Monday, April 30, 2012

This Film is Rated "Arrrrrrrrrrrrgh"

Review: The Pirates! Band of Misfits
Guest Review by Kyle Kuzemchak

The Pirates! Band of Misfits, the newest movie from Aardman Animations (the brilliant minds behind Wallace and Gromit and Chicken Run), is of the most swashbuckling, booty-plundering, hilarious movies to come out in a very long time. The movie opens with witty British humor and it continues throughout the whole movie. There was plenty of slapstick humor for kids, but the film doesn’t rely on these gags, rather on its incredible one-liners and their impeccable timing and delivery.

Everything about this movie makes it a pleasurable experience, from the writing, to the voice actors, to the amazing soundtrack, to the brilliant animation (the backgrounds, especially the ocean, are absolutely gorgeous).

The movie follows a pirate crew and their whimsical pirate captain, aptly named “The Pirate Captain” (Hugh Grant, Four Weddings and a Funeral). The names of the crew are hilariously literal, from Pirate Captain’s number 2, The Pirate with a Scarf (Martin Freeman, Sherlock/The Hobbit), The Albino Pirate (Anton Yelchin, Star Trek), The Pirate with Gout (Brendan Gleeson, Harry Potter), The Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate (who is actually a woman with an incredibly awful fake beard), and my personal favorite, The Pirate Who Likes Sunsets and Kittens, voiced by TV’s Al Roker.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Weekend Preview 4/27-29/2012

Bernie: In small-town Texas, the local mortician strikes up a friendship with a wealthy widow, though when he kills her, he goes to great lengths to create the illusion that she's alive.

The Broken Tower: A biography of American poet Hart Crane who committed suicide at the age of 32 by jumping off the steamship SS Orizaba.

The Five-Year Engagement: Charting the ups and downs of an engaged couple's relationship.

The Giant Mechanical Man: An offbeat romantic comedy about a silver-painted street performer and the soft spoken zoo worker who falls for him.

The Pirates! Band of Misfits: Pirate Captain sets out on a mission to defeat his rivals Black Bellamy and Cutlass Liz for the Pirate of the year Award. The quest takes Captain and his crew from the shores of Blood Island to the foggy streets of Victorian London.

Safe: Mei, a young girl whose memory holds a priceless numerical code, finds herself pursued by the Triads, the Russian mob, and corrupt NYC cops. Coming to her aid is an ex-cage fighter whose life was destroyed by the gangsters on Mei's trail.

The Raven: When a madman begins committing horrific murders inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's works, a young Baltimore detective joins forces with Poe to stop him from making his stories a reality.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Romney's Rhetoric

This is my Senior Seminar Paper for my Communications major. Enjoy...

Romney’s Rhetoric:
A Textual Analysis of GOP Presidential Primary Candidate Mitt Romney’s Rhetorical Appeals to Influence Voter Perceptions of Likability in the January 26, 2012 CNN Florida Debate.
Ethan Smith
COMM 452

It has begun. The race is marked out and the remaining Republican primary candidates are running their hearts out in what is coming to be considered one of most volatile presidential primary cycles in history (Roarty, 2012). After a series of overwhelming wins for both the Republican Party and its more polarized Tea Party branch in the 2010 midterm elections, conservatives looked forward in anticipation to the Presidential election of 2012.
One of the first to announce his candidacy was Mitt Romney, the former Governor of Massachusetts who formerly spent twenty-five years in the business sector. Since announcing his candidacy in June of 2011, Romney’s efforts to achieve the party’s nomination have appeared strong. He entered as the runner-up candidate in the last primary cycle, allowing Romney to start his campaign with an already-laid groundwork of support and strategies for a 2012 run. The strength of the campaign foundations have been clear as Romney from the start has led the field of candidates, consistently remaining around 20-25% in terms of support in national polls (Pew Research Center, 2012).

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

What Do You Think?

Review: Think Like a Man

The new film, Think Like a Man, surprised Hollywood this past weekend by performing so strongly at the box office (Weekend Recap here). In fact, based on the business it pulled in this past week, Think Like a Man stands a good chance of coming out on top again this weekend.

This is due in part because it has been a while since the release of the last African American-targeted ensemble-comedy film. I could be missing one, but the last I remember was the entertaining Madea’s Big Happy Family and the mediocre Jumping the Broom, both of which came out almost a year ago.

It’s also because, critics aside, Think Like a Man has some pretty positive word-of-mouth among the average movies goers I’ve talked to and heard. This good reputation likely stems from the fact that the movie does little wrong to make it a bad film. So why the hate from critics? Think Like a Man also does little to distinguish it from other romantic comedies. It’s neither good nor bad; it simply is.

