Saturday, January 28, 2012

Dolphin Tale Review

In reviewing Dolphin Tale, it may not be as popular or interesting of a blog post, but that doesn’t bother me that much. I went to see it this past weekend as was really impressed with it. So much so that I felt like writing this blog post to promote it in a sense. September and October aren’t very busy movie months and so there’s a good chance that you have either never heard of it or have not seen it and that is why I am writing this because I think it is certainly a movie worth watching. Great, inspiring, clean family films are becoming few and far between it seems, so a movie like this is fairly rare. There isn’t any language, sex, nudity, or violence in this. Now if you are the type of person that likes these kinds of movies that are vulgar or have hard core action violence then maybe Dolphin Tale isn’t for you. Now I do enjoy quite the variety of movies, so I’m not knocking on any movie genre when I say that, but I am one who does enjoy inspirational family movies, so I enjoyed Dolphin Tale.

Let’s go back in time for a second. Dolphin Tale came out on September 23rd, 2011. It opened up in third place in the box office behind Lion King and Moneyball with around 19M. However, good word of mouth propelled it ahead of both of them and took the number one spot in its second weekend. It ended its box office run with a total that was just north of 70M, which is good considering it was a September release that only opened to 19M.

Dolphin Tale is based on a true story. It’s about a young boy named Sawyer Nelson who lives with his mom only and isn’t much of a social person at all. He also struggles with school and is forced to start summer school of which he isn’t excited about at all. One day as he is on his bike riding past the beach he runs into a dolphin that is caught in a trap. After freeing the dolphin, the dolphin is taken to the local animal hospital where his tail has to be amputated and he struggles to survive. Morgan Freeman is the biggest name in this movie and does quite well in his role like he usually does. The other actors in this movie aren’t huge name actors, although they have shown up here and there. The lead kid, Nathan Gamble, appeared in the Dark Knight as Jim Gordon’s son and Harry Connick Jr and Ashley Judd appear in things periodically. As a whole, the movie was casted very well and I thought the acting was all great. The story flowed rather well and the cinematography with the animals was good.

The message in this movie was great. It’s a story about not giving up, especially when times get hard. We can learn a lot from Winter the dolphin and the other characters in this movie. I don’t know if it’s a movie that I will buy and watch over and over and I don’t know if it is one that would’ve made my top 10 from last year, but nonetheless it is a great film. I highly recommend you go on over to your local redbox and pick it up. You won’t regret it. I give this movie a 9 out 10. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Red Tails Review

The story of the Tuskegee Airmen is certainly an inspiring and historical story. One that should be put in history books and taught in schools. It is the story about a group of African American pilots in World War II. Specifically they were the first group of African American pilots in the history of the United States armed forces. Watching this movie made me want to go home and learn more about them because if I was taught about them in school, it must’ve not stuck in my brain very well because I didn’t know much about them going in to this. Now I’m not a huge history buff, so that might be the reason, but who knows. Now Red Tails is a movie that is about the Tuskegee Airman. It is a movie that George Lucas said he wanted to make for quite a long time. It’s the first movie that he’s worked on in a long time that isn’t named Star Wars or Indiana Jones. After hearing this and learning what he is taking on, I was excited and thus went to see it on opening weekend. However, after seeing it I was extremely disappointed. It’s been a long time since I have been able to point out so many horrible things about a movie. And before you just write me off as someone who is anti –war and/or doesn’t like watching war/World War II movies, I will write you off as my critic right now. I enjoy war movies and enjoy World War II movies. And one day I think the Tuskegee Airmen deserve a great movie made about them, but this is not one of them. George Lucas should be ashamed. I was embarrassed for him.

Now prepare for a paragraph full of me ranting about a bunch of reasons why this film was bad. Where should I begin? How about the beginning. It was slow. I had a hard time getting into the storyline and even almost dozed off a few times. And in general throughout the whole movie the storyline was choppy and unorganized. I was able to follow it because I read up on the American Tuskegee before seeing the movie, but had I not done that I think I would’ve come out of the movie not knowing hardly what happened. It was also a bit too long at 145 minutes. Now normally I don’t mind long movies, but this one seemed to drag on a bit longer than it should’ve. Ironically though, the ending seem a bit quick. And by that I mean that it didn’t really finish the story that good. It just kinda ended. The script in this movie was terrible. The dialogue was cheesy and weird throughout the whole movie. The acting wasn’t horrible, but at the same time it wasn’t that great either. Some of the actors did a good job with the horrible script that they were given, but others seemed very shallow undeveloped characters the whole movie. Along with the story line, there were a few side tangents that just didn’t work. The romance story in it was the strangest love story I have ever seen in it. It was forced and disconnected while having absolutely no chemistry between them at all.  The other weird tangent was a scene where one of the main characters gets captured and tries to escape. It could’ve been a really good story line in the movie, but instead it was poorly done and thus didn’t fit in very well. The music was also annoying. It wasn’t a bad soundtrack, but the timing was off. There were times where I felt it needed music and there just was none playing. Then a few seconds later the music would play for 30 seconds and then just stop again. I won’t spoil the ending, but there was one scene that was very emotional but the music sucked for that scene and thus the power of the scene was lost a bit.

Did I miss anything? Probably. But what was good about the movie? The special effects were good. But is that surprising? Lucas is good at making movies with great effects, but sometimes I feel that is all he focuses on. But even with that, the movie felt like a video game at times during the war scenes instead of a World War II movie that was supposed to look like real life. But I am done ranting. Maybe you will like it better if you see it, but I thought it was awful. Almost Last Airbender awful. 4 out of 10.  

