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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Africa Blog 6 - Welcome To Zambia, Here Are Our Hippos And Giant Waterfall


The following is a 2-week long blogging event, where I recount the events of my trip to South Africa and Zambia, while still on the trip.  Movie stuff will return soon, but for now enjoy what I have to say about Africa:

The end of this adventure is quickly approaching, as the trip to Zambia means there are only a couple days remaining in this trip to Africa.  Fortunately, that does not mean the fun and excitement has to stop in any way, as entering a new country only led to more unique experiences.  The time of game drives has ended at this point (despite the presence of various exotic wildlife), but a full day at Victoria Falls was definitely a great way to fill in what kind of wild activity we could be living through next.  Add to that the new danger - hippos, and the Zambezi River seemed to have plenty of excitement waiting for us. (Check out the previous Africa Blog posts HERE).

Friday, November 29, 2013

Africa Blog 5 - "Hello, I'm Patrick, Nice To Meet You"

The following is a 2-week long blogging event, where I recount the events of my trip to South Africa and Zambia, while still on the trip.  Movie stuff will return soon, but for now enjoy what I have to say about Africa:

This blog post should be fairly straightforward, structure-wise, as my dad and I only spent 2 days in Sabi Sands Private Reserve, located in the Savanna region of Kruger National Park in South Africa.  There is also only so much to describe, as the main activities revolved around the game drives and the search for "Big 5" animals - Elephant, Rhinoceros, Cape Buffalo, Lion, and Leopard.  Given that my dad and I had gotten to observe all but the leopard, we were pretty excited to know that our leopard-sighting percentages would be increasing dramatically, during our stay at Sabi Sands. (Find the previous Africa Blog posts HERE)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Africa Blog 4 - If I'm Lion, I'm Dyin'

The following is a 2-week long blogging event, where I recount the events of my trip to South Africa and Zambia, while still on the trip.  Movie stuff will return soon, but for now enjoy what I have to say about Africa:

Hey there!  I have returned for yet another blog.  I have been able to do far more than I expected, as our living situation in South Africa has had some pretty capable WiFi and the down time, in between game drives, affords me the opportunity to do plenty of work that is hardly work, given that it involves me writing, looking at pictures, and sending out posts - things I generally like doing anyway.  So with that, let's get to the big stuff for this latest adventure report - the search for lions!  (Find the other Africa blog posts HERE)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Spike Lee’s ‘Oldboy’ Is About As Flavorless As Bad Dumplings (Movie Review)



Oldboy:  2 out of 5

Joe:  Hey, tell me why I’m in here!

It can be hard to try and critique a film, when it comes to addressing one that uses the basis of another film that one already loves.  It is hard to critique a film at any time really, as it requires a certain amount of consideration that really drags in all of what it going on in one’s life at the time, regardless of whether or not it was intended.  The 2003 revenge-thriller Oldboy is a favorite film of mine.  I was intrigued by the notion of a remake mainly because of the strong talent that seemed to be standing behind it.  Josh Brolin is a capable lead actor, Elizabeth Olsen already had my eye from her breakout work in Martha Marcy May Marlene, and Sharlto Copley has impressed me with his wildly different turns in various films.  Having Spike Lee serve as director was the strangest piece of the puzzle, as the story of Oldboy feels like nothing he has tackled before.  Unfortunately, the film does not come together in any way that really properly makes a case for why this story needed to be told again.

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 130 – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Abe took the reigns and hosted this week's podcast without me. He did all the work, including writing this post:

This week we chat about The Hunger Games: Catching Fire with friend of the show Jose Cordova and new guest Taylor Vaughn. Will Katniss and Peeta's on-screen love survive the rigors of daily District 12 life? Will Gale and Katniss finally run away into the woods in search of a life of solitude? If you haven't read the books, then check out our review to find none of the answers to your questions above. We have a lot of fun in the episode, and we discuss the usual items like Box Office, Games, Trailers and more!


So now, if you’ve got an hour to kill…
 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Statham And Franco Face Off In ‘Homefront’ (Movie Review)



Homefront:  4 out of 5

Phil Broker:  I don’t want any more problems.

