|Review by Benn Robbins|
|WTF Did I Just See?|
Nick and Tesla are bright 11-year-old siblings with a knack for science, electronics, and getting into trouble. When their parents mysteriously vanish, they’re sent to live with their Uncle Newt, a brilliant inventor who engineers top-secret gadgets for a classified government agency. It’s not long before Nick and Tesla are embarking on adventures of their own—engineering all kinds of outrageous MacGyverish contraptions to save their skin: 9-volt burglar alarms, electromagnets, mobile tracking devices, and more. Readers are invited to join in the fun as each story contains instructions and blueprints for five different projects.
|By Todd Sokolove|
[Writer]/Director Zak Penn (“X-Men 2,” “Avengers,” and “Incident at Loch Ness”) will be documenting the dig and the events around it. In addition to fans and media, a variety of people tied to the dig, video game, and film will be in attendance – including “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” video game designer Howard Scott Warshaw, a team of archaeologists and representatives from Xbox Entertainment Studios, Lightbox and Fuel Entertainment.
Reality, fantasy and adventure collide in this action-fueled animated movie from comic book legend Stan Lee. When Stan stumbles upon seven aliens who have crash-landed in the desert, he soon finds himself swept up in their journey as a top-secret military force led by the ominous Mr. Cross and the evil reptilian Taegons close in on the group. He quickly moves them to his Malibu beach house, but in order to guarantee their survival, Stan must show the Mighty 7 how to develop their powers and become Earth’s newest team of superhero fighters. Featuring the impressive voice talents of Sean Astin, Jim Belushi, Mayim Bialik, Darren Criss, Flea, Armie Hammer, Teri Hatcher, Michael Ironside and Christian Slater, it’s the first installment in a fascinating trilogy.And we're giving away a copy!
graph·ic nov·elnoun1. a novel in comic-strip format.
When Captain America throws his mighty shield,This classic and iconic Captain America Shield shirt from SuperHeroStuff is a must have!
All those who chose to oppose his shield must yield.
If he’s led to a fight and a duel is due,
Then the red and white and the blue’ll come through
When Captain America throws his mighty shield.
|Warner Bros. / Released 4/8/14|
The second in a trilogy of films adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug continues the adventure of the title character Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) as he journeys with the Wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellan) and thirteen Dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) on an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor. Extras include production videos, set visit, featurettes, trailers and music video.
Last Word: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, is the second installment in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit series. Highly disappointing. It’s a long, unclear compilation of tidbit stories overridden by special effects that poorly compensate for the slow-moving and tonally inconsistent plotlines. Peter Jackson did an excellent job with the Lord of the Rings films. Three movies for three books, so each film was self-contained and exciting. Desolation of Smaug doesn’t have a clear story. It’s middle ground that’s murky and unfinished. The group of dwarves travels, they get into trouble, they meet some elves, orcs are ever-presently growling, and they meet Smaug, the dragon. The little backstory that’s meant to intrigue falls flat and sappy.
In Desolation of Smaug, the elves are overly made-up drama-queens, the setting looks like just that, a set, and the movement of characters switches to full-on animation so often that it looks like you’re watching a video game segment. Similarly, the Orcs look ridiculous and completely fake. To those in charge of choreographing those claustrophobic fight-scenes, actual stuntmen and realistic movements are helpful in suspending disbelief.
The reason Jackson’s previous series worked well was because each film told a story, each added to the next, but were still strong enough to stand alone. Desolation of Smaug cannot stand on its own. It doesn’t add anything to the previous story, the characters are forgettable and don’t inspire sympathy. I was rooting for Aragorn in Two Towers. But I couldn’t care less about Thorin Oakenshield. I know he’s supposed to be important. But he’s not lovable. Bilbo is the enjoyable character, but even still, Martin Freeman’s performance feels tired and uncreative.
The biggest highlight was seeing Watson and Sherlock, excuse me, Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch interact as Bilbo and Smaug. And Smaug was beautiful. All of the special effects efforts must have been poured into the creation of the fantastic beast. From his dilating pupils to the sagging skin beneath his enormous jaw, the dragon was incredible. It’s just a pity that Smaug is the only memorable character in Desolation – Fili and Kili are a sad substitute for Merry, Pippin, and Samwise. If you’ve read the book a hundred times, you’ll enjoy the show and actually appreciate the few hidden jokes that fly completely over the remaining viewers’ heads. Otherwise, read the book, it’ll go quicker. (– Caitlyn Thompson)
|Warner Bros. / Released 4/8/14|
Robert De Niro and Sylvester Stallone star as old boxing rivals who come out of retirement for one final match. On their first encounter in decades, their long-festering feud erupts into an unintentionally hilarious melee that instantly goes viral. The sudden social media frenzy transforms their local grudge match into a must-see HBO event. Now, if they can just survive the training, they may actually live to fight again.