Sunday, January 22, 2012

2012 Movie Preview

January is already mostly over, bet there are still 11 months left in the year and two weekends left in January, so it is certainly not too late to look forward and examine the upcoming movies of 2012. In doing so, I am not going to list off every single movie that will be made. That would be a very long and boring blog post. I will just go over the highlights of the year and talk about some of the major movies coming out. Now it will be an early look for sure. There are always several titles that take people by surprise as to how good they are and other movies that seem to come out of nowhere to be really good, but nevertheless I will proceed. And I am going to do this in thirds. Instead of going month by month, I will look at the movies coming out in the first third of the month, January through April, then the second third, May through August, and finally the last third, September through December. Enjoy!

Late Winter / Spring – January through April – January has brought us some decent hits so far for being a slow month. The Devil Inside opened to the 3rd biggest January openings with a total in the mid 30 million range while both Contraband and Beauty and the Beast 3D re-release had good releases in the 20 million range. There are still a few decent movies to be released in January, but in the first third of the year, the biggest movies come in the month of March. There are five weekends in this March and each weekend has something intriguing each weekend. It starts with another rendition of a Dr. Seuss classic with The Lorax. The Lorax is from the creators of Despicable Me and stars Zac Efron and Taylor Swift. An eyebrow raising movie in Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters was planned to combat the Lorax on this weekend, but recently decided to postpone its release until January of 2013. The second weekend in March brings John Carter to the big spring. No, that’s not an actor’s name, it’s a movie title. A movie that was almost going to be the first animated movie ever and now ironically becomes Pixar’s first live action film. A huge budget of nearly $300 million was spent on this movie, so anything shorter than a blockbuster would be an epic failure. The 3rd week of March begins an odd fetish with Snow White as Mirror Mirror becomes the first of two Snow White films, both of which have nothing to do with each other. Mirror Mirror easily looks like it will be the worst of the two. Mirror Mirror is challenged in week three by the movie remake of 21 Jump Street, the TV show that made Johnny Depp famous. This will star Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum, but will have a cameo appearance by Johnny Depp himself. The fourth weekend brings the much anticipated Hunger Games. With Harry Potter coming to an end last year and Twilight coming to an end this year, The Hunger Games plans on being the next big popular book series turned into a series of movies with the goal of not having the same fate as other failed series translations on the big screen like Percy Jackson and Eragon. Eddie Murphey’s new movie A Thousand Words wisely rescheduled itself from the Hunger Games weekend to April 20th.  Finally for March we get the sequel to Clash of the Titans, called The Wrath of the Titans in the last weekend of March. Trying not to get lost in all of this is a fun animated movie called Pirates! Band of Misfits starring Hugh Jackman. Now we will remove ourselves from the big month of March and take a look at some of the highlights of the less busy months in this time frame. A 3D re-release craze will continue in this time period. We have already seen Beauty and the Beast get another shot at the big screen. April will bring Titanic back into theaters with it being the 100th anniversary of the sinking of Titanic. And I’m sure James Cameron is stoked to earn more money on this after the success he had with Avatar in 3D. George Lucas never seems to be done with his Star Wars work and the latest in this is re-releasing Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace in the 3D in February. Speaking of George Lucas, he’s also decided to branch out and work on a project that doesn’t have anything to do with Star Wars or Indiana Jones as he releases Red Tails this weekend (Jan 20th). Speaking of this weekend, the Underworld franchise will see their 4th movie with Underworld Awakening and January will end with Liam Neesen in The Grey. February has Daniel Radcliff on the big screen with The Woman in Black. It will be interesting to see him in a non-Harry Potter role. For those who liked Ghost Rider and Journey to the Center of the Earth, February will provide sequels to those movies with Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance and Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (I’m sure there was no pun intended on that one…). Ending this segment with April, April is riddled with a bunch of smaller name movies of which I’m sure there will be a title or two that will end up on top of the rest. A remake of The Three Stooges is included in this as well as some movies for those who like dirtier comedies with American Reunion and Scary Movie 5.