I love it when a movie really delivers on its promise.  Make no mistake, Homefront is a B-movie, but it is a damn good one.  It is the kind of action film that roots itself in the actions of characters and only feels gratuitous in the presentation of certain action scenes, but not in the cause.  There was an initial thrill that came from hearing the premise and seeing the trailer for this film, but I was incredibly happy to be very entertained by the actual film and really rooting for certain outcomes to take place.  Jason Statham may not ever break away from doing fun action movies, but at least he is adding different shades to the roles he takes and choosing projects that I like seeing.

Africa Blog 3 - Salute Your Elephants At Camp Jabulani

The following is a 2-week long blogging event, where I recount the events of my trip to South Africa and Zambia, while still on the trip.  Movie stuff will return soon, but for now enjoy what I have to say about Africa:

Hey I'm back!  It's been a couple days, but I want to start by saying it's been a pretty surreal and unbelievable time.  Since arriving at Camp Jabulani, which is located in a Kruger National Park, in Mpumalanga (the north-eastern region of South Africa), I have seen many animals on a pretty consistent basis, ridden some of them, and have gotten very up close and personal with others.  All of that and nothing has bit me so far.  I've also seen plenty of monkeys and baboons, which can put some of that speculation, regarding these blogs, to rest, but just because I am currently in the bush, it does not mean I have counted out dangerous encounters with sharks.  I may be having the time of my life, but that doesn't mean I'm not keeping my eyes open.  With that in mind, let's get into it. (You can also find the previous blogs HERE)

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Walking Dead: Season 4, Episode 7 – “Dead Weight”

Hey everyone, since I am currently away in South Africa, I had my good friend and co-host of The IchaPod CraneCast, Brandon Peters, write up a guest write-up for the latest episode of The Walking Dead.  I assume it is a good read, but since I have obviously not seen the episode I have not actually read it yet.  So you can basically throw any complaints his way on his twitter feed @BTPeters or at his website - NaptownNerd.blogspot.com.  Anyway, enjoy this guest review and thanks again Brandon!

By Brandon Peters: 


This week’s episode picked up with the second part of the ballad of Governor Brian following the fallout of Woodbury.  The episode would reunite the Governor with an old ally and lead us to the point at which we first saw him two weeks ago.

‘Frozen’ Is Solid Work From Disney (Movie Review)



Frozen:  4 out of 5

Anna:  I know how to stop this winter.

I will get this out of the way:  I really liked the fact that Frozen was an animated Disney film that did not rely on the death of a parent as a major plot point and that it did not end with a big wedding.  Not all Disney films have this, but Frozen stuck out to me as a Disney princess film that really tried for something a bit different, even as it utilized proven pieces of a formula.  It also helps that the film is a lot of fun, full of some really nice songs, exciting to watch, and wonderfully animated.  We may be past the days of traditional animated films from the Mouse House, but Frozen is definitely a solid entry for this generation of their work.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Africa Blog 2 - Table Mountain And What Bug Bit Me

The following is a 2-week long blogging event, where I recount the events of my trip to South Africa and Zambia, while still on the trip.  Movie stuff will return soon, but for now enjoy what I have to say about Africa:

Here is another attempt at blogging while I am away on vacation in sunny South Africa.  I am writing this on the day of November 24th, 2013.  I am currently in Cape Town International Airport, awaiting boarding onto a plane, which will take me to Nelspruit (near Johannesburg).  Once arrived, my dad and I then hop onto a vehicle, which will take us to Sabi Sans, our lodging during our time in Camp Jabulani and Savanna Private Game Reserve, where we will then be able to head into the bush at various times of day to observe the animal life.  I am getting way ahead of myself though, as I have some things to recap here in a blog post that may last longer or shorter than the last (which can be found HERE).

Friday, November 22, 2013

The ‘Delivery Man’ Has A Large Offer For You To Swallow (Movie Review)



Delivery Man:  2 ½ out of 5

David:  These kids need someone to look out for them.  They need a guardian angel.

