Sunday, April 28, 2013

I've had a chance to attend quite a few screenings lately but have unfortunately fallen behind on my reviews.  So for these three recent movies that I saw I'll be giving you mini reviews on them.  And I would encourage if you have any questions to ask in the comments section!

I actually got to attend The To-Do List about a month ago.  The film as you can see from the movie poster was originally scheduled for release on Valentine's Day.  But was postponed til August 16th, 2013.  The film stars Aubrey Plaza as a teen graduating high school making a "Sex" To-Do List before she enters college.  Any movie that starts with the song "Me So Horny" by 2 Live Crew cannot do well.  The film reminds you a lot of why the 1990s was not a great decade.  But other than that the jokes mostly fall flat as Aubrey's deliveries.  Another tell tale sign of this movie's certain demise was when Aubrey interrupted Will Farrell's award speech at the MTV Movie Awards to gain some publicity for her movie.  I give this film 1.0 star out of 5.0.  Avoid it like the plague.

I had the chance to attend the New York red carpet premiere of Kon-Tiki last Monday.  The movie because of it's story and setting has a very Life of Pi feel to it.  The true story is about a Norwegian scientist along with five others attempting to prove that ancient South Americans could have traveled to the Polynesian Islands on a raft.  The story is very interesting and have quite a few spots of humor and excitement. But compared to Life of Pi, it's far inferior.  I would still highly recommend the movie though and give it 3.0 stars out of 5.0.  The movie was released in Norway late last year and was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Film.  It was released in the US this past weekend.

I was able to see The Big Wedding this past Wednesday.  The ensemble comedy has no shortage of big stars and does a great job in getting them together and giving each equal film time.  Just to name a few, the film starred Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton, Susan Sarandon, Katherine Heigl, Amanda Seyfried, Robin Williams and more.  Given the A list of celebrities, you would expect an amazing film.  But compared to other wedding comedies, the laugh just wasn't as great.  It's still a good film to enjoy over the weekend, but it gets 2.5 stars out of 5.0 from me.  For a better wedding comedy watch either Meet the Parents (2000) or Bridemaids (2011).  If not, you can catch the film now as it was released this weekend.

Friday, April 26, 2013

If you're an entertainment or comic book geek in the New York City area, be sure to check out the upcoming two conventions by Wizard World.  First up is Philadelphia Comic Con on May 30th - June 2nd, followed by the New York Experience on June 28th - June 30th.  Wizard World has a long history of putting together great comic book conventions.  They have had aspirations of reaching and exceeding San Diego Comic Con and New York Comic Con and their two latest offering seems to bring them a step closer.

One of the things that have always set Wizard World apart from their counterparts is the level of celebrities attending as most everything else is the same from comic book guests to exhibitors   This year they have an amazing line up of guests for Philadelphia as well as the remaining shows on their schedule.

Here is a partial guest list for Philadelphia:
WWE Superstar Daniel Bryan and John Cena
Actors William Shatner, Nathan Fillion, John Barrowman and Henry Winkler
Comic Book Legend Stan Lee
Comic Book Artists Leinil Yu, Bryan Hitch, Salvador Larroca and Barry Kitson

To see the full list of guests and buy tickets visit their site:

While attending the convention in Philadelphia be sure to visit the Reading Terminal across the street from the convention center for great food!

Here is a partial guest list for New York:
Walking Dead Cast Members Laurie Holden, Norman Reedus, Michael Rooker, Chandler Riggs, and Jon Bernthal
Actors Patrick Stewart, Wil Wheaton and Dean Cain
Hockey Legend Brian Leetch
Comic Book Legend Stan Lee
Comic Book Artists Humberto Ramos, Jim Cheung, and Michael Golden

To see the full list of guests and buy tickets visit their site:

While attending the convention in New York be sure to visit Chinatown for some great cheap food!

Most if not all guests requires a fee for autographs and photo opportunity in addition to admission.  The upside to this is that usually the lines are shorter and you're able to interact with the guests more than the free autographs at New York Comic Con.  I plan to attend, do you?  Hope to see you there.  If you're not, be sure to check back that week for our coverage of the conventions!

(image source:

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Plot from
A trio of bodybuilders in Florida get caught up in an extortion ring and a kidnapping scheme that goes terribly wrong.



