Monday, January 27, 2014

Sherlock Season 3 Review

The character of Sherlock Holmes has been brought to life many times via film and television. Being that I am a sucker for detective shows, I usually find myself enjoying whatever version of Sherlock Holmes comes my way. That said, Benedict Cumberbatch has become my favorite version of Sherlock Holmes. I can't necessarily say that BBC's Sherlock is the best Sherlock Holmes show ever created because I haven't seen them all, but I can say that it's my personal favorite. I can also say that Sherlock is one of the best shows currently on TV. Season 2 left us all on a painfully awful cliffhanger that was made worse by us having to wait two years to find out what happened next. Well, the long wait is over. Sherlock season three has arrived. And I have to say, it did not disappoint.

There are a lot of things that Sherlock does right. Starting off is the cast. Like I said, Benedict Cumberbatch is my favorite Sherlock Holmes. The man is a legend in my books for his perfect representation of the character Sherlock Holmes. He gets Sherlock's mannerisms and personality right on. And of course his acting skills are top notch. Ever since Sherlock started, I have been in love with that man's acting. Every role he plays is brilliant. However, Cumberbatch isn't the only brilliant character. Martin Freeman plays Sherlock's partner John Watson. The chemistry between the two of those two are brilliant. Those two alone make the show worth watching.

But that's certainly not all. Yes Cumberbatch and Freeman are both genius, but I give props to the casting on this show in general because I really think every character, major or minor, is perfect. In addition to that, the writing on the show is genius. I suppose that at least part of that has to be attributed to the three episode season format. Instead of having to write 13 or 24 episodes, they can focus all their effort into making three fantastic hour and a half episodes. But it's not just that. The plot lines are great. The suspense, drama, and comedy is perfectly balanced to create an all around beautiful experience. Also, the visual style of the show is great. With that I refer to both the way they show the texting and the way they show Sherlock's brilliant mind deducing each situation in depth.

All this that I have mentioned is a review of the series as a whole. I have not yet put my thoughts on this to writing, so I felt it needed to be done. Season three continues the brilliance of the show in these ways that I have mentioned. Now that I have spoken in general about the show, I want to actually dive into each episode in season three, since there is only three episodes. I will give no spoilers, but if you have not yet seen season three and you want to go in with a complete surprise, knowing absolute nothing, feel free to stop reading here and just know that I really loved season three. It may not be the absolute best season to date, but that's ok. I still loved it. Anyways, for those who want a more in depth review, feel free to continue reading.

Episode 1: The Empty Hearse

This episode was super satisfying to me. I had been on a Sherlock fast for way too long and it was super good to have it back again. It's like if you were given a delicious cheesecake and at first you indulged yourself pretty heavily. However, after a few slices, the cheesecake was taken away from you. You were informed that you could have more later, but just not anymore right now. Knowing that there was more cheesecake out there for you to eat would torment you until you were finally given permission to indulge yourself once again. That's how this was for me. Sherlock had been gone for so long, and mind you it had left on a horrible cliffhanger with the season two finale, that I was just happy to have it back.

If you haven't seen the season two, I won't give away what happened at the end, but this first episode put my mind at ease. Funny enough, the cliffhanger wasn't actually completely resolved for sure, but I was given possible ideas about how it could've been. Despite the continued tease, that was refreshing. Now I talk about the chemistry between Watson and Sherlock being fantastic, and that was the strength of this episode. Sherlock has been gone for a long time and Watson had moved on. Sherlock has now reappeared into Watson's life, and with the lack of people skills that Sherlock has, he expects things to be fine and dandy. They're not. Watson's reaction to Sherlock returning in this manner is rather priceless. But nonetheless, there is a terrorist threat in the city of London and Sherlock needs Watson's help. It's a classic Sherlock episode that starts the season off with a bang.

Episode 2: The Sign of Three


As is the case with seasons one and two, the middle episode of season three is the weakest of the bunch. That's not really an insult, though. It's still enjoyable. But logically with three episodes, the first episode is going to try to be the attention getter and the third episode is going to leave things off with a bang. This leaves the middle episode as the transition episode. That's what happens here. The story of the episode comes with Watson getting married. Sherlock is asked to be the best man and thus has to give the speech. This is actually super comical. Sherlock isn't a social person and he doesn't know how to give a best man's speech. It's great watching him stumble through it. The episode actually started off super slow and for a long time I was wondering what exactly was going to happen. I won't tell you what happened, but I will just say that this is a very unique episode. I understand why some people may not like it, but thinking back on it, I actually really like the creativity and uniqueness of the episode, even though it wasn't the best.

Episode 3: His Last Vow


The finale of season two completely blew my mind. One of the best TV episodes ever made. Since there was about two years in between the season two finale and the season three premier, I literally spent months reflecting on that episode. The season three finale makes the attempt to be as epic as the season two finale. Does it match the season two finale? Well, no. But it's still fantastic and the best episode of season three. There are three things I really loved about the finale, and I'll try to be as vague and brief as possible so the experience is the same for you as it was for me. First off, we introduce a new huge villain for Sherlock named Charles Magnussen played by Lars Mikkelsen. His character was excellent. Second, there is a big twist towards the beginning that brings the intensity and emotion to a season high. I love the way all the characters dealt with it. And finally, there is a twist at the end that was genius. Many say they saw it coming. I personally didn't, but when it happened I wasn't surprised at all. Season two left me pulling hairs out of my head with how it ended. Season three didn't. But at the same time it made me super excited for the direction that they are going to take with season four.

Overall, I loved the first two seasons of Sherlock. I have been looking forward to season three for a very long time and I am happy to say that it lived up to the legacy of the first two. I usually give a grade to the movies I review, but I have never done so with TV seasons I review for various reasons. No, I'm not going to start now, but if I were to, Sherlock season three would get my top rating.  Not as good as season two, but about on par with season one. Rumors say that season four is coming sooner rather than later. I really hope that is true because my only real concern about Sherlock is that there isn't enough of it. I want more!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit Review

This January has brought the character of Jack Ryan back to the big screens for the fifth time. If you are unfamiliar with the character of Jack Ryan, allow me to briefly explain. Author Tom Clancy wrote a series of nine books that featured the character Jack Ryan, who comes to work for the CIA. Four of these books have been turned into movies. Starting in 1990 we had The Hunt For Red October. 1992 brought us Patriot Games. Following this two year trend, Clear and Present Danger came out in 1994. Then Hollywood waited eight years before bringing us the fourth installment, The Sum of All Fears in 2002. Generally speaking these movies are fairly well liked, except for maybe the last one, and did good business at the box office. Unfortunately, in my opinion, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit falls quite a bit short of its predecessors.

There were several red flags for me before going in. First, it was a reboot of the franchise. Sure, that works out many times, but other times it fails. Second, it was the first Jack Ryan book that was only based on the characters and not an adaption of a specific book. That's pretty risky. Third, it had Chris Pine and Keira Knightley as the leads. I'm not a huge fan of either. And finally, it had a January release date. that told me that they didn't have too much confidence in their movie. All the others were released in big movie months.

