John Dies at the End
In theaters Friday
With a name like John Dies at the End, the novel by Cracked.com’s Jason Pargin (writing as David Wong) was bound to get my attention the first time I saw it on the shelf at Border’s. I knew nothing about the book or its author, but it still earned a hope-for-the-best purchase from me, and that faith was rewarded. As much as I enjoyed the book, I was even more excited when I heard that the movie version was in the hands of Don Coscarelli, whose own Bubba Ho-Tep made him a perfect choice to capture the book’s tone and sense of humor. The story of two friends who reluctantly become paranormal investigators mashes up batshit-crazy sci-fi concepts, slacker comedy, and a dose of Lovecraft-style eldritch horror as John and Dave are tasked with saving the world…at least if they can’t find a way to get out of it.
John Dies at the End has been available on demand for several weeks now, and I’d be lying if I said it was perfect, either as a movie or as an adaptation of the book, and it’s that latter part that is the biggest problem. There are things I absolutely love about this movie, including the pitch-perfect opening and the casting of Paul Giamatti playing an incredulous reporter who is interviewing Dave about his far-fetched story. But the book itself is extremely episodic, with a throughline that doesn’t really make sense if you remove any of its parts…and, well, a movie doesn’t have time for that. So while John Dies at the End cruises along nicely for the two thirds or so, when it comes time to try and wrap things up in a satisfactory manner it makes some really bad decisions about what to keep and what to jettison. That being said, I’m really curious to see how it plays to anyone who hasn’t already read the book. If you’ve got a couple of hours to kill, check out John Dies at the End for yourself…and then go read the book. For now, you can check out the NSFW redband trailer below.
Continuum (Syfy, 8/7c) — “Fast Times”
I really liked this Canadian import’s series premiere last week, so I’m looking forward to seeing how the time-hopping series develops. It’s got a concept that lends itself to a “villain of the week” format, but I’m hoping creator Simon Barry doesn’t let the show fall prey to the same predictability that hampered Alcatraz. (And yes, Canadians, I realize you guys have already seen the show…you’re in our future. We shouldn’t even be talking, this has got wormhole written all over it.)
Death Race 3 (Blu-Ray & DVD)
I’m always impressed to see how movies that have completely slipped from my memory have nevertheless continued to survive as direct-to-DVD sequels, usually without anyone who was actually involved in the first one. And if you think it’s impressive that the forgettable 2008 Death Race remake has spawned two sequels, scroll on down to the Universal Soldier entry…
Face Off (Syfy, 9/8c) — “Heroic Proportions”
The contestants are tasked with creating their very own original DC Comics superhero. And even if their creations all suck, there’s a very good chance you’ll get to watch Glenn Hetrick tear somebody a new one.
An Idiot Abroad: The Complete Collection (Blu-Ray & DVD)
There are few simple joys more satisfying than watching Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant send sad-sack Karl Pilkington around the world to all the gorgeous and fascinating locales he has absolutely, positively no interest whatsoever in visiting.
“Seconds” by David Ely
It’s got an intriguing concept that has shades of David Fincher’s The Game and, er, Freaky Friday. Considerably less Lindsay Lohan than the latter, however. Or so I assume. I haven’t read it, it could be hip-deep in Lindsay Lohans for all I know. Incidentally, Hip-Deep in Lindsay Lohans is the name of my James Blunt cover band.
What would you give up for a second chance?
Antiochus Wilson is completely and utterly bored with his life, until he receives the call that changes everything. When the voice on the other end of the line promises him excitement, wealth, and happiness, he is more than a little intrigued.
Arriving at a hastily scrawled address, Wilson discovers a mysterious and exclusive organization that offers its clients whole new lives . . . for a price. The organization arranges for a client’s demise or disappearance and outfits each with a new body in which to begin again. But there’s no turning back, and no room for second-guessing. When Wilson begins to question his new circumstances and pushes some very well-established boundaries a bit too far for the organization’s comfort, his second chance may just be his last.
Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning (Blu-Ray & DVD)
So the Death Race remake has spawned two direct-to-DVD sequels you say? That’s cute. This is the sixth Universal Soldier movie. You can read Brent’s thoughts on the flick right here.
American Horror Story (FX, 10/9c) — “Madness Ends”
Will the aliens make a return appearance to do some last-minute anal probing? Is there any genre they haven’t shoehorned into this season? Does this show make any damn sense at all? I’m guessing the answer to at least two of those questions is “no.”
Nova (PBS, 9/8c) — “Rise of the Drones”
Taking for granted that we’re all going to be killed by robots at some point in the not-too-distant future, watch this episode of Nova so you can be properly prepared by the time these drones become self-aware and decide to kill all humans.
Supernatural (The CW, 9/8c) — “LARP and the Real Girl”
Much as I love the show, Supernatural doesn’t really fit within our mission statement here at GFR. However, I’m saying pshaw to propriety and giving you the heads up for the simple reason that the lovely and talented Felicia Day is putting in a return appearance on the show, and there is LARP involved. There is a high probability that awesomeness and/or hilarity will ensue.
Deadliest Space Weather (Weather Channel, 9/8c) — “Mars”
I still can’t believe that I’m including an entry from the Weather Channel in our weekly line-up, but there you have it. Tonight the show gets your ass to Mars.
An Idiot Abroad (Science, 9/8c) — “India”
If you didn’t already buy the DVD set that came out Tuesday, now you can settle in for the third season you probably haven’t seen, assuming you’re here in the U.S. How much information does TV Guide provide about tonight’s episode? “India is visited.” That’s how much information.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Cartoon Network, 9:30 am/8:30c) — “Shades of Reason”
“Pre Vizsla and Maul attack Mandalore and Duchess Satine, but their alliance is soon tested.”
Monster Squid: The Giant Is Real (Discovery, 8/7c)
It was huge news a few weeks ago when a Japanese film crew captured footage of the elusive giant in its natural habitat, a third of a mile below the surface. Now you can get more details about the amazing video in this Discovery special.
The giant squid has been captured on video in its natural habitat for the first time ever.
This long-sought after footage — considered by many to be the Holy Grail of natural history filmmaking — will be revealed by Discovery Channel and NHK in January 2013.
With razor-toothed suckers and eyes the size of dinner plates, tales of this creature have been around since ancient times. The Norse legend of the sea monster the Kraken, and the Scylla from Greek mythology, might have derived from the elusive giant squid.
This massive predator has always been shrouded in secrecy, and every attempt to capture a live giant squid on camera in its natural habitat has failed. Until now.
Mankind finally confronts the greatest mystery of the deep as the first-ever footage of a live giant squid in its natural habitat is revealed in Discovery Channel’s Monster Squid: The Giant Is Real.