On Friday morning, I was able to catch a matinée showing of Star Trek Into Darkness. You can check out my review for Project Fandom by clicking here.
On Saturday, I was fortunate enough to catch a matinee showing of Iron Man 3. You can read my review on it by clicking here.
Last night, I was fortunate enough to catch a screener for the Academy Award nominated thriller Zero Dark Thirty. Click here for my review for VaginaCon.com.
I’ve had a really good run of bad luck with fantasy football.
As I do every season for the past ten years (more or less), I play fantasy football. I do this every year, knowing that I’m going to be inherently terrible and possibly finish near or at the bottom. I don’t do it to win anything, although it would be nice. This year I had teams in three leagues, and – as of today – my seasons have gone as follows:
AKAVSBFM Fantasy Football
The Starfleet Academy Cadets came into this season wistful and hoping to knock some heads. The regular season ended with the Cadets taking a 7-6 record into the playoffs. After an upset win over opening round opponent Alabama Ass Whuppin’, the Cadets fell to Mike’s Maritime Men 66-39. I would’ve lost that game anyway, regardless of leaving Danny Amendola on the bench. Why did I leave him on the bench? Because he missed about three straight games this season, and I figured he’d miss yet another one. Oops. At least I have the third place game to look forward to next week.
Bad Boyz 4 Life
The Gryffindor Lions were an amazing disaster. The Lions went 0-10 to start the season, and ended with a 2-11 record, thanks in no small part to Matthew Stafford’s ineptitude to get the ball to Calvin Johnson. The playoffs were even worse, where I couldn’t even win the 11th Place Game. Just abysmal all around. Maybe next year I’ll…yeah, right. At least my loss ensures the league will exist for at least one more season due to a bet I made with my best friend to see who’d have the worst season. Maybe I can go double or nothing next year; whaddya say?
This was a new one for me. The Legion came in as newcomers to the league, and wound up finishing in second place with a 9-4-1 record, despite the lackluster efforts of Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson (again; damn Madden Curse!). Then, the playoffs came, and The Legion was one and done for the championship crown. I have a semifinal game in the consolation bracket, so I’m fighting for that one.
So, outside of the disaster that was Bad Boyz 4 Life, I did okay this season, with two games left to go, and the possibility for one more.
We’ll see how that works out for me.
Every now and then, inspiration strikes me. This bout of inspiration hit me during my driving time for my Summer Feeding route (don’t ask). When I got to a decent stopping point, I pulled up the YouTube on my phone (a rooted Sony Ericsson Xperia PLAY – yes, it’s as crappy as you imagine, but it’s through C Spire Wireless; I’m getting what I’m paying for) and did a quick search for John Williams music. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a big John Williams fan; I think he’s the most iconic composer in recent history. Anyway, I decided on this to guide me to my next destination:
It was listening to this that led me to a fairly believable conclusion; a conclusion that I plastered over Twitter and Facebook:
I’m gonna write more on this later, but – real talk – John Williams scored your childhood.
Bear in mind that this is also a conclusion that was mentioned on Cracked.com, but I have no problems in giving credit where credit is due. That, and I love Cracked.com, because they’re awesome.
Anyway, this is what I want you to do…think about a hungry shark. What’s the music you think of? Wait, don’t tell me…it was this:
It’s okay, I understand. I never saw the movie – because I’m scared shitless of horror movies – and it was still the first thing I thought of. Okay, here’s another one: what about space travel? Say, something along the lines of a space opera? Would it be this?
All right, that was a tough one. But, to be fair, you could’ve thought of Star Trek or Battlestar Galactica or Babylon 5…okay, maybe not Babylon 5. Anyway, so I got you on that one. But, here’s one: what about an intrepid archaeologist out searching for treasures galore in exotic locales? Did you hear this?
I bet you did! Here’s another one: think about a man who can fly…
Yeah, that one was too easy. All right, one more, and this one is even easier! Think…WIZARDS!
I remember riding to and from work while taking my daughter to daycare, and we would listen to the soundtrack for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. She’d be all fussy and stuff, but she calmed down right quick when she heard Hedwig’s Theme. This fact makes me happy, because we’re sharing in this together, and I hope it’s something that lasts for a lifetime.