Nevertheless, I went into the movie with an open mind, hoping to enjoy it. However, my fears about the movie quickly were proven to be legit concerns. This movie wasn't that good. Starting right at the top of my concerns, rebooting this franchise was a mistake. Right along with that, creating their own story instead of basing it off of one of the five remaining books also was a mistake. The movie spends a lot of time at the beginning setting up the character of Jack Ryan. And actually, according to the background of the character, they follow things pretty well. It just seemed choppy, boring, and forced to me. We start with the September 11th attacks that inspires Jack to join the military. Ok cool. Then we get his helicopter accident that leaves him completely messed up. Also done well. Then things get complicated. We jump into the near future and Jack Ryan can't walk, but he has no scars whatsoever. That seemed a bit odd. Then Kevin Costner is talking to him about joining the CIA. That kind of came out of nowhere as concerning this specific reboot. Sure, we knew it had to happen. But it felt forced. Then we jump ten years into the future and for some reason no effort was made at all to make any character look ten years older. And then suddenly we were on a mission to Russia. It was all forced, messy, and boring.

Then of course we had red flag number three. Chris Pine and Keira Knightley. Who made the decision to cast those two? I'm sure Chris Pine was cast because of the success he had as Captain Kirk in the Star Trek reboot. Seemed like a sure fire thing that he would also carry this movie to success? I'm sorry, he just wasn't a very convincing Jack Ryan. For the record, I also didn't like him as Captain Kirk. In fact, my favorite part of Star Trek Into Darkness was when Benedict Cumberbatch was beating the heck out Chris Pine. So maybe it's just me, but I think there were a lot of better choices that could've played Jack Ryan and made this movie a success. Onto Keira Knightley. I know there had to be a girl. That follows the Jack Ryan background, but Keira Knightley had zero chemistry with Chris Pine and thus her character just got in the way. The relationship was forced. It just happened as if they did it only because they had to do it. No tension, either, until the jumped ten years in the future and suddenly after living together for ten years Chris Pine can't be honest to her about the fact that he saw a movie. Forced.

Was this movie a complete failure? Well no. The main aspects of the movie were really messy like I have mentioned, but there were some saving features. While our lead roles were bad, a couple of the secondary roles were fantastic. I'm mainly speaking about Kevin Costner and Kenneth Branagh. Coster is good in just about every role he's in. Even in movies like Man of Steel that were a complete disaster, he did good in the role he was given. Such is the case here. Also, Kenneth Branagh doubles as the director of the movie and the villain of the movie. It really showed that he cared about this movie as he did an excellent job as the villain. Also, despite the plot not making a ton of sense and feeling forced, there were several scenes in the last half of the movie that at least were entertaining to watch. I give that some kudos. But in the end, this is a pretty messy that puts shame into the great Jack Ryan name. My grade for it is a 6.5 out of 10.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Movies of 2014: The Good, the Bad, and the Maybe

The Good:
These are some of the movies that I am looking forward to this year

The Lego Movie- 2/7
I love Legos. All the Star Wars Lego stuff has been well received. So why not? Lots of great Lego characters. Lots of great voices. Creativity in this movie looks like it is through the roof.

The Monuments Men- 2/7
One of the most anticipated movies from the end of last year, postponed to this year. George Clooney and a whole host of talented actors look like they have a winner here.

Son of God- 2/28
I am not ashamed at advertising my faith in Christ. I'll always be interested in movies about Christ. The Bible miniseries this based has been well-received.

Need For Speed- 3/14
My all time favorite video game here. After hearing about this, I immediately said there needs to be fancy cars, over-the-top crashes, and awesome police chases. It appears that they have that and more.

Muppets Most Wanted- 3/21
The first made me laugh really hard. Muppet movies have rarely failed me in my life, so I'm all in.

Captain America: Winter Soldier- 4/4
You know I am a sucker for these Avenger movies. The first Captain America movie was the weakest of the Phase One, but this looks like it could be the best of Phase Two.

Heaven is for Real- 4/16
A movie based on a true story that judging by the trailers looks phenomenal. A young boy has a near death experience and says he visited heaven. Due to him knowing things that he shouldn't know, it's hard to doubt his experiences.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2- 5/2
Remaking Spider-Man so soon payed off huge dividends. Andrew Garfield is the perfect Spider-Man and Emma Stone is the perfect Superhero girlfriend. I'm excited about the direction of this franchise.

Godzilla- 5/16
Initially a question mark, but the trailers made me believe that they are going to do Godzilla right this time around.

How to Train Your Dragon 2- 6/13
Dreamworks is always hit and miss, but How To Train Your Dragon was a huge hit, so I'm optimistic about this sequel.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes- 7/11
Rise of the Planet of the Apes was one of the huge surprises from a couple years back. It was a Planet of the Apes movie that was done right. This sequel looks to build on that awesomeness.

Guardians of the Galaxy- 8/1
It's boom or bust for Marvel on this gamble. If you are not a huge comic book nerd, you will essentially know nothing about these characters in this movie, but if successful, could it be Marvel's version of Star Wars? It's in Marvel I trust right now. They've given me no reason to think otherwise.

The Giver- 8/15
If you haven't read this book, you need to. One of my all time favorite books. I don't always jump for joy when I hear about another book-to-movie adaption, but I did when I heard about this one.

Big Hero 6- 11/7
Disney is on quite the roll recently with their animated movies. With them owning Marvel, a teaming up of the studios makes perfect sense. This won't be in the same Avengers Universe, but I'm excited for Marvel's first theatrically released animated movie.

Interstellar- 11/7
I know very little about this movie outside of the fact that it's directed by Christopher Nolan. But that fact is enough to get me excited for this. Also, the teaser trailer was one of the best I've seen.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1- 11/21
Did Mockingjay need to be split into two movies? Well, yes. The book was rushed. Also, if they move away from solely following Katniss, there's actually a ton that goes on that definitely warrants two movies.


The Bad:
These are some movies that I am really nervous about

Vampire Academy- 2/14
Can we please be done with Vampire movies? They wore out their welcome several years ago. This Valentine's Day special just look awful.

300: Rise of an Empire- 3/7
Lots of unnecessary sequels this year. And apparently we didn't get enough gory violence mixed with naked women in the first 300, so we need to have a sequel to get even more.

Draft Day- 4/11
A fictional sports movie about a fictional Cleveland Browns general manager in a fictional draft day situation? What? Why? This looks like Trouble with the Curve all over again.

Transformers: Age of Extinction-  6/27
A fourth Transformers movie. Because the third made over $1 billion worldwide. Need I say more?

Planes: Fire and Rescue- 7/18
The first Planes movie didn't need to happen. No one really liked it. Why are we getting a sequel?

Sex Tape- 7/25
Talk about a movie with a weird and ridiculous premise. A couple decided to tape what they did on the night of their wedding. Why? And now they lost the tape? Oh please no.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles- 8/8
MICHAEL BAY YOU GET AWAY FROM MY CHILDHOOD! RIGHT NOW!!!!!

Dolphin Tale 2- 9/19
I loved Dolphin Tale. It was a touching movie about a boy and a dolphin. But I don't understand why this sequel is happening. I have no idea what they can do with this.

Paranormal Activity 5- 10/24
What happens when you make a horror movie that costs $15,000 that ends up making $200 million worldwide? Five years later you have a sixth installment in this franchise. My biggest fear is that these movies will never stop.

Exodus- 12/12
I guess I'm not that opposed to Hollywood doing another Moses movie, even though we do have The Ten Commandments and The Prince of Egypt already. What I'm nervous about here is the director. Ridley Scott?

Night at the Museum 3- 12/25
Ok, the first Night at the Museum was a great movie. But did this really need to be a trilogy?


The Maybe:
These are some movies that I hope end up good, but I have a question or two about

Robocop- 2/12
Most Robocop fans are angry that they seem to be doing a watered-down version of their movie. I personally am glad they are trying something a bit different. I hate it when Hollywood makes the same movie twice.

Welcome to Yesterday- 2/28
I knew nothing about this movie until I saw the trailer for it in theaters. Now I think it could be a decent February sleeper movie like Chronicle a couple years back. It's a time travel movie. I like time travel.

