Monthly Archives: October 2014

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Movie Trailer – Stretch

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Joe Carnahan
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Jessica Alba, Ed Helms
Release: December 5th, 2014

First off, Patrick Wilson isn’t a strong enough actor for lead roles.  Sorry Pat, but you just don’t have it.  Maybe a movie like this, one with a quick pace & quirky characters, is perfect for him, allowing him not to reveal that he has a talent deficiency.  Second off, this genre of movie is never good.  It’s fun in parts, has some cool crime, a couple laughs, but ends up being a bit of a bore.  I’d expect nothing lees from Stretch.


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DVD Review – Throwdown

Category : DVD Review


Director: Timothy Woodward Jr.
Starring: Timothy Woodward Jr., Vinnie Jones, Mischa Barton
Luke Goss, Danny Trejo, Erin Marie Hogan, Jerry G. Angelo
Year: 2014

Someone should sue this film for false advertisement.  Or at least force it to be packaged with a warning that lets consumers know that the title and cast are both terribly misleading, that even the genre is a stretch.  Because Throwdown is not so much an action thriller as it is a boring bump on the endless road to nowhere.  At first glance is seems like the movie might have some promise; the mob, criminals, human trafficking, hot women, guns, swords, that guy from Snatch.  But any purported strong points quickly turn to mush the instant they’re seen on film.  So you can guess that the advertised pieces might come together to form a, at the very least, watchable picture.  But you’d be very, very & sadly, sadly wrong.

The Movie

Jaxon Stone (what a name, huh?) is a defense attorney at the top of his game.  Young, clever, unbeatable; he can get admitted murderers off the hook as easy as you please.  Sure, this might create some demons along the way, some baggage he’ll have to deal with later, but who cares, he’s rich & he wins, not a bad way to spend your 30s.  And so when the beautiful Amanda Torres asks for Stone’s help in getting her brother out of jail, he takes the case, partly because he knows he can win and partly because, hey this girl’s hot.  But Juan, the brother, doesn’t want to be found innocent, claims he killed a man, won’t cooperate, and basically makes defending him hell.  Why is he being so stubborn, what’s the story behind the man he murdered, and why can’t everything just be easy?!
Well Stone, things are about to get even more hairy.  Vincent Delacruz, a local crime boss, contacts Stone and hires his as his attorney, cash up front.  It seems that Delacruz’ son was killed but Juan Torres and that the father wants to take care of justice himself.  So Amanda wants her brother freed so she can hug him, Delacruz wants him off so he can off him, and all Stone wants is to drop the case since Juan won’t even talk to him!  Seems like the crafty lawyer might have found himself in over his head, especially when sex rings & international smuggling begin rearing their ugly heads.  He’ll have to outsmart the mob, find loopholes through the criminal justice system, and do the broad, all before someone gets whacked.  All in a day’s work for the best lawyer in the city.

It’s as bad as it sounds.  And I blame it almost entirely on Timothy Woodward Jr.  First off, that’s a weird name and seems fake, so strike one.  Secondly, he’s the director so this movie is in his incapable hands.  It’s really, really bad, like bad bad, bad in a way that hurts, not in a way that makes you giggle.  It’s a complete and utter mess from the very beginning, with story lines going every which way, with odd characters that have no reason to be there, with choppy action that can barely be given the name.  And oh yeah, lastly he stars in the film.  Timmy might be the worst actor I’ve ever seen and that’s saying something; I’ve seen Julianne Moore in a lot of movies.  He stunk up the stage, coming off more as a porn star trying to be serious for a second, minus the sex of course, which leaves it solely as a terrible lack of talent.  A lack of believability too, for that matter, a complete void of anything engaging or positive.  Very bad job, Junior.
And those advertised pieces I referred to earlier, what happened to them?  Well, they were there, but basically for no reason other than name recognition.  Vinnie Jones’ face is front & center on the DVD cover, there to attract an audience, but he’s a completely one-note villain, a thug with an accent.  Luke Goss, who I actually liked in Dead Drop, was only here to fill a little time, to hold down a character that had absolutely no point whatsoever.  Mischa Barton; what’s she even famous for?  She played a DA with about as much vigor as a dead cactus.  And lastly Danny Trejo, a man cast only for his upsetting appearance and penchant for creepiness.  Throwdown was an action movie with action stars that had little to no action, a snooze fest of overly confusing plot points that centered around the director of the film, a man who couldn’t act his way out of theatre camp.  Don’t buy what this movie is selling you; it’s not what you think and you won’t like what you get.

