Sunday, September 30, 2012

Once Upon a Time S2: "Broken"

And with a close-up of a horse (in the present? in the Fairy Tale World? Ah, definitely the present) and Lou Reed’s “Charley’s Girl” playing in the background, we enter the second season of Once Upon a Time.

RenĂ© from True Blood is walking through the streets of Manhattan and he returns to his apartment, full of old timey paraphernalia. I was watching with my now 8-year-old daughter (she was 7 when we watched season 1, but she’s now a Hurley number), and I paused the scene and asked if she could see anything significant. She walked up to the TV and stared at it with her head cocked to one side.

“He likes records. And old stereos. And… hairdryers?”
“No, those are old radio microphones.” (Heeheeeeeeee...)
“Oh. And books. And he has a very bad window.” ;)

We also noticed “Cleaners and Hatters” on a sign on the wall, along with wooden feet (Pinocchio). He has a rotary phone… so he could very well be from 28 years ago, and never updated his apartment. (Considering the people in Storybrooke came there 28 years ago and have no sense of time passing, it actually does seem a little odd that they’re not all driving cars from the early 80s and dressing like they’re in Bananarama.) He drops his iPod down the fire escape (ah, so he’s NOT all retro) and then along comes a dove that hands him a postcard from Storybrooke, with only one word written on it: “Broken.”

As in, “The curse is.” Who is this guy? We don’t know yet, but I reckon he’ll last a little longer on this series than he did on The Walking Dead (one hopes).

The opening credits have what appears to be a Dementor in it, which we will later learn is a wraith.

And we cut right to the Sleeping Beauty story. Philip (the Charming of this story) is traveling with an Asian sidekick, and I immediately said to my daughter that his companion appeared to be a girl. I thought so mostly because of the jealous way she looked at him when he kissed Aurora, but also because her eyes were very feminine, and later when she climbed the stairs her legs were far too slender to belong to a man. So it was no surprise when she was revealed to us to be a woman, but it WAS a happy surprise to find out she was Mulan! (One of my daughter’s favourite movies.) We both shrieked with delight over that reveal. As soon as Aurora is awakened, a wraith rises up, marks Philip, and he decides to sacrifice himself so the wraith won’t come after one of the other two. He does so, saying, “I love you” over his shoulder before he dies, so that each woman would think he was speaking directly to her. Mulan then reveals to Aurora that the curse that the Evil Queen cast over the land didn’t affect one particular section — their territory — and that they’d been asleep for 28 years but have suddenly awaken, clearly because of the curse breaking in Storybrooke.

Meanwhile, over there, we watch people awakened from a 28-year curse finally recognize each other. Charming and Snow, Snow and her dwarfs (so sweet!), and Henry saying, “Grandpa?!” to Charming, a line that made my daughter laugh out loud. But when they see the villagers stampeding to Regina’s house, they all decide they have to do something; mostly because Henry asks them to save her. At her house, she believes she’s now magical and waves her hands mystically as if to do something terrible, but nothing happens. Dr. Whale (who no one recognizes — I’m watching the end of season 1 of The Vampire Diaries right now and the characters are starting to remind me of each other) wants her to die, but Emma arrests her instead.

As Regina’s being carted off to jail, Rumpelstiltskin stands with Belle, who asks him why he just brought magic back into Storybrooke. We realize already that it will work differently here, and he explains that, but he promises her — interestingly, exactly the same way he’d made a promise to his son — that he won’t seek revenge against Regina, and that he won’t kill her himself. But he’s lying: later he brings forth a wraith from the other land after marking Regina as the target, and then calls Belle on it, “You said I couldn’t kill her,” and she walks out on him because he’s a bleedin’ liar. Of course, she returns because she hopes she’ll be the positive influence he needs in his life.