There is a certain kind of logic I am intrigued by when a studio decides that a big family dramedy that is to be released on Thanksgiving should be based around a sperm donation gone disastrously wrong.  That’s what happened and Delivery Man is unfortunately not better than the premise suggests it could be.  It is not for lack of trying, as I generally like Vince Vaughn in almost anything and feel the film actually makes its dramatic beats work fairly well, but given that the film is ostensibly a comedy, Delivery Man fails to…deliver more than a few laughs to go along with the hearts of the 500+ children that Vaughn becomes responsible for.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Africa Blog 1 - Time To Worry About Sharks And Baboons

The following is a 2-week long blogging event, where I recount the events of my trip to South Africa and Zambia, while still on the trip.  Movie stuff will return soon, but for now enjoy what I have to say about Africa:

So this is obviously different than the normal posts I provide for those who either stumble on to this blog or cave in and read due to my incessant posting on Twitter, Facebook, etc.  There is not even any real way to tie film-related discussion into what I am about to describe.  All I am attempting to do here with what is hopefully a series of posts, is provide some rambling details about my experiences in South Africa, following long days full of activities.  Ideally anyone can enjoy what I have to say here, regardless of how tired I was, when writing this, but if that's not enough, I do have pictures of my journey accompanying these entries.  So with that totally self-involved preamble out of the way, let's get into South Africa and the dangers of sharks and baboons.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 129 – 12 Years A Slave



This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is a lengthy one, as heavy discussion is placed upon 12 Years A Slave, among other similarly related topics in film.  Aaron and Abe are joined by Just Seen It’s Salim Lemelle and Leah Aldridge, which makes for a long, but engaging conversation.  Additionally, all of the regular segments are present as well, including “Know Everybody”, “Out Now Quickies”, “Movie Call Back”, “Out Now Feedback”, and Trailer Talk (Labor Day and Noah).  Plenty of insightful movie talk in this long episode.  Stick with it and enjoy.

So now, if you’ve got an hour to kill…

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Walking Dead: Season 4, Episode 6 – “Live Bait”


Thanks to the encouragement of The Walking Dead TV Podcast, I will be writing weekly episode recaps for this season of The Walking Dead.  Anyone continuing on should expect spoilers.

The return of the Governor seems like something that should be a big deal.  The Walking Dead certainly thinks so, as “Live Bait” is a whole episode focused on what he has been up to, since going full on crazy at the end of last season.  Unfortunately, the events from last season have inadvertently effected how much regard I have for “Live Bait,” along with the fact that this is apparently only part one of our journey with the Governor, before we are caught up to speed with precisely how he ends up back at the prison.  Given that this season of the show has been very character heavy (and fairly successful at that), I am not faulting the idea for this episode, but that does not take away from issues I already had with the Governor character and The Walking Dead’s attempt to sweep things under the rug.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

‘Dallas Buyers Club’ Welcomes You In (Movie Review)



Dallas Buyers Club:  4 out of 5

Ron:  I’ve got a newsflash for y’all:  ain’t nothing out there that could kill Ron Woodroof in 30 days.

Apparently we are at a point where every 3-6 months a new film with Matthew McConaughey arrives in theaters and he once again turns in a terrific performance.  On the heels of Mud and with The Wolf of Wall Street set to arrive soon, Dallas Buyers Club is here now as a film that not only provides McConaughey with a character full of issues to really dive into as an actor, but also puts him into a position to really show how far he will go physically, in an effort to play the role authentically.  Of course, just because an actor lost 50 pounds to play a role doesn’t mean the film is automatically good, but Dallas Buyers Club does work very well as a drama about a conflicted and flawed man, who is forced to make very significant life changes, and the effects it has on those around him.

‘The Best Man Holiday’ Unexpectedly Reunites Its Cast For a 14 Year Reunion (Movie Review)


The Best Man Holiday:  3 out of 5

Mia:  I can’t tell you how great it is to have all of us under the same roof again.

