Monthly Archives: June 2014

Movie Review: A Haunted House 2

When I wrote my A Haunted House review, I said I was excited to see the sequel since the trailer looked so good. I must have watched it at least five times and I was still howling. When my brother and I went to see it, he forgot his ID so they wouldn’t let him in and I wasn’t going to be a sleazebag and see it without him, so that was the end of that adventure. Perhaps I should have taken it as a sign, a coincidence that was saying, “Tim, don’t see this movie.”

The other day I had a chance to make due on my promise. I shouldn’t have.

Folks, this was not a good movie. This was not an okay movie. This isn’t even worthy of being called a bad movie. This is a suckage level movie. Everything in the first one was sexual. Here we get some variety but with the same inadequacies. More sex jokes, which still aren’t funny. Racism, which is done so poorly that it’s obvious this is either first draft material or the people behind the pen didn’t finish the first grade. There were more cameras around the house because hiring a cameraman is too big an inconvenience for this crew.

Marlon Wayans somehow got more uneducated since the last time I saw him. Don’t know how that’s possible, but whatever. Does he have a mental condition like ADHD or something? He acts like a over-caffeinated teenager or something except less intelligent. There is a scene only 12 minutes in, where he has suggestive intercourse with a baby doll. What is funny about that? Do you think pedophiles are funny, Mr. Wayans? That’s not offensive humor, that’s just screwed up.

Everything that happens in this film is an ill attempt to get us to laugh at senseless garbage, stuff that is so mind-numbing and so ludicrous that not even someone high on cocaine or drunk to the high heavens could get enjoyment out of this. It’s just stupid. Not even the parts in the trailer are funny when you see them put into context.

Gabriel Iglesias signed on to play a part in this. Didn’t he read the script? He knows how to get people to laugh. Couldn’t he tell that not only was this not going to cut it, it was going to fricking suck?

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. (Jack ReacherGodzilla, SecretariatPrisonersMr. & Mrs. Smith)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (Edge of TomorrowThe Amazing Spider-Man 2Young GunsCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2Spider-Man 3)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too.(Battle: Los AngelesSkyfallCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs300Flyboys)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (SpeedGodzilla(1998)The Incredible HulkDisaster MovieDodgeball: A True Underdog Story)

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 Starving GamesYou’re NextThorFull Metal JacketAlien Resurrection)

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. (Billy MadisonA Haunted House300: Rise of an EmpireCowboys and AliensSerendipity)

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. (StonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice, The Contract)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (X-Men: Days of Future PastThor: The Dark WorldThe Sum of All Fears)

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.” (Open GraveAlien 3Dark FuryMidnight Cowboy)

My score for A Haunted House 2: 18.

Somehow not the worst film of 2014 (that distinction belongs to Open Grave), A Haunted House 2 is still one of the worst sequels I’ve ever seen as well as one of the most tasteless “comedies” I’ve ever seen. The sad thing is that Marlon Wayans somehow has a net worth of 15 million dollars for making disheveled sewage like this.

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Movie Review: Edge of Tomorrow

When I saw the trailer for this film, I knew this was going to be really good or really bad. There would be no in between for a movie like this. It’s time-travel incorporated plot was either going to intrigue and awe or stutter and fall on its face.

Prior to watching, I was leaning towards the latter. The trailer made it appear like Cruise could replay the day over and over until he won, which would make the risk of death mute, hereby eliminating any premeditation, fear, or stress that you would find in a normal action flick. If you can reset time whenever you want, then there’s no point in worrying about the protagonist dying. He might as well be Superman.

However, what Edge of Tomorrow appears to be and what it actually is are two completely different things. At first glance, this is senseless material. It holds such a loose grip on reality that if you look at it with your own eyes it’s hard to see any association whatsoever. Edge of Tomorrow isn’t trying to give you an illusion of something it’s not trying to be. It’s being straightforward, an approach that leaves you confused and scatterbrained as you try to complete a figurative puzzle that doesn’t seem to have all the pieces.

