Movie Review: Triple Frontier

Image result for triple frontier movie poster free use“So, the question is, do we finally get to use our skills for our own benefit and actually change something?”

The moment you put on that uniform, you’ve signed up for a lifelong commitment. It’s unlike any other job. The phrase “leave work at work” doesn’t apply. The darkness stays with you. It’s not something you can wash off or put to the side. It is a shadow, a small creature nestled in your cranium. It’s that paranoid itch, the second guessing yourself. It is a parasite.

You want out and you know where the door is. Your hand’s on the knob but in a final moment of indecision, you let go because there’s no going back, because there’s no turning back the clock, because maybe the best place for you is in the wind, in the heat of the fight. This is what you’ve trained for. This is what you do. This is where you’re home. This is who you’ve become. You are both warrior and war.

Triple Frontier is an homage to the after phase of our servicemen and women because for many of them, the wars never stop. Inner turmoil, doubt and past transgressions haunt them, things we can relate to but topics more sinister than things we’ve ever experienced. Like the men in this story, there comes a midlife crisis where we start to ask ourselves important questions. Did we do what we came to do? Did we live the dream? Or has it all been for nothing?

It is in these moments where we once again revisit the question of our self-worth. Once we determine the answer to that pivotal inquiry, we, as people, can be capable of rash actions in pursuit of a dream we realize has slipped through our fingers. So is the case with Santiago Garcia (Oscar Isaac), a man who envisioned a future where drug lords would no longer rule countries and politicians would be leaders rather than figureheads for private interests. He’s served his time and returned to the fray as a contractor. There is still so much to do and so little time. It’s a dream Garcia will never get to see, only dream of. The rest of his life looks derelict and meaningless. He needs to do something.

Desperation can be a great motivator. When pushed to the brink, we make some of our most poignant decisions. We saw it in Law Abiding Citizen, if you’ve been paying attention to my recent content. Our aspirations and what we really want, sometimes we don’t realize how much we desire these until we see them start to crumble. We go into a fervor, become possessed in our craving. It’s all we can think about. It’s all we can live for.

Desperation can be a tragic flaw. When surrounded, we lust after vices. Our priorities become a cobweb of desires and we drive ourselves into a frenzy, reaching for anything we can grab our hands on. The apocalypse is on our doorstep. We need to acquire all the power, all the money, we need ALL of everything. We will leave nothing and nothing will stand in our way.

Director J.C. Chandor exists in the early stages as a director but checks my box in the writing category early on. This is a premise with good footing, one not easily knocked off balance. It’s relatable for the struggle, different because of the characters at play. These are men who dedicated their lives to country and it did not pay the dividends they were promised. Does this make them any less of a soldier? Are their values any less ardent because of this belief?

Triple Frontier is a tragedy, an ode to the old Greek tales passed down through the ages. Lines will be crossed. Shadowed paths will be taken. Debris and trash will be left on the wayside.

It’s also a heist film and as with all thievery, things do not go according to plan. Life finds a way to intervene.

This Netflix original is well cast, starring Ben Affleck, who is becoming one of my favorite actors, Isaac, Charlie Hunnam, Garrett Hedlund and Pedro Pascal of The Great Wall fame. Affleck can’t help but outshine his counterparts, displaying inner turmoil and conflict quite easily. That said, the film lacks a central figure. Every great heist film has an imposing star, sometimes two in the case of Inside Man. Every tragedy has a tragic hero. All of these characters qualify for the role but none are afforded the opportunity to truly embrace it, leaving the film faceless. No matter how great a shape one may possess, it’s hard to be memorable without a face.

Triple Frontier struggles to tread water on the back half. It plays true to its identity but those two issues above bode a heavier load as the movie travels on. It just runs out of gas. I don’t know the cause but I have some theories, including a hazard of production delays, director changes and recasts over nearly eight years.

It’s not as visually stirring as I felt it was capable of considering the settings utilized. Without a cover, a story like this could have used photography, image creation, anything bedazzling and Triple Frontier just doesn’t have it.

It’s becoming the norm with Netflix and look, I’m a big supporter of Netflix. A lot of the content I cover comes from that site. I’m still encouraged by the amount of funds they pour into original content but stuff like this, whilst still promising, can also be frustrating for someone who looks at content critically because I see the fault lines. The tape and whiteout are not so easily hidden from a trained eye. Would also be nice if they wouldn’t spend $100 million on a tv show rental but that’s for another time.

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. (L.A. ConfidentialHerTakenCaptain America: Civil WarDeadpool)

80-89  It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Law Abiding CitizenScott Pilgrim Vs. The WorldThe 40-Year-Old VirginThe ConjuringSinister)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (I am LegendIp Man 2Ip ManKong: Skull IslandThe Invitation)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (2 Fast 2 FuriousDoctor StrangeJohnny MnemonicJason BourneSuicide SquadB)

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. (The Fast and the FuriousBrooklyn’s FinestDeath RaceWind RiverTommy Boy)

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. (Doom, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo DriftPirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No TalesPower RangersUnderworld: Evolution)

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. (High-RiseMost Likely to DieIndependence Day: ResurgenceThe Crow: City of AngelsCenturion)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The SnowmanAvalanche SharksCatwomanThe GunmanThe Visit)

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 Triple Frontier: 79.

Triple Frontier is another Netflix original with potential that feels underdeveloped. I’m unsure if any of my readers have any experience with composing film. I did back in the day. An underdeveloped photo leaves blurred colors, faded edge work but generally strong contours. Kinda like Triple Frontier.

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Movie Review: Doom

Image result for doom movie poster free use“I’ve got…one round.”

Video game movies suck and they’re going to continue to suck for one primary reason: Hollywood executives don’t play video games.

I don’t know what else it could be at this point. It’s hard for me to believe that someone could play a game and not realize what makes the experience stand out. Yes, we all get our euphoria in different ways, we all highlight unique aspects and our memories grasp onto separate entities but the primal force behind what makes video games fun doesn’t require a degree in quantum physics. Character, story, control fluidity, graphics, soundtrack.

Doom doesn’t have any of it. They went through the buffet and didn’t get any of the prime real estate.