The DVD

Video – With an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 (16×9 Widescreen), the video might be the best part of the film.  Come to think of it, it might be the only good thing about the movie, as basically everything else sucked.  The film was shot using a Canon EOS C100 camera and exhibits a strong visual.  Scenes were shot with clarity, the picture quality was crisp, with a nice use of color to offset some darker moments.
Audio – The DVD was done in Dolby Digital, with an option for English or Spanish subtitles.  There are no other choices or features.  The audio quality of the film was completely unremarkable, with neither good nor bad qualities to point to.  The sound was fine, well balanced, and my only complaint ended up being that I could hear the actors.
Extras – There are a few extras on the disc.  In case you wanted more from this film, there is a Behind the Scenes section, a twenty-minute look at the making of the movie, with short interviews with the director and producer.  Also, there are five trailers: Throwdown, The Prince, Reclaim, A Good Man, Armed Response.

Final Thoughts

Skip ItThrowdown doesn’t make make sense as either a title or a film.  It’s a pathetic attempt at action with a confusing story that only the writer could love.  It’s not so much a throw down as a throw up, a badly acted & badly produced mess of a movie.  The video was strong, the audio weak, and the extras few.  You want Steven Seagal action?  Look somewhere else, because although the cast of this film might lead you to believe that something exciting will at some point happen, it doesn’t.

– Content
☆ ☆ ☆ – Video
☆ ☆ – Audio
☆ ☆ – Extras
– Replay


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Movie Trailer – Reach Me

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: John Herzfeld
Starring: Tom Berenger, Kevin Connolly, Sylvester Stallone
Kyra Sedgwick, Thomas Jane, Lauren Cohan, Terry Crews
Release: November 21st, 2014

I can’t think of an ensemble cast I’d less like to have working on my film.  This is a horrible group of quasi-actors who have absolutely no chance of producing a believable film.  And believable films are not what John Herzfeld is good at anyway.  He directed 15 Minutes and 2 Days in the Valley, solid movies about crime, not self help.


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Movie Review – Peter Pan

Category : Movie Review

Director: Clyde Geronimi

Starring: Bobby Driscoll, Kathryn Beaumont, Hans Conried

Year: 1953

You can’t get much more classic than Peter Pan.  When it comes to Disney movies, not many can claim to be more iconic, more pivotal, and more defining.  The films of the 30s & 40s will always be a part of history: Snow White, Pinocchio, Dumbo, Bambi, Cinderella.  But Peter Pan would go on to become the face of Disney, the example of never growing up.  And Tinker Bell spawned a franchise all on her own, as my daughter could attest to.  Pixie Hollow is a huge hit, and Tink flies at the beginning of every single Disney film.  So when judging animated movies, I know of none better to put at the top of the list than this film, a movie that all other fairy tales aspire to me, a story that will live on forever in the hearts of those who refuse to age completely.

Based on the book & play by J.M. Barrie, this is as well known a story as can be found in America, a borrowed masterpiece that has swiftly become part of our culture.  The plot of the film varies a little from the plot of the novel, but the basic premise is the same.  The Darling children (Wendy, John, & Michael) love to play Peter Pan.  Wendy tells his tales, the boys become the characters, and the entire imaginary world of Neverland lays open to every dream.  But the children are about to discover that Peter is no fictional hero.  He’s real, he visits their home, and he has recently lost his shadow.  Entering the nursery to retrieve it, the boy who never grows up meets the trio of English youngsters, inviting them to come with him to Neverland.  There, adventures abound, as the Indians are always on the warpath, the mermaids laze the day away in their lagoon, animals prowl the jungles, and the pirates constantly plot to defeat Peter and his Lost Boys once and for all.  The Darlings enter into this world with the innocence of a babe, but with vicious Captain Hook on the loose they had better be on the lookout.  Excitement waits around every corner and Peter Pan is king of it all.

What a wonderful story, one that’s as whimsical as it is marvelous.  The plot, the setting, the island, the narrow escapes, the buccaneers, the Lost Boys, the jealous fairy, the hideouts; all the pieces come together to entertain all ages any number of times over.  Here is a film that doesn’t get old and never changes, capturing the spirit of Neverland in a way that even the filmmakers couldn’t have imagined.  It pays homage to the amazing original story and yet somehow becomes a project all its own, a stand-alone film that can be loved just as much as the original text.  Perhaps it’s the music that allows this to happen, as the soundtrack is as strong as there is in any Disney movie.  The Second Star to the Right, You Can Fly, A Pirate’s Life, What Made the Red Man Red, Your Mother and Mine; incredible songs that come one after the other in a procession of unforgettable music.  I don’t think it’d be possible to watch Peter Pan without having a positive response, without feeling good and happy that you sat down for a bit.  It’s a film that is beloved by children, that can be appreciated by adults, and that never gets old; a classic through & through.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 


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Movie Trailer – Focus

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
Starring: Will Smith, Margot Robbie
Release: February 27th, 2015

This looks like a silly movie, one that’s been done a million times.  But there’s something about heist movies, about cons & marks that gets us all excited, that makes us think we’re cool when we’re definitely not.  And there’s also something about Will Smith; the guy just has the “it” factor, has always had talent beyond measure.  Oh yeah, and Margot Robbie is maybe the hottest actress on the planet.


