Friday, June 3, 2011

May movies

So it's that time of the year again. The time of the year that the summer movies come out. So far I've seen all the ones that I have wanted to see. Here are my takes on the big summer movies that are already out.

Fast Five:
I know, I know, these movies can be cheesy, but we enjoyed the newest addition to the Fast/Furious franchise. Basically they took all of the character from the past movies, put them together and added The Rock. Yeah, it's kind of silly and definitely unrealistic in parts. But it was full of major adrenaline and fun actions scenes. So if you're willing to turn your brain off, this will be a fun movie. If you're looking for a movie that will have you thinking days after it's over, avoid this one. This movie gets a B.

I really enjoyed Thor. I've actually seen it twice. I saw it the second time because there were a few distractions during the first viewing, including that I saw it in 3D. I'm done with 3D. It's like watching a movie with dark sunglasses on. I'm tired of the dim picture. Watching Thor the second time I caught a number of things that I missed during the first viewing because I could actually see the screen. I thought Chris Hemsworth did a great job as Thor. The supporting cast was also great and Natalie Portman was pretty (she didn't get to do a lot). It really gets me excited for the upcoming Avengers movie. Hopefully Captain America is good so there won't be a weak link in Avenger. I rate this movie somewhere in the B+, A- territory. Definitely worth seeing.

Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides:
I found this movie entertaining enough but ultimately unfulfilling. I've enjoyed the Pirates movies, but they've never been my favorite. I only saw 2 and 3 once, so it's hard for me to remember if I really liked them or not. I do know they were too long, convoluted and overstuffed. The new Pirates doesn't suffer from those problems but it does suffer from lack of character motivations. I'm just not sure why a lot of the characters in this movie did the things they did. In addition, when the movie started I found myself thinking that the Jack Sparrow routine was getting a little old. It's probably worth catching at the Redbox, but not much more. The story needed to be more focused and actually provide character arcs for its characters. This movie gets a B-.

Kung Fu Panda 2:
I quite enjoyed the first Kung Fu Panda movie. The same can be said for this movie. It was funny, moving and action-y. And it wasn't long -- which is usually a good thing for an animated movie. If you're looking for a something to take the kids to or if you just enjoy a good animated feature film, be sure to check this one out.

Side note: All four of these movies feature bonus scenes during or after the credits that tease sequels, so be sure to stay to the end.

I'm really looking forward to seeing X-Men and Super 8, both of which are getting pretty fantastic reviews. So look for my opinions of them in the coming weeks.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

It's almost summer

Once again it's been a while since I've posted here, but to be honest not too much has been happening in theaters or on TV. But there have been a few bright spots. Let me discuss them here.

Science fiction movies: The Adjustment Bureau and Source Code to be specific. I really enjoyed both of these movies. I don't know that I'll be adding them to my collection, but they were great distractions that had me thinking after I left the theater. They were both solid 3 star movies. I read a number of reviews that talked about plot holes and things that supposedly didn't make sense, but I didn't find any problems when I watched the movies. Definitely worth seeing either in theaters or on Blu-ray.

Fringe: This show just keeps getting better and better. I never know what's going to happen next... and that's always a good thing.

Award nominated movies: The award nominated movies are all now making their way to DVD and Blu-ray. So far I've quite enjoyed, 127 Hours, Winter's Bone, The Fighter, The Town, True Grit and The King's Speech (the last two in theaters).

Music: I got a record player for Christmas and I have enjoyed listening to oldies albums that I have either bought or had given to me. There's something cool about that crackling sound on a Beatles/Dylan/Stone album that's just cool. Plus I found an awesome live Neil Diamond album that I now love.

Sitcoms: Parks and Rec, The Office, Big Bang Theory, Modern Family, and The Middle are all really funny right now. They are much better than most dramas that are on the air right now.

The fall season: The list of pilots being created by the big networks look amazing. If only 20% are as awesome as they sound, this fall will do a lot for bringing back genre television. Not to mention the great stars coming back to TV: Zooey Deschanel, Sarah Michelle Gellar, half the cast of Battlestar Galactica, Will Arnett, Friday Night Lights alums, etc.

So there you have it. Now I look forward to summer where there's almost a movie every week that I can't wait to see.

See you then.

Monday, January 24, 2011

I'm bothered

So, I'm not going to review any media today, though I think if you haven't seen the PBS/BBC series "Sherlock," you definitely should. Today I'm going to talk about one of my pet peeves.