In the beginning of the trailer, Cruise says word for word, “What I am about to tell you sounds crazy.” He’s not lying to you. It’s in the script, that’s what he’s supposed to say, but it’s like a direct message from the writers to you: “Hey, this is going to spin you for a loop.” There’s also another line that Cruise delivers later that goes something like this. “At first, it’s going to sound crazy, but the more I talk, the more rational it’s going to become.” You know what? He’s right again.

If you give this movie 15 minutes or even a half hour to tell its story, it’s going to flop like a fish. It’s got no chance, but if you stick with it and take the information it gives you and think about it a little, it does make sense, although not completely so.

I don’t want to mistake you. This isn’t one of those movies where it throws exposition at you that makes zero sense and you just kinda have to accept it to have a good time or else you’ll hate it. Maybe you have to do a tiny bit of that, but it will be explained by the end of the running time.

If you give this movie the benefit of the doubt for a little and try to enjoy it, soon you won’t be trying to enjoy it. You’ll just be enjoying it.

It’s a science fiction film so if you brought all that you know about life with you, you probably should have left some of that at the door. Some science fiction films have a stranglehold on reality so that even the most crucial critic can’t find any chinks in the armor. This isn’t one of those films. If you want to find something wrong with this film, you will. I hold no reservations about that. It’s not the most tangible plot, but neither was Star Wars or Star Trek or Transformers. They all have things you can pick at if you want to, but that doesn’t take away from the great experiences you have watching them.

This is like Groundhog Day but an action movie. Major Bill Cage, played by Cruise, is reliving the same day over and over and over. He, along with the help of war hero Sergeant Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt), must save the world from annihilation by aliens.

For once, the aliens were a pleasing feature and I mean that in the sense of I can’t recall seeing anything like them before. It doesn’t feel like they looked through a list of monster movies and chose one to copy off of. This crew went to the sketchbook and put some thought into them and I appreciate that. The armor suits are a little like the ones from Elysium, but little is where the comparison stops. The action scenes are very well done and a blast to watch. I also love action movies with humor and Edge of Tomorrow had that, too. A touching romance was a fine sight to see as well.

What would this film be without Emily Blunt and Tom Cruise though? Aside from Charlie Wilson’s War, which I don’t remember all that well, I haven’t seen Blunt in anything but it was a true pleasure watching her work. While I didn’t get as much of her as I would have liked, her time in front of the camera was always stimulating and provocative. I hope to see her again sometime.

Then there’s Cruise. I mentioned this in my Jack Reacher review and I’m sure I’ll mention it when I write a post about my favorite actors, but Cruise is just…well, he’s the man. What can I say? The guy gets the job done to an overwhelmingly high standard time and time again. Even if the product as a whole isn’t all that delightful, Cruise always seems to give me my money’s worth at the bare minimum. Looking through his filmography, there isn’t any movie I see aside from maybe Top Gun that I loathed with a burning passion. Sure, the ones I’ve seen haven’t always been great but I still managed to have a good time with them thanks to Cruise and it was more of the same here.

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. (Jack ReacherGodzilla, SecretariatPrisonersMr. & Mrs. Smith)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Amazing Spider-Man 2Young GunsCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2Spider-Man 3Divergent)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too.(Battle: Los AngelesSkyfallCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs300Flyboys)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (SpeedGodzilla(1998)The Incredible HulkDisaster MovieDodgeball: A True Underdog Story)

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 Starving GamesYou’re NextThorFull Metal JacketAlien Resurrection)

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. (Billy MadisonA Haunted House300: Rise of an EmpireCowboys and AliensSerendipity)

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. (StonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice, The Contract)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (X-Men: Days of Future PastThor: The Dark WorldThe Sum of All Fears)

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.” (Open GraveAlien 3Dark FuryMidnight Cowboy)

My score for Edge of Tomorrow: 88.

Bolstered by a Cruise-portrayed character and a far-fetched but entertaining plot, Edge of Tomorrow makes last year’s Cruise feature, Oblivion, look much worse than it actually was. This film simply had all the things I like in my action flicks: a substantial plot, action rush, and humor topped with romance. The only thing hampering this film down to the 80’s is that the time travel, while handled far better than most movies, was still a little head-scratching at times. Overall, one of the better sci-fi films of the last decade.