As the episode ends, Regina opens the Mad Hatter’s “hat portal” to pull the wraith in, and it accidentally nabs Emma and Snow as well. She tries to kill Charming, but he escapes, and Henry sees what she’s done and goes with him. He promises Henry that he will find both of them. Just as we waited all season last year for Snow and Charming to recognize each other, now they’re instantly separated again and we wait for them to find one another again.

At the end of season 1, I can honestly say I wasn’t sure where they were going to take this next, but I really like this season’s set-up, and knowing they’ll keep us in two worlds makes me very happy. Every time Snow tried to talk to Emma about them being mother and daughter, Emma pushed her away. I mean, how do you come to accept your mom is Snow White for goodness sake?! But now Emma will go and be in that land for a while, and maybe then she’ll start to feel more at home with Mommy.

Of course, the moment they appear in the Fairy Tale World, Mulan immediately suspects them as enemies who brought the wraith. So... not exactly starting off on the right foot there, maybe? 

-The reunions.
-The look on Charming’s face when Snow mentions a “one night stand.”

Did You Notice?
-As mentioned, the man at the beginning is listening to Lou’s “Charley’s Girl,” which sounds strangely like his “Walk on the Wild Side”:
Everybody said that you'd better watch out
Man, she's gonna turn you in
And me, you know that I thought that I looked out
Now look at the trouble that I'm in
you know, you'd better -

Watch out for Charley's girl
Watch out for Charley's girl
Watch out for Charley's girl
Watch out for Charley's girl

It happened on New Year's Eve
They said everybody had to leave
They had a warrant in their hand
They wanted to bust the whole band
I said if I ever see Sharon again
I'm gonna punch her face in
you know you, you'd better -

Watch out for Charley's girl
hey, now, now
Watch out for Charley's girl
you know she'll turn you, turn you in
Watch out for Charley's girl
Watch out for Charley's girl
she'll turn you in you'd better, huhh -
Watch out, you'd better -
watch out, you'd better -
You'd better watch out, you'd better
you'd better watch out for -
Charley's girl
-Note in the lyrics above that he mentions punching someone in the face, which is a threat that Emma makes to Gold later in the episode.
-When Sleeping Beauty wakes up, the spindle is right there beside her grave. Who put THAT there?!

Any Questions?
-When Snow and Charming “come to,” so to speak, it’s like those 28 years never happened and they’re right back where they were. They refer to each other as “Snow” and “Charming” and the dwarfs immediately form the Group of Seven all over again. So… why do they call Regina, well, Regina? And why does Snow say she’d been looking for Emma for 28 years when she hadn’t been looking for her at all? She would have had her memory wiped the moment the curse happened, so she wasn’t even aware she had a daughter.
-Aurora looks at Mulan and explains that she laid on that cold slab because “you’re not the only one who knows about sacrifices.” What does Aurora know about sacrifices? She pricked her finger and ended up on the slab. While I’ve always thought the story was ridiculous — I mean, just TELL THE GIRL NOT TO TOUCH A SPINDLE, but oh no, let’s just NOT mention the thing that will put her into an endless sleep and hope the hell she doesn’t come near a spindle — but there’s no willing sacrifice in that story. Will they alter it as they have many of the other stories? I hope so, because I’m looking forward to seeing what they’ll do with it.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Fringe: Transilience Thought Unifier Model-11

So let me get this straight... he was using
her as a coffee table?!
Possibly the wonkiest season opener title EVER.

This week sees the return of Fringe for its final outing, which will consist of a fifth season of 13 episodes. Last season we saw Olivia and Peter finally come together as one and separate the two universes again after they'd been joined, but right before the end of the season was a standalone episode called "Letters of Transit." Set in 2036, we were told the Observers took over the world in 2015 after they had destroyed their own, and had incited a "Purge" of the native humans. Etta and Simon (aka Desmond My Desmond) were part of the rebels fighting against the Observers, and they managed to de-amber Walter and help him get his memory back. Then they found Peter, Astrid, and William Bell together in a chunk of amber, but they were running out of time to get them back, so Simon pushed himself into the amber to push Peter out. Astrid was removed, and Walter was forced to sever Bell's hand. Olivia was nowhere to be seen.