I like to read entertainment blogs. I enjoy,,, and other sites. One thing I've noticed is that several blogs like to have the occasional articles about why certain things are not popular with the movie going public. Some examples include "Why don't people watch westerns anymore?" "Why aren't people going to see star-driven movies?" "Are comic book movies on their way out?" etc. Then they go on to say that people aren't going to see these types of movies because of the genre or because they are played out.

I saw one the other day that posited, "Is America ready for second-tier superheroes?" It drove me crazy. America is ready for good movies. People went and saw "Iron Man" because it was a good movie. People didn't go and see "Daredevil" and "Electra" because those movies sucked. People stopped going to westerns because Hollywood stopped making good ones. People stopped going to Batman movies in the nineties because "Batman and Robin" was awful, not because people were tired of Batman. They came back to the theater once Christopher Nolan made some good Batman movies.

Now to be fair, plenty of good movies make no money. But never do I see those movies as examples in these articles. It's always "Sex and the City 2" didn't make any money, so American women must not want to watch movies made for them.... NOO. It's because (from what I hear) the movie sucked hard. Women will go see "women movies" if they are good.

People went to see a western in droves recently. The new "True Grit" is one of the highest grossing westerns of all time. Why did people suddenly want to watch westerns? Because the Coen bros. made a good one.

Here's another example, bloggers always ask, "Do people not want to watch sci-fi on tv? They watched "Lost" but they didn't stick with "Heroes" or "FlashForward" or whatever the sci-fi show of the moment is. NO, people love sci-fi. Look at the top grossing movies of all time. Most of them are sci-fi/fantasy. It's because "Lost" was good and those other shows weren't.

So, sorry to go off on this rant. But I just find it so lame that these articles keep finding their way on to the Internet. Are there any blog topics that infuriate you? Perhaps ones that go off on pointless rants...

Friday, December 31, 2010

The last day of the year

Today is the last day of the year and I've been reading a lot of top ten columns in different newspapers. It made me think, 'gosh, maybe I should do that.' Well I went to a website that listed every movie that came out this past year and I found that I liked a lot of movies but I only really loved a handful of movies. So instead of a top ten list, I'm going to list my favorite movies (the ones I will probably or have already bought on Blu-ray). Then I will list some honorary mentions for movies I liked but will probably not add to my collection.

Here goes. My two favorite movies from the past year were "Inception" and "Scott Pilgrim vs the World." Now if you had asked me at the beginning of the year what movies I thought I would probably like the most this year, I would have probably named both of those movies. I love it when my expectations are met or exceeded.

I loved "Inception" because it was such an original concept. The movie wasn't dumbed down, it was exciting and it had some amazing effects. The script was also engaging. I love a movie that you come out of and you feel like you want to continue talking about it. Or you find yourself thinking about it days later. Both of which I did after seeing this. One of the most important things that can endear me to a movie or TV show is originality and this one had it in spades.

"Scott Pilgrim" also had major originality, even more so probably than "Inception." It's hard to even describe this movie. I wouldn't even begin to try to describe it. But it is frenetic, loud, and hilarious. The comic book it is based on is a great read. As far as the movie goes, when I first saw it in the theater it was under some poor conditions and that affected the way I felt about the movie. I was so glad to find that when I watched it again later, it was really a great ride. This movie is not for everyone, but if you like video games, indie bands or comic books, there's a good chance you'll enjoy this one.

Next on my list is "The Social Network." I also found myself thinking and talking about it hours and days after I had seen it. I was already a fan of Aaron Sorkins, so I was excited to go see this movie, despite it being called the 'Facebook movie.' This movie was just so good and worthy of all the praise it has been getting. Just a fascinating portrayal of one of the richest men in American and the road he took to get there.

"Toy Story 3" is another feather in Pixar's hat. I was watching the Blu-ray special features last night and found myself dreaming of what it would be like to work for Pixar. These are the most creative guys in Hollywood and they make family movies. What more could a guy ask for? This was by far my favorite Toy Story movie and any studio that can make the third entry in a trilogy good deserves to be the winner of many awards.

"Iron Man 2" may not be the best Marvel movie but gosh, I enjoyed it. I've had several people point out the 'flaws' of this movie, but for whatever reason I just enjoyed the hell out of this one. Maybe it's because it's preparing the way for Joss Whedon's Avengers movie... or maybe it's just too chock full of geeky references, but I gladly call this one of my favorite movies of the year.