Capable actors signed up for this, though early on in their careers. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Karl Urban and Rosamund Pike should be enough but as always, we have another underwritten video game adaptation that doesn’t offer much in the people department. Character seems purposely swept aside. This is questionable given a sizable portion of the storyboard centers on this special ops team and Doctor Who Cares. Especially in a monster movie, you need to give credence to your characters, your monster or your setting. A production which doesn’t do a proficient job in any of these factions is asking for trouble.

The film could use a couple shots of charisma. Doom doesn’t carry charm nor intrigue and besides, these elements are often bestowed by a captivating character and Doom doesn’t have that either. Johnson’s Sarge plays the hot honcho commando but threatens little and talks less. Urban’s John Grimm has a shady past we will gradually be educated about but is held in obscurity until then. Pike’s Samantha is an expository tool and scream queen, a role well below her talent level. On the outskirts, we have supporting characters trading banal barbs to collect timeshares. Really not much happening here and as long as that’s the case, the film needs to lean on its visual lens. Many subsidies are usually afforded to this department early on as a matter of habit. These adaptations tend to start off rough in character and need something to entangle audiences while they figure out their next course of action. The powers of the eye can do it. We, all these years into our existence as a species, are still mesmerized by the bright and shiny toys.

So when I say that Doom requires a new graphics card, you know we’ve hit the jackpot. A pixelated Windows 97 in 2005 just isn’t going to do it for me, not given the budget. Despite what this film may lead you to believe, computer aptitude was farther along than this back then. There are polished 90’s pictures praised for their pedantic nature and sense of wonder.

Director Andrzej Barkowiak had a long history as a cinematographer prior to this. Professionals with backgrounds in art such as Barkowiak, even if relatively inexperienced in direction, should be thrilled by an opportunity to facilitate paintings. Instead, Doom demonstrates insufficient knowledge of lighting and set design. A research colony on Mars appears excessively basic. The color palette resembles a mental health clinic: bland, empty, unobtrusive and dilapidated. Unlike a government-funded care center, however, Doom should not be contained by budget restrictions. This film had a $60 million budget. Where did all the money go?

This monstrosity reeks of financial mismanagement, a lack of managerial oversight and a need for educated opinions in the storyboard room. I’d love to see a pie chart displaying fund usage. I’d like to see the email correspondence between director, editor and producer, if there was any and I think it’s about time video game developers, audiences and screenwriters all got in the same room and had a talk about story creation, character modeling and visual artistry because I think we’ve all grown tired of coming to cinemas to view planetariums which don’t have these specific ecosystems in their orbit. Hollywood has misunderstood the video game complex for long enough. It’s time to educate them.

There is one segment this film gets right, a portion that runs with about 22 minutes left of tape, in which the camera switches to a first person shooter. This ramps up some of the action, though Doom can’t help but stumble over itself and grow bloated with corny jump scares. Just when you thought Barkowiak might have opened the right door, it’s shut again and we’re on the same road we’ve been on for the last 30 years: a highway of utter discombobulation, one that doesn’t seem likely to be cleared of construction any time soon. They’re one of those units that prefers to redo the same patches, mess them up and then come back every few months to try their masterful plan again. It’s just so monotonous. Will it ever end?

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. (L.A. Confidential, HerTakenCaptain America: Civil WarDeadpool)

80-89  It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Law Abiding CitizenScott Pilgrim Vs. The WorldThe 40-Year-Old VirginThe ConjuringSinister)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (I am Legend, Ip Man 2Ip ManKong: Skull IslandThe Invitation)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (2 Fast 2 FuriousDoctor StrangeJohnny MnemonicJason BourneSuicide SquadB)

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. (The Fast and the FuriousBrooklyn’s FinestDeath RaceWind RiverTommy Boy)

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. (The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo DriftPirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No TalesPower RangersUnderworld: EvolutionBatman & Robin)

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. (High-RiseMost Likely to DieIndependence Day: ResurgenceThe Crow: City of AngelsCenturion)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The SnowmanAvalanche SharksCatwomanThe GunmanThe Visit)

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 Doom: 41.

Doom is a student who left a lot of questions on the test blank. He phoned it in and it’s hard to sympathize with someone like that. I could talk more about this but why bother when the industry will make the same mistake again? Besides, I think Lara Croft is on my watch list.

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Movie Review: I am Legend

“Every single person that you or I has ever known is dead! Dead! There is no god!”

I wrote the Book Vs. Film for I am Legend over three years ago. Hard to believe it’s been that long but here we are. I recommend going to read that piece as well since you’re here, a transcript which discusses the differences and similarities between novel and screen and which, at the end of the day, serves as the better product.

Image result for i am legend movie poster free use

To its credit, I am Legend is much better than I recollect. Will Smith is quite good and there are more than a few scenes demonstrating depth of character and tactful dialogue. These scenes carry a hook with them and you can feel them pierce your heart. It’s painful and it takes some out of you. Will Smith is a talented performer and has been for a long time. He’s really hamming it up here and I admire his commitment to the cause. This film is predicated on one icon front and center and it, for the most part, is wholly reliant on the belief and confidence of that charade. Will Smith isn’t someone who struggles with buy-in, least not in my viewing experience. With the exception of After Earth, there isn’t a film jumping to mind starring him that brings bitterness. He will likely be in an upcoming Winners And Losers episode.

Oh, and Bright. Man, that thing’s putrid. And Hancock.

Robert Neville is a secluded man, one driven to the cliffs of human connection. Survival can be straining not only physically but emotionally and psychologically. I am Legend centers on the latter.

A former military man is prepared for the physical trials. You can see it in his routine. His house is a fortress. Everything is on a timer. He is diligent. It all goes according to plan. It is much more difficult to gain the acumen required for such cerebral hemorrhaging. Lack of interaction can lead to loss of self. Apocalyptic scenery messes with your head. While I’m here mentioning it, there are a handful of shots displaying a true artist’s eye I need to compliment, specifically an aerial in the opening sequences rising above one solo SUV driving through skyscrapers and mass transit, putting this man’s ecosystem into perspective. It’s important we learn about his environment because Neville is no longer who he once was. He is what the doomed landscape has bred him into. We are who and what we surrounded ourselves with at the end of the day. Sometimes, we are unable to change those circumstances. Neville has no one to engage with and cannot run from the apocalypse. He is free to do anything he wants and caged into doing nothing at all at the same time.

