Archive | May, 2011

Nail on the Head for Zelda Series

Posted on 31 May 2011 by Thraxxus

I used to play the Legend of Zelda series, Hyrul, whatever you want to refer to it as. I always found the story line confusing enough to just not care about it any more, opting instead to be good at killing stuff. I was always further confused by the fact that the main character was not actually Zelda, instead he (a very effeminate he) was named Link. After a while I just stopped playing the series altogether, instead opting to watch my wife play occasionally – for some reason I got more enjoyment watching her play than playing myself. Chances are that is because it was she that was getting frustrated instead of me (like the one with the giant ocean that the player spent HOURS traveling around to find stuff. Puhhlease).

Back on topic – the storyline – or lack of one it seemed – became increasingly difficult to follow and thus after a while it became pointless to care. Instead the player just concentrates on the next quest – rinse repeat – after a while you are at the end of the game, killing Gannon, again. I was sent a link this  morning to watch a clever video created by some fans/anti fans of the game that illustrates, quite clearly, the madness that is the storyline and timeline of this series.

I enjoyed it.

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Quest for 1000 and THE HANGOVER PART II Review

Posted on 28 May 2011 by Reel Rhino

The quest for 1000 marches on!  The official tally, including last evening’s outing, stands at 995.  My plan for the next few weeks is pretty simple. 

I will discuss my man-date with my Wolfpack below, but between today and my 1000th film, the road is pretty clear. 

I am guessing that Kung-Fu Panda (996) will be in my weekend plans and next Friday, X-Men: First Class (997) is on the filmic agenda.  The week that follows will probably hold one to two more flicks and if all goes according to plan, I will hit 1000 the weekend of June 10th – June 12th.

So what are my options for that weekend?  What shall I see for the big uno-trip-zero?

I see no other option…SUPER 8 will be the way to go.  This thing looks stellar and I can think of no better way to enjoy this major milestone as a cinema-freak than taking in some fare from wunderkind director J.J. Abrams and his mentor in this case, the grandpapa of epic tales, Steven Spielberg.  This film seems to be filled with a sense of wonder and adventure, the likes of which we haven’t seen in some time, harkening back to the days of Spielberg’s youth.

What say you my friends?  How should I do it?  Evites?  Facebook invites?  A quiet night out with the wife?  Regardless, a babysitter will be in order so the Reel Rhiness can help me celebrate proper on this grand of evenings.

I am thinking steak?  Maybe Italian?  Who knows…what goes well with celluloid and movie popcorn?

Soon, 1000 movies will be mine and I have so many memories along the way.  I’m glad to have started this blog, so I can share my adventures with you…

Speaking of memories, me thinks I have formed a new WOLFPACK. 

REEL RHINO REVIEW: THE HANGOVER PART II – 3 of 5 Horns

I think that I could watch Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, and Bradley Cooper in anything…children’s theater, Shakespeare in the Park, anything…

The Hangover is in my top 10 films of all-time.  It is #2 to Ghostbusters in my favorite comedic films of all-time.  It blew my mind.  I am watching it as I type this and I find some of the laughs as fresh as the first time I saw it.  I saw The Hangover five times at the theater…that was a record for me.  I loved this movie.

THE HANGOVER PART II is not the original, but it is still a funny movie.  Todd Phillips has a watchable sense of direction and as I said, I love this set of actors…Justin Bartha as well…all the ladies of the series and of course, Mr. Chow.

That’s right, everyone but Heather Graham’s Jade is back for this entry, and of course, with The Hangover Part II focusing on ONE NIGHT IN BANGKOK as a celebration for Stu’s wedding, it made sense that Jade would be out.  It’s a shame too, because Heather Graham is adorable.  Although Jamie Chung’s Lauren, Stu’s new bride to be, is quite an acceptable substitute.

So what is crazier than Vegas?  For most males in North America, nothing…and this is the fundamental problem with this film.  Yes, I laughed quite a bit and I had a good time with my friends, but this was not the magical experience that The Hangover was.  Bangkok is foreign to me, both figuratively and literally.  I am sure that Bangkok seemed like a logical place to set the next-level misadventures of Phil, Allen, and Stu, as I am sure many Hollywood big timers have had their share of debauchery in this world class city of sin.

The premise is the same as the first.  The celebration before a wedding leads to a blackout blotto night and we find our heroes in peril, waking up with their memory of the preceding night erased.  Doug (Bartha) smartly sits out the night on the town and becomes the anchor back at base, keeping the families at bay.  With Doug safe and secure, who could be missing?  Well that would be Teddy (Mason Lee), Lauren’s 17 year old brother, who was sent innocently to the beach to enjoy the one beer our hapless fellows had planned on enjoying. 

We do learn how these guys, who truly planned on a one-beer night, ended up again in the throes of chaos, but that is a spoiler and I will save it for your night at the theater.

The story from here runs very similar to the first film.  It becomes a mystery and a thriller within the comedy of the film.

Yes, the danger is ramped up and this is a darker outing for these guys, and in Bangkok, there is nothing off-limits in the service of comedy.

The Hangover was a relatively lighthearted film in the midst of a very adult set of misadventures.  The Hangover Part II gets laughs from a much darker place.  In the first, we laughed because we could relate; here we laugh some at the pure comedy of the moment, but more times than not the laughs come from the discomfort of the foreign nature of the terrible things we are seeing on screen. 

I say The Hangover was lighthearted and that comes through much in the crispness of the image on screen and the bright lights that Vegas offers as a setting.

The Hangover Part II has a grittiness that matches the setting of some of the rougher parts of Bangkok.  They filmed this on-location, so that drab appearance was real.  It seems as though the choice of filters and lighting was intentional and while that may be so, I think it was a very drastic artistic change from the first film.

So yes, I am comparing these two movies, when in fact it would be far fairer to hold Part II on its own to see how it measures up within the overall realm of comedic films.  When you older brother is the State Champ, you have to be ready to endure that comparion.

You may have noticed that Paul Giamatti is listed prominently in the credits on IMDB and elsewhere.  His involvement in the film is rather limited and for his part, I thought the use of Giamatti was rather jarring.  He plays this type of role (semi-lighthearted heavy) well, but perhaps his recent turns as extraordinarily well-played leading men, caused his presence to be more jarring than organic.

There were rumors aplenty concerning the appearance of Mel Gibson, Liam Neeson, and even former President Bill Clinton as cameos in the film.  I won’t tell who is in it and who isn’t, but there is as least one cameo that was a highlight for the film.

There is a monkey in this film and this monkey becomes a character in and of himself.  Todd Phillips has taken some heat on this point, as it is still unclear as to whether or not this monkey actual became addicted to cigarettes while shooting this flick.  Phillips said it was so when he was interviewed by EW for a piece on the film… he later retracted it as a joke.  There is a monkey in this film and he does appear to really smoke cigarettes…but addicted?  Whatever the truth may be, I am sure we will never know.  But I can say this, The Hangover Part II does not carry the American Humane Society’s “no animal harmed” attachment in the credits.  Oh boy.

 

This movie takes crazy to the next level, occasionally perhaps to a scale that is a little too grand.  And for those mad highs, some of the slower moments seemed too lull to long on the other side of the spectrum.  I didn’t feel a single draggy bit in the original, while there were several spots here in Part II where I was waiting too long for the next beat.

I liked this movie.  I didn’t love it and it doesn’t hold a candle to the original.  I said in 2009 after seeing The Hangover for the first time…please God, don’t them make a sequel. 

I will see Part II again and I hope that it grows on me.  For now, the best I can do is a 3 of 5 Horn rating and I do suggest that you see it.

Oh yeah, my WOLFPACK…I saw this with Dustin, Ross, Bob, Troy, Kevin, and Kevin…we laughed like madmen and then we dined like Kings…well we ate tacos.  Bottom line, see this movie with friends.  Laughter is infectious and the enjoyment level will be accentuated by the presence of friends.  My Wolfpack rated it at its lowest, at 2.5…there was mine and one other 3, then everyone else ran the Spectrum between 3.5 and 4.5.  One of our guys gave it a 4.5 instead of a 5 because there was not enough T-n-A and there was a little too much penis for his tastes.  Also, another of my pack said this offering is superior to the Original.  Yikes…not so much as far as I’m concerned.

For Part II, there was also too much revealed in the trailers.  You will laugh again at the pig smash scene, but how great would it have been not to have seen that coming.  The Hangover was epic.  They didn’t need a lick of advertising for this film and it was completely a disservice for all. 

I attribute much I liked about this film to my overwhelming affection for these actors.  Ed Helms is great as an everyman in hilarious peril.  Every time I see him as Stu, I see a little of the Nard Dog in there as well.  I also loved his turn in Cedar Rapids and I think he will continue to shine.

I am happy that Ryan Reynolds is the Green Lantern and I guess Chris Evans will make an acceptable Captain America.  But I wonder how Bradley Cooper would have done in that role.  He has some juice and it is surprising that as far as super heroes go, that Cooper is yet to pick up anything respectible.  He did give us Face Man in The A-Team and he is rumored for Eric Draven in the rumored 2013 remake of The Crow, but I figured someone would have picked him up for something significant.  (By the way, The Crow does not need remade.  The sequels are not so great from what I have heard, but the original with the fantastic soundtrack and the aura of death in Brandon Lee’s passing while filming, that movie is a cult classic and doesn’t need a re-envisioning.  But as always, Hollywood just can’t leave good enough alone – CASE IN POINT: THE HANGOVER PART II.)

Speaking of music…another facet of The Hangover that was so great were the accompanying songs.  The soundtrack was epic and few people know that this was essentially when we first get to meet Ke$ha, as she is the female backing vocals in the Flo Rida song that capped the film in that iconic “lost night” photo montage.  Part II gives us some Johnny Cash and some cutting-edge hip-hop that gets your toe tapping, but it too falls short from the offerings in the first flick.  We are fortunate enough to get another original song from the music styling of Ed Helms, but not as memorable as “What Do Tigers Dream Of.”

The Hangover Part II is worth your dollar and you will find some laughs, but it is not The Hangover, but really, it will be quite some time before that level of comic gold is found again on the silver screen.

See you next time…

Reel Rhino

MIKE EPPS as OTHER DOUG aka BLACK DOUG:  “Ah come on man…I’ll be your Doug”

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2011 Memorial Day Movie Preview BOX OFFICE CHALLENGE

Posted on 26 May 2011 by Reel Rhino

There are only two new releases worth mentioning this weekend.  They will most likely be #1 and #2, but it is a crapshoot as to which will be which!

Will the R-rated HANGOVER 2 and the return of the WOLFPACK be enough to keep the FURIOUS FIVE and the chosen one, PO, from taking the weekend?  The screen count is comparable (PANDA: 3,925 VS. HANGOVER: 3,615), but Kung-Fu Panda is playing in both 2-D and 3-D, so of course there would be more.  Also, Panda 2 does have an IMAX version, but it seems as though Pirates is holding onto the IMAX screens and that Panda will be hitting IMAX next week.  

Other X-Factors?  Both PANDA and HANGOVER were released today.  It is essentially a 5-day movie weekend.  I will be curious to see how Box Office Mojo ranks it all out, but you can guarantee it is going to be a bog box office weekend.

Here were last week’s results:

Weekend Box Office Results
1. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides $90.1 million
2. Bridesmaids $20.8 million
3. Thor $15.4 million
4. Fast Five $10.5 million
5. Priest $4.7 million
6. Rio $4.6 million
7. Jumping the Broom $3,7 million
8. Something Borrowed $3.5 million
9. Water for Elephants $2.1 million
10. Madea’s Big Happy Family $956,000

Since there has been fairly little response to the contest…I will keep the whole message relatively short.  Here are my picks, and the rules and ways to enter follow after…

REEL RHINO PICKS FOR THE WEEKEND
1. Kung-Fu Panda 2
2. The Hangover 2
3. Pirates 4
4. Bridesmaids
5. Thor

Bridesmaids and Hangover 2 would make a hell of a double feature.  I will catch up with you soon…

REEL RHINO’S BOX OFFICE CHALLENGE

THE RULES:
Scoring…for every correct guess, you get 3 points.  For every guess within one pick of the movie’s weekend slot gets you 2 points.  Finally, two picks away gets you 1 point. 

Yeah…if you can’t figure out who is the winner, it isn’t really a contest, right?  Any ties will be determined first by whoever has the highest correct answer or series of correct answers.  If the tie persists, the winner will be determined by whoever submitted their picks first…yes, you are correct…I have the home field advantage.  Deal with it.

The format will be simple with each week’s challenge.  I will post the week’s opening films, the # of screens the film is playing (when known), and the RottenTomatoes.com score, if it has one at the time of the post.  I am going to omit listing those movies opening in extreme limited release, because they won’t have the seats to fight for one of the top five slots.  Fair enough, agreed?

