Blu Tuesday: Funny Money, Haunted Inns and More
Last Tuesday’s Blu-ray selection wasn’t quite as poor as it has been these last few weeks – with such notable titles as “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” and “Shame” on the schedule – but I didn’t receive any review copies in time for my column. Thankfully, things are finally starting to pick up again, which is great news for Blu-ray collectors. Although there really isn’t a standout title among this week’s releases, there’s still a good variety to choose from, including this trio of very diverse movies.
Mark Wahlberg’s latest action thriller isn’t a terrible movie by any means, but it is an incredibly unmemorable one that, although it likely earned the actor a nice paycheck and the opportunity to work with guys like Ben Foster, J.K. Simmons and Giovanni Ribisi, isn’t up to par with what his fans have come to expect. A big part of the problem is that director Baltasar Kormakur vastly overcomplicates the film’s simplistic setup by making the actual heist so unnecessarily complex that not even Danny Ocean and his crew could pull it off. Worse yet, the story is so predictable that you can see every twist and turn before it happens. There’s hardly a single original idea to be found, which is ironic considering it’s about counterfeiting, and though Kormakur was presumably given the directing gig because he was familiar with the source material (having played Wahlberg’s role in the Icelandic film that it’s based on), he fails to demonstrate what made that movie so special that it deserved a remake.
Blu-ray Highlight: I’m a sucker for a good making-of featurette, and the one included here is better than most, covering a range of topics including the differences between the Icelandic original and the remake, casting and filming on location in New Orleans.
I saw Ti West’s “The Innkeepers” two years ago at South by Southwest, and whether it was because “Insidious” had just given me a mini panic attack the night before, or because I was simply expecting more from the film, I didn’t find it to be particularly scary. Though West’s slow-burn approach is pretty effective in the opening half, there’s very little payoff, to the point that when the horror elements finally do kick in, they’re not as terrifying as you’d expect. Instead, the movie spends most of the time camped out at the front desk where its two leads banter back and forth and play tricks on one another. It’s amusing at times, but never enough to hold your interest, despite the fact that Sara Paxton and Pat Healy have good chemistry. If there’s one redeeming quality, it’s the fantastic score by Jeff Grace, which at least makes the movie more watchable. Unfortunately, “The Innkeepers” is a mediocre horror film at best, and that’s a shame, because while it had the potential to revitalize the genre, it falls short.
Blu-ray Highlight: There’s not much to choose from on the single-disc release, but fans of Ti West will certainly enjoy the director’s pair of audio commentaries – one with producers Peter Phok and Larry Fessenden and 2nd Unit Director/Sound Designer Graham Reznick, and another, much livelier affair with stars Sara Paxton and Pat Healy.
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Game of Thrones 204: Garden of Bones
SPOILER WARNING: All events that have occurred in the TV show up to and including yesterday’s episode are fair game. I have read the books but I will not go any further beyond small hints that only fellow book-readers will catch on to. You’ve been warned.
I don’t think there’s any question that “Garden of Bones” is the best episode of the second season so far. There’s so much to discuss, so let’s just get right into it.
“Game of Thrones” has the best opening sequence on television. Not only is it awesome, it’s educational. We all know that the show has the potential to be very, very confusing. So it’s only fitting that its intro shows a map to help get our geography in order. Each week, any new locations are added into the sequence. This week there was Harrenhal and Qarth, “the greatest city that ever was or will be.”
This intro lets all us fans know that after a week-long wait, it’s finally “Thrones” time again. Sometimes it feels like it would be more appropriate if this was the show’s opening.
“Garden of Bones” opens with a fart joke… or does it? There was all that buildup just so the guy could “break wind,” or so we thought until another kind of wind, Robb’s direwolf Grey Wind, pounces on them. We see Robb with a number of his men, the screen fades to black and we hear cries of “The King in the North!”
There will be those who complain that many, in fact most, of the battle scenes occur off screen (we all remember Tyrion getting knocked out before the Battle of the Green Fork towards the end of last season). This is going to be a fact of the show, and I’m here to tell you why the haters are wrong.
