Thursday, May 30, 2013


Mediocrity is real, not watching this film is a choice.  I was able to catch a screening of this film last night thanks to Zayzay.com.  Luckily I had won VIP tickets through them as I know a lot of people that could not get in to see the film, due to Sony Pictures booking small theaters and having a lot of reserved seats.  

So just why is it that I call the film mediocre?  First off the plot itself is as plain as it gets with no interesting twists and characters you just can't feel sorry for if they died.  The Earth was turned hostile by Aliens, but don't expect to see them and learn what happened to them.  I guess like Will Smith's character Cypher, they must be ghosting (to become invisible).  This film is set in the future, but it looks no better in terms of technology or effects than that of a 1980s Star Trek film.  Will Smith and Jaden Smith are both disappointing in their roles.  Much more so Will.  For a better Will Smith sci fi movie go watch Men in Black or Independence Day.  The only enjoyable parts of the film is the finale between a monster and Jaden Smith's character Kitai.

In case you're still interested in the film, the plot is that Earth was made unihabitable, and humans have relocated to another star system.  Cypher takes his son, who is training to be like his dad on one of his missions.   Their shuttle is wrecked by a asteroids and crashes on Earth which is now a quarantined planet.  Cypher is badly injured in the crash so its up to Kitai to retrieve an emergency beacon, several days journey away.

Overall, I had low expectations for the film from watching the trailer and I was right.  Case in point, in the beginning after the crash, why is Kitai taking a leisurely stroll when he knows their situation is dire and the planet hostile?  If the film had any other actor without Will's star power it would've been a direct to video release.  The only enjoyable thing about the screening was catching it with an old friend.  My friend enjoyed it.  But for a better sci fi movie out in theaters, go watch Star Trek Into Darkness.


The film is rated PG-13 and is out May 31st.  The run time is 1 hour and 40 minutes.


Rating: 2.0 Stars out of 5.0 Stars


Trailer:

Cast:

  • Jaden Smith as Kitai Raige
  • Will Smith as Cypher Raige
  • Isabelle Fuhrman as Rayna
  • Sophie Okonedo as Faia Raige
  • Zoë Isabella Kravitz as Senshi Raige
  • David Denman as McQuarrie
  • Kristofer Hivju as Security chief
  • Gabriel Caste as Ranger
  • Lincoln Lewis as Bo
  • Chris Geere as Navigator

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


If you're new to movie screenings, then you're at the right post.  I know some are in the school of thought that trade secrets shouldn't be shared.  That what goes on in the Fight Club stays in the Fight Club.  But hey, sharing is caring, right?

One of the most common questions I get from friends is just where do I get all these free movie screenings.  That's where this wonderful thing called the internet comes in.  In past times, movie screenings would be by mail distribution only or by rsvping via a newspaper ad.  With the growth of such sites like Gofobo.com, most screenings are distributed through the internet.  As such, a lot of times, all it takes is Googling for a screening with the right keywords can bring one up for you.

But if you're lazy like me and want all the work done for you there are movie screening sites that consolidate the information for you.  Popular sites include Getscreening.com and AdvanceScreenings.com.  Other sites try to be much more by being a place of social gathering of movie aficionados where not only can you get screening information but discuss about movies.  Two such places are Cinemit.com and meetup.com/cinemaheads.  Be sure to sign up for various movie theater rewards like Regal, and AMC Stubs which offer screenings for their members on ocassion.  The latter charges a membership fee.  Also look out for contests for screenings by radio stations, distributors, blogs and newspapers.  In the New York City area, radio stations KTU and Z100 are two that come to mind.

The second most common question that I get from friends is when should I arrive for a screening?  Even though movie screenings are free, most of them require that you wait on a long line to attend the screening.  Screenings are often overbooked to insure that full capacity is reached at the screenings.  That said, it really depends on a lot of factors.  In general, if you're looking to just get in, it's safe to say that you should arrive at least 1 hour beforehand.  If the screening is the only screening being offered OR the first screening offered for that movie, I would add an additional hour to that.  If it's a blockbuster movie, yes, add yet another hour to it.  If there's incremental weather, subtract 30 minutes.  If there has been multiple screenings of the movie you want to see already, over the past week or two, subtract 30 minutes.

The last bit of screening wisdom I'll like to share is to be sure to make friends with the people you meet on the line.  You're gonna be on the line for awhile anyway.  It goes a long way when you're able to make new screening friends that may help you on the line or tell you about new screenings in the future.

Good luck in finding that screening you want.  In the next few weeks keep an eye out for Man of Steel, Monsters University, and World War Z!  Feel free to comment below if you have additional questions on the process.  The above is all based on New York City, though, it definitely applies to other major cities as well.

Friday, May 24, 2013


 

Age of Ultron is Marvel's current large 10 issue mini-series affecting the entire Marvel Universe.  The series is nearing an end in a few months.  Here's a review of the first six issues of the series.  The premise of the series is that Ultron has taken over the world, with humans subservient to him and super heroes being hunted down.  The below contains certain spoilers.

