Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Walking Dead S6E11 Knots Untie Recap/Review (Spoilers!): Confrontation is not an Issue

First thing: It was way too coincidental to find a doctor, and then to have the doctor be a specialist in obstetrics, that borders on lunacy.  Just a general practitioner would have been good enough to make sure the baby is born okay. It was an eye roll moment when he told them he was an OB.
This episode was pure setup for what is going to come next week (I hope). Though it looks like they may have to convince the Alexandrians to go to war with the Saviors. Setup or filler episodes don’t have to be bad. I still found the hour entertaining with the introduction to the Hilltop. Some of the best scenes tonight were between Maggie and Gregory. I liked that Rick acknowledged he wasn’t the one to be an ambassador. Gregory is instantly unlikeable. The polar opposite of Jesus. I wouldn’t be surprised if a betrayal from Gregory is coming in the near future. He might have sent someone to Negan as soon as Rick and the crew left. It’s hard to imagine they would forgive and forget so quickly right after Rick killed someone from their group.
The fight in the middle of the episode was fantastic. It was unexpected, quick and vicious. I didn’t expect Rick to act so quickly with the knife, but I’m not sure he had any other choice. Daryl once again proved how much of a badass he can be by breaking the guys arm. I know we have seen graphic violence on the show before, but it’s been a while since it’s been on live humans. It was a good way to introduce the problem the Hilltop has with Negan. The only other action piece was at the beginning. It was out of place and it again was too coincidental for the episode.
They have been in Alexandria for how long now? At least six months it would seem, and the other people in the group have been there longer. They haven’t encountered any of the other groups until this point? Then when they find Jesus and go to take him back, they magically come across people from his group in distress. Plus how can their group have no ammo and guns? If there is one thing in great supply in the south it is guns. I guess I can buy into Negan not allowing them to get guns and ammo, but it still seems implausible for the state of the world.
Along with the implausibility and coincidences my other issue tonight was the Abraham and his crisis of love. He’s falling in love with Sasha and doesn’t know what to do about Rosita. I’m thinking death either to him or one of them will make his decision for him. It felt out of place in tonight’s episode though. With the main story of meeting the new group, him having women trouble didn’t flow into the story. I guess with him almost dying he will decide to seize the day and go after Sasha.
The episode overall was still entertaining. The idea our band is becoming warriors for hire is an interesting concept for the show to take. They have become good at killing, and have been able to survive improbable situations. Now they get to use this skill to further their survival. War always comes with a cost, and while they are confident I’m thinking Negan will be a completely different kind of beast. The question is how much setup are we going to get before the actual war begins? How hard is it going be to convince Morgan this is the right course of action? He won’t be willing to go out and fight other people. Carol however will be coming up with a plan of attack. Their dynamic will come back in a huge way next week.
For me their debate is what is going to drive the show forward. Every life is precious or kill to protect yourself first. We saw tonight Rick, even though he was willing to accept Jesus, is still quick to protect himself and the group at any cost first. He has been burned too many times to not act quickly. Morgan won’t be able to sway Rick on a course of action, but it should be a good argument, with Carol leading the charge in the opposite direction. She’s like a crazy general, just begging to let the military loose on other countries. Attacking for something other than preservation of life is different though. It lowers the stakes, and it will be interesting to see how the group handles the new scenario.

As long as next week’s delivers, this episode set the stage for the conclusion to the season very well. The coincidences bothered me, but not enough to hate the episode. What did you think about tonight? Was is it a good filler/setup episode, or were you bored with not much happening? Comment and let me know. 

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Triple 9 - Movie Review: Fantastic Until the End

