Recent Watches: Stallone and Scwarzenegger Still Have…Something

Stallone’s arm looks like the map of an RPG game…

While I was watching Escape Plan, I couldn’t help but think DAMN! THE VEINS! THE VEINS! Sylvester Stallone has veins popping out of his arm so hard I’m surprised a slight brush burn doesn’t burst them open, and Arnold Scwarzenegger’s veins ain’t no slouch either. Do those things hurt? Do they make the steroid usage easier? I had so many questions, I almost forgot that movie was on.

But in the scope of action films, there are few names who will ever provide as much oomph as Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Scwarzenegger, and even though I’ll be the first to admit they are fairly past their prime (Stallone’s plastic surgery is looking messy), watching them is still amusing, just in a slightly different way. A bit less badass, a little bit more funny.

Speaking of “a bit funny,” although let’s replace “a bit” with “aplenty,” can we just acknowledge the awesomeness that is Woody Harrelson? The folks watching True Detective are most likely taking advantage of the quality acting they’re getting out of this man, and as it usually goes, McConaughey will probably take the bigger share of the acclaim. This isn’t a knock on Harrelson, but McConaughey’s character is bred for Emmy domination. Watching Harrelson’s character is a real magic act, and when he loses its temper, its always partially deep and effective, but a bit of a laugh riot at the same time.

To wrap up my savvy little intro, I’ll state that I am officially joining Team Cumberbatch. You watch Sherlock and try to fight the addiction, odds are you’ll fail as well.

Is it a smart move to cover their eyes like that?

Escape Plan

Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Scwarzenegger team up to punch bad guys and talk tough and hope they make a big enough payday to afford a few more surgeries.

Ok, just kidding.

But seriously, I couldn’t decide what the most entertaining part of this film was. I had a few options, although by the end of this you’re going to be wondering about that previous sentence and why it suggested this movie was so good. But anyway, we have:

1. Jim Caviezel completely camping it up

2. Arnold going full accent (the scene where he just screams is hilarious)

3. Sylvester playing a character who we must assume has a borderline-genius IQ

4. 50 Cent playing a character who we must assume has a borderline-genius IQ

Jus’t. Can’t. Decide. But anyway, Sylvester Stallone plays this guy who can break out of any prison, and the CIA contacts him about this ultra-prison, but OOPS! It’s an inside job and now Stallone must survive and escape the prison by his own wits and the powers of Arnold Scwarzenegger. Jim Caviezel plays the surprise warden of the prison, and hams it up in the finest B-movie action fashion. Kudos that he can stand with the heavyweights and steal a few scenes in his own right.

It’s too long, it’s cheesy, and it’s the kind of movie that wants to make you think it’s really smart while staying as vague as it possibly can. Nevertheless, it’s not all bad, Stallone might have been in on the joke because there seem to be some potshot intentional laughs, and this is probably the only movie you can see 50 Cent play a character who we must assume has a borderline-genius IQ.

Deep breath….

6 out of 10

Out of the Furnace

This is one of those movies that was built for the big-time. Featuring quality-acting extraordinaire with Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Woody Harrelson,  Willem Dafoe and the list goes on, it’s backed by Ridley Scott and Leonardo DiCaprio, and had a wide theatrical release on December 6th, 2014? You know that sounds like Oscars, don’t you be ignorant with me. Big names, December release, it reeks of Oscar hopefulness. Out of the Furnace sets out a bit more than what it is able to achieve, and that’s a shame, because it’s a generally decent flick.

Russell (Christian Bale) and Rodney (Casey Affleck) are brothers on a different path. Russell works at the mill all day and has a good woman to come home to, while Rodney is a troubled veteran leaning into the world of betting (and debts). Russell helps pay those bets until an accident one night sends him to jail. Rodney resorts to a street fighting ring to pay take over payments of the debts, brother gets out, Rodney ruffles the wrong feathers, in steps our revenge tale.