 

 That will be followed by the top ten from last week.  “Choose wisely.”  Remember that German commander in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade… it didn’t work out so well for him, learn from his lesson my friends.

 

The final segment of each week’s contest will be me, offering my picks.

 

You may submit your picks in one of three ways:

1. Enter your picks in the comments field of this post at http://www.BlinkinBlogs.com

2. Enter your picks in the comments field of this post at http://ReelRhino.com

3. E-mail your picks to ReelRhino@gmail.com

I will compile the week’s entries and post the winners at both BlinkinBlogs and ReelRhino as soon as possible, but hopefully by Monday evening at the latest.

THE PRIZE: For now, my friends, in the humble beginnings of the BOX OFFICE CHALLENGE, the prize is this: the champion of the week will have their selection of any film, which I will watch and review on both sites.  Don’t believe me?  See also: http://reelrhino.blogspot.com/2011/04/biebers-never-say-never-redux-watch.html

Yep…that happened.

GOOD LUCK TO ALL AND MAKE YOUR PICKS SOON!

Reel Rhino

 

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Dets.me – Birth of a Social Platform

Posted on 25 May 2011 by Thraxxus

So a friend of mine is building out this new social networking system that is rather uber in concept – dets.me (a play on the term That’s Me). I am a member of both Facebook and Twitter (I rarely if ever log into Twitter as I find it more annoying that useful) and have always found Facebook to be a bit lackluster. Granted it accomplishes what it set out to do, I guess, but also really the only things it does are the following:

  1. Members have a profile
  2. Profile has information
  3. Profile has pictures
  4. You can get friends and look at their profiles.
  5. You can send messages to friends.
  6. You can poke people (not as fun as it sounds boys)
  7. You can post random crap on your wall – a wall being what people can see about you. Sort of a mini blogs with limited text count
  8. People can post on your wall.
  9. You can use Facebook apps other people make at your own risk. Most suck.
  10. Oh – you can search for people who probably don’t want you to find them.
  11. Integrated Chat system

That is about it. A 120 billion dollar idea? You betcha! Why? There are something like 300 million user accounts and that my friends is quite a bit of gravy. So why bring up dets.me? Fw reasons:

  1. The system is being built out – literally adding new stuff daily. Kind of neat to watch that happen.
  2. It has everything Facebook and Twitter have, plus it integrates with them.
  3. It has everything craiglist has.
  4. You can find a job on it.
  5. It has a massive game library.
  6. Every user gets their own REAL BLOG.
  7. Integrated Chat system
  8. Event Postings.
  9. Document Sharing.

I could go on but you get the picture. So if you have any interest in looking at a social network in the making and being part of it from the ground up take a look – I find it fascinating. Best part – if you make suggestions about the site they actually listen. Weird I know.

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REVIEWS: Morgan Spurlock’s Greatest Movie Ever Sold and POTC 4: On Stranger Tides

Posted on 23 May 2011 by Reel Rhino

Reviewed this post…
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: 2.5 of 5 HORNS

POM WONDERFUL PRESENTS: THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER SOLD: 4 of 5 HORNS

Review: Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
So I really don’t have much to say about this movie, other than I watched it.

I can only muster a 2.5 of 5 horn offering, as this flick was so very mundane compared to the original three or really mundane when compared to anything. 

Johnny Depp was so excited to breathe new life into this role, but it is really just the same old Captain Jack Sparrow, just now with an “X” scar on his right temple.  How did it get there…oooooh…so mysterious.

There is no chemistry whatsoever in the love story between Depp’s Sparrow and Angelique (Penelope Cruz), daughter of feared Pirate Blackbeard (Ian McShane). 

FEARED Pirate Blackbeard…oooooh…so scary!  Blackbeard’s most fear-inducing maneuver is to wave his sword and puppetize the rigging of his ship, scaring his crew into servitude.

The film starts with Jack Sparrow being dragged to court to be put on trial…except it isn’t Jack Sparrow, it’s Master Gibbs, Sparrow’s trusty first mate.  Worry not, though, because Captain Jack is afoot and he does execute an escape plan for Gibbs.  Alas, instead of making a clean getaway, Sparrow and Gibbs ends up in the hands of the British government.  It is here that we learn that the government has hired a privateer, read: government sanctioned pirate, in Captain Barbosa.

Barbosa is called to service by the British monarchy to compete with the Spaniards in the race to the Fountain of Youth, previously discovered by Ponce de Leon.

In the span of time between Pirates 3 and now, it appears as though Jack has been searching for the fountain, with no luck in finding it.

In short order, a triumvirate of groups are racing for the Fountain.  Barbosa and his crew of British sailors for hire; Blackbeard and his crew, which now includes Jack Sparrow and first mate to Blackbeard, Angelique; and the unnamed stone-faced Spaniards, who are machine-like in their quest for the lost location of de Leon’s find.

Yes, there is one decent battle that gives us a new perspective on the concept of the mermaid.  And the aforementioned jail break scene turns into a decent action set piece in the opening moments of the film.  But other than these two scenes, there is buttkiss for action in this flick.

There was no sense of peril, no sense of excitement.  I think some of it comes back to the blasé interaction between Depp and Cruz coupled with the truly benign presentation of Blackbeard, this supposedly deadly Captain of the high seas.

The only interesting character was that of missionary, Philip (Sam Claflin), who seems to be filling the void of Orlando Bloom’s departure.  The girlie part left vacant by Knightley, was more aptly filled by Astrid Berges-Frisbey, as Syrena the mermaid, than by Cruz.

Really the failure of this movie stems from the lack of a respectable baddie!  Blackbeard is a nice enough guy for what you would expect; Barbosa and Jack are more like former frat brothers than the enemies we recall; and we are left with only the Spaniards, who again, are decent enough in terms of being completely reasonable as friendly adversaries, insomuch as they are basically indifferent towards the groups in the race.

There is not a single battle at sea, but for an attempted mutiny on Blackbeard’s Queen Anne’s Revenge. 

Folks, this was a weak entry into an otherwise decent adventure series.  Except someone forgot the adventure…

Rob Marshall has directed a handful of films, most of which fall well into the genre of musical moviemaking.  The absence of Gore Verbinski is felt more than I can really describe.  Even the less than perfect original trilogy had a grandeur to them that gave them flair.  That was missing completely here.

The same writing team behind the first trilogy was at work here, so are we left to believe that it was Marshall who couldn’t pull it off?  I guess that depends on how many fight scenes were left on the cutting room floor.  Is it possible that they forgot to write in anything with even the slightest bit of action or peril?  I don’t know…

Oh yeah, I forgot about the 3-D.  I think that was because the 3-D was completely forgettable.  Another failed attempt at manipulating our sense of space to spice up a movie.  I thought the 3-D was cheesy and other than a few sword tips making way towards the crowd, it was mediocre at best.

There is a stinger after the credits…all the way at the end.  It really isn’t worth it, but I am sure it is a sign that we are in for yet another Pirates flick.  If you are interested in knowing the nature of the post-credits scene, check here at moviestinger.com database: http://moviestinger.com/pirates-of-the-caribbean-on-stranger-tides-2011-extra-scene-after-the-credits/

This movie stinger site is the premiere site for knowing when you should stay seated and when you can run for the bathroom. 

Of course there is also the RunGoPee app for iOS users.  Is there an Android equivalent?  I couldn’t find one.

Like I said above…2.5 of 5 Horns for POTC: On Boring Tides.

REVIEW: POM WONDERFUL PRESENTS: THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER SOLD
Morgan Spurlock hasn’t sold out…he’s bought in.  That is the tagline for this documentary on product placement and brand partnering, in mainstream entertainment. 

Spurlock’s film is the definition of meta as he delves into product placement via a first-person perspective on the advertising machine that is pervasive in virtually every aspect of our waking lives.  Spurlock reaches out for sponsors to fund the making of the film, and from these meetings and the process of gaining financial support in brand partners, he eventually garners the meat and potatoes of the movie that we the viewer see on the screen. 

I love movies, this is no secret.  I think the obvious use of brand partnering can at times be distracting, but as director Brett Ratner put it in an interview in the film, sometimes you do what you have to in order to see your film made.

There are great perspectives put forth by Quentin Tarantino, Ratner, Peter Berg, and my favorite in this flick, Ralph Nadar.

Peter Berg may have put it best when he relates that his boss of the moment is General Electric and for their business sense, they don’t know an effing thing about art.

Spurlock secures, as the title of the film indicates, a title sponsor in Pom Wonderful, a pomegranate juice company.

Spurlock also secures for sponsorships: Sheetz (home of the collectible cup for the movie), Jet Blue, Hyatt hotels and suites, Merrell shoes, Mini automobiles, Ban deodorant, Amy’s organic foods, and several others, including trailer favorite, MANE and TAIL, a human/equine cross-over shampoo.

What blows my mind is how many folks flat out denied funding to Spurlock and denied him with a fervent no.  This guy is a pretty established documentarian; I would have expected a warmer reception from some of the companies he talked to.   I guess there are some politics at play and the fact that Spurlock, like Michael Moore, often uses heavy-handed action to demonstrate the extremes of his point.

Spurlock discusses in the film, the thin ice on which he treads by creating allegiances to the sponsor companies, in a work that serves to some extent to criticize the process, even if only by presenting both sides of the story.

As is customary with Spurlock’s work, comedy plays a big part.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Spurlock moonlights doing stand-up, as his delivery is solid and his comedic beats usually hit their intended target, which is also due to slick editing in the film itself.

The film is thorough in examining roles at different steps in the process of developing brand partners in popular culture.  In addition to experts, we get a man on the street perspective in some of the interviews.

An interesting component of the film are the three 30-Second commercials that Spurlock shot and included throughout the run of the movie, as a deal struck with the three top sponsors.  His story boarded ideas for the POM commercials were a bit hilarious.  I would love to see them make it to production, but they are a little dicey for a family friendly beverage.

Did you know, after four weeks of daily consumption, POM pomegranate juice is 40% as effective as Viagra?  It’s about better blood flow folks.  I had no idea that POM was so versatile…and you know what?  It must be true, because I saw it at the movies.

Another very interesting concept was the piece in the film on the Broward County School District in Florida.  Every year the district is faced with cuts and they have taken to selling advertising within school buses and on the fences of their athletic fields to try and generate income to supplement deficits in funding.  Spurlock runs a fairly decent length piece on this as a concept of advertising to students and within the realm of school systems.  In fact, to support Broward County, Spurlock buys a banner and some vehicle wraps to help promote his film and delve further into the meta aspect of becoming the very concept he is studying.

Spurlock examines the other side of the spectrum as well, when he heads south for Sao Paolo, Brazil.  This Brazilian city has passed a local ordinance preventing outdoor advertising anywhere in the city.  You would be surprised how stark a city can be when the banners and billboards are ripped down.

There are also some great artistic expressions, including a series of street art pieces and a re-envisioning of DaVinci’s The Last Supper with some very interesting renderings of the Jesus and his disciples.

Spurlock’s acquiring of POM as the title sponsor came with some pretty thick stipulations, including ticket sales, number of screens, and DVD sales.  As of right now, this film has at its widest, played at 81 theaters, and this past weekend, eked out a miserable $507 per screen average with only a meager $478,000 for the domestic box office so far.  Things don’t look good, but I hope he pulls it off.  Generally speaking, I enjoy Spurlock’s work and I appreciate the completely internal look at this process that he has given us.

The stipulations as the movie presents them are as follows:

  • $10 million gross at the box office (hopefully that includes the international take)
  • Sell 500,000 DVD’s and downloads
  • Generate 600 million “media impressions”

While the concept of media impression isn’t defined, I would hope that it includes Twitter, MySpace, FaceBook, etc.  Hey Morgan, I’m doing my part.

I have an interesting thought that wasn’t touched on in the film.  I wonder what the product placement folks think of pirated movies?  Such a prevalent topic when it comes to distribution of entertainment, how can this not be point of discussion by those selling pieces of the pie, that often get eaten for free?  By hook or by crook, the viewer sees their product and in the end, whether the artist gets paid, the brand sponsors end up satisfied.  I wonder how that factors into the deal making with these companies and whether or not the production companies up the costs to enter into these brand partnerships.  Just an aside to this otherwise well covered topic.

This is an enjoyable film that is essential a documentary on one component of movie making, television production, and really any and every form of media that we consume.  As Ralph Nadar says in the trailer and the film, the only time we are free of the burden of advertising, is when we close our eyes and go to sleep.  While this shouldn’t necessarily be a component of art…it is, and I am quite sure, it is here to stay.

