Movie Review: Doctor Strange

Image result for doctor strange movie poster free useI said it in my review of Captain America: Civil War earlier this year: How long can Marvel keep this up? How long will it conjure stellar scripts, vivid visuals and diverse character dissertations? Will its streak ever end?

It was bound to happen eventually. The greats of every pursuit have a bad performance from time to time in their quest for endless perfection. Unilateral consistency to that level is hard to duplicate but the greats always find a way. They continue to leave us in disbelief because there’s a natural tendency to discredit them and expect the opposite. “Surely it can’t be done again,” we say, yet how gratifying it is to be proven wrong, is it not? Disbelief is sometimes more than belief. Sometimes, we welcome what we can’t process and revel in the emotion of what we deem otherworldly. Eventually, the cycle comes back around and the greats remind us they’re human, which at first breaks the illusion but also redeems them, making their achievements all the more impressive.

Doctor Strange is the cycle coming back around and reminding us Marvel is manned by humans just like ourselves. They are not beings from a galaxy far, far away, or an interstellar species. They are just like you and I, and like humans do, they screw up sometimes.

Director Scott Derrickson’s Marvel debut is a screw-up. It has potential like a budding juvenile but thus far has neither the focus or awareness to put those pieces together. It is ambitious but not properly equipped to get the job done.

Doctor Strange could and should have been serious. It has all the reason to be. We’re dealing with sorcery and the end of the world. Marvel has already humored the hell out of end-of-the-world scenarios. Doctor Strange was their chance to make something of a drama. Captain America: Civil War was a drama and perhaps not coincidentally, the best thing Marvel has ever made. It has yet to make a good, serious drama with one compelling character, with the exception of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Doctor Strange seemed more than ripe for that honor. Benedict Cumberbatch is certainly capable and Marvel threw Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mads Mikkelsen and Tilda Swinton into this. These are actors that can do things and yet Marvel let the opportunity slip by.

A cast this talented with material this competent should be fine but Doctor Strange ends up reminding me of The Incredible Hulk, a film without much pull, character strokes or panache to show for its efforts. Doctor Strange is a film that, surprisingly, doesn’t have a lot to say.

It should be talking about otherworldly elements that our minds can’t process, that perhaps there are things outside our world that we don’t understand or grasp. It should be portraying Doctor Strange as a character of his own making, not a rehashing of Tony Stark. It should be discussing the errors of humanity and at least attempt to make the argument that the world isn’t worth saving.

Any of these things would have been appropriate. One of these things would have been nice. We don’t get any of them, but yes, we get the obligatory “these are the rules and this is how everything works” scenes, which are then followed by things that have yet to be explained and won’t be during this run time.

Doctor Strange, from the opening credits onward, is shown to be a man gifted with extraordinary abilities and vision but the same cockiness and arrogance that always brings those people down to street level at one point or another. This is far too like Stark. Whether these are supposed to be similar characters, I don’t know. I never read the comics, but from a storytelling perspective, it’s a poor choice. You have two heroes that are practically twins and without stark (play on words) differences in their motivations, side characters or backgrounds, it’s going to be hard for an audience to enjoy it as its own experience. This film doesn’t bother to demonstrate those variations.

This lack of attention to detail and rather depthless writing leads to a mundane episode, one that, despite numerous Cumberbatch attempts, struggles for character originality. This notable elephant in the room is covered with humor that is largely off-base, leaving an emptiness of narrative flow in the theater.

A brief round of applause will be granted for a film that awes in the visual department but does not accentuate this talent enough to overcome the inherent flaws in the movie’s remaining parts.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Captain America: Civil WarDeadpoolAvengers: Age of UltronThe AvengersThe Babadook)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Olympus Has FallenThe Cable GuyThe Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of Tomorrow)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (The InvitationHushGhostbusters (2016)BatmanFree State of Jones)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Johnny MnemonicJason BourneSuicide SquadBatman ForeverThe Crow)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (Robin HoodUnderworldThe Do-OverX-Men: ApocalypseD-Tox/Eye See You)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Underworld: EvolutionBatman & RobinBloodsportWar, The Ridiculous 6)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (Most Likely to DieIndependence Day: ResurgenceThe Crow: City of AngelsCenturionPlanet of the Apes)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (Avalanche SharksCatwomanThe GunmanThe VisitThe Fantastic Four)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (The Coed and the Zombie StonerThe Forbidden DimensionsCyborgOutcastSabotage)

My score for Doctor Strange: 64.

2016 was a disappointing year and with Doctor Strange, Marvel couldn’t help but add to the pile. Thank God for Civil War.

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Movie Review: Robin Hood

Image result for robin hood movie poster free useI’m back.

