Month: August 2021

Movie Review – The Lincoln Lawyer

Category : Movie Review

Director: Brad Furman

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Ryan Phillippe, Marisa Tomei

Year: 2011

Oh the McConaughey magic, but oh the bad films he chooses.  The Lincoln Lawyer starts as a Michael Connelly book, and that means throwaway.  You know it’s gonna be filled with cliches, supposed twists, and “clever” humor; they call them page-turners for a reason, but they also never really call them good.  It’s pulp fiction, it’s silly, and so the movie was doomed to be as well, obviously.  McConaughey has that sparkle though, doesn’t he, that little something extra that makes us watch and gets us to fall in love.  He single-handedly saves this film from destruction, and you will find yourself falling for the the many traps, might even end up enjoying yourself in the end; but that doesn’t mean that what you’ve just seen is quality.

Michael “Mick” Haller is a smooth defense attorney who’s a little on the rough side, doing deals from the back seat of his Lincoln, making plans with bikers on the highway, jumping from case to case with the artful grace of a dancer, and slicing up the justice system with a wit that’s just as fine.  His latest case will test his skills, however, as layer upon layer of deceit make his job almost impossible.  A rich young man named Louis Roulet is being charged with attempted murder after a hooker was attacked, assaulted, and only just escaped.  He says he’s innocent, but his story has holes, and Mick is about to stumble into a nest of lies, in which his own family could fall victim to deadly stings.

Michael Connelly isn’t really a good writer, Brad Furman is definitely not a good director, and Lincoln Lawyer is playing with fire from the beginning; good thing Matt was there to save the proverbial day.  He gave the ridiculous ups & downs of the story some credibility, there is some John Grisham courtroom fun, and the cast is interesting (McConaughey, Phillippe, Tomei, Josh Lucas, William H. Macy, John Leguizamo, Michael Peña, Bob Gunton, Bryan Cranston, Frances Fisher, Trace Adkins, Shea Whigham), but, overall, this is a weak film.  It’s based on cliches and standard set pieces, with weird drama that feels borrowed & refurbished.  For some reason, I thought this movie was about a lawyer who mainly worked out of his car, like he was on the outs and didn’t have any money, he was simply wheelin’ & dealin’ his way to success one black eye & broken taillight at a time.  That’s not the way the feel played out though, and I was disappointed, because, basically, this was just a law opera with a little Primal Fear thrown in for good measure.  A mediocre attempt at a middling idea, Lincoln Lawyer has parts that are entertainment but mostly holes that are unforgivable.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆


Movie Review – Star Trek: First Contact

Category : Movie Review

Director: Jonathan Frakes

Starring: Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, James Cromwell

Year: 1996

If Star Trek: Generations wasn’t very good, I suppose we can forgive it; after all, Next Generation had just ended, they were trying to bridge the gap between the famous Kirk/Spock films & something new, the director was an odd choice, and things went a little haywire, we understand.  But First Contact is the good answer to the awkward question, the righting of wrongs, and the Star Trek we all wanted to see.  Frakes takes command, we go back to our history, and the ship is righted, so to speak.  First Contact is a much better attempt to make the TV series into a movie, which can’t have been easy, but succeeds here.

The Enterprise E is now in operation, Picard’s crew have new uniforms, Worf is now in command of a vessel himself, and things are ready to get back on track, until an old enemy resurfaces and attempts worlds domination again; the Borg are back in town.  Picard knows them well, he was one of them for a time, and when the battle strategy against them goes poorly, the Enterprise swoops in to save the day.  And it looks like the day is won, except for a strange sphere that nears Earth and seems to immediately turn it into a Borg planet.  Our heroes follow, and what they discover is a sinister plot; go back in time, stop humans from making first contact during the first warp flight, isolate the factions that survived World World III, and conquer them before they are even aware.  It’s up to Picard & Co. to save the day, starting with keeping the inaugural flight on track, and ending with a war against the Borg that will put Picard’s & Data’s very lives in jeopardy.