I give POM WONDERFUL: THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER SOLD a 4 of 5 Horn rating and I urge you as fans of cinema and consumers of media to go and see this movie.

For now, I think I’ll go and enjoy a POM Wonderful beverage while wearing my BAN deodorant, while washing my hair with MANE and TAIL, checking in at the HYATT after my JET BLUE flight and valet parking my MINI…etc.

Well you know that’s not true, there’s no way in hell a Rhino would fit in a mini…but it would make for damn fine comedy. 

That’s all for now…Until later, take care!
Reel Rhino

PS…Enjoy the REEL RHINO enjoying Morgan’s brand partners.  Hey, maybe this advertising in movie thing actually works?!?

 

 

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Weekend Box Office Recap: Pirates, Bridesmaids, and Thor OH MY!

Posted on 23 May 2011 by Reel Rhino

The BOX OFFICE CHALLENGE was met with its lowest entries to date…three.  Now that is of course, counting me in the mix and also not counting Thraxxus, who flatters me yet again by offering as his picks, a resounding of mine.  Oh Thraxxus, you silly goose.

The weekend gave us pretty much exactly what we expected.  Pirates took the weekend, which was no suprise.  The numbers came back a little lower than expected for this monster franchise, much of which can be attributed to opening against nothing else this weekend and pulling in pretty weak critical reviews.  The booty for this Pirates is bound to be less than the studio hope, but these films typically crush overseas, so perhaps the worldwide take will keep them on course.

For #2 this week, Bridesmaids held on strong, dropping only $5 million from last weekend’s haul.  I suppose good word of mouth and little other options for movie entertainment helped fuel a solid week two for this very funny outing being headlined by Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig.

#3 and #4 are no real surprise, but I was very pleased to hit #5 on the nose with my picks.  With little competition in the kiddie flick department, Rio seemed like the only option.  Of course next week gives all the adults a reasonable only choice in The Hangover 2, but you can be sure that every kid in America will be scrambling for Kung Fu Panda 2.

Weekend Box Office Results
1. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides $90.1 million
2. Bridesmaids $21 million
3. Thor $15.5 million
4. Fast Five $10.6 million
5. Rio $4.65 million
6. Priest $4.60 million
7. Jumping the Broom $3,7 million
8. Something Borrowed $3.4 million
9. Water for Elephants $2.1 million
10. Madea’s Big Happy Family $990,000

Reel Rhino’s Picks for This Weekend: Total Points – 13
1. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (3)
2. Thor (2)
3. Bridesmaids (2)
4. Fast Five (3)
5. Rio (3)

Junior’s Picks: Total Points – 10
1. Pirates of the Caribbean (3)
2. Thor (2)
3. Fast Five (2)
4. Bridesmaids (1)
5. Priest (2)

Kenfu’s Picks: Total Points – 10
1. Pirates (3)
2. Thor (2)
3. Fast Five (2)
4. Bridesmaids (1)
5. Priest (2)

So I took the weekend again, but my hats off to both Junior and Kenfu for again playing.  I hope that this thing takes off and we can add some more players.  Thraxxus…my coat-tails are available for your enjoyment every week.

Coming soon…a Reel Rhino Review for both PIRATES and POM WONDERFUL: THE GREATEST MOVIE EVER SOLD.

Until later, take care!
Reel Rhino

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10 minutes after the rapture – man falls short of prediction

Posted on 22 May 2011 by guybehindtheguy

Devoting more than a few minutes to this topic would serve no purpose other than espouse one’s own opinion of the matter. 10 minutes after the rapture the world remained unchanged. But what if it hadn’t? What if at 10 minutes after the rapture news reports began broadcasting the disappearance of hundreds of thousands of people around the world?

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Weekend Preview/Box Office Challenge 05/20-05/22

Posted on 20 May 2011 by Reel Rhino

Oh the Box Office Challenge is here!  Hooray, hooray!  The rules and ways to enter are near the bottom of this post.

What a strange week we have at hand…Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is essentially the only new film opening this weekend.  There are a few flicks that are expanding into more theaters this week, but for the most part, the folks in charge of scheduling releases were intimidated by Jack Sparrow.  Oh, sorry sir…CAPTAIN Jack Sparrow.

On Stranger Tides will be the twelfth largest release of all-time in these great United States, playing on 4,155 screens domestically this weekend.  POTC: At World’s End played on 4,362 to come in 4th all time for big release.  Praise Jesus, that the largest release of all-time was The Twilight Sage: Eclipse, which played 4,468 screens.  Yeesh!

So Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is coming at you in the following forms:
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides An IMAX 3-D Experience
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides In Disney 3-D
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides in AMC ETX

Yikes, no wonder they need so many screens!!!

I am quite positive that this will be the #1 movie of the weekend…there you go folks.  A gimme from the Reel Rhino.  Only four more picks right and you may be our winner!

Domestically speaking, POTC: The Curse of the Black Pearl is #34 all-time at $305 million; POTC: At World’s End is #31 all-time at $309.4 million; and POTC: Dead Man’s Chest is #8 all-time at $423.3.

Where will On Stranger Tides land overall?  How will it be held against its predecessors?  Did we really need this film at all?  Johnny Depp seems excited and he claims to be breathing new life into the role.  Maybe it will work?

What does every-gal moviegoer Danni-California have to say?  As a seasoned moviegoer and film buff, she is one who may be trusted.  But she is an admitted Johnny Depp superfan, so keep that in mind.  Here is what she has to say:

Alright so here goes. My run down, opinion, synopsis  on Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides. First off I’m a huge Johnny Depp fan and Captain Jack Sparrow happens to be one of my favorite characters of his. I have enjoyed the previous movies and I enjoyed this one as well. I watched it in AMC Theaters ETX 3D. I’m really not a fan of 3D movies in general. This one had a couple cool scenes for 3D but other than that I personally don’t think it was worth making it in 3D or seeing it in 3D. The movie for the most part keeps your attention but at times I felt like it just kept dragging on. I am a little disappointed that the original cast including Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightly are not in this one. I knew going into it that that they were out, but I still had hopes that they would make some kind of cameo. Instead we have Ian McShane and Penelope Cruz. I was disappointed in Blackbeard’s character. I think I expected more from him. The movie is still filled with the random adult humor and one-liners. But I don’t think it was as funny as the others…maybe because there was a marked absence of rum involved. They give a new perspective to the concepts of mermaids, which is much darker than our normal ideas as lovely half-fish ladies.  This I did like.  Overall, I enjoyed the movie. It will be something that I will have to watch again just so I can breathe and enjoy the movie. I would give it 4 outta 5.

There you have it folks…one girls take on the film.  While I do think Danni-California knows movies, I still say hold out for the Reel Rhino’s take.  I for one am not smitten with any of the characters in this film, which inherently gives me a more unbiased approach.

Last Weekend’s Box Office Results
1. Thor $34.5 million
2. Bridesmaids $24.4 million
3. Fast Five $19.5 million
4. Priest $14.5 million
5. Rio $8 million
6. Jumping the Broom $7.3 million
7. Something Borrowed $7 million
8. Water for Elephants $4.1 million
9. Madea’s Big Happy Family $2.2 million
10. Soul Surfer $1.8 million

Opening this week…Brother’s Justice?  Not so much.  Sorry Thraxxus!  We are left with only Pirates.  Even Woody Allen’s triumphant return to the big screen is limited to only 6 screens this week.  You can assume that will be in New York in Los Angeles.  Perhaps it is a shame as Pirates is coming in as of this writing at 37% rotten on 119 reviews at Rotten Tomatoes.  As for Midnight in Paris…88% fresh on 43 reviews.  Hopefully we will get Midnight soon.

Keep your eyes peeled, though….THE BEAVER expands this week.  Yes, I know: THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID.  I know this movie is supposedly great and that Jodie Foster is a truly talented gem in Hollywood…but Mel Gibson.  Enough said.

Reel Rhino’s Picks for This Weekend:
1. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
2. Thor
3. Bridesmaids
4. Fast Five
5. Rio

Confidence is low for these picks folks…confidence is low.

REEL RHINO’S BOX OFFICE CHALLENGE

THE RULES:
Scoring…for every correct guess, you get 3 points.  For every guess within one pick of the movie’s weekend slot gets you 2 points.  Finally, two picks away gets you 1 point. 

Yeah…if you can’t figure out who is the winner, it isn’t really a contest, right?  Any ties will be determined first by whoever has the highest correct answer or series of correct answers.  If the tie persists, the winner will be determined by whoever submitted their picks first…yes, you are correct…I have the home field advantage.  Deal with it.

The format will be simple with each week’s challenge.  I will post the week’s opening films, the # of screens the film is playing (when known), and the RottenTomatoes.com score, if it has one at the time of the post.  I am going to omit listing those movies opening in extreme limited release, because they won’t have the seats to fight for one of the top five slots.  Fair enough, agreed?

That will be followed by the top ten from last week.  “Choose wisely.”  Remember that German commander in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade… it didn’t work out so well for him, learn from his lesson my friends.

The final segment of each week’s contest will be me, offering my picks.

You may submit your picks in one of three ways:
1. Enter your picks in the comments field of this post at BlinkinBlogs.com
2. Enter your picks in the comments field of this post at ReelRhino.com
3. E-mail your picks to ReelRhino@gmail.com

I will compile the week’s entries and post the winners at both BlinkinBlogs and ReelRhino as soon as possible, but hopefully by Monday evening at the latest.

THE PRIZE: For now, my friends, in the humble beginnings of the BOX OFFICE CHALLENGE, the prize is this: the champion of the week will have their selection of any film, which I will watch and review on both sites.  Don’t believe me?  See also: http://reelrhino.blogspot.com/2011/04/biebers-never-say-never-redux-watch.html

Yep…that happened.

GOOD LUCK TO ALL AND MAKE YOUR PICKS SOON!

Reel Rhino

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REVIEWS: Bridesmaids and Everything Must Go

Posted on 19 May 2011 by Reel Rhino

The BOX OFFICE CHALLENGE is coming soon, but I wanted to give everyone a chance to read the RRR (Reel Rhino Review) for both Everything Must Go and Bridesmaids, before the weekend got too close.  With Pirates 4 being the only new release this week, I think folks are going to be wondering what else is out there worth their hard earned dollar!  Here we go…

EVERYTHING MUST GO: 4.5 Horns of 5
This film absolutely snuck up on me!  For the first time in a long time, I hadn’t seen the trailer for the film I was watching.  I went in stone cold, knowing only that Will Ferrell was the star and that it was supposedly uncharacteristic for his normal type of films.

What a great film and what a great experience being completely cold to the material!

This is the absolute first credit for Dan Rush, who both wrote and directed this film, which is based on a short story by Raymond Carver, a major figure in American literature of the late 20th century.

I tried to poke around the internet and found very little on Dan Rush…giving you a peek into the extent of some of my research, I couldn’t even find a Wikipedia page on this guy.  That is saying a lot because Wikipedia is NEVER wrong.

A guy who definitely does have a Wiki page is Will Ferrell.  A big one, in fact…and an IMDB page that is pretty long as well.  Ferrell in my opinion is an extremely bankable star who over the past few years has lost a little luster.  I got just plain sick of the Will Ferrell comedy.  I can’t explain it, but it got old for me.  I did not like The Other Guys when I saw it, but like Anchorman before it, it has grown on me a little bit.  But that doesn’t change the fact that 5 or 6 years ago everything from Ferrell was golden.  These days he has to really work for it.  This film was no exception, but the change in tone of genre suits Ferrell here.

EVERYTHING MUST GO is not really funny man material…this is stone faced serious business. 

This film, which premiered at TIFF in 2010, has been met with mostly positive reviews (77% on Rotten Tomatoes as of this writing).  Will Ferrell stars as Nick Halsey, a (partially) recovering alcoholic, who within very short order of the start credits, loses his job, loses his wife, and starts slipping back down towards life with the bottle.

The day he is fired, Halsey comes home to find out his wife has left him, leaving everything he owns on the front lawn of their house.

Halsey really doesn’t know how to react.  Well actually, he knows how to react: he gets pissy drunk.  But emotionally, he is lost.  He takes up camp on his front lawn, living with his stuff as if the world is his living room.

Halsey ends up befriending a local boy, who is living with an elderly woman being cared for by his mother.  Kenny Loftus is played by Christopher Jordan Wallace…that would be the son of Biggie Smalls…yep, this is The Notorious B.I.G.’s son.  Guess what…he is pretty great.  Subtle but bold in his role, standing right up there with Ferrell.  That’s a tall task in that this is second movie ever.  He’s 14 and his only previous role was playing his slain father as a child.  I didn’t see Notorious, but based on this feature, I think this kid has a future.