2016 was awful. It’s been a year of loss, as many talented individuals have departed this world and much uninspired, lackluster art has, unfortunately, graced theaters. Disappointment begets depression and disorientation, which is why I have taken a leave of absence this last months. 2016 didn’t promise much and hasn’t given much reason to hope for a bounceback 2017.

But in the mud, rubble, ash and muck, some have come through in 2016, as some always do in times of turmoil. Even Marvel couldn’t keep its streak going (Strange review coming tomorrow), but they more than made up for it with Civil War, a comic book film that shed its skin and delivered a drama that compelled audiences while staying true to itself with some true comedy gold sprinkled over top. Collateral Beauty was also quite a treat but I’ll have to review that another time.

No, we’re gonna start this year with a vigilante, the real OG, Robin Hood himself. Who doesn’t admire Robin Hood? Crossing the line of justice for the right reasons. Add me to the list of people who would love to be in his entourage. A view into the growth and founding of Robin Hood should be quite aspiring, no? You would be wrong, apparently.

No, you would be right. It should be. Ridley Scott just really dropped the ball on this one. Bludgeoned it with a tire iron and threw it in an ashtray. This is a doozy of a film and so uncharacteristic of Sir Ridley. Scott is capable of far greater storytelling. We’ve seen it many a time.

At no point does Robin Hood ever feel like a solid drama or competent novella. It’s so blase, surprisingly generic to the point of surrealism. Surely this isn’t Scott. Surely this is a different Ridley.

It carries no charm, delivers no wit, showers no brilliance and grasps a long-winded plot with open arms. It’s not consequential. It’s barren and irrelevant because we know the story. It’s the precursors to that story that should draw us in but we’re flown right over that like a jetliner flying over its destination. Imagine that disappointment. Robin Hood’s not too far removed from that.

What should be a fun character portrayal is surprisingly dormant. Instead, we’re given a Robin Hood that’s not confident in himself and worse, is still trying to discover his own identity. This is a polar opposite to the Robin Hood that we as kids are taught to idolize: a sometimes rash but always good-meaning rebel.

Russell Crowe might be walking around with a script that reads Robin Longstride but he’s walking away from the character. There are some portions of the original personality that remain but it’s hard for me to appreciate the Mona Lisa when someone cut her eyes out. Puts a little bit of a damper on things.

The spectacles we’re used to seeing from Scott simply isn’t here. Crowe and Blanchett are left in the sun, the side characters in the Robin Hood story are left undeveloped and our villain is an unknown. There’s not visual extremes to be demonstrated here. It’s a blemished work that’s excessively average and I’m left extremely disappointed.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Captain America: Civil WarDeadpoolAvengers: Age of UltronThe AvengersThe Babadook)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Olympus Has FallenThe Cable GuyThe Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of Tomorrow)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (The InvitationHushGhostbusters (2016)BatmanFree State of Jones)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Johnny MnemonicJason BourneSuicide SquadBatman ForeverThe Crow)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (UnderworldThe Do-OverX-Men: ApocalypseD-Tox/Eye See YouConstantine)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Underworld: EvolutionBatman & RobinBloodsportWar, The Ridiculous 6)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (Most Likely to DieIndependence Day: ResurgenceThe Crow: City of AngelsCenturionPlanet of the Apes)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (Avalanche SharksCatwomanThe GunmanThe VisitThe Fantastic Four)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (The Coed and the Zombie StonerThe Forbidden DimensionsCyborgOutcastSabotage)

My score for Robin Hood: 51.

This isn’t a good review and that’s okay. Just getting started.

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Movie Review: Johnny Mnemonic

Image result for johnny mnemonic movie poster free useKeanu Reeves, similar to Nicolas Cage, is defined by moments of overdramatization. My perception of Keanu is not the gravity-defying, martial arts apprentice from The Matrix trilogy. No, my allotted memory space for Keanu has captured moments like this and this. Can you blame me? Moments like these impress upon us. It’s a tattoo that we view with annoyance but, in the end, are glad we have. Perhaps it was just me, but as kids, my brother and I made movies ourselves, short goofy films that hopefully never see the light of day. When I put them in now, I cover my face in embarrassment before remembering the pride I gained producing them. They were fun and that’s what mattered at the end of the day.

Anyway, it’s just hard for me to take Keanu seriously. His off-base drawl mixed with an expressionless face make it difficult for me to see him succeeding in any drama. He doesn’t have a hypnotic glance (though some would argue he looks like he’s in a trance but I digress). He doesn’t have the voice or the charisma. In general, he’s just not that good, although there is something appealing about him, an element that allows him to continue to linger in the industry.

Films like Johnny Mnemonic display that element. Somewhat enthralling and somewhat disturbing to a person’s psyche, this 1995 sci-fi experiment is just enough to feel like there was something there but not enough to deem anything conclusive. It’s over the top and seemingly needless but remains something you want. All of its clear fallacies you’re willing to overlook, including Ice-T’s headdress. It’s something you have no real need for but you ask your parents to get it for you for Christmas anyway.