I was able to catch Pain & Gain last night courtesy of Paramount Pictures and David Barton Gym.  Pain & Gain is a star studded comedy, crime, character piece based on various true stories in Miami during 1999.  The true story involves a gang of criminals that included body builders which kidnapped, extorted, tortured and killed, which makes the subject matter quite dark.  But what Michael Bay has done with the cast of Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson and Anthony Mackie and an amazing supporting cast of Rebel Wilson, Ed Harris and Ken Jeong is hilarious.  Mark Wahlberg plays the hot headed body builder ring leader, Daniel Lugo.  His plans are quite on the whim and logical so naturally they of course blow up in face.  Dwayne Johnson as the born again Christian ex con, Paul Doyle, has some of the best scenes and lines.  I actually enjoy seeing him in roles that is not your typical action role so his natural charisma shines.  Anthony Mackie is the impotent buddy to Daniel, Adrian Doorbal along with his wife Rebel Wilson as Ramona Eldridge is hilarious together.  Ken Jeong has a small cameo in the beginning, playing his typical role.  

What really amazes me is that the movie is based on a true story or true stories.  The film can easily have been named Murphy's Law, given the amount of things that go against the gang.  And in case you forget that the movie is based on a true story, they reminds you toward the end amidst the craziness as it unfolds for the gang.  If the movie is trying to teach the audience something, it's that as great as your American dream may be, it will always be limited by your stupidity!

Overall, I really enjoyed the film.  The movie was amazingly made on a $25 million dollar budget with Mark and Dwayne forgoing their salary for a cut of post market earnings.  I gave the film 4.0 stars out of 5.0.  The movie is out this Friday April 26th.  You can catch the trailer here.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Plot from
A promising hip-hop rhymer from Los Angeles finds herself in a gray area when a record producer offers her a compromising shot at stardom.



I was able to catch Filly Brown this past Wednesday courtesy of AMC Stubs.  It's open to limited release tomorrow April 19th.  If you've watch the trailer, you can't help but draw comparisons to Eminem's 8 Mile.  The opening scene is similar with the lead character Majo who later adopts the stage name Filly Brown on a bus passing the downtrodden areas of East LA.  Majo is played brilliantly by Gina Rodriguez who it not a natural rapper like Eminem but plays the role like a seasoned professional.  Majo is an aspiring hip hop artist who struggles with her family and trying to succeed.

The casting is amazing including Jenni Rivera playing Majo's incarcerated mother in her first and final film.  Jenni Rivera is well known for her singing, unfortunately she along with six others died in a plane crash late 2012.  Another standout in the film is Majo's sister Lupe played by Chrissie Fit.  She has some of the best comedic lines and shows a great repertoire with Gina's character.  Veterans Lou Diamond Phillips and Edward James Olmos, whom I am both big fans of does a good job as father to Majo and Lawyer respectively.  The two different music producers that works with Majo are a little over the top in their character, but in a amusing way.  The music which is an original score just for the film is riveting and catchy especially coming from the smooth voice of Gina.

So with so many positives going for the film, what could possibly go wrong?  Where it falters most is the plot.  The movie tries to do many things with so many side plots going on at the same time.  Besides the main story of Majo's transformation and rise as Filly Brown, we have the story of her dad tried to better himself and his former gang, her sister's Lupe relationships, her relationship with her mother, her mother's situation in jail, her romantic relationship with DJ Santa, etc.  They all tend to tie together but at the same time you're thrown all over the place.

When I attended the screening, before the movie started, we had about a half hour wait.  They blasted one of the main songs in the movie over and over again as they had it on loop.  Such that you can't help but hate the song a little for being overplayed.  Note to future screeners, please do not do that!

Overall, I give the film 3.5 stars out of 5.0 slightly nudging out Oblivion.  You would not be disappointed however seeing either films or even both this weekend.  If you haven't seen 8 Mile before, I would recommend watching Filly Brown first and then 8 Mile.

Plot from
A veteran assigned to extract Earth's remaining resources begins to question what he knows about his mission and himself.


I was able to catch the sci fi film Oblivion last night, which stars Tom Cruise.  The movie is not out until tomorrow April 19th.  The movie to me was a decent sci fi film, which could've been better due to its predictable plot and lack of certain elements you would expect from this type of film.  