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Movie Review: Battle: Los Angeles

First, I want to let you guys know I didn’t fall off the face of the earth. I have been watching movies, but purely for entertainment, not for reviewing. I’ve missed you guys and writing so I’m getting back on the horse before I go on vacation. I’ll get back to posting like I used to and entertaining all you guys. To help me get started, Chris has come by for another bonus brother edition.

Staff Sergeant Michael Nantz (Aaron Eckhart) thinks he’s reached the end of the line and is about to retire when an alien invasion decides to crash the party. He’s thrown into a platoon under an inexperienced lieutenant and has the eyes of everyone in the squad on him because everyone knows he lost his squad during his tour in Iraq. Rumors are he got his squad killed. In other words, Nantz is on the hot seat. Everyone’s judging him and his life is in the hands of someone who doesn’t have a clue what they’re doing.

Despite the hostile atmosphere Nantz is surrounded by, there doesn’t seem to be anything bad about the guy, allowing the audience to side with Nantz, view things from his perspective and brew some character connection. It’s a good start, although the old veteran leads the rookies is a tale that has been exhausted time and time again.

However, Eckhart does a solid job distracting my attention from the obvious clichés, guiding me instead to the dangerous escapade these characters are about to embark on and keeping me in the moment so that I’m engaged and concentrated. It generates a sense of belonging and leaves us closer to the material then we probably need to be because once again, the clichés are smacking me in the head like a low ceiling. Think of a war movie and the clichés you see so often. They’re probably present here. Anyone who is married, especially to a pregnant spouse, is doomed. Youngest guy of the group always dies. Those are just two of a considerable collection but Eckhart is keeping the ship afloat as are the supporting cast. No one’s doing anything special or noteworthy. Everyone enters the spotlight, says their line and backs off. No one’s begging for attention but there’s also no one I have a semblance of. Which of these characters am I rooting for the most besides Nantz? There’s no favoritism and while favoritism is a bad thing in most cases, a lack of favoritism is detrimental here. I care but I don’t feel stressed about whatever may happen next and I feel like I should. A character dies? Oh, well I guess that kinda sucks. There’s some character connection because we’re living the situation, but the characters are just that: characters. They’re not people, at least it doesn’t give off that vibe. I’m involved, yes, but not for one second do I feel like I’m living this movie. I want to experience this movie and I’m not reaching that level of depth or fulfillment here, leaving me a little disappointed because this film isn’t even close to its full potential.

Chris: Who gives a crap about the characters?

Tim: Umm, well, I do, but go on.

Chris: Armor-enforced aliens blowing up half of Los Angeles and terrorizing the earth has never looked so cool. You’re not really that focused about the characters because you’re focused on the awesome action scenes you’re presented with. Yeah, there are clichés but there are aliens blowing stuff up. What’s not cool about aliens blowing stuff up? I’ll give you a hint: absolutely nothing.

Tim: The action scenes are pretty good but I have seen better. They’re entertaining and give audiences camerawork reminiscent of Battlefield. It’s not far-fetched or too sci-fi, instead substituting a healthy dose of realism and keeping it that way. The action isn’t perfect, but it’s fun to watch and keeps me entertained.

Chris: The first ten minutes there’s not a whole lot of action but after that it is a non-stop rush which is why everyone should see this movie.

Tim: Chris is clearly more fond of this movie then I am because this is not a must-see at all nor is it a non-stop rush. There is plenty of dialogue, some that approaches the boundaries of corny, and some suspense they try to play with isn’t all that successful. The third act is well worth the watch by itself, but a must-watch is giving this movie far too much credit.

Chris: I completely disagree. Yes, there were things you can see in this movie that you can see in any other movie, but this movie is worth the ride. It is Aaron Eckhart’s best movie.

Tim: It is definitely not Eckhart’s best movie, but there’s no doubt that Eckhart is the primary life-preserver here. As always, Eckhart delivers a speech, something that must be in all his movie contracts or something. His character isn’t full-fledged. It’s like a bird flying for the first time. He’s flying, but he’s not a professional.