While Neville’s loneliness isn’t aiding him, it surrenders his biography to audiences. I am Legend is a conversation with us. No one is ever gonna read Neville’s journals. He knows that himself. His purpose holds on a thin line of thread down to its final strands. During the best scenes of this film, we witness those remaining slivers rip away.

Once everything has been taken from him, the film has a golden opportunity to see what is at the very base of this man and still plenty of screen time with which to do it. At the plateau of the mountain, the film makes an odd decision: to turn around and walk back down the ridge. Quite a bit of potential is available down the other side, new territory to conquer and director Francis Lawrence and writer Akiva Goldsman decide not to. In fact, one could argue the film backs away from Smith to introduce alternative elements, products nowhere near as valuable as Smith. These creations bring up more questions than answers and leave us trending in the wrong direction. Smith and specifically Robert Neville, the man novelist Richard Matheson formed, are the centerfold of the piece. You have been given the reins to steer this character into new territory and your decision is to release the reins and grab a new horse? I just don’t get it. It’s a difference of opinion, of course. I’m sure others disagree but the film’s tonal shift formulates a clear rift in the art’s fabric difficult to overlook. There is a fissure from when this film was a feature and when these moving slides decide to become a blockbuster thriller. I’m getting sick of two halves of films spliced together and being told this how content is made now.

The action sets are not alluring nor overly captivating. That’s not this film’s identity. This is a character drama and as you might have guessed, when you take the persona out of the equation, it loses a lot of its luster.

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. (L.A. Confidential, HerTakenCaptain America: Civil WarDeadpool)

80-89  It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Law Abiding CitizenScott Pilgrim Vs. The WorldThe 40-Year-Old VirginThe ConjuringSinister)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (Ip Man 2Ip ManKong: Skull IslandThe InvitationHush)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (2 Fast 2 FuriousDoctor StrangeJohnny MnemonicJason BourneSuicide SquadB)

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. (The Fast and the FuriousBrooklyn’s FinestDeath RaceWind RiverTommy Boy)

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. (The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo DriftPirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No TalesPower RangersUnderworld: EvolutionBatman & Robin)

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. (High-RiseMost Likely to DieIndependence Day: ResurgenceThe Crow: City of AngelsCenturion)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The SnowmanAvalanche SharksCatwomanThe GunmanThe Visit)

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 I am Legend: 71.

Will Smith makes this what it is and all the good moments include him. When the film starts to distance itself from him is when it loses its sway. I find this endlessly frustrating every time I watch it because it is very competent for a majority of it before wasting its shots on lesser fare.

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Tim’s 2018 NFL Awards: Coach of the Year

And the nominees are…

Frank Reich, Indianapolis Colts

Total Offense: 6179 (7th) Pass: 4461 (6th) Rush: 1718 (20th) PPG: 27.1 (5th)

Total Defense: 5431 (11th) Pass: 3805 (16th) Rush: 1626 (8th) PAG: 21.5 (10th) Sacks: 38 (19th) Interceptions: 15 (9th) Fumbles: 15 (10th)

The Indianapolis Colts have been in a tornado of sorts. They lost their franchise quarterback for an unknown length of time. Their general manager had run the team into the ground. The defense was a torrential downpour the team had to weather each season. Things were not good.

So when the Colts finally got around to firing Chuck Pagano, Indy wasn’t exactly the creme de la creme. Josh McDaniels surprisingly took the job, one of the brightest young minds in the game looking for a second chance after a so-so stint in Denver. Then, McDaniels backed out of the job and the Colts were in an odd predicament. They had to start their search over.

If the Colts had thrown that job at just about anyone after that, I wouldn’t have blamed them. It was an embarrassing position to be in and for the sake of institutional sanity, the team needed a leader as soon as possible. In comes Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich.

Granted with a general manager who had a spectacular offseason, Reich formed the best pass-blocking line in football, allowing a league-low 18 sacks. This no doubt helped Luck’s confidence and his performance on a week-to-week basis. Coming off an injury many thought would end his career, Luck earned a Comeback Player of the Year award. The Colts, after modeling as a deflated tire for a year, were back to competing. Indy went on to win a playoff game before falling to Kansas City.

Andy Reid, Kansas City Chiefs

Total Offense: 6810 (1st) Pass: 4955 (3rd) Rush: 1855 (16th) PPG: 35.3 (1st)

Total Defense: 6488 (31st) Pass: 4374 (31st) Rush: 2114 (27th) PAG: 26.3 (24th) Sacks: 52 (1st) Interceptions: 15 (9th) Fumbles: 25 (1st)

You have to give some credit for the emergence of Patrick Mahomes to Andy Reid, a man who has been coaching football for a very long time and stapled his name right up their with some of the best offensive minds to ever scheme the game. Mahomes won Offensive Player of the Year and Most Valuable Player in a year where he approached the single-season touchdown record. This was his first season as starter. Reid’s defense was atrocious and was held together by takeaways and sacks but Mahomes was special enough this year that Reid deserves to be in this conversation.

Sean McVay, Los Angeles Rams

Total Offense: 6738 (2nd) Pass: 4507 (5th) Rush: 2231 (3rd) PPG: 32.9 (2nd)

Total Defense: 5737 (19th) Pass: 3780 (14th) Rush: 1957 (23rd) PAG: 24.0 (20th) Sacks: 41 (15th) Interceptions: 18 (3rd) Fumbles: 14 (12th)

When/if Bill Belichick retires, Sean McVay will be the game’s best coach. There are those who have more impressive resumes but McVay knows the game in a marveling way. When Kyle Shanahan builds his team up in San Francisco, watching 9ers/Rams games is gonna be must-watch television. Both of these guys are where the future of coaching is headed. McVay turned Jeff Fisher mediocrity into the league’s most popular bandwagon, putting together highlight reel offensive displays. The defense still has steps to take but the Rams are no one-hit wonder. They’re going to be around a while.

Matt Nagy, Chicago Bears

Total Offense: 5502 (21st) Pass: 3564 (21st) Rush: 1938 (11th) PPG: 26.3 (9th)

Total Defense: 4795 (3rd) Pass: 3515 (7th) Rush: 1280 (1st) PAG: 17.7 (1st) Sacks: 50 (3rd) Interceptions: 27 (1st) Fumbles: 19 (7th)

Another first-year coach who made quite an impression on me. Nagy was the offensive coordinator for Reid’s Chiefs the previous year and given Reid does most of the play-calling, Nagy’s credentials for the job were called into question. It would appear we all should shut up.