Finally, the last movie on my list is "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 1." I don't know if this is the best movie of the series, but if it's not, it's certainly at the top of the heap. It was great. It followed the book almost perfectly and I can't wait for the conclusion. So good.

As you can tell I lean towards the genre entries. So if you're not into these type of movies, feel free to ignore my list. That's who I am. But I would say I don't love any genre movie that comes along, just the well written, directed and acted ones. Also I didn't see every movie that came out this past year so there are probably some movies I would have loved that I have not seen yet.

My honorable mentions from this year include:

Shutter Island

The Ghost Writer

How to Train Your Dragon

Kick Ass

The Other Guys

Nowhere Boy





Despicable Me

True Grit

I would like to give a shoutout to two of the worst movies of the last year. "Leap Year" and "When in Rome." I watched both of those movies because I'm a big fan of Kristen Bell and Amy Adams, but gosh those movies were such garbage. Filled with unlikable characters and situations that literally made me groan out loud. Ugh. Avoid at all costs.
Also "Dinner for Shmucks" was awful.

So what did you think of the movies that came out in the last year?

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Last Two Weeks

It's been a week or two since the last post. I've seen a few movies since then. I saw "RED," starring Bruce Willis and a bunch of other famous people. I thought it was pretty good. It's at least worth a matinee. John Malkovich was the highlight for me. I also like Mary Louise Parker, who I haven't liked that much in the past. It seemed like she always played abrasive characters. But she's quite good in this. The movie is fun and I recommend it. B+

I finally saw the new Karate Kid movie, starring Will Smith's son. When I first saw the trailer, I really had no desire to see it, but after it came out, I heard enough good things about it, to put it on my Redbox list. So I rented it over the weekend. It was pretty good. I mean, it was really formulaic and predictable, but it had enough charm to be entertaining. It was also a little long, but nothing too bad. Jaden does a great job and of course Jackie Chan is good. Is it better than the original? Probably, but the original has such nostalgia for me and many others that it's hard compare the two. Yes, the original from a non-biased perspective is probably not a very good film, but I still have a fondness for it anyways. Sweep the leg!

We bought a few blu-rays in the past week. We bought "Beauty and the Beast." And it looks spectacular in blu-ray. Well worth upgrading to. The special features are pretty great as well. I love watching the behind the scene features on the classic Disney movies. My wife gave me "Iron Man 2" for my b-day. I still really enjoyed it. Yes, I can see the flaws that others mention, but for whatever reason they don't bother me. The special features on this disc were also quite good. Finally, I bought "Dollhouse" season 2, but I haven't had a chance to watch it yet. But I did see the special features and watch about 10 minutes of an episode and it looks great in High Def. When it was on the air, it always looked horrible because we didn't have a high def TV and the Comcast signal was crap. We have since upgraded and I am very happy.

What am I looking forward to in the next few months:

Harry Potter 7 (part 1)
Tron 2
True Grit.

Definitely not interested in:

The Little Fockers

I enjoyed the original, but the sequel was sooo awful. The trailer for this one looks very similar.

What are you all looking forward to this Winter?

Or are you like me and think for the most part the movies look weak and are really looking forward to this summer with such gems as:

Captain America
Cowboys and Aliens
Green Lantern
Super 8

See ya next time.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Where have I been?

Where have I been the last few months? I don't know. I don't really have an excuse. I will try to do better, but who knows, I may not blog again for a few months.... so... yeah.

Since we last talked I have seen a few movies. I'll start with "The Social Network" which I thought was great. I was a big "West Wing" fan and have enjoyed Aaron Sorkin's writing in the past. But it's not just the writing that's great in the movie, the acting is great, the directing is great and the music is great. I just really enjoyed this story.

I also saw "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" which wasn't bad. It was a little slow in parts but it's worth a rental. Unless you hate Shia Lebouf (which I have been told some people do).

I saw "Kick Ass" and "Shutter Island" on DVD and thought they were very good. I saw "Clash of the Titans" which wasn't very good and "Prince of Persia" which was ok.

As far as the TV season goes, I haven't been that impressed. I think "The Event" holds promise... I'm just hoping it doesn't turn into "FlashForward." "Lone Star" which had promise was canceled. "I've given up on "No Ordinary Family" but may come back to it if I hear good things. I couldn't muster the energy to give anything else a try (except for Hawaii 5-0 which was good, but I'm not a big 'procedural' person). I think the best thing to do is to stick with older shows. "Fringe" is still amazing. "Chuck" and "House" are still entertaining. "Modern Family," "The Office" and "30 Rock" are still funny. And I'm excited about "Smallville" this year. He better fly and put on the suit before this whole thing is over or I'm going to be ANGRY.