Turns out, if there was one episode you saw last season, that had better be it, for this season we are suddenly back in that time zone and continuing the story on from there. Which makes perfect sense, since the storyline from last season had pretty much been wrapped up.

I LOVE the new direction this season, and it's a fascinating new world that once again we have to move around and try to understand. We've gotten to know parallel worlds with zeppelins and earpieces, and then that world was joined to ours and everyone changed again. Peter was there, then he wasn't, then he was, then he wasn't. Then he was ours, then he wasn't. But now that everything has found stability in that universe, it's time to flashforward. On Lost they went ahead three years. Here, it's 24. Eep.

John Noble once again steps up as one of the best actors on TV (sadly unrecognized every awards season in a world of Don Draper, Walter White, and Sgt Brody) in a truly tense interrogation scene. And the only glimpse we get of Olivia and Peter from before (in 2015, which is three years after we left them last) is gutwrenching when we see their little girl skipping through Central Park before an army of Observers suddenly appear behind her, and Peter and Olivia — as if in a nightmare — are running in slow motion and can't make their legs move any faster to get to her in time. We learn that losing Etta drove a wedge between the two of them, as Olivia became part of a movement to stop the Observers and Peter became solely focused on getting his little girl back.

A great return for the final season, Fringe once again shows us how amazing television can be when you put together a terrific ensemble cast.


  • Astrid playing some sort of Scrabble and bitching at the computer that "Naugahyde was a very popular premium pleather!" 
  • The look on Walter's face when he tries an egg stick. "What a miserable future." 
  • Walter seeing Astrid and referring to her as "Avril." 
  • "Amber gypsies." I just LOVED that idea. 
Not so Highlight: 
  • The "resistance is futile" line. As if they had to highlight that they were exactly like the Borg. Also, Etta says she's heard that line before: when would she have watched Star Trek? She doesn't have any real memories of before the Observers. Perhaps, like the bookstore guy, she watches contraband television? 

Did You Notice?:
  • The glyphs going into the commercial breaks spelled the word DOUBT.
  • Observer graffiti ALL LOOKS THE SAME. Haha! (Also, it looks like Banksy did it.) 
  • The opening credits once again reflect the world we're in, and this one flashes words like joy, freedom, personal thought, imagination — all things that have been taken away from the people. 
  • Walter's excitement about finding the Isaac Asimov book: in the butterfly episode he refers to Asimov as a personal friend and quotes him often. (However, it was strange that he said he hadn't seen one of his books in years... in amber, 20 years would have felt like a snap of the fingers to him. Granted, someone was talking in the room during that scene, and I think I may have missed something.) 
  • Central Park is just a giant grid with a single aboveground train moving across it. 
  • Peter is lefthanded, and Etta is righthanded, so while holding up Walter, they made the perfect shooting machine. 
  • The song Walter is listening to at the end is the 1982 song "Only You" by the British band Yaz. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Fall TV: Revolution

When I first heard the premise of the new series written by Eric Kripke (who fashioned the first five seasons of Supernatural into a closed arc before the CW decided to keep it going without him and reversed a lot of what he’d done) and produced by JJ Abrams (who’s worked on a bunch of shows but I’ve never watched any of them… ha HA), I was excited. And also a little sad because a friend of mine had just written a book that was EXACTLY this premise, and now when his book comes out it would look like he poached the show’s premise, when in fact he’d been writing it for five years (it is still coming out and I’ll keep you posted on it!)

But I also thought the title was clever, because I didn’t see it meaning a revolution in the sense of rebels fighting to break away from a common system, but a RE-evolution. As in, they are being forced to evolve again. And sure enough, when I saw the opening credits (as usual with JJAbrams shows, they’re two and a half seconds long), you see the word “evolution” appear first — and in a clever touch, the O is a power sign — and the “r” flickers into place to let you know that’s, in fact, what it is. Now I wonder if I should be pronouncing it “REEvolution” when talking about the show.

