: A substance designed to help the brain repair itself gives rise to a super-intelligent chimpanzee who leads an ape uprising. – via IMDB

GRADE 8This was something I was dead set against watching. Hell, my other half damn near strapped me to the couch to force me to watch it, and my entire opinion of the Planet of the Apes franchise was changed… well, not the franchise maybe, but certainly the new direction and reboot. I regret not seeing it in cinema because this is something worth seeing on the big screen, and the years have passed with me getting progressively more excited for the sequel.

I enjoyed the cast, the concept, the CGI, Caesar (that goes without say), and the story. It was well paced, never leaving you confused or wondering what the hell had happened. Seeing how Caesar came to live with Will was great, he was adorable, and it was amazing how much he helped Charles become more stable. The psychology behind Caesar’s intelligence and desire to make new connections and all was also completely believable and understandable. The ties between Will, Charles and Caesar is very sweet, they bond together in the closest for of family.

Andy Serkis delivered another grand performance for his motion capture repertoire, and truly dominates in this role. Tom Felton seems destined to play the jackass forever more since his stint as Draco Malfoy, and he was really so reprehensible in here. Ugh. Brian Cox returns once again as a villainous character, also very unlikable. It was terribly sad, getting the testing portrayal from the chimpanzee’s side, and was well crafted.

The score worked wonders, too. Caesar being separated from caring family and thrown to the wolves, so to speak, it difficult, but it is fantastic to see the ape grow, to create ties with his own kind, to see his similarities with them as well as where they differ. I really liked the friendship he and Maurice had with one another, it was sweet. This is one of those films that really needs to be seen, it is exceptionally well done, and will draw in just about any viewer.

Review: Spider-Man 2 (2004)

7

Spider-Man 2 Movie Poster 2004

“Now… let’s see who’s behind the mask.”
– Harry Osborn

Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is done with high school and knee deep in a really horrid dead end job, though his double life and Spider-Man is going incredibly well. Crime rates are down, and he is slowly but surely climbing the rungs at the Daily Bugle (who is claiming Spider-Man is a criminal), though the jobs are sporadic and mostly insignificant. As if Peter’s life does not suck enough, he loses his useless pizza delivery job, and is having a really hard time at school as he is missing a lot of classes and his homework is always late. Dr Curt Connors (Dylan Baker) is progressively getting more and more tired of his once-star pupil.

Peter’s best friend, Harry Osborn (James Franco), is intent of finding Spider-Man and making him pay for the loss of his father. He becomes obsessed with the notion of revenge. He has taken over Oscorp, and the business is very successful. Peter and Harry start drifting when Peter refuses to give Spider-Man’s whereabouts to Harry, who despises the fact that Peter is protecting what he feels to be a villain. The love of Peter’s life, Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst) is becoming a successful star, and is dating and becomes engaged to Daily Bugle mogul J Jonah Jameson’s (J.K. Simmons) son John Jameson (Daniel Gillies). However, Mary Jane is still in love with Spider-Man, and houses her suspicions of Peter being that visage.

The ultra famous upside down kiss

The ultra famous upside down kiss

Finally Peter’s powers start to dwindle and disappear, leaving him in rather an uncomfortable predicament. He has no idea what the issue is, and a doctor that he sees for his restlessness tells him that he is at a crossroads and needs to choose what path he will take: the hero or normality, basically. Peter crumbles and confesses to his Aunt May Parker (Rosemary Harris) the circumstances surrounding Uncle Ben’s (Cliff Robertson) death, and the guilt he carries with him daily. The news hurts her, and she is already in dire straits as it is, both emotionally as well as financially. Two years of crime fighting in secret and losing his real life’s friends and family has finally come knocking to take its toll. Peter chooses a simple, plain and boring life, and things start looking up for him again.

Epic train fight

Epic train fight

Brilliant scientist Dr Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina) attempts a fusion experiment that Harry is funding. Naturally the experiment would go horribly wrong, and his wife Roaslie (Donna Murphy) pays the ultimate price: her life. Bitter and angry, and the regulator between the fusion and his brain shattered, Doctor Octopus rises to tear the city apart. Peter’s giving up the crime-fighter’s life seems to have been a rash decision. He will have to re-evaluate his intentions, and choose his destiny once again, the same as he did years ago. Spider-Man has never been needed more, and Peter rises to the occasion in suited red and blue.