It has some interesting enough ideas but not the story composition to carry them along or the characters to serve them together in an appealing guise or put-together narrative. It is a dish best served cold. This is cold pizza. We all love it sometimes.

In an age dominated by technology, Johnny Mnemonic takes pleasure reminding us how polluted are society is by “evil” tech conglomerates, even though their message, which they’re trying to communicate seriously, gets befuddled by some overly passionate, far-reaching dialogue and blocked by Ice-T’s headdress.

Very rarely will I dedicate a whole paragraph to a wardrobe choice, but Ice-T’s headdress covers such a large proportion of the screen that it’s impossible not to discuss. In terms of basic shot framing, film school graduates and most anyone who’s ever picked up an image capturing device knows that the goal of every shot is to capture a central focus. To do so, it is best to avoid obnoxiously large distractions, such as a foot tall headdress, in your shot. Therefore, I find it necessary to give a small round of applause to the costume designer that not only approved this choice but managed to convince the producers, directors, editors and Ice-T himself of this prop’s importance. A true wizard or witch, this man or woman must be.

The most important part of this review comes here. Johnny Mnemonic is the premier embodiment of a comically bad movie that you can’t stop watching on Bad Movie Wednesday. It has the chicklet one-liners that must have felt livening to write on paper and felt heavenly to record. I cannot testify to the manners or general order of heaven, but I truly hope purposeful ineptitude such as this is cherished. To put it bluntly, the world is a better place because of it. It is a talent reserved for a special few and one that despite my years of film criticism, I still do not understand. Part of me hopes I never do. It might be better off not knowing.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Captain America: Civil WarDeadpoolAvengers: Age of UltronThe AvengersThe Babadook)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Olympus Has FallenThe Cable GuyThe Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of Tomorrow)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (The InvitationHushGhostbusters (2016)BatmanFree State of Jones)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Jason BourneSuicide SquadBatman ForeverThe CrowHardcore Henry)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (UnderworldThe Do-OverX-Men: ApocalypseD-Tox/Eye See YouConstantine)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Underworld: EvolutionBatman & RobinBloodsportWar, The Ridiculous 6)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (Most Likely to DieIndependence Day: ResurgenceThe Crow: City of AngelsCenturionPlanet of the Apes)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (Avalanche SharksCatwomanThe GunmanThe VisitThe Fantastic Four)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (The Coed and the Zombie StonerThe Forbidden DimensionsCyborgOutcastSabotage)

My score for Johnny Mnemonic: 60.

One of my personal favorites in the fun bad movie genre, Johnny Mnemonic provides some laughs while never getting too serious for its own good.

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Movie Review: Most Likely to Die

Image result for most likely to do movie posterMy head hurts. It really does. I was bound to find one of these.

Most Likely to Die demonstrates everything that I hate about the horror genre. At times, horror can be a hollow structure, with support beams but no interior design, let alone the presence of a room. All that’s there is an illusion of order, like a paper bag: plain, ordinary and unfortunately, susceptible to being overfilled with as much garbage as possible.

Had Most Likely to Die been titled Most Likely to Suck, I would have enjoyed this film a lot, lot more. It would have admitted from the get-go, “Hey, this sucks. We’re not trying.” Alas, that was not the case.

Most Likely to Die is lost from the start. It has an unhealthy obsession with the Scream franchise. It really wants to be Scream, more than anything. It never bothers to be itself and we’ll never know what personality this film ever had because it was too busy being something else.

It is cigarette butts. It is a tasteless lollipop. It is a farce. Most Likely to Die is a disfigured abhorrence of a piece. It is that friend in your group who loves singing but sounds like a smashed cuckoo clock. No matter how much you try to be the best friend you can be and tell her that’s not where her talent lies, she’ll hear nothing of it. She’s the friend who reads plenty of articles about empowerment, especially the ones that tell her what she wants to hear: that’s she’s great at everything and can do anything, which, to put politely, is a line of horse manure. She lives in her own little bubble of glorified lies that benefit her psyche and project the trajectory she wants: to become a Broadway star. She takes a metaphorical sledgehammer to any beautiful sound you’ve ever heard and a scalpel to the recesses of your mind that contain any sort of musical pleasantry. She cuts you, forever reminding you of the cacophony that you had to listen to from this oblivious human being who’s more likely to give you a concussion than any remote sense of euphoria.

There’s never any cell reception. There has to be a superficial romantic conflict laid over top. Stupid romances in stupid horror movies are stupid but stupid can’t recognize stupid because stupid.

I hate even spending my time talking about films like these.

