Coming in 2020!

Happy New Years!

Thank all of you that have stopped by our humble city and taken in the sites here. We just started and love our small, tight knit group of readers we have here. You all mean a great deal to us and love knowing you’ve read and given your time to our to our nonsense. We love you and want you to keep coming back (even if one of us is wrong about Star Wars – you can decide).

As we get into the new year we would like to make a real push and expand. All that means for you is that we will be getting a full website, better layout, and ads so we can try our best to make this into a living. To do that, we have some things lined up for you.

The Old: We are going to keep all the same content we have been posting. That means editorials by myself and the co-mayor here (type something funny Shane, don’t screw me on this!), retro, classic, new movie reviews, and the The Hot 100 Reviews will all continue on as is.

The New: On the website and text side we will have new TV series reviews, TV retrospectives, and Discography Deconstruction where I will be going through the discography of bands and artists (if you have suggestions send them in).

The announcement I am most excited about is Page-a-Day! I fancy myself a fiction writer as well as an entertainment writer and want to share that with you. It is said by a big comedy video game reviewer and author (named after a board game) that if you’re a writer then write a page a day, so I will be doing that. Every day a new page of the book I am working on, Tainted Victory will be posted. The story is outlined, so I have a general sense of where it will go. I cannot guarantee every page will be exciting revelations and plot thrill, just like how not every page is an action scene or a big reveal. It is a rough draft too. The first page: the Prologue and first paragraph of chapter 1 will be posted tomorrow.

Our biggest steps forward are the additions of video and podcasting to our library of content. We have two Podcasts in pre-production and planning. The first is Unproduced Paradise where we look at unused and unmade scripts. The second is Oscar Bait, an examination of award wining movies. A third is in the brainstorming phase. We will also do video versions of the posts, spoiler discussions on big movies, general discussion talk, and random nonsense (I am sorry our voices suck). It’ll be a good time!

The Hopeful: A year is a long time, a lot can happen. In our short existence so far we have made good waves as a small web press in the dying medium of text writing. We want to expand, but not push ourselves thin and burn out before our potential is met. Therefore there are some stretch goals we would love to reach if we can get everything going and we continue to grow.

  1. Additional people onto our team. We would love more people to contribute. At this point it will be pro bono. We are making no money and so cannot pay, but you get to hang with us and post you ideas.
  2. Hangout live stream/podcasts. We will just chill on YouTube or Twitch, play video games and have a good time. 
  3. I have one completed book in the editing bay. If we get enough of an audience I will just post it online only and let you guys buy it and support us!
  4. Patreon: I don’t want to set one up before we even have an audience to support it and our city’s endeavour to entertain you guys. If enough say you would pay for us to continue and help make this our career (better equipment, full salary wage, office space, etc). 
    1. Possible rewards: names in the credits, bonus video content, Discord server, ability to suggest what we watch and review, pay free versions of my book (books depending on how stuff works out), hangout chats, have us spotlight your YouTube channel or Blog (etc). 
  5. Audio Drama podcast called The Buried Box: Cases Cold and Long Forgotten. They will be one off stories about fictional cold cases of the standard to weird X-Files cases. 
  6. Start a comic book series (far off).
  7. Help kickstart our CCG or is it TCG (also far off). 

If none of those happen, thank you for at least stopping by and reading!

Sincerely,

Connor & Shane

Co-Mayors of Tower City Media

Top Ten Most Anticipated Movies of 2020

With all of the best of the year and best of the decade lists coming out as we close on 2019. It’s also time to look forward to the year ahead and to start our most anticipated of the year lists. I know some people aren’t fans of doing these sort of lists because for the most part a lot of people have some of the same movies on their list just in a different order. Personally, I like making this sort of list and then comparing it to my end of the year list to see if any of these movies made it or not, or just to compare with my eventual review of the movie. It is tough though because there are so many movies that don’t have release dates yet or just aren’t even announced yet that will drop next year. Normally many of the movies on your end of the year top ten you never even knew or heard about at this time, but we work with what we got and with that I will now go into my top ten most anticipated movies of 2020.

10. Top Gun: Maverick

It’s never a safe bet to make a sequel of a movie that came out decades ago, and it’s especially never a safe bet when the movie is a beloved movie that never really needed a sequel. Surprisingly, it seems that nothing can stop the inevitable hype train for Top Gun lovers and newcomers alike when Top Gun: Maverick is released next summer. In taking a modern reboot/sequel approach like that of The Force Awakens or some other big budget revivals. Top Gun: Maverick is bringing our beloved character “Maverick” back as a teacher for new pilots. In an age where it seems drones are taking their jobs, we get an interesting new perspective on the need for fighter pilots from the view of someone who was in a time where he was actually needed. The trailer has also done wonders by giving us some stunning aerial shots of the fighter jets and many scenes that immediately make you think back to the original film. There’s a lot that can go wrong with this movie, but so far everything seems to be lining up and looking right for this sequel to hit every mark and I can’t wait for this ride.

9. Onward

Normally a Pixar movie wouldn’t make this list. I’m a huge fan of Pixar and many of their projects, most of which I group up watching through my childhood. Toy Story has always been one of my favorite series of movies and A Bug’s Life and Inside Out are some of my favorite animated movies of all time. Pixar has been on such a streak that is only hurt by its subpar entries of Cars 2 and Monsters University. Both of those movies are good animated movies, but they’re just not good Pixar movies. Outside of those, Pixar has been cranking out some of the best movies of the year every year. 2020 doesn’t look to be a year where they’re going to slow down either as they’re coming out with their first of two new original films. This one being Onward. It takes place in modern time, but if the people and setting were all in a fairy tale like world. It essentially made me think of the Netflix film Bright that came out a few years ago, but obviously this one is animated and more kid friendly. From the trailers we can see that it’s about two brothers that want to spend one more day with their dead father and go on a quest to bring him back. It quickly seems to have a lot of heart and could be another emotional impact movie from the studio. It also has some great animation and character and setting designs. Everything about this seems to be another hit for the studio and even has some stellar actors for our two main characters with Chris Pratt and Tom Holland. It may not make my end of the year list but certainly seems to be a fun and heartfelt adventure for adults and kids.

8. A Quiet Place Part II

In the beginning quarter of 2018, we were given a directorial debut by an actor turned director, John Krasinski. He gave us his original horror film A Quiet Place which ended up making many top lists of the year for that year. It’s a movie that on paper and in concept would be extremely difficult to pull off and to become critically and financially successful with audiences given the nature of the concept. He give us a world where there are monsters that have come from who knows where and attack people. We are introduced at a point that seems long after the monsters first arrived and it’s shown early on that sounds is what attracts these monsters. Short way of explaining this is that if you make a sound you die. For the most part the first film was a silent movie, save for the very few moments when the characters are whispering and it really doesn’t seem like something that the modern audience would be easily on board with. It’s Krasinski’s direction and use of visuals that keep you hooked and keep the suspense on such a level that you find yourself on the edge of your seat for the majority of the movie. It was a fantastic outing for a first time director and with how the first one ended, we know that we’ll be going in a new direction away from what we got before. It will be most interesting to see how much of the world they continue to explore if any at all and what direction he can take this story to. He seems to have a firm grip on this project and doesn’t seem like the kind of guy that would make a sequel if he didn’t feel confident in the story. I’m not sure if it will make my list at the end of the year, but the intrigue of what he can do with this second movie really makes me excited.

