TRAILER: Game of Thrones Season 2

The final trailer for this coming season of GAME OF THRONES shows me that once again they've paid very close attention to the details in Martin's books. A wondrous cast, vivid details and epic storytelling will make this a television event to remember.

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REVIEW: Moneyball

"A solid sports film with intelligence and heart."

The true story of Billy Beane's life and love for the game of baseball.  Drafted just out High School with loads of talent and ambition, Billy gave it his all but didn't become the superstar he and others thought he would.  He instead gives up the life of a player to become a scout in hopes of changing things up with some theories everyone considers laughable.

Hollywood has always been good at turning sports into film, or more specifically turning dull, boring or monotonous sports into provocative, entertaining and even fun films.  In this case we have baseball, the American pastime.  I've never understood the allure of baseball myself (I'm a football guy, and no, I don't mean soccer), nine innings is a longass time to remain focussed and vigilant and is it me, or does baseball seem abnormally difficult when it comes to getting on base.  There's a fleet of people in the field, at every angle, and when these guys are "on" if you're not hitting a homerun you're not getting on base.  I have respect for the sport and as such, I was happy to learn just how much fun MONEYBALL could be.  This was one true story worth telling.

The idea behind this film is ingenious to say the least and what makes it compelling is that Brad Pitt's character Billy Beane is probably the ballsiest dude in sports today for rolling the dice the way he did.  I mean talk about putting your nuts on the chopping block!  I'm not going to assume people know the outcome nor will I assume they don't (it being a recent story after all), but suffice to say there are still a couple surprises in there for people who don't know what's going to happen. 

Brad Pitt is a seasoned veteran of the biz in my opinion.  I didn't care for INGLORIOUS BASTARDS at all, but it was watchable due mostly to his performance.  He's one of those actors who can play just about any role and I'll watch it (that said, BENJAMINE BUTTON wasn't exactly my brand of vodka either but I watched it anyway).  The tabloids have run amuck with the man's life these past few  years but thankfully it hasn't affected his abilities on set.  He and Jonah Hill work well together and as for Hill, he excels here in a "not so funny" role better than you'd expect.  The tone is strictly drama, but there's more than enough witty dialogue to break the brooding silence with laughter.

MONEYBALL is about baseball, but at the same time it's a social commentary prod at just how money driven and disloyal players, coaches and even owners have become, intertwined with their dependency upon the old school mentality of fear driven "safe" tactics rather than ambitious drive.  There is much to be said in afterthought when the credits roll and that's the absolute thrill of this game.  I don't like baseball, but I was blown away by the small print side of things that go mostly unnoticed to fans and those outside the game circle.  This is a perfect example of how great storytelling and solid acting can make nearly any two hours of filmmaking interesting...even if it's about baseball.

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TRAILER: The Bourne Legacy

There's been widespread uproars about the new direction of the BOURNE franchise. Some said it wouldn't work without Damon, some said the idea was tired and others simply moaned and groaned. I like Jeremy Renner, and if this trailer screams balls to the wall action which is just my game. This should kick the haters square in the face.

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TRAILER: Game of Thrones Season 2

Here is the newest trailer for the upcoming return of one of the best TV series' of all time: Game of Thrones. Having read the books, this hits me with heightened joy and anticipation. The first series was well balanced and now that it's a hit I can tell you with absolute certainty that we're in for a real treat. I can't wait for April.


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TRAILER: The Amazing Spider-Man

This is the one I'm waiting for. My love for Spidey got me through Raimi's visions but I always thought they could have been handled better. This looks like the dark tale I was waiting for. Andrew Garfield looks spectacular as Peter Parker, the tone is right and I like the parents angle. I hope the Lizard doesn't look weird, but all in all, I'm a happy camper.

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TRAILER: The Hunger Games

I'm still not completely sold here either, it just feels like they're cramming far too many things into one film and when that happens everything ends up looking rushed and choppy. Hopefully I'm wrong, but time will tell.

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TRAILER: The Avengers

This new Superbowl add heats things up though I'm still not sure who these high tech aliens are supposed to be. And is it me, or do Hawkeye and Black Widow seem completely useless.


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TRAILER: G.I.JOE : Retaliation

Now I know most people didn't enjoy the first one, well I did. And despite it's drawbacks (I'm well aware of them), it's looking like they're ready to make up for it with this next installment. Cobra Commander's looking pretty cool too.

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TRAILER: Red Lights

With so much PARANORMAL ACTIVITY going around, it's sure is nice to see a real paranormal flick come knocking. Cillian Murphy and even more impressive is Robert DeNiro in a role villainous role (something we rarely see). This one looks well worth the price of admission.  Oh and it's from the director of BURIED, which rocked.

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BLU-RAY REVIEW: Underworld Evolution

"Vampire films don't get much better than this."

Selene and Michael are on the run from the vampires after taking out Viktor during a vampire/lycan up rise.  Things go from bad to worse for the duo however, as Marcus wakes from his sleep reborn as a new form of hybrid with one thought on his mind, the creation of a new race and the destruction of all who stand in his way.