I’ve had a number of people email me to ask if I’d be blogging about the show, and I wanted to actually give the show a couple of weeks to see what I thought about it. Several people had already seen the pilot in advance, but it’s usually the second episode that either intrigues me or leaves me cold.

I’ll admit, I was cracking jokes during the first week: “Oh look, a woman with a Commonwealth accent and long wavy blonde hair who says ‘Chah-lie’ a lot!” “JULIET!!!” “Oh look, a girl who refuses to stay behind and is an expert tracker in the woods!” “Check it out, the father doesn’t age: he’s RICHARD ALPERT!!” “OMG, she has an ABOVEGROUND hatch with the same IBM computer!!”

But seriously, those were in jest. I wasn’t looking at this being the next Lost, and it really isn’t. And that’s because like Lost, JJ Abrams is a producer, and he’s let Eric Kripke step up to be the head writer.

I actually quite like what I’ve seen so far. Here’s the premise in a nutshell: In the present day, a father comes home in a hurry and tells his wife that the power is about to go out forever. And then… it does. His brother is across town in a car with an annoying friend who is texting his girlfriend when everything shuts off, and he only hears the beginning of the phone call, as does the texting friend. Flash to 15 years in the future, the world is full of overgrown weeds and cities look disgusting, and in the countryside everyone has become Amish. Jebediah Aaron is the local smart guy who had been an exec at Google before the lights went out and all the money in his bank accounts became worthless, Ben has now hooked up with Claire Maggie, and his daughter Katniss Charlie is out with a crossbow hunting for deer. And then some military guy who looks remarkably like Gus Fring (and as a TV viewer, I instinctively shudder) shows up on a horse and says the dad has to come with him, that Monroe needs him. Ben’s son, Danny, grabs a crossbow and threatens the army guys, and then a bloodbath ensues, with dad being hit and killed. So… Gus takes Danny instead. Charlie hears the shots (military guys get guns) and comes running, but it’s too late, and now we find out her mom has died along the way, her dad is now dead, and the brother that she’d been charged with taking care of has been taken away. Just before dying, Ben hands Aaron a silver locket, inside which has all of the downloaded documents (we presume) of the thing that caused the blackout in the first place. This talisman becomes the hope of the series: if Aaron can get this to the right people, then all will be restored.

Charlie heads out with Aaron and Maggie, and meets up with Miles, her uncle, who had been in the car. Miles has these super mad skills when it comes to fighting, and Charlie had met up with a guy in the militia on the way (he was undercover so she thought he was a friend) and when Miles discovers who Nate is, he’s furious, knowing that he’s stayed hidden all this time and Charlie’s uncovered him. He kills everyone in an awesome fight scene and leaves with the new motley crew.

And throughout you can’t help but wonder, who is Monroe? And what does he want with Ben, Danny, and Miles? Turns out (in the final reveal of the ep), he’s the guy who’d been texting in the car, who would have overheard Miles’s conversation, who was also an army guy trained with Miles, and who would know Ben had something to do with it, and that Miles and the family must know something. Dum dum DUM!!

The second episode was far less formulaic (the first one had to be for a reason) and you realize Charlie’s smarter and more kickass than we were originally led to believe. After part of the group breaks off, we’re now in several parts. Maggie and Aaron are trying to get the pendant to the right people; Charlie and Miles have teamed up with Nora; Monroe is a crazy scary badass who, turns out HAS CHARLIE’S MOTHER! (and somehow Charlie’s mother was in a superior position to him, how or why we don’t yet know) and it’s enough to keep me tuning in week after week.

And what of the electricity going out? We don’t know why, but interestingly they’re not focusing on it too much: it’s not like every conversation is about the power going out, because they’ve lived with it for 15 years and this is the new reality. However, there will be flashbacks to the immediate aftermath that show us how they had to adjust to these new lives.