Yes, Out of the Furnace is just that. It’s a revenge tale. It’s not an entirely special one, and not as backwoods mysticism as it attempts to be. The first half is engaging, but the second half plays out pretty much scene-for-scene as you would expect it would after that first half. It just ends…a bit average. Thankfully, it has a wonderful cast who all do a shining job in this flick. Woody Harrelson is an evil marvel, Christian Bale is 3:10 to Yuma good again, and I loved them all. Even Zoe Seldana got me in her breakdown scene in front of her former lover.

It ain’t Oscar-worthy, but it does deliver entertainment.

7 out of 10

There’s love in those eyes…

Sherlock Seasons 1 & 2

I finally grew ashamed. I had watched two whole seasons of an American Sherlock Holmes, one that lasts TWENTY-TWO episodes and is…well, not all British, and yet I’d not watched any of the neatly-packed, 3-episode format, 90 minutes each episode, of a, well, all British Sherlock Holmes. So I scrolled through on my Netflix List, found Sherlock, and gave it a go. I made it through the first two seasons, and I have to say I’m totally getting the hype on Benedict Cumberbatch. I mean, I thought he had been the best part of Star Trek: Into Darkness as well, but I had been wondering what else there was to this guy.

I’m totally seeing it. I love how freakin’ Sherlock-ish Cumberbatch is. I can’t even begin to describe how much fun it was watching Holmes go up against Moriarity. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to read a Moriarity story again and not see and hear Andrew Scott in my head. He’s so enterprising and charismatic, and the dialogue flows so well it’s damn poetic. I can’t wait to move onto Season 3, because, you know, the show ends with Sherlock and Moriarity both being dead, so that should be interesting.

9 out of 10

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But seriously, if we’re going to team Stallone and Scwarzenegger up, can there always be a 50 Cent in the background?

‘Man of Steel’ makes internet go “WTF” again, casts Jessie Eisenberg as Lex Luthor

Lex Luthor rocks hoodies like nobody’s business

Chances are, you’ve probably already been shocked by at least one of the casting choices in the upcoming Man of Steel sequel. Some nasty comments about Ben Affleck’s ability to portray Batman, perhaps? Some lengthy notation about Gal Godot’s lacking muscles? Or maybe you’re still telling us Henry Cavill wasn’t right for the job of the guy in the blue tights and red cape.

To put it quite simply, if you haven’t had a complain yet, you’re most likely in the minority.

But Zack Snyder and his team of casting trailblazers are giving you another opportunity, with a totally out-of-left-field casting for Lex Luthor. Entertainment Weekly reported earlier today that Jesse Eisenberg, who most had panned as a Michael Cera alternative until he wow’ed us with douchebaggery in The Social Network, will be playing the role of Lex Luthor.

I’m seeing the resemblance already….

Yes, we’re not kidding, this is actually happening.

In general, I don’t ever find myself too shocked with casting news, but this one had me doing a double take (and more research, to make sure this hadn’t been an entire glitch in the system of logic). However, I’d also like to say that I’m not making this post to log a line of complaints over the choice, either. I was shocked, yes, but more and more I’m really noticing the quality of actors they’re surrounding Cavill with for what could be one of the most heavy-hitting sequels of all time.

Let’s face it, every time you try and draw a “this is a ridiculous choice” card on a superhero movie, you’re going to have to reference back to that time in 2008 we all laughed when The Dark Knight creative team had cast a dreamy blonde-haired pretty-boy who hadn’t done any sort of role like that up until that point. And, because he was a terrific actor and he had a terrific director, he knocked it out of the park.

The Social Network showed a cool, calculating side to the usually goofy Eisenberg

I can definitely spout positive words for Eisenberg’s acting chops, and personally, as a fan of the guy, I’m intrigued to see the evolution he’ll have to undergo to achieve in such an undertaking. As for the great director bit…I think the jury’s still out on Zack Snyder. I love the guy’s visual style (it’d be nice if he weighted it down a bit more with some depth), but in terms of Man of Steel, I thought it was a really ambitious effort that mostly did what it had set out to do, and I felt that Snyder has a lot of passion for getting this project right, and in a way, righting Superman’s identity with a growing community of folks blathering about how Superman is boring (he isn’t, by the way).

