Monthly Archives: August 2022

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Movie Review – The Gray Man

Category : Movie Review

Director: The Russo Brothers

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Ana de Armas, Chris Evans

Year: 2022

One of the better films of 2022 (almost despite itself),  The Gray Man is a bit James Bond, a bit Drive, a bit Man on Fire, and a bit The Nice Guys, a sometimes-funny, always-rocking shoot-em-up movie that at least entertains.  It’s an odd combination of a hundred action thrillers you’ve seen before, complete with safe houses, alpha teams, revenge tales, back stories, angry cell phone calls, high powered weaponry, and all the stab wounds you can endure.  A Netflix original that finally feels less like TV and more like cinema (albeit silly cinema), Gray Man is a breath of fresh air and a killer good time.

Code named ‘Six’, this shadow agent has been saved from a life in jail, trained to kill, and let loose on America’s enemies.  He is deadly, disposable, and hardly exists; the perfect too for our sneaky government.  Six’s latest assignment is to kill a fellow Number-Only, but he quickly learns that there’s a reason the powers that be want Four’s mouth shut.  Now on the run and holding a dangerous secret, Six must stay live long enough to learn the truth, protect the few people he cares about, and take down the system that brought him up.

Gray Man really is one of the year’s best movies so far, but maybe that’s somewhat due to a lack of competition.  It definitely has its pluses: Ryan Gosling is great, stoic & funny in turn, Chris Evans is an excellent choice for the douche-y bad guy, you want to smack that mustache right off his face, and there is never one single boring moment, there are fights around every corner and in every crack between scenes.  The minuses are there too though: the side cast *really* sucks, like can’t act at all, or at least can’t make their stale, stereotypical characters come to life, and some of the fight scenes are a little unbelievable.  It really is like Bond, an over-the-top assassin/espionage flick with humor and death galore, but taken to the next level and pushed to be even deadlier.  It’s exciting, captivating, will make for a cool rewatch, and offers audiences the chance to escape into a wild two hours; not Oscar stuff, of course, but I’ll take it as a late summer blockbuster.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

 


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Sports – Super Bowl 57 Odds

Category : Sports

The 2022 NFL season has already begun in earnest, at least to super fans, with the opening of Free Agency and the completion of the NFL Draft.  Now it’s on to Rookie camps, Mini-Camps, OTAs, all the prep work for a long & grueling season.  We also have the start of Training Camps, and in September the Regular Season begins.  The end of the year, culminating in the 57th Super Bowl, might seem a long way off, but February will come quickly, and, in Las Vegas at least, odds-makers are preparing to call the game.  Here are the current Super Bowl favorites according to Bovada:

 

1. Buffalo Bills

2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

3. Kansas City Chiefs

4. Green Bay Packers

5. Los Angeles Rams

6. Los Angeles Chargers

7. Denver Broncos

8. San Francisco 49ers

9. Dallas Cowboys

10. Baltimore Ravens

11. Cincinnati Bengals

12. Indianapolis Colts

13. Philadelphia Eagles

14. Cleveland Browns

15. Arizona Cardinals

16. Tennessee Titans

17. Las Vegas Raiders

18. Miami Dolphins

19. Minnesota Vikings

20. New England Patriots

21. New Orleans Saints

22. Washington Commanders

23. Pittsburgh Steelers

24. Carolina Panthers

25. Jacksonville Jaguars

26. New York Giants

27.New York Jets

28. Chicago Bears

29. Detroit Lions

30. Seattle Seahawks

31. Atlanta Falcons

32. Houston Texans


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Book Review – Allies

Category : Book Review

Author: Alan Gratz

Year: 2019

For a young audience, Gratz does the leg work and summarizes the WWII D-Day experience in a way that is easy to understand and easy to feel a part of.  His hit book, Refuge, brought audiences into a real-life experience so that they could see it from the inside, and now he has done the same with perhaps the most important event in the history of our culture.  Allies is an opportunity to live through an incredibly dangerous and meaningful day, and for kids to be excited about history in a way text books just can’t duplicate.

D-Day has come, and the Allied forces have arrayed themselves to invade & retake France, pushing the Nazis back in what could be the beginning of the end of the most horrible war in human history.  Thousands of people from many different countries are brought together for a single purpose; to take the beaches of Normandy, to find a foothold for the Allies, and to begin the push through Europe into Berlin.  Every tale connected, every act important, event shot fired a shot at survival; this is a day that we will never forget.