Summer – May through August – This past summer had a lot of good movies get released but none were box office shattering movies. The Harry Potter finale was the top summer movie with $380 million. Instead there were a lot of movies that did decently good in the box office. This summer should be a little different by being a lot more lopsided. There are two extremely hyped up films that both should be at least $400 million and possibly both have $500 million if it turns out to be an amazing showing for both. I’m sure you can easily guess the two movies I’m thinking of. The first one is the movie that starts the summer off in the first weekend of May. That movie is The Avengers. The Avengers is finally here after building up to it for several years with 5 movies made just to set this one up. Iron Man, the Hulk, Captain America, and Thor will all finally get to team up in a movie event that should be quite epic. The second movie that will dominate the summer is The Dark Knight Rises. The Dark Knight was the second movie to climb north of $500 million domestically. Comic Book fans everywhere called this the best comic book movie ever. Obviously that is opinion based, but that type of reaction will certainly ensure crowds running to the theaters to see the series finale this summer. Those are the two main titles of the summer, but there is a decent supporting cast of movies around the two. There aren’t a whole lot of movies daring enough to open up in the shadow of the Avengers, but in two weeks Battleship hopes that crowds have died down enough for there to be good crowds to see it. Yes, Battleship is based on the Battleship game, which seems like a slightly odd game to make a movie out of. Sure I loved the game, but it’s not one that has its own storyline to work with. But nonetheless, it looks like it will be a good movie. It brings with it an interesting cast that features Brooklyn Decker, Liam Neesen, and yes, Rihanna. May will conclude with Men in Black trying to pull a Toy Story-esque move with Men in Black III, released ten years after the second one. I’m a fan of Will Smith, so I won’t be complaining about this. June starts with the second of the two Snow White films, Snow White and the Huntsman. It’s a planned trilogy with Snow White and while it certainly is an odd take on Snow White, it should quite amazing. It has a mostly great cast with the one question mark being who was the bright one that decided to cast Kristen Stewart as Snow White. June also has one of the biggest sequel happy companies at it again. Dreamwork’s Madagascar 3 will be released in the second week of June. It will be rivaled by the alien movie Promitheus. June ends rather busy as several makes make an attempt to have a good start and run before The Dark Knight takes control of all theaters in mid-July. The third week we have another dip into the fairy tale vault with Jack the Giant Killer, which looks to be a rendition of Jack and the Beanstalk. Adam Sandler will also jump into the crowded June group with his movie Donny’s Boy. For those people complaining about all the remakes and sequels and lack of original movies, the fourth week of June will be pleasing as it has two original movies planned. The first one dips quite deep into the jar of creativity with Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Apparently what none of us knew about Lincoln is that his mother was killed by a vampire and he thus became passionate about killing vampires. Should be quite the ride. The other original movie this week comes with a Disney-Pixar original animated movie with Brave. Finally, June will end with the GI Joe sequel GI Joe: Retaliation. As mentioned previously, the Dark Knight Rises will come to theaters in the third week of July. On the first week of July will be The Amazing Spider-Man. This is quite the risky project in remaking Spider-Man so soon. This could be one of the biggest mistakes in recent movie making history, or it could bring high rewards if it turns out better than the Tobey McGuire Spider-Man series. With both Spider-Man and Batman hitting the big screen in July, not many movies plan on challenging them. There are a few smaller movies throughout the month, but the one movie brave enough to fight them is Ice Age 4: Continental Drift. This fourth Ice Age will be in theaters right in between Spider-Man and Batman. At first it seems like a head scratcher because the third Ice Age wasn’t that popular in the US, but this fourth one is being made because Ice Age 3 was one of the biggest international movies ever. August is typically the quietest summer month, but there are a few movies that plan on surfacing after the Dark Knight Rises party begins to die down a bit. First up to plate is what initially looks like the dumbest idea of the summer. The Bourne Series will continue with Bourne Legacy as the fourth installment, but for some reason, the franchise decided to make this fourth movie without Matt Damon. I don’t quite know what they were thinking on that one, but maybe they know something I don’t. Dorothy of Oz may come out on that weekend as well, although I’m not a hundred percent sure they have that date set in stone. Now Dorothy of Oz is an animated sequel to Wizard of Oz and you may be wondering why make a sequel after over 70 years (yes, I know there were a couple other sequels, but they fell flat on their face and this one is a direct sequel to the original), but a little known fact is that there were a whole ton of books written and finally someone realized this and decided to take advantage of it. Wrapping up the summer we get a sneak peak into Halloween season with the animated movie ParaNorman that has the animation feel of Corpse Bride and Coraline, being that it is by the same people. Last but not least we have Chuck Norris and Friends, or better yet The Expendables 2. I just like to call it Chuck Norris and Friends because they invited Chuck Norris along for the ride for this one. And he’s already started taking control with demanding that they remove the foul language in order for it to be a PG-13 rating. Way to go Chuck!

Fall / Early Winter – September through December – September is always one of the slowest months of the year. But it’s also the time of year where the Oscar Buzz starts following movies and towards the start of September is a movie that is sure to get some. That movie is Argo. Now Ben Affleck has seemingly disappeared in the last several years but he returns in this one as the director and the lead actor in this movie about the Iranian revolution. Early September will also have Disney’s next 3D re-release with Finding Nemo returning to the big screen. If it theoretically earns as much as Lion King did last September it will break the top 10 in the all-time domestic box office. The third movie in that same weekend as the previous two mentioned is the fifth installment in the Resident Evil franchise with Resident Evil: Retribution. After that we are thrown into what should be an epic Halloween season. This Halloween is kicked off in late September by Adam Sandler and Kevin James. Now those two have done movies together, but this one will be quite unique. They are doing an animated family movie together called Hotel Transylvania. It also has Miley Cyrus in it. Ending September we have Bruce Willis and Joseph-Gordon Leavitt teaming up in the action movie Looper. The premise is that a killer working for a future club realizes that one of his targets is his future self. Two weeks after Hotel Transylvania in the actual month of October another animated Halloween movie. This one is Frankenweenie. If it reminds you of Frankenstein, that’s because it is. But with a dog instead of a man as the monster. The other interesting thing is the fact that this is a Tim Burton movie. It’s been a while since we’ve had a Tim Burton animated movie, but he is now back this year. In addition to the two animated movies, this Halloween season also brings quite the lineup of Horror films. First is a remake of Texas Chainsaw Massacre which in this instance will be called Leatherface 3D. The second Horror film will be the 4th installment of the recently popular Paranormal franchise, Paranormal 4. Finally, the third big horror film, coming out right before Halloween will be Halloween 3D, the third movie of the recently remade Halloween series. Thrown into the mix in October will be the Taken 2, the sequel to the original Taken movie made back in 2008. As we swing into November, we will see several big name actors and actress make it to the big screen. This includes Chris Hemsworth in Red Dawn, Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in Gravity, Robert De Niro in The Silver Lining Playbook, Keanu Reeves in 47 Ronin, and Billy Crystal in Parental Guidance. 3 major movies will hit the big screen in November in addition to that. The biggest one is sure to be The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2. This will be the finale of the Twilight Saga and finales to big hit series typically do very well compared to their predecessors. The next movie in the James Bond series will also premier in November. This one is Skyfall. The last movie of note in November is another animated movie that is quite the clever idea. It will be about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, Jack Frost, and the Sandman all teaming up to fight against the Bogeyman. How’s that for a storyline? The movie is called Rise of the Guardians and is actually a film adaption of the book called The Guardians of Childhood. Now if you have made it this far in this blog post I commend you because this has been quite the project. 2012 will end with quite the lineup of movies. It starts with another film adaption of the popular play Les Miserables. This version will have an all-star lineup of Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, and Helena Bonham-Carter. In an unspecified date sometime in December, Steven Spielberg will release his movie called Lincoln. I will let you take a guess as to who this movie is about. It has Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln and quite the cast around him which includes Joseph Gordon-Leavitt and Tommy Lee Jones. December also has two popular books get turned into movies. First is World War Z starring Brad Pitt, a story about the Zombie Apocalypse. The second is the F Scott Fitzgerald classic novel The Great Gatsby, which will star Leonardo DeCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Joel Edgerton, and Tobey McGuire. And finally we are at an end. Saving one of the best for last, coming out in mid-December is the The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The famous Lord of the Rings prequel brings back Peter Jackson as director and much of the cast of the Lord of the Rings movies as well. In order to translate the book into a movie, they have decided to split this into two movies and this will be the first part. In addition to the original stars from Lord of the Rings, the Hobbit will bring in Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel, Martin Freeman as young Bilbo Baggins, and Luke Evans as Bard.