Nagy’s offense is not explosive like the others on this list but the improvements on that side of the ball were apparent. A strong free agency class helped Trubisky’s sophomore year but Nagy’s Reid influence played a role.

The defense known as Monsters of the Midway returned. The Bears were nasty, leading the league in rushing, points, interceptions and pass deflections. The emergence of two Defensive Player of the Year candidates in Khalil Mack and safety Eddie Jackson certainly played a role but the until as a whole was one of the best the league had to offer.

Sean Payton, New Orleans Saints

Total Offense: 6067 (8th) Pass: 4042 (12th) Rush: 2025 (6th) PPG: 31.5 (3rd)

Total Defense: 5585 (14th) Pass: 4302 (29th) Rush: 1283 (2nd) PAG: 22.1 (14th) Sacks: 49 (5th) Interceptions: 12 (18th) Fumbles: 19 (7th)

Sean Payton, for a long time, has struggled to put a serviceable defense on the football field. His inability to do so has held his teams back. The same can be said of Reid’s history but as we’ll often see, complete teams are the teams that win, not lopsided ones. Cue the 2018 Saints, who finished middle of the pack defensively, put together similar offensive numbers to last year and made it to an NFC Championship game. Alvin Kamara is a great young running back and Michael Thomas has snuck into my top ten receivers list after only two years. Drew Brees, after looking like a depreciating Maserati, bounced back for the ’18 campaign in a big way, finishing just short of 4,000 yards and a 75 completion percentage, earning him nods for Offensive Player of the Year and Most Valuable Player lists.

And the Oscar goes to…

Matt Nagy, Chicago Bears

We won’t know until next year who was more responsible for that great 2018 Bears defense: coach Nagy or defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who just took the head coaching duties in Denver. I tip my hat to Mr. Reich but Nagy’s Bears grabbed the crown in a strong NFC North. Their playmakers on defense will return this August.

See more from my 2018 NFL Awards:

Offensive Rookie of the Year

Defensive Rookie of the Year

Comeback Player of the Year

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Tim’s 2018 NFL Awards: Comeback Player of the Year

And the nominees are…

Deshaun Watson, QB, Houston Texans

345/505 for 4,165, 68.3% completion, 8.25 ypa, 26 TDs, 9 INTs, 103.1 passer rating, 99 carries for 551, 5.6 ypc, 5 TDs

Had it not been for Deshaun Watson’s early exit from the 2017 season, he likely would have won Offensive Rookie of the Year. He was electric, doing things that played homage to Mike Vick. He was throwing darts all over the field and carrying fantasy teams single-handedly. He was by no means perfect but he made for excellent television. His elusiveness in the pocket behind a turnstile of an offensive line was incredible. Houston’s future looked real bright.

I guess you could say there were high expectations for Watson’s sophomore year and while it did include the stereotypical sophomore slump, we saw flashes of what got us crowning him as a franchise quarterback after only a couple of games. The Texans offensive line is still dreadful, allowing a league-high 62 sacks this season.

Remember that Watson, the agile squirrel that he is, is the man behind that line and if it was someone with the elusiveness of an iceberg, say, Tom Brady, that number would likely be closer to 80.

Remember that Watson took a lot of hits removed from those sacks and combined that total likely approached triple digits.

Remember that the Texans were near the bottom in red-zone efficiency this year. Even during that impressive winning streak they put together, Bill O’Brien continued to struggle to get six, which is what made Ka’imi Fairbairn the highest-scoring kicker in fantasy football this year. Had it not been for poor coaching, Watson would have likely got close to 40 touchdowns this year.

The Clemson product throws balls on the run that most players in the National Football League can’t. The arm talent is still there and I didn’t notice any huge changes in his mobility after the injury. Still had over 500 yards rushing. Thanks in part to Watson, DeAndre Hopkins had a career year and firmly established himself as a top-tier receiver and Offensive Player of the Year candidate. Deshaun Watson is here to stay, peeps. Hopefully Houston makes upgrades to the offensive line before Watson suffers a similar fate to Andrew Luck in Indianapolis.

Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts

430/639 for 4,593, 67.3% completion, 7.19 ypa, 39 TDs, 15 INTs, 98.7 passer rating

Speaking of the man himself, Andrew Luck returned to the NFL this year after not being able to throw a football. Many feared he might never play another down in the NFL. I was one of them.

I’ve been a Luck fan for a long time. It’s hard not to be. Great attitude, great character, great player. Hard to hate on that. Indy had the golden goose.

Then their management team royally messed it up. With no offensive line help for multiple years, Luck was hammered again…and again…and again..and it was only a matter of time until the man broke.

Andrew Luck had carried the Colts, an average squad, to the playoffs for three consecutive years, once to an AFC title game. He set passing records and performed surgery on NFL defenses. He was a one-man wrecking crew. He was someone you loved to root for.

Andrew Luck was the dark knight and now the inevitable time had arrived: his body broke.

It was heartbreaking and as the months wore on, you began to appreciate even more how good Luck really was. This was a guy who had the talent and skills to make it to Canton. You began thinking about what could have been. The Colts didn’t deserve Luck. They never protected the guy. They sent him out there to die. The Colts had just had a first-ballot Hall of Famer in Peyton Manning and were blessed enough to draft another potential HOFer and they had bludgeoned him by the hand of their own incompetence. This was a tragedy.

I underestimated the human spirit, and specifically, Andrew Luck, again. Luck was certainly helped by a new offensive line and a surging coach but it cannot diminish what he did this year. Over 600 days between touchdowns. Now that’s a comeback.

J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans

J.J. Watt could end his career tomorrow and make the Hall of Fame. He’s been one of the most dominant edge rushers the league has ever seen, possibly the best I’ve ever seen. Three Defensive Player of the Year awards and a near MVP in his first five seasons. The only thing that can stop J.J. Watt? Injuries. The man can’t be blocked, the man can’t be stopped but the man can get hurt. He missed almost the entire last two seasons with injury.