The highlight of the series so far has been the conversation Maggie has with Aaron, when he laughs at the fact she still totes around an iPhone with her. She doesn’t answer at first, and then eventually, in a very sad and angry way, says every single photo of her children is in that phone. She never printed them off, and they were always had her fingertips with a swipe of a button. She keeps it with her because is a Brit who got stuck in the US when the lights went out, and now can’t get back home, and has been separated from her children… as she puts it, she stares at the phone because she’s starting to forget what they look like. (My heart ached during that scene, just imagining what that must be like… and also made me wonder, is there no one in 15 years who could have started some sailing business to get people who were stranded on one side over to the other? Hm…)

I like this show a lot, and didn’t expect to. I’m looking forward to week 3. Have you seen the show yet? What did you think? 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Compliance: Frustratingly Brilliant

Tonight I went to see a film that's caused a stir on the indie circuit — Compliance. It's the shocking story of a prank caller who calls the manager of a fast food joint and convinces her he's a cop, that one of her employees have stolen money from a customer, and that he's in the middle of something and she'll have to become the officer on the scene in his place. While the girl sits in the manager's office, horrified and baffled, the manager first seems to revel in the fact that this sexy little chickie might have done something wrong and be in big trouble, but quickly becomes serious when the "officer" on the phone asks her to strip-search the girl.

What happens next begins an increasingly shocking and devastating cycle of events that leads to the movie's conclusion, and forces audiences to ask, How compliant are we? At what point would you stand up to authority and ask questions? If you're pulled over by a police officer, you cannot ask questions or talk to them in any way: you hand over your ID, you don't say a bloody word, you do not get out of the car, and you take what they give you and that's that. You comply. When you are a manager working in a fast food joint and a cop tells you he has the regional manager on the other line — your boss — and that person has agreed to everything the cop is telling you... you comply. When you're a teenager who desperately needs the minimum wage this job is giving you and your manager is telling you to be quiet, sit there, and do what they say because if not you'll go to jail and have a record and be in a shitload of trouble... you comply.

But what kind of person says no? Who decides they're going to question that authority, and how far does that authority have to push the envelope before you start pushing back? I will admit my stomach was a knot of tension and frustration (not least because Dreama Walker (Good Wife, Gossip Girl, Don't Trust the B_ in Apt 23), who plays the victim, looked like my daughter might in 10 years) mostly because I kept thinking, Put the guy on hold, pick up your cell, and call the police station to check if there is in fact an Officer Daniels there!! For GOD'S SAKE, who would DO this?!

My friend Sue and I walked out of the theatre, both gobsmacked at what we'd just seen, but then we talked about the crappy job we used to have when we were teenagers, working in the bakery department of a horrible grocery store. Our manager was horrible, this big, chain-smoking woman with a brain the size of a pea... and yet I feared her. She would grab me, yank me back into the fridge where we kept our cheese and dough and fresh food, close the door, and chain smoke in there while yelling at me that I needed to go out to the floor, find the bread that was expiring that day, come back and repackage it with today's date. When a customer would come back with green Vienna rolls, complaining that they said they were made today, my manager would look at me, look at the customer and apologize for her "stupid" employee who clearly didn't know you shouldn't bag them while hot. I'd apologize, and look down, and the customer would often see through it and say, "Buns don't go green because of moisture." But when one of the store managers -- whose brains were the sizes of slightly larger peas -- would come walking by and compliment her on something (perhaps she'd shaved her mustache that day), she was putty in their hands, instantly acting girly and doing whatever they said. If a prank caller called her and she and I were the only two in the store, and she thought it was a cop, and he gave her a single flattering comment, she would have strip-searched me and thrown me out the door fully naked if he'd asked her to.