Can a movie still be considered good if the ending is bad?
Triple 9 starring Chiwetel Ejiofor, Casey Affleck, Anthony Mackie, Woody Harrelson, Aaron Paul, Kate Winslet, Norman Reedus, and directed by John Hillcoat. Well that’s an impressive cast. Is the movie good with all the talent assembled though? The film does deliver up until the very end, and then goes off the rails. The movie tells the story of a group of thieves who must complete two heists in order to satisfy the whims of the Jewish Mafia. Two of the thieves in the gang are corrupt cops. They devise a plan for the second heist to kill a cop which will divert attention away from the crime they plan to commit.
This movie is packed with talented actors, and they all give great performances. The only one who I didn’t completely buy was Kate Winslet as the Mafia boss, but I didn’t even realize it was her in the movie while I was watching. If she transformed herself so much for me not to notice it was her as an actress that’s impressive. I might have more issues with how the character was portrayed and how she was written. It might have just been hard for me to buy into the Jewish Mafia being menacing.  They are shown in the movie being extremely tough, but it is still a little hard to think of the Jewish Mafia being terrifying while wearing yarmulkes. Though I certainly don’t want to be caught in a dark alley any of the characters in the movie. Chiwetel Eijofor’s character is involved with the Mafia bosses sister and has a son with her. He is the one tasked with putting a crew together and completing the heists. He is fantastic, as always. Casey Aflec is also great and he is quickly becoming one of my favorite actors. Woody Harrelson is Woody in the movie. I can’t think of anyone else to play cop with substance abuse problems, but with a heart of gold.
Along with the amazing cast, John Hillcoat does a good job of directing the movie. The action is intense and visceral. You feel like you are with the police officers as they storm a building, or along for the heist as the crew knocks over a bank. You also never feel comfortable when Hillcoat ratchets up the tension. I never felt like I knew what was going to happen during each action sequence. Quite a few of the deaths throughout the course of the film are unexpected. Some things outside of the action pieces however are predictable and it’s towards the end of the movie when things go haywire.  
I don’t know what to think about the ending. I was loving the movie up until the end. The decisions made on how to finish the story just left me frustrated with the film overall. I’m not sure what the ending was supposed to mean, or if it was supposed to mean anything. They may have been shooting for an ending which states life has no point, or that you reap what you sow.  If this was the case it was executed poorly. It almost felt like they didn’t know how to tie up the movie and rushed to a conclusion to tie up all the loose ends. The film almost needed another fifteen minutes to expand on the story of each ensemble cast member. The audience is left with too many unanswered questions about characters we became attached to during the course of the movie.
There really isn’t too much more to say about Triple 9. It is an extremely well-acted and directed action crime thriller. The story just has a very unsatisfying ending. If you like crime thrillers I would suggest going to see it, just lower your expectations overall. The movie is worth seeing, just maybe at a matinee price, a rental fee, or even waiting for it on a paid channel. If I see the movie on television I would stop and watch the action scenes for sure, and probably get sucked in and then turn it off close to the end of the film.

So are you planning on seeing Triple 9? If you have seen it what did you think? What are some of your favorite crime thrillers or heist movies? The Usual Suspects is up there for me. Comment and let me know.  

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Star Wars Rebels S2E16 The Honorable Ones Recap/Review (Spoilers!): Enemy Mine

The Star Wars Rebels episode The Honorable Ones reminded me greatly of the old 80’s science fiction movie Enemy Mine starring Dennis Quaid. It may not be the best science fiction movie ever made, but I remember watching it as a kid and understanding the growth the two characters had to go through to accept and start to care for one another. The galaxy around them was at war, but they had to band together to survive. Much like tonight’s episode of Star Wars Rebels.
Zeb and Agent Kallus get stranded on a moon of Geonosis. During their time on the moon a strange bond forms between the two characters. They help each other escape the situation, and each start to understand how the other views them. It is really a bold story to tell for a young adult/children show. Though to go back to Enemy Mine, I understood the main plot when I was a younger. Maybe we should give kids more credit when it comes to understanding major themes. If they didn’t understand the main point the episode still had enough excitement to keep them entertained. The fight on the construction platform was well done and the creatures on the moon were a cool design. They reminded me of the Graboids from the second Tremors movie. I’m just pulling all kinds of 80’s science fiction references from this episode.
 I really enjoyed the interactions between Kallus and Zeb on the planet. They each discovered the reason for the other’s hatred. Kallus even admitting the massacre on Zeb’s home world was a mistake. Zeb having to apologize for his kinsman, and saying not all Lasan are honorable. The main question I have is where does Kallus go from here? The last shot with his head in his hands seems he could be someone who could turn, or at the very least hesitate when encountering Zeb again.
I’m not sure if I like turning one of the most competent Imperials into a Rebels sympathizer. He might not become one, with the encounter hardening his resolve to do better the next time. I could also see him struggling with carrying out orders for the Empire and eventually going to the Rebellion. I don’t think the characters of the show are going to have any crossover with the movie Rogue One, but could Kallus be the Imperial who helps deliver the Death Star plans to the Rebels? The Rebels certainly seem like they are beginning to realize the Empire is building something massive that is taking up vast amounts of resources.
Could we see our band of Rebels play a hand in the uncovering of the Empires massive weapon? They have to be curious as to why the people of Geonosis were wiped out. I’m not sure if they will touch on the subject again, but it would be good to see them raise the question back at the Rebel fleet. I hope to see them investigate why the Empire is stockpiling materials and try to figure out what they are up too. It would be good fan service to have the Rebels from the show have some influence on the discovery of the Death Star. It doesn’t have to tie directly into the movie, but a reference if you watch the show would be a nice nod. I’m excited to see were they take the next few episodes, or build on this story for the start of the next season.
My only real complaint with tonight’s episode is when are we going to get to the meat of what shown in the mid-season trailer? We have been waiting six episodes to get some glimpse of all the awesome the trailer promised. I am hoping next week will kick off a major story arc which will carry us through until the season finale. The trailer built so much hype it is almost a determent to the second half of the season. I have enjoyed all of the episodes up until this point, but I’m anxious to see the story behind the trailer.

