Monthly Archives: October 2015

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Movie Trailer – Hello, My Name is Doris

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Michael Showalter

Starring: Sally Field, Max Greenfield, Tyne Daly

Release: March 11th, 2016

An endearing movie starring Sally Field wouldn’t be the worst things possible, but it definitely has a low ceiling.  It can only be so good, especially with Michael Showalter directing.  He wrote They Came Together, which is pretty stupid & unwatchable.  So let’s hope this movie is more Sally being lovable and less adults making 11-year-old boy jokes.


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Movie Review – Steve Jobs

Category : Movie Review

Director: Danny Boyle

Starring: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Jeff Daniels

Year: 2015

Hearing the names ‘Boyle’ & ‘Fassbender’ together, the first thing I thought of was ‘championship’.  That’s a pairing that should deliver movie gold, guaranteed, no questions asked.  It’s the modern equivalent to Spielberg & Hanks, and, ironically, could be even better than current Spielberg & Hanks, surpassing Bridge of Spies as the dramatic, heart-pounding Oscar front-runner of the year.  And Boyle is familiar with the Academy Awards, winning Best Director for Slumdog Millionaire and sharing a Best Picture nomination for 127 Hours.  Meanwhile, Fassbender was nominated for Best Actor for 12 Years a Slave, and seems to just be reaching his full potential as one of the world’s leading dramatists.  So, this is a film that was almost destined to succeed in all areas, to represent its cast & crew at the Oscars, and to win the accolades of critics & audiences everywhere.  With so much expectation, Steve Jobs is somehow able to both deliver & surprise, cementing itself as an incredibly deserving awards behemoth.

Over the course of 14 years, the planet’s tech world is changed in amazing ways by the brilliance of a single man.  Or, at least, that’s the way the man himself sees it, though we are allowed to sneak behind-the-scenes into a world that is not as perfect as it appears on stage.  Steve Jobs, the innovator of the century, maneuvers his private and business lives as he unveils three different game-changing computer platforms.  In 1984, it’s the release of the Macintosh, an incredibly expensive personal computer that will revolutionize the industry.  In 1988, Jobs has founded NeXT and is prepared to launch the Black Cube, in direct competition with his former company, Apple.  And in 1998, Jobs presents the first iMac, a computer that is still a tech standard to this very day.  Three unveilings, three peeks into the world of a genius, and three brutally unnerving glances at a man whose stability hangs by a thread.

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Within the first few minutes, I began to have a very certain Birdman feeling, as if Doyle had witnessed the attention that driving style of filmmaking had garnered Inarritu, and wanted to harness it as his own.  But then, as the film continued, I saw that the plot was never meant to take place outside the arenas of Jobs’ theatre, and that the story would be told inside driving action, with flashes of history to keep our journey pointed in the right direction.  Brilliance, and not just for developing a clever style, but for crafting a movie that made my eyes dry from a lack of blinking, that held me tied to the drama of all three time periods as if each one held secrets that I desperately needed to learn.  Doyle does his best work here, orchestrating similar events three times, but making them unique in their intensity, letting them reveal what they will, and never forcing the film into a direction that would have made Steve Jobs just another cheap biography.

But even such planning & talent wouldn’t have been enough to pull off such a monumental task had the cast not been up to par.  Thankfully, not only were they suited to their roles, but they delivered performances that could go down as career high-points.  Fassbender as Jobs was perfect, playing the man as part psychopath, part artist, showing that the world in not changed by ordinary beings.  Kate Winslet alongside him did something she so very rarely does; left sex behind, became an actress in totality, even used an accent to her benefit, and gave us the best character she has ever produced.  Even Seth Rogen jumped on board in a somewhat smaller role and gave 100% in order to create something we could remember years later.  I might not have loved Jeff Daniels, but I was amazed by Michael Stuhlbarg, an actor who may finally gain some of the respect he deserves.  Steve Jobs is a fast-paced, emotional, uncomfortable, and sometimes overwhelming all-access pass to a place we are not allowed to go, and warrants the praise it has already & will definitely receive.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

 

 

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Movie Trailer – Don Verdean

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Jared Hess

Starring: Sam Rockwell, Jemaine Clement, Will Forte

Release: December 11th, 2015

From the great minds that brought us Napoleon Dynamite, Nacho Libre, and Gentleman Broncos.  Hmm, not sure how to take that.  This movie looks goofy, silly, absurd, whatever adjective you want to throw at it, but it also looks like it has the potential to be hilarious.  Most of that would be thanks to the cast, not to the writer perhaps, as these guys are at the top of their game and would have to make every stupid line work for some inexplicable reason in order to sell this sort of humor.  Imagine Napoleon Dynamite played by somebody else.  Complete flop, right?  Well this movie could be that, but I’m willing to give it a shot.