In the beginning of the movie we're introduced to Jack Harper (Tom Cruise) who is a technician that fixes drones that protect large rigs that is sucking the remaining ocean water from Earth.  He works with his communication officer Victoria which is also his lover, both wiped free of their prior memories and required to work a certain period of time.  The rigs are supposedly doing so to provide enough energy for the remaining humans of Earth in a giant spaceship in orbit named The Tet for their travel to Saturn's moon Titan.  When Jack and Victoria's assignment is complete they are expected to rejoin society at The Tet to journey to Titan.  Most of the planet has been made uninhabitable due to a war with an alien race called the Scavengers with humanity as the winners.  Or did they?  

Spoilers in the next paragraph, skip it if you don't want to be spoiled...

Predictably, at least to me, the scavengers turns out to the be last remaining human resistance to the true aliens, which is actually the owners of The Tet.  Once you figured that out, then you start to question the plot, like why would the aliens with such superior technology create this system of a technician and a communication officers to monitor the rigs.  Why the charade of planting false memories and keeping the original memories of Jack Harper which slowly seeps through the surface?  The reason obviously, so we can have a story of independence, exploration and defiance.  The last gripe to me which is a big one is that we never get to see the actual aliens.  Unless you considering what seems to be a giant sentient ship to be the alien.

Overall, I give the movie a 3.0 out of 5.0 stars.  Despite its flaws, it's still a great weekend movie to just get away.  Tom Cruise doesn't shine in this movie despite being the star of the film.  Instead supporting actors Morgan Freeman, Olga Kurylenko and even Andrea Riseborough are the standout performers of the film for me.  

Sunday, April 14, 2013

I won't be using my Filly Brown AMC Stubs screening passes, so I'm giving them away to two lucky subscribers of my post.  Each winner will get a pair of passes.  You'll have to pick them up from me at Rockefeller Center (50th Street/5th Avenue) on Tuesday 4/16 if you win between 8am - 4:00pm ET.  If you cannot do so, please do not enter!

I've already picked up the passes from AMC with my AMC Stubs card so you do not need to be a member to pick them up from me or use them.  The screening will be at AMC 25 on 42nd Street 4/16 at 8:30pm ET.  A Q&A with the cast (filmed? live?) follows the screening!

How to enter...

1) Be a Follower of my blog.  You can do so on the right hand side of this blog --->
2) Comment below with your real name and e-mail in which I can contact you.
3) Tweet for an extra entry about this giveaway and include @geekwithmak.  If you do make sure you include in your comment that you've tweeted.

Please only comment once below.  Multiply entries will disqualify you.

Deadline to enter is Monday 4/15 night at 10:30pm ET.  I will pick two winners Monday night at 11pm ET via and notify the winners.  Good luck!

After spending 19 years on Death Row for the rape and murder of his teenage girlfriend, Daniel Holden is going home. His conviction has been vacated due to new DNA evidence, thrusting him back into a world he no longer knows. Having spent his adult life waiting to die, Daniel must now learn how to live again. But, his reentry into the outside world may be as unforgiving as prison. He is haunted by the past, dogged by the present, and uncertain of the future. As he struggles to adapt to his new life, his return will reignite the fears of a small town and threaten to shatter his family's fragile peace. Daniel's alleged crime divided a community. His freedom could tear it in half.

Yesterday I got to attend a binge screening of Sundance Channel's first original series Rectify.  The screening showed the entire season of six episodes with a Q&A with some of the cast members, it was an exhausting Saturday!  But those that went I have to say the good majority stayed for the entire six episodes, and you would too given how engrossing the show is.  Rectify is the brain child of Ray McKinnon who is known more for his acting roles in series like Deadwood and Sons of Anarchy.  While the producers of the show are well known for their work on the hit  AMC series Breaking Bad.

Rectify is about Daniel Holden played by Aden Young, who is released from death row after being exonerated for rape/murder charges of his girlfriend Hannah due to DNA evidence.  He entered at the age of 18 and served 19 years leaving him a very withdrawn and disconnected from his own humanity.  Despite the DNA evidence freeing him, the District Attorney and Senator are still looking to get him back to trial again.   When he was originally arrested, he was found with the corpse in unusual circumstances and even confessed to the murder.