The film follows five friends and their tumultuous relationships with women. Four of the friends each become involved with different women, all of whom are also connected to each other. The women all begin to read a relationship book and try out the book’s tips on the men. Eventually the men find out they are being manipulated and begin to use the book against the women.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Chilling on a Rockyroad

This is my senior Leadership Internship Seminar paper. It is based on a fictionalized version of my 2 summer internships at Bethel (called Rockyroad in this paper). So don't read this and freak out, the issues described within are grossly exaggerated and in some places totally made up. It was just to develop a more interesting case to which I could apply Leadership Theory.

Summer Internship Case and Teaching Notes 

Ethan Smith 

LDSP 491 



“Welcome to Rockyroad Baptist Church youth group; we’ll date you and then hate you.”

Such seemed to be the unofficial theme of the youth group at Rockyroad Baptist Church during the summer of 2010. During that time Evan was serving as the Male Intern with the youth group along with Jan, the Female Intern, under the supervision of the youth pastor, John. Of course, “dating and hating” wasn’t the official theme, but it certainly seemed to be an accurate description of all of the middle and high school drama that had gone on. In actuality, Evan, Jan, and John had no theme that summer, which Evan felt led to a bit of its chaos. Without a vision from the leadership team, the youth group was left to navigate its own course for the summer. When Jan and Evan were brought back by John to intern once more for the summer of 2011, they were faced with the choice of how to take advantage of their summer of second chances concerning the direction in which to guide the youth. The following is that journey.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Audiences Think Manly Thoughts

Weekend Recap 4/20-22/2012

The Hunger Games was finally dethroned as the box-office victor this past weekend by two new movies. In first place was the Kevin Hart-led ensemble comedy, Think Like a Man (review coming soon!), which grossed $33 million, averaging $16,377 per theater. Made for just $12 million, the film was a financial success after its very first day of release, which must have made the executives over at Screen Gems very happy.

Second place belonged to The Lucky One, starring Zac Efron and Taylor Schilling, which brought in $22.8 million, a decently strong showing for the Nicholas Sparks adaptation, averaging $7,228 per location.

The Hunger Games (review here) settled for third place in its fifth week of release, taking in another $14.5 million. This helped bring its U.S. total to $356.9 million, making the it the 19th highest grossing domestic film ever, right behind Jurassic Park, which it is likely to pass soon. Internationally The Hunger Games has made $572.7 million.

A rainy Earth Day brought in $10.2 million for Chimpanzee, a documentary narrated by Tim Allen, followed by two movies in their 2nd week of release: The Three Stooges with $9.2 million, bringing its total to $29.4 million, and The Cabin in the Woods (review here) with $7.8 million, bringing its total to almost $27 million.

American Reunion (review here) and Titanic 3D both grossed roughly $5 million each for 7th and 8th place, respectively. American Reunion has now totaled $48.3 million, while Titanic 3D has amassed $52.8 million. Rounding out the Top Ten was 21 Jump Street (review here) with a weekend gross of $4.6 million and a $127.1 million total and Mirror Mirror with a $4.1 million weekend and a $55.2 million total.

Around the world, Battleship continues to perform well, adding $58.4 million this past weekend for a total of $129 million. Battleship comes out in the U.S. May 18.

Here’s a snapshot of the Top Ten weekend films:
Theater Average
Weekend Gross
Total Gross
Think Like a Man
$33 million
$33 million
The Lucky One
$22.8 million
$22.8 million
The Hunger Games
$14.5 million
$356.9 million
$10.2 million
$10.2 million
The Three Stooges
$9.2 million
$29.4 million
The Cabin in the Woods
$7.8 million
$27 million
American Reunion
$5.2 million
$48.3 million
Titanic 3D
$5 million
$52.8 million
21 Jump Street
$4.6 million
$127.1 million
Mirror Mirror
$4.1 million
$55.2 million

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Weekend Preview 4/20-22/2012

Chimpanzee: A 3-year-old chimpanzee is separated from his troop and is then adopted by a fully-grown male.

Jesus Henry Christ: At the age of ten, Henry James Hermin, a boy who was conceived in a petri-dish and raised by his feminist mother, follows a string of Post-It notes in hopes of finding his biological father.

The Lucky One: A Marine travels to North Carolina after serving three tours in Iraq and searches for the unknown woman he believes was his good luck charm during the war.

Marley: A documentary on the life, music, and legacy of Bob Marley.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World: As an asteroid nears Earth, a man finds himself alone after his wife leaves in a panic. He decides to take a road trip to reunite with his high school sweetheart. Accompanying him is a neighbor who inadvertently puts a wrench in his plan.