Much, much, much better.  Frakes makes this film feel like a two-part episode, nothing more, and that’s exactly what fans of the show wanted from these films, the continuation of the story after a time away, more adventure from our friends in the way we’ve enjoyed countless times before.  This is entertainment delivered to us the way we wanted it, and that’s not always a bad thing, playing down to your audience; sometimes fans deserve to be treated, and I think Star Trek fans have earned that treat.  Stewart’s personal battles are great here, Data’s as well, both much better told than in the first film, and if we don’t get much from the other characters, well, are they really very good actors anyway?  All the gang are back, we get James Cromwell & Alfre Woodard, the Borg are ultra-evil enemies, enough time has passed that there are some cool changes; all is right in the universe once again.  Even if we peak here, and Insurrection & Nemesis aren’t any good, at least we had this one.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆


Sports – 2021 Fantasy Football: RBs & WRs

Category : Sports

With the season beginning soon and many fantasy drafts planned for the next few weekends, it’s time to prep for your 2021 Fantasy Football team. Here is my advice/predictions as it relates to running backs and wide receivers:


  • CMC – I grabbed Christian McCaffrey in a trade last year, hoping he would make it back from his injury, and even though that didn’t work out, I have no hard feelings.  He is a spectacular running back, almost as good a wide receiver, and can take your fantasy team to the playoffs almost single-handedly.  There is no better option this year for the first pick; not just first RB picked but also the first pick over all.  This is it, this is as easy as it gets, just draft CMac, don’t over-think it.
  • Second Tier – If CMC is on a level all his own, then the group right behind him aren’t that far behind.  If you can’t get the best in the game, grab a guy from the next best bunch as soon as you possibly can.  Barkley, Henry, Kamara, Cook, Elliott; you’d be lucky to have any from this group on your team, and I think they’re capable of leading your club, assuming you can give them some support.  If you miss out, grab Chubb, Jones, Jacobs, Dobbins, or Taylor, and you’ll still have a solid back to build a team on the back of.
  • Middle of the Pack – There is a great group of young RBs right in the middle of the pack that could be incredible assets this year, so grab one or two and thank me later.  Especially for the value, because they aren’t super high up the list, these guys will be killer picks if they work out the way they’re capable of.  Antonio Gibson, Austin Ekeler, Chris Carson, Joe Mixon; this is a value group, because they all have great potential and they won’t cost you an arm & a leg.  Last but not least, try out Najee Harris, the rookie back for Pittsburgh; who knows how well he’ll actually do, but the ceiling is extremely high.
  • New Roles – Then there’s a group that have new roles, whether by free agency or the draft or injury to another player, so their value is questionable, and I wouldn’t pick them as more than backups.  Darrell Henderson, James Conner, Mike Davis, Javonte Williams; it’s anyone’s guess how these dudes will do, but they have potential to be impact players on their teams, as well as part of your fantasy squad.  If Melvin Gordon ever gets hurt, Williams could be a steal, and if Henderson can hold on to the Rams starting job, he could get tons of points (watch out for Sony Michel, though).
  • Deep Dives – If you want to take a bigger chance, go down the list and nab some backs who won’t be on many radars and just might prove to be diamonds in the rough.  David Montgomery is lackluster Chicago, Miles Sanders the same in Philly, James Robinson coming off a nice year, James Conner at the goal line for the Cardinals, Raheem Mostert if he can stay healthy, Zach Moss if he can claim the starting role; if you’re willing to roll the dice in a later round one of these guys might just come up a winner, just don’t reach too early because there will be safer bets available.