Gratz takes fictional accounts from many different angles and aims them all at the beach, at the fight to turn the tide.  American infantry, Canadian paratroopers, British tankers, French resistance fighters; so many groups had so many roles to play, and although none of them went perfectly smoothly, the vast number of pieces that had to fall into place for D-Day to go right is staggering.  This is a great chance to relive history, and for kids to understand what was happening, to step into the shoes of those involved and march forward with them.  Not a propaganda piece, but definitely a show of Western fortitude, Allies is a look into something both awesome and very sad, and I’m happy (my son was as well) to have read something so simple and so helpful.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

 


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Movie Review – The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Category : Movie Review

Director: Marc Webb

Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx

Year: 2014

Spidey is back at it, in another edition of the Andrew Garfield Peter Parkers, two years after the first did incredibly well.  It worked because it was the old comic books with new, extremely talented young actors, and they made the story fresh, while the writers kept it grounded.  It may have been a little cheesy at times, this one is too, but it’s a cheese we can swallow, and will even enjoy.  I know the Marvel hits are great, I love Tom Holland in the role, but something about this pair of Spider-Flicks work very well for me personally, and now I think they are my definite favorites.

Peter is giving Gwen up, because he doesn’t want her to be in danger when he has to be Spider-Man …or is he?  They can’t seem to quite let each other go, but maybe they need each other, and Spidey could definitely use a pal to help him take down the bad guys, because they keep coming.  At Oscorp, an unloved man finally feels seen when he becomes electrified, the new owner of the company wants spider venom to make him powerful, a crazy tattooed criminal wants to be unstoppable; three villains, coming your way, with a side of intrigue, as Peter also tries to figure out why his parents left him & what they were up to.

If the first Amazing had a great cast, Amazing 2 left it in the dust.  Garfield, Stone, Foxx, Dane DeHaan, Felicity Jones, Paul Giamatti, Sally Field, Marton Csokas, BJ Novak, Aidy Bryant; wild times.  And, what’s more, all the star power didn’t detract from the story, which was cool, and didn’t overload the acting sensors; the characters were still spot on.  Well, maybe not DeHaan, who I love, but he was a little odd.  Other than that, the action was intense, the plot moved, the movie was very connected to the first, and left the door open for a third.  We could see more of Garfield in the future, and I, for one, would love that.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

 


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Movie Review – The Amazing Spider-Man

Category : Movie Review

Director: Marc Webb

Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans

Year: 2012

Although the Tobey Maguire Spider-Man will always be the real Spider-Man in my heart, the Tom Holland one has grown on me as well, after watching him in so many Marvel films and his own franchise.  But I never did dive into the Andrew Garfield version, and so I thought it was high time I remedied that, especially after that one thing that happens in that one movie that I can’t talk about because it would be a spoiler even though it’s getting pretty old by now.  Anyway, I went back to check out the Garfield Parkers, and I’ve got to say, this might be my favorite iteration yet.

Peter Parker is just your friendly neighborhood high school kid, albeit a little dorky, too much into science, and with an odd family situation; he lives with his Aunt & Uncle, after his parents disappeared and died under mysterious circumstances.  Now, Peter wants to know what his dad was up to, and so poses as an intern at OsCorp, an excellent science lab right in the heart New York City, where a genius named Dr. Curt Connors is working of hybrid species and animal mutations.  Peter accidentally gets bitten by a spider test subject and gains enormous powers, but with them come equally large responsibilities.

It’s pretty obvious why this Spider-Man version works so well; its stars are incredible actors.  This film is lucky enough to have Garfield & Stone before they were mega giant super duper stars, but when their talent was already off the charts.  They lead the story, their acting is incredible, and it’s only when they *aren’t* talking that the film takes a dip, which is backward from almost every other comic book action flick.  The story is awesome, this is a great way to introduce Spidey, the supporting cast is nice (Denis Leary, Martin Sheen, Sally Field), and the only real problem is the cheesy rah rah feel and the clunky CGI action.  Putting some small concerns aside, this is the best Spider-Man movie I’ve seen (other than Spiderverse), and I’m so happy I get to watch another.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

 


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