The story is more than just about the murder mystery that happened 19 years ago.  Rather it's about Daniel and how he adjusts to life again and his family and small town's interaction with him and each other.  How do you go from living each day not being able to touch another person for close to two decades, knowing the date of your death to being a free man?  It's a complex role and Aden does an amazing job.  The other actor that really stood out for me was Adelaide Clemens who plays Tawney Talbot.  She is Daniel's step brother's  wife.  Adelaide is attractive with her innocent looks and naive like demeanor character.  But what may turn some people off is the religious aspect of the character that she plays.  The majority of the cast is great, but Aden definitely stands out in his role.  If there are any gripes with the series is that at some points, each of the episodes seems a bit long.  Maybe it was because I'm watching all six hours straight, or maybe it's the way that each episode runs with approximately a day and a half of time in their lives after Daniel is released.  I think those who are not binge watching may find it easier to watch.

Spoilers in the next paragraph, do not read if you don't want to be spoiled...

The fact that this is Sundance Channel's first original series means that they are of course hoping that it'll be successful.  The first episodes airs on April 22nd, and I hope you will watch it.  The main reason why is yes, I really like the series, and I hope to find out as you're probably wondering if Daniel did indeed raped and murdered his sweetheart 19 years ago.  The first season leaves you with a lot of questions unanswered, including the question of Daniel's innocence.

The cast members that attended the Q&A were J. Cameron-Smith who plays Janet, the mother of Daniel.  Bruce McKinnon, Ted Senior, the step father of Daniel.  And Luke Kirby who plays Jon, the attorney working on Daniel's case whose also have developed a relationship with Daniel's sister Amantha.  They sat through the entire screening with everyone else, which for them was for the most part the first time they've gotten to see the whole series put together instead of just the parts they have acted in.  The event was moderated by Adam B. Vary from Buzzfeed.  From the Q&A an audience member liken the series to David Lynch's Twin Peaks but without the supernatural aspect.  I've never watched Twin Peaks but have heard good things about it, so I guess it's a good point of comparison to start off with.  A question to the cast is that despite the seriousness of the subject matter and the whole show that is definitely a comedy element thrown in periodically throughout the entire season.  Bruce McKinnon comments that he's been a long time associate and friend of series creator Ray McKinnon, that is just very typical of Ray if you know him.

Overall, I would recommend this series, I would give it 3.5 out of 5.0 stars.  Again it'll be on Sundance Channel, premiering April 22nd 2013, 10pm ET.

(image source of 1st image:; all other images are property of

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Last night I got to attend a screening of USA Network's new reality series The Moment.  The screening also featured a Q&A with the Executive Producer Charlie Ebersol and star host of the show, NFL great Kurt Warner.  The Q&A was moderated by Pastor and New York Times best selling author Max Lucado.   The event held at the American Bible Society in New York, was live telecast to over 300 churches and was Christian faith focused.

The Moment if you're not familiar is all about second chances.  The Moment lets the public nominate individuals who through circumstances were never able to pursue their dreams.  The Moments helps nine such individuals in this first season with the premiere episode airing tonight April 11th at 10pm ET.  Kurt Warner as the host shows as the nominees door to give them the good news and connects them to mentors that help train them for their dream job.  After a couple of weeks they're given an interview at their dream job where one of several things can happen.  They can be given a job or rejected.  If they're offered a job, they of course have the choice to accept it, meaning that they drop whatever they're doing now or reject it.

For example, the episode that was screened for us is the upcoming fourth episode that introduces us to Vince who use to be a star football player at the high school and college level.  He played and coached professionally in Europe but had to let that dream go as his father passed away and he had to take care of his mother and wife and newborn baby.  Many years later he owns a successful company and is still with his wife and has two young teenage daughters.  His wife knowing how much he misses on his NFL coaching dream nominates him and he is selected.  I won't tell you what the conclusion of the episode is but Kurt Warner connects him to a mentor that is a former NFL Super Bowl Champion Coach, and the job he is interviewing for is an assistant coaching job with the college football powerhouse Notre Dame.