7. Wonder Woman 1984

Patty Jenkins gave us a breath of fresh air into the DC Cinematic Universe with the first Wonder Woman movie. She really set a ton for the studio that they need to focus more on the story and quality of these single movies rather than try to build up for something like they did with Justice League and Batman v Superman. Wonder Woman took us back to the origins of the greatest female hero in comics history. This is something we have never seen on the big screen and certainly gave us everything we were wanting and more. It took us to World War 1 and used the war as a good backdrop for everything going on in the world. Patty Jenkins returns for the sequel that brings us up several decades to the 1980’s. It’s a different time period than where we were in the first film and from where we were when we saw her in the other movies. It gives this movie a sense of being able to tell its own individual story that isn’t affected by any of the other big superheroes. What gets me most excited is that Patty Jenkins is returning and looks to be giving us a great sequel and an interesting story with the return of Steve Trevor who we all believed to be dead. We also have the addition of Pedro Pascal and Kristen Wiig to the supporting cast and both of which seem to be villains. There’s really a lot going for this movie and seems to be the most hyped movie of next year for many people. I’m not as big of a fan of the DC movies right now which is why it isn’t higher on my list, but I am very excited for it. It could make my top list of the year, but we’ll see.

6. Halloween Kills

David Gordon Green returns for this sequel of a sequel/reboot in Halloween from 2018. He surprised many people by giving us the best entry into the series since the original. It was also a movie that was playing out as a direct sequel to the original disregarding any of the other movies. They also took a similar approach to that of The Force Awakens and Top Gun: Maverick. It brings back the old characters in a mentor type role for our new characters while also continuing the previous story. The first Halloween by Gordon Green gave us that fantastic feel of terror for the character of Michael Meyers that we hadn’t felt since the original. It had a clear direction and pace that made me feel like this team of creators know exactly what they want to do and executed on it perfectly. Sure, there were some problems that aren’t going to please everyone, but for the most part it hit every note for me. It was one of my favorite movies of that year and instantly got me excited for the sequel that brings the whole team back together for the second in a planned trilogy. What gets me most excited is that it’s very clear that this team has a clear vision for a story they want to tell over the course of three movies and since the quality was there in the first film, it seems unlikely that the next one will be any less than the first. Of course anything can happen, so this is more of a let’s see how they do like it is for my feelings with Krasinski and A Quiet Place Part II. If it can even match how good the first one was then I think we’re in for a real treat, the first trailer that has yet to be released should give us a sense as to where exactly the story is going to go and we may have a better idea of whether this sequel will work or not. Either way this is my most anticipated horror movie of 2020.

5. Godzilla vs. Kong

I don’t care what anyone says about anything about these new Godzilla and King Kong movies. I know they aren’t the best made movies and I know there are a lot of people that don’t like them. I will gladly be in the minority of those who like these movies. The first Godzilla is my least favorite only because we didn’t get to see much of the King himself, but the direction by Gareth Edwards was unique in how it showed the true scale of the beast. Kong: Skull Island gave us another take on the giant ape and gave a cool direction and visual style that for sure isn’t for everyone, but was a fun ride for me. This then led to the Godzilla sequel, King of the Monsters. This is a movie that seemed to be the most divisive of all of the movies made so far in this new connected monster universe. Some people it didn’t work for them and then there are others like me that had such an absolute balls to the wall blast with the CGI explosion of monster fighting monster visuals that it became an instant guilty pleasure. It has a lot of story and logic problems that come down to the lack of a good script, but honestly that’s not why I watch these movies. King of the Monsters gave me the best monster vs monster action that I’ve ever seen in a movie and it also gave us some of the best visuals for these monsters that I had the biggest smile and the most fun with it than maybe any other movie from 2019. The unfortunate thing going into this next film that brings us Godzilla vs Kong, is that the movie was delayed from coming out in a few months to coming out at the end of the year. There could be many reasons why this decision was made and I don’t want to jump to conclusions, but it usually isn’t a great sign for a movie to be moved that far out so I am going into it a little skeptical. However, if it can be anywhere near as fun as King of the Monsters was for me than I really don’t care about the quality of the story. For me it’s all about how much fun I have in the theatre with it.

4. No Time To Die

The sequel to 2015’s Spectre and the last film for Daniel Craig as the suave spy James Bond is finally coming in April with the release of Cary Fukunaga’s No Time To Die. The Craig series of Bond movies have really been the first for an actor playing the part to have his movies be somewhat cohesive where events or characters that happen are brought back into play in the sequels. His films have provided some of the best outings for the Bond character with Casino Royale and Skyfall while also giving some middle of the road outings like Spectre and Quantum of Solace. This movie brings on a new director in Fukunaga who has the directing chops to give us a fantastic end to this version of the character. He has some stellar directing credits like True Detective and Beasts of No Nation so he’s proved his ability to direct compelling stories. The real question is how exactly do they wrap everything up. With the movies all being some kind of cohesive through line through each film, this one seems to have to make everything come together while also introducing a new villain played by Rami Malek. Rami is an actor that I first watched in the show Mr. Robot who hit the mainstream playing Freddy Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody. He is my most excited part for the new movie as I can’t wait to see him chew through his lines as a villain, something that he hasn’t done yet. From the trailers it seems that we’ll be getting another great action globetrotting mission with returning characters like Blofeld, but also some interesting new angle that could be a focus point for the further direction of the series. I’m sure that there are many mysteries in this film that will slowly unravel as we realize the connections between it and the other entries. The best thing would be for Craig to go out on a high note and with his disdain for doing another film after Spectre, I would bet that this movie with its director and story is going to give us just that.

3. Dune

I never made a list for best directors of the decade, but if I did or if I do end up making that list, I think it would be very difficult not to include Denis Villeneuve. He has given us some of the best films of the decade with Prisoners, Arrival, Sicario, and Blade Runner 2049. None of them actually made my favorite of the decade list, but I tend to pick movies that I have more fun with. All of his movies for the most part are incredibly made and incredibly directed and he has been a name that has been on the rise with every film he releases. He now decided to go big budget, but with a very unlikely property. Dune. He decided to be the man to helm a Dune reboot, a movie based off of a sci-fi classic book that has been muddied by the issues it had being made back in the day. It’s a project that normally would garner extreme skepticism by anybody brought on to direct it and there is still some skepticism going into this one. The one difference that separates him from everyone else, is that he’s one of the very few names that brings the least amount of skepticism. The majority of people who know who he is and the movies he’s made are very understanding of how good he actually is and are excited for the movie strictly because he’s attached. The craziest thing about this movie though that gets me more excited than him directing is the cast that he’s put together. He may have put together one of the all time most talented casts for a big budget project like this. Some of those names are Timothy Chamalet, Rebecca Ferguson, Oscar Isaac, Zendaya, Jason Mamoa, Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, and many others. Just looking at the absolute A+ talent on that cast list makes you try to even fathom how you could even get all of these people together. I’m not very well in tune with the story of Dune and I don’t have much knowledge about it, but it’s sci-fi and is being directed by one of my favorite working directors and I hope it ends up being a home run and sets off a new franchise.