Well that is officially a wrap. I hope you had as much as fun as I did. Maybe you didn’t. Maybe the length of this bored you, but I can tell you that after doing this, I am certainly stoked for the many great movies of 2012.    

Saturday, January 21, 2012

2011 NFL Playoff Predictions - Conference Championships

Only four teams left in the NFL playoffs which means the Super Bowl in Indianapolis is just around the corner. The potential Super Bowl matchups are quite intriguing. We have the possibility of having two different Super Bowl rematches. If it is the Ravens versus Giants, we will get a Super Bowl XXXV rematch. If it is the Giants versus Patriots, it will be a Super Bowl XLII rematch. We could also have the Harbaugh Super Bowl if it is the Niners versus Ravens. There would be no special significance if it was the Niners versus Patriots, but that would be a really fun matchup. If the Giants win then Eli can brag to his older brother Peyton that he has won more Super Bowls. Tom Brady and the Pats would love to add another ring to their collection while there are many players on the Niners and Ravens that would love to win their first. The Ravens have come so close the last several years and they would really love to get over the hump. The Niners haven’t made the Super Bowl since 1995 and even making it this season would be quite the story. So who will make it? That is yet to be seen, but here are my thoughts and predictions.  

Baltimore Ravens @ New England Patriots – Sunday 3:00 ET (CBS)- This is a matchup of the Ravens defense versus the Patriots offense. I haven’t been a firm believer in either of these teams this year, but they are the best of a very average AFC. The Patriots have quite the glaring defense but yet have a high powered offense. The Ravens are about the exact opposite. They have a high powered defense and an offense that has potential, yet underperforms at times. Both of these teams met in the playoffs just two seasons ago, with the Ravens winning that game. However, the Ravens and Patriots have played each other a total of 7 times since the Ravens came into existence and the Patriots have won 6 of those games. Edge for the Patriots on that one. But overall, the game is pretty well matched and could easily go either way. In giving one team the overall edge I look at one common trend from these playoffs so far. The old saying of defense wins championships stands out like a sore thumb. The Packers and Saints both had high powered offenses but fell flat on their faces when put up against a team with a solid defense. It seems like the Patriots are going to follow that trend. They have a great offense but no defense. They Ravens fit the bill of a team that would follow this trend. Now the Patriots are 13-3, but to be honest that is a very over rated 13-3. They managed to pull that off based on a fairly easy schedule. And by saying that I am referring to the fact that the Patriots still have not beaten a team that went above .500 on the season. Meanwhile, the Ravens have played poorly on the road this season and Foxboro is a tough place to win a playoff game, but I am thinking that the Ravens will pull this one off. But it certainly won’t be easy.
My Pick: Baltimore Ravens

New York Giants @ San Francisco 49ers – Sunday 6:30 ET (FOX) – I think everyone expected this game to be a shootout between the Saints and the Packers. But nonetheless, both of those teams got eliminated and instead we will be watching the Giants take on the Niners in San Francisco. Now the Niners were most likely jumping for joy when they saw or heard news of the Giants win. I don’t think that a trip to Lambeau in the winter to play the Packers wouldn’t have been too desirable and now they get to play host to the Giants. Now there is quite the story for both of these teams. The Niners haven’t been good for a while and with a brand new coach added with the lockout going on and a team that didn’t improve much during the offseason no expected them to be any good at all. Well they certainly proved people wrong. And in case someone had no idea that this team is legit, a playoff win against the Saints is pretty convincing. Yet on the other side of the stick you have the New York Giants. Now the Giants have been quite up and down all season long. They started strong but then fell on their faces quite hard and barely limped into the playoffs. However, since sneaking in to the playoffs, they have proven their worth. A 24-2 win over the Atlanta Falcons in round one was impressive and so was beating the reigning champion Packers by 17 points, giving the Pack their second loss on the season. It will be hard for the Packers and the Packers fans to swallow a one and done performance in the playoffs. This game is a tough call, but I was lucky in my last week’s picks when I said the Giants were the dark horse team in the playoffs, so I am going to go with the Giants on the slight edge and a rematch of Super Bowl XLII when the Giants topped the Pats in a thrilling game to give Eli his first ring.
My Pick: New York Giants

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Utah Jazz Trade Proposal

The following is an article I just posted on the Jazz fan site,

There are a lot of trade proposals that get posted on this site and usually I am the first one to get annoyed that so many get posted. But here I am about to propose a trade to everyone on this site. But I feel like I have to get my idea out there because I have been thinking about this for quite some time. I know that many of you reading this won't agree at all, but I at least hope you can hear me through.