This is a blueprint crafted with a broken crayon from TGI Friday’s and a slip of used toilet paper from a gas station outhouse. It’s filled with characters taken from straight-to-DVD remakes and casting choices that weren’t good enough for a movie on the Hallmark channel or a segment on MTV or a byline in the school play. The writing is penned from a man who says, “Oh, look how clever I am” whilst miming a professional sign twirler, pointing to the “clever” kills with screaming LED lights that carry a bill that makes the mansion down the street’s electricity bill from their always obnoxious Christmas light display look like a penny in an oil drum. The horror is far too hardy har har. If anything, it feels like a overly sophisticated prick slapping you in the face with his fresh white glove in one hand and holding a posterboard that says, “It sucks and you’ll like it” in the other. When confronted about his actions, he has the nerve to say, “What? It’s a joke.” No, sir. It is an offense. You deserve to be locked in a closet for a day. I’m done with this hot garbage.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Captain America: Civil WarDeadpoolAvengers: Age of UltronThe AvengersThe Babadook)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Olympus Has FallenThe Cable GuyThe Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of Tomorrow)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (The InvitationHushGhostbusters (2016)BatmanFree State of Jones)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Jason BourneSuicide SquadBatman ForeverThe CrowHardcore Henry)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (UnderworldThe Do-OverX-Men: ApocalypseD-Tox/Eye See YouConstantine)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Underworld: EvolutionBatman & RobinBloodsportWar, The Ridiculous 6)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (Independence Day: ResurgenceThe Crow: City of AngelsCenturionPlanet of the ApesStonados)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (Avalanche SharksCatwomanThe GunmanThe VisitThe Fantastic Four)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (The Coed and the Zombie StonerThe Forbidden DimensionsCyborgOutcastSabotage)

My score for Most Likely to Die: 33.

I got to see two true horror films in Hush and The Invitation but I was bound to run into a film like this. Ugh. Let’s move on.

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2016-2017 NFL Power Rankings: Week 7

1. Patriots (+0)

New England is simply too good, railroading anyone who dares to get in their way. Brady is on pace to be the first player ever to win the MVP without playing a full season (can’t recall anyone who has ever done that).

2. Vikings (+0)

Vikings drop their first game of the year. Philly showed their vulnerable on the offensive line (Minnesota’s two starting tackles are both out with injury). With that said, Minnesota is going to have to drop another game before they lose command of this spot.

3. Falcons (+0)

The loss to Seattle is hard to penalize them for. San Diego in the last few weeks has shown they can be dangerous. That said, a home game vs. Green Bay is a must-win.

4. Cowboys (+0)

Bye. Pumped for DAL and PHI on SNF.

5. Broncos (+1)

Denver humiliated Brock Osweiler. Established dominance. C.J. Anderson’s injury will certainly change the offense. Curious to see how they adjust.

6. Eagles (+5)

Who would have thought we’d have two NFC East teams in the top-ten this year? Philly dropped their last two but silenced the doubters with a win over the Vikings.

7. Raiders (+1)

I’m still perplexed how this team sits here on my board but there just aren’t a lot of teams I’d take over Oakland.

8. Seahawks (-3)

What we witnessed on Sunday Night Football was torturous in every sense of the word. Every time Seattle has a change to put the division under lock and key, they give analysts a doubt as to how good they really are. With ten minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the Seahawks had yet to have multiple first downs on a possession. Russell Wilson is playing hurt and Seattle has decide how long they want to deal with that handicap.

9. Steelers (-2)

A Pittsburgh team led by Landry Jones lost to 11 to New England. Teams who were healthy and faced New England have lost by more. A well-deserved bye week for the Steelers should give them the recuperation time they need.

10. Chiefs (-1)

Shouldn’t have had troubles with New Orleans. AFC West is toughest division in football right now.

11. Lions (+7)

Consecutive wins over Philly, Los Angeles and Washington look pretty good, especially for a team near the bottom in rushing. Stafford hasn’t lost a step without Calvin and has looked better this year than he has in recent ones.

12. Redskins (+0)

Narrow loss to Washington doesn’t diminish their ranking this week.

13. Packers (+0)

A win over a Chicago team that had to play most of the game with Matt Barkley at quarterback is not astounding.

14. Bills (-4)

The foolish Bills started McCoy with a bum hamstring. McCoy promptly injured his hamstring further and is now unlikely to play against New England in a must-win game if they want any chance of capturing the AFC East. Foolish indeed. Oh and they got torched by Miami, too.

15. Bengals (-1)

Win a meaningful game. Please, for the love of all that’s holy, win a meaningful game, Cincinnati, or your fall in the rankings will continue.

16. Giants (-1)

OBJ saved this team last week. Case Keenum saved the Giants season this week.

17. Chargers (+7)

Wins over Denver and Atlanta in back-to-back weeks have saved San Diego’s season and shown, had it not been for failing in the clutch multiple times early, they could be the front runners in the West. As I said, West is the best right now.

