Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Madea Catches a Killer

Review: Alex Cross

As a fan of the "Alex Cross" books by James Patterson, I was excited to watch the newest film adaptation of the character. I also like Tyler Perry (Diary of a Mad Black Woman). People often think of him as a one-trick, cross-dressing pony, but he is a smart guy who plays the game well (he is, after all, the most well-paid individual in Hollywood.

I particularly liked Tyler Perry in the role for two reasons: (1) I wanted him to prove himself as a multitalented star (and prove me right!) and (2) he fits the physical description of Cross more closely than Morgan Freeman ever did in previous Alex Cross adaptations Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider.

Unfortunately, Alex Cross was not the film I hoped it to be, nor did Perry prove himself as much as I wanted him to. The story, which establishes events preceding any of the books, was predictable and lacked the fluidity needed to maintain momentum, making it feel more like an episode of CSI.

Tyler Perry worked well with the script he was given, but still failed to reach a strength of depth within the character to elevate the shoddy screenplay. The only person involved in the film who met (and then exceeded) my expectations was Matthew Fox (Lost) as the deranged serial killer. Not only did Fox really transform himself physically for the role, but also gave himself the nuances and nervous ticks to create a villain that was actually creepy and threatening.

Overall, Alex Cross was a decent film, but not the movie it could have been due to a pretty lame story and a failure to reach the full potential of Tyler Perry as an action star, which I do still believe is there. Here’s hoping the planned sequel is made and greatly exceeds this lackluster reboot.
The Final Word: Wait to rent it.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Fake Movie, Real Mission

Review: Argo
With Gone Baby Gone and The Town, Ben Affleck proved he could direct a really good movie and showcase the acting ability of his stars (Amy Ryan in the former film and Jeremy Renner in the latter were each nominated for Oscars for Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actor, respectively).

With Argo, Ben Affleck proves he can direct a truly great film. Leaving behind the Boston setting of his previous two movies, Argo has a larger scope, a more thrilling sense of tension, and a greater sense of importance, despite having fewer memorable character moments.

It is 1979, the year of the infamous Iranian Hostage Crisis, as 52 Americans are held hostage in the American embassy for 444 days. This story obviously dominated news coverage, but a lesser known yet true story concerns 6 Americans who escaped and hid at the Canadian ambassador's house. With the icreasing danger of their discovery, the CIA undertakes a risky plan to get the Americans out of the country under the guise of being a film crew, led by operative Tony Mendez.

She's Out of His Mind

Review: Ruby Sparks
Imagine your ideal significant-other. We've all done it. They'd be smart, attractive, funny, and have a great personality. They would enjoy what we enjoy, laugh at what we find funny, and love what we love. They would compliment us in every way.
The only problem is that this person doesn't exist. But what if you could make the perfect partner?

Such a phenomena happens inexplicably to Calvin Weir-Fields in Ruby Sparks, a writer who finds his most recent literary project is knocking at his door in real life. He has written about Ruby Sparks and now here she is, identical to every word he has written.

Calvin's brother Harry, the only person to discover the truth, sees this as the best granted wish a man has ever been granted. "You could make her do anything!" Harry exclaims. And he's right. When Calvin types that Ruby speaks a foreign language, suddenly Ruby is fluently going on in French.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

NFL Picks 2012 Week 7

Unscripted NFL Predictions
2012 Week 7

Looking at the record, last week was only a decent week for picks as I went 7-7. But from a standings perspective I did a bit better, tied for 1st place for the week and moving up to being tied for 4th place out of 16 in the picks competition I'm a part of. So here's hoping my luck continues...

3 Easiest Win Predictions


3 Toughest Win Predictions


Sunday, October 14, 2012

NFL Picks 2012 Week 6

Unscripted NFL Predictions
2012 Week 6

Had another pretty good week last week (9-5), keeping me tied for 7th place out of 16 in the picks competition I participate in with an overall record of 44-33. Unfortunately, I can't say I feel incredibly confident about any of the games this week. But here we go...

3 Easist Win Predictions

3 Toughest Win Predictions
* I really think every other game this week is a toss-up, but here are 3...

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Take It Away

Review: Taken 2
Taken 2, aka Taken Again, aka The Retakening. Whatever you want to call it, Liam Neeson's expert CIA operative Brian Mills is back, once again facing a ruthless gang of kidnappers. This time it is personal on both sides of the gunfire, as the families of the sex-traffickers Mills killed last time set out in revenge to kidnap the entire Mills family.

The first Taken quiety opened in January of 2009 before exploding into a worldwide hit, powered by fantastic word-of-mouth to the tune of $226.8 million. It was a film that surprised everyone by how exciting and fresh it seemed. Taken definitely remains among one of my favorite films.
Taken 2 is nowhere close to being as good as the first film. Entirely formulaic and predictable, Taken 2 runs Brian Mills around Istanbul, but never really has him do anything of significance. In an attempt to evolve the franchise, Taken 2 also tries to make a hero out of Mills' daughter, Kim, but her exploits are entirely laughable.

NFL Picks 2012 Week 5

Unscripted NFL Predictions
2012 Week 5

I think its safe to say my record last week (11-4) was much better than in previous weeks! However, overall I'm still 35-28 as of last week, tying me for 7th place out of 16 in the picks competition I'm a part of. But I think this is comeback week! Here we go...

3 Easiest Win Predictions

 * The Bears were a close 4th.
3 Toughest Win Predictions
* The Panthers were a close 4th.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Box Office Reanimated

Weekend Recap 9/28-30/2012

When Hotel Transylvania opened its doors, so did theaters as audiences finally began to come back to the movies. The animated film debuted to a healthy $42.5 million in first place.

That's the biggest September opening ever (surpassing Sweet Home Alabama's $35.6 million), the biggest opening ever for Sony Pictures Animation (surpassing Cloudy with a Chance of Meatball's $31 million), the second-biggest opening of an Adam Sandler film (behind only The Longest Yard's $58.6 million), and is Sony's eighth #1 film of the year. Not bad, huh?

But the good fortune didn't stop there as indie action film Looper opened in second place with a strong $20.8 million. That was followed by the three big movies from last weekend, End of Watch, Trouble with the Curve, and House at the End of the Street, which each brought in over $7 million for third, fourth, and fifth place, respectively.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

How Politics Turned Me Into A Hypocrite

Aside from movies and football, I also love politics. Call me boring, that's fine; I think it's pretty fascinating. Plus it's, like, super important. And yes, I'm aware I just typed the word "like" - your judgment is not unwarranted.

Now, if you know me, you know that when I encounter political stances, especially extreme ones, I want to engage. Nowadays, I attempt to make such encounters full of genuine questions and ideas that may inspire earnest reflection and empathetic conversation (though I still fail at this more than I should).

Yet in the past, I consistently tended toward a much more challenging and contrarian role. That was wrong and hypocritical of me. Standing up for our convictions is important, but the ways in which we do so can influence whether or not that stand makes any difference in the world. This is the story of how I began to learn that lesson; I write it as a reminder for myself and, I hope, encouragement for you in this election season.