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. (Jack ReacherGodzilla, SecretariatPrisonersMr. & Mrs. Smith)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Amazing Spider-Man 2Young GunsCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2Spider-Man 3Divergent)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (SkyfallCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs300FlyboysDawn of the Dead)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (SpeedGodzilla(1998)The Incredible HulkDisaster MovieDodgeball: A True Underdog Story)

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 Starving GamesYou’re NextThorFull Metal JacketAlien Resurrection)

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. (Billy MadisonA Haunted House300: Rise of an EmpireCowboys and AliensSerendipity)

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. (StonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice, The Contract)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (X-Men: Days of Future PastThor: The Dark WorldThe Sum of All Fears)

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.” (Open GraveAlien 3Dark FuryMidnight Cowboy)

My score for Battle: Los Angeles: 72.

Battle: Los Angeles could have been more than it was, but a sound performance from Aaron Eckhart keeps the film upright, making it a decent film to watch on TV if you’re bored and looking for something to watch.

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The Pittsburgh Penguins: What’s Happened and What’s Next

The Penguins excel year after year during the regular season and while the playoffs have put the Pens at a standstill time and time again, injuries, Fleury’s inconsistency and a knack of running into the playoff goalies of that respective year have been uncontrollable roadblocks for the team.

Nonetheless, coach Dan Bylsma was fired.

Coming off arguably his best season yet, a year in which the Pens had more man-games lost than any other team in the NHL, it seems illogical to fire a coach that was able to put together a 51-24-7 record and the fourth-most regular season/overtime wins in the league behind Boston, Anaheim and Colorado when he had practically half of his team on the injury list throughout the season. Playoffs are what matter, but you don’t make the playoffs unless you win during the regular season. Injuries are natural to sports and you have to overcome them, something Bylsma has shown he can do. Among the records he holds, Bylsma is currently the franchise leader in wins (252), win percentage (67%), playoff games (78) and playoff wins (43) in less than five seasons of coaching.

It just doesn’t make sense. If the Penguins are looking for someone to blame, perhaps they should read my post on their early exit. The players were to blame for their performance, not Bylsma or Shero.

The king of plus-minus, Matt Niskanen: a minus-two. He might be looking for big money this offseason but Niskanen faltered in the playoffs like a limping dog, which no doubt contributed to the team’s top-ranked power play failing to capitalize on chances. I’m a huge fan of Nis-cannon, as we like to call him, but if he’s looking for big money, I hope we’re not the ones to give it to him. We need defensive defensemen to repair a defense that had as many holes in the playoffs as the net’s twine.

The biggest reason the Pens failed to advance: Sidney Crosby. The captain of the team, Art Ross trophy winner for the most points in the league by nearly 20 with 104 and probable league MVP did not produce. He had one of the worst playoffs of his career, posting a minus-four and one goal in 13 games.

James Neal had more penalty minutes (24) in the playoffs than Kunitz and Crosby had points combined (17).

The players were to blame here, not Shero and Bylsma and if the franchise doesn’t drop some players and add some new ones this offseason and put the blame where it actually belongs, it won’t matter who the coach is because this team hasn’t fixed the real problem. If a car has a flat tire, you don’t replace the steering wheel responsible for superb handling. That car still ain’t going no where fast. You get out of the car and put on the spare. For the record, I don’t have a clue who we’re going to get to coach this team. Unless Mike Babcock from Detroit is on the table, I don’t see anyone else who has the expertise to coach this team.

Looking on to the offseason:

Neal may have been third in goals for the team (27) and accomplished that after playing in only 59 games, but LW Jussi Jokinen was more valuable to the team. He played in all but one of the team’s games and had 21 goals and 57 points, only four less than Neal and that’s with Neal having nearly 60 more shots on net. Couple that with Neal’s poor playoff performances, his talent for taking stupid penalties as I think I’ve pointed out above and his lust for suspensions for dirty play, I feel like the writing is on the wall. He’s becoming a puckhog and he’s not even good at being one. Time for him to go.

Kunitz led the team in powerplay goals and was one goal behind Crosby for the lead in overall goals. Crosby-Kunitz is one of the best duos in the league and the fact that Kunitz is being underpaid makes this guy an easy keeper.