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Sports – NFL Picks 2014, Week 9

Category : Sports

Here are my NFL Week 9 Picks
(11-4 last week, 78-42-1 for the season)
Bye teams: Atl, Buf, Chi, Det, GB, Ten

NO @ Car – It’s well-recorded just how bad the Saints are on the road (0-4) vs how well they play at home (3-0).  But there is no doubt they are the better team in this matchup.  They’re coming off a big win, are playing in primetime, and get to play a cold Panthers club.  Don’t count NO out.

Jax @ Cin – The Bungles are a frustrating team.  They played perfect ball before their bye week, sucked since, but finally win a big game at home vs the Ravens.  They swept Baltimore actually, and have yet to lose in Cincinnati.  The Jaguars come to town & probably come to lose.

TB @ Cle – Here’s the 3rd game of Cleveland’s “easy” stretch.  They lost the first to the Jags, beat the Raiders, and now face the Bucs.  But this is not your father’s Brownies, this is a real football team.  They may lose the majority of their games going forward, but this one is very winable.

Ari @ Dal – When you’re a great team and lose a big game, people jump off your bandwagon real quick.  All of a sudden there’s a “blueprint” and you’ve been “exposed”.  I’m not doing that here, but Tony Romo isn’t playing and the Cowboys’ only losses have come at home in Big D.

Phi @ Hou – The Eagles have scored over 200 points on the season, are undefeated at home, and only have 2 total losses.  And yet they don’t feel like major contenders or like they’re firing on all cylinders.  The Texans are the hotter team right now, are playing at home, and can get after the QB.

NYJ @ KC – I would hate to be a Jet this week.  Their entire team in playing some horrible football, losing seven straight games and turning the ball over like it’s their job.  As much as I don’t think the Chiefs are a great team, this is a great chance for them to get an easy win at home vs a weak opponent.

SD @ Mia – As a Broncos fan, I’m very glad that the Chargers are on a losing streak and that we played a part in that.  But I think things change this week.  I know they’re on the road, but SD is not a bad away team, and the Dolphins are actually 1-2 in Miami.  Could be close.

Was @ Min – I just can’t believe that RG3 will be 100% for this game.  He’ll be rusty and he’ll probably continue to make bad decisions, even vs a defense that’s not very special.  Not that the Vikings are great, but they know what’s coming, are at home, and have proven that they can win.

STL @ SF – All signs point to a Niners victory and really to SF winning 7 out of their last 9 games.  That would put them at 11-5 and into the playoffs.  It starts here vs a Rams team that they beat in St. Louis 31-17 a few weeks ago.  No reason they can’t do that again coming off a bye.

Den @ NE – I’ve been calling the Broncos the best team in football; it’s time for them to prove it.  Peyton showed last season that he can beat Brady, though it’s going to be hard to do in Foxboro where the Pats are 4-0.  But Denver has had extra time to prepare coming off a TNF win and can do it.

Oak @ Sea – The Champs have been inconsistent lately and have been very beatable.  Russell Wilson has taken the team on his shoulders in a big way and is forcing his team to straighten up.  This should be a nice week to practice that, as the Raiders are winless & hopeless.  Seahawks win big.

Bal @ Pit – This is not the AFC North of old.  This division is actually scoring points, record numbers actually, with even the Browns getting in on the action.  The Steelers are coming off a big time performance by Big Ben and should have all the confidence in the world.  Don’t look for a 9-6 win.

Ind @ NYG – The G-men are streaky, starting off bad, working out their problems, then losing a couple in a row.  The Colts are more consistent, thanks to Luck’s stellar QB play, but even they have laid a few eggs.  I’d go with the home team here, but I have more faith that Indy can find a way.

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Movie Trailer – Tomorrowland

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Brad Bird
Starring: Britt Robertson, George Clooney, Kathryn Hahn
Release: May 22nd, 2015

Cool.  I like the idea of a Disney sci-fi film with George Clooney and alternate dimensions.  Sounds like something I’d watch, and I doubt they can mess up what looks to be a fun story.  Disney theme parks have a Tomorrowland section that’s futuristic and forward-thinking.  We’ll see, but I’m excited.