Issue 1
The first issue is always one of the most important issues as it is your first impression on the series.  Unfortunately writer Brian Michael Bendis opted not show his hand in this issue.  The issue is a fast forward point to wherethe world is already devastated with no clues to as to the how and why.  The focus is largely on Hawkeye and Superior Spider-man two of the more popular Marvel characters as of late due to their solo issues.  But to be honest not much happens and despite decent pencils by reliable Bryan Hitch this issue gets a...

Rating: 1.0 Stars out of 5.0 Stars


Issue 2
The second issue gives us a little insight to the struggles of humanities in the age of Ultron.  The issue split its focuses on the Black Widow and Moon Knight discussing using Fury's secret resources to go down fighting and Superior Spider-Man torn with what has happened while he was out.  Like the first issue we are only given tidbits of the current situation.  A lot of talking without much happening.

Rating: 2.0 Stars out of 5.0 Stars


Issue 3
As far as action, this issue definitely picks it up a notch.  But as far as coherent meaningful plot, it sadly fails.  This issue again follows two separate subplots.  In one, the Red Hulk, Black Panther (T'Challa) and the Taskmaster confronts an Ultron Sentinel to obtain the head of that unit to get information.  One of the three doesn't make it, which would be your guess? Back in the main superheroes camp, Captain America comes up with a plan of sacrificing two strong heroes to get inside of Ultron's fortress to do some damage.  As the cover shows, the duo is Luke Cage and She Hulk with a surprising reveal inside of Ultron's fortress.

Rating: 2.5 Stars out of 5.0 Stars


Issue 4
The duo from the last issue learns that Ultron is actually in the future controlling things in the present time through a certain Avenger member.  She Hulk sacrifices herself so Luke can escape with the info.  He reveals through Emma Frost his findings before succumbing to injuries to the rest of the Heroes now in the Savage Land.  They're soon joined by the Red Hulk, Black Widow and Moon Knight with a plan to end Ultron's reign courtesy of Nick Fury's set of contingencies in case of scenarios like this.  The story is starting to come together but there are still way too many pieces missing from the story.  The gradual improvement is welcome, but still much too slow at this point.

Rating2.5 Stars out of 5.0 Stars


Issue 5
The story starts off with a flashback of Tony Stark, Reed Richards and Henry Pym discussing about What If scenarios while trying to fix Vision.  It gives us a glimpse as to things to come.  Meanwhile, back in the Savage Land, the heroes find Nick Fury's hideout, with who else in it, but Nick Fury!  Nick Fury arms up most of the group to journey to the future to take on Ultron.  Meanwhile, Wolverine has ideas of his own.  Meaning to take out the creator of Ultron in the past, Henry Pym.  For a series with such a big villain like Ultron and so many super heroes remaining, the series sure lacks action.  There is zero confrontations in this issue and just a lot of planning, leading into the next issue.

Rating2.0 Stars out of 5.0 Stars


Issue 6
Wolverine and a stowaway Sue Storm arrives in the past in the Savage Land.  In one of the lighter moments of the series they "borrow" past Nick Fury's hover car to go take out Henry Pym.  Meanwhile the rest of the heroes led by present Nicky Fury are in the future to attack Ultron.  The action is a nice change of pace from the last issue.  With the confrontation between Wolverine and Henry Pym the highlight of the series thus far.  Bryan Hitch takes off this issue with the artistic duties split between Carlos Pacheco (Past) and Brandon Peterson (Present).  Both are very similar and good but I give a slight preference to Carlos.  

Rating3.5 Stars out of 5.0 Stars



Thus far, the series have been very disappointing.  The story is starting to pick up, but so many issues are wasted without any plot advancement.  Through the first six issues, not once do you see Ultron himself in either the past, present, or future.  We still do not see how Ultron so easily took over.  Everything that has happened thus far, has been a slow plod leading nowhere.  With only four issues left, and so many questions, I have very low expectations.

Average Rating through Six Issues: 2.25 Stars out of 5.0 Stars

What do you think of the series thus far?

Thursday, May 23, 2013



This is the End was quite the surprise from what I was expecting.  The movie is a comedy with actors playing fictional characterizations of themselves during what appears to be the end of days.  It must be nice for them, all friends, peers to each other that does the same genre of movies to come together to create something like this.  The who's who in the movie includes Jay Baruchel and Seth Rogen attending a party at James Franco's house.  There they meet up with their other friends and celebrities including Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Michael Cera, Rihanna among others.  The Hollywood party plays into every stereotype of the actors that we can imagine.  Heavy on drugs and sex, Michael Cera (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World) is the king of it all.   But when Jay and Seth heads out to get more smokes that's when all hell breaks loose.  Literally.