Nick makes another new friend in his brand new neighbor, Samantha, played by the always enjoyable Rebecca Hall.  As we meet her, Samantha is moving into the house across the street.  She is pregnant and has moved to New Mexico ahead of her husband, who is being transferred there for work.  Samantha is shy but Ferrell reaches out to her and they make a connection…not like that, but in a good way.

Along the way, for every moment where you think Nick is going to get his business in order, he slides a little further into the hole.  Along the way, his AA sponsor and friend, Detective Frank Garcia (Michael Pena) comes by to help him get back on his feet.  While Nick tried to deflect the help that Frank is offering, he does let the good detective keep the local police from arresting him for living on his lawn.

There are a couple great cameos in this flick…Laura Dern plays former high school classmate Delilah, the epitome of chameleon like character acting is here in Stephen Root (you know, Milton from Office Space), and finally, Glenn Howerton has a couple scenes as well as Nick’s boss (from the HILARIOUS It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia).

This film is darker than I would have expected.  There is less comedy and more drama than I would have expected.  Folks, this is a great film.  I would call it feel good, but only for the catharsis that you experience alongside Nick as he fights off his demons.  Through Nick, we learn about life from his sequence of tragedy of errors, but never really to the point that we pity him, but instead mostly where we actually will root for him to succeed.

For as much detail as I offer above, I have discussed really only the themes of this movie.  See it…it deserves to be seen.  If for no other reason as to give Ferrell a achance to show us something new.

I loved this movie and without sounding too cheesy, it has given me new perspective on life.  I have a problem letting things go.  I would save shit if it had a handle, as father has told me for years.  I want to cleanse myself of the garbage that I have accumulated.  My life is not the mess that Nick’s is, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t take away a parallel to my own.

4.5 Horns of 5 for this film.  Over the past month, this film and WIN WIN strike me as two EXCELLENT indie dramas worth a watch.

BRIDESMAIDS: 4 of 5 Horns
The latest film from the Judd Apatow camp stars two of my favorite all-time SNL ladies in Kristen Wiig (Annie) and Maya Rudolph (Lillian).  These are some very funny ladies and when teamed with a group of also very funny ladies, hilarity does in fact, ensue.

Who are those supporting ladies, you may ask?

Wendi McLendon-Covey is Rita – you know her as Deputy Clementine Johnson from Reno 911!  Ellie Kemper as Becca – you know as the oh so cute Erin from The Office.  Melissa McCarthy as Megan – you may know her from the Gilmour Girls or more recently from Mike and Molly.  Rose Byrne as Helen – she was most recently in Insidious, but also had big roles in Get Him to the Greek and in the upcoming X-Men: First Class.

It is a great group of gals and they get their funny on in a big way.

Perhaps I was most surprised by how much I liked this movie as a whole, as opposed to just the parts with the yuks.  This film is not The Hangover.  Yes, there are some gross-out, potty humor parts that are executed with perfection.  But it is really the character development and overriding story of friendship that held my interest.  At just over two hours, this film has plenty of time to get us to know these folks.  I would for other films argue that the running time is a hair too long, but for Bridesmaids, it seems just right.

This is a movie about the few crazy days that lead up to a wedding.  The groom…ummm, what’s his name here?  Dougie….he has nary a single word uttered from start to finish.  This film focuses on the relationships of these women and it seems wholly believable as a presentation of real women who are real friends.

Yes, some of the cast are here solely to serve their comic purpose and little else, which is both a shame and a blessing.  Where our primaries are given ample character construction, some of the could be fluff is shaved in favor of straight up laughs.  For that we lose screen time for Ellie Kemper and Wendi McLendon-Covey – both very funny gals, but their time on screen is relegated to delivering one-liners.

That is except for Rose Bynre as Helen, a lonely housewife who is both rich and tasteful.  Her efforts to become the lead friend in Lillian’s life is what sets the action in motion.  Helen’s efforts to fill the role of Maid of Honor – a task that has actually been given to Annie (Wiig) who is Lillian’s best friend – inserts so much conflict into a situation that is already rife with problems.  Yes, weddings typically equal headaches.

Helen is rich, Annie is poor.  Her cake shop was run out of business and she ekes out a living hawking jewelry, a job her mom got for her by sponsoring a recovering alcoholic who happens to run the shop.  She is not much of a saleswoman…hilariously so, even.  Helen is a prim and proper housewife and she’s got dough to blow…she is the exact opposite of Annie.

Annie lives with a Brit who is a tad bit overweight…no judgment, but it is played for comedy, so I mention it.  His also overweight and very dull sister is visiting and living with the two of them.  The brother/sister combo makes for some very funny scenes, even if just for the visual presentation they provide as characters.

So Annie is upset at the attempt to usurp her role as Maid of Honor…at least she has a man in her life…in the form of none other than Jon Hamm.  What a dream, right ladies?  Nope.  He is a big douche and treats her like dirt, using her only a sex toy for whom he has no respect.  I actually despised his character in this film, perhaps because I came to like Wiig’s Annie so damn much!

As the plot rolls forward, we see Annie and Lillian grow apart.  Both Wiig and Rudolph execute every scene they are in with great skill.  They have impeccable delivery and timing and their facial expressions alone often deliver more laughs than some other “comedic” films.  I could watch them in anything!

In addition to slowly losing her friend, Annie rues the lack of a good man in her life.  Enter the extremely affable Chris O’Dowd, who we meet as Officer Rhodes.  Rhodes pulls Annie over for reckless driving and she manages to talk her way out of a ticket.  There is a spark between them that is explored throughout the rest of the film.  I enjoyed every time he appeared and every scene added a bit more to the complexities of the story and the world of confusion that Annie was wondering through.

Annie’s life spirals quite quickly out of control and this film dips dangerously close into utterly depressing fare.  There were moments where the laughs were few and the drama was thick.  In an out and out comedy, these moments were quite surprising.  But as I said, the character development was plentiful and because I really cared for these characters, I was as interested as much in the drama as I was the laughs.

Kristen Wiig wrote this film with friend Annie Mumolo.  Mumolo had a great cameo as the “dreamer” on the plane.  I had the chance to listen to Mumola on Jeff Goldsmith’s podcast (http://www.unlikely.com/screenings.html) and the tale of how this film came to exist is much worth the listen!

Director Paul Feig has a history that rich with modern classic television comedy.  He does have a few featured films from through the years, but his game has mostly been TV.  I think this is a great first effort for Feig at the “adult” aduly comedy that Apatow has helped refine through the years and I like that Apatow is working as a Producer on projects now, adding bits of his style to other films and shows.  I do look forward to whatever becomes of the 2012 “Untitled Judd Apatow Project” and I am sad we don’t have a Judd-film this summer.  He was on an every other year schedule, but I think the lackluster performance of his Funny People took the wind from his sails a bit.  Get mack on that horse old boy, and ride….ride like the wind.

Anyway…

Before I wrap it up, a bit of trivia about Melissa McCarthy as Megan, who absolutely steals every scene that she is in.  We will be seeing more of her, I am sure!  Her seat mate on the airplane scene was her real-life husband, character actor, Ben Falcone.  Their scenes alone are worth the trip to the theater and make sure to stay after the credits for a Bridesmaids-stinger with Melissa.

This is a fun movie.  This film is not The Hangover.  It is not better or worse than the 2009 classic; it is its own thing all together that is definitely worth a watch.  Every scene has something to offer and when you’re not laughing, you will likely feel actual compassion for the well-being of our leads.  What a great film that draws you in with laughs and sends you home with warm fuzzy.

4 of 5 Horns.

Check back soon for a chance to enter the BOX OFFICE CHALLENGE!!  Until then, take care.

Reel Rhino

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CDC Preparedness: Zombie Apocalypse

Posted on 19 May 2011 by scanjack

Well we here at Blinkinblogs have long been chatting it up about ZA, and now finally it seems our infamous pharma-pimps over at the CDC have awoken to what will surely be the greatest threat to humanity in history – Zombie Apocalypse!

It is a blog and lets face it the emergency preparedness list of supplies doesn’t even have a pocket knife, much less a nice chain saw, shot gun or even a Staff of Fireball, listed.

I was rather hoping that the scheduled Rapture this Saturday would take the souls and leave the Zombified followers behind…

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Alterna-Horror Special: Hobo, Super, Rubber, Ahhh! Zombies, Dylan Dog

Posted on 17 May 2011 by Reel Rhino

So over the last two weeks, I have taken in some alternative cinema.  The term alternative can mean many things, but for arguments sake, let’s just say it is something ranging from just outside of the mainstream to full on, bat-turd crazy.

I am a horror buff of sorts.  I mean I don’t seek out the cons, but I will take in Dead Alive, Evil Dead, Texas Chainsaw, Halloween, etc. whenever the opportunity arises.  For those last two, of course I was referring to the originals. 

Some of these films I watched were pure eye candy for the genre fan.  One of them was so unique, it almost demands to be seen.  And finally one of them had great promise, but missed the mark by a few miles.

HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN
Jason Eisner is a man who knows how to answer the call to service.  When he found out that Robert Rodriguez and his eminence, Quentin Tarantino were having a contest in Canada for the best GRINDHOUSE trailer…that man stepped it up.

Eisner shot the trailer for Hobo With A Shotgun as his entry into the contest.  He won.

The Hobo trailer played Canada with the theatrical release of Grindhouse…and now it’s a movie!

The second faux-trailer from the Grindhouse project making its way to the silver screen, following in the footsteps of Machete, Robert Rodriguez’s brainchild.

I guess the whole crew behind this film, Eisner, John Davies, and Rob Cotterill, have been making horror shorts in the Canadian underground horror scene since their teens.

Hobo is bound to revitalize the career of Rutger Hauer.  Hobo is to Hauer what The Wrestler was for Rourke.  Just without the Oscar and the Hauer has a history in cult film, and he manages to live up to his reputation in every way.  Sure it was great to see him in Sin City and in Batman Begins…but he shines here like the burning embers of gunpowder, blasting from the end of a double barrel.

How much damage could a 67 year old Hobo do? 

Suprisingly, quite a bit!

Hobo seems as though in its grandest sense, may be a criticism of society in decline.  Yes, much of our world is wine and roses, but much is not.  Fortunately, filmmakers have been making similar films for years, and this is just another great film in that long line of making statements by showing the extreme worst in people.  But fear not, there is no heavy-handed politics a foot here…this film is pure exploitation.

This movie could very easily existed within the 70’s and 80’s splatstick uber-violent horror that we came to love.  This film embodies Grindhouse.

There is a surprising lack of nudity, but the bloodshed and sadism presented here exist along side the best throughout time.  This is not the torture porn made popular with the likes of Saw and Hostel (etc.), this is violence with a great sense of style.

The story is simple.  A train traveling Hobo (Hauer) comes to town riding the rails.  He is trying to raise enough money to buy a lawn mower.  We don’t know why at first, but we learn as his character is fleshed out.

He is sickened at the crime ridden city and his moral compass points a little more north than most folks in this town.

He has all he can take when he sees a prostitute about to be taken captive (and likely killed) by Slick (Gregory Smith).  Slick and Ivan (Nick Bateman), sons of Drake (Brian Downey), comprise the heart of the criminal element in this town.  They are some bad mama-jamas and are not afraid to inflict harm in the most brutal ways imaginable.

The Hobo intervenes and saves the girl, but he pays the price.

You can’t keep a good Hobo down, though, and he comes back with a vengeance.

He begins to lay waste to child predators, robbers and thieves, murderers, all the same.  But he enrages the drake.

What follows is a beautiful display of horror, in which no one is safe.  This film pulls no punches…killing children and babies, pedophilia, sexually motivated murders…it has the works.  If it wasn’t for the sake of exploitation, which is in a way a form of parody, it would be sick.

For all the terrible things you will see, if that is your kind of movie, you will love it!  If any of what I said seems sick and twisted…go see something else.  You will despise this film.

5 of 5 Horns for some guerilla filmmakers and the beautiful movie they have composed.

This movie is not playing everywhere, but you can probably find it on-demand or via your favorite digital distributor.

RUBBER
This 2010 film from Quentin Dupieux also received a very sparse theatrical release.  I caught this as well on-demand, and I am glad to have done it.

Rubber is the tale of Robert.  Robert is a tire, and for some reason unknown, he is willed into existence. 

What makes this ludicrous sounding concept work, is the fact that it is something of a film within a film.  You see within Rubber, there is a “live” audience watching the action from afar, through binoculars.

The characters in the film are unaware of the presence of the audience, except for Lieutenant Chad, our guide through the events that follow.

The use of the concept of the audience within the film and the unique idea of a tire that is willed to life, armed with extremely powerful telekinetic/psychokinetic power make this movie wholly enjoyable.