I haven’t even begun to check out comments on the various blogs and news sites, but I can imagine there’s just about as much hate as there was for the choice of Ben Affleck. With the movie not arriving until 2016, I’d suggest you all save some of that negativity for when we can actually get some visuals, possibly even a teaser. It’s best not to judge on name and identity alone, because, well, this is film, and it’s all about the transformation. What I think more people need to be focusing on is how the sequel to Man of Steel seems to be pretty focused on getting quality actors to fill up their main slots. It helps to learn from the best, and the Batman franchise had the likes of Liam Neeson, Heath Ledger, Cillian Murphy, Tom Hardy, and Aaron Eckhart take center stage  It’s encouraging to see the Man of Steel franchise attempt this same route, as they matched the first film with the likes of Michael Shannon, Amy Adams, Diane Lane, and the list goes on.

What do I really say to Jesse Eisenberg being casted as Lex Luthor?

I say why not?

Totally hope he wears the suit…

What Movie Shall You See This Weekend? (1/31-2/2)

Zac Efron in an R-rated bro-comedy! Wooo!

But honestly, I’m interested in the popular opinion of Zac Efron these days, because….well, my Efron angst has gone down in recent years, but I’ve actually found him to be a pretty likable actor in the past few years, and even I can admit he does have some charming moments. Naturally, any male my age is practically destined to spew hate at a guy who made a major living at singing and doing synchronized lunch-tray passing in kid-oriented musicals, but he’s past that now, and he’s been trying to show it. He’s really been trying to instill that “quality over hair shininess” technique by digging into some independent scripts, and there’s a chance you haven’t seen any of his last five movies.

Still, the one thing he hadn’t really done yet is headline a comedy specifically for the dudes he had once been destined to be despised by. It’s a pretty long title to nab, but with That Awkward Moment coming out this weekend, he appears to be going for it.

Good luck, Mr. Efron, I’m almost rooting for you.

Ballin’ bros complaining about girls

That Awkward Moment

First Thoughts – A whole bunch of men in a handbasket

Three dudes have that moment in life where they have to decide where things are going and what they really want out of their relationships. While nothing especially original, I think That Awkward Moment is relying more on its up-and-coming boy package (and Zac Efron) to get this one into a satisfying place on the box office charts. Miles Teller scored a big victory with his performance in The Spectacular Now and is getting some well-deserved recognition, and Michael B. Jordan has been a TV mainstay on cult favorites The Wire and Friday Night Lights. There are plenty of good-looking ladies too.

It hasn’t gotten off to the best start with critics, sitting with just a 20% on the Tomatometer, but will that stop bros from going out to support the team? Or will High School Musical alum Zac Efron achieve this feat all on his own?

Making dinner with recently escaped convicts…is it on your bucket list?

Labor Day

Jason Reitman has been a worthy nominee for our generation’s master of the dramedy. The director behind works such as Up in the Air, Juno, and Young Adult, he’s always given seemingly bleak stories a little light with quirky characters filled with hopes, regrets, dreams, you name it. However, I don’t think you should be expecting that same, gritty-but-I-can-still-smile approach to Labor Day, which seems to go the route of the more straightforward drama.

An unhappy single mom and her son pick up an escaped convict on the road (they don’t know he’s an escaped convict, obviously), and while police do their searching throughout the town, the mom and son get to know more about this mysterious man and his past, and form a bond with him. It’s an interesting premise in that mixing of morals that Reitman usually does, but again, don’t expect a lot of comedy out of this one.

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Since there’s probably a number of you shaking your heads to your choices thusfar, allow me to offer some independent choices. There’s the modestly charming At Middleton, starring Andy Garcia and the Farmiga sister-sister duo, arriving in limited theaters. The sisters actually play mother and daughter in this one, and Vera and Andy Garcia are two single parents who fall in love amidst some hooky action during their children’s college tour.

There’s also Best Night Ever, the new comedy from the directing duo of Jason Friedberg and Adam Seltzer, who have brought us the modern-day classics such as Date Movie, Epic Movie, Meet the Spartans, Disaster Movie, would you like me to continue, probably not, because they’ve continued you long enough…but yeah, you could go see it, I guess.