  • GB – If you’re lucky enough to get Davante Adams and Aaron Rodgers on your team, I think you’ve got a winning pair that might take you all the way to the championship.  Adams is by far the best receiver in the league, and he could be the top fantasy wideout as well.  He is incredible, off the charts, so good, and could catapult you toward a trophy.  I also think he works even better as a companion piece to Rodgers in Green Bay, so try to get ’em both if you can; you won’t regret it.
  • The Chefs – A couple years ago it was a surprise, but this year don’t be caught without players from Kansas City, because that team scores.  Mahomes & Kelce & whatever running back they throw in there (Clyde E-H) we know about, but don’t forget about Tyreek Hill, as much as his off-the-field problems might turn you away.  This is fantasy football, I try to keep that stuff separate, I’m just picking statistics, and if other owners are willing to let Hill slide that’s just a bonus for you, because he’s the KC WR that you should have.
  • Pair Up – I’m a big believer in pairing a QB with the WR; I understand that having too many players from one team on your fantasy team can lead to let downs if that one team has a bad day, but I don’t think one QB/WR combo is too much; if your QB has a bad day you’re in for trouble anyway.  So pick one of these top duos: Mahomes/Hill, Murray/Hopkins, Rodgers/Adams, Brady/Godwin, Tannehill/Brown, Ben/JuJu, Wilson/Metcalf, Dak/Lamb, Allen/Diggs.
  • Unpaired – The good thing about getting a top wideout is that, when you play a team with your WR’s QB, you have them blocked, like playing a team with Mahomes you know he’s gonna throw to your Hill, so you don’t have as much to worry about.  The opposite is true about the Bengals, the Chargers, the Broncos, the Panthers, the Rams; they have two or three receivers who all rank the same, and not extremely high, so you have no idea which one will score and block a team who trots out their QB.  That’s a good reason to get a passer who you can’t predict, but it’s a bad reason to get one of a group of receivers who might score or get blanked on any given day.
  • Avoidance – And now for some team’s receivers to avoid, for various reasons.  Deebo has emerged for San Francisco, but it’s hard to trust him because of his injuries, and the team as a whole is a question mark.  Lions WRs are just too inconsistent because so is the team, and I don’t trust Golladay any more.  Same for the Pats, who will run more than they ever have before, with Gronk gone and Brady gone.  Cle, Min, Jax, NO, NYJ; just not enough passing offense to warrant high WR picks, so steer clear until later rounds.


Movie Review – The Orange Years: The Nickelodeon Story

Category : Movie Review

Director: Scott Barber, Adam Sweeney

Starring: Marc Summers, Keenan Thompson, Melissa Joan Hart

Year: 2018

The Orange Years is a walk through my own childhood, with a TV channel holding my hand the entire way.  Those Orange Years, Nickelodeon from the mid 80s to the late 90s, defined my growing up, and, actually, helped me grow up.  As pointed out in the documentary, these were changing times for children; mothers were going to work, parents were getting divorced, technology was being introduced, we were scared and alone and confused and needed some friends.  Nickelodeon was that companion, that comfort in the morning, after school, and at night when everyone else was busy with their own lives.  And these were the golden days, or Orange Years, if you will, filled with shows that are more than iconic, they’re monuments, and, at the times, they were pure magic.

Nickelodeon began humbly and awkwardly, as the first television channel solely devoted to kids, but without the budget, knowledge, or direction required to make it big.  It was an experiment in entertaining kids that had the potential to die out early, and the programming simple wasn’t there; shows were brought in from other countries, dubbed, and released, but it wasn’t until You Can’t Do That On Television from Canada and a little game show called Double Dare that things really got swinging.  Introducing the orange splat and white type face, the company took a chance with original shows & wacky writing; what followed was history.  Doug, Rugrats, Ren & Stimpy, Rocko, Hey Dude, Pete & Pete, Clarissa Explains It All, Salute Your Shorts, Alex Mack, All That, Kenan & Kel, Nick Arcade, Guts, Legends of the Hidden Temple; these shows are historic, and gave kids the companions they needed, just when they needed them most.

Watching this documentary was like watching my own timeline unfold; I didn’t know until I saw it how much I grew up with these shows, and how much they meant to me.  It was emotional to watch the progression and growth of Nickelodeon, because I was growing then to, and little did I know how much this channel was concerned for me, was helping me, and had my enjoyment in mind.  Geraldine Laybourne was a genius and a visionary, someone who let artists do their work, let kids be kids, and knew what we needed from a place that we could call our own.  Not until Nickelodeon sold its soul and became like Disney did the magic stop, but we’ll always have the Orange Years to look back on and remember fondly, because they gave us so much to love.  These were shows that were our friends, our teachers, and our outlets; we didn’t know then how thankful we were for them, but we know it now, looking back, and it’s something that I’ll never forget.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆


Movie Review – Centurion

Category : Movie Review

Director: Neil Marshall

Starring: Michael Fassbender, David Morissey, Olga Kurylenko

Year: 2010

Centurion marks the 3000th film I’ve seen, which isn’t a ton for a film critic perhaps, but I think is for your average movie fan, so there you go.  Since I’ve started watching more professionally, I’ve averaged about 200 new movies a year, so it’ll take me about five years to reach 4000; maybe I’ll throw myself a little party in ten when I reach 5.  Anyway, this film has that minor personal distinction, but other than that it’s a fairly throwaway movie.  Michael Fassbender is a megastar, a supertalent, but even he can’t save what feels slightly worse than a History Channel original, since it never owned what it was, instead constantly fighting to be something it just could not.