18. Rams (-1)

Todd Gurley has the third-worst ypc (3.0) among qualified players. Keenum just threw four interceptions.

19. Cardinals (+1)

That game on Sunday night was a crime against humanity. David Johnson was the only entertainment to be had.

20. Dolphins

Jay Ajayi became the fourth runningback in NFL history to run for 200 yards in back-to-back games. He has single-handedly resurrected the Dolphins’ season.

21. Texans (-2)

Embarrassed. Brock Osweiler threw for the second fewest passing yards on 40 attempts in NFL history. $72 million for this guy.

22. Ravens (-6)

The Ravens skid continues, dropping their fourth consecutive game.

23. Panthers (+0)

Bye.

24. Saints (+1)

The offense is killer. Nearly beat Kansas City.

25. Titans (-3)

Should’ve beat Indy and grabbed the AFC South throne. They did not. The South is the weakest division in football, again.

26. Buccaneers (+0)

Beat San Fran. Yay.

27. Colts (+0)

Beating the Titans is nice and all. Show me more.

28. Jets (+0)

They beat the Ravens and ended their slip n slide but that doesn’t excuse said slide.

29. Bears (+1)

Cutler returns next week. That’s good.

30. 49ers (-1)

Own that six-game losing streak, San Fran!

31. Jaguars (+0)

This team is horrid despite the talent they have. Need changes in the staff if they want to move forward.

32. Browns (+0)

They’ve been close to winning a few times. I’m taking them against the Jets.

Biggest Climb: Lions, Chargers (+7)

Biggest Fall: Ravens (-6)

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Tim Sports Report for 2016 NFL Week 6

Top 5

  1. RB Jay Ajayi 25 carries for 204 yards, 2 TD vs. PIT

Second Dolphin to run for 200 yards and 2 TDs in a game

2. WR Odell Beckham Jr. 8 receptions for a career-high 222 yards, 2 TDs, Fmb vs. BAL

3. QB Tom Brady 29/35 for 376 yards, 3 TDs, 140.0 passer rating vs. CIN

4. RB LeSean McCoy 19 carries for 140 yards, 3 TDs vs. SF

5. QB Matt Ryan 27/42 for 335 yards, 3 TDs, INT, Fmb, 102.8 passer rating vs. SEA

Worst of the Worst

5. Seven teams with double-digit penalties this week.

4. QB Aaron Rodgers 31/42 for 294 yards, TD, INT, Fmb, 90.8 passer rating vs. DAL

3. Blatant pass interference call missed in ATL vs. SEA

2. Steelers implode again

  1. Carolina drops another, now four straight

Steelers Recap

The Steelers game was another implosion, demonstrating the debacle we saw in Philly was not a one-time occurrence. There are real problems with this team and now with Ben gone for at least two weeks, the future for the Steelers is hazy at best.

Game of the Week: Vikings at Eagles

Two powerhouse defenses is sure to be a fun watch and Philly could very well pull the upset. I’m taking Minnesota but the Eagles have the tools to surprise.

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Movie Review: The Invitation

Image result for the invitation movie poster free useThere’s something very unsettling about The Invitation. From its pacing to its characters to its fancy dinner parties and extravagant setting, something just feels off, making it feel less helter-skelter and more controlled insanity. Every interaction is so dubiously awkward that there’s got to be something afoot. It is a horror movie after all.

The Invitation does all it can to invite you to the table and take you out of the comfort of your couch, bed or wherever you may be watching and for the most part, I have to say it succeeds. It accomplishes the feat of interactivity.

We’re left with Will, a man who’s in a disheveled and confused state when he receives an invitation from an ex-wife who he hasn’t seen or spoken to in two years. Will is understandably suspicious but decides to go with his girlfriend, Kira.

He hasn’t seen any of his old friends in 24 months and here they are in his former house. It’s just too perfect for Will’s liking, mostly because he’s a broken person. Will’s fear bridles the audience, giving them the same understanding of the circumstances. Everything is so out-of-place that Will, and hence we, become curious of everything.

Will, played by Logan Marshall-Green, is the film’s magnetic center. Nothing succeeds in this film without him. As an isolated, disturbed character skeptical of everything, he brings a tinge and perception of the story’s events that the audience otherwise would not have. With the point of view of any other character, the things Will notices seem like an overexaggeration, an extrapolation that isn’t there, but Will is a defensive person, for reasons that are later revealed in the script, allowing for the detective-like focus this movie prides itself on. Director Karyn Kusama’s narrative focus frames the evening’s events in a magnifying glass. There doesn’t seem to be a need for one but after a little time, you’re glad you have that magnifying glass around.