A pretty extensive labor of love

For the fans of the foreign flick, there’ Love is in the Air, a French rom com about a man who ends up sitting next to his ex-girlfriend…on a seven hour flight. Have fun, fella. For the documentary folk, there’s Tim’s Vermeer, an intriguing look at the famous works of Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, and how he was successfully able to paint so vividly and realistic before such things as photography ever existed.

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That wraps up this weekend, it’s been a pleasure breaking down the picks as always. Hope there’s something out there for you to go and enjoy, so go, support the arts, and denounce the crap….speaking of crap…

Well…yeah, I am, sir. I totally am.

DVD Watch: January 28th, 2014

There’s no better time for DVD rentals than these lowly beginning months to the year, where the dredge piling into the theaters is practically overwhelming. Thankfully, there are some nice DVD releases coming out this week, with plenty of different genre choices for a viewer in whatever mood they might happen to be in. Wanna see vampires? Check. Wanna see a guy dressed as an old man being a jackass? Check. Want something for the family, perhaps with a chance of meatballs (who sees what I did there)? Check. The list goes on, and on, and, well, let’s just get to the list, shall we?

A picture of what could best be described as a vampire taking a crap…

Argentino’s Dracula 

The legendary horror director Dario Argento just keeps on ticking, with a special little installment that is also known as Dracula 3D. It’s gotten horrible reviews, it stars his daughter (and Rutger Hauer, yes, the hobo who shot bad guys with a shotgun), and you probably weren’t even aware that this movie existed.

What is this, I don’t even…

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2

Not sure how many folks saw the first installment and thought, “boy, this really needs a sequel,” but nevertheless, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was such a smash success it turned itself into a franchise. Basically, Flint Lockwood and his buddies have to stop the invention (which actually survived) that he created, and they’ll be fighting “foodimals” in the process. Foodimals, you ask? Well, you’ll just have to see it to believe it.

When getting it on with your significant other just doesn’t do it anymore…

Concussion

This independent drama is a first-time directorial debut for Stacie Passon, who also wrote the screenplay. It’s about a marriage that’s lost its passion, and one of those ladies in the marriage runs off searching for more, in the ways of sexual thrills and other stuff, and yeah, you’ve heard it before, but Concussion was able to gain some nice word-of-mouth from some critics, and watching beautiful ladies searching for sexual thrills is never really a boring affair, is it?

Moriarity took such a toll on Sherlock his hair went gray, poor guy…

The Fifth Estate

This is one I’ll be personally looking to rent ASAP. It wasit’ a box office bomb, a general disappointment with critics, but pretty much like everyone else who regularly watches Sherlock, I’m a sucker for some Benedict Cumberbatch. It’s a cinematic retelling of Wikileaks, which was a pretty big deal not too long ago, and is still regularly discussed as one of the most debated and controversial internet upstarts of all time. With such an interesting story like that, it’s hard to see where they could have went wrong, but I’ll just have to watch for myself to find out.

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa

Finally, a film I’ve actually seen! It’s quite simple; if you’re a fan of Jackass stuff, then you’ll most likely be a fan of this movie. If you’ve never really liked their antics before, don’t even bother. Johnny Knoxville dresses up as an old man and takes a cross country trip with a kid. There’s alcoholism, theft, property damage, strippers, a lot of awkward moments and plenty of weird hilarity. All I can say is it’s amazing Knoxville made it the whole way through without getting his face punched in.

My Rating: 8 out of 10

What is this, I don’t even….PART 2

Last Vegas

A bunch of old guys go to Vegas, and I’ll assume that hijinx ensue. Think of it as The Hangover for the geriatric crowd.

YEAH, METAL.

Metallica Through the Never

Metallica put this part-concert, part-film out in IMAX theaters last year, but if you missed it, I’m sure they’ll be able to rock your television screens just as hard. There’s a kid who takes this mission through a riot city, and throughout there is footage of various concerts of theirs from 2012. Obviously, this probably isn’t a film you should see if you don’t like Metallica, but from what I’ve heard from Metallica fanboys, it’s definitely worth a watch if you dig the music. I hear, in short, that it kicks ass.