Think Like a Man: Four friends conspire to turn the tables on their women when they discover the ladies have been using Steve Harvey's relationship advice against them.

To the Arctic 3D: A journey into the lives of a mother polar bear and her two seven-month-old cubs as they navigate the changing Arctic wilderness they call home.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

You Think You Know the Story...

Review: The Cabin in the Woods

Joss Whedon may be the director of The Avengers, due out in a few weeks, but he actually got his summer started this past weekend with the release of The Cabin in the Woods, on which he served as both writer and producer. Cabin may start like every other horror movie out there, but the story unfolds differently than any you’ve ever seen.

Five friends, the stereotypic jock (Chris Hemsworth, Thor), slut (Anna Hutchison, Power Rangers Jungle Fury [I’m sure she’s proud of that one]), scholar (Jesse Williams, Brooklyn’s Finest), pothead (Fran Kranz, Much Ado About Nothing), and virgin (Kristen Connolly, Revolutionary Road), take a trip to an isolated cabin (in the woods!) for a fun-filled weekend of drinking, smoking, and getting frisky. However, a series of events causes them to confront horrors they never expected.

All the while, two laboratory technicians sit in a room filled with control panels, flipping switches, pushing buttons, and taking bets on the nightmare at the cabin which can be seen on the screens which line the room. How these men are involved with the events at the cabin is only the start of the twists and turns that the film takes, leading to a grand finale that keeps your eyes riveted on the screen and your butt on the edge of your seat.

I know, I know. All of that is really general and super vague. But it’s on purpose. Giving any more away would spoil the film. But the fact that the plot of Cabin is so truly inventive and original that I don’t want to give anything away should speak to how unique and engaging the film is. It is really a great effort from Joss Whedon and director/co-writer Drew Goddard (Cloverfield).

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Maximum Security, Minimum Originality

Review: Lockout

Some of most underappreciated people in Hollywood are bound to be screenwriters. Actors get all the attention. Directors get all the credit. But everything starts with a script.

So, I’d like to take a minute to recognize writer Luc Besson, who has introduced us to such classic popcorn action films as The Professional, The Fifth Element, The Transporter, Unleashed, and, one of my favorite films, Taken. The man knows how to create an original, compelling, fun movie.

His new film, Lockout, which bombed this past weekend, is at the very least fun, a little compelling, but certainly not original.

The movie does engage us right from the start, opening with an interrogation of Snow, played by Guy Pearce (The King’s Speech, Prometheus). It’s a cool scene that helps us get to know Snow real fast. He’s a hard-hitting spy, he’s been set-up as a traitor, and he’s a smart mouth. The sentence for his supposed crimes? A lifetime in MS (Maximum Security) – One, a space-station prison (oh, right, the film is set in the future!).

However, when the President’s daughter is captured on a human rights mission and it becomes clear a full-fledged invasion of the facility would put her life further danger, there is one man who can save her. You guessed it, Snow.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Hunger Games is the Movie on Fire

Weekend Recap: 4/13-15/2012

For the fourth weekend in a row, The Hunger Games (review here) has topped the domestic box office, taking in another $21.1 million and bringing its total to $337 million. In second place was The Three Stooges, which grossed an estimated $17 million, followed by The Cabin in the Woods with $14.9 million. To round out the Top 5, Titanic 3D brought in $11.9 million and American Reunion (review here) took in $10.5 million.

It was a close race for 6th, 7th, and 8th place, as Mirror Mirror, Wrath of the Titans (review here), and 21 Jump Street (review here) each grossed over $6 million. The new release, Lockout, bombed with just $6.2 million in 2,308 theaters, followed by The Lorax (review here) continuing its strong run with another $3.1 million.

Meanwhile, The Raid (review here) grossed close to a million in only 881 theaters, bringing its total to $2.5 million and making it the most successful Indonesian film ever in the U.S. Also, Battleship was the number one grossing movie internationally, bringing in $58 million as it boldly came out in other countries over a month before its American release.

Here's a snapshot of the Top Ten weekend films:

The Hunger Games
The Three Stooges
20th Century Fox
The Cabin in the Woods
Titanic 3D
20th Century Fox
American Reunion
Wrath of the Titans
Warner Bros.
Mirror Mirror
Relativity Media
21 Jump Street
Lock Out
The Lorax

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Pick On Someone Your Own Size

Review: Bully

A crashed economy. Wars in the Middle East. Presidential campaigns. There’s a lot that can distract us from some of the most important and personal problems communities across the country face.