Divergent- 3/21
Is this the next Hunger Games? There were several movies last year that thought that, too, and they all failed. What sets this aside from the likes of Beautiful Creatures, The Host, or Mortal Instruments?

Noah- 3/28
I was a pretty big critic of this movie all the way up until the trailer came out. From what I've been reading, this isn't your typical Noah movie. But I'm willing to give it a shot.

Transcendence- 4/18
Some people enjoy hating on Johnny Depp. I like the man. Yes, he's hit and miss at times, but when he's hit, he is amazing. Transcendence looks like a sci-fi movie that could be a hit for him. 

Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return- 5/9
For some reason that I don't quite know, I've been following this movie for a long time. Yes, it was put into production long before Oz the Great and Powerful became an idea. It's just had a much longer journey to the big screen. With how much time I've invested in this, I hope it ends up good.

X-Men: Days of Future Past- 5/23
This is looking like the Avengers of the X-Men movies. I like the idea of combining the new and old X-Men casts into one movie. I just put it in this category because X-Men movies are always hit and miss for me. And my opinion usually ends up being opposite of everyone else's.

Maleficent- 5/30
Disney has started a new kick. Take all their old animated movies and turn them into live action movies. I commend them for always being so good at making money. I hope this movie works out.

Edge of Tomorrow- 6/6
Welcome to Yesterday and Edge of Tomorrow in one year? Yeah, ironic, I know. I enjoyed Tom Cruise in Oblivion last year, so I hope this is good. I just can't help but notice it looks like a sci-fi version of Groundhog's Day.

The Boxtrolls- 9/26
I have a ton of respect for the stop motion style of animation. Those movies take a lot of time and effort in making them. I know very little about this specific movie, but I hope it turns out as good as Paranorman did.

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day- 10/10
Hearing about this movie made me laugh a bit. It's about the last book I would expect to be turned into a movie. The more I think about it, though, the more I am optimistic that it could actually turn out good.

Dumber and Dumber To- 11/14
Not to confuse this with the wannabee sequel Dumb and Dumberer, this is an actual sequel to the popular Dumb and Dumber, with the same returning cast and everything. It could work out a lot like the recent Anchorman 2 did.

The Hobbit: There and Back Again- 12/17
I enjoyed the first Hobbit, but wasn't blown away. I was entertained by the second Hobbit, but thought it wasn't nearly as good as the first. Yes, this trilogy could've been a lot better, but I'm optimistic that the final chapter could end up being the best of the three.

Annie- 12/19
I love the musical Annie. But did they need to do this again? And is this a politically correct version of Annie? I know they are trying to build off the success of Les Mis. I hope it works.

The Legend of Hercules Review

Greek mythology has always been a popular subject in Hollywood. This year, Hollywood will have a minor fascination with the character of Hercules as there are two different Hercules movies coming out. I personally enjoy Greek mythology, and thus I usually welcome movies that explore the genre. I don't know a whole ton about Hercules outside the Disney portrayal, but I'm open to exploring the character more. Dwayne Johnson will get the chance to portray the character later this year, but for now it's Kellan Lutz' job.

How did the movie turn out? Oh my lanta! This movie was an astronomical disaster! Here we are starting off 2014, and on the first movie I watch, I may actually be hard pressed to end up with something this year that I dislike more. Perhaps I am jumping the gun on that statement, but this was bad. Let's start with the opening scene. Bad CGI has seemed to be a theme recently, but here we are again with a movie that had really lazy CGI. I mean, it was so bad that with the opening scenes the movie almost appeared as if it was an animated movie. That was a very weird sensation. Then there was the action in the movie. I don't know who it was that decided that slow motion battle scenes were a good idea, but it was really weird and distracting. And it happened the whole movie. Every time a character is about to attack, we get a slow motion shot for a few seconds. That made me turn my attention away from it being an animated movie and made me believe that I was watching someone play a video game. Yeah, I lost interest with this movie quite fast.

I haven't even touched on the story yet. It's about what you would expect from a Hercules movie, although the problem was that I wasn't really interested in the story at all. It was really boring. The characters? I latched onto no one. They could've all died in a massive nuclear attack and I wouldn't have been remorseful at all. In fact I would've been relieved that the movie was over. Our main two actors couldn't act at all. Kellan Lutz, as I have said, is Hercules. Gaia Weiss is Hercules' princess girlfriend. I am actually 100 percent positive that both were cast solely for their looks. That's all that they had going for them. Their poorly written characters didn't help much with their bad acting. In the movie, Hercules had a brother and that brother is whiny and annoying the whole time. The king is very good at growing every single time he talks. That was weird. Overall, this was just a complete failure.

I'm trying to decide if there is a type of people that would enjoy this movie. I was thinking that perhaps it is a movie that you would watch if you were in the mood to watch a bad movie with a bunch of friends so that you could just laugh at how bad it was. I don't actually think this movie would satisfy that. The only other thing I can think of is perhaps people who only care about eye candy and don't care about anything else like story, visuals, characters, etc. But yet if those type of people exist, I would think they would just go look up pictures of said actors on the internet, not tune in for this movie. I got nothing. Legend of Hercules gets a 4 out of 10 for me. Bad way to start off the year. I guess it can only get better from here, right?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

DrogeMiester's Top 10 WORST Movies of 2013

After released my top 10 best movies of the year a few days ago, it's now time to reverse course and review the top 10 worst movies of the year. Before we go any further, there are some movies that looked so bad that I purposely avoided. A few examples of those would be Movie 43, Scary Movie 5, Grown Ups 2, and The Smurfs 2 (I saw the first Smurfs and hated it -- I had no desire to see the sequel). So I suppose this could be called a list of movies that were most disappointing because for one reason or another I decided to give these movies a shot, but meh, semantics. I'll keep the current title. There's a lot of movies that I complained a lot about, so this should be fun for me as it gives me one more time to publicly rant and complain about these movies.

10- Star Trek Into Darkness

I'm not one that shies away from being a part of a minority, but it brought me some relief when it came out that Trekkies had voted Star Trek Into Darkness as the worst Star Trek movie ever made. Yes, you heard that right. Star Trek Into Darkness is the worst Star Trek movie ever made according to Trekkies. And no, I didn't just make that up. Let me tell you why. First off, it suffers from much of the same problems as the first one. It doesn't feel like a Star Trek movie. Star Trek is a series that focuses more on deep, thought provoking principles and less on the action. Into Darkness was an action movie with little thought. Into Darkness is led by a whiny, stuck-up Kirk that doesn't shine a light to William Shatner.  Into Darkness has a great Spok, but Spok's relationship is awful and is hard to watch. Those are all similar problems that the first one had. Here's why this one was a lot worse. Most Trekkies will agree that Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn is the best Star Trek movie ever made. Into Darkness is a cheap, poorly done remake of Wrath of Kahn. Benedict Cumberbatch is actually a fantastic Kahn, but his character is completely messed up in terms of the writing. Also, I won't get into the ending of this movie, but it is extremely insulting to the Star Trek universe. It's like if they remade Empire Strikes Back and completely made a mockery of the iconic Luke and Darth Vader. Star Wars fans would hate that. That's what Into Darkness does to the Star Trek universe. And they do it all in the name of "this is an alternate universe." Cop-out. And that's why Trekkies hate Into Darkness. For me, hate is a strong word, but this is definitely deserving of this list. When my favorite scene of the movie is the villain beating the crap out of the hero, you know the movie has problems.