What did you think of tonight’s episode? Have you seen the movie Enemy Mine, and if you have did it remind you of tonight’s episode? Comment and let me know. 

When Should I Let My Kid Watch..Cool Runnings?? - Movie Review

Movies watched when we are younger hold a special place in our hearts. Even if we learn those movies are not masterpieces as we grow older, nostalgia still holds sway on our perceptions. Should we try to generate the same love for these movies in our children that we have? Some classics will always stand the test of time, but what is the right age to introduce kids to some of those films? Who knew two sports stories extremely loosely based on true life events could be made from the 1988 Winter Olympics.
Cool Runnings starring Leon, only one name on his IMBD page, Doug E, Doug, John Candy and directed by Jon Turteltaub. The movie tells the story of how a group of Jamaican sprinters formed a bobsled team and competed in the 1988 Winter Olympics. The movie is heavily fictionalized from the true life events, but if you can get over this fact the story it tells is funny and uplifting. The one thing I realized re-watching was how stereotyped some of the Jamaican characters were in the film. Not the best thing to introduce children too, but I think the uplifting nature of the story outweighs the negatives.
Common sense media has an age rating for Cool Runnings of 8 plus. There is nothing in the movie which would prevent me from letting my four year old watch the movie, besides the stereotyping. There is no sex, no bad language, and one bar fight were no blood is shown. I honestly couldn’t remember if this movie was rated G or PG before doing research. It is rated PG, but the bar fight is probably the only reason it got pushed to this rating. I think my four year old is probably still too young to be intrigued by the story, but it still should catch my eleven year olds interest.
The story is simple enough. Derice Bannock’s dream is to make it to the Olympics. He is an accomplished sprinter and tries to qualify for the summer games in Seoul in 1988. A stumble by another sprinter during the 100 meter finale causes him to trip and fall and lose his chance at competing. He decides to try and become an Olympic bobsledder and enlists the help of his friend, Sanka, a pushcart driver, and a disgraced American coach, Irv, to make his dream become a reality. Perseverance and determination drive Derice to achieve his goal. He will not stop until he becomes an Olympian. He’s not a perfect character though, he must realize emulating the best does not equal success. You also have to be true to yourself to fully succeed. Derice and the other teammates must bond together and become a team accomplish their goals. Even though they don’t accomplish the ultimate goal of getting a medal, they compete to the best of their ability and finish with their heads held high.
The film, even with its uplifting story, is not a cinematic masterpiece. In fact watching it again made me realize how poorly the movie is put together. The story at certain points doesn’t seem to flow very well. The interaction of John Candy’s character with his former teammate stick out in particular. He runs into him by chance, then out of the blue asks him to meet him for lunch. Then at lunch he asks to buy a bobsled from him. The whole point of the exchange is so Irv can buy a sled for his team. This needed to be in the movie, but it shouldn’t have taken two scenes. Both scenes have so much wasted dialogue and strange interaction it seems like the screenwriter or director was floundering at this point in the movie. Anyone younger isn’t going to notice the tonal inconsistencies these scenes have, but as someone coming back and watching again they stood out. The movie doesn’t hold up extremely well going back to watch again, but it is still an endearing story, and the comedy, though silly, still had me chuckling.
The comedy should hold up for a younger crowd. It is mostly slapstick and physical comedy, with Doug E. Doug providing most of the comic relief. John Candy was always a comedic force in any movie he was in. This was more of a subdued role for him, but he still had a few moments, and he is probably the best actor in the movie. Without him turning in a good performance the movie would have been ridiculous overall. He gives it believability and credibility, even if most of the story isn’t based on the actual account. I think kids would be able to pick up on this if Candy didn’t anchor the movie.
I still really enjoy Cool Runnings, but I have to admit it is probably more for nostalgia than the movie being good. The message is still uplifting and the comedy still lands, but the strange pacing and scene setup detracts from the movie. This shouldn’t affect younger kid’s enjoyment and anyone 6 or over can enjoy the film. I think once someone gets past 15 or 16 they aren’t going to enjoy the movie as much when watching it for the first time. They need to have some childlike innocence and optimism to look past some of the cheesy tone the movie has.
When was the first time you watched Cool Runnings? When was the last time you watched it, and do you think it holds up? If you are a parent now have you introduced your kids to the movie? Comment and let me know.  