2. Eternals

With Avengers: Endgame bringing an end to an era of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we look forward now to the future and a new era of this universe starting with the introduction of new characters and new stories. In May, we will be getting a Black Widow movie, that seems like one last tip of the cap to the old era in giving Scar Jo her own movie with her beloved Black Widow character, but it’s towards the end of the year that we get our first entry into this new era of the MCU. Eternals brings us a movie directed by Chloe Zhao. An Asian woman who has some lesser known credits on her resume, but is clearly loved by Kevin Feige who decided to give her this new group of heroes to introduce into the MCU. It gives us a look of a group of immortals with a mix of the cosmic feel to it in what seems to be a different kind of Avengers like team. It reminds me of the Inhumans in a way, but obviously that was a busted projected with how terribly it was received. I’m definitely interested in the story and these characters that I really don’t know anything about. I’m excited for the director and what she is going to do with these characters and what potential they may have for the future of the MCU, but what gets me the most excited is that cast. You can thank Game of Thrones for this because it plays a big part in why I’m so excited about this cast. It was announced that Richard Madden would be playing the lead in this movie and if you don’t know his name and you’ve seen Game of Thrones then just think of Robb Stark. He plays him. On top of playing Robb and being one of my favorite characters of the series, he also came out with a new show called Bodyguard that is currently on Netflix. He garnered critical acclaim for the show and his performance, so it’s never a bad thing to bring on quality talent. If he wasn’t enough, it was the most recent of casting announcements that made me the most excited. Jon Snow himself, Kit Harrington was announced to be a part of the film and what I want more than anything is to see a scene with these two characters facing off just because of the connection they had in Game of Thrones. It’s my own selfish reasons for being that excited, but it is easily one of my most anticipated movies and moments of 2020.

1. Tenet

Another director who has dominated as being one of the best constant quality directors over the last two decades has been Christopher Nolan. He has challenged the viewers time and time again in every movie by pushing the limits of what the audience can process. He also gave us a genre defining film in The Dark Knight and really set his style with Inception. He has ventured out to sci-fi with Interstellar and even war movies with Dunkirk. He’s a director that for many always delivers and his next project seems to bring us back to the Inception days of Nolan. I’m always excited for a project that he’s working on, but recently the trailer was released and gave us a sense of the story and how it has something to do with time with some people moving forward while certain things are moving backwards. I really don’t even know how to explain what is that’s going on, but it’s going to be another mind bender in the vein of Inception. It has a stellar cast and I was on board right from watching the trailer for the first time, but that wasn’t what made this my most anticipated movie of next year. No. It was the five or six minute scene that was shown to me before The Rise of Skywalker on the IMAX screen. There was no context as to what was going on, but it gave a feel of how the movie is going to be and the intensity and tension that’s going to be a focus. The music and sound seemed to be directly made for the IMAX setup and immerses you right in. I’m a huge fan of Star Wars, but after watching that scene I almost forgot what I was actually there to watch, it was that one scene that got me so hooked and ready to watch the rest that I can’t help but put this at the top of my list.

2020 is the start of a new decade and a new year that will kick off with some great movies that we have a certain awareness of. Like every year, we’re going to have movies released before us that we had no idea were coming out. Some of these movies that we are excited for are going to disappoint us and others will surprise us. This is simply a list of movies that I am personally excited for and can’t wait to see on the big screen. It’s a list that gives an awareness of some of the big movies being released that some people aren’t aware of and it’s a list that will differ from many others. The most I can hope for is that these movies will at the very least be enjoyable enough that I won’t hate them. I don’t want to hate any movies or dislike any movies, but the nature of the business is that not everything is made well. Let’s cross our fingers and hope for the best as we kick off this new year and new decade.  

My CONSTANT phone game Addiction

Below I describe Monster Dash, but didn’t know the name. It is not available anymore.

I was a very late adopter (for my age demographic) to get a smartphone (I have an iPhone, too many podcasts saved to switch now). Until then the only game I had on my flip phone was this life sim you could go earn to make money, buy a house, date and marry people (you could do same-sex relationship which, with it being from the mid/late 2000s was not bad representation). This sounds very advanced, but their all Atari level mini games. I knew that smart phones had some big games like Angry Birds, or Candy Crush Saga, but none of those appealed to me until I got an iPod touch and saw the extent of games. I did eventually get my iPhone.

I would say I went overboard on games for my first iPhone, but that really was not true in reality. I had two games I played the most. One was Sonic Dash. It was fun at the start, just swipe side to side and use Sonic Characters, that’s fun. The other I can no longer find but was called Monster Run (It’s Dash, Monster Dash you moron) or something where you jump and shoot horror monsters. That was all I needed.

Then I stopped. I’m not sure why, neither game was real money hungry (maybe sonic is now, but I haven’t played it). I think I did it to clear data off my phone during a transfer and I just stopped gaming. I never tried, but it feels so appealing. A full game on your phone, great! Only no game ever appealed to me, that and the very pay to win sounding nature of many games made me stop. I instead got real into social media (which I hate with a passion now).

Pokémon Go, the biggest game for my generation just didn’t look interesting even as I watched 40 year olds pull it out to catch they cute purple rat monster and beat gyms. I still didn’t have games on my phone.

That all changed with the first game: Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Links.

Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Links seemed perfect at first, and was the one I stuck with the longest out of all the games. I am a big Yu-Gi-Oh fan, so using character decks, fighting rivals from the shows,competing online. It took awhile for the flaws to show.

By awhile I mean I played into the Kaiba Tournament thing they had, and got pretty far up the ladder. I had gone through a couple of their raids and events; but after the tournaments everything just sort of kicked in. I got bored is the simple answer. The complex answer is all the compounding flaws. All of the flaws can be traced back to the fact this game is free to play. It being free to play means the developers need to make their money while we play. Some of the ways they do it seemed fine at first. All of it seemed fine at first.

If all the problems stem from the free to play conciete (and that will keep coming back) we should discuss how it makes money. It made money through a couple different avenues. One was converting real money into gems which could be used to buy card packs and booster decks. It’s economy, for what it is, it is only partially bad. It could be better, but feels satisfying enough because you get gems regularly with battle and quest completion. That makes buying packs for new cards easy. However you can only get a single booster deck with gems. After that you need to pay money. That doesn’t seem bad, except come cards are only available in decks, so to get three of a card you’d have to pay around $10 (at my time of playing). That is not acceptable when participating in ranked duels because it is literally pay to win at that point.

The other way it wants your money is based on its time limit. This game has a time limit in so far as you have a set number of duelists you can play until they reappear. There are also portals to duel classic characters from the shows. They cost colored keys in order to duel. You can buy extra duelists who give you an experience boost, and buy keys that reset the number of free duelists, and keys to duel the characters.