9- G.I. Joe: Retaliation

What normally happens when you make an embarrassingly awful movie that is just painful to watch, that in general is considered a hated movie? Normal movie franchises will put that movie in the rear-view window and try to do better with their next project. Completely disregarding that logic is how we ended up with this G.I. Joe sequel. The first G.I. movie was a complete and utter disaster. In making Retaliation, at least the filmmakers realized this and did a complete makeover -- cast, director, everything. Well, except for their most popular character in the previous movie. They bring him back... even though they killed him in the first? What? Yeah, no explanation; he's just back. And oh yeah, Channing Tatum became popular since they finished the film, so they shot five more minutes with him. Then killed him. What? I kinda appreciate the effort actually. They tried to make a likable movie. I like Bruce Willis and Dwayne Johnson. I also love Adrianne Palicki (she's in my current favorite TV show Supernatural). For a while in this movie, I was kinda enjoying it, but then it just sputtered out and died. It's a movie that will somewhat entertain you, but after a week you'll have forgotten you actually saw it. Yeah, in creating this list, had I not kept track of all the movies I saw this year, I would've totally forgotten this movie happened. It's just so forgettable that it feels like it actually came out five years ago. I even had to go re-read my review to remember what I didn't like about it.

8- Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters

The Percy Jackson series is very comparable to the Inheritance series when you compare their movie adaptions. The Lightning Thief and Eragon are both decently enjoyable movies unless of course you have read the books and realize that the movie completely butchered the book. I have read and love the entire Inheritance series and in my personal opinion is that Eragon is the one of the worst book-to-movie adaptions ever. That said I have never read the Percy Jackson books, so I actually somewhat enjoyed The Lightning Thief. The big difference, of course, between Percy Jackson and Inheritance is that Eldest was never made. For some reason, Sea of Monsters was. Being that I enjoyed the first movie, I gave this one a shot, hoping it would be the same story. Boy was I wrong. Making it through this movie was like trying to walk through a huge pool of sludge. The acting wasn't horrible, but the pacing and execution of this movie was just so off that it was incredibly boring. I have a desire now to actually go read the Percy Jackson books, but I may be done with these movies if they end up making more. When the best part of your movie is Nathan Fillion complaining that Firefly got cancelled, you know your movie has problems.

7- 47 Ronin

A Japanese Samurai movie based on the true story of the 47 Ronin? Sounds interesting right? Unfortunately this movie is a disaster. And I'm not even talking about the reports that Universal could lose as much as $175 million on the project. The movie was postponed re-shot at least once each, and the result of that looked like they gave up on trying to fix it more, deciding to just take the hit as they knew this movie was going to be bad. The truth about the matter is that there was practically nothing redeemable about this movie. The story was slow and boring. For a Samurai movie there was surprisingly little action, so it wasn't even one of those movies you could just turn off your brain and enjoy an action-packed movie. The acting, especially with Keanu Reeves, was really flat; the actors looked bored with movie. They decided to make the awful decision to make this a fantasy movie mixed with a Samurai movie. Towards the beginning the Samurai are walking through the woods and suddenly there is this huge, weird mythical creature that starts chasing them and the whole scene you are just wondering what in the heck is happening. Not to mention that for such a high-budgeted movie, the CGI is surprisingly lazy. If you are going to spend so much money making a movie, at least make it look pretty. Nope. Sad story is that the radio station I listen to has been constantly giving out free 47 Ronin tickets. Poor people. Worst prize ever from a radio staion.

6- The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

I usually like magic movies. Now You See Me made it on me best movies of 2013 list. I also usually like comedy movies, and with a cast of Steve Carell, Jim Carrey, and Olivia Wilde, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone seemed like a home run. I couldn't have been more wrong. The biggest problem is that it was supposed to be a comedy and I didn't laugh. All the jokes fell flat and were just stupid. It's a good thing that Steve Carell redeemed himself with Anchorman 2 later in the year, because he was just outright putrid in this. There were others in this movie that did a decent job, but the problem is that they were given nothing to work with. The story is about a duo of magicians that do the exact same act every time and their biggest new rival is a sadistic magician that likes hurting himself? Why would anyone in real life watch either of these magicians? Add to that, you have a story that extremely unoriginal and predictable. The best part of the movie was when the end credits rolled and I got to listen to Imagine Dragons.

5- R.I.P.D.

R.I.P.D. is a movie where there are a lot of monsters that are secretly hidden on earth and two agents have to go stop those monsters. Sound like Men in Black? Yep, that's what this is. Except Men in Black is actually a fun movie. The whole premise of R.I.P.D. is just awful. The Rest in Peace Department consists of losers in life who are given a second chance to redeem themselves. They just have to go out and find the "deadies" that slipped through the cracks and avoided judgment. Because apparently there have been too many people dying that have caused some to slip through the cracks. Yup. That's actually the plot of the movie. Add to that, our two main losers are played by Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds. Not bad actors, but the two just have zero chemistry and Jeff Bridges' voice in the movie got really annoying really fast. Also the CGI was embarrassing. The first Men in Black did a better job. All these could've been forgiven to a certain degree if this was a PG movie directed at kids. However, they tried to make this appeal to both adults and kids. Turns out they end up missing both. It's too stupid for adults and has too much adult content for kids. Swing and a miss. Thus the movie is labelled as a cheap Men in Black ripoff.


4- Walking With Dinosaurs


Remember the show Mystery Science Theater 3000? If you don't let me refresh you. You have a group of characters that get together and purposely watch really stupid movies, but throughout the movie they make hilarious commentary and thus the whole experience is a blast. Now imagine if a crew like that sat down and tried to do a dinosaur documentary, but instead of doing hilarious commentary, they tried to be completely serious. Yup, that's what we got with Walking With Dinosaurs. Apparently the documentary this is based off of is a really good documentary, but the movie is just embarrassing. You have these really well done CGI dinosaurs that are cool to look at and learn about, but suddenly you start hearing voices coming from the screen. They are supposed to be coming from the dinosaurs, but the dinosaurs aren't lip-synced at all, so it just seems weird. Add to that, only four of the characters get voices and apparently the rest of the dinosaurs just don't have the ability to talk. Thus we get the Mystery Science Theater 3000 feel. The movie tries to be educational at first, but then they just stick with doing this weird love triangle of a story line with very little drama or substance at all. This movie might be entertaining for a 3 year old on a weekday morning, but for everyone else it's worth skipping. Just check out the actual documentary.

3- After Earth

These final three movies come from three of my least favorite directors currently still making movies. At number three is a man whose career started off very strong, but somewhere along the lines he forgot how to make movies. And for some reason, he keeps trying. Yes, I am talking about M. Knight Shyamalan. Going into this, I was nervous about giving Shyamalan another chance, but I was also hopeful that it would be a success because Will Smith helped with making of the movie. Can't go wrong with Will Smith, right? The man is notorious for being very selective with the movies he acts in, and thus most all of his movies end up being really good. Or at the very least, his acting job in the movie is good. Unfortunately, though, it appears that not even Will Smith is perfect. Yes, I put a lot of the blame on Shyamalan because all his movies now just suck, but I will also blame Will Smith for this disaster because he had a big role in this with both writing and acting. Poorly written? Yes. Poorly acted? Yes. That's the first time I've had to say Will Smith's acting was bad and hopefully that will be the last. The rest of the movie? Horribly boring and dull. We got on a post-apocalyptic binge this year due to last year's "end of the world" drama. There were several interesting movies like this that happened. After Earth was the worst. Yes Will Smith was bad in this movie, but his son Jaden was even worse. I thought the kid did great in The Karate Kid, so I have nothing against him. But this was just a terrible performance for him. Also the movie was probably the most generic and predictable sci-fi movie I've seen in a long time. It tried to have heart, but it had none. Sadly there was zero chemistry between Will and Jaden, and that's embarrassing.