Consumed by paranoia and uneasiness, we’re in for a slow drag thriller from the beginning, The Invitation‘s pride and joy. It boasts its writing and exudes confidence in its seemingly unwavering tact for the imaginative. It is a thin line, the line between delusion and confusion. If you’re confused, you still have control of your sensibilities. If you’re deluded, you’re convinced there’s something there when all the other signs point to the opposite. By the middle of the film, Will and ourselves are completely deluded. We have become obsessed. There is something wrong here. We won’t accept otherwise. We, ourselves, have become deranged.

This is an impressive feat. Few films can imprint a schizophrenic mindset and this film gets very close to doing so. It is a testament to the film’s writing and the weaving of Kusama’s baton behind the camera.

But…

It devastates me to even write it. The Invitation may be too good for its own good because the final third can’t hold the narrative weight and talent that has been demonstrated thus far, collapsing under the task that it is now expected to complete. Up to this point, The Invitation has said, “Yeah, we’re that guy” like a trash-talking pool swindler. He has performed up to the goals he has set himself. That also means that he feels he has to outdo himself with each shot, climbing the metaphorical ladder towards absolute perfection. The rungs get farther and farther apart the more he climbs, so much so that he has to start jumping to reach them. The third act has arrived, the final bar meters away but it outstretches his reach and he falls down the side of the cliff.

The payoff, after all this build, is not remotely close to enough. This film, to this point, has been borderline hypnotic. There’s not much plot-wise going on but you don’t dare take your eyes off it. It is magnetic, attracting all sorts of psychological tortures to it. It is as if someone shut off that magnet.

The tension slowly erodes and when the payoff comes (far too late, by the way), it has lost a lot of its grip.

This film could have been great, 80’s material. The payoff really hurts the memory of the film after you watch it though and that can’t be ignored.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Captain America: Civil WarDeadpoolAvengers: Age of UltronThe AvengersThe Babadook)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Olympus Has FallenThe Cable GuyThe Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of Tomorrow)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (HushGhostbusters (2016)BatmanFree State of JonesThe Running Man)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Jason BourneSuicide SquadBatman ForeverThe CrowHardcore Henry)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (UnderworldThe Do-OverX-Men: ApocalypseD-Tox/Eye See YouConstantine)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Underworld: EvolutionBatman & RobinBloodsportWar, The Ridiculous 6)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (Independence Day: ResurgenceThe Crow: City of AngelsCenturionPlanet of the ApesStonados)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (Avalanche SharksCatwomanThe GunmanThe VisitThe Fantastic Four)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (The Coed and the Zombie StonerThe Forbidden DimensionsCyborgOutcastSabotage)

My score for The Invitation: 71.

Logan Marshall-Green is a capable actor and Kusama clearly a deft hand at directing and yet with all that The Invitation offers, it wipes out in the clutch. It throws a lot of punches but disappears when those punches would have mattered the most. Still certainly worth a viewing and I’m more than likely to visit it again.

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2016-2017 NFL Power Rankings: Week 6

1. Patriots (+0)

The Bengals were no match. New England remains the king.

2. Vikings (+0)

The Vikings had a bye and maintain their spot. They play Philly next week, another tough test.

3. Falcons (+1)

Atlanta nearly pulled off the trifecta and if it weren’t for a blatant pass interference no-call, Atlanta wins in Seattle. Their strength of schedule and competitiveness in those games moves them up a spot.

4. Cowboys (+2)

Elliott is a bulldozer and Prescott the perfect game manager. I believe in the Cowboys this year.

5. Seahawks (+3)

Seattle gets a big win over Atlanta, showing they can compete with the big boys.

6. Broncos (-3)

Back-to-back losses drops Denver out of the top five but remain a dangerous team.

7. Steelers (-2)

Pittsburgh has another drastic collapse, flailing against the Dolphins. Ben is now out. Unless they’re competitive against New England, they’ll likely be out of the top ten next week.

8. Raiders (-1)

Oakland falls to Kansas City but have accomplished too much thus far to fall out of my select group.

9. Chiefs (+2)

The Chiefs strength of schedule will likely kick them out next week but an impressive return from the bye week can’t be ignored.

10. Bills (+4)

LeSean McCoy is having a great year and the Bills defense has shown up the last few games. LeSean is hurt and unlikely to be himself next week. How will the offense respond?

11. Eagles (-2)

Wentz was hassled all game and lose an inter-divisional game to the Redskins. I can hear people talking jumping off the Eagles bandwagon already. The team has been competitive in their last two losses. I’m not concerned yet.

12. Redskins (+9)

I have not given the Redskins the credit that they’ve deserved. This week, I make up for that and they give me a reason to, topping Philly at home.

13. Packers (-3)

Green Bay falls to Dallas. Their stats were bloating going into this game, especially on defense. The Cowboys set the record straight. Rodgers is not himself this year. Don’t sound the alarm, but their playoff hopes are shrinking.