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Movie Review – Lost River

Category : Movie Review

Director: Ryan Gosling

Starring: Iain De Caestecker, Christina Hendricks, Ben Mendelsohn

Year: 2014

Ryan Gosling makes his directing & writing debut in Lost River, a film that will deservedly be labeled as an extravagance of a bored millionaire rather than the work of a brilliant mind.  Gosling’s acting credentials are unparalleled and have solidified him as a Hollywood megastar: The Notebook, Half Nelson, Blue Valentine, Lars and the Real Girl, Drive, The Place Beyond the Pines, Gangster Squad.  But his career as a writer/director will be short-lived if this is all he has to offer.  Lost River is a collection of strange ideas, a brain-storming of what-if-we-dids, not a solid film cleverly made.  It’s one of the weirdest things you’ll see this decade, without the talent & hard work behind it to carry it through to the climax.  A conceit rather than a necessity, this movie is guaranteed to disappoint.

In a nearly abandoned city in what might be an alternate future, the rules of society have broken down to the point of disintegration.  Houses stand vacant, law is minimal, thugs rule the neighborhoods, the banks evict who they choose, and people survive as they will.  For Bones, this means stealing copper piping from houses controlled by Bully, the young area kingpin/psychopath.  Bones’ mother, Billy, makes money at a unique club that caters to the need to enjoy violence in a safe environment.  And Bones’ friend, Rat, keeps her catatonic grandmother alive in a dilapidated house, telling stories of an underwater town and the curse placed upon the city that destroyed it.  These characters will attempt to live their pitiful lives as best they can, while death & darkness lurk around every corner.

I guess this is dystopian fiction in an odd way, giving us an undetermined place & time in which normal structure has begun to collapse.  And there are some messages here, some metaphors about our world: the banks, the foreclosures, the criminals, the clubs, the family trying to survive.  But it’s all so shallow, so underdeveloped, that it won’t impress you with its attempt at deep currents.  There just isn’t enough to grab on to, as if Gosling had a bunch of interesting ideas, threw them all together, and didn’t have to ask anyone for money or permission to make them into an unlikeable movie.  The acting was fine in its own way, with solid performances from Hendricks, Mendelsohn, Saoirse Ronan, and Matt Smith, but the film as a whole was way to weird without any relief.  Perhaps Gosling will try again, but hopefully with a little more form and editing, producing a film that can be appreciated instead of trivialized.

My rating: ☆ ☆

 

 


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Movie Trailer – The Ridiculous 6

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Frank Coraci

Starring: Adam Sandler, Taylor Lautner, Terry Crews

Rob Schneider, Luke Wilson, Steve Zahn, Will Forte

Release: December 11th, 2015

Netflix is pumping out big pictures; we’re seeing the future of what once used to be simply a DVD-to-your-house company.  So, good for them.  Now, I liked Beasts of No Nation, which was also Netflix, and I enjoyed A Million Ways to Die in the West, which looks to have a similar vibe.  But I don’t love Adam Sandler movies.  I had hoped that this would just be Adam Sandler in a movie, but no, Frank Coraci was the director in charge of The Waterboy, Click, Zookeeper, and Blended.  Not good.  And I like cameos as much as the next person, but this is ridiculous (no pun intended): Steve Buscemi, Norm MacDonald, Danny Trejo, Nick Nolte, David Spade, Chris Parnell, John Turturro, Jorge Garcia, Nick Swardson, Jon Lovitz, Vanilla Ice, Blake Shelton, Blake Clark, Lavell Crawford, Dan Patrick.  Whoa.