Now the Jazz have been playing quite well and I don't want to sound negative, but I don't know how long they can keep this up. We are the second best team in the West with a record of 9-4, but  if I'm being honest a lot of our wins came against average or weak opponents and I think once we hit the rough parts of our schedule we will slide a little. We have a great corps of young players that I think really gives us a bright future. But I am always thinking of ways that we could improve our team. Many times with a young team what is required is patience and experience and I think that is the case for us, but at the same time we have quite the glaring weakness in our team. That weakness is that we are quite lopsided. We have four players that are starting caliber players fighting for time at the Center and Power Forward positions with Millsap, Favors, Jefferson, and Kanter while at the same time we really only have one starting caliber player for the Small Forward and Shooting Guard spots with Hayward, Miles, Bell, Howard, and Burks. If we could tweak that just a bit and trade one of our big men for a shooter I think our team will be set.

So analyzing this. Who is it that we could give up? Kanter is a rookie that I think could be a solid true center, something that the Jazz haven't had in quite a long time. He is untouchable. Favors is the other player that is untouchable. He is our future at Power Forward. That leaves two players, Millsap and Jefferson. Who could we give up? Now I think most Jazz fans right now are going to jump on the trade Jefferson boat. I think we should do the opposite. I think we should trade Millsap. Now I know the cries for my head are going to start now, but I think that is the right decision. Millsap is playing really good right now and we could get a lot more out of him than if we traded Jefferson. Once again it is easy to say that we should trade the player that isn't playing as good or the one that is playing with less energy, but think of the other team in the trade. I think there are a lot more teams that are wanting to trade for Millsap out of any player on the Jazz. If we get rid of him, we would have a trio in the front court of Kanter, Jefferson, and Favors that can still work well. This would give Favors and Kanter more playing time and experience as we train them up to be the corps of our future. It would also give Jeremy Evans a better shot at some more playing time. Meanwhile we get help in the back court. Hayward is going to be a star. But everyone else I'm not so sure about. Burks I'm excited about, but he still needs a lot of time to grow. Meanwhile Bell puts a great effort into his game every day, but he is ancient and would be better coming off the bench. CJ Miles scares me every time he steps on the court because he is horribly inconsistent. Josh Howard has also been a pleasant surprise, but once again is getting up there in age and certainly past his prime. Better coming off the bench. If we could get one stud player to team up with Hayward at the 2-3 spots and have Bell, CJ, Burks, and Howard coming off the bench for depth with what I said earlier with in the front court I think we have a much better team both right now and in the future.

Now the question is who exactly do we get in return for trading Millsap? Thinking realistically again, we would need to find a team that is in the opposite predicament as us. Someone who has one two many SGs or SFs and not enough man power up front. Now I am open to suggestions as to which team qualifies for this and who would be a fair swap, but one team I found is the 76ers. They have Spencer Hawes and Elton Brand up front. Not a bad duo. Hawes is having a nice year, but Elton Brand is ancient and the depth there upfront for them isn't great. However, they have a logjam down at the 2-3. They have Jodie Meeks and Andre Iguadala as their starts at the 2-3 with Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young, and their leading scorer of the year Louis Williams sitting on the bench. A straight up trade of Andre Iguadala  for Paul Millsap would work great for both teams.

Here's the aftermath of that. Our starting lineup looks like this: Al Jefferson, Derrick Favors, Andre Iguadala, Gordon Hayward, and Devin Harris with Kanter, Evans, Howard, Bell, Miles, Burks, and Watson as our bench. Not a bad deal. Meanwhile the 76ers get Hawes, Brand, Young, Meeks, and Holiday as their starters with Millsap, Williams, and Turner as their main bench players. I think it would be a solid deal. What do you think? If you have any counter offers on your mind that you would think would work better and be a great deal for both teams, I would love to hear it.