It is odd, it is unique, and it is fun.

Reel Rhino stamp of approval here at 4 of 5 horns.  See it if you can.  Free your mind of logic and prepare for the insane, for this film requires you to consume both the film itself and the concept of this show within a show.

SUPER
I was fortunate enough to be sent to St. Louis, MO on business last week.  My home terrain was not carrying SUPER, James Gunn’s latest offering, but damn, did I want to see it. 

Described as something somewhere between last year’s KICK-ASS and 2006’s SPECIAL, with Michael Rappaport, SUPER is just…well super.

As I was saying…St. Louis.  So my stay was actually just outside St. Louis, in a town called Clayton.  Clayton butted up against another small suburb of STL, called University City.  University City is home of THE LOOP, a great entertainment district that features over a dozen live-music venues, and a wonderful place to grub-up, BLUEBERRY HILL.

The Loop is also home to a very historic theater, which opened originally as a single screener in 1924, but since converted to a three-screen, Landmark Theaters run movie house: THE TIVOLI.  Originally a Vaudeville house, this beautiful theater was rebuilt to the tune of $2 million, in the mid-1990’s.  The walls are beautifully lined with movie posters and memorabilia from throughout time.

The print playing at the Tivoli was a film print, and it was the perfect way to display this gritty, dark take on the super hero genre.

Did I say dark?  James Gunn is a sick, sick man…and I love him for it.  Gunn is actually a St. Louis native and ran a special showing of SUPER at the Tivoli, leaving them with a great signed poster that was proudly on display outside the theater.

Super tells the tale of a regular joe, named Frank (Rainn Wilson) who loses his wife Sarah (Liv Tyler), a recovering drug addict and alcoholic, to a local drug kingpin named Jacques, played to perfection by a sinister Kevin Bacon. 

Frank is inspired by a religious program that happens to be on one night when he is mourning Sarah’s departure.  THE HOLY AVENGER is played by genre favorite Nathan Fillion, who last graced a Gunn feature in Slither.  The exploits of The Holy Avenger in the name of Jesus Christ play out in hilarious fashion.

Honoring a vision from God, Frank decides to create his own super hero…The Crimson Bolt.  He does so at first on his own, but he quickly gets help from local comic shop clerk, Libby, who quickly becomes his sidekick, Boltie (Ellen Page).

Frank has the heart of a hero, and the skill set of a zero.  He resorts to pure brute strength and wields a pipe wrench as his weapon of choice.

Ellen Page is great in her supporting role as is Jacques’ bad-guy sidekick, Abe (Michael Rooker).  Rooker is a master of the gruff and mean types.  He effortlessly breathes life into the role of Abe.

This film is every bit the hero’s journey as much more prominent films, just taking the off-road approach, but getting you there just the same.

In a related topic, Linda Cardellini has a very small cameo in the movie.  Where the hell has she been?  She has a role in this year’s KILL THE IRISHMAN, another film I am much looking forward to.

This is a dark, dark movie.  The physical effects are great…gritty and realistic looking. 

I had a conversation with the manager at The Tivoli before the film.  We both commented that a wide release probably would have been a success, if for no other reason that the actors in the film.  Walking out, I commented how many folks looking for Dwight Schrute or Juno, would have been terribly disappointed.

4 of 5 Horns for James Gunn’s SUPER.  Like Hobo, this is not a movie for everyone.  Some of the laughs are drawn from feeling so uncomfortable, you don’t know what else to do. 

AHHH! ZOMBIES
So this was not a great movie…but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a GREAT MOVIE!  This falls safely within the “B” movie classification.  You know you might be a “B” movie when character actor Richard Riehle is your best recognized face (Office Space’s Tom Smykowski – You know…the jump to conclusions mat guy).

Directed by Matthew Kohnen and written by Matthew and Sean Kohnen, this 2007 film has inexplicably found its way to Time Warner On-Demand.  I, for one, am pretty happy about it.  For $3.99, I got to see a pretty unique, albeit terrible in the best way imaginable, way.

What makes this movie worth the watch is that is absolutely flips your standard zombie flick right on its head.

The nameless faceless US Army creates a serum that they believe will create an army of super soldiers.  When the serum actually turns the test subject into a zombie, all hell breaks loose when the relabeled containers with the serum are hijacked and one of the cartons finds its way into the delivery area of a local bowling alley.

A group of friends, a few of whom work at the bowling alley, end up using a contaminated container of soft serve ice cream to make beer ice cream, and they become zombies.

At this point, our heroes are zombified.  Except they don’t realize it.  They are all turned to zombies, but as far as they are concerned, life is just going on per normal.  Everyone else sees them for what they are, but they believe that they are regular old joes.

We get two distinct tones throughout the movie.  The color scenes are our heroes as they see themselves and the black and white scenes are our heroes as zombies.

I don’t want to explain it too far, not in fear of spoiling it, but instead because it doesn’t deserve the effort.  It is a great movie for what it is, but this  is a film that can be seen much easier than it can be described.

The story line is a bit wacky and the story is a bit draggy at points, but this is definitely a movie you should see!

4 of 5 Horns, for sheer creativity and a rockin’ good time!

DYLAN DOG: DEAD OF NIGHT
Finally, this film was a recent theatrical release, albeit in somewhat limited release.  Take a look at the showtimes, you may still find it playing near you.  This was actually a movie I was looking forward to…why, you may ask?  I saw promise and potential to be surprised. 

I was surprised. Very surprised.

Unfortunately, I was surprised at how uninspired this film was as a finished product based on a fairly successful Italian graphic novel series.

What is good for the Italians is not always good for everyone, though.  Except of course fine wine and great pizza!

The titular character…Dylan Dog…is portrayed by Brandon Routh.  I like Brandon Routh, but I am starting to think I am in the minority.  I really enjoyed his vegan crusader, Todd Ingram, in Scott Pilgrim.  I actually enjoyed his turn as the Man of Steel, in Superman Returns.

While I blame to some extent the editing, Routh was not overly charismatic in a role that would have greatly thrived on delivery. 

Dylan Dog is a supernatural investigator who specializes in zombies, vampires, and werewolves, all of which exist in this universe.

His way of being is something of a regurgitation of Fletch meets Pete Venkmen, achieving nothing close to the success of either of those iconic characters.

Dylan Dog is a new twist on the monster movie and I think in more capable hands, this film could have been great.  I think I would like to give this property another try, but only in the hands of a skilled filmmaker and I would even be willing to give Routh another try in the lead role.

Also in this film is an enjoyable (as always) Peter Stormare, a fairly ridiculous Taye Diggs, a passable comedic sidekick in Sam Huntington, and Icelandic actress Anita Briem, who is both competent in her role and beautiful.

Director Kevin Munroe is an up and comer, but just missed the mark here.  He has limited previous experience, but working with an established property can always be tricky.  I hope that things take a turn for the better for him, but also for Dylan Dog.  While I didn’t love this movie, I still see promise and potential for the future for this character.

For this effort, 2 of 5 horns.

Until later, take care.
Reel Rhino

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T-Rex = Significant “Cool Points” Coefficient

Posted on 17 May 2011 by Caravaggio


To the general public, the T-Rex is the poster boy of paleontology (ergo, carries significant points as being cool which lends itself to education). Therefore, I wanted to share with you some recent discoveries as well as the research interests of the discoverer. My personal fascination with gait modelling research is included within…

Paleontologist Manning of the University of Manchester has discovered a giant footprint likely left by a Tyrannosaur 65 million years ago. The print, which measures about 2.5 feet (74 centimeters) in length, was found in rocks within Montana’s Hell Creek Formation — a well-known site for Tyrannosaurus rex fossils. Dr. Phil Manning heads an extensive research and teaching program at the University of Manchester, is a Research Fellow at the University of Manchester Museum and Council Member of the Palaeontological Association (London). He has built up an international reputation for his work on dinosaur trackways. Phil has extensive field experience of Jurassic and Cretaceous dinosaur sites in North and South America and the British Isles. His research interests are broad.

The projects on which he is currently the lead researcher, include:
· Dromaeosaur limb mechanics and the functional morphology of pedal digit II. This work has been part-funded by the BBC. Co-workers on this project include: The Natural History Museum (London), Pennicott & Payne Ltd. (London) and The Peabody Museum (Yale University, New Haven, USA).
· Pathology of dinosaur bone: reviewing the pathologies from a Tenontosaurus tilletti specimen (Cloverly Formation, Montana). The specimen shows examples of infection and physical trauma (tendon avulsion). The use of this non-invasive, high resolution CT-imaging techniques is providing new information on the response of dinosaur bone to trauma. Working with Emma Schachner at the University of Pennsylvania, USA.
· Dinosaur track formation, preservation and interpretation. This work is part of an ongoing study looking at the mechanical failure of sediments associated with the tracks of dinosaurs. The use of discrete element modelling is currently yielding useful data to be compared with laboratory simulated and fossil tracks. Co-workers on this project include: The Black Hills Institute of Geological Research (South Dakota, USA), The Pratt Museum at Amherst College (MA, USA), Memorial University of Newfoundland (Canada) and Manchester Computing Centre (University of Manchester).
· Theropod dinosaur respiratory system: anatomy and functional morphology. Co-workers on this project include: Department of Vertebrate Palaeontology at the American Museum of Natural History, New York (USA) and the Faculty of Life Sciences (University of Manchester).
· Sediment geochemistry and taphonomic controls on dinosaur soft-tissue preservation. The project is looking at material from two sites in the Hell Creek Formation. The sites have T. rex (Montana) and a hadrosaur (North Dakota) with soft tissue preservation.
· The use of LIDAR, 3D digital mapping, of outcrops in the field. Current research collaboration include University of Barcelona, whom we are developing a 3D digital map of a large outcrop of dinosaur trackways (circa 3000+) in the Spanish Pyrenees. Fieldwork also includes LIDAR digital outcrop surveys of Lance and Hell Creek Formations in Wyoming, Montana, North and South Dakota, working with the Black Hills Institute of Geologic Research, Hill City (South Dakota).
· Dinosaur gait modelling, in collaboration with Dr Bill Sellers (Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Manchester) and Professor Kent Steven (University of Oregon, USA), we are developing a set of biorealistic reference gaits for dinosaurs representing optimising for efficiency and performance over a range of speeds that can be used to aid understanding of the musculoskeletal physiology of giant animals.
· The endocranial structure, morphology and geometry of a Macroplata longirostris using high-resolution X-Ray computer tomography. The project is applying high resolution x-ray computer tomography (CT) imaging to the braincase of a single Macroplata longirostris specimen held at the Manchester Museum (University of Manchester). This investigation will achieve a greater understanding of the endocranial geometry of this extinct marine reptile and review phylogenetic and palaeobiological implications. The Manchester Macroplata ‘near-brain’ project is now building a research link with researchers and additional fossil material at the University of Cambridge (Dr Leslie Noe).

Photo Attribution: Manning

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Politicians are People Too

Posted on 17 May 2011 by Thraxxus

In just the last few days there have been a few announcements of Politicians doing things that are not so good:

  1. The head of the IMF, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, was accused of RAPING a hotel cleaning lady in New York. This same man was the top selection for presidential hopefuls in France. Ooops.
  2. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced that he had sex with his maid, and fathered a child with her ten years ago. Apparently his wife, Maria Shriver, was not a fan of this news and has decided to call it quits.  Ooooops.

So why care? Are we surprised? If so, shame on us for being so naive. The problem is that, for whatever reason, we as a people have somehow raised politicians up to this level where they aren’t supposed to do anything wrong, and thus are constantly surprised when they do  – or at least we say we are surprised. Ironically I don’t think anyone really is. The first reaction to this type of news is typically “Wow! I never thought that..”, then a few minutes later it is “Well yeah, of course Arnold screwed his maid to the closest overly priced furniture – he is after all The Ahnuld!”  – then we all laugh.

What is it that makes us believe that our leaders should be held to a higher set of morals that normal citizens. Daily people cheat on their spouses, commit tax evasion, and a huge litany of illegal activities. No comment right? However if someone in the public eye does we all stand around acting surprised and astounded. Allow me to enlighten you – these are people. Lindsay Lohan? Person. George Bush? Person. Ahnuld? Person (although a rather big one). Their jobs don’t change that fact. Is it tragic that they are incapable of holding those higher standards that we expect of them? Yes. Is it realistic? No.

Consider professional athletes – there is a huge list of them that do horrible things seemingly on a daily basis. The best example of this is Michael Vick – arguably the most athletic human being to ever step onto a football field. We were all so shocked to hear that he was involved in dog fighting. If you stop for a moment and consider professional athletes its not nearly as shocking – in fact it is almost expected. So shocking? no. Stupid – monumentally. Why then is it so disturbing?