Coming back after missing two whole years involves facing a lot of adversity. Watt played 2018 like the man we once knew, recording 16 sacks. I wasn’t sure we’d see the old J.J. ever again. I was wrong. Don’t doubt Mr. Watt.

Adrian Peterson, RB, Washington Redskins

251 carries for 1,042 yards, 4.2 ypc, 7 TDs, 20 receptions for 208, TD

Since the merger, three running backs have had 1,000 yard seasons at the age of 33 or older: Franco Harris, John Riggins and Frank Gore. Knowing that, the odds didn’t seem to be in Adrian Peterson’s favor. In fact, the odds hadn’t seemed to be in his favor for the last several years.

In 2016, he tore his meniscus and missed almost the entire campaign. The following year saw him go to New Orleans, where he was oddly skipped over by Sean Payton, and then to Arizona, where he had a few strong games before a neck injury ended his season.

Now at 33 himself, you had to wonder how much AP had left in the tank.

Apparently, a 1,000-yard season was still in the cards. He still has some burst and he’s still elusive. He no longer has the speed he once did and yet can still turn the corner on those who short him. This year, Adrian Peterson showed us he’s still capable of being an NFL running back.

Odell Beckham Jr., WR, New York Giants

Odell Beckhham Jr. came onto the field of play quickly and made one of the greatest catches you’ll ever see in his first year. That catch gave him top billing and heaped even more expectations upon him. It did not seem to bother him. Odell continued to set records In his first three years, he had a minimums of 91 catches, 1,305 yards and 10 touchdowns. He was remarkable.

It has not been all smooth sailing. Odell is highly competitive and struggles to channel that passion in the best ways, which has led to quite the media circus.

Coming off a season-ending ankle injury, Odell put together his 2018 tape. It was impressive.

I think he’s lost some ground in the best receiver race but Odell is certainly top-five at the position. It was nice to see him up and running again.

And the Oscar goes to…

Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts

Andrew Luck went from not being physically able to throw a football to playing at an MVP-level in his first year back. That’s incredible and it’s something we might never see again.

See more from my 2018 NFL Awards:

Offensive Rookie of the Year

Defensive Rookie of the Year

Coach of the Year

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Movie Review: L.A. Confidential

“Rollo Tomasi’s the reason I became a cop. I wanted to catch the guys who thought they could get away with it. It was supposed to be about justice. Then somewhere along the way I lost sight of that.”

Commanding cast lists bring a certain air of expectation to their doorstep but not always the product to back it up. That’s how it’s supposed to work though. Great talent should breed exemplary product, so when I read Kevin Spacey, Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce, Kim Basinger, Danny DeVito, James Cromwell, Ron Rifkin and David Strathairn, as well as a long list of Academy Award nominations, I got a little giddy. A win for Best Adapted Screenplay was especially appetizing for me.

Image result for la confidential movie poster free useA stacked deck can often be just that though and in my case, I hope for the best but expect the worst in every facet of my day-to-day life. This film, based on nothing but the cover, could be supremely entertaining but we know what they say about covers.

A noir on 1950’s California masterfully done, L.A. Confidential reads like a novel, making that Oscar win well-deserved in my book.

California in those days was propped up as a gold mine of opportunity, a heavenly oasis with everything an American family could ask for: economic prosperity, professional prominence and lavish beaches. It was imperative this paradise be the safest place in the world and the media and police ran with it, but sometimes, in hungry pursuit of things, we forget what we were so driven to reach in the first place and end up somewhere else.

So is the case with many in this story.

Kevin Spacey’s Jack Vincennes is polarizing, charismatic and in love with the screen. He serves as a consultant on a popular crime show and he enjoys it more than he does being a cop.

Guy Pearce’s Ed Exley has the mind of a politician and knows how to play his cards. He reads rooms and coaches the field. He does it all by the book, to the letter. He is a black and white kinda guy.

Russell Crowe’s Bud White is a gray and grayer kinda guy. He’s a “do what it takes” kinda guy. Things get done because of guys like Bud. He’s the muscle but don’t confuse that for stupid. He aspires to be more than the guy who throws punches.

As is the case in many of our journeys, it eventually dawns on us where and what we are and it is in that moment that we make one of the most vital decisions of our lives: staying or going, the flight-or-flight response. These vital seconds speak more to us as people than few other things ever will. It preaches whether we were brave or cowardly, loyal or dishonest, virtuous or sellouts. One of the things I love about this picture is we get to see these frames in nearly all of these characters.

During a crucial exchange, Vincennes will admit he’s forgotten why he wanted to be a cop.

Exley learns it’s not possible to keep your linen clean in this business and has to decide how to proceed.

White uncovers his true calling.

Director Curtis Hanson and screenwriter Brian Helgeland craft together a beauty of a script, one with jibe and jive and flair. It is a time capsule which creates a bubble of history to explore. I’ve talked about tone a lot during the last few weeks. Watch this and you’ll realize how central tone is to art. Tone creates buy-in and a good detective drama requires that. A 50’s crime tale is far different from one in the 90’s. The lingo, the costume design, the phrasing, how people were. We are often what our environment makes us and it is therefore integral for directors and writers to demonstrate the ecosystem which forged our characters into who they are. I love the outskirts of L.A. Confidential. It is not the stuff directly in front of the lens. In fact, most of it takes place off stage. It requires research into sociology and psychology and an ongoing perusing of dialect and diatribe. Our pasts deserve this level of dissection and detail. It’s how we learn from them.

The borders of this painting are great, the dialogue astounding and the acting marvelous. Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce were Australians not established in the states. These were some of their first tapes. Their careers are a product of such work. Established stars Spacey and Basinger are quite good, the latter winning an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. DeVito is quick-witted and the film’s self-proclaimed funnyman while James Cromwell is his usual self, cool and collected.

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. (HerTakenCaptain America: Civil WarDeadpoolAvengers: Age of Ultron)

80-89  It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Law Abiding Citizen, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The WorldThe 40-Year-Old VirginThe ConjuringSinister)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (Ip Man 2Ip ManKong: Skull IslandThe InvitationHush)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (2 Fast 2 FuriousDoctor StrangeJohnny MnemonicJason BourneSuicide SquadB)

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. (The Fast and the FuriousBrooklyn’s FinestDeath RaceWind RiverTommy Boy)

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. (The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo DriftPirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No TalesPower RangersUnderworld: EvolutionBatman & Robin)

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. (High-RiseMost Likely to DieIndependence Day: ResurgenceThe Crow: City of AngelsCenturion)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The SnowmanAvalanche SharksCatwomanThe GunmanThe Visit)

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 L.A. Confidential: 96.