I never found these money making plans to be that abhorrent. I more just felt like I was logging on once a day to get a daily reward (something all these games do), clear the world of free duelists and log off. I never found myself unable to stop buying. I never bought in because I knew I wouldn’t be able to stop. I just realized I got nothing out of it, and logged off. I could not say the same for the other two.

Gundam Battle: Gunpla Warfare (a real bad, but incredibly descriptive name for it) was a game I was looking forward to. Gundam is great, and gunpla is fun to build, so a combination would be perfect. When it came out this game too was okay, but less okay.

The gameplay is quality for a game that would ostensibly be played on the phone in a car or in the bathroom. It has a story mode that can be gone through as much as you want, and is also the main reason I quit.

The economy is built on getting random parts, and upgrade existing ones. This economy is based on a similar gem like currency you can buy with real money. This economy was not as rewarding as Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Links and felt like paying was more intended, but not necessary, until it was. The story mode was not challenging. It felt more like a way to get you in and participate in the other sections of the game. That was until a big tournament arc with the main rival. At that point the game skyrocketed in difficulty and felt like no matter what I did I needed better parts, unfortunately all the avenues would take a while. At that point I would repeat the pattern of log on, try, fail, repeat. I too got bored of it and tried the third and final game. 

I stated before that Pokémon Go was not my thing. Pokémon Masters meanwhile felt perfect. You get to battle, use trainers from the game, and have a story. This time too the story was the reason I ended my playing.

I made it through the first released campaign quickly after release. It was satisfying enough, and the economy is not bad. You buy gems (always gems) to get trainers. That was it, and felt like you could increase the trainers skills easily enough without doing it. When I beat the campaign and saw there was going to be a continuation I trained all the Pokémon up to max in preparation for whatever end it had in mind.

The expansion came out and was impossible. I was at the same place of hitting my head against the same boss over and over to no better success. The same log in for the bonus, play, fail, repeat reared its head. I had known by then that meant I was done.

I don’t want to talk about Mario Kart tour other than I didn’t make it long till I saw what would come so,I downloaded Hearthstone onto my phone. It was not even a day or so in that Blizzard had a “Tough Hearthstone E-Sports Moment” and bab a player in support of the Hong Kong protests. So I never even opened the app.

I was lucky. I never got really into spending money in any of these games. Other could not help themselves. If they want to spend money that is their prerogative, but these games want our money. They are designed to tempt us into paying. I never paid, but I wanted to keep playing this zero-sum game.

In starting this blog I continually went to the App Store and arcade store to find a new game. When I began writing I went there less and less and my writing apps more and more. I just look for something to do on my phone. I have a device that I can watch TV, pay my bills, and look up anything I wanted, I needed to find a use for it. I have found one now. I don’t need to keep trying something, wait for it to attempt a grab for my debit card, and uninstall it. I can just create something instead of sink time into a game that just wants my attention.

Harry Potter: And the Chamber of Secrets (2002) Review

What is considered by most to be the worst in the Harry Potter series is the second installment in the continuing story of our hero wizard Harry Potter and friends. If not the first film, than it’s this one that I have seen the most growing up than any of the others. At the time I remember there only being the first three films available and I would go to the library every week to check them out. This is one of my most memorable of the series from the sheer fact that I have seen it more times than I can count, but within the last few years I haven’t seen it but once or twice. It’s been well over a year since I last saw it and I’m well aware of the general dislike of it. Not necessarily dislike but feelings of it being the worst of all of them. I’ve had more time since last watching it to hear the complaints so I went into watching it this time with a bit of a different perspective to see if it does seem weaker than the last time I watched it.

The Chamber of Secrets brings us back to our hero Harry Potter and his adventure into his second year of Hogwarts. What this movie starts with is another look at the family that he has to live with during his time on break. It’s a refresher of the bad situation he’s in and how this essentially the worst part of his year. This time around he actually has a room! And we get introduced to a new character, a house elf named Dobby. His appearance whether it be CGI or practical or a mixture of both is very good and holds up, especially because of the humor he brings. I like that it comes up with a new way for him to get to Hogwarts especially since his aunt and uncle don’t want him to go. In comes Ron and his brothers who break him out of bedroom jail with their flying car. Maybe it’s just me but I always loved seeing the flying car and how cool it looks when flying. The visuals still hold up, maybe not the best but considering this was back in 2002, I’m quite surprised.

With all of the setup in the first movie, this one is able to take time to expand on characters and add depth to them. In this case, it gives us a good look at Ron and his family. We get to see where he lives and how they may not have a lot of money, but they are all very close and tight knit. It’s very apparent as you go through this movie that it’s all about family and bloodlines. It takes time set up more depth for the families and characters that will later become important, but also makes the development relevant to the overall story. Beyond just Ron and his family, we get a little insight into Hermione and Malfoy’s families. It goes deep into the whole blood purity of wizards like Hermione who is born of two muggles. The derogatory term for that is “mudblood” a name that hurts Hermione very much when Malfoy directs it towards her. You also have some wizards that are born from one magic parent and one muggle parent. Stronger of course than both being non magic, but then you have the pure bloods like Harry and Malfoy. They both have parents that were witches and wizards. It’s interesting that they go about introducing this bloodline hierarchy of Malfoy thinking that pure bloods have stronger magical capabilities than that of anyone else despite Hermione being one of the best students with no magic parents. The movie does a good job at expanding on this whole dynamic between the characters and how people in the magic world look at this bloodline issue. I love that Hermione is living proof that those people aren’t wrong and that bloodline really doesn’t matter, especially since most kids are born of parents that are a mix of both.

Going back to Ron and his family, there is another dynamic that comes into play that is expanded upon that also involves the familial bloodlines. It gives us two examples of pure bloods with the Weeasley’s and the Malfoy’s. Both of the families are pure blood, but when we first get to see them together in this movie, it’s at a shop and we very clearly get a difference between the actual families and the social hierarchy that is in play in this society Even with magic, there is still a split between those that are rich and those that are poor. The Weasley’s and Harry are all covered with dirt from there trip through the fireplaces while the Malfoy’s are very clearly clean and seem to have a much more classy way of arriving to Diagon Alley. It certainly puts a lot in perspective and I feel is often overlooked in this movie. It was the first in the series to really start to expand on some of these themes and really sets up a lot of depth to these characters that comes into play in the other movies.

Not only does this movie take time to develop the actual characters, but it also gives a strong mystery involving a beast of sorts that is going around and petrifying students. It’s a mystery that slowly unravels and gives us just enough to wonder who exactly is behind it all. It’s safe to assume that it is Voldemort from the shadows, but it would take somebody else to fulfill his plan. They also take the time to put this hero of ours into an unusual circumstance. It builds on a minor thing from the first movie when he talks to the python at the zoo by bringing that back into play and making it an important aspect to Harry’s character. We learn that not many people can do it and it actually scares most of the students and makes them think that he has something to do with the attacks. It paints a different picture of Harry than the version of him we saw in the previous film. He has a lot to prove this time around and more questions about himself that add more depth to him. We also get a hint that there is more connected between him and Voldemort that we don’t have an answer to yet, but adds more mystery to the overall story.