Friday, January 13, 2012

2011 NFL Playoff Predictions - Divisional Round

#3- New Orleans Saints @ #2- San Francisco 49ers - Saturday 4:30 ET (FOX) - Last season the 49ers weren't very good. In fact, for the past decade they haven't been very good. Alex Smith, the number one overall pick a few years ago out of Utah, hasn't lived up to expectations and many thought his days in San Fran were numbered, especially since the Niners finally decided to pick up a quarterback early in the draft with Colin Kaepernick being taken in second round. Mike Singletary got fired and Jim Harbaugh got brought in, but with the lockout drama he didn't get a chance to work with his team for very long at all before the season started, which typically wouldn't bode well for a first time NFL head coach. With all this as a background, if you were to tell me that the Niners end up 13-3 with the number 2 seed in the playoffs and a first round bye, I would've called you crazy. But it happened. And I think all the credit goes to Jim Harbaugh who should win coach of the year because of it. The Niners' offense has been good enough and Alex Smith has been efficient while the Niner defense has been outstanding. They didn't allow a rushing touchdown until Marshawn Lynch marched into the endzone in week 16 for the Seahawks. This is certainly a great story for this season that makes me personally happy because the Niners are one of my favorite teams. With all that said, the reward they get after all this is a match-up against the red hot Saints. Not what they wanted. Niners fans were Lions fans last week as a Lions win meant the Niners would play host to the Giants this week, but that didn't happen as the Saints won their 9th straight game and 4th straight game scoring over 40 points. As much as I like the Niners, I can't pick them in this one. I think their magical season is going to end with a one and done showing in the playoffs. I say this because the Saints have them beat in about every category. Drew Brees is on fire. 5,400 yards in a season is ridiculous. Jimmy Graham is a beast of a tight end and only in his second season. He was one of two tight ends this year to break the tight end receiving yards record (Gronkowski of the Pats being the other). Darren Sproles has been fantastic as he adds to what is now a great backfield where you have multiple threats that can break out with a fantastic game. Meanwhile, the Niners offense has been good, but when it comes to comparing them to the Saints's offense, they don't fare well at all. If the game came down to a shootout, the Niners would loose badly. Yes, Alex Smith has been efficient this season, but he's no Drew Brees. Frank Gore is one of the best running backs in the league, but he's a one man show in the backfield. One stat that stands out to me is that David Akers leads the league in points scored. That means the Niners have kicked a whole ton of field goals this season and if you are going to beat the Saints, you need to score touchdowns and not field goals. If all you can do is kick field goals, you will lose. The Saints also have more momentum, which is key in the NFL playoffs. Like mentioned earlier, the Saints are on a 9 game winning streak while the Niners sputtered a bit towards the end of the season. They ended the season by almost losing to the Seahawks and the Rams and also did lose to the Cardinals and the Ravens in the last six games. Finally, the Saints have experience. They won the Super Bowl two seasons ago so they know what it takes to win. The Niners on the other hand are full of a bunch of playoff newcomers, both in players and in coaching staff. That will hurt them. Now in addition to the obvious advantage of having home field, the one thing the Niners have going for them is their defense. If they are going to win this game, they will need to have their top notch defense stop the Saints' offense. Their defense is good, but is it good enough to stop one of the best offenses in NFL history? I don't think so. I don't think this game will be a blowout, but I think the Saints will win without much trouble. However, I would love it if I was wrong.
My Pick: New Orleans Saints

#4- Denver Broncos @ #1- New England Patriots- Saturday 8:00 ET (CBS)- You know the Tim Tebow "They Said" commercial? The one where he states that the words of all his doubters is what fuels him to do what they say he can't? Well, add to that the following, "They said I couldn't win a playoff game. [brief pause] Thanks." Well, you are welcome Tebow. I suppose I am among the crowd that helped you beat the Steelers because I didn't think you could do it. And now I am going to do it again. I am not going to pick Tim Tebow and the Broncos to win this game against the Patriots. And maybe Tebow would prefer people to continue doubting because playing the Patriots in Foxboro is much different than playing the Steelers in Denver. Now I expected the Steelers to pull it together for the playoffs because they are always a good playoff team, but the cold hard facts are that they were banged up and without much momentum. And I think Mike Tomlin is to blame for their loss. Big Ben was hurt and needed to rest those final weeks. Now the man has a heart of gold and is very competitive and his desire to play through his injury is admirable, but because he decided to do so he wasn't at full strength and underperformed in Denver last week. Mike Tomlin should've known better and should've made him stay on the bench and rest. That's how Denver won last week. Call me what you want, but even a playoff win hasn't convinced me to bow down and worship Tebow quite yet like much of the nation has. He got lucky last week, but against the Pats is where it ends for him and the Broncos this season. Now I'm not a complete believer in the Pats to make it to the Super Bowl because their defense is just not great and that is where Denver could take advantage and win this. If the Broncos play good enough defense to slow down Tom Brady and the Pats offense, then the defense is weak enough for them to win. But I don't see it happening. The Pats destroyed them a few weeks ago and I think they will do so again. And now Bronco fans will thank me because my doubting might propel them forward.
My Pick: New England Patriots

#3- Houston Texans @ #2- Baltimore Ravens- Sunday 1:00 ET (CBS)- Personally I am already looking forward to the Patriots and Ravens game. Both teams have issues and will lose to whoever comes out of the NFC, the Ravens offense lags a lot at times while the Patriots have had poor defense this year. But I think neither team will have much of a problem this week. Now if the Texans had Matt Shaub healthy at quarterback, I think this would be a great game that the Texans would actually win. But as it stands, they are with TJ Yates, the fifth round pick this past draft out of North Carolina. Now the kid has done a decent job in filling in for Matt Shaub and has certainly proved that he will stick around in the league as a backup at the very least, but he's not good enough for him to beat a playoff experienced team like the Ravens. The Texans limped into the playoffs on a four game losing streak and got lucky when they were placed against the Bengals who were 0-7 on the year against playoff teams and ended the season 0-8. Now the Ravens have had their times this season where they have lost to teams they shouldn't have lost to, but all of those games were on the road. The Ravens have been perfect at home and should keep that up this week. Now this is the NFL playoffs where anything can happen and if the Texans do win it will be a great story that I will remember for a long time, but I'm not daring enough to call the upset.
My Pick: Baltimore Ravens