2- Pain & Gain

Michael Bay is my next victim. I don't know who let Michael Bay do a crime drama, but that was a very bad idea. Personally, I love crime dramas. One of my favorite current shows is Criminal Minds. I also love other shows like NCIS, Bones, Numbers, Castle, Sherlock, Luther, and Psych. There are also plenty of crime drama movies that are excellent, so it's really unfortunate for me when a crime drama comes around that had so much potential, but ended up being a complete disaster. Pain & Gain is based off a true story of a Sun Gym gang in Miami in the 1990's. And when I say "based off a true story" I mean in this instance it was very, very, very loosely based off a true story. The movie tries to get you to believe that it's extremely accurate. In fact, it shoves it down your throat the whole movie. Don't listen. It's so far off the actual events that it is despicable and borderline offensive. If you want to read the true story of the Sun Gym gang, you can do so here. It's a very long read, but worth it. Basically what happened is that Daniel Lugo and Adrian Doorbal were genius criminals. The two of them led a small gang of three to five people wherein they kidnapped, tortured, and forced a very rich man to sign over everything he had to them. Then they tried to kill him, making it look like a suicide. By what can only be described as a miracle, the man survived crashing his car, having his car explode, and being ran over twice. He fled the country for a while, and when he was brave enough to come back, no one believed him. A certain detective finally decided to investigate, and after a long investigation, the gang only got caught because they tried to do it a second time, but made some critical mistakes along the way. Lugo and Doorball got the death penalty, while the other minor players served from 10 to 20 years. In terms of the movie adaption, had Michael Bay taken the Prisoners or Zodiac type of approach, this movie would've been amazing. But no. First off, all the characters were portrayed wrong. Lugo was portrayed as an idiot. Doorbal was portrayed is a whiny freak show. The rest of the gang were all combined to form one fictional member of the gang. The victim of the whole thing was portrayed as a crazy idiot. The movie was a comedy, which was totally absurd. The movie actually actually makes you sympathize with the gang to a certain extent while making you think the victim was a lunatic. There's a reason why the actual family threatened to sue Michael Bay for this movie. It's an outright offensive disaster. No, I don't fully blame Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Mackie, and Dwayne Johnson, except for maybe taking on the roles. I fully blame Michael Bay and anyone else who worked on the production of this movie.

1- Man of Steel 

And here it is! Man of Steel is my least favorite film of 2013. If you knew me or talked to me about this movie throughout the year, you'll know this doesn't come as a surprise at all. I love Superman. No, I have no allegiance to the Superman comics, let's get that out right now, but what I do have allegiance to is the Richard Donner Superman movies, specifically the first two. Yes they were made in the late 70's and early 80's and thus are a bit cheesy, with less than superb special effects. But the story is just absolutely beautiful. The characters are very well written and very well acted. Specifically, the actual character of Superman is the best written Superman ever. First off, is he perfect? No. He's pretty unstoppable, but there are a lot of mental and emotional challenges that he has to go through as a character who is one of  the last of his kind on a planet that is not his own. At one point he even gives up his powers to try to become a normal human being, not knowing what his purpose is. So beautiful. So touching. There is also a lot of messianic symbolism that comes with the character Superman. He loves the people. He protects the people. He saves the people from evil. The people love him back. He is their savior. I could go on about these movies and this character for a long time, but I'll stop. Overall these Richard Donner Superman movies are some of my favorite movies ever made. I expected Man of Steel to be a bit different. I was actually really excited for the movie. But when I finally sat down in that theater, I quickly became appalled and offended. Every second of the movie was painful for me to watch. They almost literally got EVERYTHING wrong. It was as if Man of Steel was written for the intent purpose of pleasing those who hated the Richard Donner Superman movies, because all the beauty and all the symbolism that these movies brought to the movie and character of Superman were completely destroyed and twisted around in Man of Steel. Superman wasn't a messianic figure. He was a whimp. He hid from the world and only came out because Zod threatened to destroy the earth. The people didn't love him, they treated him like a Batman-esque fugitive and tried to arrest him. That's great for Batman, but not for Superman. Superman didn't care for the people. In fact, when Zod came to fight him in the city, Superman was personally responsible for millions of dollars of damage to the city and millions of deaths. Speaking of which, the movie was non-stop action that was way too over top. The villain Zod was ruined. None of the actors did a terrible job, but none of them shined a light on the performances by the actors in the Richard Donner Superman movies. I haven't even begun to mention all the confusing scenes, all the plot-holes, and all the over-the-top product placement. After reading this huge paragraph, it's probably hard to imagine that I have only scratched the surface with my complaints on this movie, but I think I've said enough. Not only was this my least favorite movie of the year, but I don't know if I've ever watch a movie in which I was more offended and appalled as I watched. I'm not going to give the absolute on this final statement, but instead I will say that Man of Steel is one of the worst movies I have EVER watched. It's as if they let my least favorite director Zack Snyder do a Superman movie. Oh wait. That is what they did.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

DrogeMiester's Top 10 BEST Movies of 2013

This year in movies has been a really good year in my opinion. Now that the year is over, it's time to do what I look forward to every year -- making my list of favorite movies. Simply stated, this is my own personal list of the movies that I enjoyed most this year. I'm in no way prejudice in only including critically praised movies, Oscar contending movies, big box office hits, or movies that no one has heard of. This is just a list of my personal favorite movies, regardless of what anyone else thinks. I don't do this to impress anyone or to brag. I just wanted to share with you my favorite movies of the year. No, I haven't seen every movie, but I did see a lot of movies this year, so this list was actually really hard to create. There's a lot of movies that I wanted to include that I simply had to leave off because there wasn't room. Feedback and conversation is always fun, especially because the beauty of movies is that everyone can like different movies for different reasons; so once you read this, let me know what you think! Also, feel free to share with me your own personal favorites! Let's begin!

10- Saving Mr. Banks

The trailers on this one led me to believe that it was going to be a different movie than what it was. Trailer fail. But movie win. I love the movie Mary Poppins. However, I never really looked into the meaning of the movie that much. It was just a fun movie with fun music. Saving Mr. Banks is a movie that gave me a lot more insight to Mary Poppins. Specifically, author P.L. Travers had a very special, yet unique relationship with her father. Yes, he was a drunk. Yes, he had problems with his wife and his job. But he loved his little daughter and his little daughter loved him. That made P.L. Travers' book Mary Poppins very special to her for certain reasons, and to me learning of that relationship and watching it unfold was really beautiful and inspiring. I wanted to cry right along with Emma Thompson at the end. Speaking of which, Emma Thompson's performance as P.L. Travers was amazing. Definitely one of my favorite performances from an actress this year. Yes, Tom Hanks did great as Walt Disney, but this wasn't his film. This was Emma Thompson's film. I hope she wins an Oscar for this.

9- About Time

Imagine for a second if you had the ability to travel through time to events that happened in your life. You can't change history, but you can go back and change things that you have done. Maybe I'm just a sucker for time travel, but I thought this premise was really interesting. Specifically, our main character uses this ability he learns that he has to try to get a girlfriend. There's the second connection that this movie had with me. What if you had a poor encounter with a girl and you could just go back in time a few minutes before that encounter happened and change something that you said? I think I would be able to put that to good use. I won't give away much about this movie, but I went in expecting a chick flick with a time travel twist. I walked out with a lot more than that. This movie is actually less about the guy and the girl, and more about the guy and his father, who introduces him to this idea that the men in their family, once they turn 21, have the ability to go back in time. The movie had a lot of depth to it and a lot of heart. The acting was superb and the overall message that it taught was very inspiring.