Arguable the best of the series, EVOLUTION picks up exactly where the UNDERWORLD ends with the vampires hurting from an inner power struggle, a hybrid half vampire, half lycan on the loose and one of their own now changed by joining of both bloodlines.  I really enjoyed the opening scene which takes part back in medieval times where the original war got started.  Right here and there we really see how much we miss the already dead characters like Viktor and even Amelia (the oober hot vampire chick that got ravaged by wolves on the train in the first film).  Everyone here's clad in armour and looking very cool during the back story setup to properly introduce our villain Marcus.  I'm quite sure this scene undoubtedly got the creative juices flowing for the third film, but we'll get to that later.

The chemistry between Beckingsale's Selene and Speedman's Michael are what floats this dark boat.  The two work well together, but I always chuckle when watching the love scene as it must have been hard for Speedman to do his thing knowing director Les Wiseman was shacked up with her at the time (which also brings to note, how bad I felt for Michael Sheen who was dating Beckinsale when the first UNDERWORLD film started, but ended up with Wiseman before it finished.  Ouch, this might be yet another reason Lucian died). 

Now Marcus is no Viktor but he put on a hell of a good show.  Where Viktor was calm and calculated for the most part, Marcus knows he can destroy anyone and anything in his path and it shows.  He doesn't waste any time cleaning house at the vampire den and then goes straight for the jugular with everyone else.  His version of the vampire/wolf hybrid is much cooler than Speedman's due to the wings mostly, but also because he actually looks the part of the monster.  One scene that does stand out however is the one with the vampire Tannis and his two nude mistresses.  I'm all for the nudity, don't get me wrong, I just wondered at why with all the films being rated R this was the only one to have some nudity in it.  Again, I'm not complaining, it just felt a little out of place.

UNDERWORLD EVOLUTION is just as action packed as its predecessor and packs just as much bite.  The action scenes a bit more intense, the villain a touch more over the top and the fights are just as brutal if not more so.  I loved this second go around, but as the credits rolled it did feel like this was the end, what with Selene becoming all supped up on original blood making her and Michael seemingly unstoppable, but then again, all good things must come to an end.  It made perfect sense that they would send this party back in time and I was all for that as well.  Bringing things back to now though, I enjoyed UNDERWORLD AWAKENING as much as the next guy, but for my money, EVOLUTION was the best of the bunch and definitely worth owning on Blu-ray.

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BLU-RAY REVIEW: Underworld

"A new age vampire classic."

For centuries a war between vampire and werewolves has raged in the shadows.  The Death Dealers, led by the ravishing vampire Selene will stop at nothing to eradicate the lycan threat forever.  Selene's war changes when the lycans re-immerge from hiding in greater numbers than anticipated in their pursuit of a human with special blood that may enable them to overthrow their vampire enemies.   

UNDERWORLD was an easy film to overlook when it first came to town for anyone but fans of the genre.  Vampire flicks were a hit or miss bag back then (they still are if you consider the slew of TWILIGHT nonsense in circulation), but BLADE gave us some much needed hope.  UNDERWORLD felt more grounded though, going back to idea of covens and hierarchies found in cult favourites like VAMPIRE THE MASCARADE and the grossly underrated TV series KINDRED THE EMBRACED.  This was a good move and once again tipped the scales for the better.

Screen Gems and Lakeshore Entertainment rolled the dice yet again when they casted Kate Beckinsale as the lead.  Beckinsale is gorgeous don't get me wrong, like John Cusack I fell madly in love with her in SERENDIPITY, but this isn't romantic walks in the park and coffee.  Who knew she had it in her, but she certainly did, making that skin tight leather outfit sizzle and sending lycans running for their lives from her and her Death Dealers.  I didn't mind the betrayal and love story aspects of this endeavour but when it comes to storyline, this film suffers from same flaw many uncertain films with deep stories suffer from.  There's no specific term for it, though I like to call it gambling with the unknown.  Allow me explain.

Oftentimes in horror films, comic book films and video game based films, the collective creative teams behind these movies will lob out an idea which catches the attention of some studio and gets green lit.  Now the story is most often good and the ideas seemingly limitless, but here's the problem.  Because money is what makes the world go round, they have no idea if this story (which may easily span out over two, three or more potential films) will be welcomed by the masses and/or if it'll make decent coin in the theatre.  This often leads to throwing everything but the kitchen sink into the first film in case there is no chance for a second run.  This also leads to many cuts and debates over rating on so on and so forth.  Now seeing as how they went for an R rating, mixed with the fact it's about vampires and werewolves, I'm no doubt sure they felt this was a gamble.  This theory becomes all to evident when you watch the sequels and see where the story goes.  The biggest fault in this one is the loss of Michael Sheen's character Lucian.  By RISE OF THE LYCANS you see all the crap this dude and his lycan pals went through to survive, so in hindsight it felt pretty cheap seeing him killed so early in the series.

UNDERWORLD set a new standard for vampire films much like THE MATRIX did for action films.  The weaponry introduced here by Selene and her crew were fantastically well played and have been mimicked more times than I can count since.  Werewolves owe this film mad props too for putting their hairy asses back in the spotlight as they were most certainly a dying breed.  Scott Speedman handles himself well, and going back to the premature loss of characters, you don't get much better of a villain then Bill Nighy's Viktor.  Clearly my theory is sound as the third film goes back to the roots with Sheen  and Nighy's characters in full swing, but we'll get to that soon enough.  This is a solid Blu-ray purchase if you dig the content, but as far as the "unrated extended cut" end of things goes, it's nothing noticeable or noteworthy when compared to the regular version.

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