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Sports – NFL Picks 2015, Week 8

Category : Sports

Here are my NFL Week 8 Picks

(9-5 last week, 66-39 for the season)

Bye teams: Bills, Jaguars, Eagles, Redskins

 

nepatriotsMia @ NE – After a very disappointing beginning to the season, and after so many of us thought that this team was on their way to the playoffs, the Dolphins might be turning things around.  Miami fired HC Philbin and rattled the cages a little concerning practice, team tenacity, and the overall mentality of the organization.  Their interim coach has them playing well, with two straight wins.  However, those wins came against the Titans and the Texans, two troubled teams in the problematic AFC South.  So a victory in Foxboro would be another feat completely, and I can’t see that happening.  The Patriots are playing near perfect football, led by their future Hall of Fame captain Tom Brady.  New England has scored the most points in the AFC, plugging away at 36 points per game, and shows no sign of stopping.  They had a bit of a tough one last week vs the Jets, but still came away with a victory, and should be able to do the same here vs a hot Miami team that will be hunting.  It’s not easy beating someone who has nothing to lose, but I won’t pick against the Pats at home until they show me a reason to.

 

kcchiefsDet @ KC – It’s time for another game in jolly ol’ England, this time between the Lions and the Chiefs.  Detroit has stirred their sleepy offense a bit, actually getting the ball into the hands of their best weapon, Calvin Johnson.  You wonder why no one thought to do that before, or why it’s suddenly possible when it wasn’t before.  Their schedule has lightened a bit, which helps, and they should be able to keep putting up points.  But now it’s time for the defense to step up as well, which isn’t easy considering that they let the best defensive player in the league go to the Dolphins.  Only one team has allowed more points this season than the Lions, something that had better change right now.  That’s easier said than done, though, especially with the Chiefs actually throwing the ball to wide receivers, something that has been documented to be very rare.  Maclin comes back this week after staying out for one game with a concussion, and should immediately start scoring against Detroit’s leaky pass coverage.  No Jamaal Charles though, and that hurts, but that won’t be enough to stop them from winning this game.

 

atlfalconsTB @ Atl – A loss in Washington wasn’t exactly what Tampa Bay had planned coming off their bye week.  Not only that, but they made Kirk Cousins so excited he yelled “You like that!” twice to the media, creating the Vine of the year.  When you can make Cousins look like an elite quarterback, you know you’ve done something wrong.  So the Bucs obviously need to work on their defense, allowing 31 points in back-to-back games, while their offense seems to be picking it up a little behind Famous Jameis and Muscle Hamster.  So give them a little credit, but don’t pick them to win this game.  The Falcons may be lucky, but they’ve ridden that luck to a 6-1 record.  Barely beating the Eagles, Giants, Redskins, and Titans, Atlanta should be counting their blessings and solving problems.  They can score, their defense is OK, but this isn’t a scary team right now, and would probably lose if matched up against a dominate NFC team like the Packers, Panthers, or Cardinals.  No worries this week though, giving them time to figure it all out.

 

balravensSD @ Bal – As a Bronco fan, I always enjoy watching the Chargers lose.  Even more so than the Raiders these days, since the rivalry between Denver and Phillip Rivers has been much more dynamic than the rivalry between Denver and Oakland.  It was fun to see Derek Carr carve San Diego up last week, and I hope Flacco can do the same in Week 8.  Rivers has a detestable personality, SD thought they were so smart getting Mike McCoy from the Broncos to be their HC, no one should have that perfect of weather for every game; only a few reasons to root against the Chargers, not only in this matchup but every week.  And the Ravens are do a win, right?  They’re a horrible 1-6, have yet to win at home, and are coming off a close loss in Arizona vs a tough team.  Watching that game, it looked like many of the players had given up, and I guess I wouldn’t blame them.  But you know, the season isn’t over.  When Big Ben comes back, the Steelers might muddle up the top of the AFC North, opening the door for a mediocre team to get hot at the right moment and take something that isn’t theirs.  But one game at a time, I guess, starting here.

 

minvikingsMin @ Chi – As underrated as any team in the league, Minnesota is a very quiet 4-2.  They’ve also only allowed 102 points total on the season, which is equal to Denver’s D, a group that gets a ton more credit.  The problem is scoring points to win close games, something that hasn’t been happening consistently enough.  The Vikings are playing second fiddle to the Packers in the NFC North, but they could still secure a Wild Card spot if they stay focused and keep winning.  The Bears will have something to say about that though, especially at home in Chicago.  Minnesota is 1-2 on the road, so advantage goes to the home club here.  But the Bears defense has been pathetic, nothing like the fabled Chicago D of old, so perhaps this is the week the Vikings put up enough points to turn some heads.  Jay Cutler has yet to win against the NFC this season, and I don’t think that changes this week.  Look for a possible low scoring game in the Windy City where the Vikings won’t be able to take full advantage of Chicago’s bad defense, but will be able to do just enough to come away with a win.