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Walking Dead S6E10 The Next World Recap/Review (Spoilers!): [Insert Funny Word Play on Jesus Here]:

Jesus Lives! See, I bet you thought I wasn’t going to make a funny Jesus name reference with my tittle, but I couldn’t resist.
The Next World episode of the Walking Dead jumped us forward in time. Carl is recovering and the town is getting back to a normal routine. It was an interesting choice to jump forward in time after the mid-season premiere. From a viewer perspective it would have made more sense for last week’s episode to have been the finale and open with this one. I’m curious if they originally planned it out this way and inserted another episode to extend the original cutoff.  Maybe they thought there wasn’t enough action in the back half of the season, and they needed to keep the audience hooked. I hope this isn’t the case.
The best parts of the episode are with Rick and Daryl. It was fun to see them go out and look for supplies, basically on a buddy road trip adventure. I would have been fine to spend the entire hour with them and not flashback to Alexandria. The introduction of Jesus was well done and instantly intriguing. He used diversions and sleight of hand to steal the supply truck form Daryl and Rick. He obviously knows how to survive and does so without killing. He could have easily just taken out Rick and Daryl if he had chosen too at several points.  Maybe he didn’t have a gun, but I have little doubt, with the way he handled himself, that he could have devised a plan to ambush and kill them if he wanted too. The scene where Rick and Daryl caught back up to Jesus was my favorite of the episode. He easily handled Rick at the start and was able to take Daryl out before Rick recovered. Now the fight I want to see happen, even if it is just sparring, is Jesus vs Morgan. Aikido vs whatever the hell Jesus practices. This of course is all mute if Carol walks up behind either of them and shoots them both. Look at the flowers boys.
This might be my biggest disappointment of the episode, no Carol or Morgan. I know we are going to go back to their storyline, but I would have liked to have seen what two months have done to their relationship or lack of one. Having the episode focus on Rick and Daryl wasn’t a bad choice since Daryl seemed to take a backseat for most of the first half of the season. It still would have been nice to see just a brief moment of Carol or Morgan, maybe instead of the awkward request Denise made before Daryl left on the scavenging trip.
I didn’t care for the awkward Carl and Enid trip into the woods. I understand why they needed to be in the woods, and the payoff with Michonne at the end was fantastic. They could have handled the initial buildup to fit into the episode better overall. Instead we just get Carl and Enid going into the woods to be “kids.” I did like where the trek into the woods takes the characters. I like that they found Deanna, and that Carl wanted someone who loved her to be the one to end her walker existence. It made for a surprisingly touching moment at the end of the episode.
Then the big surprise everyone will be talking about is Rick and Michonne. I refuse to use the combined name. I never really thought about the two of them becoming a couple, they just seemed too closed off for anything to develop. Two months of prosperity in Alexandria apparently let them explore more of each other… I don’t mind the idea (like my thoughts really matter), and it seems right for the characters to develop feelings for each other with everything they have gone through. My only hesitation with this new relationship is how long can it last? People don’t stay happy in the zombie apocalypse, because someone ends up dying. Glen and Maggie might be the exception, but even this might come to an end once Negan shows up.
What is going to happen next? The town seems back in order. What camp is Jesus from? Can he be trusted? I think he can to a degree. He didn’t try and kill Rick and Daryl, only steal from them. It seems from the promo of next week’s episode we will get a few answers. I know Jesus is part of the comics, but I haven’t read anything to enlighten me on what group he belongs to. I’ll wait for next week to find out.
It was a fun episode overall. Nothing profound happened, unless you count Rick and Michonne. The introduction of Jesus was handled well, and the mystery built around him keeps anticipation high for next week’s episode. How the hell did he get on top of the truck, and escape in Alexandria? His capabilities alone excite me for what is to come in the next few weeks. He is already become someone I want to stick around on the show for a while.

What did you think of Jesus, and the new hookup of Rick and Michonne? Was it as much of a surprise to you as it was to me? Were there parts in the episode you didn’t like? Was it a letdown after the excitement of last week? Comment and let me know. 