13 years later, Liev Schreiber can finally fall in love with his wife all over again

A Perfect Man

LIev Schreiber plays a dude who falls back in love with his wife after his wife impersonates another woman over the phone. This was filmed 13 years ago (yes, officially filmed in 2000), but the production company had pulled out. When the director showed a rough cut to some film folk at a workshop, he worked to get the rest of the financing and thus, here it is. If anything, it’s an inspiring story to those who might think that sometimes films just magically appear in theaters like clockwork. Nah, friends, sometimes it takes a lot of effort.

Rush

This would be my personal pick of the week in terms of rentals. Rush features the special rivalry between Formula One drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda that took place throughout the 1970’s. It will hit you harder if you don’t know much about their feud (I didn’t, and I was hit hard), but even heavy Formula One fans will still get some nostalgic satisfaction in the adrenaline-fueled racer, and actors Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Bruhl are terrific. Ron Howard directs this one with precision, knowing when to put the pedal to the metal, and when to let the characters take form.

My Rating: 9 out of 10

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As I said, there’s plenty to be renting this week, so don’t worry, you can pass on the likes of I, Frankenstein, that movie starring Zac Efron, and any other film affairs in theaters leaning a bit more towards the mediocre side. Get renting!

Recent Watches: Oscar contenders and all that jazz

With the Academy Awards just around the corner, I’ve been doing my best to view as many potential contenders as I can before the big dance-off. This week I caught up with two of the dark horses, Rush and The Spectacular Now. I almost didn’t watch The Spectacular Now, at least until I noticed the crazy hype surrounding it. It’s not your average coming-of-age love story, that’s for sure. I was hoping to find some spooks in Carrie, which I watched a few days ago, but it came up short. Was it just me or was Chloe Grace Moretz giving her best portrayal of a haunted spirit from an Asian horror film? All the jerky arm movements, the twitchy eyes, the hair in the face, CLASSIC tortured-Asian-spirit-lingering-for-vengeance maneuver. 

As for television, I finally capped off my Eastbound & Down run, one of the strangest shows I have ever watched. There’s something really special about McBride, who completely stole the show from the rest of that little comedy troupe in This is the End. There’s a strong sense of earnestness in Kenny Power’s persona, and McBride was able to take a character with little redeeming value, and make what little value there was be noticeable enough to make him like her. I kept finding myself giving excuses for Kenny after each ridiculous act, because early on, probably by the end of season 1, Danny McBride had me won. 

Long live Kenny Powers.

Rush

I know very little about racing, so little in fact that I was ignorant to this story from the 70’s about the rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda. If you haven’t heard about it either, it’s wildly entertaining, and far from your typical sports rivalry. Ron Howard gives the film an accelerated feel, keeping the races going by at a brisk pace, the drama slowly building. I can’t speak enough praise for Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl, who mastered their characters, and gave performances worthy of Oscar noms. Even if you are familiar with the story, this is probably the cleanest re-enactment you can get, and it’s a really touching tribute to the former F-1 drivers.

She’s grown up to be such a darling girl…

Carrie

Can a story be outdated, or is it the execution of the film itself? This was a question I found myself pondering while watching the newest Stephen King film adaption. While watching, I couldn’t help but feel the film was…pointless? Moved on? Irrelevant? I don’t know exactly what words to place in my mouth for this one, but the movie never grabbed me. This is perhaps because since the first Carrie was shown on TV decades ago,  large and never-ending handfuls of films were influenced, or at least accidentally made a film with all the same themes. For the most part, this version plays an awful lot like the original, although perhaps getting a bit more gruesome in the end. But to the genre itself, it definitely doesn’t bring anything new, or even anything touched up. It simply comes, passes, and that’s that.