Perhaps it is because we see these people as sitting high atop Mount Olympus in some undefined pantheon of greatness and we have applied expectations of those Demigods. These are the people we should all look up to –  the non people. The perfects. The bar setters. We want our kids to be able to look up to these heroes, to strive to be like them, and thus when they fall to Earth and land with a thud that leaves a terrible impact mark we are emotionally distraught. Shame on us – they are people and being people they are flawed, disgusting, self important, arrogant creatures with no caring for anyone but themselves – and we have put them into a position to do their worst.

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Box Office Challenge Winner: KENFU; Weekend Results

Posted on 16 May 2011 by Reel Rhino

It was a crazy weekend ladies and gents.  The box office challenge again had a staggering number of entries…4…4.

Let that settle in…4.

It didn’t help that Blogger crashed on Thursday/Friday, which is the home of http://www.reelrhino.com where half of the contest lives.

Two entries were BlinkinBlogs.com staples and one was an entry via the ReelRhino@gmail.com e-mail address.

The weekend was a bit crazy for the final #’s.  Junior tied for first with Kenfu, but KENFU reigns supreme folks, via the date/time of the submissions.  Now Junior, for his wide-eyed youthful wonder, pointed out something that I had overlooked on the weekend… Bridesmaids was an R-rated feature!  All of the things that made this great are clearly what kept it from taking the top spot. 

DAMN YOU SALAZAR!!!!

I will be posting a group of recent horror/alternative indie flicks later this week, as well as reviews for Bridesmaids (4 of 5 Horns) and Everything Must Go (4.5 of Horns).

This weekends sweetheart in my eyes was Everything Must Go…the Will Ferrell DRAMA.  He knocked it out of the ballpark and showed us that he can absolutely act his ass off!  More on that soon, I promise, as the film only drew $825,000 on 218 screens.  Not a bad per theater average, but folks need to see this movie.  It is one of those rare films that allows you to sympathize with the lead while teaching you something about yourself.  Although, that may just be me. 

 

Weekend Box Office Results
1. Thor $34.5 million
2. Bridesmaids $24.4 million
3. Fast Five $19.5 million
4. Priest $14.5 million
5. Rio $8 million
6. Jumping the Broom $7.3 million
7. Something Borrowed $7 million
8. Water for Elephants $4.1 million
9. Madea’s Big Happy Family $2.2 million
10. Soul Surfer $1.8 million

 

 

Kenfu’s Picks (Total Score 11) Submitted May 12th at 12:06am
1. Bridesmaids (2)
2. Thor (2)
3. Fast Five (3)
4. Priest (3)
5. Something Borrowed (1)

Junior’s Picks (Total Score 11) Submitted May 13th at 12:51pm
1. Thor (3)
2. Bridesmaids (3)
3. Priest (2)
4. Fast Five (2)
5. Something Borrowed (1)

ReelRhino’s Picks
(Total Score 10)
1. Bridesmaids (2)
2. Thor (2)
3. Priest (2)
4. Fast Five (2)
5. Jumping the Broom (2)

Thraxxus Picks (Total Score: 8 )
1. Thor (3)
2. Priest (1)
3. Fast Five (3)
4.Bidesmaids (1)
5. Brother’s Justice (0)

Hey Thraxxus…I couldn’t find Brother’s Justice playing anywhere this weekend…not anywhere nationwide.  But you wanna show love for Dax Shepherd…you show your love!

KENFU…it’s on you my friend…what shall I review for your reading pleasure?  Let me know and I’m on it.

Until later…take care!
Reel Rhino

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Attack of the Block FREE SCREENING – 25 Cities on May 25th

Posted on 14 May 2011 by Reel Rhino

Wanna see a movie for free?  Wanna see a great effing movie for free?

How about ATTACK OF THE BLOCK, the latest offering from the Edgar Wright camp?  Joe Cornish is a talented screenwriter and behind the scenes guy who has been involved with the likes of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and the upcoming Adventures of Tin Tin, the Steven Spielberg/Peter Jackson directed film for which Cornish co-wrote the screenplay.

Attack of the Block will be Joe Cornish’s breakout film, without question.

A British sci-fi/action flick that stars Nick Frost…you know, the funny chubby fellow from Shaun, Hot Fuzz, and this past spring’s Paul.  And worry not…I can call him chubby and not feel bad because: 1) he is a bit chubby and 2) I’m chubby too!  While it’s not listed as a comedy in any sense, one would have to think it will have much of that sharp British wit that we have come to love in the likes of Hot Fuzz, etc.

Attack of the Block is the story of an inner city neighborhood in South London under siege by an alien invasion.  Like other alien invasion movies, the indigenous folks do not want to go easy into that good night.  Unlike other alien invasion movies, we are given a look at how folks from the “other side of town” respond to such an affront to their turf.

I think I can promise, without any danger to my rep, that this movie will be fun.

So the filmmakers have decided to release Block in the states, for one night only…25 US cities on May 25th…FOR FREE!

1. New York
2. Chicago
3. Atlanta
4. Detroit
5. San Francisco
6. Boston
7. Philadelphia
8. Washington, D.C.
9. Miami
10. Dallas
11. Denver
12. Seattle
13. Minneapolis
14. Cleveland
15. Kansas City
16. Houston
17. San Diego
18. Phoenix
19. Sacramento
20. Orlando
21. Baltimore
22. Pittsburgh
23. St. Louis
24. Toronto
25. Vancouver

http://www.gofobo.com/screenings/attack_the_block/slash_film/780645

Unfortunately, it appears that there are only a limited number of passes still left.  I guarantee, that the ticket jackals are out there and if your city is showing unavailable, you could probably try Craig’s List or eBay and you will likely find something at a slightly higher price than free.

I am pretty excited for this one. 

Check out the trailer here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cD0gm7dHKKc

I will be reviewing the film after the screening, so even if you don’t make it…I’ll be sure to get you the skinny!

Until later, take care!
Reel Rhino

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Columnists Wanted

Posted on 13 May 2011 by Thraxxus

The format for Blinkinblogs in the past was rather, well, unformatted. Many of us would take random stabs in the dark at writing articles in various categories with zero specialization. Some were funnier than others (I still miss the rants by GlazedNConfused). We aren’t doing away with this approach, but we are however expanding our existing format. The first step in expansion was signing on the illustrious Reel Rhino as a movie critic (seriously I don’t think this dude does anything other than watch movies, and see his family) – we really like how that addition turned out as the Rhino is not only a film addict but is actually entertaining as well. I know right?

So what now? Blinkinblogs.com has several categories to choose from and we want to get a resident expert in each – columnists if you will. Someone that will focus on a category (although they can write for others if the need arises) and supply solid content for that category moving forward. If you are interested at all please feel free to email me and we will get you started (thraxxus @ gmail.com). No we don’t pay you anything. I know… I know.

What I hope to get post haste? Not in any order:

  1. Sports
  2. Politics
  3. Music
  4. Business
  5. Science and Tech

It isn’t that I don’t find health important – I am just not so sure about how frequent the news is on the subject. That said if you are some health crazed freak with loads of information for the fat bastards of the world – like me – please sign up!

Thanks one and all. I look forward to hearing from you.

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Weekend Preview – Box Office Challenge 05/13-05/15

Posted on 11 May 2011 by Reel Rhino

Here we are again folks…I’m going to skip the mid-week review to give everyone the opportunity to get their votes in for this week’s…

REEL RHINO’S BOX OFFICE CHALLENGE

THE RULES: So here is what I decided on the box office challenge, folks. For every correct guess, you get 3 points. For every guess within one pick of the movie’s weekend slot gets you 2 points. Finally, two picks away gets you 1 point.

Yeah…if you can’t figure out who is the winner, it isn’t really a contest, right? Any ties will be determined by whoever submitted their picks first…yes, you are correct…I have the home field advantage. Deal with it.

The format will be simple with each week’s challenge. I will post the week’s opening films, the # of screens the film is playing (when known), and the RottenTomatoes.com score, if it has one at the time of the post. I am going to omit listing those movies opening in extreme limited release, because they won’t have the seats to fight for one of the top five slots. Fair enough, agreed?

That will be followed by the top ten from last week. “Choose wisely.” Remember that German commander in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade… it didn’t work out so well for him, learn from his lesson my friends.

The final segment of each week’s contest will be me, offering my picks.

You may submit your picks in one of three ways:

1. Enter your picks in the comments field of this post at BlinkinBlogs.com
2. Enter your picks in the comments field of the post at ReelRhino.com
3. E-mail your picks to ReelRhino@gmail.com

I will compile the week’s entries and post the winners at both BlinkinBlogs and ReelRhino as soon as possible, but hopefully by Monday evening at the latest.

THE PRIZE: For now, my friends, in the humble beginnings of the BOX OFFICE CHALLENGE, the prize is this: the champion of the week will have their selection of any film, which I will watch and review on both sites. Don’t believe me? See also:

Opening This Week
Bridesmaids – 2700 screens (90% on 40 reviews counted)
Priest (3-D) – 2800+ screens (15% on 13 reviews counted)
Everything Must Go – 225 screens (77% on 35 reviews counted)
Go For It – 218 screens (No Score Yet, 1 Rotten Review Counted)
Hesher – 40 screens (70% on 20 reviews counted)

Top Ten From Last Week
1. Thor, $66 million
2. Fast Five, $32.5 million
3. Jumping the Broom, $13.7 million
4. Something Borrowed, $13.2 million
5. Rio, $8.2 million
6. Water for Elephants, $5.6 million
7. Madea’s Big Happy Family, $3.9 million
8. Prom, $2.4 million
9. Soul Surfer, $2.1 million
10. Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil, $1.88 million

Now there are quite a few complexities that exist this week. Let me start by saying that Fast Five has crushed Thor overseas. Not that the foreign market matters in our contest, but I think it reinforces some of what I had to say about the underwhelming nature of Thor. Yes, it is an enjoyable film, but I don’t think it is the powerhouse we expected. So, how will that affect its staying power?

Also…Priest? Priest? I think the Rotten Tomatoes rating speaks to something to which we may have to pay attention. This film was in the can for a 2-D run a year ago and it was postponed for the upconvert. This upconvert thing…sometimes it can be brutal. …but the real question…

Can one of the funniest group of ladies, overcome the God of Thunder, one of the greatest team of street racers ever assembled, and a disgraced vampire killing clergyman?

And what of Will Ferrell in Everything Must Go? They say it’s more serious than funny, so will they come for fewer laughs but definitely a bold trip outside of his comfort zone for Ferrell? Does the underground dance scene have the strength to butt in the mix? For both Everything Must Go and Go For It, besides both containing the word go, I think the fewer number of screens will keep them from edging out last week’s top 5, which will all clearly be in the hunt.

So on to the big show…

REEL RHINO’S PICKS FOR TOP 5
1. Bridemaids
2. Thor
3. Priest
4 Fast Five
5. Jumping the Broom

There you have it folks…take your best shot!

Until later, take care…
Reel Rhino

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Weekend Movie Report 05/06-05/08: BOX OFFICE CHALLENGE

Posted on 09 May 2011 by Reel Rhino

Weekend Report 05/06-05/08 — BOX OFFICE CHALLENGE
So here is what I decided on the box office challenge, ladies and gentlemen.  For every correct guess, you get 3 points.  For every guess within one pick of the movies weekend slot gets you 2 points.  Finally, two picks away gets you 1 point.  Yeah…if you can’t figure out who is the winner, it isn’t really a contest, right?  Any ties will be determined by whoever submitted their picks first.  Advantage: Reel Rhino 🙂

Compared to Fast Five’s April Box Office record last week ($86.2 million), Thor opens to an underwhelming $66 million.  It is wild when we can say that earning $66 million is under performing, but for the superhero film officially opening the summer movie season, I think everyone expected more.  According to Box Office Mojo, the 3-D sites accounted for 60% of the total take for Thor.  It is wild to see the near 50/50 split for those still choosing the 2-D option.  Although I don’t know how many areas only had access to 2-D, which may have skewed these results.

None the less, next weekend will be tough to call.  Priest 3-D is opening with a load of advertising at its back, but it generally seems to have more of a  SyFy movie feel than a summer blockbuster.  Maybe I’m wrong and it will be a pleasant surprise, but I think it is going to get crushed. 

The big ticket for next week should be the (hopefully) hilarious Bridesmaids, aka Lady Hangover.  I think it will be hilarious, but it is going to take a fair amount of pressure from both Thor and Fast Five.  Next weekend is going to be very difficult for picks and I think the top five will be something of a crap shoot.

As to this weekend…We had a record number of entrants into the BOX OFFICE CHALLENGE.  FOUR.  Yes, four people chose to roll the dice….well three if you don’t count me!  Kenfu and I tied with 11 points and Justin and Detective Guy tied for second with 7 points.  Excellent to have you all playing.