So, sadly, the movie is plausible. All too plausible... because it's based on a true series of events that actually happened in 2004 when a prank caller contacted several fast food outlets and convinced the managers to do exactly what happens in this film. Amazing, and sad. But it certainly makes us wonder what we would do, and what kind of person would act differently.

Here's the trailer, which is as chilling as the movie itself. I can't say I enjoyed the film, but I'm glad I saw it. I recommend it, as long as you go into it with your eyes wide open that this is NOT going to be an easy film to watch (several people actually walked out of the film partway through).

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Hobbit trailer!

So, I just watched THIS with a huge grin on my face for two and a half minutes. I can't wait!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Dinosaurs... on a SPACESHIP!

So I was watching last week's Doctor Who episode "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship" with my son, and when the Doctor and his gang spot the first two dinosaurs, I mock-screamed and said, "AH! What would you do if two dinosaurs were running after you??" My son said, "That dinosaur's not a meateater, so I wouldn't be scared."

"Oh... really? Um..." It was pretty scary-looking. I just assumed that thing ate meat.

So... so... so true.

"It's a plant eater. The Doctor needs to be careful of his big tail, though, they have clubs on their tails..." and just then the ankylosaurs (for that's what they were, according to my son) came smashing around the corner, their club tails flailing. "See?" he said, beaming.

Next the Doctor inadvertently teleports himself to what appears to be a beach, and exclaims that pterodactyls are after them. My son referred to them as pteranodons instead, and said once again it's unlikely they'd eat any meat other than fish. "But they might peck at him with their beaks or something." At this point I could no longer stifle my laughter. (Or my astonishment and awe.)

And that's when I realized that what the Doctor REALLY needs in his gang is a five-year-old boy. ;)

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Much Ado About Joss Whedon

So yesterday I had the delight and pleasure of attending the world premiere of Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing, at the Toronto International Film Festival. I couldn't get tickets at first, but thanks to a group of Buffy fans I've been hanging around with for about a decade, I was able to get my hands on one (thank you Alex, Cindy, and Colleen!) When I arrived, Yonge Street had been closed off for the red carpet (ie SUVs showing up to drop off the stars of the show).

The view of the red carpet from back in the line. That's Yonge
Street for the non-Torontonians, and it crosses Queen just south there.
SUVs came from the south and up the part-block and dropped them
off under the lit-up marquee.

There was a kerfuffle about 20 minutes before the movie started, and we couldn't see from way back in the line (here's a gripe for TIFF: You put the moviegoers standing in line WAY back so they can't actually see the stars of the movie they paid to see, but the fans who didn't get tickets are standing way up next to the red carpet getting photos and autographs). Luckily, we were in a group so we could send people up a few at a time. The first person came back and didn't know who it was, and showed the rest of us the pic on her camera and it was Tom Lenk and Reed Diamond. When the next kerfuffle happened, I went up, and saw the wonderful and amazing Alexis Denisof (in the Whedonverse, he's Wesley Wyndham-Pryce and the Senaterrrrrr) and Sean Maher (Simon Tam).

Sean Maher signing autographs.

Alexis signing. He did almost the entire round. 

As everyone was mooning and screaming over these two, there was suddenly screaming from behind me. And I realized that if I'd stayed in the line, I would have seen Joss Whedon nonchalantly wandering down Yonge Street, not arriving in an SUV like everyone else. Right behind him was Nathan Fillion, with Clark Gregg.

Joss as I first saw him, turning and acknowledging a fan
who recognized him right away, while everyone else wondered
who the guy in the suit and sneakers was.

Joss as he walked by me. He actually looked right at me
and waved, but my stupid camera delayed and I didn't get
that shot. 

And here's Nathan. I apologize for the extreme fuzziness, but
aside from the delay, my camera can't change the zoom from one
photo to the next apparently. (Note to self: NEW CAMERA.)
 Joss went into the building pretty quickly, but Nathan walked around the crowds and took pics with people and signed autographs in that dashing and charming way of his, completely making everyone fall in love with him again.