Young love at its most terrifying

The Spectacular Now

What first starts out like one of those seen-it before, bored-of-it coming-of-age romances, quickly gains depth through the authentic characters, and becomes far from ordinary in a shocking twist at the end of the second act. Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley give wonderful performances, and have a strong chemistry that will be dragging your heartstrings through the dirt by the end of it. I’ve heard it through the rumor pipeline that The Spectacular Now is a bit of a long shot in the Best Film race, but a nomination is a possibility. Well, I guess every film has a possible chance, but this one’s, well, you know, a bit more of a chance. Yeah, ok, moving on…

Yes, that would be Kenny “Fucking” Powers

Eastbound & Down, Season 4

I have to say, this is one of the strangest shows I’ve seen. Kenny Powers is hard to describe in mere mortal words, and it’s really one of those things you just have to see for yourself. I had heard about Eastbound & Down and Kenny Powers for years, but it took me forever to actually watch it, but then I was hooked. And honestly, I thought the final season was the strongest. I have a special fondness for a show based on going off the rails giving us a finale season where everything goes off the rails times eleven. Season 4 was beyond ridiculous, Kenny Powers was completely reprehensible, and I loved every minute of it.

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Next up will be an American Hustle review, an Oscar frontrunner which I got the chance to see this very night. Can’t wait to talk about it!

‘The Desolation of Smaug’ gives us new hope in this old hobbit

It’s Legolas, bro.

I don’t think any of us were expecting to be as WOW’ed with The Hobbit franchise as everybody was with The Lord of the Rings, but…well, we still wanted to be kinda wow’ed dammit. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was like a high school friend coming to town on a business trip, and when you catch up for pints, there’s still a strong hint of “them” in there, but it’s wrapped up in someone else. An Unexpected Journey looked majestic and boasted majestic thoughts, but it had some moments of the ole’ dragging-out ways, and there were far too many “well shit, let’s just run!” moments bogging it down. It was still good, mainly because Tolkien is awesome and wrote a masterpiece, but it was forced as more of an acquired taste than a pleasant charm.

Thankfully, The Desolation of Smaug, the second in the franchise centered around one, yes you read that right, one book, is a bit easier to love than its predecessor. It certainly helps the film’s chances that most of the lengthy introductions have been completed, and the characters already begin in the thick of things. The dwarves and Bilbo are well on their trip to the Lonely Mountain, where Bilbo is set to attempt a burglary of the Arkenstone from the gigantic dragon that was most likely sleeping on top of the damn thing. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the crew is being chased down by the tyrant Azog and his crazy band of Orcs. Gandalf quickly leaves them after seeing some sort of tribal sign that surely meant end of days or something of particular apocalyptic intent.

There are elves this time, as Legolas makes what a diehard The Hobbit fanatic would call an “unscheduled appearance.” We even get an extra character as Evangeline Lily dons some elf ears as Tauriel, a character The Hobbit fanatic would call a “wait? who?” Legolas was at his showiest in this one, and the choreographed fight scenes are at their best when he’s being featured, and thankfully he is featured quite often. Yeah, he’s not an original part of the story, but Legolas is pretty cool, so, yeah, my apathetic thoughts on that one.

This is like 1/500th actual size, and it STILL looks awesome

The showdown between Bilbo and Smaug is a wonderfully filmed scene, and so far, the highlight of The Hobbit franchise. Smaug looks great, he sounds great, he’s all big and fiery, class-act dragon all around. When he wakes up, and begins weaving around Bilbo, with the hobbit slipping and sliding through the vast treasures, turned every which way by the dragon’s tail or head, it’s a very playful-esque suspense, a classic matching of a hobbit’s spirit in a life-or-death situation. There’s also a grand moment where Sauron finally reveals himself and goes all “I see you, hahaha” on Gandalf. I also praise how they beefed up Thorin Oakenshield’s character in this flick, and gave him a bit of a stronger identity, and less of a “I’m just trying to be Aragorn” one.

I found The Desolation of Smaug to be a really exciting way to come careening to what I only hope can be a BOMBASTIC finale. No matter how good the third one might be, however, The Lord of the Rings franchise surely has this one beat. Still, The Hobbit is the encore run for us Tolkien fans, and just because it ain’t as pretty doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty there to love. An Unexpected Journey had its moments (the dwarves singing and tossing plates at each other, anyone?), and The Desolation of Smaug has even more. They’ve saved some hearty amount of conflict in for that last film, so I really think we haven’t seen anything yet.

Come next winter, we’ll see Smaug take to the skies, and get some real movie magic.