#4- New York Giants @ #1- Green Bay Packers- Sunday 4:30 ET ( FOX)- Now this game is the hardest for me to pick. You would think that the Packers would be an easy pick being that they are the team that is 15-1 and the team that everyone has been picking to return to the Super Bowl for the longest time. Aaron Rodgers is a stud and has been the favorite to win the MVP, but like I said last week, I think the Giants are the dark horse this year. They have been up and down during the season, but when they are up they are a good team and they have been playing good towards the end of the season. And despite what I predicted, they carried that on into the playoffs and completely dismantled the Falcons in the first round. The Packers are still a very good team and are thus hard to pick again, but yet they haven't been as strong towards the end of the season as they were at the start. And if you remember, the Giants and the Packers played earlier in the season and the Giants were extremely close to handing the Packers their first loss of the season. It took a clutch game winning drive for the Packers to beat them and I think that this game will be much of the same. Whoever ends up with the ball last may turn out to be the winner in this. And do you know what? As I am typing this, I have switched my opinion on who I think will win the game. Up to this point I have picked the obvious team and have avoided any crazy upset picks. But sometimes in life you need to take risks and I am going to take one right now, even if it causes people to mock me later. If the Giants play like the bad Giants that they do a lot, then this could be a blowout in favor of the Packers and that wouldn't surprise me, but at the top of their game, the Giants are the team that could pull this upset off and I am going to close my eyes and do it. I am picking the major upset in this one. I'm going for the Giants.
My Pick: New York Giants

Thursday, January 12, 2012

January 2012 Movie Preview

Being the start of the new year, I had a plan to look forward and give an early preview of all the big movies coming out this year. It would be a following up to my look back at 2011 with my Top 10 movie list of 2011. However, I also have an idea to preview all the movies coming out on a monthly basis and since January is already a full weekend in with what technically counts as January releases (the weekend of Dec 30 to Jan 1 was counted as the last weekend of 2011 even though in included the first day of 2012), I have decided to do my look on January first before I do my overview of 2012. But I still will do the 2012 preview, so stay tuned for that some time in the near future. January is typically a slower month for movies as the Holiday season has come to an end, but it does have some intriguing releases, so lets take a look. And keep in mind I am typically going to focus on the nationwide releases and not on the limited releases.

January 6th- 
This weekend, in case you were in a deep sleep for the last month and missed the memo, has already happened. With a busy holiday season for movies, the December holdovers were going pretty strong as people made an effort to catch up on the movies they missed over the holidays. Mission Impossible has been on a mission to pass the other 3 Missions in the Box Office and going in to its 4th weekend of release, 3rd as a nationwide release, it looks as if it will accomplish that mission and most thought it would make a 3rd week in a row at number 1. Meanwhile, Sherlock Holmes has been closing the gap on the first one and while it most likely won't hit that mark, its of note that it has been holding better than the first one. The Devil Inside was the only new nationwide release for this past weekend and on an initial look, one would think that it would get lost in the crowd with all the December hangovers going strong, but it did quite the opposite. Mission Impossible was dethroned as the king of the Box Office as The Devil Inside opened up to a strong 34M, which was close to a January record, behind only Cloverfield and the Star Wars Special Edition release. The Devil Inside is a horror film that looks rather creepy and reminds me a bit of the Exorcism. Not my cup of tea, but if you like that genre, then check it out. As a quick note, this past weekend had Mission Impossible come close to topping the original's 180M, Sherlock Holmes passing 150M, and the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo pass 75M as all three of those held quite well. This past weekend also saw the expansion of Tinker, Tailer, Soldier, Spy to an official nationwide release with 809 theaters. It is an R rated thriller starring Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, and Tom Hardy that has some Oscar buzz with it.

January 13th-
Now that the past weekend is behind us, we can look forward to the upcoming weeks and stay true to my title of "preview" with having accomplished the one week of "review". This upcoming weekend has three major releases: Beauty in the Beast in 3D, Contraband, and Joyful Noise. First up, Beauty in the Beast. Now Disney has always been very good at milking money out of it's popular animated movies and last September it figured out a new tactic to do so with re-releasing Lion King in 3D. With Lion King earning a surprising 90M and breaking the top 10 all time domestic box office, Disney's reaction was probably like giving a little kid a king size candy bar. Shortly after Lion King's success, Disney quickly planned a whole slew of its classics to be re-released in 3D and Beauty and the Best this upcoming weekend is next in line. Contraband brings Mark Wahlberg to the big screen again in what looks like an intense action packed thrill ride. The premise of the movie is that Mark Wahlberg's character is forced to go back to his former smuggling life to score millions of dollars in counterfeit bills in order to protect his brother-in-law. The movie also is the first of Kate Beckinsale's two January releases. Thirdly, there is the music drama, Joyful Noise, starring Queen Latifa and Dolly Parton. And this week also has another Oscar-buzzed movie, the Iron Lady hit an expansion to 800 theaters.

January 20th- 
This weekend brings another fairly crowded weekend. One of the more intriguing titles is Red Tails. Red Tails is a George Lucas film, one that Lucas says he has wanted to do for quite a long time and is the first film he's worked on in a long time that does not have Star Wars or Indiana Jones in the title and it will be interesting to see how he does. It's a true story about a crew of African American pilots in World War II. The second release of the weekend is Haywire. Haywire is the second R-rated action film to be released in January. Gina Carano is the lead as she plays a black ops super soldier that is seeking revenge after being betrayed and set up on a mission. She has quite the lineup around her for a cast with Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, Channing Tatum, and Antonio Banderes among others. The third film of the weekend is another addition to the Underworld series, this one entitled Underworld Awakening. It stars Kate Beckinsale, making it her second film released in two weeks and enters yet another addition to the Hollywood vampire craze. Last, but certainly not least, comes the nationwide expansion of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Now it was released late in December on a limited basis so that it could officially have its name submitted in the Oscar race of 2011. It stars Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock and is a drama that is centered around September 11th. Specifically, the lead kid had his father die in the world trade center on September and he is searching for the lock that matches the mysterious key that his father left behind.