Point is, I could go on and on about this ad nauseam, but I think I’ve made my point. The point is, John Williams is an indomitable force, a composer who is responsible for creating memories that have lasted a lifetime, and memories that we can pass on to our children as they begin to develop a love for the art of music.
In my opinion, this is one of the greatest gifts we could ever give to them.
A couple of weeks ago, I got lucky and won a couple of passes for a screening of Men in Black 3 for today, and I wasn’t about to let that opportunity pass me by. So, today’s movie review is Men in Black 3. The sci-fi film from Columbia Pictures – rated PG-13 for sci-fi action and brief suggestive content – stars Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Jemaine Clement, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Emma Thompson. The film is the third in the very spaced out Men in Black film series, with the first one in 1997, and the second one in 2002. I think the first film was spectacular; the second one, not so much – although it did have Rosario Dawson going for it, which is nice. Anyway, I had mixed feelings about this film; it could either sink or swim, but then it managed to find a third point; however, before I get into that, let’s get into the review.
The movie opens in Lunar Max prison, a very special prison on the moon for a very special prisoner. A woman named Lily (Nicole Scherzinger) is coming to bring a cake for a prisoner known only as Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement), a one-armed alien in maximum security. If anyone knows anything about prisoners and cake, then you should know that nothing good will come of that cake. This holds true for this scenario as well, as an alien buried in the cake helps Boris escape, killing guards and prisoners alike. Boris manages to make his great escape and is coming for the man responsible for him losing his arm and ending up in prison: Agent K. Meanwhile, in New York City, Agents J (Will smith) and K (Tommy Lee Jones) are having a bit of a row. Seems like K is keeping secrets from J, and the latter is not thrilled about that at all. After a particularly rough patch, in which K meets up with Boris, J finally gets out the fact that K regrets not killing him when he had the chance. The next day, J goes to MIB Headquarters, only to find out that the agent he knew as K died 40 years ago. Agent O (Emma Thompson) – the new head of MIB – tasks J to go back to 1969 to save K’s life. Along the way, J not only meets up with a much younger K (Josh Brolin), but he also meets a precognitive alien (Michael Stuhlbarg) who knows a whole lot more about both of their futures than he lets on.
Now, what did I like about this movie? Well, even though it’s a tired trope, I liked the fish out of water experience with J being in the late 60s. The first time he meets someone is played very well for laughs, as is his first encounter with the authorities back then. I absolutely loved Josh Brolin as a younger version of K; his impression of Tommy Lee Jones is spot-on; he even carried himself like the elder actor. The set pieces were nice as well, and you could tell that they really put a lot of work and effort into not only recreating the swinging 60s, but also creating a version of MIB Headquarters that looks like one would expect it to back then before morphing into the Apple Store it currently looks like.
What didn’t I like about this movie? Well, I thought some of the special effects were a bit bland. Not the alien effects; those were spectacular. The actual CGI looked a bit boring to me, but that may be because I’m still looking at it through Marvel-colored lenses. I didn’t really care for the present-day Boris, either. Seems like he went through a whole lot just to get revenge on somebody; but, I can’t really relate, because I’m not in that predicament. I also didn’t see the need for Nicole Scherzinger. Not her character, mind; I’m talking about her being in the movie to begin with. She brought nothing at all to the table, in my opinion. Maybe sex appeal, but they could’ve gotten anyone to pull that off.
The movie brings back Barry Sonnefeld and Danny Elfman as director and composer, respectively. Sonnefeld actually directed part of this movie without a completed script, which may explain why parts of it seem to be disjointed. The bland score from someone of Elfman’s character doesn’t help matters, either. It just felt like a bit of a hodgepodge movie instead of a fluid one.
While I was standing in line waiting for them to let us in the theater, I tweeted out, “I bet this damn thing is gonna be in 3D. If it is, I’m knocking my rating down just on general principle.” And, it was. I wear glasses, so I’m automatically predisposed to hate 3D. This isn’t really going to help this movie much. If it were The Avengers, then it would’ve survived just based on the sheer awesome of the movie itself. This? This ain’t no Avengers. This is Two Times More Epic than Love Jones. Don’t spend your money on it; just wait. Even in 3D, it’s really not worth it.