In the books, Robb is not a point of view character. All we see of him is through Catelyn’s eyes and thus many battles are not witnessed firsthand. Battles are handled similarly in the show, and it’s not an issue. David Benioff and Dan Weiss, the showrunners, are working on a limited budget in terms of both money and time. Let’s consider how much the CGI for the dragons and direwolves must have cost. Do we really want them blowing that money on every little fight? Plus, Weiss and Benioff have 10 episodes to adapt a 1000-page novel. This show is driven by characters, not action or plot. We can’t be wasting valuable screen time on action scenes. I can promise you this: there is only one battle that you need to see this season, and you’ll get every brutal second of it. The author of the books, George R.R. Martin, wrote that episode and they spent a month (as opposed to the standard 10 days) filming it.
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Tags: Arya Stark, Catelyn Stark, Cersei Lannister, Daenerys Targaryen, Davos Seaworth, Game of Thrones, Game of Thrones blog, Gendry, Jamie Lannister, Joffrey Baratheon, Jon Snow, Melisandre, Nate Kreichman, Petyr Baelish, Renly Baratheon, Robb Stark, Sansa Stark, Stannis Baratheon, Theon Greyjoy, Tyrion Lannister
Trim that back hair with the MANGROOMER
Want an easy way to get rid of that back hair? There are all sorts of trimmers out there to help you with your manscaping, but few of them make it easy to handle the hard-to-reach areas on your back. That’s a problem, as back hair ranks up there as one of the biggest turnoffs for women. We tried out the new MANGROOMER, and this do-it-yourself electric back hair shaver is incredibly easy to use.
You can see the ingenious design from the photo about. The MANGROOMER simply folds out to give you an easy tool that reaches every part of your back. Just reach around your side or over your shoulder and you’ll be shocked by how easy this is to use. It also feels good on the skin as it neatly trims off the hair on your back.
With summer around the corner it’s time to get in shape, and now that also includes doing the little things to make you look better. Getting rid off that excess back hair will make you look much better, and now you have the tool to take care of it.
Check out their website for more information on the MANGROOMER and other grooming products for guys, along with their Facebook page and Twitter account.
Scarlett Johansson on the red carpet for Avengers Assemble
Get ready for the summer movie season! Here’s the stunning Scarlett Johansson on the red carpet for the “Avengers Assemble” movie that should be one of the big winners in the summer box office. All of the fan boys and teenagers will be lining up for this one as Captain America, Iron Man, the Hulk, Thor and Black Widow get ready to unite and save the planet.
In one sense, this whole superhero thing is getting out of control. How many times can we watch the same basic plot for these films all loaded up with CGI. They’re already rebooting Spiderman! In many ways it’s just a cash grab. Fortunately, many of the movies have been solid, so at least fans are having fun along the way.
At least we have Scarlett Johansson. She offers the perfect eye candy for the film, as her all-natural figure still thrills fans around the world. There’s no CGI needed with her. A women would have to get the sexiest boob job ever to compete with the assets that Scarlett got for having great genes.
The good thing is that more young hotties are embracing the superhero resurgence, as the whole cosplay world is exploding. Young women can now dress up as Black Widow or other hot super babes and get a lot of attention from guys, and not just the ones obsessed with these movies. It also offers plenty of Halloween ideas beyond the hot nurse or sexy cat outfits!
Power outage in Southern California
Fantasy baseball is one of the original time-killers. The web has since exploded with all sorts of online games and fantasy sports. Tons of people are addicted to poker online and you can also play online bingo from OnlineBingo.com. Smartphones and apps have also taken a ton of gamer interest, and fantasy football has also surpassed fantasy baseball for many sports fans.
That said, tons of sports fans still play fantasy baseball, and right now the Albert Pujols situation has tons of virtual team owners getting anxious, not to mention the actual fans of the Los Angeles Angles.
Albert Pujols was the king of St. Louis. He won a World Series and was about to sign a monster contract. But that wasn’t good enough. Despite being offered millions by the mid-market team that had been his home for years, Pujols and his wife felt “disrespected” by the offers from the Cardinals. I guess in pure dollar terms they were right, as the owner of the Angels offered him a ridiculous contract to leave the Cardinals and come out to sunny SoCal to play for the Angels.
But with all that money comes serious pressure, and so far the mighty Pujols isn’t delivering. He doesn’t have a single home run yet as he and the team suffer from a brutal start to the season. Now none of us expect this to last, as he’s adjusting to a new league. He has the talent to break out at any time. But Angels fans and fantasy team owners have to be getting nervous. He’s 32 years old and has to be feeling the pressure. Now with each game the pressure mounts.
Of course all this can change quickly. Pujols is a beast and he could go on a tear. But in the early Major League Baseball season, this is one of the early storylines getting attention, along with the mess in Boston of course.