As far as books go, I haven't read too much lately because I don't have a commute anymore to listen to audiobooks. But I really enjoyed the Hunger Games trilogy, even though the final book was a major downer. I'm trying to get through the biography "Truman" which is good, but unbelievably long. 48 discs!

And music is just falling through the cracks. I really need to get back on track there. How do you sift through all the stuff that is out there?

Let me know what you're enjoying and what I should make sure to listen/read/watch.


P.S. Bring it down a notch America!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Paul McCartney experience

Yes, it's been a long time in the making. Paul's visit to Utah was over a month ago, but it's taken me a while to get to writing about it. Maybe, I just don't want to admit that it has come and gone... and will probably not happen again.

As anybody who knows me knows, I'm a massive Beatles fan. So, when I heard Paul was coming to Utah, I was obviously thrilled. I had seen Sir Paul once before back in 2002. My friends and I drove to Denver to see him. And it was an out of body experience. Monday night (the night before the concert) I went down to the Rio Tinto Stadium to see if I could get a chance at hearing a sound check or possibly getting an autograph at the back entrance. I had researched online and saw that some people had success doing that at other locations. Unfortunately, the only thing I saw was some groupies who follow Paul to different concerts. They had some crazy (if true) stories. The next day I took work off early and met up with my wife so we could meet up with our friends at Joe's Crab Shack at Jordan Commons. I was absolutely not impressed with the service... but I guess that's another story. We got into the stadium about 20 minutes before the scheduled start time. And this being a rock concert it started about 40 minutes late. But once the show started it was great song after great song. The first half of the concert was solo/Wings heavy... but it was great because in my opinion he chose some of the best of those. He sang 1985, Mrs. Vandebilt and Dance Tonight. My only criticism is I would have switched out 'My Love' for 'Maybe, I'm Amazed.' I also think he could've chosen a better solo song than 'Let em in.' Actually here is the set list for the night.

1. Venus and Mars / Rockshow

2. Jet

3. All My Loving

4. Letting Go

5. Drive My Car

6. Highway

7. Let Me Roll It

8. The Long And Winding Road

9. Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five

10. Let ‘Em In

11. My Love

12. I’ve Just Seen A Face

13. And I Love Her

14. Blackbird

15. Here Today

Ram On (not listed in official playlist)

16. Dance Tonight

17. Mrs Vandebilt

18. Eleanor Rigby

19. Something

20. Sing The Changes

21. Band On The Run

22. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

23. Back In The USSR

24. I’ve Got A Feeling

25. Paperback Writer

26. A Day In The Life / Give Peace A Chance

27. Let It Be

28. Live And Let Die

29. Hey Jude


30. Day Tripper

31. Lady Madonna

32. Get BackSecond


33. Yesterday

34. Helter Skelter

35. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band / The End

Yes, 35 songs. The show lasted almost three hours. And as you can see there were a plethora of Beatles songs for the second half of the show. My personal favorites were Back in the USSR, I've Got a Feeling, Live and Let Die, Get Back and Helter Skelter. Hearing those songs live gave me a new appreciation for them. As you can see the rest of the setlist was full of iconic songs. Unfortunately the Beatles have so many hits, he couldn't have sung them all. But he made a vailiant effort.

Paul had some great charisma and talked with the audience throughout the span of the show. He joked around and seemed like he was having a great time. He made particular mention of the fact that this was his and his band's 200th show together. He carried out the Utah flag for his first encore. Speaking of Paul's band, they were just great. They played every song perfectly. Such a great group. I especially enjoyed watching his drummer get into the songs. Paul is in his late sixties, but he sounded great and had the energy of someone in their twenties. Turns out one of my co-workers neighbors was the limo driver for Paul while he was in Salt Lake and he said Paul was a "class act." Which is cool to hear.

It was great to have my wife with me at the show. It was fun to share the excitement with her. We also went with some friends and they all agreed it was one of the best concerts they had been to. So all in all, it was a great night, with great music, great weather and great company.

This concert was Paul's first time performing in Utah. I was really impressed with the Rio Tinto people, in getting him to come here. I was also impressed with the welcome they gave him. They even put up an I-15 billboard the day of the concert welcoming him to the state. When Paul ended his show he said, "We'll see you next time, Salt Lake City." Here's hoping that isn't an empty promise.