Final Thoughts

It’s a really good film that paces itself better than its predecessor, while still admiring the content (and the scenery). The elves spice things up, Smaug looks sweet. It’s still a bit choppy, which happens when you’re making one book three movies close to three hours each, but at least, well, things happen, and they look cool.

Final Score

8/10

10 Things I can’t wait for (but have to, dammit) in 2014

Every year brings about another fresh round of entertainment, and we wipe the slates clean, and begin gorging on all the movies, television, video games, books, you-name-it that we can muster. I’ve compiled a healthy little myself that I thought I’d share with the readers, and give you guys a bit of an insight as to what’s catching this wandering eye in the year of 2014.

These entries are in no specific order, they’re just all amazingly awesome and worthy of typed praise.

 

Captain America: Winter Soldier

I am basically your average Avengers fanboy who has been in what one might describe a nerdy ecstasy over the last couple years. Not only do superheroes pound that box office with the best of them, the movies are actually pretty decent. Out of the newest line of Marvel films, however, I thought Captain America was the weakest of the bunch.  That doesn’t change my anticipation for the upcoming film, and the on-bringing of the Winter Soldier.

The trailer really explains all you need to see. Perhaps my favorite Marvel trailer since Iron Man.

A ninja knight dude or something like that…

Elder Scrolls Online

Yes, I’m one of those Oblivion dudes. There are very few video games that wrapped me up so enchantingly into their worlds, and Oblivion: Elder Scrolls was a beautiful, sweeping epic with more possibilities and variables than you’d ever have time to explore. Know what makes an epic even more epic? Why, how about making it an MMORPG?

Let’s face it, folks, there are plenty of playable hours in store for this one. I honestly see this game as being a huge game-changer or a crushing disappointment; I certainly think there’s enough hype surrounding it to limit it to those constraints. I myself have big expectations, especially after the strong follow-up to the Oblivion franchise that was Skyrim. They’ve been feeling it lately, and Elder Scrolls Online could be the big one.

He’s mighty stylish, AND mighty creepy

Hannibal Season Two

Let me be clear; not enough people talked about how great Hannibal in its first season. Seriously, it was one of the strongest debuts I’ve seen from a show that didn’t bear its existence from HBO, Showtime, or FX. Gleefully twisted and dark beyond normal network standards, with Mads Mikkelson mastering the role of the harrowing Hannibal Lector, it’s all one complex, thinking man’s creepfest.

There was so much going on in the first season, and the way each episode brought fresh horrors (and sometimes hallucinations), it made for frantic pacing and really got us caught up in the exhaustion and paranoia that eventually played part in taking down our main protagonist. The finale was a brilliant chess move, and as of now it seems like Hannibal has his opponent in checkmate. How will Will Graham come back from such insurmountable odds? Hannibal is a must-watch show.

FREE GAMES! FREE GAMES! FREE GAMES!

Playstation Plus and their Monthly Free Games

Getting Playstation Plus is one of the smartest (and cheapest) ways to get your game on. I can’t express how much more I’ve been able to explore the gaming world due to Playstation Plus. Normally, when we hear FREE GAMES, we’re always suspicious. And, well, that’s okay, because usually when things like FREE GAMES get offered, they’re getting offered because FREE is about what they’re worth. And, of course, they’re not exactly FREE, because you do have to have Playstation Plus, but let’s weigh out the details.

Playstation Plus for one year is $50. Besides discounts, exclusives, special sales, yadda yadda, you also get these FREE game downloads. I know the first thought you had, it was that these games were probably some super old clunkers, or moderately aged actioners, something of the like.

Here’s a list of some of the games now stored on my PS3 memory: Demon’s Souls, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Borderlands 2, Grid 2, and Darksiders. Here are some games no longer stored on my memory because I already beat them; Vanquish, Sleeping Dogs, inFAMOUS 2, Saints Row 3. Know what downloads are FREE next month? Bioshock Infinite and the newest Devil May Cry. Get the point? Playstation Plus is a joy to have, and 2014 is gonna rule.

Wonder for a second if True Detective was a comedy….