Folks, spread the word…I’d like to build this into a real game, with real prizes.  While they may be humble in the beginning, I plan on throwing another Oscar pool next year, which as always, will be free to enter.  I hope to give some teeth to the prizes for the Oscar pool, but if you want to be savvy next year for that, play the challenge each week to keep your box office and film skills sharp!

Box Office for the Weekend of 05/06 – 05/08
1. Thor, $66 million
2. Fast Five, $32.5 million
3. Jumping the Broom, $13.7 million
4. Something Borrowed, $13.2 million
5. Rio, $8.2 million
6. Water for Elephants, $5.6 million
7. Madea’s Big Happy Family, $3.9 million
8. Prom, $2.4 million
9. Soul Surfer, $2.1 million
10. Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil, $1.88 million

Reel Rhino: Total Score: 11
1. Thor (3)
2. Fast Five (3)
3. Rio (1)
4. Something Borrowed (3)
5. Jumping the Broom (1)

Kenfu: Total Score: 11
1. Thor (3)
2. Fast Five (3)
3. Rio (1)
4. Something Borrowed (3)
5. Jumping the Broom (1)

Detective Guy: Total Score 7
1. Thor (3)
2. Fast Five (3)
3. Prom (0)
4. Hoodwinked 2 (0)
5. Jumping the Broom (1)

Justin: Total Score: 7
1. Thor (3)
2. Rio (0)
3. Fast Five (2)
4. Madea’s Big Happy Family (0)
5. Something Borrowed  (2)

Until next time…
Reel Rhino

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THOR: A Reel Rhino Review

Posted on 08 May 2011 by Reel Rhino

Howdy film friends…I hope you all are enjoying your weekends!  I had the opportunity to make the midnight screening of Thor on THORS-Day night at midnight-oh-one.  Okay, so technically is was Friday, but I thought it just sounded cooler saying it that way.  Here we go…

THOR: 3.5 of 5 Horns
Let me start by saying that the thought of THE AVENGERS has me flying high. I love everything about this multi-movie, multi-character world that has been building up, and continues this summer with this first of two entries, THOR, to be followed later this year by CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER.

Kenneth Branagh is both a talented actor and director. His realm has always been the classics…Shakespeare is this man’s wheelhouse. So many folks were surprised when he wanted to tackle a comic book movie.

Now I guess if any comic was to exist in the realm of the classics, it would be The Mighty Thor, written with sensibilities building from worlds of Germanic and Norse mythology. I mean I was going to make a run at describing the origins of Thor, but if you want to know more, visit the definitive resource on EVERYTHING: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thor

Thor made his debut into the Marvel Universe in 1962. Legendary comic book giant STAN “THE MAN” LEE said he came to a crossroads when trying to figure out how to create a character stronger than the strongest man…why not make him a God?

So Marvel made the move to Asgard, legendary home of the Nordic Gods. Smash cut to 2011…49 years later and The Mighty Thor has made his way to the silver screen. (That’s of course if you discount Vincent D’Onofrio’s turn as the iconic hero in the 1987 film, ADVENTURES IN BABYSITTING.)

Enough rambling Rhino…get on with it already.

THOR was an acceptable entry on the road to The Avengers. I was not floored, but I did enjoy the film. Chris Hemsworth is a charismatic actor who is perfect in this role. As far as casting goes, I generally think they hit the mark with all of the roles. Perhaps the biggest question mark is in Natalie Portman. She does a fine job of conveying puppy love and she is wholly acceptable in the role…but… Yes, that damn BUT.

Why has Natalie Portman become the female James Franco? She is in everything these days, transcending all genres. She almost sticks out in the role after her big win as this year’s Best Actress. Yes, there is another prominent Oscar winner associated with this film, but Sir Anthony Hopkins transcends all genres, thank you very much.

I guess that isn’t a complaint so much, as it is a random rant.

Thor was a good movie, but not a great one. I had fun and enjoyed the movie, but I am using it as more of a springboard to leap into The Avengers.

Branagh gives us standard summer fare, and I wanted more. His direction is acceptable, except for some pacing issues, which really is my chief complaint.

Thor started off strong enough, with a great bit of ethereal storytelling, as we meet our hero and his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) as children in Asgard, being regaled with stories of battle and heroism from their father Odin (Anthony Hopkins). The story is of the battle from 965 A.D., when Odin and his warriors waged war against the Frost Giants of Jotunheim and their king Laufey (Colm Feore), to prevent them from conquering the Nine Realms, beginning with the puny, weak humans of Earth. The warriors from Asgard defeat the Frost Giants and seize the source of their power, the Casket of Ancient Winters.

We learn quickly that it will become the fate of either Thor or Loki to become the King of Asgard, whichever of his children the mighty Odin chooses.

Fade out.

Fade in: It’s coronation day for Thor. He marches with great pomp down the aisle towards his father, surrounded by the people of Asgard. The moment before the crowning occurs, an alarm sounds. It is the enemy of Asgard, the Frost Giants, who have infiltrated Asgard security to try and steal back the Casket of Ancient Winters.

Fortunately, Odin had placed in the hall with the Casket, Destroyer, protector of Asgard. Destoryer makes quick work of the intruders, but with his crowning as King disturbed and the people of Asgard threatened, Thor wants to storm Jotunheim to teach the Frost Giants a lesson.

Side note: The parts with Destroyer were loud and visually stunning as attention grabbers, but Destroyer wholly reminded me, in look and sound, of the giant robot GORT, from THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL Anyone agree?

Odin forbids Thor from taking action against the Frost Giants, and of course, Thor defies his father. Thor, with his brother, The Warriors Three, and childhood friend fierce warrior chick come lately, Sif, they cross the Bifrost Bridge to Jotunheim.

Side note: Idris Elba (The Wire, The Losers) plays a great Heimdall, gatekeeper of the Bifrost Bridge. I think I could watch Elba in anything…he is great here as well.

A glorious battle ensues in Jotunheim, but in the end, Odin must intervene to save the troupe, and in the process, the truce between Asgard and the Frost Giants is shattered.

Odin takes swift action, banishing Thor from Asgard and sending him to earth, stripped of his power.

Thor is quickly discovered by two scientists, Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and her mentor Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard), along with their intern, Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings).

Thor feels cursed that he has been cast to Earth, and from this point as for most of the rest of the film, we get a pretty standard fish out of water story with Thor learning about life on earth.

 When Thor was cast out, Odin also cast out Mjolnir, the Hammer of Thor, with a curse that only one worthy of the hammer may wield its power.

 PS…yes, all the spellings so far are correct, no thanks to spellcheck…all spellings culled from Wikipedia and IMDB.

We get to witness Thor’s hero’s journey, but for my tastes, it isn’t as action packed as I would have hoped. This is really the core of my complaint against this film…the middle bits just seemed too dull for my expectations. There seems to be more footage of Jane pining over the handsome and muscular Thor, than actually seeing Thor undertaking any kind of adventure on earth.

I read a review that compared this saga to the Lord of the Rings films. I see the potential for grandeur here, but I think Thor as a character will be fleshed out more over time as we move towards The Avengers. This film is no Lord of the Rings…but few are.

The saving grace for this middle film lull was Clark Gregg, my hero and yours: Agent Coulson of S.H.I.E.L.D. I love this guy and I am glad he has been a constant from the beginning of this run.

Again, Thor was an enjoyable film, but it just didn’t blow me away the way I had hoped. Vince and Ross, two friends of mine wrote me already raving on this flick. I won’t argue for a minute that there will be folks that love this film. For me, it was a 3.5 of 5 Horn entry into the tale that will become The Avengers.

Generally speaking, this movie starts strong, sags in the middle, then finishes strong.

By all means see this movie. By all means, catch it at the IMAX. Early reports are that many are and by no means is my review to be interpreted as negative.  I liked this movie…I just didn’t love it.

Oh…PS…The 3-D in Thor was passable, but not great. Few films have been able to really hit the mark when it comes to HQ 3-D product, but I still like where we’re going with it.

I really wish I felt stronger for THOR…but we all know…the heart wants what the heart wants.

Okay, that’s a little dramatic, but you get the gist.

There are a few good nuggets from within The Avengers universe that pop up here and there and the die hard fans will notice.

Be sure to stay until after the credits roll, for the trademark Avengers stinger. Truthfully, I thought it was a bit weak as an extra scene, but it will clearly be important for entering Summer 2012 with a full understanding of all elements of this world.

I was also underwhelmed by the Captain America trailer that led into Thor. Again, I have high hopes and my general interest in the interweaving of all these stories knocks up each of these films at least one notch in my book.

Until later, take care!
Reel Rhino

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Reel Rhino Weekend Preview (05/06)

Posted on 05 May 2011 by Reel Rhino

I am a very busy and important person with many very important things to do.  Now…let us cut right to the chase, then, shall we!   Just kidding…I’m not nearly as important as I think I am…but I would like to take a moment and talk some flicks…sorry it’s short, but I was short on time.

Read through to the bottom and take the BOX OFFICE CHALLENGE!

Opening in wide release this weekend…
(% are from RottenTomatoes.com as of this post time)

Thor (86% fresh with 106 reviews counted — WOW!)
I only wish I had more time right now, to write on my love of The Avengers Initiative.  No, that is not fanboy blood oozing from my veins, only respect at bringing together these properties into a series of linked films that will culminate next summer.  I hope Thor delivers…from the early word, it appears as though it does.

Something Borrowed (17% rotten with 30 reviews counted — PU!)
The previews for this film actually reminded me of MADE OF HONOR, the McDreamy flick from 2008.  Made of Honor was a dude’s chick flick and this movie seems to have similar sensibilities, maybe delivered with less skill.  I like Goodwin and Hudson and most of the other folks in this, but I have to say, until I hear differently, this will be a RENTAL only for me.

Jumping the Broom (35% rotten with 17 reviews counted) There isn’t enough data to make a prediction just yet, but I am guessing that if this film had the name TYLER PERRY attached to it, folks would be singing a different tune.

Maybe opening in a theater near you…limited release:

 

 The Beaver – Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, Anton Yelchin (RT 69%)
Last Night – Keira Knightley, Sam Worthington, Eva Mendes (RT 50%)
Hobo With a Shotgun – Rutger Hauer (RT 81%)
Passion Play – Mickey Rourke, Megan Fox – UGH!
There Be Dragons (RT 10%) – This is dissapointing…the trailer for this looks great!

Last Week’s Top Ten:
1. Fast Five
2. Rio
3. Madea’s Big Happy Family
4. Water for Elephants
5. Prom
6. Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil
7. Soul Surfer
8. Insidious
9. Hop
10. Source Code

My Predictions for This Weekend:
1. Thor
2. Fast Five
3. Rio
4. Something Borrowed
5. Jumping the Broom

That’s all for now…joking aside, I am busy today, but wanted to get this out for those who want to take the REEL RHINO CHALLENGE!

Send me an e-mail with your picks for the BOX OFFICE TOP 5…or better yet, just leave them in the COMMENTS below for ALL to see.

Don’t worry, anyone with the same picks as me will not be punished, as I realize you are just paying respect to my MAD MOVIE SKILLS.

Until later, take care…
Reel Rhino

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It is better to…

Posted on 05 May 2011 by Thraxxus

“It is better to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission.”

Crappy statement? Yes. Applicable? Yes. American Business has taken a rather ugly turn over the last few years that has lead us down a path beset by so much red tape, politics and drama that business visionaries are having a difficult time getting anything accomplished. Consider the following scenario:

It is Monday. You are an Executive and you recently discovered a way to make your companies website 100 times more successful with one quick change. For whatever reason this change needs to happen today. This will lead to massive revenue gains. You have checked into it and the changes that you know will be amazing are totally legal. There are two paths to take here (assuming of course you actually do your job – that being making the company money)

  1. Contact your boss. Let her know what you want to do. She requires a write up, Powerpoint presentation, spreadsheets filled with research data, legal approval, and 500 other things to make her feel warm and fuzzy about your suggestion. This process, which you have done in the past, took 6 weeks, 12 meetings, and your idea was tossed into the garbage – reason? Speculative.
  2. You order your web developer to make the changes and tell nobody. Tomorrow the revenue goes up. Your boss calls you and says excitedly into the phone “OMG have you seen our numbers today!?!?” You say “Yeah, I made a change yesterday. I’ll be over in a  minute to tell you all about it.” You do, she gets a bit irate that you changed things without letting her know – you say “Gosh, sorry.” Case closed.