8- The Book Thief

The Book Thief is based off the critically acclaimed book of the same title. I have not read this book, but after seeing this movie, that is something that I want to change. Eventually. This is a World War II movie, but a very unique one in that it tells the story from the perspective of people who were good people living in Nazi Germany during World War II. These people don't support the Nazi party, but they go with the flow so that they can survive. It was a super interesting premise that was really interesting to follow. This is actually a very slow-paced movie, but in this instance I appreciated it because I was able to get emotionally attached to this family that we followed. Specifically, our main character was the most adorable little girl that has been adopted by this older couple living in Nazi Germany. The little girl is played by a young actress named Sophie Nelisse and I wish her a long and prosperous acting career because she was absolutely fantastic. Really, the acting from everyone is superb and that's what made this movie work so well.

7- Nebraska

In case you haven't noticed, I have a theme going here. It wasn't intentional actually, but when I decided on my final order, I realized that most of my top movies were movies that had touching stories about family. I guess I'm just a sucker for these family movies. Yes, this theme continues with the movie Nebraska. I imagine that there are a lot of you that haven't seen this movie yet, and that's because it didn't get a huge release. Luckily for me, this movie showed up in a little theater in my hometown, so I caught. Whenever it gets to you, I'd highly recommend you give it a shot. It has a lot of Oscar buzz around it, and for good reason. What it is is a father/son movie. This family consists of a middle aged son who goes on a trip with his crazy old father to the state of Nebraska because his father thinks he has won a million dollars. Once again, it's a slow-moving movie that is actually shot in black and white. But all the actors do a terrific job and thus you become attached to this family. Bruce Dern plays the old, crazy father and Will Forte plays the son that gives in and goes with him to Nebraska. I loved Bruce Dern in this movie and I also loved his wife in the movie, June Squibb, who steals the show every time she shows up. Both of them will be up for Oscars here in a bit, and I wish them both luck. I also highly respect Will Forte because he usually does comedy and in this instance he does excellent in a completely serious role.

6- The Croods

It was a fantastic year in animation in my opinion. I loved Frozen. I loved Despicable Me 2. I also found myself surprisingly entertained by Monsters University, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2, and Epic. But in my opinion, Dreamworks hit the big home run this year with The Croods. I wasn't expecting much with this movie, which shows that Dreamworks advertising wasn't that great, but I was super surprised by how much I loved it. Not only was the animation done very well, but the characters were extremely well written. In the movie, we follow a caveman family whose cave gets tragically destroyed, so they have to venture out into the world to survive. The voice acting is top notch. Specifically, Nick Cage does an amazing job as the father, and Emma Stone does an amazing job as the rebellious daughter. The movie made me laugh really hard throughout and it almost made me cry at the end. What gave it even more kudos was that it has the rewatchability factor, which for me is really important for animated movies especially. I saw this movie four or five times in theaters and every time I laughed just as hard and got even closer to crying at the end. Owl City does the main song Shine Your Way. I have that song downloaded and it is a commonly listened to song by myself. Not only is this my favorite animated movie of the year, but it is also up there as one of my favorite animated movies that Dreamworks has ever done. Yes, it's right up there with the likes of Shrek and Kung Fu Panda for me.

5- The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Leading up to the first Hunger Games movie, I was hearing a lot of hype for the movie because of the book. However, I hadn't read the books before I went to go see the first movie. After seeing the movie, I was instantly converted and quickly picked up the books and read the whole trilogy. When I got to Catching Fire, I was completely captured. I literally couldn't set it down. I read the whole book in just two days, which for me is super good. I ended up enjoying the whole series, including the often hated ending, but Catching Fire was my favorite book of the series. Needless to say, I was really excited for the movie, yet I was crossing my fingers that they would do it right, because if they did it had the potential to be a super good movie. Turns out they hit a grand slam as far as I'm concerned as this is one of the best book-to-movie adaptions ever made. Their pacing was perfect. Quite honestly, the book moved a bit slow in the beginning, but I loved that the book did so because it allowed for some character building. I was worried that the movie would rush the beginning and jump quickly to the arena. They didn't. They took their time and beautifully built up all the characters, just like in the book. Another slight concern I had initially was with Jennifer Lawrence. And before you freak out, I loved her in the first movie. Katniss in the first book was pretty good at keeping her emotions to herself, thus she came across as fairly emotionless. Jennifer Lawrence pulled this off perfectly. In the second book, though, is when Katniss starts to become emotionally unstable and thus freaks out at everything. I was simply wondering how Jennifer would pull that off. And by goodness she did it perfectly. Kudos to the rest of the cast, though. The returning cast was all excellent, just like in the first one. I was hoping the new cast members would pull it off, though, because Catching Fire introduces several new key characters that are very important to the finale. Once again, all the new cast members fit in perfectly and also nailed their characters. Specifically, I am talking about Philip Seymour Hoffman (Plutarch), Jeffrey Wright (Beetee), Sam Claflin (Finnick), and Jena Malone (Johanna). Story-wise, I was worried that the movie might go outside Katniss' perspective more than they should, but they didn't. They kept the twist ending a complete surprise for audiences who hadn't the book. I was very pleased with how this turned out.

4- Now You See Me

I could go on for a long time with this movie, but I'm not going to because what made Now You See Me so brilliant in my opinion is something that would require me to spoil the whole movie. This is a movie about a group of magicians that get brought together by an unknown person to put on a series of magic performances, all of which require doing things that aren't exactly legal. What happens is rather brilliant, but a huge part of the experience is going in to the movie knowing nothing about it. So I won't even begin to explain why I liked it so much. What I will say is that it had an excellent cast. Our four magicians are played by Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, and Dave Franco. The chemistry between those four is perfect. Also we have the always fantastic veteran actors of Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine. Mark Ruffalo leads our FBI crew and he is supporting brilliantly by a bunch of different lesser-known actors led by Michael Kelly from the wrongly cancelled show Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior. Think there's lots of plot holes? Think it's very illogical? If you answered yes to either of those, you may have missed the whole point of the movie and you need to come talk to me privately so I can explain this movie's brilliance.

3- The Great Gatsby

Here's a movie that, if you recall, I didn't initially give it a high grade when I first saw it. However, for several months the movie just wouldn't leave my mind. I thought a lot about the events of the movie, and then when I rented it on DVD and watched it again, that is when it blew my mind. The novel of the same title written by F Scott Fitzgerald is considered a classic, and although I never read it, I understand why. The book was written in the 1920's and is a reflection of society for that time period. It's also a reflection of society today. The fact that it stand the test of time like that, being still relevant to us today, makes the story brilliant. In the story, you have four main characters. You have the main girl who only cares about money. You have the husband of the girl who cheats on her, yet is a hypocrite because he expects her to not do the same. You have the old boyfriend who was rejected by the girl, and so he tries to change who he is to impress her again, not caring that she is married. Finally you have the friend who is more of an onlooker to all this. He doesn't really participate in all of this, but yet he does nothing to stop it, helping it along when he is asked to. All these are four very different characters all with different moral problems. Who's good? Who's bad? That's open to a lot of discussion there, but it is brilliant to see all of these characters interact and clash with each other. The characters in the movie are played by Leonardo DiCaprio, Joel Edgerton, Carey Mulligan, and Tobey Maguire. All four nail the characters perfectly. Also the soundtrack for this movie is amazing, topped by the beautiful, yet haunting song Young and Beautiful by Lana Del Rey.