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Movie Review – An American Tail

Category : Movie Review

Director: Don Bluth
Starring: Phillip Glasser, Nehemiah Persoff, Dom DeLuise
Year: 1986

I was three when American Tail came out, probably a bit older than that when I saw it for the first time, and who knows what ages when I watched it repeatedly & fanatically the next hundred times.  It was a defining film of my childhood, a movie my whole family quoted and sang, a Frozen of the 80s, a McDonald’s Happy Meal collector’s toy extravaganza.  And speaking of Frozen, I still stand firm in my critique of that film, calling it a fad instead of a hit, a film with a weak plot and recycled visuals, a movie whose good music all comes within the first 30 minutes, leaving the rest of the plot to fizzle out on its own.  Now, the more I watch it the more I find myself humming the songs and laughing over the stupid prat falls, but that’s just me being weak.  That doesn’t mean that Frozen is a film that will stand the test of time, and neither has American Tail
Here is an animated version of a story told a million times, an immigrant’s tale of sorrow & hope.  Fleeing their homeland ahead of the brutality of the native cats, the Mousekewitz family travel across the Atlantic to America.  They believe that their lives will be better there, that prosperity will welcome them with open arms, and that cats will be a danger of the past.  But the journey itself is dangerous, and the family lose their precious son Fievel along the way, swept overboard in a storm.  Fievel survives and finds himself in New York City too, but finding his family is not going to be easy in such an enormous place.  The kind little mouse does find help along the way: a bird named Henri, an orphan named Tony, and even a cat called Tiger.  To find his family Fievel will have to be brave, persistent, and never say never.
It was, quite simply, not as good as I remembered.  Some classics you can revisit over and over again; apparently some you can’t.  The story just didn’t translate well, ironic since it’s such a real story; an immigrant family facing the harsh reality of the “American Dream”.  But it was all too choppy, too rough, and not edited well.  The story was a bit boring due to an overabundance of action & music, leaving no time to take a breath, forcing audiences to shut down.  The music itself was still strong, songs like “Never Say Never”, “No Cats in America”, “Somewhere Out There”, and they brought back a lot of memories.  But I didn’t remember the smoking, the drinking, the scary scenes; pieces modern movies wouldn’t even think to add in.  It was just a bit of a disappointment for someone who idolized this film, even though the movie as a whole can’t be called terrible.  I guess it was just better left to the past.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆


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Movie Trailer – Bad Turn Worse

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Simon & Zeke Hawkins
Starring: Jeremy Allen White, Mackenzie Davis, Mark Pellegrino
Release: November 14th, 2014

Gritty Texan thrillers are a dime a dozen, but this film seems to know & embrace that fact.  What’s more, this film seems to understand how to do that classic plot correctly and in a way that audiences want to watch.  I’m all in for this one, a movie I hope will deliver.


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Movie Review – Maidentrip

Category : Movie Review

Director: Jilian Schlesinger
Starring: Laura Dekker
Year: 2013

It’s rare that a documentary draws me in the way that the genre is supposed to.  Documentaries ought to be compelling, interesting, captivating, whistle-blowing, something that catches your attention with a new look at an event or a person that you should know more about.  And a few have captured me in that way; Food Inc, Life in a Day.  But I guess the genre isn’t for me because most of the time I just find the material boring.  Maybe that shows a bad attitude, an air of knowing enough already, of not wanting to learn about the world around me.  I’d like to think that that’s not true, that perhaps I just need a bit more entertainment from a film than your typical documentary is able to deliver.  Regardless, Maidentrip was not the movie that would convince me to give more like it a chance, not the riveting story that it was advertised to be.
Here is a film that is about as unedited and unproduced as you could possibly make, a true story in its truest form.  Almost all the action was filmed by Laura Dekker herself, the star of this unique documentary.  Laura has a dream to sail around the world, to take her ship Guppy across the entirety of the globe.  The trip will take two years, but by completing the journey she will become the youngest person to circumnavigate the globe alone in a sailboat.  Her goal isn’t speed, it’s to see the world, to stop off at islands & sites along the way, to meet the people of the Earth on an adventure that she will never forget.  And so Laura sets out from Holland, headed west around the world, filming herself through weeks of travel at sea without sight of land or other humans, pushing herself to her limits, and experiencing what almost no one has before.
I just wish something would have actually happened.  It’s a cool story, very interesting that a 14-year-old would commit to two years at sea, fascinating to look at our planet from its oceans.  But nothing exciting happens.  Maybe there’s a storm, a hard pass through reefs once, some food spills from the stove, but absolutely nothing entertaining occurs.  It’s a boring journey, one that must have meant something to Laura Dekker but means absolutely nothing to me.  Sure she sees some nice sunsets and islands, and yeah the freedom that she lives with is a bit enviable.  But in the end I just wanted her journey to be over, probably more than she did.  She seemed content taking video selfies on her ship, making entries in her video journal talking about how peaceful she felt.  But I couldn’t help thinking that, were she ugly, no one would want to watch this movie.  Laura is a beautiful girl, someone who captures your attention with her vivacious personality; beyond that I didn’t see or feel anything special.  Maybe I just don’t like documentaries, or maybe I just don’t like being unimpressed.

My rating: ☆ ☆