Along with this very engaging mystery, we get build up on the Voldemort character by finding out the he was formerly a student at Hogwarts and that his real name is Tom Riddle. By doing this, the film not only expands on the narrative its telling, but also expands on the overall narrative in the overarching story through the series. It gives us more depth into the Voldemort character and learn that his real intention is to do anything he can to come back to life. Now, his plan in this movie really didn’t make a whole lot of sense and could’ve been explained a little better, but it is what it is. We also get a cool fight between Harry and the Basilisk. The Basilisk actually surprised me because of how good it actually looked. I’m not sure if they spent most of their budget on it or what the case was but that serpent certainly holds up very well. Along with the giant spider and smaller spiders in the woods. Aragorn seemed to be a practical effect that still creeps me out, and the smaller spiders seem to be CGI, but either way, they creep me out now and they really creeped me out as a kid. I’m very pleased with how well the visuals held up in this movie.

The only other things I can really point out is that we get our new defense against the dark arts teacher in Gilderoy Lockhart (Kenneth Branagh) who is a complete fraud in his success and its very apparent that he doesn’t know what he’s doing throughout the movie. At times this tends to be annoying and in other times it seems to be some perfect comedic timing. Either way though, the character is performed extremely well by Branagh which brings me to another point. The casting of supporting actors in this series is absolutely ridiculous and really takes off in this movie by adding Branagh, Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy and even Toby Jones as Dobby. It’s just a ridiculous cast of supporting actors.

In the beginning I said that this was one of the least liked of all of the movies for most people, but for me it just isn’t the case. Shoot, even when I thought about it before watching it this time around, I was thinking that it probably was the weakest of all of them, but I came out pleasantly surprised. I took time to really take in the characters and story to get a good grip on the importance of this movie. I know that some people feel that it just doesn’t seem as impactful as the other movies. For myself, I find everything they say to be wrong. This movie builds on everything that was set up in the first film and expands greatly on that. It then takes everything that was good in the first movie and makes it better. For a sequel this tends to be difficult to do, but honestly this movie is a step up from the first one. Some of the things it introduces absolutely plays a part in the later movies and is far more important than previously thought. It has an intriguing story and some great visuals that hold up very well. For anyone that felt like this movie wasn’t significant enough or wasn’t good, you should really give this another shot and really try to take in everything that’s being presented and what’s built upon. This is absolutely a great addition to the franchise.

Grade: B

College Football Playoff New Years Six Bowl Game Predictions

With the college football season coming to an end, we finally get to one of the most exciting parts of the season, the bowl games. With bowl games we get to see interesting matchups of teams we’ve never seen go up against each other and a battle of conferences. The last several years, we have been lucky enough to have the introduction of the College Football Playoff where we get the top four teams fighting it out to make it to the National Championship. It has made the regular season more exciting and has given us some of the best games in recent memory. They aren’t the only important ones though. This year has been one of the most interesting when it came to quality teams vying for that final spot. One made it while several others didn’t, but those others now find them matched up with each other that looks to give us some very intriguing games. I’m going to go over each of the New Years Six Bowl Games and one extra bowl game and give my predictions for each one. I hope you enjoy!

Honorable Mention: Citrus Bowl

14 Michigan vs 13 Alabama

This was supposed to be the year Michigan finally beat Ohio State and were set to make a great run for the playoffs. It didn’t take long at all for us to worry, starting with a close game against Army where they managed to pull out a win. They then dropped their next game against Wisconsin and looked to be very overmatched. Everyone counted them out until it seemed that they were picking up steam towards the end of the season, unfortunately they ran into a juggernaut that is Ohio State and continued their losing streak against them. They now find themselves in a great matchup of two great programs with Alabama. Alabama on the other hand is a team that was coming off an embarrassing loss in the National Championship last year against Clemson, but were going to ride the Tua wave into the playoffs again. It seemed clear that this wasn’t the same Alabama that we’ve seen in years past and it was the match against LSU that really showed their weaknesses. An injured Tua only drove the nail into the coffin for their chances at the playoffs dropping a game against their rival Auburn. Both of these two teams dropped their final games against a rival and have had ups and downs all season. It should make for a great matchup with head coaching alone getting to see Harbaugh vs Saban, but in reality I still see Michigan in over their heads. They have looked the best all season towards the end, but still don’t seem to have a great chance against Bama. While it seems that they could be on equal ground due to record, Alabama had closer losses and has looked a lot more competitive than Michigan in those losses. It could make for a great game, but I see Alabama coming out on top.

Prediction: Alabama

Cotton Bowl

10 Penn State vs 17 Memphis

In a year where it seemed Penn State would be in a rebuild, we were all proven wrong when they jumped to the top four of the rankings when they were first revealed. They had some impressive wins and looked to be making a strong statement for possibly getting into the playoffs. It wasn’t until they had their hotly anticipated matchup with Minnesota that they finally dropped a game and we saw some of their flaws. They were overmatched in that game and the rebuild needs certainly showed. They would go on to give some great competition a bit of a run, but aren’t quite playoff caliber yet. On the other side, many of us assumed maybe UCF would be the Group of Five team this year as they have been for the last few years, but they quickly fell off the board. It came down to the last game of the season and then a rematch the next week against Cincinnati for the Group of Five team to be decided and Memphis came out on top. There have been years where we could confidently say that the Group of Five team has a serious chance at winning, but for me I just can’t see Memphis coming out on top against a tough Penn State defense. There is a bigger gap than what you may see on paper. Memphis can definitely score, but they haven’t played the same level of competition. I can see Memphis giving a good challenge early on, but the experience against competition and the rising young talent Penn State has will pull them ahead for the win. Look for this game to be a possible tight game in the event that Penn State takes them likely, but Penn State is the better team.

Prediction: Penn State

Orange Bowl

9 Florida vs 24 Virginia

Florida has been a bit of a sleeper team going into the season. I had assumed like some that they would have a decent season, but they made a big statement with a big win against Auburn and some close games against LSU and Georgia. They are definitely a team on the rise and should be proud of how well they played tough competition this year. They are a great team that seemed to be overlooked towards the end of the season. Virginia on the other hand is ranked barely in the top 25. I have a strong feeling that they’re only ranked for the fact that they’re in this game and no other ACC team was good enough except for Clemson. The ACC has been terrible all year and Virginia has some bad losses. They managed to have a good win against Virginia Tech that gave them the chance to play in this game, but they don’t have a chance. They’re a team that is in this game because of circumstance and are completely outmatched against a Florida team that has the opportunity to end the season on a high note by making a major statement in a high profile bowl game. Look for Florida to absolutely dominate in this game and to keep the pedal to floor to let people know they’re serious about next season. I predict a blowout and statement against the ACC and the quality of the conference.