Nathan leaving the crowds after being told he needed
to get into the theatre.
Afterwards a few others came, but I noticed the women didn't stop outside and sign autographs at all: they went straight in. I caught a glimpse of Amy Acker, but not the rest of them. Perhaps the women had been counselled that it wasn't safe for them? Not sure.

And then the line was ushered in quickly, so we didn't get to see the rest of the arrivals. But imagine my delight when we walked in and saw this:

The media line inside the theatre. That's Alexis in the foreground,
obviously, and in the back is Nathan, and Joss is against the
doors (and that appears to be Cynthia Loyst from Space
interviewing him).
Again, as we went by I held up my camera and said, "Alexis!" and he looked right at me, paused for a moment to give me the perfect pose and my camera didn't take the pic immediately, so as he glanced to the side assuming it had been taken, I got this one instead. I'm still happy. ;)

Oh, Wesley...

Once inside, we grabbed our seats in front of the reserved section and waited a while for everyone to come in. Eventually the stars filed in from outside and it was immediately apparent that they were ALL THERE. Every last one of them. Amy Acker came by me, and I finally got to see her close up:

No, she really doesn't age.
And I even spotted someone from Whedon's acting troupe who wasn't in the film, but was probably in something else at the festival: Olivia Wiliams:

Adelle cut off all her hair! Maybe she's in hiding.
Joss Whedon then took the stage the place ERUPTED. Standing ovation, screaming, applause, shouting. He looked really floored, grinning and almost speechless. Then he stepped up to the podium and said a few things about the movie ("I hope you feel the same way about me two hours from now") and called Much Ado About Nothing "the most bipolar text on love and marriage I've ever known."

He said he's a huge fan of William Shakespeare, adding that he's written some pretty good stuff and he predicts big things for the guy (but that he's really difficult to get a hold of when you try to reach him). He promised a Q&A after the film (YES!!! I've only been to the Elgin Theatre during TIFF one other time where there was a Q&A — Michael Moore — because it's one of the few places that doesn't allow them, so I was a little worried the day before when I realized the venue.) And the lights went down, and the movie started.

I won't spoil it for you (as much as one can spoil a 400-year-old text) but I will say a few things:

The movie was filmed at Joss's house. His house is GORGEOUS.

That said... and I have to say this... I cannot describe the feeling that came over me during the scene where Benedick confronts Claudio and threatens him after Beatrice has asked Benedick to do this for him. It was shot in the study, which is wall-to-wall built-in bookshelves. I'm assuming the books on the shelves are Joss's, and you know me: I paid more attention to the background than what was happening in the foreground (I know the play, I know what's being said). And imagine my shock when I saw one particular book cover on the top shelf behind Benedick: Twilight.

Freakin' TWILIGHT. I... have no words. Was it a joke? Please tell me it was a joke.

OK, back to the film. I'm thrilled to report that it's wonderful. It's well known about Whedon fans that Joss Whedon would film the TV shows during the week, and on weekends would invite the cast over to his house and they'd all read Shakespeare and act it out. As a result, the cast of the film — largely consisting of members of Whedon's TV troupe — knows the material so well it just comes out of their mouths as easily as modern-day English does. The film is a modernized version of the play, and to be honest, I find many modern-day interpretations to be rather tedious and the contrasts clash too much to make it work. Shakespeare's language isn't what's in the way — I think his words can be translated into any setting if done properly — but sometimes the director is just trying too hard. Not so with this. Joss knew the strengths of each of his cast members, and used it. The scene where Claudio, Leonato, and Don Pedro all pretend to not notice that Benedick is eavesdropping while they talk of Beatrice's love for him is BRILLIANTLY handled, mostly because Alexis Denisof — who has been shown to play the deepest, saddest character imaginable — started out on Buffy by being a goofy Watcher known more for his slapstick than his seriousness, and Alexis pulls them all out here. It was like watching early Wesley again, even though for most of the movie he plays the dashing Benedick unlike any other character he's done in the Whedonverse.