 

aricardinalsAri @ Cle – The Cardinals have been flirting with losing their spot as one of the best teams in the league.  With two losses and many near-losses, they’ve been doing enough to stay on top of the NFC West, but have yet to separate themselves from the rest of the pack.  As St. Louis and Seattle improve, they begin to sneak up on Arizona, and the Cardinals lose any room for error.  That said, they still score the most points in the league, don’t allow many, and have a winning record both at home & on the road.  So I’m still on the bandwagon, unless they somehow lose this week in Cleveland.  McCown or Manziel, I wouldn’t trust either with my team.  Both show flashes, but neither are consistent enough to warrant your faith.  The same could be said about the Browns in general; sometimes they show some promise, and then they pull the rug right out from under their fans’ feet.  Cleveland is on a two-game losing streak, and probably won’t turn things around in Week 8.  Arizona is just too tough, the Dawg Pound just isn’t that scary this year, and the Browns will have to wait until next season to try it all again.

 

houtexansTen @ Hou – After one great game from Marcus Mariota, the Titans have lost 5 straight.  Their defense has been playing fairly well, but their offense is atrocious, scoring the least amount of points in the AFC.  Also, they’re 0-4 at home, which is weird, 1-1 on the road.  They have talent in many areas, but have yet to figure out a way to make it work as a unit, something that might not change this week.  The Texans have their own problems.  They just cut Ryan Mallett for being late and a general tool, they lost Arian Foster for the season with a leg injury, and they’re coming off a blowout loss at the hands of the resurgent Dolphins.  But it’s the defense that’s been the real shocker, playing terribly and with no excuses, not with Watt & Clowney screaming off the edges.  This is a team that should be much better, keeps getting worse, and is somehow only one game out of first place in the AFC South.  The Colts have left the door wide open, but with these new issues, there’s a lot of doubt surrounding Houston’s ability to walk through it.  Winning this week would help, and I think they can do it.

 

nosaintsNYG @ NO – I say every week that the Giants are going to win the NFC East, that they’re the only team with a legitimate QB now that Romo is hurt, that Eli will improve each game. And they are winning the division, are 4-3, are 3-1 at home, and still seem capable of holding on.  But I’m starting to have some doubts.  New York is 1-2 on the road, only one game ahead of the Redskins in the East, and is scoring just a hair more than they allow.  Not a recipe for late-season success.  Meanwhile, the Saints are picking it up.  After beginning 1-4, New Orleans has won its last two games, is 2-1 at home, and can actually score a few points, though they’re still having trouble playing defense.  Can Drew Brees & Sean Payton make a run and claim the NFC South?  Probably not, not with the Panthers and Falcons playing as well as they both are, but a Wild Card spot isn’t out of the picture.  They just need to keep winning at home, keep improving, and maybe figure some things out on defense.  I still like the G-Men, but this game looks like a loss, and the Saints can take a big step forward in Week 8.

 

cinbengalsCin @ Pit – After doubting the Bengals much of the beginning of the season, I’ve stuck by them for weeks now, and they’ve proved themselves to the world.  This is a really talented team, undefeated, firing on all cylinders, playing great offense & defense, showing the NFL that they’re playoff ready.  The questions about Dalton’s big game ability are still relevant, but all Cinci can do is play one game at a time, and so far they haven’t lost a challenge.  Usually I’d pick them to lose this big matchup in Pittsburgh, but not this year, this year I’m sticking by them until they show be a reason why I shouldn’t.  It helps that Big Ben will be rusty coming off an injury that has kept him out for multiple weeks.  It’s good to see him back, and that definitely raises the Steelers’ chances, but the guy hasn’t played in a long time, might be a little skittish about his leg, and could make a mistake or two that will doom his team.  Bell, Brown; excellent weapons, and I don’t think this game will be a blowout.  But I like the Bengals this year, they’ve got the confidence to win, and Pittsburgh might have to settle for a Wild Card spot.