I’d rather be neuralyzed instead.
I have really been looking forward to today. Today is the culmination of four years of work by Marvel Studios. Today, we get to see The Avengers. The Marvel Studios/Paramount Pictures production, rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action throughout, and a mild drug reference, stars Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Cobie Smulders, Clark Gregg, and Samuel L. Jackson. This movie has the potential to set the bar high for any other superhero movie franchise, but would it? Would it have the courage of its convictions, or would it sink faster than Daredevil? Only one way to find out.
The movie begins with the evacuation of a joint facility between NASA and S.H.I.E.L.D. to discover the power of the Tesseract (last seen in Captain America: The First Avenger). Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård, reprising his role from Thor) is working with S.H.I.E.L.D. to harness the power of the tesseract to provide unlimited power for the entire world. Meanwhile, Thor’s brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) survived the events from Thor, and is working with a race called the Chitauri to exact his revenge. Back on Earth, the facility is being evacuated because the tesseract is active, and it’s opening a door to the other side, allowing Loki to come through and reclaim the cube for the ultimate goal of universal domination. Loki dispatches the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents with ease, saving Dr. Selvig and Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) to aid in his escape. He does get away, despite the best efforts of Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), leading Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Natasha Romanoff, also known as Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) to assemble Earth’s most dysfunctional heroes: Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), and the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) in a last-ditch effort to save the world.
What did I like about this movie? Well, to be perfectly honest, I don’t think I can narrow it down to one thing. The cast performed as admirably as to be expected, with Mark Ruffalo and (in my opinion) Cobie Smulders stealing the show. I was really impressed with Ruffalo, primarily because he portrayed Bruce Banner as a nebbish and feeble man, but Hulked out to be a menacing figure. It also didn’t hurt matters that he actually performed as the Hulk by using some of the same motion capturing that Andy Serkis used to give life to King Kong, Smeagol, and Caesar. The score was fitting, and the scope was spectacular. I also liked the little touches they added in: Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) coming in for a bit, Thor checking on Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) via Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg), Paul Bettany returning to give voice to the incredibly snarky artificial intelligence J.A.R.V.I.S., just tiny little touches helping to bridge the gaps between the movies.
Sadly, I have to mention what I didn’t like about this movie, because there was something I didn’t like. The low camera angles really bothered me. I would’ve been fine with a minimal amount of it, but it got to the point where it was really detracting. I appreciate the thought, but I really don’t need to see up their noses as much as I did in the early going. Thankfully, this petered out as the movie went along.
The movie is directed by Joss Wheedon, and to call him a geek icon would be like calling fire hot; saying it alone doesn’t do it justice. Wheedon – who also co-wrote the script – brings a love for the subject material the likes of which have never been seen before. The film has all of his trademark quirks and foibles, and the cast wears it like a suit of pride. Alan Silvestri did the score, and it was phenomenal. He didn’t go over the top, and he didn’t undetstate it; he pretty much hit it right on the nose.
So, in case you haven’t figured it out yet, I really loved this movie. As much as I would like to say it was everything I was looking for, I’d be lying to myself. It exceeded my expectations, and it was a treat to see something comic book fans thought they’d never see: a true adaptation of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. It gave me everything I wanted and nothing too severe that I didn’t, so I feel comfortable in saying this movie is Five Times More Epic Than Love Jones. Oh, and don’t leave right away; there’s something you need to see.
Trust me; there is no assembly required here.
On May 4, one of the most ambitious movies ever made will be released to theaters here in North America. That’s right; I’m talking about The Avengers. This has been a franchise in the making for at least four years, due in large part to the rousing success of the 2008 film Iron Man. When that took off, Marvel Studios decided to bring the core group of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to film.
Now, I’ve seen all of the movies, and I think all of the reviews are available here. If not, they should be. At least most of them are. Anyway, you know my format for these, so let’s not lollygag any further, shall we?