Dupuis had his season cut short by an ACL tear but was at his best the year before. A first line of Kunitz-Crosby-Dupuis sounds very capable to me.

Of all the acquisitions the Pens made during the season, Stempniak was my favorite. He’s got a lot of talent, filled in well with the Crosby line and doesn’t take up a lot of salary. 11 points in 21 games ain’t too shabby.

After the year Jokinen had, (see Neal comments) Jokinen will surely be asking for a pay raise from his potential suitors. It might be a fluke so it’s important the Pens don’t overpay. I’d go $4 million, maybe $4.5 but that would really be pushing it. However, Jokinen is one of only five Pens who played 80 or more games this year. The Pens need to find players that can avoid injury and Jokinen is one of them. Jokinen-Malkin-Stempniak sounds solid.

There was talk at the trade deadline that Sutter might be on his way out, but it didn’t happen. I’ve heard some reports that management isn’t happy with Sutter but I am. He’s a good faceoff man and penalty killer and most important of all, he’s durable. Sutter was another one of the five Pens who played 80 or more games. The other three: Crosby, Matt Niskanen and old reliable Craig Adams. I’d go $3, maybe $3.25 million. Sadly, I think the Pens will let him walk though.

As for the defensive woes, a major overhaul is needed here. Matt Niskanen and Olli Maatta were the only two blue-liners who had a plus-minus in the top 100 of league defensemen.This team is crying out for youth and durability yet the team signed Rob Scuderi, a 35-year old defenseman far past his prime who missed 29 games.

Paul Martin might be 33 but he plays like a 40-year old. This year, Martin played as many games as Marc-Andre Fleury had wins (39). That’s not even half the season. Last year Martin played 34 games. In the last two years of Penguins’ hockey, out of a possible 164 games, Martin has played 73. That’s 44.5%.

That’s atrocious, especially for a team that continually struggles with a statistic known as man-games lost. This year the Penguins had the most: 529. That’s 108 more than second-place Detroit and twice as many as half the league starting with New Jersey’s 261 at the 15 slot. If you take the number of players on an NHL starting lineup (20) and multiply that by the number of games in a season (82), you get 1640. Now divide 529 by 1640. You’ll get 32.2%. Of all the games the Penguins lineup could have missed, they missed 32.2%. That’s nearly a third!

An easy way to solve this problem: get rid of the old and bring in the new. The Penguins had the 6th oldest team in the league at an average age of 28.1 years old. This team needs a Drew Doughty, a young, emphasis on young, talented defenseman who can make a significant contribution to the team defensively, emphasis on defensively, and be a consistent starter.

Narrowing our focus more,  it’s this team’s defense that’s old and defenses win championships. Only one top-10 defense didn’t make it to the playoffs: the New Jersey Devils. The Kings had the best goals against average during the regular season, the best defense in the league. They won the cup. The average age of their top six blue-liners? 27.8 years old. The Pens? 29.

Now, that doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it is. The Kings’ average is inflated because of Willie Mitchell, who’s 37. The rest of their starters aside from Matt Greene (31) are younger than 27. Meanwhile, the Pens’ average is deflated by rookie Olli Maata, bringing their average down to 29 despite Orpik (33), Martin (33) and Scuderi (35) all being in their mid 30′s. If you take Maatta out of the equation, their average blue-liner is 31. No playoff team or top-10 defense had a blue-line core that old except for the Montreal Canadiens.

If you take this “young defenses win” theory just a little farther, you see a strong correlation between youth on the back side and winning. What would you say if I said I could have correctly predicted a majority of the Stanley Cup playoff matches based purely off of the ages of their defensive core? You’d probably call me a loony and I wouldn’t blame you. Bringing the competitive edge of playoff hockey all the way down to birth dates is ridiculous, but stats don’t lie.