The end comes not from a killer asteroid or global warming causing the next ice age but from the Holy Bible, the book of Revelation.  Revelation tells of the end of days when those that believe in Christ are raptured, and those that are left behind who refuses to repent and continues their sinful ways, faces hell on Earth.  As the six friends finds out, being actors and making movies for the good and enjoyment of others is not enough.  The movie in what I'll like to think as the second act is the hilarious part.  And that is with all of hollywood on fire except from James Franco's home (how convenient), the group is in survival mode.  At this point they are still unaware that it is Revelation coming to pass, but just that it is dangerous to leave the house.  The movie slows down a bit transitioning to them to realizing what is actually happening to the ending.  The movie enters full horror mode for a bit, which really brings back the audience to attention, but for me the ending is a bit of a whimper.  Even with a hilarious cameo from a certain GI Joe stud and a performance by a certain 90s boy band at the end can save the campy feel from the use of Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You" at a particular point in the end.  On a bright note for that part though, I wasn't expecting the CGI to be at that high of a level in this type of a film.

Overall, I would still recommend the film.  It's in my opinion slightly better than Hangover Part III, but still far from a masterpiece.  Fans of crude humor or any of the above mentioned actors will enjoy the film.  No where else will you see a movie within a movie that everyone has been clamoring for in Pineapple Express 2!  It's great whenever actors can poke fun at themselves, and this is certainly a no hold bars type of film.

The movie is rated R and is out June 12, 2013.  The movie run time is 1 hour and 46 minutes.

Rating: 4.0 stars out of 5.0 Stars



Trailer:

Cast:

James Franco
Jonah Hill
Seth Rogen
Jay Baruchel
Danny McBride
Craig Robinson
Emma Watson
Michael Cera
Jason Segel
David Krumholtz
Paul Rudd
Mindy Kaling
Martin Starr
Kevin Hart
Rihanna
Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Aziz Ansari

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


The Hangover III advertised as the finale of the trilogy is a big improvement on the second movie.  But does it top the original?  Unfortunately, no.  However, Hangover III still makes for a good comedy with it's solid recurring cast of the Wolfpack (Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha) along with Ken Jeong and new villain John Goodman.

The biggest problem with the Hangover trilogy is how high the bar was set for the first Hangover.  Hangover II tried to follow the exact same formula as the first one which led to many been there, seen that before yawns.  Hangover III wisely changes this but still falls short.  There are many moments in the film that makes jokes in references to the first two movies which if you've never seen, you would not get.  So if you're planning to watch the third one, definitely watch or rewatch the first two if you've seen it before.

The film begins with the Wolfpack and family trying to get Zach Galifianakis's character Alan to go to a counseling center due to him not taking his medication and constant erratic behavior.  On their way, the Wolfpack is ambushed by someone with a vendetta for Ken Jeong's character Leslie Chow.  The group is forced to find and bring Leslie back in return for Doug (Justin Bartha).  Absolutely no one is hungover.  So what could go wrong?  As with the Wolfpack, everything always goes wrong of course.  

Ken Jeong and Zach Galifianakis as with the prior two films are the two brightest stars as far as laughter.  John Goodman and Melissa McCarthy were good additions in their supporting roles.  Overall, I would recommend this film if you're a fan of the franchise or into this type of comedy.  When the credit rolls be sure not to rush out, as there is an additional clip.  A start of a new Hangover Trilogy perhaps?

Hangover III is out May 23rd, and is rated R.  The film's running time is 1 hour and 40 minutes.

Rating: 3.5 Stars out of 5.0 Stars



Trailer:

Cast:

  • Bradley Cooper as Phil Wenneck
  • Ed Helms as Dr. Stuart "Stu" Price
  • Zach Galifianakis as Alan Garner
  • Ken Jeong as Leslie Chow
  • Heather Graham as Jade
  • Jeffrey Tambor as Sid Garner
  • Justin Bartha as Doug Billings
  • John Goodman as antagonist
  • Gillian Vigman as Stephanie Wenneck
  • Sasha Barrese as Tracy Billings
  • Jamie Chung as Lauren Price
  • Mike Epps as Black Doug


Monday, May 20, 2013


Thor Lord of Storms by Animoca Collective is your typical tower defense game.  Enemies scroll from right to left toward your tower, which in this case is a magic portal.  The theme as you can tell from the title is Norse mythology, with characters like Thor and Odin.  Stop them from killing you or destroying the magic portal to prevent Ragnarok.  Note, my review and tips are based on the iOS version from Levels 1 - 27.

In the game you have the choice of three warriors to choose from.  By default you start off with Thor, God of Thunder, who has a balanced melee and range attack.  You can also choose from Brynhildr, a valkyrie, who is stronger in her melee than range.  And lastly Freyja, a goddess who plays like a sorceress, whose magic attacks are more powerful than the prior two.  I've gotten the farthest thus far with Brynhildr, up to level 28.  With Thor, I've gotten to the first boss at level 20.  Freyja, I've only completed a few levels and have been my least favorite thus far.



My past experience in tower defense games includes Army of Darkness by Backflip Studios as well as Garfield's Defense: Attack of the Food Invaders by Web Prancers.  In comparison to the two, Thor runs much more smoothly than Garfield in its controls and slightly better than Army of Darkness.  One of the things that Thor really shines is the variety of choices from selectable characters to allies to weapons, magic and items.  Though there is quite a variety, the major problem in this version of the game is being able to earn enough gold or gems to unlock them or level them up.  My colleague plays the Android version of the game.  In that version, you're able to complete offers via Tapjoy to earn more gold and gems.  In the iOS version there is no such options and thus you are limited to earning through victories.  You can still earn gold from your defeats but it's too time consuming considering your rewards.  In games like these, success has more to do with how well you can level up your characters and allies than with actual strategy.  The second biggest flaw I have is not being able to play previous levels completed.  This of course would've been a great way to earn more gold and gems fighting against enemies that are more in level with your characters.