2- 12 Years a Slave

12 Years a Slave is a movie that will stick with me for a long time. We all have heard how slavery was via our history books and our education, but since it was abolished long before our time, none of us have personal experience with it. This movie gives us a realistic take on how it was like to be a slave. Being realistic, it is quite graphic at times and super hard to watch for much of it. The movie pulls at all your emotional strings as you watch certain slave owners in the movie treat their slaves like property and livestock. It's horrible watching these human beings being treated like dirt, and it's even worse as we see that some people really didn't see them as human beings. The story is also heart-wrenching because we follow the true story of Solomon Northcut, a man who was born free, but later in life got kidnapped and sold into slavery for 12 years, leaving his wife and two children behind. It's such a sad story. However, despite it being hard to watch, I would recommend that this is a movie that all adults should watch. No it's not a children's movie, but watching this movie has given me more insights into slavery than anything I read in a history book. Also the movie is heavily boosted by a terrific cast, all of whom do an excellent job with their roles. This movie has a lot of Oscar awards coming its way and they are all deserved.

1- Gravity

As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, there are a lot of movie that were excellent this year. Despite that, though, picking Gravity as my top movie was the easiest choice I had to make while putting this list together, as seeing Gravity in 3D was easily the best theatrical experience of the year for me and quite possibly one of the best theatrical experiences of my life. Note the careful wording with that. Favorite movie of all time is different than best theatrical experience. What this movie did was take me into space. And the 3D aspect of the movie was what made it actually feel that way. I normally don't like 3D movies, but the 3D in this movie is the best 3D movie ever. Yes, there are a lot of movies about space, but this movie portrayed space better than any movie has ever done. There was an astronaut's review that I read that said this. He admitted that it wasn't 100 percent perfect, but it was the most realistic that he had ever watched. In doing so, it showed me how scary space actually is. If you get lost, there is very little hope for you. Space is extremely dangerous and completely unmerciful. Like many people, I have always thought it would be fun to go into space. Nope. Not anymore. However, this movie isn't just about all the realistic space visuals. This is a movie where Sandra Bullock plays an astronaut that runs into some serious problems and has to fight to survive. With how realistic the portrayal of space is added to the fact that the 3D makes you feel like you are up in space with Sandra Bullock, you become immediately attached to her character and you aren't just watching her character suffer and hoping she survives, but you are living the story with her. You become terrified as the soundless explosions start happening and all the chaos begins. There were times where I was unsure if I was going to make it out of the theater alive. I personally am not going to tell you what happens to Sandra Bullock's character outside of mentioning that it actually wasn't that predictable, but I will mention that I am proud to announce that I personally made it. I survived space. Yes, this was my favorite movie of the year. Nothing even really came that close.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

DrogeMiester's Top 10 Albums of 2013

Yes, I listen to a lot of music. If you haven't been following my blog recently, in the last few weeks I have created three different music lists. Those would be the Most Popular Songs of 2013, my personal favorite Songs of 2013, and my personal favorite Music Videos of 2013. This upcoming list is the grand finale of all these music of 2013 lists, and that would be, as the title suggests, my personal favorite albums of the year. This list actually took a long time to make, not because I was struggling to come up with a specific order, but rather because I didn't listen to as many full albums this year as I did individual singles. Yes, there was several that I had listened to, and I had a top 5 ready, but I wanted to make a top 10, so I spent a lot of time in the last week or so sampling a bunch of different albums this year and finding the ones that I liked the best so I could come up with a good solid top 10. In the other lists, I posted the songs and music videos with each choice so you could listen to the song as you read why it made the list. With this being full albums, I'm not going to post a link. Instead I'll just post the album art and let you go find a place to listen to the album yourself, like YouTube, Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, or wherever you go to listen to music. Enjoy!

10- "Bad Blood" -- Bastille

You may know their hit single, Pompeii, but let me tell you that Bastille is a really good new band. Not every one of the songs on Bad Blood is blow you away awesome, which is why this album only comes in at number 10, but all the songs are good, and there are several songs, Like Pompeii and Icarus that are very excellent. The sound of Bastille is really chilling. In some ways, they remind me of those old Gregorian chants mixed with recent pop music. Or maybe I'm just crazy by saying that. Either way, the sound of this album is rather awesome.

9- "Atmosphere" -- Kaskade

And here we go! If you know me, or have listened to the songs from my favorite songs list, you'll know that I have a type. I love electronic music. And even though I do think that this particular list does include plenty of non-electronic music, thus showing the versatility in my musical tastes, I won't shy away from mentioning the electronic albums that I personally enjoyed, even if I am the only one that did. Ryan Raddon, known by his stage name of Kaskade, is really awesome. I learned recently that he attended the same University that I am currently attended, that of Brigham Young University. What does that have to do with this album of his? Nothing really. Just a fun connection. The album itself I think is super beautiful. He sings some, but does his DJ-ing for most of it. It may not be as creative and mind blowing as some other albums higher on this list, but the whole album has a beautiful feel, like say the feeling of you gliding through the atmosphere.

8- "Intense" -- Armin Van Buuren

Here we have our second electronic album in a row. After that, we will take a break from the genre for a while. I think the two albums right here, Atmosphere by Kaskade and Intense by Armin Van Buuren, are pretty similar albums. Kaskade's album is a prettier sounding album, however I give the nod to Intense  as the slightly better album because while Atmosphere is much of the same for the whole album, Intense is a more versatile. While not nearly as creative as a later album that blew my mind, there are a lot of different sounds and voices on this album, thus making it really fun to listen to.

7- "Pure Heroine" -- Lorde


It's been a huge year for Lorde as the 17-year-old's first single quickly become one of the biggest songs of the year. Most people her age have only begun to consider what they want to do for their career. I was quickly impressed with how talented this young girl is. I'm also surprised by how mature her music is. Had I not known before, I would've never guessed that she is as young as she is. When I first listened to Royals, I wasn't completely blown away. However, the more I listened to it, the more I liked it. Her whole album is the same style that Royals is. Once you get used to her style, you quickly fall in love with all her music. It's fantastic.

6- "All That Echoes" -- Josh Groban


Out of all the voices in the musical world, Josh Groban's voice is my favorite. I just get blown away every time I listen to him sing. This recent album of his may not be as good as his past albums as there's not a whole lot of songs that you will remember for a long time after you listen to it, but it's still Josh Groban. That voice is still amazing. Even though Brave is the only the only song that really gets stuck in my head afterwards, the whole album is still great to turn on, listen to, and relieve all the stress from the day.

5- "Kveikur" -- Sigur Ros


I first heard of Sigur Ros when they did the music for the movie We Bought a Zoo. Not only was that movie excellent on its own, but the absolute beautiful music in the movie made it that much better. I've been in love with Sigur Ros ever since. I know that means I'm probably late on the band wagon, but oh well. This most recent album I can't understand anything that's being said and I don't even know exactly what genre to label it as, but that doesn't matter. I just call it beautiful music.

4- "In a Tidal Wave of Mystery" -- Capitol Cities


As I mentioned when I put the song Safe and Sound on my favorite songs list, when I first listened to the song I was thinking that it was a fun, but generic pop song, but then the trumpet anthem came in and I was super impressed. Then I listened to the whole album and was really impressed because the whole album was super creative in the way they used different instruments in their songs. It reminded me a lot of fun.'s first album. Just a creative and fun album to listen to in both instances.