The playoff bracket at the beginning of the playoffs looked like this:

Ducks (27) vs. Stars (28.5)= Ducks (won)

Blackhawks (29.3) vs. Blues (28.8)= Blues (lost)

Wild (25.7) vs. Avalanche (28.5)= Wild (won)

Kings (27.8) vs. Sharks (29.5)= Kings (won)

Rangers (26.8) vs. Flyers (30.8) =Rangers (won)

Pens (29) vs. Blue Jackets (26)= Blue Jackets (lost)

Canadiens (31.5) vs. Lightning (29)= Lightning (lost)

Bruins (27) vs. Red Wings (26.7) = Red Wings (lost)

It’s hard to predict the first round accurately because playoff hockey is so different from the regular season. Nonetheless half of these are right based on nothing but birth dates.

Teams with defenses that average under 28 win. Teams that are above that golden line, without an incredible offense, do not. A lot of the teams that struggled during the playoffs (like the Avalanche, Blues, Sharks, Pens, Flyers, Lightning and Stars) all had a d-line that averaged above 28. Only one of those teams advanced to the next round and that was the Pens, who were playing the inexperienced Blue Jackets. Two other teams above 28 made it further, the Blackhawks and Canadiens, but the Blackhawks had a stellar offense, second-best in the league. The Canadiens are the only outlier.

On the other side of the coin, most teams under that 28 mark like the Kings, Bruins, Rangers, Wild, and Ducks all made it to at least the second round. The Blue Jackets (26) were inexperienced and the Red Wings may be young on the back end (26.7), but they’re ancient on the front end with Zetterberg (33), Franzen (34), Datsyuk (35), Cleary (35), Bertuzzi (39), and Alfredsson (41).

This is all information you can find with a little digging and computing on the teams’ websites on ESPN. It’s not rocket science, people. Start drafting defensemen and bringing in the young guns because Crosby, Malkin and Fleury aren’t getting any younger. If the Pens have a sports information department and know how to read, they’ll take my advice.

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Movie Review: Jack Reacher

Edge of Tomorrow is now in theaters and to calm my excitement temporarily, I threw in Jack Reacher. Based off the popular novels by Lee Child, Jack Reacher separates itself from the uniformity people expect from a murder mystery, painting untouched characters to peak our interest. The subplots carry their own freshness as does the central focus of the story. The plot isn’t superficial but it’s also not so complicated that viewers get lost along the way. It has an alluring temptation to it, drawing us in like a fish about to be caught in a net and once it’s got us, we’re unlikely to become disengaged.

Tom Cruise continues to impress me with his repertoire of characters. Rarely do the clichés of stereotypical personas emerge from Cruise’s showings. No matter what seemingly innate withdrawals, what surely must be a character we’ve seen hundreds of times, Cruise always manages to make it his own. He doesn’t allow the script to stagger him.

Jack Reacher proves to be more of the same as Cruise welcomes him to his entourage of action phenoms. He’s got his quirks, expressions and gestures down pat. They’re crucial to character development and the dialogue is very well-written. Plot and character furtherance are both involved and none of it seems misdirected or unfocused. Director Christopher McQuarrie also wrote the screenplay for Jack Reacher and you can tell the film’s kingpin and writer are on the same page which really solidifies the direction. It’s a narrow but stern focus and it’s done quite well.

The cast spouts off the dialogue effectively and most of the characters are taught to audiences, but I didn’t feel the film reached its ceiling. Jai Courtney has a solid poker face, but it doesn’t feel like there’s a lot going on upstairs. He’s not as dominant a character as he perhaps should be. I also feel the Zec was probably more of a twisted, fortified character in the novel than he was here. Werner Herzog was pretty impressive in the role but I didn’t feel like he had enough screen time to establish his desperate figure. I would have liked to have gotten to know him a little more. Rosamund Pike plays the curious defense attorney and she’s a good accessory to Cruise’s Reacher. Robert Duvall has some fun with his role as well.

The stunts are well-choreographed and enthralling but as a murder mystery, this film relies on the characters and most are thoroughly mastered by their performers. The cinematography is well-done and shoots the city of Pittsburgh with glamour.