14. Bengals (-2)

Cincinnati is 0-4 in meaningful games (PIT, DEN, DAL, NE). Wins against sub-.500 teams will not get you to the playoffs.

15. Giants (+2)

The media and the Giants organization have been giving Odell Beckham Jr. an earful. He may have just saved their season.

16. Ravens (-1)

The Ravens are now 1-3 in meaningful games and on a three-game losing streak. They need to beat the Jets next week.

17. Rams (-1)

As I said in my sports report last week, the Ram defense is not what it was. Todd Gurley cannot carry this offense. With that said, LA showed on Sunday that they can find a way to put up points if they need to. They put up 28 on Detroit.

18. Lions (+0)

Detroit had a tough streak of losses to Tennessee, Green Bay and Chicago but have bounced back with wins over Philadelphia and Los Angeles. They have Washington next week.

19. Texans (-6)

Houston’s offense looked dysfunctional versus Indianapolis. Imagine how they’ll play against Denver next week. Osweiler has not demonstrated he’s worth that contract.

20. Cardinals (-1)

Arizona has to do a lot to redeem himself. Beating a limping dog like the Jets is a small step.

21. Dolphins (+2)

Miami torched Pittsburgh. An injured Ben certainly helped but Jay Ajayi’s historic rushing performance was something.

22. Titans (+0)

Tennessee might be the frontrunner of the AFC South. I’m not calling it but it could happen. They’ve got the Colts next week.

23. Panthers (-2)

Carolina suffers a fourth-straight loss. They have a bye now. Hopefully they can regroup.

24. Chargers (+6)

Finally get a win and against Denver. Let’s see if they improve now that they have the monkey off their back. Bad news: they play Atlanta on Sunday.

25. Saints (+4)

The Saints top the Panthers at home. Believe in Brees, New Orleans. There ain’t no defense to believe in.

26. Buccaneers (+0)

Tampa Bay has the tools on offense that they could be higher than this. Still waiting for them to demonstrate it.

27. Colts (-3)

A blow lead by the Colts against a team they manhandled for almost an entire 60 just isn’t gonna cut it.

28. Jets (-3)

They’re bad.

29. 49ers (-2)

Kaepernick looked better than Gabbert but the team doesn’t have the talent to compete.

30. Bears (+1)

Narrow loss to the Jaguars. Brian Hoyer doesn’t look like a backup quarterback at least.

31. Jaguars (-3)

They have all the reason to improve. They just don’t.

32. Browns (+0)

The Browns.

Biggest Climb: Redskins (+9)

Biggest Drop: Texans (-6) 

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Tim Sports Report for 2016 NFL Week 5

Top 5

  1. RB Ezekiel Elliott 15 carries for 134 yards, 2 TDs vs. CIN

2. QB Ben Roethlisberger 28/40 for 380 yards, 4 TDs, Fmb, 124.4 passer rating vs. NYJ

3. RB David Johnson 27 carries for 157 yards, 2 TDs vs. SF

4. WR T.Y. Hilton 10 receptions for 171 yards, TD vs. CHI

5. QB Tom Brady 28/40 for 406 yards, 3 TDs, 127.7 QBR vs. CLE

Worst of the Worst

5. QB Ryan Tannehill 12/18 for 191 yards, 2 INTs, 62.3 QBR vs. TEN

4. Cleveland is still Cleveland.

3. Rams D. Where are you? They’ve allowed 28+ points in four of six games this season.

2. Carolina continues implosion, drops to 1-4

  1. San Diego blows another one, misses field goal to force game into overtime.

Steelers Recap

The Jets of 2015 are gone. They were dismantled. The secondary is being torn apart. The d-line is doing all it can but it hasn’t been enough. The quarterback situation in New York is a mess. The Steelers beat them handedly in all aspect and had all the reason to.

Game of the Week: Cowboys @ Packers

I could easily pick Atlanta in my game of the week, facing Seattle on the road, but I’m taking Dallas vs. Green Bay. Dallas is a vastly different team from last year and I’m taking them in an upset at Lambeau.

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Movie Review: Hush

Image result for hush movie poster free useIn a year of abusively bad pieces, 2016 has offered some horror treats. That hardly justifies the year we’ve had to suffer through at the cinemas but at least it’s something. When you’re desperate enough, you’ll accept any respite.

Over the last few years as a film critic, I’ve gained an appreciation for the horror genre that I initially did not have, mostly because it is quite easy to stereotype the horror genre as a found footage, directionless and sometimes gory, sometimes plain uninteresting behemoth. Horror is the niche that has struggled the most in film as of late. There’s no John Carpenter or George Romero to keep it afloat, but that is not to say that the horror table is vacant. There have been some successes, though not nearly as many as there should have been.