But Bully, the new documentary from director Lee Hirsch (Amandla!), doesn’t allow the problem to be ignored any longer. The film introduces us to five families, all plagued by bullying in different ways. The Long and Smalley families each had a child who committed suicide after being bullied. Ja’Maya Jackson reminds us that victims of bullying can hurt others too; she took a loaded gun onto a school bus when the bullying became too much for her. We also meet Kelby Johnson, a lesbian high school student who has experienced discrimination from not only her peers, but from teachers as well. And lastly there’s Alex Libby, the student whose public humiliations were actually captured on camera by the documentary crew.

Each story is heartbreaking and will undoubtedly raise awareness of the problem of bullying in all who see it. We don’t just watch the kids being bullied, but we follow them home in their shame, we take in the whitewashed walls of a juvenile detention facility, we want to reach out with the parents trying to connect, we become bitterly angry at the ignorance of school administrators, we cry with the families and friends of those who have committed suicide.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

30 Floors of Chaos

Review: The Raid: Redemption

One of the best reactions I’ve seen to the new film, The Raid, is from an audience reviewer over at RottenTomatoes, who writes, “That awkward moment when a Welsh director and a team of Korean martial artists make a better film than Michael Bay's entire filmography.”

He’s right. Watching The Raid is like having cocaine shot into your heart before being zapped by a defibrillator and pushed out of an airplane at 40,000 feet, chugging a Red Bull as you free fall.

It’s not filled with explosions looking to buy the audience cheap thrills; it features 101 minutes of expertly choreographed, uncompromising hand-to-hand, foot-to-foot, knife-to-throat, head-to-wall fighting. It’s pure, unfiltered action from start to finish, making The Raid one of the best martial arts movies to be released in a very long time.

The film follows an Indonesian SWAT team who infiltrate a tenement building filled with criminals and run by a ruthless drug lord. Things quickly become desperate when the SWAT team becomes trapped in the building and a bounty is placed on their heads.

Headlining star Iko Uwais was first discovered by director Gareth Evans, who gave Iko the starring role in his previous film, Merantau. Now, that they’ve reteamed for The Raid, Iko has become Indonesia’s biggest action star after only acting in two films, receiving a level of critical acclaim similar to that received by Thailand’s Tony Jaa when Ong-bak was released in 2003. What was he doing before becoming an international superstar? He was a driver for a telecommunications company.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Weekend Preview 4/13-15/2012

Bully: A documentary on peer-to-peer bullying in schools across America.

The Cabin in the Woods: Five friends go for a break at a remote cabin in the woods, where they get more than they bargained for. Together, they must discover the truth behind the cabin in the woods.

Lockout: A man wrongly convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage against the U.S. is offered his freedom if he can rescue the president's daughter from an outer space prison taken over by violent inmates.

The Raid: A SWAT team becomes trapped in a tenement run by a ruthless mobster and his army of killers and thugs.

The Three Stooges: While trying to save their childhood orphanage, Moe, Larry, and Curly inadvertently stumble into a murder plot and wind up starring in a reality TV show.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

One Last Slice of Pie

Review: American Reunion

You pretty much get what you expect with American Reunion, the latest film in the American Pie film series. After the first three slices, American Pie (1999), American Pie 2 (2001), and American Wedding (2003), we already know what the last slice is going to taste like. That being said, American Reunion is far from stale and gives us a fitting end to this classic series.

The whole gang is back for their 13-year high school reunion. Jim and Michelle are still in love, but are having a dry spell in their sex life. Oz is in a bit of an identity crisis, having gone on to create an exciting life, but yearning for something more traditional and familiar (ie: a life with Heather). Kevin is happily married, but old feeling are rekindled when he’s reunited with Vicky, while Finch has apparently been following in the footsteps of Dos Equis’ Most Interesting Man in the World by traveling in exotic locations and having adventures. And then there’s Stifler, who has failed to grow up in just about every way.

Surprisingly, the actors bring these characters back to life with ease and they’re just as relatable as ever. Jason Biggs (My Best Friend’s Girl) and Alyson Hannigan (How I Met Your Mother), as Jim and Michelle, are still our main characters, the quintessential couple we root for through everything, and both do well embodying their characters. Chris Klein (Just Friends), as Oz, surprises us the most, developing his character, missing from American Wedding, into one who we truly care about as much as Jim and Michelle. Stifler, played by Seann William Scott (Role Models), is my least favorite character in the series. Yes, the character provides much of the comedic relief, but he’s someone you’d never hang out with in real life, because frankly, he’s an ass. I don’t want someone who’s so hard to like to have so much screen-time.