I hate to reference a previous review, but this film was the polar opposite of Skyfall. Where Skyfall lacked innovation, Jack Reacher had ingenuity coupled with plot upheavals that didn’t seem out of left field nor thrown so straight across the plate that a blind man could predict its trajectory. It’s not going through the motions. It’s perfecting all of its mechanics and illustrations to the utmost detail and it shows in the final product.

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. (Godzilla, SecretariatPrisonersMr. & Mrs. SmithCaptain America: The Winter Soldier)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Amazing Spider-Man 2Young GunsCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2Spider-Man 3Divergent)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (SkyfallCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs300FlyboysDawn of the Dead)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (SpeedGodzilla(1998)The Incredible HulkDisaster MovieDodgeball: A True Underdog Story)

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 Starving GamesYou’re NextThorFull Metal JacketAlien Resurrection)

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. (Billy MadisonA Haunted House300: Rise of an EmpireCowboys and AliensSerendipity)

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. (StonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice, The Contract)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (X-Men: Days of Future PastThor: The Dark WorldThe Sum of All Fears)

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.” (Open GraveAlien 3Dark FuryMidnight Cowboy)

My score for Jack Reacher: 92.

Tom Cruise comes to the plate and delivers a homer that the galleries of fans can admire once again in Jack Reacher. It is probably my favorite film shot in Pittsburgh and also one of the few films that I would like to see a sequel for.

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Movie Review: Billy Madison

I love Adam Sandler, I really do, but what was he thinking with this film?

Billy Madison (Sandler) is the heir to his family’s hotel chain, but he’s also the dumbest guy alive. When his dad threatens to give the business to his loathsome vice-president Eric, Billy says  he’ll go back through high school and prove he’s not a dummy.

The only problem with that is that he is a dummy and it’s an indisputable fact. He seems to be as close to mentally incapacitated as you can get without being so. Moronic, careless and immature to a super-sized extent, this movie is setting itself up to be a mind-numbing comedy from the outset, which is exactly what it is.

I don’t know if Sandler got off his rocker or what happened here, but this story structure could have been built with Popsicle sticks, glue, and duct tape. There’s no foundation to this film at all. Sandler wanted to make a movie about him doing his thing: acting dumb, making weird faces and voices, and just having a good time, kinda like he does now except he was a lot better at it earlier in his career. This film is like a home video you made with your brother when you were little. Making it was a lot of fun, but when you watch it now, you’re a little embarrassed.

There are no characters in this film. There are people trying to replicate Sandler’s well-known absurdity and brainless acting. Everyone is playing the same role. There are no illusions about what’s going on here.

The acting is very mediocre but there are some fun segments. I have to admit Billy Madison is a very quotable film. From “Come here, Penguin” and “Stop looking at me, Swan” to “Who got the lighter?” “I am the smartest man alive!” and “Ta-ta-ta-today junior!” there are a lot of memorable lines in this film.

Despite all that, there’s no doubt this film brings a whole new dimension to the word “stupid.” It’s one of the most empty-headed, hollow-minded stories I’ve ever seen, which is probably why I have so little to say about this film.

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. (Godzilla, SecretariatPrisonersMr. & Mrs. SmithCaptain America: The Winter Soldier)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Amazing Spider-Man 2Young GunsCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2Spider-Man 3Divergent)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (SkyfallCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs300FlyboysDawn of the Dead)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (SpeedGodzilla(1998)The Incredible HulkDisaster MovieDodgeball: A True Underdog Story)

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 Starving GamesYou’re NextThorFull Metal JacketAlien Resurrection)

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. (A Haunted House300: Rise of an EmpireCowboys and AliensSerendipityAlien)

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. (StonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice, The Contract)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (X-Men: Days of Future PastThor: The Dark WorldThe Sum of All Fears)

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.” (Open GraveAlien 3Dark FuryMidnight Cowboy)

My score for Billy Madison: 46.

A movie that exemplifies the term “dumbfounded,” Billy Madison leaves audiences with an elongated Saturday Night Live skit rather than a comedy that’s trying to give us a good time.

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Movie Review: Skyfall

My family has harassed me for a year and a half to watch this thing and when I heard that they hadn’t seen The Green Mile, we agreed if I watched Skyfall, they’d watch The Green Mile.