I feel like I already might be surprising people by saying this film is a sequel.  Back in 1999, The Best Man was released in theaters and became something of a sleeper hit.  Along with The Wood (also starring Taye Diggs), the all-black romantic-comedy-drama scene was still a solid subset of films around this time, as it pre-dated the era of Tyler Perry and allowed for less gimmicky takes black characters living everyday lives.  Now we have a follow up film, which explores what has come of a certain group of characters a decade and a half later.  While it is not as exquisitely told a tale, compared to Richard Linklater’s Before trilogy, which are films also separated by a lengthy span of time, The Best Man Holiday is still a film that works based on the chemistry of the ensemble cast, regardless if one is familiar with these characters already or not.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Alexander Payne Lets You Settle In And Observe ‘Nebraska’ (Movie Review)



Nebraska: 4 out of 5

Woody:  C’mon.  Have a beer with your old man.  Be somebody.

Something I have picked up on lately is how making something look easy on film has been becoming the mark of some very talented filmmakers.  It is one thing to get very flashy with the camera and set up elaborate shots, but it is another to make people and human conversations look natural.  Improvisation is one thing, but even that can lead to unnatural results.  Being able to have a scripted scene take place and have the actors involved convey exactly what is needed to communicate realism is tricky, but it does happen.  Director Alexander Payne is not necessarily capturing super realistic dialogue on film in Nebraska, but he does something more.  Amidst the dialogue spoken in this film, Payne manages to capture a lot of reaction shots and really dwell on people living their lives in their own offbeat ways.  There is more going on than simply placing a camera somewhere and shooting, and Nebraska gets a lot of credit from me for being so affecting, given how minimal of a film it appears to be.

The Unnecessary Film About ‘Charlie Countryman’ (Movie Review)



Charlie Countryman:  2 out of 5

Charlie:  I’m super nervous right now, because this is kind of a wild experience for me.

If there is one thing that Charlie Countryman was able to do, it was remind me to express how much love I have for the film Run Lola Run, which is a fast-paced, off-beat, flurry of an action film, supporting themes of love, chance, and inevitability vs. free will; all while being fueled by a pulsating techno soundtrack.  Charlie Countryman has a lot of this as well, but while the film makes good use of location and provides Shia LaBeouf with a chance to show off his talents away from big blockbusters, it is also a big violent mess.  What begins as a promising, off-beat, romantic adventure turns into a dirty, illogical film that fails to connect.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 128 – Thor: The Dark World


This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe finds the guys calling back to one of their earliest episodes, as it is time to revisit Thor in his own movie again, Thor: The Dark World.  The two are joined by Alan Aguilera and Schmoes Know’s Kristian Harloff.  Together, the gang drops the hammer on this new movie.  Additionally, all of the regular segments are present as well, including “Know Everybody”, “Out Now Quickies”, “Movie Call Back”, “Out Now Feedback”, and Trailer Talk (Captain America: The Winter Soldier and X-Men: Days of Future Past).  There were plenty of realms waiting for this episode, so now it’s time to deliver.


So now, if you’ve got an hour to kill…

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Walking Dead: Season 4, Episode 5 – “Internment”


Thanks to the encouragement of The Walking Dead TV Podcast, I will be writing weekly episode recaps for this season of The Walking Dead.  Anyone continuing on should expect spoilers.

So far this season I have spent a good amount of time addressing The Walking Dead’s lack of subtlety.  This is not necessarily something that has harmed the show, as it has been four seasons and you kind of know what to expect at this point, but this week’s episode, “Internment,” continued to add onto this thought.  If it is unclear, having the walls very literally coming down around Rick, as walkers continue to try and invade the prison makes it pretty clear that heavy burdens are being placed upon him, but keeping things in order and contained will be necessary, if one wants to hold on as long as they can.  Given how action-heavy this week’s installment was, there were lots of clear visuals and to-the-point dialogue to further emphasize the show’s big themes, in place of doing something more fresh and interesting.  Still, while The Walking Dead may handle these action scenarios well, it just leaves me hoping that we can get back to more intriguing stories, now that this infection plotline seems to be ending.

Friday, November 8, 2013

‘Thor’ 2: Still Thor



Thor: The Dark World:  4 out of 5

Sif: I had things under control!
Thor: Is that why everything's on fire? 