Overall, I would still recommend this game if you enjoy tower defense games.  Only because while the game is generic to the rest, it is slightly better from the prior ones I've mentioned before.  That is of course not saying much as the graphics in this game are average and the music and fx repetitively annoying like a high school teenager.  I'll provide an update on this app when I complete the second stage.

Rating: 3.0 Stars out of 5.0 Stars



Tips and Strategy:
Some of these may be intuitive, but I hope it helps you out.

  • As with most Tower Defense games, I try leveling up the Arrow Towers first.  They provide you with offense that cannot be destroyed.  The first thing I upgrade with my available gems is the mana regen rate.
  • With Thor, the two magic that I like to employ most are Mjolnir Wind and Call of Lightning.  This is only because they cause more damage than Mjolnir Crush and I have yet to unlock Chariot of the Thunderer.  With Brynhildr, it's Protection of the Valkyries and Chooser of the Slain.  The invulnerability that the Protection provides is important not only for you but your allies.  I chose Chooser of the Slain because of its ability damage the air born monsters as well the fact that most of the monsters tend to clump together anyway.  
  • For allies, I primarily use Viking Warrior due to their low cost of 10 and their tank like life level.  When there are airborne monsters, I would employ Alfr as she is the only ally that can attack them.  However I find using magic (such as Chooser of the Slain) as a more effective and efficient way.
  • With each level start, I usually charge immediately across the field.  This allows you to whittle down the enemies so that there are not as much as much when they reach your portal.  The only time this is impossible when you have the red hooded.
  • The first boss which you'll face in level 20 (you actually face a weaker version in level 19) is all just brute with large health and melee attack levels.  After you clear out the other monsters, just keep sending waves of Viking Warriors and using your magic to eventually defeat him.

Saturday, May 18, 2013


Incredibly this is the ninth film that I've seen in the last night 13 days.  Is the last always the best?  Not by a long shot in this case.  Epic is a borderline mediocre animation that suffers from lack of humor and dull plot and characters.  The saving graces are the beautiful diverse bug life that lives in the world of theirs as well as the soundtrack by Danny Elfman.

The story is about a human girl that is swept into the world of Leaf Men and their enemies the Boogans.  The characters are uninspiring led by the trio of Amanda Seyfried as the main character M.K., Beyonce as Queen Tara, and Josh Hutchinson as Nod.  You can't help but draw pale comparisons of M.K. and Nod to Repunzel and Eugene of Tangled.  Queen Tara?  She reminds me more of Barbie from Toy Story 2 or 3 then royalty.  The screening was in 3D.  But the 3D was so subtle I did not even notice it throughout the film.

Overall, I would not recommend watching it in theaters but waiting for it on Netflix.  There are much better animations such as The Secret World of Arrietty.  The movie is targeted more toward kids and my daughter did enjoy it.  But for adults, you would not miss much if you passed on it.

The film is rated PG and is out May 24th, 2013.  The run time is 1 hour and 43 minutes.

Rating: 2.5 Stars out of 5.0 Stars.


Trailer:

Cast:
  • Amanda Seyfried as Mary Katherine (a.k.a. M.K.), Professor Bomba's 17-year old daughter
  • Josh Hutcherson as Nod, a rookie Leafmen warrior
  • Colin Farrell as Ronin, a seasoned Leafmen warrior and Leader of the Leaf-Men
  • Beyoncé Knowles as Queen Tara, the Mother Nature-like queen of the forest
  • Christoph Waltz as Mandrake, the leader of the Boggans
  • Aziz Ansari as Mub, a slug
  • Chris O'Dowd as Grub, a snail
  • Pitbull as Bufo, a toad
  • Jason Sudeikis as Professor Bomba, Mary Katherine's father
  • Steven Tyler as Nim Galuu, a caterpillar
  • Blake Anderson as Dagda, Mandrake's son
  • Judah Friedlander as Larry





I remember growing up watching horror movies like The Poltergeist and Amityville Horror and being freaked out with nightmare for days.  I'm not a fan of a lot of the current type of horror films that rely on shock value and cheesy gimmicks.  I prefer traditional ghost stories that makes the hair on your arm stands up.  The Conjuring brings me back to those times, not only because the settings is in the 1970s but because the frights are more real knowing that its based on a true story.

The Conjuring is about a demonic haunting of the Perron family in Rhode Island in the 1970s.  This haunting was investigated by renown paranormal investigators at the time Ed and Lorraine Warren.  They are more known for another haunting which is the Amityville.  But this story precedes that case.  The story starts off simple enough with a family moving into an old run down farm house.  All I can say is that any time your dog absolutely refuses to enter an old house, then follow his lead!