3- "Britney Jean" -- Britney Spears


Britney Spears? Really? I know that's what you are all thinking when you see this. Yes. Britney Spears. And I'm proud of it. Britney was the bane of my existence when I was in Elementary School. I hated her and I hated her music. However, I think that she has matured a lot as she has gotten older, at least in terms of her music. The first time she caught my attention musically speaking was with her song I Wanna Go. Not the best lyrically, but I found that I really enjoyed the sound of it. After many years of despise and hatred towards her music, my heart began to be softened. I wasn't extremely impressed with the rest of her Femme Fatale album, but I wasn't opposed to it either. On the eve of her release of Britney Jean, I became curiously excited, especially after I liked the song she wrote for Smurfs 2 and the lead single Work from Britney Jean. When the full album finally came out at the end of November, I found myself very pleased. Britney has said that this is her most personal album and it really shows. It's also a very clean album, which is different from some of the stuff she has done in the past. And last but not least, I love the sound. The album has a lot of electronic influence and, as you know, I really enjoy that. David Guetta is one of my favorite electronic musicians and he actually collaborated with Britney on this album. So essentially it's Britney's lyrics and voice with David Guetta's sound. If me loving this album didn't make sense to you before, it should make perfect sense now that you have that in mind. David Guetta is magical. He has the ability to work with any musician that I have not liked in the past and make me like their music.

2- "TRUE" -- Avicii


Earlier when I was talking about Armin Van Buuren's album Intense, I made reference to an album that was super creative that I would mention later. This is it. The beauty of Avicii's music is how creative he is. When you listen to this whole album, you'll notice that he doesn't purely make an electronic album. He experiments with a whole bunch of different genres and styles of music, with a bunch of different instruments. Then he implements a lot of different singers, both male and female, as the voices. Then after doing all that, he mixes his electronic sounds in with the music rather cleverly. You can definitely appreciate each individual song if you listen to them without the rest of the album, but once you listen to the full album together, it will just completely blow your mind. Each song has a different feel and a different style, and thus each song you listen to is a brand new musical experience. It is rather impressive. Also of note, Avicii doesn't sing. Yet he doesn't give credit to his singers in the title of the song. On first listen, some people will hear a song like Wake Me Up! and say after it ends that they were really impressed with Avicii's voice. I personally laugh at that, but eventually they find out the voice was actually Aloe Blacc. Some people then get mad at Avicii for not crediting him. That there is silly. Aloe Blacc doesn't care that he's not credited. He actually enjoys the anonymous hit. Avicii does give credit in the album credits, so he's safe legally, but it's just his style. He's not the first to do it that way.

1- "Random Access Memories" -- Daft Punk  

I've always enjoyed Daft Punk's music. Back in the day of their first albums, they did have their audience, but generally speaking they got little attention. Several years went by before they came out with Random Access Memories this year, and lucky for them they are one of many beneficiaries of the rise of electronic music. Their lead single from this album, Get Lucky, ended up being one of the biggest songs of the year and concurrently made their album Random Access Memories one of the biggest albums of the year. In fact, Random Access Memories is up for a Grammy this year for best album. All this makes me super happy as I love this album. In this instance, it's actually not me going with the flow of popularity, but rather it's the rest of the world deciding they like the music I like. Ironically, though, Get Lucky is my least favorite song on the album. The rest of the album is super beautiful and is one of the few albums these days that actually works best when you listen to the whole album together. The theme is the future. Towards the beginning of the album there is a song called Georgio by Moroder, which is very unique in the sense the main part of the song is Georgio Moroder himself telling the story of his life. Georgio Moroder is one of the pioneers of electronic music and in his monologue in the song, he tells the story of no one told him of any music rules, so he just did his own thing and when he came up with this style of music, he tells that this, he believed, was the future of music. Daft Punk takes that message and really makes it the theme of their whole album. The whole album has a futuristic theme, culminating with the song Touch, which essentially tells the story of a robot in the future remembering what it was like to have the sensation of touch as if the future has become such that we have lost this and been taken over by robots. This just makes the whole album actually quite beautiful and amazing. I hope it wins best album in the Grammys because it certainly has my vote for favorite album. It would be nice if the public agrees with me for once.

Friday, January 3, 2014

About Time Review

If you don't know already, I am a big fan of the British singer Ellie Goulding. Recently she released an extended version of her Halcyon album entitled Halcyon Days. No this is not a review of that album, but there is a song on that album entitled How Long Will You Love You. It's a very sweet, romantic song. My first thought upon listening is that I want the song played at my wedding. Pretty soon after the release of Halcyon Days, I learned that this song will be featured on the movie About Time. I know that's a silly reason to be excited about a movie, but that's what happened. When I finally got around to seeing this movie this past week, I was rather disappointed. The song was on there, but it was sung by someone else. The guy didn't do a bad job singing it, but it still wasn't Ellie. That aside, I'm actually glad that I was motivated to see the movie in that way because I ended up loving the movie.

About Time looked like it was simply a chick flick, so I didn't put it high on my list to see. Turns out that it wasn't a chick flick at all. I mean, chicks will like this flick, but the typical chick flick formula doesn't exist. There's a romance storyline, but the couple falling in love isn't even the main focus of this movie. The movie is more focused on the relationship between the father and the son. The premise of the movie is that the males in this particular family, once they turn 21, have the ability to travel in time in their own personal lives. There are plenty of conditions to this that the movie gets into more as it goes along, but I won't jump into those. Our main character Tim has just turned 21, and his dad takes the time to break the news to him. Initially Tim thinks this is stupid, but quickly learns it is actually true. Tim decides to do what most single men in their early 20's would use this to do. Get a girlfriend.

Imagine for a second if you were on a date and you said something really stupid, but had the ability to go back a few minutes and fix that. Or perhaps you had a really bold question you wanted to ask a certain someone, but you were too nervous to ask. Wouldn't you like the idea of asking the question with no shame, then going back in time if things blew up in your face? Like say, pretend you had a girlfriend, but you didn't know if she wanted to marry you or not and suddenly you had an old girl from your past come into your life that showed genuine interest. What if you could just go propose to your girlfriend, and if she said no, you could go back in time and fix things with this other girl? Yes, I got that example from the movie. Like that idea? Or do you think that is really shallow? Think people should just learn to do things on their own without cheating their way through life. Think people should just learn to enjoy life as it comes? Yeah, I'm getting there. This movie isn't a shallow movie about time travel. It has a lot of depth to it and I loved the overall message that it was trying to get across.

The cast in this movie is really good. Our main male protagonist, Tim, is played by Domhnall Gleeson, best known for his role of Bill Weasly in the Harry Potter movies. His main love interest is the lovely Rachel McAdams, who I've noticed somehow ends up in like every romance movie. Both of these characters do a really good job of acting, but another thing I noticed was how well these two have aged. They play characters who are supposed to be in their 20's and, despite Gleeson being 30 and McAdams being 35, they pull it off real well. In fact, later in the movie time fast forwards and they are supposed to be older. I was going to complain that they didn't look old enough for the roles they were playing later in the movie. When I looked up the actors' ages, I was pleasantly surprised that they were actually older than I thought. However, like I said, the love story between Gleeson and McAdams isn't the main focus. The focus is more on the relationship with father and son, and the great Bill Nighy, who manages to make it into every movie I watch, also does a fantastic job as the dad.

In the end, this movie really surprised me. With how strong the reviews were, I expected a moving and perhaps charming love story mixed with time travel. I got that, but I also got a movie that was a lot more. About Time is well acted, well shot, and was touching and inspiring enough to almost make me tear up in the end. If the movie doesn't end up making my top 10 movies of 2013, know that it will have at least gotten close. I give About Time a 9 out of 10.