The episode is great in that it is full of humor, humility and encouragement.  It's rare to find a TV show that doesn't contain adult situations in the form of violence, swearing and sex.  What makes The Moment stands out from other reality series is that it not only tries to help the nine featured individuals on the show but to have a multiplying effect outwards.  In the Q&A, Charlie credits Kurt with requesting this and thanking USA Networks for making it possible.  This is done through their site which allows churches and their members to register and share with each other their unique gifts that God has given them.  Churches by having a database of their members skills and dreams can better match up people and jobs that are needed in their community.  You just do not see too many shows trying to have such a positive impact on groups of people and not just one individual.  Not a Christian or part of a church?  That's fine, because it provides tools for individuals as well that gives you advice and connections on what to do to make that career switch if you want.  Of course some may find that in the pursuit of their dreams, that their dreams is not what they are actually after.  The best part of the websites the show and USA Networks develop is that everything is free to use.

As far as Kurt Warner as a host.  He makes a great example to the nominees in the show given his life story. From bagging groceries at a supermarket to playing in the Arena Football League to playing in the NFL with three Super Bowl appearances winning one of them.  But from the episode I watched his personality doesn't really come out like say a Ryan Seacrest does.  Of course though the focus of the show is on the nominees and not the host so that can be overlooked.

The premise is great, the episode I saw was touching.  But while I can't say this is a must watch TV show based on one episode, I would definitely recommend that you give it a chance.  If the other episodes are as interesting as the one I screened than I will definitely be watching their series all season long.  And to be clear, the show is not a Christian show, but rather a show any family can enjoy.  You can watch a trailer for the series here.

(images are mines, please do not use without permission)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

From IMdb:

The life story of Jackie Robinson and his history-making signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers under the guidance of team executive Branch Rickey.





I attended a screening of the Jackie Robinson biographic film "42" tonight courtesy of Grace Hill Media.  I am a huge fan of baseball and attend baseball games regularly and love to read up on the history of the game.  Because of this I came in with big expectations for 42.  The last two baseball movies I saw were Money Ball and 51*.  Both which I really enjoy and recommend.  Maybe my expectations were too high, but I thought 42 could've been a lot better.  Here's why.

While I thought Harrison Ford and Chadwick Boseman did a wonderful job as Branch Rickey as the Dodgers GM and President and player Jackie Robinson respectively.  The actual life of Jackie Robinson outside the expected racial tensions left little drama in the movie.  It makes for a wonderful inspirational movie, but a lot of dull expected moments for sure.  There are a lot of scenes that are just drawn out making the film two hours and eight minutes long when it could've obviously been much shorter.

What I would've love to have seen as part of the movie is what the baseball stars of Jackie Robinson's era felt about him joining other than his own teammates like Hall of Famer Pee Wee Reese.  The only reference to another big name player was when the Cardinals Hall of Famer Enos Slaughter intentionally tried to injured Jackie running to first.  Non baseball fans would not have known who Slaughter was.

Just the night before I was watching the 1950 movie The Jackie Robinson Story.  I never got to complete it, only watching about 45 minutes.  In comparison, the movie which started at an earlier point in his life was more interesting to watch than 42 from what I saw.  However, the acting paled in comparison.  The reason why I found out today was the actor that played Jackie Robinson was Jackie Robinson himself!  You can check out the original black and white version here.

Would I still recommend this film despite the plodding plot? Yes, as there is still a lot to like in the film.  The performances by Chadwick and Harrison as I've mentioned are superb.  There are some great scenes both comical and emotional in the movie especially toward the end of the film.  The movie talks a lot about God in the life of Branch and Jackie that made for some memorable quotes.  "You're a Methodist  I'm a Methodist, God is a Methodist!" exclaims Branch to Jackie.  All my non baseball fan friends enjoyed the movie. Because of that I'll rate it a 3.0 out of 5.0.

From IMdb:
An art auctioneer who has become mixed up with a group of criminals partners with a hypnotherapist in order to recover a lost painting.


Last night I got a chance to catch a screening of the film Trance which will put you on a roller coaster ride with all its plot twists.  After leaving the theater, I wasn't sure if I liked it or not til much later in the evening.  It was definitely a lot different than the comedies and action movies I've been watching as of late.

