Tag Archives: review

‘Wayward Pines’ aces the Season 1 test

Kate (Carla Gugino) gets more than she bargains for in her attempt to escape Wayward Pines.

Kate (Carla Gugino) gets more than she bargains for in her attempt to escape Wayward Pines.

I was wary of Wayward Pines.

It came down to two things. The first was the name “M. Night Shyamalan” propped up prominently in the advertising. Most of his work since The Village has been the film equivalent of a raging tire fire, and after what he did to Avatar: The Last Airbender, I wasn’t sure I’d ever watch anything he was involved in again. However, Shyamalan deserves some credit here for making Wayward Pines work. His tendencies to lean on moody atmosphere and a deliberative pace in the pilot set the tone for the rest of the first season. I wonder if working off another’s material – the series is based on the books by Blake Crouch – as well as working on a television series, which is more collaborative than the auteur role Shyamalan is used to as a film director, is part of what is responsible. If so, that mix has proven potent, and Wayward Pines can head in some interesting directions from what’s been established already.

The second thing that concerned me were the comparisons to Twin Peaks that were popping up in early reviews. I view Twin Peaks as one of the most uniquely twisted shows in the history of television, almost sacred because of the swirl of odd humor, kinky otherworldliness and dark underpinnings that are unmatched. Well, it turns out I didn’t have anything to worry about, because those reviews were dead wrong. Wayward Pines is distinctly lacking in sense of humor, which isn’t a put down. That’s just not what the show is, and it’s the easiest thing to point to as a difference when comparing it to Twin Peaks. Also, in Twin Peaks, the secrecy that drives the show is the hidden lies of the townspeople who are living the small-town, American dream. Wayward Pines‘ secrecy is more about the workings of the town itself, how it came to be, why it is so isolated, the planned machinations happening behind the scenes and what those machinations result in. Really, Wayward Pines feels much more like Lost than Twin Peaks.

FBI agent Ethan Burke (Matt Dillon) won't follow the party line in Wayward Pines: Don't talk about the past, don't go past the wall.

FBI agent Ethan Burke (Matt Dillon) won’t follow the party line in Wayward Pines: Don’t talk about the past, don’t go past the wall.

Hopefully, the Lost comparison won’t extend past the first season. The ending of season one changes the focus of Wayward Pines, spinning the plot in a different direction. The cast could potentially be radically different as well, even after the culling of familiar faces throughout the first season. The potential is there for long-term success, if the show and the folks running it can maintain the balance of plausibility of the action with the more far-out, fantastic elements that are part of this cloistered world.

If not, it could get … well, lost, for lack of a better way to put it. The ending of season one leaves the show dangling on a precipice, a radical change of course charted for the upcoming season. Abandoning the situation as it was, moving ahead a few years, could test the patience of fans if it is not handled delicately, possibly even alienate fans who would like more of what they saw and aren’t ready to push on.

I, for one, have hope. We’ll see if that hope is rewarded.

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‘Tintin’ … eh

SPOILER ALERT.  (It pisses me off when no one warns me, so I’m doing you the courtesy.)

The family went to see Tintin. My son, who is in early grade school, loved it. Why wouldn’t he? It’s about an adventurous boy reporter and his dog. It was like it was made for him.

But it wasn’t made for me. Why? Because it’s about an adventurous boy reporter and his dog. That’s what you know about the title character in the first five minutes of the film, and that’s what you know about him in the last five minutes of the film. It’s not like there isn’t character development in the film. Tintin pal Captain Haddock and villain Rackham and the story that binds them works. But Tintin is pretty … blank. He seems to be merely the driver of the story. He leaves no impression other than being in the middle of what goes on around him. It’s disappointing.

It’s really disappointing when you consider director Steven Spielberg has done this before. Tintin has a lot in common with the Indiana Jones franchise, except Indiana is a scruffy, stubborn, charming, brilliant, brave, foolish archaeologist with a string of friends and former lovers around the world. In other words, Indiana Jones is interesting in many ways, many ways that Tintin is not.

Animation may have something to do with it. With Indiana Jones, you could feel his sweat, smell his fear, feel your heart pump as he was about to lose his. With the animation of Tintin, you don’t get that sensory experience. But maybe the problem is, you really don’t know if Tintin would ever break a sweat, or if he would, why, what would push him to feel that deeply.

Or, for those of you who want the five-words-or-less review, wait for the DVD.

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