Prediction: Florida

Rose Bowl

6 Oregon vs 8 Wisconsin

Oregon was riding high on high profile quarterback prospect Justin Herbert. He elected to stay for another year to make a run for the playoffs. They lost their first game against Auburn and then lost once more against Arizona State. Unfortunately they missed out on their chance to make the playoffs, but they are still a quality team and would have been an interesting matchup with anyone if they made it into the playoffs. Wisconsin on the other hand is a quality team with two losses against Ohio State. They certainly made a big statement in the first half of the Big Ten Championship, but Ohio State came back and proved just how much better they were. Wisconsin has a stout defense that is going to make it very tough for Herbert and the Oregon offense. On the offensive side for Oregon, they have a quarterback who is coming around and has become better all season. The quarterback matchup and overall offense is in Oregon’s favor, but the edge is going to be how well Wisconsin can hold up on the defensive side of the ball. Jonathan Taylor has been one of the best backs in the country all year and could have skipped out on this game, but he decided to stick with his team and could be the big difference in this game. If Wisconsin can get the ball moving with him than they should be able to pull out a win. I also think their defense will slow Herbert down and will give Wisconsin the upset.

Prediction: Wisconsin

Sugar Bowl

5 Georgia vs 7 Baylor

Baylor could go down as the biggest sleeper team this year along with Minnesota. Baylor managed to put together a solid year scarred only by its two losses to Oklahoma, both of which were close and at a time there was a chance they were going to make it into the playoffs. Georgia is a team that came into this year with a lot of optimism, but ended up dropping a hot steamy egg against South Carolina early in the season. They bounced back and had some quality wins only to get blown out against LSU. I don’t think Georgia ever looked the same as they have in the last few years and quite honestly looked to be a little overrated and vulnerable. Baylor looked to be an absolute Cinderella team until they ran into the veteran program Oklahoma. This may be one of the closest matchups in all of the bowl games. The SEC is overall a better conference than the Big 12 and Georgia does have more quality talent and experience, however Baylor has proven to be a tough challenge against anybody all year. Look for a close game they may come down to the run game which Georgia has the advantage. Georgia is the favorite to win this game, but I’m going to have to go the other way and say that Baylor pulls off a close upset.

Prediction: Baylor

Peach Bowl

1 LSU vs 4 Oklahoma

The first matchup in the College Football Playoff semifinals gives us one of the most impressive teams in the country with LSU and a team that may have gotten in due to circumstance of other teams ahead of them losing. Now I’m not saying that Oklahoma isn’t a quality team, but they certainly have not shown they have the same amount of experience or skill as their opposition LSU. Oklahoma boasts a high power offense with one of the most dynamic playmakers in the country, Jalen Hurts. On top of that they have a great coach in Lincoln Riley who may be able to devise a game plan that could give LSU a challenge. Their biggest problem? Defense. They don’t have even close to a good enough defense to stop the LSU offense. This brings me to LSU and honestly what is there to say about them? They have the best quarterback in the country, with the most impressive wins of any team, and an offense that is an absolute nightmare to prepare against. Their offense with Joe Burrow under center is a force to be reckoned with that will likely only fail against a stout defense. LSU also doesn’t have the best defense, but it is a quality defense, so it’s going to be tough for Oklahoma to find a crack in this team. It’s going to come down to defense and the turnover battle. The best chance for Oklahoma is to get turnovers and to get stops. They especially can’t let Burrow loose on 3rd and long. I really just think Oklahoma is completely outmatched, but there are some things they can do to make it challenging. Look for a lopsided win for LSU.

Prediction: LSU

Fiesta Bowl

2 Ohio State vs 3 Clemson

Keep in mind that Ohio State is my college football team. I have grown up all my life with my family rooting for the buckeyes so there’s going to be some bias in here. With that said, I believe this is going to be the most competitive match of all of the major bowl games. Clemson is coming off of a National Championship win and another undefeated season, while Ohio State is coming in with one of the most complete teams all season with quality wins and some of the best players at position in the country. With Clemson progressively getting better the further into the season we got, they really started to look like their former selves with their new young talent. Ohio State has been dominant all season long and has proved it against multiple ranked teams. They also showed the ability to come back from behind and completely turn a game on its head when going up against Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship. This is such an even matchup when you look at the two teams on paper that you can’t really pick one major thing out as an advantage or disadvantage for the opposing team. This is one of those games that’s going to be close and an absolute fist fight from start to finish. I think either one of these teams can come out on top and either one will give LSU the biggest challenge of the year. Look for the Ohio State run game with Dobbins and Fields being the only slight advantage.

Prediction: Ohio State

Bombshell Review

Margot Robbie, Nicole Kidman, and Charlize Theron drop the hot goss of 2016

I am not really sure who this movie is for. You could say that about a lot of these pseudo-political, pseudo-comedic based on a true story narratives we have been getting a lot of recently. It feels like this should be for the older generation that watch Fox News regularly, but it’s also aimed against them. It’s weird, but I guess late December is just the release for movies like this and Vice. Political dramadies about people in charge.

Anyway, the plot follows Megyn Kelly, Gretchen Carlson, and Kayla Pospisil fight to our Roger Ailes, CEO of Fox News for sexual harassment.

There are a lot of things to like about the movie. The headliners are stars and they put in that work. It’s almost like it’s not a surprise that Margot Robbie is great, or Charlize Theron, or Nicole Kidman. They are great because they blend a down to earth, but bigger than life quality TV anchors have into their roles. The whole is really great and giving a real down to earth performances to match the likeness (and likability in some cases) of the people they’re portraying. John Lithgow as Roger Ailes is a revelation. You get a full picture of the man, what made him a good boss, and why he had to go. Lithgow totally blends that into the role perfectly. Malcolm McDowell as Rupert Murdoch was a nice treat too.

The editing, shot composition, and cinematography are all on key to make a movie where people are mostly sitting or standing in offices and board rooms feel like tense standoffs. Margot Robbie’s Kayla has her first meeting with Roger and it is nail biting. The natural performances and inter-cutting between characters in a scene, the long pauses held with just the perfect expression really capture you in the room with them.

The most interesting tactic the movie does is what it doesn’t do. It does not attack Fox News directly. Whether you agree with the stations politics is not important to the film. What it cares about, and asks you to care about is the culture at the station. It says that Roger Ailes did bad deeds to women. It says that the women were coerced in some way to act how they did. That is what it cares about. I do not follow either Megyn Kelly or Gretchen Carlson, but I’m sure that even as they were harassed and attacked for coming out, that they still held many of the beliefs that made them want to work at Fox. Whether you agree with them or not is up to you, but what happened to them was real and tragic in their life and they took that stand.

The title is a fun pun too. The news story and scandal on outing of Roger Ailes was a bombshell, but so where the ladies that brought it to pass. Giving them a voice by giving the title that extra meaning is really compelling in its own way.

This all sounds so perfect. It is not. The movie is not long enough, or doesn’t use its time wisely. It’s multiple characters mean they must break with one story to continue another. The movie also devotes a lot of time to side characters and cutaways that, though they don’t detract from the message, do detract from the story of the three main women. It could have used some clean up either in editing or script.

This movie is very similar to 6 Underground. It is about a group of people taking on a tyrant and winning. In 6 Underground it was a haphazard mess. It is still a mess in some ways here, but is coherent and close to powerful (or maybe it is powerful I am not a woman, but it got me in places).