Friday, February 19, 2016

Eddie The Eagle - Movie Review: It’s No Cool Runnings

Didn’t they already make an inspirational sports movie about the 1988 winter Olympics? How many more films are we going to have to watch with poor quality television broadcast’s spliced in?  When is and HD era sports movie going to be made?
Eddie the Eagle starring Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman, and directed by Dexter Fletcher. The movie tells the story of an Olympic hopeful who changes sports in order to make it to the Olympic Games. He must enlist the help of a down on his luck alcoholic coach who is seen as a disgrace to the sport he was once good at. Sound familiar? Yeah, because another movie told basically the same story, and did it better twenty two years ago.  
Taron Egerton plays Eddie Edwards who’s only dream is to make it to the Olympics. He starts out as a young kid wanting to make it to the summer games. He changes to winter sports and becomes a good downhill skier. The real Eddie Edwards almost made the British Olympic team as a skier just missing out on qualifying. They show he was a good skier in the movie, but not how close he actually came to making the British team. They play it off like it was all on the one evil guy from the Olympic committee preventing Edwards from making the Olympics. The film really tries to play on how un-athletic and out of sorts Eddie is in everyday life. This was my biggest complaint of the movie. How the character of Eddie Edwards was portrayed in the film.
He’s cartoonish and completely unbelievable. Egerton plays the dorky bumbling fool to the best of his ability, but I still saw the charming movie star underneath. Edwards in real life was also a bit clumsy and nerdish, but he was still an athlete. It takes talent to almost qualify in one sport, and then to learn a completely new one in just a few years. He was never top of the class at ski jumping, but I don’t think I would ever be able to land a jump off of a 40 meter platform, let alone a 70 or 90 meter one, regardless of practice.  The character portrayed on screen is a complete naïve bumbling mess. They capture his spirt and determination, but no real person could be as oblivious as he is to the true world around him. This is a real person, I am not sure why they went so cartoonish with his portrayal.
The rest of the characters are also over the top and one dimensional. The doting mother who wants him to do well and encourages him no matter what it costs. The practical father who wants him to give up on the Olympic nonsense and just go to work with him. The evil British Olympic committee person who can’t stand Eddie because he is different and not like the other marketable athletes. The other ski jumping elite who bully and make fun of Eddie because he doesn’t know what he’s doing. The only standout is Hugh Jackman’s character, mainly because he is just a naturally charming human being. I think for the most part he is basically playing his natural on camera persona. Egerton isn’t bad in the title role, you just can tell he is acting for most of the movie.
The film overall is the stereotypical sports movie. Eddie has to convince his coach he is worthy of training. We get a training montage of him getting better, and then the competition when he proves himself to the world. The movie is moving and touching, and it did invoke an emotional response from me a couple of time. The ski jumping scenes are well done and build good tension and excitement within the film. They did rely on CGI and close up face shots a couple of times and it pulled me out of the movie in these cases. The competitions are still the best part of the movie and they should have focused more on them rather than the comedy and bad guys who didn’t want Eddie to tarnish the sport and his country.
The comedy for me was a complete miss. I chuckled at a few moments, but all the jokes have been used before. Other people in the theatre were laughing, so it could have just been me. It seemed they were shooting to make this more of a comedic sports movie, I just think they missed the mark. If Eddie Edwards hadn’t been, and still is, a true person it might have made a good over the top sports comedy. They didn’t find the right balance of believability and zaniness in the film.
I wanted to like Eddie the Eagle. True life sports stories are some of my favorite types of film. This just didn’t live up to the heartwarming inspirational story it could have. They tried too hard with the comedy and made the characters unbelievable, when the story actually happened. It’s a case of straying too far from the source material. I’ll put a link in the description below to a story about the real Eddie Edwards written a couple of years ago which sheds more light on the true person. Read up on that instead of going to see Eddie the Eagle, because this movie is Not Worth Seeing. If it’s on a paid channel it’s entertaining enough to stop and watch one time, but overall it’s forgettable. If you need movie to take your kids too for the weekend, then it’s worthy of a manatee price and has a good enough message to inspire kids. That could be the issue, this movie just isn’t for my demographic.
Do you plan on seeing Eddie the Eagle? If you have seen it, let me know what you thought. Am I being too harsh? Tell me your favorite sports movies based on real life events. I’ll go with an unconventional pick, Without Limits, based on the runner Steve Prefontaine. If you haven’t seen it and like sports movies check it out.  If you like my review give it a thumps up. Share if you think it’s worth sharing. Subscribe to my channel if you think I say interesting things. Click the links at the end to hear me babble on some more. Thanks for watching, bye. 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Walking Dead S6E9 No Way Out Recap/Review (Spoilers!): Trial By Fire