Amy Acker similarly handled herself well, and in the mirror scene where Hero is tricking her into thinking Benedick is in love with her, Acker pulls off a pratfall that outdoes everything Denisof had pulled off in the previous scene.

Fran Kranz is Claudio, and we finally get to see him in a Whedon production where he isn't jittery and nerdy, but at ease with himself, albeit one who is easily manipulated. (And in case, like me, you were wondering what the heck is on the poster for the film, that's actually Claudio, super-drunk, in a pool just before Don John (Sean Maher) and Conrade begin their deceit.

Speaking of Conrade, he's played as a woman in this version (Riki Lindhome), which changes the interpretation of some of the language completely; they're not comrades, but lovers. And the way Joss plays with the language to make it suit that sort of pairing is hilarious.

I remember wondering what Joss would do with the line where Claudio insists he'll marry Hero's sister to make amends, even "were she an Ethiope." Some directors now choose to omit it, but Joss leaves the line in, and makes it laugh-out-loud hilarious.

However, pretty much everyone in the film is upstaged by Nathan Fillion as Dogberry, the bumbling detective, and his sidekick Verges, played by Tom Lenk. They are screamingly funny, and the audience was in stitches throughout (there were definitely plenty of Browncoats in attendance, for when Fillion makes his first appearance about 1/3 of the way into the film, the place erupted with screams and applause).

Check out Lenk's porn stache. 
I would watch this movie over and over if for nothing but their scenes. They were amazing, and there was one moment where I actually thought Fillion was making up lines, because they seemed too modern-day to be real. But no, he just used his body language and inflection to make them seem modern, but they were indeed word for word from the play.

And, of course, the Whedonite in me can't help but almost weep when Benedick and Beatrice finally open their eyes and get together:

I wanted to shout, "FRED AND WESLEY FOREVER!!" but didn't want to be that annoying person at a premiere. ;) But still, you can't help but watch these two together if you're an Angel fan and NOT think, "Sigh... this is what it would have been like if Illyria hadn't shown up."

After the movie (which had a long standing ovation and shouts and cheers from the audience), Joss got back up on stage, once again overwhelmed by the love (I think he might have been a little teary!)

I love this photo, because if there's anyone who embodies
"When Indie Meets Epic," it's Joss.
Then he invited his cast on the stage, and they all joined him, barely fitting up there from one end to the other.

L-R: Joss, Alexis, Amy, Clark Gregg, Reed Diamond, Fran
Kranz, Kai Cole (exec prod and also Mrs. Joss Whedon),
Jillian Morghese (Hero), Nick Kocher (First Watchman),
Joshua Zar (Leonato's aide), Emma Bates (Ursula), Brian McElhaney
(Second Watchman, who was very funny), Sean Maher
The second half, taking a bow, and I apologize I didn't get a
better pic, but the Q&A started and I wanted to record it.
And then the Q&A started, and here it is!

Afterward, the cast went out the back door and I saw most of them again, and once again Alexis and Fran stopped to sign for everyone, while the women shot straight into a cab. (Oddly, there were no preassigned vehicles to pick them up; the volunteers were desperately trying to hail cabs for them while they waited inside the doorway).

The crowd waiting for them to come out (I didn't want any
autographs so I took pics from across the street).

Fran and Alexis heading straight for the crowd.

Fran finished, and then had to stand and wait
while Alexis took on the other side of the crowd.

Alexis being swarmed. He was on his phone
when he walked out... could he have been chatting
with Alyson? (Asks the Buffy ubergeek.)

Olivia Williams, Jillian Morghese, and Kai heading to the cab.
Kai is the one in front holding the coat.
And that was that! I hope I was able to give you some sense of having been there, and here's hoping Joss's new Hollywood clout will get this film released, because it's a wonderful adaptation.