Why doesn’t Nikita work for me?

Hi there…

Every so often, I ponder why I like one television show, but not another. Sometimes I blame it on the actors (“I don’t like So-and-So”)… Sometimes I blame it on the writing… And sometimes there’s just something missing that brings a particular show together.

As another Fall television season approaches, I’m looking at the schedule and wondering what shows I think I’m going to like and what I’m not.

The first of the premieres was Nikita on The CW. Though there is beauty, action, and gadgets – unfortunately it’s not going to be enough to keep my attention.

When La Femme Nikita was released in 1990 from then relatively unknown director Luc Besson, I managed to catch it on video. It blew my mind. It was intense, with action, acting, and the sense that there was much more there than met the eye. Actress Anne Parillaud as Nikita was fierce, intense, and demanded your attention on screen.

We’ll skip the Bridget Fonda movie Point of No Return, which was an American take on the original. It was horrible and we’ll leave it at that.

When the television series popped up in 1997 starring then unknown actress Peta Wilson in the lead role, I was hooked again. Somehow it not only managed to capture the intensity, action, and depth of the original movie, but it expanded the story in a way that never lost itself in the weeds. I lost track of the series in its last few years, but watched from ’97 through ’99 and enjoyed it thoroughly.

That brings us to the 2010 version of Nikita starring Maggie Q as Nikita. She’s stunning and intense, but not quite as imposing a figure as either Parillaud or Peta for me. But it’s when you get past Maggie to the rest of the cast that I started to lose interest.

Shane West in the role of Michael – Nikita’s handler – just doesn’t cut it. Compared to the first TV series where Roy Dupuis plays the character, West simply doesn’t have the dynamic range to play sensitive to scary. West has tried over the last 10 or so years to shake the image of teenager Eli from ABC’s Once and Again with roles like Tom Sawyer in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Dr. Barnett in E.R., but it’s just not working for me.

And Melinda Clarke as Amanda, the woman who transforms beautiful, troubled people into runway models with grace and poise as they assassinate people. Melinda is a great actress who’s been in some very eclectic things over the years, including Soldier of Fortune, Inc., Spawn, and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. But Amanda pales when compared to Alberta Watson’s Madeline from the ’90s series as well. Watson ate up the screen in that role.

There are other characters I could compare to earlier incarnations, but I won’t. In this case, it seems to be a mix of writing and casting that’s making Nikita not work for me. Maybe I’ll check in after a few episodes to see if it’s improved any – but most likely I won’t be watching again unless I’m very bored.

What do you think? Or did you even know that Nikita had started? If so, you’re better at ignoring advertising than I am. I’d seen ads in magazines and on television for weeks before the series premiere.

For more information about Nikita, check out their website here.

–Fitz

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Mid-week Links

Hey there…

Ok… I’ve seen enough weird news this week to warrant a few comments about some of the things going on in the movie business…

First, La Femme Nikita is back? Again? Let’s hope it’s more like Luc Besson‘s original starring Anne Parillaud or the series on USA starring Peta Wilson. Evidently McG’s involved and in this version (reportedly to air on The CW), Nikita will go rogue and a new assassin will be trained to replace her. Isn’t it odd that they’d call the series La Femme Nikita if she’s not the lead character? Read more at ComingSoon.net.

Next, it’s good to know that Guy Ritchie isn’t afraid to continue the good thing he started with Sherlock Holmes and Robert Downey, Jr. According to multiple sources (ComingSoon.net, FirstShowing.net and The Examiner) his Lobo (DC Comics) movie has been shelved for now and they’re ramping up to work on a script and pre-production for the Holmes sequel. Brad Pitt is rumored to be Moriarty, which should be quite interesting. Pitt as an evil, brilliant villain? Hmmm… (Update: Evidently this rumor has been squashed about Brad as Moriarty, so we’ll see who actually gets to play that role…)

And Michael Bay, king of explosions, is apparently scouting for locations for Transformers 3. The last one wasn’t bad enough? I’m hoping they return to the simpler plot of the first movie, which had me cheering by the end as a popcorn movie. Guess we’ll find out in July 2011. A bit more at ComingSoon.net

Lastly, in the “Please no, say it ain’t so” category, we have rumors of Sam Worthington (Avatar, Terminator: Salvation) going for the role of Dracula in a new movie about the first vampire. (At least he’s not a teenager…) For me, the last good Dracula was Gary Oldman… and before that Bela Lugosi. Worthington would need to age about 30 years before I’d even consider him for a role like that… Latino Review, MTV, ScreenRant… Everyone’s talking about it and saying the same thing – say it ain’t so!!

That’s it for now… More the next time I have a chance to pull my head out of the sand…

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up a few of these great DVDs!

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Movie Review: Taken

Hey all…

Had a chance to see the new movie Taken, which opened today (January 30, 2009). Since seeing the first teaser for this film, I had a gut-level feeling that this was going to be a great film with Liam Neeson. And, amazingly enough — my gut was right!

Taken (film)
Image via Wikipedia

Luc Besson helped write the screenplay for this movie with Robert Mark Kamen and it was one heck of a tight script. It builds gently, in the first 15 minutes, introducing us to the characters, a bit of their backstories, and then sets up the next 75 minutes that just doesn’t let up.

[rating:5/4]

Bryan Mills (Neeson) is a retired spy who is trying to get closer to his daughter Kim (Maggie Grace), who just turned 17. Kim is living with her mom, Lenore (Famke Janssen) and her step-dad in the lap of luxury. Mills is recently retired, trying to find ways to simply spend time with her daughter. He hangs out with a few of his spy friends now and then and even does a bodyguard job for a few extra bucks. So his skills have not fallen into disuse and he still has an edge that hasn’t dulled.

Kim and her friend Amanda (Katie Cassidy) take a trip to Paris to follow U2 on tour. Sounds innocent enough, right? Well, it turns out there’s a group of thugs who kidnap young girls traveling alone and sell them as slaves on the black market. When Amanda and Kim fall into the hands of these evil people, Mr. Mills is not pleased and heads off to get his daughter back using all means necessary.

This is an amazing ride that basically is an interesting what if proposition. What if Jason Bourne (from the recent Bourne series of movies) got married and had a kid, grew up, and was kidnapped. Would you want to be one of the kidnappers? Probably not.

Everything in the film is pretty much an exercise in finding the shortest path from point A (wherever Mills is) to point B (wherever his daughter is). As such, each step of the way, if it involves violence (and most steps do), the fights are nasty, brutish, and short. He’s a very economical investigator. And one heck of an able fighter, whether in close quarters or with a pistol. I certainly wouldn’t want to cross him.

As I watched, the only thought in my head was… if one of my daughters was kidnapped or in danger, I’d want to be like Mr. Mills or have someone like him on my side fighting for my daughter’s life. As a parent, I was instantly engaged by the movie and stayed there for all 90+ minutes.

IMHO, this is easily the best film in this genre since The Bourne Identity was released back in 2002.

I give this 5 stars out of 4. First movie I’ve done that for in a while. 🙂

Go see it. I want to go back and see what I missed!

–Fitz

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