In a year with less competition (Titanic, Good Will Hunting, As Good As It Gets), L.A. Confidential would have run the table. Refined technique, treasured performances and a culture shock like few others, L.A. Confidential is quite a stunner.

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Movie Review: Law Abiding Citizen

Image result for law abiding citizen movie poster free use“I’m gonna pull the whole thing down. I’m going to bring the whole f****** diseased, corrupt temple down on your head. It’s gonna be biblical.”

This film’s aggressive.

Law Abiding Citizen is not for the people who see the world as black and white but rather a collection of grays. It is for those who seek the values of justice and understand the moral quandaries of the system, the choices professionals have to make every day for the greater good. What if those decisions weren’t made for the correct purpose? What if those compromises were made for personal gain, for their own self-preservation? What if the whole system was corrupt and if it was, would you want to see it torn down?

Director F. Gary Gray starts this one suddenly. Clyde Shelton’s family is torn from him. He survives the attack but lost his life.

Life is often who we surround ourselves with. It loses meaning when they’re gone.

Clyde was just like one of us, a law-abiding citizen. He put his faith in the institutions we surround ourselves with, to see justice done but justice is not blind. The system fails Clyde. Clyde is back to make it right.

I finished Marvel’s Daredevil on Netflix yesterday and many of the themes there are present here. The criminal justice framework is a structure put in place to keep people calm, to give them the illusion of safety, to keep order but they don’t have control anymore than you or I. They are schemers, as an infamous man once said. The foundation is corrupted with politics and outside interests. It is no more a sanctuary than anywhere else. You can buy your way out of it. There are those who are above the law.

Someone needs to hold them accountable. Sometimes, vigilante justice is justice. Rogue agents cannot be controlled, cannot be bought, cannot and will not waver. They are ardent disciples of virtue. Their methods are not condoned. They will be hunted but sometimes they are the heroes we deserve.

Clyde takes on that mantle and a lot of what he believes I believe to be true. The path to correctness, to punishment for the wicked, should be straight and clear. It is not and I don’t believe that makes me some terrible person to buy that. There are always outside forces at play. Those who practice the law should be in it for the right reasons: to see things made right. Many are not and we see that in prosecuting attorney Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx), a man motivated by his own portfolio and cushy conviction rate. His priorities are in the wrong place and his arrogance is insulting. He has lost his way. He has misplaced the role he is meant to play. He has bought into the politics and forgotten to keep his eye on the ball.

The film paints Gerard Butler’s Clyde Shelton as a villain, a man capable of horrid cruelty, but also makes sure to highlight his principles and what he stands for. This is not a madman. This is a dedicated individual who intends to teach Rice a lesson. Gray revolves his production around the right character. Many before and after him will write a similar script and dampen it by highlighting the wrong facets.

Shelton is well-prepared, methodical and precise. He is by far the picture’s principal member and when he leaves the eye of the lens for too long, you can feel the film drop a little. He’s intriguing and debating a proficient argument, making us consider our longstanding beliefs. Rice is a pawn through which the lesson is taught but our interest is not in the pupil. Students don’t pass on education. Teachers do. Rice is there to show the transformation, to show an educator’s finished product.

We get to see the fusion of Clyde, mere mortal and puppet master. He’s behind bars, locked in a cage and still pawns are being moved off the board. He can’t be stopped. He’s on another plane. What is it he knows that we don’t?

Law Abiding Citizen has a lot to say and sadly not much time to say it. If I was going to lay a critique at its doorstep, it would be a grisly, principled film ends too neatly. The third act really leaves much to be desired. A villain who at times seems effortlessly written struggles to keep the seesaw balanced with such an obnoxious counterweight in Rice on the other side. Not much time is spent on his moral dilemma. In fact, he seems stubbornly obtuse to even considering he made a mistake. There just isn’t a lot of mental activity going on when Butler leaves serve and that leads to periods of stagnation that temper what could have been a much stronger resonance.

I do not critique television (yet) but just to give you an idea of what I’m talking about, I’ll briefly discuss Marvel’s Daredevil.

The first and second seasons are strong, both showcasing capturing antagonists in Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin and Jon Bernthal’s Punisher. However, the show is limited due to a lack of character immersion in Daredevil himself. This is not on Charlie Cox, nor is it on Jamie Foxx in this production. An actor can go off script, sure, but can rarely demonstrate unrestricted range without a story which gives him an opportunity to. Daredevil ends up being the least interesting character in his own show.

The third and final season is easily the best because the studio and crafters introduce Daredevil’s own inner turmoil in a more expansive way, filling up a canvas that was half beautiful, half lightly trodden, perfecting a balance that was never quite there in its two previous predecessors. Daredevil was more a plot pusher than a fleshed out enigma and finally witnessing the studio add that last evasive piece does bring fulfilled resolution.

And it’s possible Rice doesn’t feel guilty about anything that transpires. After all, he didn’t kill anyone but the idea that any of the moral quandaries associated with the situation never arise in someone who is portrayed as rather intelligent is a bit of a headscratcher. I can think of three specific scenes where the opportunity was scratched like someone might poke at a lottery card but not investigated further, only hinted at. I’m all about hints. Hints are for the wise, for those who pay attention, who notice the details. Some things should not be hinted at and this is an example of someone and something getting too clever for their own good or perhaps not clever enough.

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. (HerTakenCaptain America: Civil WarDeadpoolAvengers: Age of Ultron)

80-89  It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Scott Pilgrim Vs. The WorldThe 40-Year-Old VirginThe ConjuringSinisterOlympus Has Fallen)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (Ip Man 2Ip ManKong: Skull IslandThe InvitationHush)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (2 Fast 2 FuriousDoctor StrangeJohnny MnemonicJason BourneSuicide SquadB)

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. (The Fast and the FuriousBrooklyn’s FinestDeath RaceWind RiverTommy Boy)

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. (The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No TalesPower RangersUnderworld: EvolutionBatman & Robin)

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. (High-RiseMost Likely to DieIndependence Day: ResurgenceThe Crow: City of AngelsCenturion)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The SnowmanAvalanche SharksCatwomanThe GunmanThe Visit)

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 Law Abiding Citizen: 80.