True Detective

Shows on HBO have the tendency to be awesome, and a cop show featuring the wiley chops of Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson is, well, it’s a big deal. The story is the chronicling of two detectives who cross paths in search of a serial killer. The creator, Nic Pozzolatto, is a big-time author and was the scribe for a couple episodes in the first season of AMC’s The Killing. This is going to be a big-time show for sure and hopefully a nice, gritty tale with some depth, giving some life into a tired genre.

The best part about this particular listing is that no one has to wait too long to experience this one. True Detective premieres on January 12th.

BEARDS.

New Fleet Foxes Album

The Fleet Foxes are an incredible, dream-like indie folk band, and their first two albums remain heavy favorites on my playlists. Last year, they did a bit of viral marketing for an upcoming project, what most fans can only assume will be a new album in the year of 2014. It’s been three years since their last album, and I’ve been dying for some new material to shut my eyes and get swept away to.

A new Fleet Foxes album would be the perfect order.

Eat your heart out, Scarecrow

Arrow Season 2 Conclusion

If you had any doubts about Arrow throughout Season 1 (and trust me, I had a few), the show has really improved its weaker areas, and given such a nice depth to some of its dark horse characters, like Laurel’s father. Brother Blood has been a solid success so far, and I even kind of like that Count guy, in a B-movie over-acting sort of way. There have still been some uber-cheesy moments I’d rather they just ignored (like Thea “boxing” with Roy), but overall this is a nicely stylized actioner with just enough of that Nolan flick to give The Green Arrow a solid debut into the mainstream.

The next episode, titled “Blast Radius,” will debut on January 15th. If you haven’t even been watching Arrow, now’s a perfect time to catch up!

He performs miracles and stuff

Neil Gaiman to Finish Miracleman

Started over 25 years ago, Neil Gaiman is finally getting a chance to finish his Miracleman story. An off-shot Captain Marvel for the British if you will, he had a brief run in the 50’s and early 60’s, and was later revived and given a refreshing new identity behind the pen of Alan Moore. Neil Gaiman would later continue with his own contributions, but the rights to this character became a very complicated matter, which actually led to Gaiman suing Spawn writer Todd McFarland for his use of the Miracleman character.

All that drama is in the past now, and Neil Gaiman is officially allowed to finish his tale. You have to respect that kind of dedication to a character and wanting to be the sole owner of the character’s rights. It was a battle well fought, and I can’t wait to see Gaiman does for his victory lap.

Just how many deaths can one guy have?

Dark Souls II

Let me be clear about this one; I haven’t even beaten Demon’s Souls yet. It’s one of the most challenging games I’ve come across, and I don’t just mean challenging in its actual gameplay; sometimes it seems to actually be daring you to try your best, only to come up short and start at the beginning. It’s a unique experience, and success never feels sweeter then when you’re lashing out one of those big nasty bosses.

Although I haven’t defeated all the baddies yet, I do own Dark Souls, and I’ve still got a few months to get it done; Dark Souls II isn’t set to be released until March. Hopefully I can catch up and be one of the grizzled veterans who can hope right into this sequel and start slicing demons. Still have to, uh…yeah, beat Demon’s Souls

Robocop

There are probably going to be a bunch of other movies I end up liking this one, but it’s official, there’s a release date, and at least out of all the stuff that will be coming out in the first half of the year, it looks like one of the stronger contenders. I’m slightly more than your average Robocop fan, having the Steelbox DVD of the original, and having at least seen the sequels. However, I’m not huge on it. That’s something that may change if this reboot is nearly as good as its first trailer. The mere appearance by Gary Oldman sparks enough excitement on its own.

I also love the new suit, by the way. The clunky, shiny brass was fine in the days of the cheesy action flick, but I appreciate them trying to modernize the product, and add a bit of stealth to the character. I’m really psyched for this one, and maybe we can get another franchise going! (yeah, I know, we don’t need them….)

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2014 is stacking up just alright with me so far, and there’ll be plenty to read, watch, and play that should satisfy folks of all ages. As the year’s already started, you’re probably already behind. But don’t worry; so am I. Welcome to another year of trying to catch up on all that entertainment-y goodness.