As Rome battles Britannia, the legions begin to weary & to weaken, for the native Picts don’t fight with honor; they hide, ambush, burn, and run away, never standing toe to toe with the Romans, surviving as guerilla warriors in their own forests.  Quintus Dias, a commander of the cohorts, is the last survivor of a Pict raid on a Roman outpost, and is taken prisoner by their chief, who wishes to know his enemy better.  Escaping to safety and the command of General Titus Virilus, Quintus finds himself turning around and heading back into enemy territory, this time with a warrior scout who promises to lead the legions to the stronghold of the Brits.  But warfare in the north, beyond Hadrian’s Wall, is a nasty, shocking, bloody business, and trust is harder to find than the way back home.

Centurion has one hell of a cast: Fassbender, Morissey, Kurylenko, Dominic West, Liam Cunningham, Riz Ahmed, Imogen Poots, the guy who played Bib Fortuna in Star Wars.  But its being cast with stars much like 300, its featuring a ton of blood much like 300, its graphic novel feel much like 300; none of that was enough to push the film over the edge into grand territory.  Perhaps because the movie didn’t commit, it played it safe instead, flirting with comic book dramatics but stopping short, which made the entire thing feel over-produced, over-rehearsed, over-CGIed, and just plain bland.  There was a story here, a rather simple one really, there were good characters, and there was some action that actually felt more historically accurate than some I’ve seen; the idea the people can get stabbed in battle other than straight through the gut, whereupon they instantly die, shouldn’t be this novel.  But the film as a whole felt a little wooden and a little amateurish, like the director bit off more than he could chew and the final product was doomed to showcase that fact.

My rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆


Movie Review – Without Remorse

Category : Movie Review

Director: Stefano Sollima

Starring: Michael B. Jordan, Jodie Turner-Smith, Jamie Bell

Year: 2021

It makes sense that Without Remorse has the same director as Sicario: Day of the Soldado, and the same writer too; neither films are any good.  In Taylor Sheridan’s defense, he started well: Sicario, Hell or High Water, Wind River.  But he’s kinda sucked since then: Day of the Soldado, Without Remorse, Those Who Wish Me Dead.  The pair team up together again here, and, honestly, with worse result, as even Michael B. Jordan & Tom Clancy can’t save the day.  What a disappointing movie, for such a anticipated event, a let-down from any angle.

Navy SEAL John Kelly takes part in a rescue mission in Syria, only to find his world turned upside down as a direct result of his role there.  His team is murdered, his wife is accidentally killed, and Kelly himself is shot multiple times, though he survives and vows to find the killers.  But the CIA isn’t being very helpful; they want the matter closed, for reasons they won’t disclose.  So Kelly goes rogue, and attempts to find the men responsible himself, even if it means abandoning his commanders, his country, his humanity, and everything he once held dear.

MBJ is a stud, he’s a great actor, and I always like seeing him.  That said, he’s no good here.  Or, perhaps more specifically, his character is no good here, as each line, mannerism, and choice seem manufactured from random keys being punched on a broken typewriter.  The writing & dialogue of Without Remorse are so horrible that you’d swear it was a joke, a mockery of the genre, or at least you hope someone was having fun at someone’s expense, because otherwise …yeesh.  Pretty shocking from Sheridan, who can be a good writer; maybe not so shocking from Sollima, who must not be a very good director.  And the cast was …questionable: Turner-Smith, Billy Elliott, Guy Pearce, no one else for more than three seconds.  I didn’t care about Kelly, I didn’t believe the plot, and if another cliche crept up behind me I was gonna scream.  I recommend that you pass on the movie, maybe just read the book, if you’re a big Clancy fan; otherwise just pass all together.

My rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆


Sports – 2021 Fantasy Football: QBs

Category : Sports

With the season beginning soon, and many fantasy drafts planned for the next few weekends, it’s time to prep for your 2021 Fantasy Football team. Here is my advice/predictions as it relates to quarterbacks:

  • Numero Uno – There is no better QB prospect this season than Patrick Mahomes, the stud who has lit up the league the last couple years.  His numbers are consistent, even a step down would still land him near the top of the list, and you can trust in Mahomes.  Pick Pat and a slew of other Chiefs to start for your team; you’ll be thanking them during your playoffs.  The only other real #1 option is Josh Allen, so pick your favorite and roll the dice.
  • Teamwork – While you don’t want to get too many players from one team in case they have a bad game, a lot of top tier QBs have a top tier wideout to go with them, and picking the pair might not be a bad idea.  Mahomes-Hill, Murray-Hopkins, Rodgers-Adams, Allen-Diggs, Wilson-Metcalf, Roethlisberger-Juju, Brady-Godwin, Tannehill-Brown; you could do much worse than to have these duos on your team.
  • Red Zone – And speaking of Murray, there’s reason to believe that Kyler could have a killer year.  The first reason is obviously the addition of DeAndre Hopkins last season, but there’s also the fact that Murray is simply growing into his talent and into his coach’s system.  With Edmonds & Connor on the team as well, the sky’s the limit for this mobile quarterback.  He could reach 40 total TDs, and that’s nothing to sneeze at.
  • Father Time – But now for the bad news; not every famous QB deserves a spot on top of your fantasy depth chart.  The older they get the more their skill falls off, that’s just proven fact, so be mindful of the senior class.  Brady is going to take a step back this year, it has to happen, I think that’s inevitable …right? …no? …and I wouldn’t be surprised if Fitzpatrick with a new team and maybe even Matt Ryan step back with him.  Guys like Carr, Cousins, Big Ben, and Wentz might be falling off the radar or at least suspect, and they aren’t even that old; father time is undefeated.
  • Bounce Back – There are a few signal callers who aren’t as coveted as perhaps they once were, but there’s a chance they bounce back up to the top, so be there to nab them if you think they might trend upward.  Dak could have a resurgent year after his injury last season, but perhaps he’s not a surprise any longer, so someone will take him too high; get one of the guys who might come a little cheaper.  Stafford, Herbert, Tannehill, Hurts, Mayfield; you could do worse than someone from this group, just be willing to wait a while before making the move.
  • The Untouchables – Unfortunately, every year there is a group of guys who you just simply can’t draft, at least not until they’ve proven themselves surprisingly worthy, and in that case you just pick them up from the waiver wire.  Goff, Darnold, Newton, Winston, Zach Wilson; they don’t have enough talent around them to score enough points for you to consider.

Hope this helps, and good luck!

Movie Review – The NeverEnding Story II

Category : Movie Review

Director: George Miller

Starring: Jonathan Brandis, Kenny Morrison, Clarissa Burt

Year: 1990

Like the second half of the Ende book, the second installment of The NeverEnding Story is bad on its own and atrocious when compared to the first.  It’s a story I’ve read to my kids, and movies I’ve shared with them as well, with the full knowledge that the first half/first film is far superior to the second half/second film, in about every way that’s possible.  If you remember these characters fondly from your childhood but only watched the original movie, I wouldn’t advise catching up on the sequel now; it (and its ungodly followup, Part III) doesn’t deserve your time.

Bastian is back in Fantasia because he heard the Childlike Empress calling out to him, telling him that the dream world is in trouble once again.  This time, a nameless hollowness is taking over the beauty of the land, eating away at feelings, memories, and love, until there’s nothing left inside.  Teaming up with Atreyu & Falkor once more, Bastian will go on a mission to stop an evil queen from conquering the world & stealing its soul.  But his own soul will be in danger before long, as he must face his lack of courage and overcome his fears, if the memory of Fantasia is to go on.

I will say this; NeverEnding Story II was slightly better than I dreaded it would be. I hadn’t seen it in 25 years, and although I remembered it as being pretty weak, I was pretty sure it was much worse than that.  But, it turns out, there was still fun to be had, at least a little.  The story is rich, interesting, the characters are cool, but then you remember that everything was better the first time, and this time around everything is just a hollow shell.  The only thing that really improves is Bastian; Jonathan Brandis was my childhood hero, I loved him, and was so sad when he died.  His acting is nice, the rest is pale, and, like the second half of the book, the second in the series is basically & simply a dud, whether you can choose to enjoy it or not.

My rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆


Movie Review – Deep Blue Sea

Category : Movie Review

Director: Renny Harlin

Starring: Saffron Burrows, Thomas Jane, LL Cool J

Michael Rapaport, Samuel L. Jackson, Stellan Skarsgard

Year: 1999

I wish everyone had simply died at the end of Deep Blue Sea; that would have made things slightly more bearable.  As it was, I wished death upon them for everything they had put me through, from the bad acting to the worst action sequences you will ever see; this movie isn’t for the faint of heart.  It’s one of the more terrible, horrible, no good, very bad creature features ever made, and it should be ashamed to exist.  If one more character was bitten in half I think I might have lost the will to live; as it is, I’ve almost lost the will to watch movies.

Scientists at a partially-underwater research facility race to find the cure to human diseases through the power of sharks, as they inch closer & closer to a breakthrough.  Not fast enough though, and coupled with a shark escape, the funding is about to be cut off, until they bring the financier to the station so that he can see for himself the miracle about to be produced.  Well, that doesn’t go very well, because the sharks get loose, they’re artificially super intelligent, they begin to destroy the facility, and death rides on ghastly waves.

Oh dear god, the acting.  I had trouble focusing on much else, at most times, because the acting was so horrible; I wanted all the torture just to end and the film just not to exist.  This is an example of what not to do, how not to be on screen, and I’m shocked it was released at all, once producers saw it and were smacked in the face by the supreme lack of talent.  Then there’s the CGI, which is bad, and the plot, which is bad, and the action, which is bad, and the …everything, which is so bad no one should ever watch Deep Blue Sea ever, ever again.

My rating: ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆


Movie Review – Star Trek: Generations

Category : Movie Review

Director: David Carlson

Starring: Patrick Stewart, William Shatner, Malcolm McDowell

Year: 1994

I just finished Star Trek: The Next Generation, which was the first time I had ever sat down to watch the whole series, and I have to say, it was phenomenal.  What a show, what great ideas, what progressive possibilities, and what a family of characters to fall in love with.  STNG is an instant favorite, I had no idea what I was missing when I only saw it in pieces before, I now I can rewatch the four films that followed; though, again, I’ve seen them before, but not in order, not all of them, not with the knowledge I have now.  But we’re off to a rocky start, because Star Trek: Generations is an absolutely terrible movie, one that they got all wrong, and one that I hope they didn’t copy when they created the other three.

After a rousing holodeck ceremony onboard the Enterprise, Captain Picard receives terrible news; his distant brother & beloved nephew have died.  But grief will have to be put on hold, confrontations with death delayed, when a stellar observatory is attacked, all those present killed except the strange Dr. Soran, who claims that he has extremely important business that the Enterprise must not interfere with.  Kidnapping Geordi, and with the help of an infamous pair of Klingon sisters, Soran flees Picard and plots to destroy an entire star, in an effort to return to a Nexus where joy becomes eternal and all your wildest dreams are manufactured for you.  With the help of Captain James Kirk, who was presumed dead years before when he encountered the Nexus on a previous model of the Enterprise, Picard must stop Soran, save his crew, and face his worst fears.

I knew something was wrong from the beginning, and it rarely ever got better.  The film starts with a little tale of Kirk, complete with Scotty & Chekov, which is cool, but felt old.  Then there’s a holodeck party, and that was just plain stupid.  It set a bad tone, and the mood never got better; Data was wacky, Picard was sad, none of the other main STNG characters were featured, and everyone flew about in explosions in a way that people mock Star Trek for, not in a way that it actually watches when you see the series.  This film version of what I love so much was a complete disaster, and a huge letdown.  The villain sucks, the action sucks, the weird universes/times/Nexuses suck, even the lighting sucked, a weird yellow-green that wasn’t at all what the Enterprise “really” looks like; there really isn’t much good to point at.  It was nice to see my friends again, it was nice to hear their voices, I liked that we learned more about Guinan, I will always admire Stewart’s acting, but the rest of Generations falls extremely flat, and that’s putting it nicely.

My rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