It is good, you could see it if you’re done seeing Star Wars, or wait till the home release.

The Mandalorian Season 1 Review

Old style western, set in the Star Wars universe. The Mandalorian is the first big step for the franchise into the live action television world. When Disney announced their own streaming service Disney+, they also announced that the first ever live action Star Wars series would launch with the service. Kathleen Kennedy brought on Jon Favreau as the showrunner to lead this series into the right direction. He was also the writer and creator of the series and was able to get it greenlit after pitching an idea for the series that he’s had for years. He wasn’t going to direct the episodes, but he was going to work as the overseer of the whole project with a great collection of directors putting out their vision and his together. They brought on the likes of Dave Filoni, a first time live action director known for his work on the Star Wars animated shows and his vast knowledge of the whole franchise. They also brought on Taika Waititi, Bryce Dallas Howard, Deborah Chow, and Rick Famuyiwa. Some of these names you may not recognize, but their actual credits of work show just how amazing this group of directors is. Not only that, but they brought on an interesting collection of actors, most notably, Pedro Pascal as the Mandalorian aka Mando. Some of the actors brought on are Nick Nolte, Carl Weathers, Gina Carano, Werner Herzog, and many others. Everything was in place for this series to be fantastic and quickly became one of the most anticipated shows in recent memory. We were all ready for eight hours of Star Wars.

Well…It isn’t quite eight hours. Disney never came out and told us how long each episode would be, but it seemed like everyone had assumed it would be around an hour long for each episode. Interestingly enough, the episodes are quite shorter ranging anywhere from thirty minutes to forty-ish minutes. It was a little jarring at first and after seeing the first episode end quicker than I anticipated. This is a testament of a few things. Disney never lied to us and instead just subverted our expectations of how long we thought it was going to be. The show was such a good hook in the first episode, that we were caught off guard by it ending after only forty minutes. And they were definitely going to take their time in telling a story in each episode. That was another interesting point of realization when watching the first few episodes. At first I had assumed that the whole series would be more of a continuous story in the likes of Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones. It’s clear early on that it was actually taking the approach of being more of a serialized western where the stories do have connective threads, but for the most part spend time trying to tell a strong contained story with this main character. There are things that happen in each episode that later come into play and are important, but it isn’t the focus of the series until maybe the last two episodes. The last two episodes give us a conclusion of what was setup in the very first episode with the shocking reveal of “Baby Yoda”. These episodes also bring back characters that we had met in previous episodes as they have now become essential to Mando’s mission.

What I think this show does best is that it really tells individual stories that all have a purpose to complete a story that began from the very beginning. The other best part is that it completes the story of this season, but perfectly puts things in place for the second season. In episode one we were introduced to baby Yoda and continued to learn how Mando connected with the little foundling having been one himself. It adds a layer of depth to the character and gives us a hint at his backstory. The show also takes time to weave in Mandalorian history and lore without it being out of place or just there for the sake of being there. It’s essential to the story and comes back into play at the end of the series. That’s one thing that really satisfies, the payoff. There are many questions and many wants that I had when watching that eventually get paid off in a way that made it feel earned and worth it. Whether it be the question as to why Mando didn’t have a jetpack or if we were ever going to see what he looked like under the mask. We got those answers and they weren’t just there for the sake of answering, but rather they were placed and timed perfectly where it just felt right.

While it does leave some things open ended like where does baby Yoda come from, does he have a name, what’s the name of his species…etc. Those were all important questions, but the narrative was written in such a way that we didn’t feel like we really needed that information while watching. We were very much okay with not knowing that information, but still had those questions in the back of our minds. Instead, it answers the questions of who was behind the order against Mando to retrieve baby Yoda by introducing us to a new character who seems more mysterious in the last shot of the finale. We also get conclusions to certain arcs and set up of where everyone will be by the start of the next season. It was able to complete a narrative while also continuing the story without any flaws aside from one episode.

Episode 5 gave us a side story directed by Dave Filoni. Of all the episodes directed in this series, his were very clearly the weakest of them all. That could be due in part by the fact that he has only ever directed animated and not live action and some things that he chooses to do in those episodes feel very much like something you would only see in something animated. Unfortunately it doesn’t help him because many people were hoping he would get his own live action series or movie because of his knowledge of the franchise, but I think these episodes of his just showed how much further he has to go before even being ready for that kind of project. Episode 5 was the worst one because it had some of the worst writing, worst dialogue, and worst performance by actors of the whole series. All of this stems from the fact that Filoni wrote and directed the episode. If it wasn’t just the technical aspects that really hurt it, it’s the insignificance of the episode that really hurts. All of the episodes had at least something that was of importance to the overall story or narrative, but this one did nothing to further the story or make it even necessary to watch. The only thing I find becoming important is how the ending has a little tease of maybe a future revenge plot against a certain characters death, but even then I don’t think it helps the episode at all.

The visuals would be the last thing I could cover that really impacted this series. That and the music. The music is by Ludwig Göransson. He is someone that I had never really knew much about until I looked up his previous credits which include collaborations with Ryan Coogler on Creed and Black Panther among many others. He gives an absolutely different and unique take on Star Wars music that separates itself very well from any of the other shows or movies and yet still feels so perfect for the story they’re telling. I have to give him props for balancing this so well without making music that doesn’t feel like Star Wars, it’s a feat that is very underrated when it comes to the success of a Star Wars project without John Williams. The visuals are the other key aspect. They weren’t lying when they said they were going to be giving movie quality visuals and really spend the money to make something great. They understood that for fans, it meant a lot not to give them something that wasn’t up to the quality that Star Wars is worth and they follow through on that. There are some absolutely stunning visuals and some of the best sci-fi visuals to ever come from a television series. Not only that but it also feels a lot like Rogue One where the action and visuals are gritty and raw that feel like the most real and intense moments in any Star Wars project.

The Mandalorian was to set the stage for Star Wars live action on the television screen. It had a daunting task of needing to be successful with critics and viewers and to keep people wanting more content. It was so important to Disney and Disney+ that they launched the streaming service with this show as their staple project. There was a lot riding on this series and it absolutely met and exceeded expectations. Rather than dump the whole series at one time for people to binge like most Netflix series, they instead did a week to week release. This kept the series in the mainstream conversation for eight weeks and kept everyone anticipated for the next episode. It built a momentum and a following that continued to grow every week and helped gain the streaming service more subscribers. This show does everything you want it to and is unique enough to separate itself from the movies. It absolutely set the tone for how good these future Star Wars projects can be and how much of a pallet cleanser it can be with all of the toxicity with the movies. It also proves how good the franchise can be with the advantage of long term storytelling. Over the next several months before the release of season two, I can easily see this continuing to grow viewers and will not lose popularity. It’s a show that is easily rewatchable and an easy entry for anyone new to the Star Wars world. One of my favorite shows of the year and I can’t wait for where the story will go in season two.