Law Abiding Citizen is easily my favorite Gerard Butler role and it’s not close. I don’t watch a lot of Butler’s productions, mostly because many of them seem to involve a continuous character that doesn’t require a lot of expertise. Butler essentially plays B-role action hero, like Jason Statham and with similar results: good for some chuckles and lighthearted fun but not particularly lasting.

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Where Are You?

I sense you every day

Sneak a peek at every smile, knowing it might be yours.

I can feel your auburn hair brush past, watch as it flows behind you, riding along the speed of your step.

You always have a place to be.

I just wish I was one of them.

Your laugh, that splendid melody, that joyous sound.

I rehearse it in my head daily

‘fraid I’ll lose it like I’ve lost everything else.

If happiness was a sound, it would be you.

I sense you in the brisk wind when I run, your sweet voice softly in my ear

“Don’t quit on me.”

I imagine your fingers under my chin, reminding me to keep my head up

Your hand on the back of my neck, a rush in my shoulders

A soft, glacier blue in your eyes

A blizzard that goes right through me.

There is a snow-covered paradise in there

A whirlwind, an oasis.

They’re mesmerizing.

There’s no shade of color which can command like that.

They go right through me.

I can’t hide from you

And I don’t want to.

I remember the wit of someone I’ve never met

Deja vu.

Clever, sharp and whimsical

Endlessly endearing, a passion unmatched.

You are my North Star, my compass

My guide, my love.

I know everything about you

And also nothing at all.

I long for sweet nothings in my ear

But I hear only emptiness

An echo chamber of my own making.

I pain for luscious key strokes from the parlor

To see the Steinway roar by your hand.

You create in ways I can only dream of.

I try to find the path

But it evades me, as you do.

I yearn for the blossoms to bloom.

I never had a green thumb.

The American red maple stands strong year after year

Stubborn, patient and reliable as me.

We’ve gone through a lot of seasons together

That tree and I.

But I cannot grow a flower.

You are my rose.

I feed the deer every day.

I know how much of a Snow White you are.

Each time he comes around, I ask Jack if he’s seen you.

He looks up from his grub and in his eyes I see the same trust and faith I see in yours.

He has no answers for me.

Jack is a deer.

I’m asking a deer if he’s seen my wife.

Each night, I look up in the sky for you.

You’re always there, the one place I know you’ll be.

I wonder if you dwell in the stars in the twilight

Looking for me

Or if all I do

All I feel

And all I dream

Is a wisp of a life I wished I’d lived

And something that will never be.

Sincerely,

Yours Truly

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Movie Review: The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift

Image result for fast and furious tokyo drift movie poster free use“Can I get a copy of that?”

This film sucks. Just want to get that out of the way.

You can shut this one off approximately ten and a half minutes in. It doesn’t get any better after that. When a film’s best scene comes that early, it spells bad news for the rest of the journey. So is the case here.

Shipped to Japan for his constant entanglement with the law, Sean is now living with his military father in a cubbyhole and being taught in a language he can’t speak, but don’t worry, we got fancy cars here, too.

I will give The Fast and the Furious series this: the more you watch these, the more you want to go out and do some of this stuff. Think I mentioned this in one of my previous critiques but it’s something that needs reminded. It has marketed an adrenaline rush, essentially, and I think most viewers are here for the thrill more than anything. I doubt anyone is coming to these for theme or dialogue.

Coming with one card to play isn’t a great strategy, no matter how great the card is. Yes, this card fulfills the need of the production studios, getting those precious greenbacks, and I suppose at the end of the day that’s what keeps these things going. If people pay, we’ll keep doing this, I guess. You guys keep making them and I’ll keep telling people why they’re a joke.

Tokyo Drift is by far the worst thus far and three films in, the same problems persist: writing, character and tone.

This franchise is a very stubborn, strong-headed kid: difficult to teach and a tough learner. They’d rather run their head into the wall than listen to what you have to say. It’s hard to empathize with such a person.

The writing here is so, so awful. It is painful to listen to, a horribly out-of-tune guitar. It hurts my head to think about. I’ve never had a tumor, so I can’t speak to the validity of this claim, but hearing Nathalie Kelley speak makes my head feel empty and twice its size at the same time. Attractiveness does not qualify you as an actress. Exhibit A.

My brain feels bloated with nonsense and starved for nutrition. Maybe I’m just hungry. Garbage thrown in your face for two hours has a way of making you feel depleted. I don’t know how much the writers were paid for this script but it was too much. There are people in high school in this country who are capable of putting together more thorough work than this. This is sellout material if there ever was any. I would not be surprised if they threw this together in a day or two. Art conjured in this way is not worth showing to another living thing. Part of creating art is editing. Rarely does a first draft become a finished product on a dime.

Art is like parenting. The initial conception and birth is miraculous, awe-filled, sometimes life-changing. It hasn’t learned to walk yet and you don’t know much about the idea, you only just birthed it, but you’re immensely excited by the potential. Then come the basic details, molding a more round-out figure. It can be very frustrating at times, this part, because you’re so antsy to get to the next stage, to see what comes next but with time you learn this preliminary work is part of the process. They’re not full-grown but you have the responsibility to shape them into who they will become. Your idea is in your control. You will make decisions and second-guess yourself. You’ll see multiple ways this story could go, write drafts, experiment with color, edit design, compose harmonies and bass lines you’ll end up scrapping. You’ll do this because you have to. You’ll do it because you won’t settle, because acceptance of standard isn’t an option.

It will challenge you.

It will grind you.

It will push you.

But it will reward you.

The building process matters.

This is art.

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, specifically, the writing section, does not qualify. Such dreadful discourse, it is.

Underneath character growth, we read: learns how to drift. Yes, drifting is very cool.

Sean sounds like he came straight out of Alabama’s womb. Surely shadowing his transition into a country on the other side of the globe might come up. Family dynamics, perhaps?

Director Justin Lin gives us none of it. Mr. Hickster is just coming to Japan to race streetcars in parking lots. School and parents are for losers.

What about our antagonists? One is associated with the Yakuza, the famed criminal syndicate. Introduce some brutal elements here, scratch some sinister lingo in there. Should be easy enough.