I had no interest in seeing this movie because the only Bond film I watched, Casino Royale, was a great movie and then the ending pissed me off so I figured I was done with Bond.

Skyfall gifts us with the presence of Daniel Craig and he’s a talented actor. Bond is a secret agent that doesn’t say much and doesn’t feel all that much either so you need someone who is good at expressing their characters physically through body language and casual glances and Craig has experience with that.

However, this cast has someone who is not so good with facial expressions and body language. Sorry Judi Dench, but you’re simply not cutting it. She has the same face the whole movie and she’s too good at the apathetic, cold and calculating scheme to pull off any empathy whatsoever.

Then we have Javier Bardem as Raoul Silva and the character is just really sketchy. It’s obvious he’s disturbed and demented but there are some other traits the film subtly alludes to that are off-putting. They enforce the point that this guy is loony but it’s kind of awkward. I don’t know, maybe it was just me, but it felt like the men behind the camera were trying to make a bad guy that had every psychopathic tendency in the book and instead of making the ultimate villain they made a disorganized bad guy that doesn’t engrave his character into our memories. Bardem does a thorough job of being as creepy and malignant as possible and there was some originality to Silva, but not enough that I’ll remember him.

There’s also nothing in this film that I haven’t seen before. Bond kills a couple of people, makes love to a few ladies, talks with that scruffy British demeanor and then shoots some stuff that explodes. It’s not a cookie cutter copy, but it’s not brimming with youthful imagination either. I acknowledge that it’s hard to make an unexampled spy story line. I know I’m asking for something that’s not easy to accomplish but we’re talking about James Bond here, 007, the MI6 agent who is seemingly impervious to death. I expect better and I’m not even a Bond fan. Imagine what Bond fans expect.

Skyfall isn’t an impulsive story either. It’s not predetermined material that you can see a mile away but it also has no twists or action slapping you in the face from the side. Nothing in this movie is going to make you jump and tap your friend on the shoulder and say, “That was cool” or “Woh, never saw that coming!” For an action movie, it has a very calm and relaxed pace that didn’t ever come close to convincing me that time was of the essence. Tranquil paces are good for some movies but I felt this movie’s pacing would have been more appropriate for a whole movie of Bond on the beach drinking Heineken then the film they gave us.

Where is the zap? Where are the stylistic touches? All of the things I’ve pointed out are things you can see if you just watch the movie and think about it for a little afterward. It doesn’t take an accomplished director or playwright to notice this stuff. I feel like I’m mentioning this constantly, but where’s the editing? Did they watch this film when they were finished before they released it? Didn’t they recognize some things that could have been better?

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. (Godzilla, SecretariatPrisonersMr. & Mrs. SmithCaptain America: The Winter Soldier)

80-89   It was a pretty good movie and definitely one worth seeing, but it doesn’t quite scratch my top ten percentile. (The Amazing Spider-Man 2Young GunsCloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2Spider-Man 3Divergent)

70-79   It’s okay but I’ve seen better. It has its moments, but it has its flaws, too. (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs300FlyboysDawn of the DeadCaptain America: The First Avenger)

60-69   It’s got plenty wrong with it but I still got enjoyment out of this one. (SpeedGodzilla(1998)The Incredible HulkDisaster MovieDodgeball: A True Underdog Story)

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 Starving GamesYou’re NextThorFull Metal JacketAlien Resurrection)

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. (A Haunted House300: Rise of an EmpireCowboys and AliensSerendipityAlien)

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. (StonadosRedemptionPride and Prejudice, The Contract)

20-29   What did I just watch? Cliches, stupidity, nothingness, did I mention stupidity? Just…wow. (X-Men: Days of Future PastThor: The Dark WorldThe Sum of All Fears)

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.” (Open GraveAlien 3Dark FuryMidnight Cowboy)

My score for Skyfall: 74.

Compared to Casino Royale, Skyfall is a far and distant second weighed down by a carefree pace. I sat through nearly an hour and a half of commercials to see all of Casino Royale because it was engaging and suspenseful. If I had never seen Skyfall and it was on TV, I’m not so sure I would have made the same sacrifice.

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