The Perron family is lead by parents Roger and Cynthia, with the couple having five young daughters.  From the very first night, things go from bad to worst quickly and escalates when they call in the Warrens for help.  The only issue I might have with this film is that the movie at times seems to focus too much on the Warrens than the Perrons situation.  The Warrens back story and their subsequent situation as a result of helping the Perrons is integral to the story.  But too much time is spent on it in ways that could have been shorten.

Overall, I would recommend this film, especially if you're into the classics I mentioned earlier.  The acting for the most part is great though Ed Warren played by Patrick Wilson is a bit stiff.  But then again that just might be how the actual Ed Warren was.  Don't watch if you're weak at heart, or you just might end up with many sleepless nights.

The film is rated PG-13 and is out in theaters on July 19, 2013.  The run time is 112 minutes.

Rating: 4.0 Stars out of 5.0 Stars

Trailer:



Cast:

Vera Farmiga as Lorraine Warren
Patrick Wilson as Ed Warren
Lili Taylor as Carolyn Perron
Ron Livingston as Roger Perron
Mackenzie Foy as Cynthia Perron
Shannon Kook as Drew Thomas
Joey King as Christine Perron
Hayley McFarland as Nancy Perron
Shanley Caswell as Andrea Perron
John Brotherton as Brad Hamilton

Friday, May 17, 2013


I really enjoy the first Star Trek film by Director J. J. Abrams in 2009.  If you miss the first one, I would first suggest you watch that first before watching this.  It's not paramount to the overall story, but it's a nice introduction to the new Star Trek universe from the original series where Captain Kirk was played by William Shatner.

Star Trek Into Darkness which came out this weekend can be explained as a coming of age story for the new Captain Kirk (Chris Pines).  Young, brash and highly illogical, he learns humility when a villain targets Star Fleet Command and tries to instigate a war with the Klingons.  I continue to be fans of Chris Pines as well as Zachary Quinto as Spock and Simon Pegg as Scotty.  Simon Pegg in particular has some of the best scenes as far as comedic lines in the movie bringing humor to an otherwise dark movie.  With a large cast, unfortunately John Cho who plays Sulu of the main crew gets the least screen time.  Spoiler in the next two paragraphs, highlight it to read it.




[Spoiler Alert] Besides Simon Pegg, the other character I really enjoy is the villain of the film Khan played by Benedict Cumberbatch.  Khan played by Ricardo Montalbán in the 1960s series and 1982 film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan left big shoes for Benedict to fill.  Benedict doesn't fill the shoes entirely but does a more than adequate job.  His fight scene on the Klingon world is one of the best action scenes in the movie.


With all the good things about the film, though, you can't help but be a little disappointed that a lot of stuff in the movie has been done before.  As certain scenes is just a little too close to the 1982 film.  What I like about the first Star Trek in 2009 in that it was a completely different direction than the original series.  Often I don't like reboots but J. J. Abrams did a great job in my opinion.  Yes the overall plot is different between Into Darkness and The Wrath of Khan, but the biggest peeve I have is the sequence of one of the characters being killed in the warp reactor due to radiation.  That should sound familiar to those that have watched The Wrath of Khan. 

Overall, I would still recommend the film especially if you enjoyed the first film.  And yes, I would recommend watching it on IMAX 3D.

The film is rated PG-13 and is out in theaters already.  The run time is 2 hours and 13 minutes.

Rating: 3.5 Stars out of 5.0 Stars


Trailer:
Cast:
  • Chris Pine as Commander/Captain James T. Kirk
  • Zachary Quinto as First Officer Spock
  • Benedict Cumberbatch as Commander John Harrison
  • Karl Urban as Lieutenant Commander Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy, chief medical officer
  • John Cho as Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu, third officer and helmsman.
  • Zoe Saldana as Lieutenant Nyota Uhura, communications officer.
  • Alice Eve as Dr. Carol Marcus/ Science Officer Carol Wallace
  • Anton Yelchin as Ensign Pavel Chekov, navigator.
  • Simon Pegg as Lieutenant Commander Montgomery "Scotty" Scott, second officer and chief engineer.
  • Bruce Greenwood as Rear Admiral Christopher Pike
  • Noel Clarke, as Thomas Harewood, a Starfleet employee, working within Section 31
  • Nazneen Contractor as Rima Harewood, Thomas' wife
  • Peter Weller, as Starfleet Admiral Alexander Marcus, Dr. Carol Marcus' father

Thursday, May 16, 2013



I've been running a little behind on movie reviews lately due to all the great screenings as of late. I hope to get Star Trek out tomorrow which I saw last night. I was able to catch Now You See Me this past Tuesday, a film which I had high expectations given the trailer. For the most part, I wasn't disappointed.

Now You See Me is about a group of magicians pulling off large scale heists with their haul going to their audience members.  The cast is star studded led by Mark Ruffalo as Dylan Rhodes who is a FBI Agent pursuing the magicians and Morgan Freeman as Thaddeus Bradley who debunks magicians, following the group around.  There are a lot of side stories that seems like extra noise but is relevant to the movie as you'll find out in the end as far as motivation.  What stood out for me most in the movie is the action and comedy.  The action as far as the magic acts as well as the fight scenes, especially between Dave Franco's character and Mark Ruffalo's.  