 

stlramsSF @ STL – And I actually thought that the Niners would learn something from the Panthers, that they’d be able to beat the Seahawks using a proven blueprint.  Kaepernick might not be able to learn anything, as he seems to be digressing every day, never improving mentally in a game that demands it.  San Francisco has scored the least points in the league, can’t play defense to save their lives, and won’t be improving any time soon.  I know their entire team left them in the offseason, but I expected better than this awful year.  The Rams, ironically, have scored the second fewest points in the league, but are playing much better defense than the Niners, offsetting their offensive woes with good D.  And, with Gurley running like a madman, things might be looking up.  He’s gone crazy, trucks where he wants, and is exciting this entire team.  There’s still a lot of room for improvement for this St. Louis team as a whole, and I still don’t think Jeff Fisher is the amazing coach many like to give him credit for being, but at least the Rams are trending in the right directions and could come away with a win here.

 

nyjetsNYJ @ Oak – The Jets were so close to beating the Patriots last week, and that would have changed a lot.  Instead of two games behind, New York would be tied with New England at 5-1.  And with the tie-breaker, they’d be first place in the AFC East.  That was a huge game, and perhaps being in Foxboro gave the Pats just enough of an edge to remain undefeated.  They’ll face each other again Week 16 in East Rutherford, and maybe the outcome will be different, but meanwhile the Jets need to pick up some more wins elsewhere.  With the most solid overall defense in the NFL, that shouldn’t be too hard.  The Raiders aren’t pushovers though, coming off a big win in San Diego.  Derek Carr played very well, Murray is a strong running back, and Cooper should win Rookie of the Year.  But the Raiders have only an OK defense and actually don’t play well at home, going 1-2 on the season.  They’re better on the road playing the role of the underdog, that’s when they get themselves hyped up to play their best.  The Jets should win this tough game in California behind their great defense and surprisingly good offense.

 

seaseahawksSea @ Dal – Seattle has been a very frustrating team all season.  At 3-4, they’re still in the hunt for a Wild Card spot, and could possibly still win their division, sitting only 2 games out right now.  Their defense is fine, but it’s their offense that’s keeping them from winning more games.  At times, it seems like Wilson & Graham are developing some chemistry and that this offense might turn the corner.  But too often the Seahawks fail to put up the kind of points needed in the modern NFL, falling behind teams that are too good to be completely shut down by the Legion of Boom.  Thankfully for Seattle, Dallas is not that kind of team.  At least, not right now, not with Matt Cassell leading the troops.  He’s pathetic, not much better than Brandon Weeden, and remains a flimsy stopgap until Romo can return from his injury.  Good news; Dez Bryant comes back this week, and that should help a little.  But when Cassell throws a couple INTs, Dez is gonna yell at someone on the sideline and the Seahawks are gonna take the momentum and put the game away.

 

gbpackersGB @ Den – Little-discussed stat; the Packers have allowed the least total points in the league.  That’s less than the Broncos, the Vikings, and the Jets, some of the best defenses in the NFL.  Pretty impressive, especially complimenting it with great offensive play, something Denver & Minnesota can’t do.  Give Aaron Rodgers a good defense so he doesn’t have to do it all himself and watch how far he goes.  That’s why I picked the Pack to win the Super Bowl, because with a running game & a solid defense, this is the best team in the league.  The Broncos, meanwhile, also have an excellent D, but can’t score points, making each game a nail-biter.  Peyton Manning is officially old, can’t do the things he once could, and is no longer fooling anyone.  Every week Denver fans call for Brock Osweiler, a focus on the running game, Peyton to reduce his role, something, anything, because they can tell that the way we are winning games right now isn’t sustainable.  People say well Denver is undefeated, don’t change a thing.  But that’s about to change, and perhaps change is what we need.

 

carpanthersInd @ Car – This might be the easiest game to pick in Week 8, a terrible team vs an amazing one.  The Colts are winning their division at 3-4, but have lost two straight and seem to have no answer as to why they’re doing so poorly.  Andrew Luck looks awful, and really so does the rest of the team, including a leaky defense.  Every win this season for the Colts has come against the AFC South, they’re winless against the rest of the league.  Too bad you just can’t keep playing bad teams, and too bad you have to face the Panthers, the Broncos, and the Falcons in your next three games.  Carolina is the exact opposite, a team that is doing everything right.  Scoring points, not allowing many, winning at home & on the road; the sky’s the limit for the Panthers.  Look for another ground-pounding performance from Can Newton & Jonathan Stewart, as they put up points in bunches against a Colts team that’s inferior in every area.