Last Word: Somehow, Jake “Raging Bull” LaMotta and Rocky Balboa are pitted against each other in a fight to end a 30 year rivalry while both are in their golden years. Grudge Match is directed by Peter Segal and surprises audiences with funny performances by DeNiro and Stallone alongside Kevin Hart, Alan Arkin and Kim Basinger. This film is funnier and classier than the initial pitch sounds, with family moments and longtime rivalries being at the center of the tension in the film. An ersatz sequel to Rocky Balboa (2006), this comedy starts with a theme of that movie.
Dante Slate, Jr. (Kevin Hart) is the son of late 70’s boxing promoter Dante Slate, and he approaches Henry ‘Razor’ Sharp to provide motion capture for a new boxing game. Also appearing in the game, Billy ‘The Kid’ McDonnen (DeNiro). The appeal of extra money convinces Razor to join in—as long as his rival The Kid is not at the studio. Something happened in the past that is unforgivable, and the 30 year grudge weighs on both of the older gentlemen.
We flash over to a bar owned by ‘The Kid’, where Billy is running a comedy act with help from Jabby The Puppet. This Raging Bull reference could be lost on a younger audience, whereas the Philadelphia steel mill and working class settings of Stallone’s backdrop are very familiar to fans indeed. Razor is making art out of metal scraps and welding in his spare time, The Kid is sipping scotch, womanizing, dealing used cars and running a several successful businesses. Henry (Stallone) is laid off of his job and it is revealed at least part of the conflict is that years ago, Billy The Kid stole away with Kim Basinger’s Sally and got her pregnant. Stallone’s character takes this to heart and becomes reclusive, living below his means and potential below a bridge on the edge of town.
A drag out fight in Green Man motion capture suits between the two boxers (If you’ll remember, Rocky Balboa also featured a video game). Promoter Dante Slate, Jr. promised the two men wouldn’t be in the same studio at once, but The Kid decided to show up early. A video of the two boxers wrecking the motion capture studio with a fracas goes viral on YouTube. Of course, this prompts some convincing on Slate’s part to do right by his father’s legacy and get the two in the ring together. Everyone thinks it is a joke — until the press conference!
After the announcement, Billy (DeNiro)’s son B.J. (Jon Bernthal, Mob City, Walking Dead) by way of Sally (Basinger) shows up at the ring to help train, but The Kid has other plans. After resolving some issues over The Kid’s breakfast of scotch and pancakes, the two reluctantly train together and attempt to patch up abandonment issues, but can it last? Razor’s trainer Louis 'Lightning' Conlon is played by 79 year old Alan Arkin. The senior’s role, played for comedy with hearing aid jokes and the ‘cranky old man can’t get along with staff at the nursing home’ trope wears you out after a while, but his performance does add to the movie as Stallone’s straight man/cutman.
Burgess Meredith’s Mickey in the original series was a badass retired boxer and crusty old man, whereas Arkin plays the trainer as a genuine grandpa, obsessed with Dancing with The Stars (though he still makes Razor drink a pint of raw eggs)! Training is of course illustrated by a series of montages (complete with pulling a tractor trailer in a junkyard), but also publicity stunts employing the two boxers to get the word out and sell tickets to the event that Philadelphia has been waiting for. There’s a skydiving scene and also the two boxers take on UFC/MMA fighter Chael Sonnen in a debate about the evolution of the two sports and the old guys get to prove a point to their fans.
The love triangle resolves itself by Sally and Razor getting together after 30 years before the fight. Our old man Arkin breaks himself out of his Lark to be the corner man for Razor’s fight. B.J. and his young son support The Kid in his corner for the final bout. HBO Boxing announcers are ringside as well as genuine boxing judges. Fans of boxing movies will be happy with the way the fight was shot.
Grudge Match is a fun boxing movie with classic actors, perfect for the entire family this holiday season. Segal made this movie by playing with pop culture references but also great relationships between all of the characters. As shaky as the initial concept might seem to some, they really pulled it off. (– Clay N. Ferno)
3. Mrs. Robinson by Simon and Garfunkel (what other No. 1 song ever mentioned Joe DiMaggio? Goo goo g'joob, sport!)
2. Glory Days by Bruce Springsteen ("I had a friend was a big baseball player")
1. Centerfield by John Fogarty (no brainer and already on everyone else's list)
|Review by Elizabeth Robbins|
|Review by Ben Robbins|
|Review by Elizabeth Robbins|