Iron Man – 2008
The movie that started it all. This movie was the kickoff to the resurgence of one Robert Downey, Jr. He commands the screen as the rambunctiously blunt philanderer Tony Stark, and the Academy Award Nominee is supported by a veritable who’s-who of Hollywood talent. Academy Award Winner Gwynneth Paltrow shines as Virginia “Pepper” Potts, future Academy Award Winner Jeff Daniels chews the scenery as Obadiah Stane, and Academy Award Nominee Terrence Dashon Howard (as he used to go by) plays the beleaguered James “Rhodey” Rhodes. Director Jon Favreau had a chore on his hands, and he handled it magnificently. A driving, rock-based score by Ramin Djawadi sealed the deal for this blockbuster film. The only complaint that comes to mind is the finale that subscribed to the same tropes as most other Hollywood popcorn films. The final confrontation could have been so much more, but it looked good for what it was. On top of that, it introduced the “Avengers Initiative” to the rest of us, and set the stage for what we are looking forward to now.
The Incredible Hulk – 2008
Most comic book movie fans tend to discount the first botched attempt at making a movie about the green superhero, and so shall I. The movie I’m talking about is the re-imagining starring Academy Award Nominee Edward Norton as Bruce Banner, Liv Tyler as Betty Ross, Academy Award Nominee Tim Roth, and Academy Award Winner William Hurt as General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross. The movie in and of itself wasn’t a bad movie; in fact, it was pretty entertaining. Liv Tyler’s voice began to grate my nerves after a while, because it was more akin to a high-pitched whine than a speaking voice, but it was only a minor gripe. It didn’t falter near the end; in fact, it made me happy that it ended strong. Plus, having RDJ pop in as Tony Stark was just as entertaining.
Iron Man 2 – 2010
The inevitable follow-up to Iron Man brings back the principle good guys, with the exception of Terrence Howard; he was replaced with Academy Award Nominee Don Cheadle. The cast also included Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer, Academy Award Nominee Mickey Rourke as Ivan Vanko, and Scarlett Johansson as Natalie Rushman/Black Widow. With the exception of my final rating – I’m knocking it down to Three Times More Epic than Love Jones, my review can be found by following the link.
Thor – 2011
This was one of those Iron Man-type movies: second tier property with a relative unknown, surrounded by a pretty strong cast. What could go wrong? Not much. Chris Hemsworth became a household name as the Norse God of Thunder, Academy Award Winner Natalie Portman did her due diligence as Jane Foster, Stellan Skarsgard as Erik Selvig, Idris Elba as Heimdall, and a host of other characters too numerous to mention in this brief synopsis. Instead of repeating myself from my original review, you can find my initial thoughts by clicking on the link.
The final piece in the Marvel Cinematic Universe puzzle is Captain America, and he is represented well on the big screen. Chris Evans stars as the titular hero, and he’s accompanied by Hugo Weaving as Johann Schmidt/Red Skull, Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter, Sebastian Stan as James “Bucky” Barnes Stanley Tucci as Howard Eskine, and Dominic Cooper as Howard Stark (yes, Tony Stark’s dad). I already gave my thoughts about it earlier, and I invite you to check it out by following the titled link.
So, there you have it. Earth’s Mightiest Heroes – Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Captain America, Black Widow, Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Nick Fury: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Samuel L. Jackson) – are coming to take over the movie theaters.
The world had better be ready.