Thor: The Dark World seems like a clear statement by Marvel Studios, insisting that they are simply here to entertain.  While there are more complex comic properties that have adapted into films featuring more than just adventurous heroics for the leads, spending two hours with Thor and the gang was an unlabored blast.  It has its share of issues involving story presentation and the effectiveness of the villain, but I had such a good time watching this film and the main actors in it that I hardly felt troubled by the messiness of a film that tries really hard to keep moving and be entertaining.  Regardless of all the strings that come with these various Marvel superhero films, I was very happy dive back into the world of Thor and witness Mjolnir in action.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

‘The Book Thief’ Is Perfectly Acceptable Oscar Bait



The Book Thief:  3 ½ out of 5

Narrator:  I make it a policy to avoid the living…well, except sometimes I can’t help myself…I get interested…Liesel Meminger caught me…and I cared.

It is strange that a film like The Book Thief will likely be facing an uphill battle in its efforts to be regarded as a praise-worthy film, beyond just the idea that sits as pure Oscar bait.  Granted, it is a WWII drama, set in Germany, based on a popular novel that deals with a young girl vs. the tenets of National Socialism, but that does not mean it should be dismissed.  Personally, I am not a fan of the term, “Oscar bait,” but it is hard to avoid it sometimes and a film like The Book Thief fits the criteria to a T.  With that said, ideally the term applies to movies that are generally good and that is why I am happy to defend my thoughts on the film, as The Book Thief was an affecting piece of filmmaking overall, with some splendid performances and a story that has a nontraditional backdrop to work with, despite being set during World War II.  I just wish the film found a way to play some key dramatic moments a bit differently.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Out Now with Aaron and Abe: Episode 127 – Ender’s Game

This week’s episode of Out Now with Aaron and Abe is a real challenge for young recruits, as guests Maxwell Haddad and Jose Cordova join Abe and Aaron to discuss the film adaptation of Ender’s Game.  It’s been a long time, but a movie now exists and the group is here to review it, along with share their thoughts on plenty of other related topics.  Additionally, all of the regular segments are present as well, including “Know Everybody”, “Out Now Quickies”, “Movie Call Back”, “Out Now Feedback”, and Trailer Talk (Hercules: The Legend Begins and The Lego Movie).  There’s no stopping Ender now, so one might as go along and play the game.

So now, if you’ve got an hour to kill…

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Walking Dead: Season 4, Episode 4 – “Indifference”


Thanks to the encouragement of The Walking Dead TV Podcast, I will be writing weekly episode recaps for this season of The Walking Dead.  Anyone continuing on should expect spoilers.

It helps that this season of The Walking Dead is following up on what it sets up in a fairly quick manner.  While the prison plague is still a big issue, along with the mystery of the fence-walker-feeder, “Indifference” managed to deal with what was setup last week involving Carol and Tyrese in ways that made me happy, despite the problems I previously had with them.  The setup may have not worked for me, but this week delivered on the implied promise that future episodes would make it all worth it.  Along with that, this episode worked well due to having a level of concentration on two plots, as opposed to being far too spread out.  All of this and we even got perhaps the most badass Daryl moment in the history of the show.

Friday, November 1, 2013

‘Ender’s Game’ Is A Fine Speaker For The Book

Ender’s Game:  4 out of 5

Ender:  Stay calm.  Shoot straight.  Here we go.

Ender’s Game, the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning novel by Orson Scott Card, is one of my favorite books of all time.  The concept of a film adaptation has always been an intriguing one to me, but something I had long put off as ever actually happening.  These feelings came from a younger me, but I eventually realized that it was more or less inevitable and could only hope that it would not be completely screwed up.  Having now seen a live-action film based on the novel, I can say that I walked away feeling really positive about it.  Knowing that a film would have to drop certain aspects and have a different depiction of certain elements that have been in my mind for years, I was thrilled to see other parts of the film that absolutely thrilled me.  It is not without its flaws, but Ender’s Game is a big screen adaptation that I would be happy to salute.

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