Weekly Volcano Blogs: Walkie Talkie Blog

October 20, 2014 at 1:05pm

Nerd Alert! John Wick, Constantine, Benedict Cumberbatch ...

The death of Keanu Reeves' dog really lights a fire under his ass in the new action thriller "John Wick."

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Taking the red pill, this is Nerd Alert, the Weekly Volcano's recurring events calendar devoted to all things nerdy. I myself am a Star Wars fan, mathlete, and spelling bee champion of long standing, so trust me: I grok whereof I speak.

Last week Oly police arrested a woman for drunk driving, then found she was cruising the streets with a blood-alcohol content of 0.322. In a related story, scientists have discovered a human who cannot be killed by alcohol.


I'd like you to step into the WABAC machine with me and return to the spring of 1999. Our average reader was probably in grade school, but if you're closer to my age, you vividly remember the fever-pitch excitement over a certain science-fantasy prequel. The Phantom Menace was due out in less than two months. Already you wondered which would be your favorite new hero. Would it be preteen Anakin Skywalker, or that all-CG character Jar Jar Binks? He seemed charming. Only one thing was sure: with 17 years of build-up, this movie had to be amazing. Then some techy-looking Keanu Reeves actioner came out, and you thought, "Oh, what the hell, I've got a 10-spot burning a hole in my pocket. I'll eat some wait time by checking out The Matrix." Two and a half hours later, you picked your jaw up off the popcorn-strewn carpet and staggered into the world a changed geek. The Matrix not only stole Lucasfilm's thunder, it represented the absolute state of the art in movie technology, told a riveting and thought-producing story, and still marks the pinnacle of cyberpunk cinema to this day-not that its sequels put up much of a fight.

Of course, that was 15 years ago, a more innocent time, when we feared the non-threat of Y2K more than the non-threat of airborne Ebola. A new Star Wars episode is 14 agonizing months away, you carry cyberpunk technology in your pocket, and there's a pre-Hallowe'en weekend to kill. Who should appear on the movie horizon but your old pal, Wyld Stallyns' co-lead guitarist Keanu Reeves. Whoa! His new actioner is called John Wick, and let's be honest, you don't give two hoots in a hurricane about it.

Except its Tomatometer score at time of writing (which, granted, is a week early) is a whopping 100 percent.

How did that happen? Did only one or two fanboys review it? Nope, it's earned upward thumbs from Forbes, IGN, Screen International and Drew McWeeny of HitFix among lesser evaluators. It's said to be dripping with style, a solid example of world-building, and is that most overused of all critical metaphors: a rollercoaster thrill ride. (Save theater hours waiting in line by reserving a FastPass.) Apparently Keanu brings the noise, popping a cap in everyone and everything while rocking the latest in skinny men's fashions. It could be fun; and besides, what else were you gonna do, play with your on-the-card Jar Jar Binks action figure? Mesa no tinken so!

Of course, you could watch TV instead. It's a big night for entertaining nonsense on NBC. At 9, Grimm returns for season four, so fans of ludicrous cop dramas set in worlds of pure fantasy need no longer content themselves with Hawaii Five-O. At 10 comes the debut of Constantine, a series based on the DC Vertigo horror comic Hellblazer. This adaptation, however, has nothing to do with Keanu or his 2005 movie version, and everything to do with Welsh actor Matt Ryan and a crap ton of CGI. Y'know how sometimes you wake up and discover that the terrestrial plane of which we think we're the masters is in fact crawling with invisible demons and ghosts, and now it's your job to send them off to divinely mandated afterlives? No? Well, now you understand why you don't have your own show on NBC, then.


Out of curiosity, are there any Benedict Cumberbatch fans in the house? Pretty much all of you? Great! Now, how about classic horror icons? Yes? Quite a few of you? OK! Any huge admirers of the National Theatre in London? (Crickets.) Fine, but what if I told you Benedict Cumberbatch got pretty much naked in the National Theatre's 2011 production of Frankenstein, directed by Danny Boyle of Trainspotting and Slumdog Millionaire fame? Aha, I see some of you sitting up straighter. Happily for you and your shameless depravity, that production was videotaped. Even better, it'll be shown in American cineplexes Monday, as, for example, at the Regal Martin Village in Lacey at 7. Then the event repeats two days later ... with the roles of Dr. Frankenstein and the monster reversed! Cumberbatch switches roles with Jonny Lee Miller of Trainspotting! I know! And I'm not gonna tell you which day Cumberbatch plays which part, either, because that I do not know! Check Fandango.com for further details as the date of each screening approaches. It's alive! Exclamation points! Wizard, Annie!

Until next week, may the Force be with you, may the odds be ever in your favor, and may Episode VII be Gungan-free.

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