A few weeks ago, I sat down and read The Hunger Games trilogy, and I was excited to see how well it would translate to the big screen. I got my chance to find out today as I went to the 9:30 showing of the first book, The Hunger Games. The dystopian science fiction action-drama film – which is rated PG-13 for intense violent thematic material and disturbing images – stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Lenny Kravitz, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, and Donald Sutherland. Book to film translations are always a mixed bag; for every Harry Potter, you get a Percy Jackson (I’m only assuming, because I’ve never read any of the Percy Jackson books). This film has the benefit of having the author of the series serve as one of the writers of the film. Does the impact and import of Suzanne Collins overrule whatever Lionsgate Films would want to do with her property, or does she stand firm? Only one way to find out…
The movie begins with an explanation of how the Hunger Games came to be. Somewhere in the near future, North America as we currently know it no longer exists; instead, what’s left of the continent is divided into thirteen Districts, with all of them reporting to the Capitol. Sometime later on, the Districts revolted against the Capitol’s regime. The Capitol eventually won, but they forced the other twelve Districts (District 13 being a casualty) to send up a male and female child from the ages of 12 to 18 to serve as “tributes” and participate in an annual ritual known as The Hunger Games. The film then switches to 16 year old Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and 17 year old Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth) hunting in the forbidden area outside of District 12. All goes well until they notice a ship flying above them. The ship signals the beginning of the “Reaping”, where the Tributes are chosen. Katniss and Gale have their names listed several times, as they receive enough grain and oil to make it through a year by doing so. Katniss’ sister, Primrose (Willow Shields), is also up for her first Reaping, but the odds are slim that she will be chosen. The time for the Reaping begins with a flourish, thanks to Effie Trinkett (Elizabeth Banks), and the first tribute is chosen: Primrose Everdeen. Katniss volunteers in her behalf, and the male tribute – Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) is chosen. They are whisked to the Capitol, where they meet their mentor Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson), and Katniss meets her stylist, Cinna (Lenny Kravitz). Eventually, the time comes for the Games to begin, and the movie takes off from there.
For me, the things I liked about this movie, are bountiful. For starters, I enjoyed the entire cast. There were some people that got on my nerves, but I understood why: it was their place to get on my nerves. I especially loved Jennifer Lawrence in her role; she emoted wonderfully without saying a single word. Similarly, Josh Hutcherson played Peeta with a playful innocence when required, and a dutiful forcefulness when the time came. I also loved the emotional punch the film provided. There was a part of the book where I damn near broke down into tears, and the same thing happened to me when I saw the film. I literally had to take a few deep, cleansing breaths to compose myself. On that same note, the film added a few scenes that weren’t in the book, and the scene after that emotional drain was just so powerful, I almost lost it again. In fact, I’m getting choked up just thinking about it. The final thing that I really liked was the fact that there was very little CGI. There are some instances of flying crafts and a whole lot of CGI usage in the arena control room, but there is very little in the area of CGI.
There aren’t a whole lot of things I disliked in the movie, but one o the main things was also an inevitable one: there have to be cuts in a book to film translation. A lot of the cuts are part of Katniss’ inner thoughts; the books are written in a first-person narrative, and parts of that don’t ever translate well in film, due to the internal monologue that would look cheesy on film with thought bubbles. Staying with that theme, they also missed a golden opportunity at the end to vocalize that inner monologue. Instead of making Katniss’ thoughts known, they wrapped it up in a clunky manner. They did a nice touch at the end that was supposed to show an inner struggle, but it wasn’t really handled well. Another thing that made me scratch my head was the shaky-cam documentary format; a lot of that was done to not show the killing blows of the teens, as well as to make us feel as if we were actually watching the Games on TV. The last thing that comes to mind is the CGI. Yeah, I just praised the lack of it, with the exception of a few instances, but one instance near the end of the Games looked like it came from an animator at Pixar…if that animator was demented beyond all recognition. The actors performed well with that limitation, but it really was a limitation.
The film was directed by Gary Ross, a director who is well known as the director of Pleasantville and Seabiscuit (saw the former, have no interest in the latter). He does well with the quiet moments and the humor, but he tends to flail around when it comes to the action. That goes back to the shaky-cam stuff I mentioned earlier; I’m not a fan of the shaky-cam genre, so I may be a bit biased here. The score was done by James Newton Howard and T-Bone Burnett, and I loved how virtually minimalist it was. I really enjoyed what they did with Caesar Flickerman’s theme; it really fit with Stanley Tucci’s great performance. I also loved how they resisted the desire to sell pop music in the film; they waited until the end credits to unleash it. This pleased me immensely.
If you haven’t noticed by now, I really liked this movie. It had the charm I wanted, enough violence to satiate me, and it really left me anticipating the second film, which is scheduled to be released in November of 2013. Seeing that it did a lot more right than it did wrong (there was more to mention, but it would’ve spoiled the movie), I can confidently say this movie is Four Times More Epic than Love Jones. Go check it out, and enjoy the ride.
May the odds be ever in your favor.