The four horsemen as the magicians are called, are all played by charismatic actors that scenes really are the best parts of the movie.  The comedic dialogue between the four will have you chuckling if not laughing out loud.  Unfortunately, the movie is not just all about them by rather a misdirection like those used in magic tricks.  One of those misdirection  which is one of my biggest peeve of the movie is the romance that is forced upon the audience of Mark Ruffalo's character and the stunning French actress Mélanie Laurent's character.  Personally, I felt there were zero chemistry between the two characters, but of course love can be found in all kinds of places, even when we don't expect it.

Overall, I would recommend this film.  I was expecting a bit more Ocean 11, but if you're a fan of that franchise you won't be disappointed.  For me the ending was meh, but there's enough good things that far outweighs that.

The movie is rated PG-13 and is out May 31st.  The run time is 1 hour 56 minutes.

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.0


Trailer:

Cast:


  • Jesse Eisenberg as J. Daniel Atlas
  • Mark Ruffalo as Dylan Rhodes
  • Woody Harrelson as Merritt Osbourne
  • Isla Fisher as Henley
  • Mélanie Laurent as Alma Vargas
  • Morgan Freeman as Thaddeus Bradley
  • Dave Franco as Jack
  • Michael Caine as Arthur Tressler
  • Common as Evans
  • Michael Kelly as Agent Fuller

Friday, May 10, 2013



While it ain't Wedding Crashers 2, fans of the comedic duo will be more than happy with their latest film The Internship.  Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson plays seasoned salesman that are soon put out of their jobs due to the ever changing nature of business and technology in the 21st century.  They attempt to turn their lives around by joining Google as interns in hopes of landing a dream job with the number one ranked corporation to work for in America.

The chemistry together is spot on between the two and the supporting cast is adequate though nothing to shout home about.  My favorite scene showcasing this chemistry?  When the duo is interviewing for their internship with the Google employees via webcam at a public library.  The film while good won't have you rolling on the floor like Peeples will.  Still it makes for a good comedy before the summer blockbusters start to roll out.  

One of the things that holds this movie back is that at times the film becomes more of an infomercial for Google the company.  I know that it's hard to avoid because of the premise of the movie.  It's a nice look into the workings and social environment of the company, but it distracts from the comedy aspect of the film.

I would still recommend this film though, but would probably balk at paying full price for it.  The movie opens June 7th, rated PG-13. 

Rating: 3.0 Stars out of 5.0



Trailer:

Cast:

  • Vince Vaughn as Billy
  • Owen Wilson as Nick
  • Jessica Szohr as Marielena
  • Dylan O'Brien as Stuart
  • Josh Gad as Headphones
  • Bruno Amato as Sal
  • Aasif Mandvi as Mr. Chetty
  • Eric André as Sid
  • Josh Brener
  • John Goodman
  • B. J. Novak
  • Max Minghella






Thursday, May 9, 2013


The Great Gatsby based on the 1925 novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald's was surprisingly better than I expected.  Prior to watching the screening tonight, I have spoken to a few people who have had to read the book during their high school years.  Each one did not have fond memories of the book.  But with all the hype surrounding the movie, I would be amiss to not give it a chance and I'm glad that I did.

The thing that stands out the most for me in this movie is of course the stunning visuals of the scenery and costumes of that long bygone era.  The roaring 20s as they are known, was filled with excess as the movie explains.  The movie did it great justice in this, but unfortunately fails when trying to give it a more contemporary feel.  The movie's score is by Jay Z and The Bullitts, While I'm a big fan of Jay Z's music, his and Beyonce's music often felt out of place as well as the other selections.  The acting performances by studs Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire as Jay Gatsby and Nick Carraway was stupendous.  Other standouts in the cast include Carey Mulligan and Joel Edgerton as Daisy and Tom Buchanan.

So just what is the story about?  It's a tragic romance story which Director Baz Luhrmann seems to have an affinity for.  Considering his resume includes Romeo & Juliet as well as Moulin Rogue!.  In this movie, Jay Gatsby is a mysterious wealthy man who apparently has some old romantic ties to Daisy Buchanan who is cousin to Nick Carraway.  Nick is also old friends with Tom Buchanan husband of Daisy.  Nick gets caught between the quite complicated love triangle of Jay, Daisy and Tom and thus is the perfect narrator of the film.  The film is a great study of human nature and emotions as we see the relationships and background of Jay Gatsby unfold.  I am told the movie stays true to the book in that a lot of the lines are direct quotes from the book.

As much as there is many good things about the film, I can see that the film would not be for everyone.  I have never read the book or the countless film adaptations prior to this, but however enjoyed it.  The movie is in 3D which adds to the richness of the sets, but to be honest I can't imagine that you would gripe much if you saw it in 2D.  That said, I would still recommend this film.


The movie opens this weekend May 10th, rated PG-13, 2 hour and 23 minutes. 