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Movie Trailer – Kill Your Friends

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Owen Harris

Starring: Nicholas Hoult, James Corden, Craig Roberts

Release: November 6th, 2015

I love Nicholas Hoult (Warm Bodies, Young Ones, X-Men, Fury Road), but this looks like an odd mesh of American Psycho, The Wolf of Wall Street, and Filth, with a bunch of Brits thrown in for good measure.  Also, Owen Harris has never directed a feature before, almost guaranteeing that this film will be a copy of many others.


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DVD Review – Checkmate

Category : DVD Review

Director: Timothy Woodward Jr.

Starring: Mischa Barton, Sean Astin, Johnny Messner

Year: 2015

I had the misfortune of seeing a Timothy Woodward Jr. film once, and I forgot to never do it again.  Actually, I just didn’t notice that he was the director of this film as well, otherwise I would have passed.  The movies I am referring to are Throwdown and Checkmate; great titles, huh?  Throwdown is a terrible crime/action/thriller starring Woodward himself and featuring Mischa Barton & Vinnie Jones, among a large cast of others.  It’s a terrible, terrible movie, with a ridiculous plot and some of the worst acting you’re likely to see.  Checkmate reprises a large amount of that film, including Barton & Jones, and delivers the same pointless violence & undeveloped characters as has become the director’s forte.  But, if it’s possible, this time around was worse than before, taking steps down from terrible and becoming something completely unwatchable & rather insulting.

The Movie

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Try to follow along, because this won’t make any sense at all.  Lauren & her husband are trying to have a baby after many failed pregnancies, with multiple scares and spells of best rest making this magical time very stressful.  Joey and his team of criminal buddies are planning a heist, a score that will set them up for life and take them away from the world of small-time crooks.  A priest and his assistant are actually contract killers, assassinating in the name of God for the right price, making no judgement as to the why of the matter. And above it all hover a pair of men gambling over a game of chess, a match that has higher stakes then any of us can imagine.  These characters’ dramas dominate their lives, and lead to one giant, unholy climax.

At a bank, each story intersects and changes the fates of complete strangers.  Lauren goes to the bank to write a check, even though her doctor has ordered her to rest.  Joey the Bro leads his crew on a high-stakes robbery that doesn’t seem well thought out.  The priest sits with his sniper rifle high in a building, watching his target complete the organization of his finances.  And, still playing the game, two men raise the ante as their chess match creeps closer & closer to its finale.  This is a story of interwoven lives, how each of us affect one another, how things can go downhill in the blink of an eye, and how there is always hope while their is breath.  Who will make it out alive, who will die, and who will win control?

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I didn’t think it possible, but Timothy Woodward Jr. has outdone himself.  He has made a film that is worse than Throwdown, a movie that’s bad in every single way, and something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.  It all starts out with one of the most awful opening scene that I have ever witnessed.  SWAT teams, criminals, pregnant asthmatics, guys with machine guns blasting away at each other for what seems like just the fun of it; at one point I actually yelled out in anger & frustration.  Woodward seems to have no idea how to construct a story, thinking that crime existing & police arriving are enough to make a good movie.  Sorry pal, you need a little more than that, like acting & interest & talent & writing & characters.  All these things are absent from Woodward’s projects, making it insane that he created six movies in 2015 alone.

And they all seem to star Barton, Jones, Woodward himself, Danny Trejo, Johnny Messner; terrible actors, basically, with a hot girl or action star thrown in sometimes for sex appeal, name recognition, or simply good measure.  These movies are all the same; messy action-fests that have no point, no anchor, and no hope.  And yet, someone is paying for them to be made, which is beyond understanding.  Checkmate might be the worst of the bunch, with absolutely nothing to enjoy.  I have no problem with language, but every ‘fuck’ seemed forced, all one million of them, and every curse pretended, as if the actors were told to “be hard” but had no idea what that meant.  Barton was a terribly weak heroine, Sean Astin was laughable as Father Death, and whatever metaphor Woodward was trying to create with Vinnie Jones & Danny Glover as the Devil & God was too stupid to be appreciated.  I will never watch another film from this series again.

The DVD

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Video – With an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 (16×9 Widescreen), the video quality is possibly the best this film has to offer.  There’s enough action and motion to highlight a high visual quality, at least as far as color & clarity.  Cinematographically, there is nothing eye-catching about his movie, with no talent in capturing the imagery of any scene.  The picture quality is nice, but, again, perhaps the only positive this film has in its favor.