We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.
The Walking Dead came back from its mid-season break with a bang. The mid-season finale was a letdown, but it seems they saved all of the payoff for the premier. Right from the opening scene events started off tense and didn’t let up until the very end. The RPG’s Abraham found had to come into play, and they did in a big way. Daryl, the constant bad ass, made quick work of Negan’s biker gang. It was a stellar opening. I was expecting Daryl to pull off something, maybe not that, but something. The possibility of Sasha or Abraham getting taken out in the scene seemed probable, maybe even likely, but death would come fast and furious later in the episode.
Almost all of the characters had a trial to overcome tonight. Rick in accepting the Alexandrians. The Alexandrians in proving themselves capable of living in the current walker world. Denise in becoming confident in her skills as a doctor. Gabriel overcoming his fear and taking action. In the end I found it all a little too neat, but the ride to the conclusion was fantastic. Rick now in the final scene has finally accepted everyone in the town and wants to make the place livable. We close one door and problem, only to find Negan and his gang waiting on the other side. I would have preferred more of a complex resolution to some of the problems facing the group, but they wrapped most of them up so we could move on.
Carol and Morgan is the only story which wasn’t resolved from the first half of the season. Their conflict, more than likely, will tie into the overall theme of the show going forward. Compassion or survival? Is all life precious, or should you protect yourself first at any cost and sort out the details later? Carol already stated she should have killed Morgan. Can they survive together, and which philosophy on how to live in the current world will prove correct? It was interesting to see the Wolf protect Denise. Morgan may have had some influence on him. Though it didn’t seem like he did during the episodes building up to this one. Rick, it seems, is going to be more on the side of Morgan moving forward. He wants to build the town and look for more people. With Carl getting hurt and seeing Jessie killed, he is searching for hope. Morgan will play the angel on the shoulder while Carol the devil. Will see how long Rick listens to the voice of mercy before having to go back to protecting at all cost. After watching Sam and Jessie get eaten and the town banding together after he went on a rampage, I’m not sure I could look on the side of hope. Rick after Carl’s injury seems to want to try build civilization with this group again.  
The carnage scene with Sam and Jessie was hard to watch. It was almost shot in a dreamlike sequence, and I almost thought they would pull back to Sam imagining it all. You knew something bad was going to happen with Sam. He just did not have the disposition to survive in the situation presented. Having two kids, that scene hit a little too close to home. Nightmares might be in my future because of some of the images presented tonight. I didn’t see Jessie’s death coming right after Sam, but it was understandable. What didn’t make much sense was Ron trying to kill Carl in the middle of all the mayhem after watching his brother and mom get killed by walkers. I don’t see the character having the capacity to keep his head and pick up a gun in the situation. His hatred for Carl was that strong it superseded his love for his mom and brother? I don’t see it. It would have made more sense for him to try and save his mom and get taken out in the process. It did serve the purpose for the episode and tied up the conflict between the two characters. Death is always a permanent solution, as long you make sure and double tap.
Glenn looked to be on the ropes again tonight. I didn’t think the showrunners would take him out after the first half of the season, but it was close. The ending was brutal and satisfying with everyone taking out zombies and the fire cleansing away the problems. I didn’t care for the shots of everyone hacking away at the very end, but that’s a style choice and it didn’t take anything away from the story overall.
The mid-season premier was a fantastic way to start the second half of the season. This has been one of the more consistent seasons of high quality content, even if they did stretch and cheapen the show with Glenn’s supposed death and salvation. Even though most of the storylines from the previous half of the season where tied up too nicely, I’m not sure of a better way they could have handled the stories. Rick’s acceptance comes a little too quickly after so much resistance, but it is past time for him to be the leader of the whole community.  Hopefully the fast pace of the first episode continues for the entire second half. Not constant action, but more consistent plot development and story movement. Sundays are now back to normal and will be until after Fear the Walking Dead goes on break. 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Deadpool - Movie Review: Are 90’s Pop Culture References Still Funny?

There were parts I was laughing so hard it hurt.
Deadpool starring Ryan Reynolds, TJ Miller, Morena Baccarin, and directed by Tim Miller. At its core Deadpool is still a standard origin story superhero movie. He goes through a transformation getting superpowers, and must accomplish a task to save the day. The difference between Deadpool and other cliché superhero movies is its self-awareness, comedy, and surprisingly its love story. The love story is the plot which ties the movie together. Wade Wilson’s sole motivation is to cure his cancer so he can spend his life with Vanessa. Once he gets transformed and disfigured he wants to change his appearance so she isn’t repulsed by him. His drive isn’t to become a superhero it’s to live his life with the women he loves. Along the way he just happens to become like a superhero, and crack hilarious inappropriate jokes while doing it.
The comedy of the movie is almost nonstop. It starts from the opening credits and only lets up at certain points throughout the movie.  I might have missed half of the jokes because they come so fast and furious at times. Some of the actual comic book jokes might have flown over my head, but the 90’s pop culture references didn’t. I was in a crowd who were probably too young to remember most of the stuff referenced and I found myself the only one laughing a few times. Guess that’s what I get for going to a 10:00 Thursday night showing. Most people my age had to work the next day. The jokes probably aren’t for everyone, but I loved all of the sick perverted humor. Not sure what that says about me, but since a crowded theater was laughing with me, I’ve got a lot of company. On top of the outstanding comedy are the stellar action sequences in the movie.
Every set action piece is executed brilliantly. Can you tell some of the things in the scenes are CGI? Yes, but it doesn’t detract from the film. It is over the top and brilliant. I was transfixed to the screen watching Deadpool inflict mayhem on his enemies. Either with his sword or gun each casualty caused was inventive and enjoyable to watch. Yes I realize it is a little morbid to enjoy watching this type of violence. Not sure what it says about our society and culture, I just know it’s enjoyable to watch a fictional character perform these acts. Which is also credit to the actors.
The performances are all fantastic. Ryan Reynolds was born to play Deadpool. He knocks it of the park. True it is similar to most of his other comedic roles, but it shouldn’t be a negative when you excel at one type of character. Morena Baccarin is fantastic as the female lead. The chemistry between Reynolds and her is believable and makes the love story work. You believed there types of crazy fit together. TJ Miller was great as another comedic relief element and he and Reynolds played well off each other. I can’t wait to see the deleted scenes with them that were too racy even for the final cut. Someone else I loved in the film was Brianna Hildebrand as Negasonic Teenage Warhead. She was great as the irascible teen, and was a good contrast to Deadpool.  Was there anything in this movie that wasn’t good?
There isn’t much I can say negatively about Deadpool. The only minor problem I had was with Wilson not going back to Vanessa after he got his powers. He didn’t think she would take him back looking ugly. I just thought it was a stretch for this to be the reason for him not to go back to the women he loved. It is also a testament to how well their chemistry was established in the first part of the movie. Their love on screen is so believable, I didn’t think anything would keep them apart, even the way Wade looked. The only other small nitpick would be to cut out one of the apartment scenes with Blind Al to pick up the pace of the movie a small amount. It seemed to drag just a bit in the middle. I however still really loved each of those scenes and honestly wouldn’t want them cut. That’s all I can think of. There isn’t much wrong with this fun action packed superhero comedy.
With this being said this movie is of course well Worth Seeing. It’s worth seeing multiple times in the theaters so you can catch all the jokes. The one obvious thing is don’t take young kids to see it. There is a reason why it is rated R. I would say anyone 14-15 years old or over could go and see it, based on the kid and how flexible you are as a parent. I won’t be letting my eleven year old see it anytime soon.
Will you go and see Deadpool though? Did the marketing for the movie draw you in? Have you already seen it? If you did what did you think? What is your favorite R rated superhero movie. Deadpool is it now for me, before this it would have been Kick-Ass. Comment and let me know your thoughts. 