When revenge is not as simple as you would have hoped

When revenge is not as simple as you would have hoped

Will Peter be able to repair his shattered friendship with Harry as well as score the girl of his dreams? Will he ever really learn how to successfully balance his two lives with minor repercussions?

Spider-Man 2 earned 7/10. I really don’t know, but Kirsten Dunst’s performance seemed so wooden in this Spider-Man that I am truly shocked. It was cool how the tentacles carried Doc Ock around without him needing to walk places. Impressive. There were a few holes in the story again, but I really felt sorry for Peter at times. What got me, though (after long talks with Ricky), the scene when Harry heard his father, Norman, he heard the Green Goblin laughing. Now the thing is, Harry never knew his father was the Green Goblin (Peter ensured that), and the Goblin was a manifestation in Norman’s head. Norman is a manifestation is Harry’s head, so how is the Green Goblin laugh there? Maybe my brain is just being overly logical again… forgive me. Alfred Molina did a very good job as Doc Ock, so it was pretty cool to watch that. Worth watching but I would say the best time for it would be during the course of a Spider-Man run.

Review: Spider-Man (2002)

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Spider Man 2002 Poster “You’ve spun your last web, Spider-Man.” – Green Goblin I decided on an old school Spider-Man rerun recently. I have not watched these movies in years. I recall It has been really fun so far, because Ricky has risen to the occasion with gusto to explore the old world of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man. Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is your average high school loser, orphaned and living with his Aunt May (Rosemary Harris) and Uncle Ben (Cliff Robertson). He is forever in love with the girl next door, Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), but has no way of telling her how he feels. Peter’s best friend, Harry Osborn (James Franco), is the misunderstood, unhappy and angry teenager who is from an extremely wealthy family, and the only person that understands and accepts Peter.

The all American photographer

The all American photographer

On a school trip to a science lab, Peter is bitten by a spider, which leads to him becoming very ill, and then noticing some extremely drastic changes in his life. His body buffs, his senses soar and heighten like he never knew was possible, his sight becomes perfect again… this is a whole new life for him, and a whole new array of opportunities seem attainable to him now. The changes distance him from his family, though, and his aunt and uncle are worried about him, and this only irritates Peter some more. His life was just starting to shape up! Sadly, things over-complicate themselves when Peter becomes lost in the dream of somehow using his new-found abilities to make a lot of extra cash to buy a car to impress the girl next door. Under the pretext of visiting the library one evening, Uncle Ben attempts to speak to Peter, and the two end up having a massive argument, and Peter goes to a wrestling ring (as he had planned, anyway). Things go in his favour, but he is screwed out of his cash by the end of it. A robbery goes down, and Peter refuses to help the wrestling boss out after he was done in. His actions lead to him discovering his Uncle Ben shot outside, and he dies in Peter’s arms. Peter seeks vengeance, and realizes that he will have to fight crime a little more, he needs to make amends. His uncle’s speech is finally given credence, thanks to his death, sadly. After graduation, Peter is crushed to find out that Mary Jane is dating Harry, and that he did not tell him anything, even though they live together after moving out of their homes respectively. Peter gets a freelance job as a photographer working for J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons) at the Daily Bugle to snap pictures of the Spider-Man.

Spider-Man and the Green Goblin 2002

Such great friends at play

Harry’s eccentric, scientist and millionaire father, Norman Osborne (Willem Dafoe), administering himself a serum in desperation to retain government funding for his research on performance enhancers. Instead of the desired results he expected, a terrifying alter ego emerges: The Green Goblin. The Green Goblin starts tearing the city apart, and Peter realizes he will have to step up and become the Spider-Man to keep the people safe, and embrace what has now become his destiny. spider-man-2002-1

Now that he is to embrace his destiny, will Spider-Man be able to overcome his new identity, save the city, get the girl and make it as a photographer in the world? Tall order to fill for such a young man.

A 7/10 for Spider-Man here. I still do not think that Tobey Maguire was the best choice for Peter Parker or Spider-Man, to be dead honest. He couldn’t pull of the sarcasm and cheek very well, and he was such a loser, way more than he should have been. He was supposed to be geeky, but not the total butt of all jokes? I enjoyed James Franco and Willem Dafoe in this film. There were just a few things I was not in love with in this movie, but there were also a few decent aspects. There are a few flaws and a few strong points to this movie, I have to give it credit for that. I have been having an absolute ball re-watching them and laughing, though, but more so at the mistakes and what not. Overall, not the most terrible entry into the superhero category, but it is watchable.