First the things I liked.  The actors and actresses.  All did an amazing job in their roles.  As far as James McAvoy's character Simon who plays the art auctioneer with amnesia.  I did not recognize him but kept thinking that I've seen him in a movie recently.  He has an unforgettable face that draws you in.  Seeing his biography, I then realize it was because it was in his amazing performance as Professor X in X-Men: First Class as well several years ago in Wanted.  I actually liked him better in X-Men: First Class but still he did a great job in this role as well.  He definitely plays a gamut of emotions in this movie.  As far as Rosario Dawson's character Elizabeth who plays the hypnotherapist.  I couldn't remember the last time I saw her in a film.  I think it was the mostly forgettable Zookeeper with Kevin James.  In this film, you definitely get to see a lot of her!  That's to say she's definitely not shy about her body.  I thought her character was a bit flat in the beginning of the movie.  But you'll find out toward the end of the movie the reason why for her calm behavior.  Interesting side trivia, she's actually dating Director Danny Boyle since they filmed the movie Trance.

Danny Boyle you cannot argue has a pretty amazing track record and I think this is no exception.  The flaws may be seen by some as a strength and that is the complicated delicateness of the plot that may go over the heads of some watching it.  Particularly confusing is toward the end when you do not know what is in the heads of the characters or something that is actually playing out.  Danny goes back and forth often with minutes of each scene stunning you visually, leaving your mind to play catch up to what you just saw.  Perhaps its in his brilliance to make you want to see the film again to reaffirm what you just saw.

Overall, I would recommend that you watch the film.  There is violence and nudity in the film so I would not recommend you bring young ones.  I give this film 4 out of 5 stars.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Spoilers in this post!

The episodes starts out as I expected with Milton being beaten by the Governor and forced to choose between himself or Andrea.  He takes a weak attempt at the Governor which leaves him dead in the same room as Andrea.  The Governor remarks as he leaves the room with a dying Milton with Andrea, ""In this life now, you kill or you die, or you die and you kill."

The Governor and his men literally storms the prison, but with the aptly named title "Welcome to the Tombs", Rick and his men are able to drive them away.  Carl along with Hershel and others are hiding in the forest as this all goes down.  One of the Governor's young men retreating runs across Carl and Hershel who orders him to drop his weapon.  As he preparing to hand Carl his weapon, Carl shoots him in cold blood much to the dismay of Hershel.  When the Governor tries to get his people to regroup to attack the prison again, they wanted none of it.  That's when he shows his true colors gunning them all save one who is lucky to be lying under another and plays dead.  Hershel tells Rick about what happened and he talks to Carl.  Carl in one of the best scenes of the show schools Rick, that because he didn't kill the walker, it killed Dale, that because Rick didn't kill the Governor, he killed Merle.  Base on this logic he had to kill the potential threat of that boy.  Future Governor in the making?

Rick with Daryl and Michonne goes after the Governor and his men and comes across and saves the survivor from her fellow Woodbury friends now zombies.  Together they head to Woodbury where Tyrese and his sister lets them in.  There they find a bitten Andrea, which totally shocks me, considering that she is still alive and well within the comic book.  With her senses intact she takes her own life while being comforted by Michonne.  This is so different from the comic book in that she never has that relationship with the Governor for which her character is hated for on the TV series.  And as I said she's still alive and well in the comic book and also has a romantic relationship with Rick currently.  The show ends with the remaining Woodbury residents along with Tyrese and his sister joining the prison group at the prison.

Overall, I enjoyed this episode as well as the entire season.  There are a lot of action and intense moments as you would hope for in a finale.  The only thing I didn't like was that the Governor and his two henchmen are still at large leaving this story arc to drag on a bit longer that I would expect.  Now we have to wait til October for Season 4.

If you're interested in meeting some of the stars of the show, Wizard World comic convention in Philadelphia (5/30 - 6/2) will have the characters Shane, Daryl and Merle making appearances.  And in New York (6/28 - 6/30) the characters Shane, Daryl, Merle and Andrea will be making appearances.  Autographs and Photo Ops with the stars will incur a fee in addition to admission to the convention.  The last few years the majority of the Walking Dead cast has been making appearances at New York Comic Con (10/10 - 10/13) with a panel and cast signing for free with paid admission.  But the lines for the free autographs are insane.

Did you like the Season 3 finale? What are your predictions for Season 4?