With all that said, most of the highlights of 2016 cinema have come from this dish and they’ve tasted fairly well, too. The Witch, 10 Cloverfield Lane, The Conjuring 2 and Don’t Breathe were all noteworthy and thus far all have a legitimate case to make the top ten best films of the year. Last I checked, 10 Cloverfield Lane still breaks my top five.

All of this goes to say that Hush should not have been a surprise to me. I should have expected more but I’ll be blunt when I say the horror genre has instilled some false hope in me more than a fair share of times, as has every other genre. I try to stint my anticipation to protect myself from disappointment.

Hush comes from the same vein as Don’t Breathe. It plays to our eyes, not to our ears. Our eyes show us a mute and deaf author alone in the woods. A killer on the loose becomes infatuated with her disabilities. Her helplessness intrigues him and he keeps her alive like a bird in a cage.

Maddie, our main character, lives in her own bubble, seemingly oblivious to the world around her. Unable to perceive sound or communicate with her voice, Maddie seems as pitiful as a lost puppy to both the killer and us as an audience. The killer can do all he wants whenever he wants. Maddie is completely incapable in this situation. These specific circumstances allow for a more complicated scenario and ambidextrous villain.

For one, our point of view in horror movies is normally skewed by all of the stupidity surrounding our character. Yes, living by yourself is dumb, especially when you’re disabled, but this loss of control can happen in any setting. The ability to choose is slowly tugged away from you like a thread pulled through a weave. We are paralyzed, unable to act.

Second, this murderer doesn’t want to kill Maddie, at least not right away. We see it early on as he slowly paces around the house allowing her to lock all the doors. He is stunned how clueless Maddie is. He loses interest in his first victim because of how distant and disconnected Maddie is. She is completely alone both in location and as a person and this second tidbit is probably what drives the killer to toy with her the most. He is alone, too. Where he has grown strong in his individuality, Maddie appears directionless and what’s worse, doesn’t have a compass. Our killer is both a psychopath and a man with some sense of value. He thinks so little of Maddie that he feels she isn’t even worthy of death. Instead, he cages her.

This is simple and developed all at once, a preliminary sketch and a developed blueprint. This conundrum is what I find most fascinating about Hush.

Director Mike Flanagan made headlines for his 2013 picture, Oculus. I have yet to see it but I’m certainly more likely to view it now. While I have no plans to see Ouija: Origin of Evil, that is Flanagan’s newest project. He may become one of the genre’s gargoyles.

It’s that Hush manages to accomplish so much with so little that attracts my attention as well. Few characters, small budget and none of it matters. They are numbers. This film isn’t about numbers. It’s about quality. Flanagan’s studious with his pen and perhaps more so with his director’s chair. It’s a mostly silent ride but one that you leave talking about.

Once again, if you’re new to my blog, I’ve always ranked movies on a scale of 0-100 (I don’t know why, I just always have). Here’s the grading scale.  

90-100  It’s a great movie and definitely one worth buying. (Captain America: Civil WarDeadpoolAvengers: Age of UltronThe AvengersThe Babadook)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Olympus Has FallenThe Cable GuyThe Cabin in the WoodsTears of the SunEdge of Tomorrow)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (Ghostbusters (2016)BatmanFree State of JonesThe Running Man10 Cloverfield Lane)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (Jason BourneSuicide SquadBatman ForeverThe CrowHardcore Henry)

50-59   This movie isn’t intolerable but it’s not blowing my mind either. I’m trying really hard to get some sort of enjoyment out of this. (UnderworldThe Do-OverX-Men: ApocalypseD-Tox/Eye See YouConstantine)

40-49   This movie is just mediocre. It’s not doing anything other than the bare minimal, so morbidly boring that sometimes I’m actually angry I watched this. (Underworld: EvolutionBatman & RobinBloodsportWar, The Ridiculous 6)

30-39   Definitely worse than mediocre, the 30′s ironically define the 1930′s, full of depression, lack of accomplishments, poverty and just so dumb. (Independence Day: ResurgenceThe Crow: City of AngelsCenturionPlanet of the ApesStonados)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (Avalanche SharksCatwomanThe GunmanThe VisitThe Fantastic Four)

0-19      Watching this movie resulted in one or more of the following: seizure, loss of brain cells, falling asleep/unconsciousness, feel you wasted your time/day, accomplished nothing for you, left the movie knowing less about it then you did going into it, constantly asking yourself why you came to see this movie, or near-death experience. In short, staring at a wall was just as entertaining as watching this movie. This movie deserved a sticker or a label that said, “WARNING: EXTREME AMOUNT OF SUCKAGE.” (The Coed and the Zombie StonerThe Forbidden DimensionsCyborgOutcastSabotage)

My score for Hush: 75.

Hush thrills while leaving you short of breath at points. Like with Don’t Breathe, you can’t breathe. You can’t make a sound. You, like Maddie, can’t hear. All you can do is see and what Hush manages to offer is quite impressive.

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