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Hail, Caesar! - Movie Review: Was it Pointless on Purpose?

If there was a Seinfeld episode, set in the 50’s about making movies, then it would have been called Hail, Caesar!
Hail, Caesar! Starring Josh Brolin, George Clooney and directed by the Coen brothers. The film tells the story of an actor who gets abducted from set and the fixer at the studio who has to deal with his disappearance. Josh Brolin plays the fixer, and George Clooney the actor; who is part of a major production for the studio, aptly titled Hail, Caesar! This is what the movie is about on the surface, or it’s at least what has been shown in the trailers. I’m not sure there was any actual point to the movie, which I think was by design.
The movie follows Josh Brolin’s character, Eddie Mannix, for the most part. It’s basically a day in the life for a studio executive in the 1950’s.  He tries to put out fires and ensure things run smoothly on the production lot.  Mannix is almost the exact opposite of another Coen brother’s comedy protagonist, The Dude. Mannix has a family, a steady job he cares about, he keeps a regimented schedule, and is religious. In the end though both characters seem to float through life, not really doing anything to accomplish their tasks. Every action Mannix takes throughout the course of the movie doesn’t have any overall effect. He has a purpose, and goes about it with relentless vigor, but in the end he has no impact on the world around him.
I may be reading into the movie too much. It could just be a movie with no purpose or point. The Coen’s just wanted to make a film about what it was like to make movies in the 50’s, and this is what they came up with. I think they are too good of filmmakers for this to be true.  Some of the initial reactions I saw from people were that it was a meandering mess or it was too much of a love letter the to 50’s instead of a good movie.  I’ll agree with these statements. It is a meandering mess, and it is a love letter to the 50’s. I just think it was a meandering mess by design, and even with it being a love letter to the 50’s they made a good movie.
The actors all do great jobs. Brolin was really good as Mannix, and Clooney played a loveable idiot well. The ancillary cast all play up the 50’s dialogue and style. The script helps build the environment of the film.  If the Coen’s do one thing better than anyone else, it is creating a world for the actors to inhabit in each of their movies. Hail, Caesar is no different. They create an entire world out of the studio lot were much of the movie takes place. The sets in the film are amazing, and transport you back to how movies were made during the golden age of film. The Coen’s throw in more of this old filmmaking style within the actual movie; using miniatures and stage sets, instead of modern techniques. It works well for the framework of the movie.
Not everything works well unfortunately. The voiceover used in the film, while I get what they were trying to do, was used to frequently and for too long. It harkens back to The Big Lebowski as well, but while I like Michael Gambon’s voice, he is no Sam Elliot. I think some will complain about the run time, but even though not much happens during the movie I didn’t find it too long. The main plot of the film is weak, but on purpose. The movie is supposed to be absurd.
The absurdity is the comedy. The amount of pressure Eddie Mannix is under just to make sure all the fictional stories get told is ludicrous. Yet he still feels at the end of the day this is the right place for him to be. The long hours away from his family and stress the job causes gives him some sort of satisfaction, and nothing else will. I do think Mannix might represent the Coen brother’s or other people they know in the industry. Obviously when enormous amounts of money go into making a movie pressure is high. Many jobs rely on how well a film does when it is released. At the end of the day however it is still just trying to tell made up stories in front of a camera. Why is something so absurd taken so seriously? I guess money always makes things serious.
When I walked out of the theater I thought the movie was okay. I liked it better than Burn After Reading, but it is not one of Coen brother’s best work. After thinking about the movie I liked it more than I initially thought I did. It’s still not one of their best movies, but if you love the Coen brothers then it’s still Worth Seeing in theaters. I think the movie needed one more strong over the top character, like a Walter from Big Lebowski, to make the film stick out more. It’s funny, but I think it might be forgotten.  If you don’t like the Coen brothers, or if you just like some of their movies then I would pass on Hail, Caesar or wait until its available for rental. It’s not one I’m going to own, but if it popped up on HBO or another paid channel I would stop and watch.