Audio – There are two audio options on the disc: English 5.1 Surround or English 2.0 Stereo.  There are also two subtitle choices: English SDH or Spanish.  The sound quality of the film is forgettable, with neither glaring problems nor memorable moments.  I guess the action sounded fine and was fairly balanced with the dialogue, so no points off there.

Extras – The only special features on the DVD are five previews: Checkmate, SWAT: Unit 887, Survivor, Kidnapping Mr. Heineken, Good People.

Final Thoughts

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Skip It.  I can actually think of one person who might enjoy this genre of film, so perhaps there are others as well.  Throwaway action, explosions, guys with guns, overdrama, SWAT teams, katana blade fights; maybe there’s a bit of fun here to entice those who like their movies cheap & easy.  But for the rest of us, this is about as bad as it gets.  Checkmate is a skit more than it is cinema, something thought up quickly with no effort put toward making it a cohesive film.  It’s a recipe for disaster in my eyes, but one Timothy Woodward Jr. must be making enough money off of to continue dipping back into the same, bubbly pot.  The video quality is good, the audio fine, the extras minimal.  Don’t come looking for The Departed, and don’t expect a real movie in much of the sense of the word, because this genre is something entirely its own, something that I won’t be curious about again.

☆ – Content

☆ ☆ ☆ – Video

☆ ☆ – Audio

☆ – Extras

☆ – Replay

 

 


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Movie Trailer – Lost in the Sun

Category : Movie Trailer

Director: Trey Nelson

Starring: Josh Duhamel, Josh Wiggins, Lynn Collins

Release: November 6th, 2015

I don’t even hate Josh Duhamel, but there aren’t enough reasons to see this movie.  It looks like so many other emotional man-backed-into-a-corner movies, and I highly doubt it reinvents the genre.  Duhamel just isn’t talented enough to carry a movie like this, though I’m not sure who is.  It’s a film that looks set to fail, and I don’t want to be on board when it does.


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Movie Review – Shipwrecked

Category : Movie Review

Director: Nils Gaup

Starring: Stian Smestad, Gabriel Bryne, Louisa Milwood-Haigh

Year: 1990

It seems almost an imagination now, but when I was a kid my family would rent VHS cassettes.  My dad & I would walk down to Baker’s, the local store, peruse the three small shelves, and pick out a tape based on the summary located on the back of the box.  Either that, or my sister & I would go to the library “downtown”, scan the rows of classics, and come away with a VHS that we would then watch a dozen times in two weeks.  Going to the store and picking a random movie off the shelf was how I saw Braveheart for the first time, and could be the reason I became a cinephile and a film critic.  But going to the library had its rewards as well.  That was how I was introduced to Abbott & Costello, fell in love with Memphis Belle, and saw Shipwrecked for what would be the first of countless times.

There are only so many characters that can fit on an 1800s sailing vessel, and we meet them all quickly.  First, John Merrick, a pirate, a scoundrel, and an imposter wearing a British naval uniform.  Next, Mr. Haakonsen, a Norwegian sailor with an injury that will keep him away from his ship’s next voyage to Calcutta and will keep him from earning enough to save the family farm.  In his stead, his boy Haakon volunteers, though he has never sailed before.  Haakon is in for the trip of a lifetime, learning the ropes as quickly as he can.  But when the captain suddenly dies, Merrick takes command, and leads the ship into a deadly storm.  Shipwrecked on an island and all alone, Haakon will survive on his wits until help arrives, all the while knowing that pirates will soon be coming his way.

Revisiting a childhood favorite is never a great idea, since it can’t possibly live up to what you remember.  But Shipwrecked fared as well as can be expected, not disappointing exactly, but not standing the test of time.  It’s a simple adventure tale, easy to follow, easy to watch, and I see why I loved it as a 9-year-old boy.  Haakon Haakonsen remains one of the greatest movie names in history, and Gabriel Bryne as the villain Merrick was a brilliant casting.  But the movie as a whole was only OK, watched as an adult.  The action is fairly unbelievable, the acting is a little silly, and there’s a man in an ape costume pretending to be a sympathetic gorilla that is almost laughably out of place.  Show this movie to the young once they’re old enough to watch a little light violence, but maybe stay away from it yourself.

My rating: ☆ ☆ ☆