Rating: 3.5 Stars out of 5.0




Trailer:



Cast:
  • Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby
  • Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway
  • Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan
  • Joel Edgerton as Tom Buchanan
  • Elizabeth Debicki as Jordan Baker
  • Isla Fisher as Myrtle Wilson
  • Jason Clarke as George B. Wilson
  • Amitabh Bachchan as Meyer Wolfsheim
  • Jack Thompson as Henry C. Gatz
  • Max Cullen as Owl Eyes
  • Callan McAuliffe as Young Jay Gatsby
  • Adelaide Clemens as Catherine
  • Gus Murray as Teddy Barton

Tuesday, May 7, 2013




It's always nice to attend a world premiere of a movie. But if you can't be there, simulcast is the next best thing! Today I got to watch via simulcast the world premiere of Fast & Furious 6 in London. After the simulcast there was a screening of the movie.

The movie is a nonstop adrenaline rush with amazing car scenes as one would expect from their franchise. This is Director Justin Lin's last go at the franchise, but apparently not the last Fast & Furious film. But more on that later.

If you've seen the trailers than you'll know that Vin Diesel's character Dominic's girlfriend Letty played by Michelle Rodriguez is alive again. She was presumed dead in the 4th movie. The plot of this movie is that government agent Hobbs played by Dwayne Johnson seeks out Dominic's help and his crew to capture a criminal organization led by Owen Shaw played by Luke Evans, along with Letty. So just how do we get to this point?

In the previous movie, Dominic and gang scored a heist of a lifetime leaving each filthy rich and retired. The only thing that will get them out of retirement is of course family as each of the crew considers each other. The whole underlying theme of the movie as well as the others of course is family. And yes, of course there's the fast cars, money and beautiful women. As mentioned before Letty was presumed dead in the 4th movie, murdered we found out from drug dealer Arturo Braga. She survived though and had been in a hospital with amnesia. We learn in Six how Letty wounds up working with Owen. Spoilers in the next paragraph.





Just what make this film much better than the previous ones? The insane stunts in the movie are unbelievable. In at least two scenes we see people flying through the air on to or into cars, that you would think it was the new Man of Steel movie. As Tyrese's character would say "There's a tank on my ass", that whole chase and ending point is the highlight of the film. But then they go and top that with the fight at the end at the airport. How about pulling at your heart strings with the birth of Brian and Mia's son in the beginning. Or the death of two of Dom's crew! Gisele played by Gal Gadot, is the first to bite the dust saving her lover Han played by Sung Kang in the final fight scene. We don't see a body but falling about 40 feet from a plane moving at about 80 miles per hour would spell death for you 99% of the time. Prior to their death Gisele and Han talked about settling down in Tokyo. We see Han in a car chase which is the scene right before the credits leading into Fast & Furious 7. But like Gisele, his death is apparent at the hands of ... wait for it... Jason Statham! As much as I'm sadden by the death of Han, the thought of Jason Statham vs. Vin Diesel had the crowd roaring. End of spoiler.

I would definitely recommend this film even if you did not see the other films. They provide enough back story so you're up to date and include a nice montage in the opening credit of the previous five movies. For me, Tyrese steals the show with his quips and leaping away from a tank. The movie opens the weekend of May 24th, rated PG-13, 2 hour and 10 minutes.


Rating: 4.5 Stars out of 5.0




Trailer:
Cast:
  • Vin Diesel as Dominic Toretto
  • Paul Walker as Brian O'Conner
  • Dwayne Johnson as Luke Hobbs
  • Jordana Brewster as Mia Toretto
  • Tyrese Gibson as Roman Pearce
  • Michelle Rodriguez as Letty Ortiz
  • Sung Kang as Han Seoul-Oh
  • Chris Bridges as Tej Parker
  • Luke Evans as Owen Shaw
  • Gina Carano as Riley
  • Gal Gadot as Gisele Yashar
  • Joe Taslim as Jah
  • Clara Paget as Vegh
  • Elsa Pataky as Elena Neves
  • Jin Au-Yeung as Jimmy

Last night I caught a screening of Tyler Perry Presents Peeples courtesy of AMC Stubs and Lionsgate.  After the screening it included a live broadcast of a Q&A with cast members Craig Robinson and David Alan Grier.  Peeples is about a boyfriend, Wade Walker, played by Craig Robinson, going out to meet his girlfriend's family, the Peeples and propose to her.

Peeples is the directorial debut of Tina Gordon Chism as well the first male lead role for Craig Robinson.  But you wouldn't have known from watching the film.  The movie in all aspects hits the ball out of the park.  This has to be one of the best comedies I've seen in awhile.  I wasn't familiar with Craig Robinson who is best known for his role in NBC sitcom, The Office.  But his timing, his gestures, and line delivery will have you laughing out loud.  The biggest gripe I have when watching was that some lines were actually missed because the audience was laughing so loud!  Besides Craig Robinson, the cast includes veterans like David Alan Grier, Diahann Carroll and Kerry Washington among others.  I was a big fan of the sketch comedy In Living Color that produced comedians like Jim Carrey and Jamie Foxx.  That was the last time I've seen David Alan Grier on the screen.  In his role as the patriarch of the Peeples family, he played the strict no nonsense father, who expects excellence from his family.    This is quite the turn from when I use to see him as Homey Da Clown on In Living Color.  The character that stood out most for me most was Chris Walker brother to Wade, played by Malcolm Barrett.  My favorite scene of the movie involves the two brothers speaking to Simon Peeples the son of the family in the bathroom of the bar.