If you have seen Hail, Caesar what did you think? Did you enjoy it and think it was funny, or was it too out there? What is your favorite Coen brother movie? Mine’s probably No Country for Old Men. Comment and let me know. 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

When Should I Let My Kid Watch.. Tommy Boy?? - Movie Review

Comedy. The most subjective of any genre in film. What I despise might be comedic gold for another. With this in mind, when do you introduce your kids to your favorite comedies? Will the jokes still be relevant? Should a kid understand all the jokes in a movie before they watch, or can some go over their heads? Can you really squeeze a fat guy in a little coat?
The Chris Farley classic Tommy Boy. One of my favorite comedies of all time. I drop dialogue from this movie into conversations at least once a week. I watched Chris Farley on Saturday Night Live, but this movie made him an icon. Just about everyone who grew up in the 90’s has seen and can quote this film. The question is does it hold up for a new generation? Does Farley’s comedy translate or do some of the jokes fall flat for kids today?
I decided to let my eleven year old watch Tommy Boy. Common sense media has an age rating for Tommy Boy of 16+, because a character masturbates and drugs are used without any consequences. I’ll put a link to the rest of their review in the description below. To each their own, but for me sixteen is ultra conservative for this movie. Yes David Spades character gets caught masturbating, but nothing is shown, at all. The girl who is skinny dipping in the pool isn’t shown, at all. Yes marijuana use is shown at the beginning of the movie, but that’s it, and it’s not explicit. I would also argue if you want to have a serious conversation about drug use, you could point to how slow Tommy Callahan is in the movie and use it as deterrent for using drugs.
I’ll admit I lead a fairly sheltered life up until the time I went to college. I had no idea what a bong even was or what it looked like. Watching this movie in high school I didn’t even realize what they were smoking in the first part of the movie. Richard makes a joke about Tommy’s brain being filled with bong resin, which I never caught or noticed when I was younger. My son who hasn’t been exposed to any actual drug use wouldn’t have understood the first part of the movie either. He also probably didn’t understand the joke at the hotel. If he did understand either situation, it would be a good conversation starter, instead of just pretending these things don’t exist.
If these jokes do go over a kid’s head there is still plenty to love in Tommy Boy. Farley was brilliant at physical comedy. Watching the movie again it was impressive to realize how much he used his body to get a laugh. There are countless examples of him using his body in the movie in this way. One in particular is when he is getting hosed off after going cow tipping, and is running in place. It’s silly and I’m not sure why I think it’s funny but just his action causes the laughter. The way he shrugs or turns his head all have comedic timing in the film. He was a very special talent. 
The plot of the movie is easy to understand. Tommy’s dad dies, and he has to go out on the road to sell parts to keep his factory from closing. Having the new Step-Mom and brother actually be con-artists does add a layer complexity, but not much. My eleven year old didn’t have any trouble understanding what was happening during the story. The movie is a simple buddy road trip movie, with an okay plot. The film has just enough of a grounded story to not make it go off the rails. They weren’t trying to make Citizen Kane with this, but what the movie did was let Chris Farley shine.
My eleven year old liked the Tommy Boy, and I’m glad I let him watch. He says he likes Happy Gilmore more than this, I’ll take Tommy Boy, but I’m glad he likes both. He laughed the hardest during the scene were Tommy reenacts a car accidents with the models in an office. I forgot just how funny that scene is, and how perfect Farley plays it. I laughed the most when Tommy uses a payphone at the airport. I stopped the movie and asked if my son knew what those were, and he said a phone. I asked what kind and he said a corded one. I said it’s a payphone. His response: You had to pay to use those? My wife and I cracked up. Made me feel old, but hey at least he knows what they are now. 
So other than the minimal drug use, the masturbation scene, and a few other lewd jokes there really isn’t much in the movie to prevent me from letting my kids watch. An appropriate age range for my kids would be 10-13 years old. I think some of the jokes will go over their head, but when they come back and watch when they are older they can get even more enjoyment out of the film My oldest seems to like comedies so I might have to stick with these, and then branch off to other genres to try and ramp up his passion for movies.
When was the first time you saw Tommy Boy? If you have kids, when would you let them watch? Comment and let me know.