Grade: A

Netflix’s 6 Underground Review

Ryan Reynolds leads a less memorable X- Force to fight tyranny

Michael Bay is an underrated director. That does not mean he is an underrated story teller. He’s not (he barely passed creative writing with a D-). But he is a great visual stylist, knows how to get across scale not many could do until CGI got to the place it’s at now, and when he has a message he pushes it even when everything else fails.

With all that said 6 Underground is a fever dream of everything Michael Bay loves rolled into a slick package.

The movie follows Ryan Reynolds as a CEO who has a brush with death when terrorists attack a refugee camp. From then on he decides to use his billions to deliver justice to the actual villains in power, and use his own team of specialized agents to do it.

This movie is an over edited, oddly structured, beautiful looking fever dream. It is hard to know what is going on from scene to scene. It is unclear if we are in the present, past, or somewhere else in the past. Whatever the style they were going for it does not work as intended, but also way better than the similarly structured Suicide Squad. We get background on some of the squad, but not all of them. Each member gets a nice flashy intro on the screen, and their ability. It should be cool, but it is too inconsistent to work overall.

So if the editing and structure are inconsistent then maybe the characters are the heart of this movie. Ensemble casts are the big thing. Again the word is uneven. Ryan Reynolds is of course a blast, along with a couple of the team members, but not everyone gets enough to do. Some skills like parkour are really showed off, while the doctor is just a name. She is forgettable. The characters may not be all super memorable, but they all have a good chemistry and believable bond.

A good chemistry is nice and all, but it’s an action movie and the action is neat. There are some really inventive set pieces like large scale use of magnets, or a Hong Kong chase on the rooftops. It is a solid setup if anything. The stop and start editing does those scenes no favors.

This movie also has a lot of classic Michael Bay humor. Humor in this case having everyone in the world be hateful. Nuns who flick you off when you try to run them over by accident (I mean it was a Franco driving the car it makes sense). Ryan Reynolds hating on the Spice Girls (what’s wrong with the Spice Girls? They’re a national treasure… to Britain). It is funny, but also very juvenile. A character gets high on laughing gas and quotes movie lines, hysterical. It also oddly goes away after the first big chase scene. There is of course humorous banter and interplay, but no outright jokes. I guess that means it breaks even.

I wanted to like this movie. It does have real care and soul put into it. It’s a movie about taking down dictators and making the world a better place. Michale Bay is working through some ideas here, they just don’t all work.

You might have a good time, or it’s off putting style and strange structure will turn you off.

Hot 100 Review: Rockin Around the Christmas Tree by Brenda Lee

Watch the video: https://youtu.be/dxHL36aJvGU (those damn boomers touching hands as teens)

You are reading this the day after Christmas, but even now the chart is still being helmed by Mariah Carey and her tour de force of holiday cheer which I covered. Second to that is Brenda Lee’s 1958 classic “Rockin Around the Christmas Tree.”

Her voice is soothing and light. Not overbearing like Mariah Carey’s could be. It’s lyrics are standard white lights on a simple tree, and production feels like a dance song from the time it came out. Not that bombastic or anything, and I could not find a video to watch. It’s good.

It’s a tight two minutes of jolly. It does not sound nearly as big as Mariah Carey’s Christmas opus, but still give you a good holiday fever. It’s a good song. It’s a classic. It would have to be in order for a song from the FIFTIES to still get into the Hot 100, especially just below Mariah Carey.

This one I just do not have as much to say. It’s jolly. There is no secret to it. Have a good Boxing Day all Canadian readers and sleep off your Christmas hangover.

(What? They’re still here? Okay I’ll figure out something to say.)

Look, we are independent. I don’t have any particular word count to I have to hit here. I want you to feel like you got something out of your time here. So I’m going to do a hot take that this song is about full on paganism. Not like Brenda Lee and all the boomers are going to summon the devil, but like dancing around a tree. Unless they are trying to summon the devil.

Normal American houses the tree is in a corner or against a wall. If they’re not, they’re not usually in danceable areas. So having a tree in the open, no one able to stop, teens trying to mack on each other. That’s all witchcraft and pagan devil worship talk. They have been infected by the dancing plague, force to continue until they bleed out and die, but also want to do a naughty kissing. Pure evil!

Well that was all fun and meaningless guff, but also Christmas is coopted from Pagan traditions and wrapped in a Christian theme.

Have a Happy New Year, Citizens!

Yes, it is a Christmas movie!

Merry Christmas!

Happy Hanukkah (it actually falls around the Christmas Day, that’s fun)!

Have a great winter holiday day!

As you being to settle with friends, family, pets, and all other assorted people (if you got internet friends they count too) it’s time for your yearly traditions.

For most of you that tradition is to probably sit and watch a film or couple tv specials and have a great time. That’s good. As our world tumbles further and further into the garbage bin, it is healthy to have a place to go, warm your heart, and be happy.

The biggest piece of toxicity that comes out this time of year is the question everyone who’s dressed up as John McClane for a holiday party gets: “Is that a Christmas movie?” From there the discussion usually deteriorates quickly into sludge. So this here to say that yes, it is a Christmas movie.

This is not just to justify all those people who do it. Every movie is a Christmas movie! Or, it is more accurate to say that every movie is a holiday movie. Christmas is tied (however so tenuously at this point to Jesus totally actual birthday) to the church and religion, while holiday is not.

It is easy to tie basically any movie to the holiday season. The Dark Knight – a man chooses to take the burden of society to help people, sounds like Santa to me. Star Wars IV: A New Hope – a group of people come together to stop evil and celebrate, sounds like Christmas carolers trying fro squash the hatred in us all. (This is fun) Deadpool – A man fights hard to be able to spend time with his girlfriend, I mean he gives up everything for a person that is pretty Christmasy. The studio thought Deadpool 2 was enough of a family Christmas movie they re-edited it to be one! Okay, one more: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – a man tries to spread cheer to friends and have a perfect day, sound like what people try to do every Christmas. (Play the home version by taking any movie you see and try to find the holiday spirit in it. Makes you feel good.)

Enough jokes. The point is that every movie is a holiday movie if it has meaning to you on that holiday. It’s fun to joke about how Fight Club is a Christmas movie cause it’s about fighting consumerism even as it is consumerist art, and embrace people (okay last one for real this time). But if you watched it as a high schooler or college student with your family at the right time it could do it for you. I mean for years people would watch the Dr. Who special and those did not always have to do with Christmas.

That’s the key. It doesn’t have to do with Christmas. Holidays are what you make of them. If your family bundles around the TV and watch Wayne’s World every Christmas then that is a Christmas movie. If you watch Independence Day and time the explosion of the mothership to new year, that’s holiday movie. If you binge watch sitcoms and bake cookies with you mother that is well a holiday TV show (the point remains).

Thanksgiving morning my family has Irish coffee, make cinnamon rolls and watches the Macy’s Parade. Only one of those things has any relation to Thanksgiving. The other two could be done any day, but I would not want a Thanksgiving without it. Those traditions are not based on anything special about Thanksgiving, but that combination does for me.

So when you settle down when the moon rises high, and the wind blows cold, and you go for your traditional Christmas time movie night watch of Mary Poppins just know that it too is a Christmas movie because Christmas is what we make it.