The Q&A included prepared questions, as well as questions from Twitter and from the audience.  The pair discusses their comedic idols growing up, which both shared as Richard Pryor as one.  They talked about David Alan Grier's background in dramatic theater and switching over to comedy.  Craig Robinson discussed his departure from The Office and looking forward to have his pilot picked up.  One of the audience member asked for advice on developing their film company.  David shared of the importance to have a heart for the business that they'll get a 1,000 no's before getting that one yes.  Craig talked about how important it is to be tenacious and a little luck doesn't help.  He started out in The Office in season one as someone who is in the background in one or two episodes and his role grew each season.  They talked about how great it is for Tyler Perry to give his name to the movie as Producer and be hands off and trusting in Tina Gordon Chism direction.



If you can't tell already, I highly recommend this film.  The adult situation might be a bit too much for kids, so it's more suited for teenagers and up.  The movie opens this weekend May 10th, rated PG-13, 1 hour and 35 minutes.

Rating: 4.0 Stars out of 5.0




Trailer:


Cast:


  • Kerry Washington as Grace Peeples
  • Craig Robinson as Wade Walker
  • Diahann Carroll as Nana Peeples
  • Tyler James Williams as Simon Peeples
  • Kali Hawk as Gloria Peeples
  • David Alan Grier as Virgil Peeples


Monday, May 6, 2013


I haven't done an app review in awhile only because there really hasn't been anything that has caught my attention and ate away at my time til now.  Big Win MLB by Hothead Games Inc. has been my favorite past time as of late with baseball season in full swing.  Big Win MLB is a baseball strategy game where you build teams based on virtual cards you get from virtual packs (think Topps Attax).  Officially licensed by MLB, you have all the major league players and uniforms at your disposal.  As with real life baseball card packs, everything is random, meaning that it'll take you awhile if you want to get specific players from your favorite team.


 The game is free to download, but like most apps nowadays, it's built upon heavily on in-app purchases.  Their virtual currencies consist of Silver Coins and Gold Bucks of which you can buy with real money or earn by winning free tournaments or completing offers and watching videos.


 


When you buy packs you can get several type of cards.  Player card, Contract card, Big Impact card, Skill/Skill Boost card, and Uniform card.  When you first start off you'll have Bronze level players which are mostly your bench players.  As you get Silver level players and then Gold level, always try to continually upgrade your team.  If you have six players that are from the same Major League team, you get a Team Chemistry bonus which is extremely helpful in boosting your rating.


You can also micromanage individual players by piling on Skill and Skill Boost cards on the players increasing their attributes in such stats as Contact, Arm, Power, Run and Glove.  Try to save your larger Boosts for Gold players or players you plan to hold on to for awhile.



You can enter four tournaments with the distinction between Pro and Amateur is that Pro, you will face competition of any level, while Amateur, you will face competition at around your level.  Naturally when you first start off at a low level you'll be at a disadvantage in the Pro tournaments.


When you start a game, you can play up to three Big Impact cards.  Big Impact cards, allows you to influence the game in your favor by affecting various stats like having your pitcher issue no walks.  You're matched up randomly based on parameters for Pro and Amateur.



Once you're ready to play, you can watch the game in action in which you have no control of the action or choose to skip to the results.  The graphics for the game action is very mediocre, and I usually just skip to the end results.


Overall, I would definitely recommend this game to any baseball entusiast.  I rate the app 4.0 stars out of 5.0.  Here are some of my tips to help you start winning pennants.

Tips:
  • Start off the game by watching the free videos to earn 300 Silver Coins each videos.  They're short, and you can watch on average about 5-10 a day.
  • Start off buying the Silver Packs at 1000 coins to begin just to build up your team.  But when you're looking for additional Big Impact cards, go for the Bronze packs.  The packs are cheaper and you get the same type of Big Impact cards.
  • When playing in tournaments for the pennant and you're on a losing streak, continue to play the rest of the games to get the completion bonus.  But do not use your Big Impact cards, and just conserve them for your next tournament.
  • Low on coins and out of videos?  Sell your Contracts that are 20 days or less, Injury Free Big Impact cards, and Uniform Cards.  For me these are the most useless in the game.
  • The rewards are a lot bigger for the Pro Tournaments than for Amateur.  Keep the risk/reward ratio in mind when using your Gold level Big Impact cards.
  • Be mindful of when players are out of renewals.  You may not want to boost up their skills if you're only going to lose the players soon.
I hope you find the tips useful and the game enjoyable as I did.  What games are you currently playing?

The game is available on Android and iOS.  It does require an internet connection to play.  And I believe can be played on Facebook.  My review is based on the iOS version.