The good follower employee thing to do is number 1. Don’t make any decisions without your boss’ approval. Everyone is safe. Granted, the company also missed out on a huge opportunity – but at least you followed protocol right? Also, at least in my opinion, you failed in your job – make the company money. That is what executives do – find ways to make money. The tragedy here is that most of business in the USA now works this way. You see an opportunity. You run it through proper channels. Either it is watered down to a tiny percent of what it was when being approved or it is totally thrown away. Everyone has to get their say in the matter – and that causes nothing to happen other than a myriad of random conjecture. Congratulations – you were the catalyst to a massive waste of time.

What happens if you do number 2? You might fail – but you did the homework right? If you didn’t then you deserve to fail. What if it works? You did what you are supposed to do – make the company money. Yes, you probably have to apologize to someone for not letting them know – that said people who just made lots of cash are typically better minded to accept an apology. If you did fail then the apology is a bigger deal, and you may even lose your job – true. However, if you do nothing at all, or do number 1 then chances are you have almost no chance at success anyway. Beg for forgiveness after you just became a hero, don’t ask to become one.

This is an observation only. I have worked for many companies and the more I see the more I witness companies stagnating because of fear and red tape. The USA economy is on the rocks, has been for years, and is getting destroyed across the board in almost every industry. Why? For some reason our innovation and guts have gone to almost zero – simply being replaced with red tape, politics, drama, and bullshit. I hate that.

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Osama is Dead, Fast Five Was Excellent

Posted on 02 May 2011 by Reel Rhino

Osama Bin Laden is Dead. 

And now you should ask yourself: What would William and Kate do?

First off, an unprecedented number of entrants into the Reel Rhino box office contest.

Zero.

Here were my picks…

My Box Office Predictions for this Week
1. Fast Five (YEAH!)
2. Madea’s Big Happy Family (#3)
3. Rio (#2)
4. Prom (#5)
5. Water for Elephants (#4)

I nailed all five, just flopped #2 and #3 as well as #4 and #5.  Boo-yah! 

Really Rhino…boo-yah?

Anyway…good to see you here and hope you had a great weekend.  I saw two flicks this weekend, and I’m going to tell you about one of them right now.

Fast Five is the fifth film in the series that started in 2001 with The Fast and the Furious.  The series had a resurgence in 2009 with Fast and Furious, after two previous mediocre sequels that missed their mark. In 2009, Fast and Furious was just that, with an opening weekend take of $70.9 million, it clearly was a film that generated enough cash to garner yet another sequel, which is how we got to now.

For Fast Five, our worries of again seeing a mediocre product was justifiable.  I mean come on now…this is the fifth film and the fourth sequel.  We are in the zone of mediocrity or worse, tres terrible as is the risk with any late series entry…I mean some movies don’t make it past the second, or third before dropping off. 

Our worries were for naught.  Fast Five, regardless of the ridiculous title, delivers on several levels, much of which is due to Justin Lin.

Justin Lin directed the previous two sequels and is quickly making a name for himself as a filmmaker.  His mainstream debut was in 2006 with the so-so film, Annapolis, which he immediately followed up with Tokyo Drift, the third Fast entry.  I think we are lucky that they let him carry on, but I guess the suits saw something special in this young man.  For a pretty impressive resume builder, he was recently named by The Goldsea Asian American Daily as one of the most 120 Most Influential Asians of All-Time.

Lin is a much sought after director these days, with his next projects rumored to be anything from an Oldboy remake, a Highlander remake, and Terminator 5.  PS: If you haven’t seen the original OLDBOY, please do.  It is bizarre and fantastic at the same time.  With his second straight $100 million plus hit nearly in the bag, he is certainly going to have his pick of properties to choose from.

It is almost a foregone conclusion that Fast Five will break $100 million domestic…as of Friday, it drew $33.2 million and it took a MASSIVE haul on the weekend, cleaning up at $86.1 million.

So the film…this is not a street racing film as the first three were and this is not a border run/smuggling film, as the last one was.  This is a heist film, through and through.  If I had to name names and give you the filmic parents of this movie, I would say that Oceans 11 got frisky with the original The Fast and the Furious, and this is their offspring.

The first quarter of the movie gives us the set-up.  First off, events in this story pick up exactly where the previous entry ends.  We have a short but rather dramatic prison break scene to set the stage and raise the stakes.

The prison break that frees Dominic Torreto (Vin Diesel), is staged by his sister Mia (Jordana Brewster) and former federal officer, now friend of the Torettos, Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker), and it knocks them straight onto the US Most Wanted list.

Smash cut to an over the shoulder shot of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, where we find Mia and Brian on the run.  Perhaps my only complaint about the movie is the inordinate number of times that the shot over the shoulder of Christ is used.  I mean come on…JC is a good dude, but couldn’t they have come up with something more creative for showing us Rio?  I can forgive it for the great ride to be had throughout the rest of the flick and other than that one bit of repetition, Rio is shown in a fairly flattering light in the sweeping city shots throughout the film.

Mia and Brian shack up with Vince, from the first Fast film…Vince is Dom’s brother from another mother, and he was the one who resisted Brian’s joining of their gang in that first movie.  In that first movie, if you don’t remember, Brian O’Conner was a cop in deep cover.  So Vince’s suspicions were right on, but that is the past, and everyone is seemingly hunky dory now.

Vince offers Brian and Mia a job stealing some cars from a train.  A moving train, that is, and Dom shows up just in time to join the fun.  The job goes completely wrong…of course it does.  It turns out that this job was for the head dick in charge of all things criminal in Rio.  His name is Reyes and he is not so happy with the mess in his house.  Reyes is played by the “Latin Jack Ryan” (see also, A Clear and Present Danger), Juaquim de Almeida, both a typical and completely effective baddie.  His right hand man, Zizi (Michael Irby), is on this job with Brian, Mia, and Vince.  Zizi shoots and kills three US federal agents when things head south on the train job and the Toretto clan is implicated, being knocked straight to the top of the Most Wanted List.  You may recognize Zizi as “Betty Blue” from the former CBS show, The Unit….I loved that show and was sorry when it was yanked!

From this point, two things happen that jump start the plot: 

First, Agent Hobbs (Dewayne “The Rock” Johnson) and his team is sent to Rio to track down Torreto and company.  Side note: one of Hobbs team by the name of Fusco is portrayed by Alimi Ballard…aka David, from the former CBS show Numbers.  I loved that show as well.  Damn you CBS!

Second, Dom decides to spoil Reyes’ day by jacking his cash, as a means for escaping his wrath and blame for the train job.  Steal all the man has, steal the man’s strength and power.

This is where the Ocean’s 11 scheme begins.

The title Ocean’s 11 comes from the number of participants in the heist led by Danny Ocean.  When Dom, Brian, and Mia agree that robbing Reyes is the way to solve their problems, they decide that they need a crew.

If you think back to the trailer for this film, do you remember that “the gang’s all here” swagger up the beach, full-up with Ludacris, Tyrese, Sung Kang, and the rest of the FF crew?  If you didn’t realize why they all looked vaguely familiar, it’s because the Torreto posse this go-around is comprised completely of all of the surviving “good guy” characters from the previous Fast films.

The wild ride that follows is a fantastic load of big gun fights, big brawls, and loads of great car chase action.

Gal Gadot is back as Giselle from Fast and Furious and ladies and gentleman, she is smokin’ hot.  No offense, ladies, as there is plenty of man-meat on screen for you to enjoy as well.  Also in the “File Under Hot” folder is newcomer to the Fast action, Elsa Pataky, an uber-smokin’ Spanish actress, whose biggest Hollywood release previously was Snakes on a Plane (Best. Movie. Ever. — Kidding…but I do like it.)

I think that this film is universally enjoyable.  I saw it in a theater about ¼ full.  It was a big house, so this meant well over 100 folks in the crowd.  There were several moments near the end that led to spontaneous outbursts of cheers and applause.  I love it when that happens at movies in moments that deserve it.  I generally hate applause at the end of a movie, unless the filmmaker or other folks involved in a film are actually there.

The vehicles used in this movie were less of characters as in previous outings, and really, it was a tribute to this being much less of a car racing movie.
Some of the dialogue is cheesy and Tyrese is, as always, spouting one-liner after one-liner.  But I liked it.  Tyrese has a great delivery…one of my all-time favorites of his, is “Left-cheek, left-cheek, left-cheek…” from the first Michael Bay Transformers film.

Vin Diesel and The Rock have a memorable face-off in this film and let me say, The Rock is effing huge.  Some of the pre-release articles on the film indicated that he put on 30 lbs. of muscle for the role.  I also heard recently that he is wrestling again?  I’m sure that helped with the bulk.

Fast Five gets 4 of 5 Horns.

Stay about 1/3 of the way through the credits, as there is a credits stinger worth staying for.  It also helps set-up the purported two sequels that the studio has been talking about.  Bringing in $150 million domestically and loads more per film overseas, why not make more?  And with this effort and the last actually being worth a damn, I am not opposed.

Until next time…take care

Reel Rhino

PS: Osama Bin Laden is Dead.

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Osama Bin Laden is Dead.

Posted on 02 May 2011 by Thraxxus

The West, an area starting at the edge of Turkey, going through Europe, and ending in Hawaii but not including South America, is presently rejoicing in the announcement that Osama Bin Laden, the self proclaimed architect of the September 11th, 2001 attack and ultimate destruction of the Twin Towers in New York City, is dead. Osama Bin Laden was the leader, some later said figurehead only, of Al Qaeda (a name typically pronounced entirely wrong by the West as well – notice the lack of a ‘U’ after the ‘Q’) which did indeed put him in a position of power where he could have ordered the attacks against the United States of America and thus his claim is not easily refuted.

Perception is reality. We can try to argue this to some extent but the fact of the matter is this concept has been proven over and over again. “The Hand is quicker than the Eye” is a term that embodies this. The object didn’t really disappear in front of your eyes, your eyes just think that it did and thus so do you. Your perception is that the magician made a massive elephant disappear when in fact he did not such thing – to you it is reality. We know this to be true as we often times find ourselves asking  “How did he do that?” when deep down inside we know that he didn’t. At present the West, as previously defined, perceives the death of Osama Bin Laden to be a great thing – truly great. In fact, people were seen rejoicing all over the United States of America last night after President Obama’s speech indicating that Bin Laden had been killed in a fire fight with American Navy Seals. If you aren’t happy why then would you be rejoicing?

So is Osama Bin Laden’s death a great thing? As vengence goes one can surely argue that. In fact, on NPR, there was a brief interview at Ground Zero of the brother of a firefighter who lost his life in Tower 1 – he was obviously thrilled by the news. His brother, to some degree, had been avenged. Vengeance. Let us think on that word for a minute. Throughout human history this word, and ideology behind it, has lead to the death of literally millions of people. that is the thing about ideologies – they don’t die. In fact, often times when someone who is carrying the banner of a particular ideology is killed they are, at least in the eyes of others who follow that same ideology, graduated to the holy level of Martyrdom. This is a concern for the West regarding Osama Bin Laden. Will he be martyred? Moreover – will he be Avenged?

That is the real problem here folks – nobody is learning anything. Vengeance begets even more Vengeance. Ask the people of the area once know as Yugoslavia – they have been killing each other for hundreds of years and nobody can remember why or who shot the first shot. The Arabic World (allow me to apologize for lumping so many countries under the overused “Arab” word – I am sorry) is filled with strife that many can’t explain. Vali Nasr once stated – I will paraphrase – that the west will never be able to understand all the intricacies of the Arabic world. I guess mostly because the Arabic World is already having a tough time understanding it as well – how can we, people barely involved, even begin to wrap our brains around it. Silly Hubris.

What then is the issue? Bill Maher said shortly after 9/11 something to the effect that we should figure out why people hate us. He got hammered for this observation – but later vindicated as others said the same thing. Why do so many people hate the West? There has to be a reason or reasons, and summing all of those up to “Just because they do” is no longer working. Consider this – if killing Osama Bin Laden doesn’t end Al Qaeda then surely we must ask ourselves again – “Why do they hate us?” The entire situation has graduated to the point of egocentric hubris to think that we could not have possibly done things to anger others. Let me enlighten you for a moment – We are not perfect. In fact, often times we are consider the Bad Guy.

At the end of the day you have to ask yourself a question that has been difficult for so many others before us – Are we the bad guy? Am I? I’ve been asking myself this more and more frequently. The people over THERE think that we are the bad guy. Are we? Maybe they are wrong? Or, maybe they are right? What if they are right and I am not the good guy, but rather the member of some evil society and I am just confused. I don’t really know the answer people, but at the least I have asked myself the question – many, many questions.

Why must there be Vengeance? Hopefully, some day, someone will realize that the cycle never ends unless they take the responsibility upon themselves to end it. Killing someone, although it may seem like the end, very rarely is the end.

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