Also a nope from Mr. Lin.

This was enough for producers though. Lin was given the chair for episodes four, five and six of the series and is currently penned for even more sequels. Would love to hear the rationale from the money men.

Lastly, tone. Tone says a lot about a person. Tone is a good talker. It communicates emotion quite well and can also differentiate someone or something in a way few other things can. Three films in and still seemingly no interest in deciding if The Fast and the Furious saga should have a tone of its own.

“We’re sticking to the copy machine here at this institution. Holding ourselves to some moral high ground is for the silly losers over at Disney.”

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. (HerTakenCaptain America: Civil WarDeadpoolAvengers: Age of Ultron)

80-89  It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Scott Pilgrim Vs. The WorldThe 40-Year-Old VirginThe ConjuringSinisterOlympus Has Fallen)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (Ip Man 2Ip ManKong: Skull IslandThe InvitationHush)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (2 Fast 2 Furious, Doctor StrangeJohnny MnemonicJason BourneSuicide SquadB)

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. (The Fast and the FuriousBrooklyn’s FinestDeath RaceWind RiverTommy Boy)

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. (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No TalesPower RangersUnderworld: EvolutionBatman & RobinBloodsport)

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. (High-RiseMost Likely to DieIndependence Day: ResurgenceThe Crow: City of AngelsCenturion)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The SnowmanAvalanche SharksCatwomanThe GunmanThe Visit)

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 Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift: 47.

Glad to have this one over with. It was not a fun watch. Hopefully we’re on the upswing now when I get to Fast & Furious.

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Movie Review: 2 Fast 2 Furious

Image result for 2 fast 2 furious movie poster free use“Verone pay ya’ll to keep a straight face like that? ‘Cause If I was makin’ money, shit, I’d get that mole removed off my damn nose.”

Earn that paycheck, Tyrese.

Did we need a sequel? Did we really? I get the dollar sign part of the equation, I do, but did we really need this? Did The Fast and the Furious establish a tone I was missing? A memorable setting? Cinematic shot? Enveloping score? Distinguishing character? Isn’t the answer to all of these questions no? I’m pretty sure it is.

I’ve got to work in a few hours so I need to be pedal to the medal myself here. 2 Fast 2 Furious is actually an improvement from the original, shocking as that is to say. Who would have thought taking Vin Diesel out of something would improve the product?

That was a shot at Vin Diesel I needed to have. You would have taken it too if you had the opportunity. Quit your judging.

This installment brings a genre and feel that the first material lacks. It’s not an unique aroma but the buddy cop treatment does this film well. Paul Walker and Tyrese Gibson have some chemistry here, even if at times the writers do their best to thwart it. Some of this dialogue is pushing C level cop-out territory and given the quantity of these productions, I don’t know if I look forward to how bad it gets. Writing, even in a metal mash, holds a premium. Words have a chance to be the seasoning for the cut. A good steak can be ruined if you overdue it and left bare if you don’t spread enough. You also can overcook the steak and all the seasoning in the world won’t fix that. Feels like both happen here and it’s not very appetizing. The dialogue is especially burnt and a few sequences in particular make ya cringe. You can taste the ash in your mouth. As you might expect, it takes a while to wash that out.

2 Fast 2 Furious has a similar punch to its elder going down the palette, a bitter, watered down vitriol, a drink from a so-called brewmaster operating out of his garage. He’s got a couple of the tricks down but is still missing on quite a few key elements, flavor being top of the list, consistency following. Nothing about it is particularly sharp or prudent. Despite not having much of a kick, it carries the personality of a scatterbrained drunk, a slight if meager improvement. Boring people tend to get a little more interesting after a couple drinks.

But all the alcoholism in the world won’t hide an obvious dilemma: 2 Fast 2 Furious, like its predecessor, has no idea how to create a universe.

There’s always the chance that wasn’t a goal. Perhaps the big wigs over at Universal were enamored with rehashing things already produced. A consistent tone doesn’t seem to be on their scouting report two films in. They seem quite settled with a world of fast cars. Forgive me if I’m not entertained.

Dialogue clunking with gobs of metal doesn’t do it for me. A lot of clattering and jingling under the hood. My ears are sensitive. Such a ruckus doesn’t offer much of a melody. A glossy paint job doesn’t cover rust underneath. Ruins the aesthetic you’re trying to implement. Worn tread on the tires doesn’t lead to a smooth ride. Not the Hollywood image I recollect. The stereo blares like an artist in a haze, verbose and ill-focused.

And what of the driver? What of the man behind the wheel? A pretty boy, naturally, but what else? He’s not articulate or well-spoken nor does he have any deeper meanings to divulge. Diluted and destitute of desire, drive or dedication, drowned in the dire drains of degradation and demonstrative of a damning decree: dereliction of duty. Those who create hold an obligation to art itself, to manifest their best selves in their work. 2 Fast 2 Furious is not the best available. It feels like the punching out of a time card on a 9-to-5 by a member of the team that should have been deposed years ago for checking out.

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. (HerTakenCaptain America: Civil WarDeadpoolAvengers: Age of Ultron)

80-89  It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Scott Pilgrim Vs. The WorldThe 40-Year-Old VirginThe ConjuringSinisterOlympus Has Fallen)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (Ip Man 2Ip ManKong: Skull IslandThe InvitationHush)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (The RoadDoctor StrangeJohnny MnemonicJason BourneSuicide SquadBatman Forever)

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. (The Fast and the Furious, Brooklyn’s FinestDeath RaceWind RiverTommy Boy)

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. (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No TalesPower RangersUnderworld: EvolutionBatman & RobinBloodsport)

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. (High-RiseMost Likely to DieIndependence Day: ResurgenceThe Crow: City of AngelsCenturion)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (The SnowmanAvalanche SharksCatwomanThe GunmanThe Visit)

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 2 Fast 2 Furious: 60.

I’ve watched this film twice and will not make it thrice. Again, it’s an improvement somehow. It has its moments but at times, it’s offensive, borderline cinematic malpractice. The camera work is nauseating, from angles to transitions, holding on a shot for seconds too long. It’s not artistic. It feels robotic. Gibson and Walker’s chemistry holds this sandwich together but to take a bite of the whole thing is gross. Would have been better to throw away most of it.

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