January 27th-
The final weekend of January might be the quietest weekend, but it features Liam Neeson's most recent film, The Grey. The Grey is a survival movie. An oil team gets stranded in the wild after a plane crash and a pack of wolves sees them as intruders. It recently got slapped with an R rating because of violence and disturbing content including some bloody images and language, so from that I conclude it might be quite gory and graphic, which if that appeals to you then be my guest. Maybe you'll get to watch some wolves have some humans for dinner. The second movie coming out this weekend is initially an odd idea when I look at it. Now watching the trailers and commercials for it, it looks like it may have more depth than it appears but it is called Man on a Ledge. One of those movies where the story line of a movie is in the title. I'm assuming its about a man on a ledge, but maybe I'm wrong. Lastly, we get Janet Evanovich's best selling novel One for the Money get released as a movie. It stars Katherine Heigl as the lead role of Stephanie Plum, who, being unemployed and recently divorced lands a job at her cousin's bail bond business which puts her on the trail of a wanted local cop from her romantic past on her first assignment.

Friday, January 6, 2012

2011 NFL Playoff Predictions - Wild Card Round

The NFL regular season is over and the playoffs begin this weekend! I am rather pleased that we got around to having playoffs this year and the season wasn't stopped or even hindered by the Lockout. A crazy season it has been, especially with how things ended in the AFC. Certainly I would say there has been a switching of the guard so to speak with the NFC being the power house conference instead of the AFC. All of the teams in the AFC playoff picture have issues. The Patriots don't know how to play defense at times. The Ravens struggle on the road and occasionally in games they shouldn't struggle in. The Texans are playoff new comers and have been decimated by injuries. The Broncos, well, uh, I don't know how they made it in. The Steelers have Harbaugh problems (3 of their 4 losses came to a team who's head coach was a Harbaugh) and injuries problems recently. And the Bengals are young with no playoff experience, riding a surprising 9-7 record based on a fairly easy schedule. Then you have the NFC. The top 3 teams (Packers, Saints, Niners) have 13 wins or more and I believe all 3 of them would beat any AFC opponent in a Super Bowl match-up. The remaining three teams (Giants, Falcons, Lions), while I don't know if I would make the same claim with them beating anyone, would make a good run if placed in the AFC side of the bracket. So it should be interesting to watch. And as you can tell from the title, instead of just rambling on like I have, I am going to make some predictions and commentary on the upcoming Wild Card match-ups. I may be dead wrong in all of them with how the NFL is sometimes, but I enjoy doing it anyways.

#6- Cincinnati Bengals @ #3- Houston Texans - Saturday 4:30 ET (NBC) - This is an odd match-up. The Bengals have been the surprise team of the year. No one would've predicted them to make the playoffs after what happened in the off season. The TO - Ochocinco drama of last season ended with both players not brought back. Their franchise QB of the last several seasons in Carson Palmer decides he's no longer going to play for them. So the Bengals go to a youth movement and put their faith in a rookie quarterback and a rookie receiver. Good call. After a great year out of Andy Dalton and AJ Green, the Bengals are the third team from the AFC North to make the playoffs and having a promising future. However, its of note that we look at their schedule. They played 7 games against current playoff teams. Their record in those 7 games is 0-7. So yeah, all their wins came against non-playoff teams and out of those 9 wins, only one of the teams (the 9-7 Titans) ended with a winning record. I'd say it would be easy to predict a loss with those stats, except for the fact that they got matched up against the Texans. The Texans have had a good team for several years, but haven't been able to overcome the Colts and have been on the outside looking in for several seasons. This season with the Colts nose-diving without Peyton Manning, it was the Texans division to take and they took it. Towards the beginning of the season they looked like a solid team that would be scary to play in the playoffs. Then injuries started piling up. Yes, injuries are a part of the game, but when several of your best players are the ones getting hurt, that's hard to recover from. The Texans go into this game with third string quarterback, rookie TJ Yates, at the helm. Because of those injuries, the Texans come limping into the playoffs while riding a 3 game losing streak. Momentum is the key to winning playoff games in the NFL and the Texans have almost none. So like I said, this is quite the interesting match-up. Someone has to win and move on and I think in a hard fought, close game, that team will be the Houston Texans.
My Pick: Houston Texans

#6 Detroit Lions @ #3 New Orleans Saints - Saturday 8:00 ET (NBC) - In my mind, this right here is the game of the week. The Detroit Lions have been a bad team for a long time. The last time they made the playoffs was 1999 and the last time they won a playoff game was 1991. The last few years they have shown potential that they could be really good but never had a breakout season. Well, this season was their breakout season and they showed that the future is bright with Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, and company. With the Packers playing the way they have been this season, a divisional title was out of the question, but I thought they were going to be the Wild Card team that no one wanted to play. And that still might be true, but after all of this I feel bad for the Lions because they have to play the Saints. The Saints are on fire. They are riding on an 8 game winning streak of which they scored over 40 points in the last three games. Then of course there is Drew Brees who threw for 5400 yards, which if you missed the news is a new NFL record. No team wants to play against that. The Lions will put up a fight in what should be a fun, high scoring game, but the Saints will come out on top. If the Lions pull off the upset, the road won't get any easier as they will travel to Lambeau to play the Packers for a third time this year.
My Pick: New Orleans Saints

#5 Atlanta Falcons @ #4 New York Giants - Sunday 1:00 ET (FOX)- The Falcons really lucked out in that last week of the season. Going into that week, they were sitting in the number six spot and poised to play the Saints, who had just beaten them 45-16 the week before. Now after learning they locked up the number five seed, I'm sure they were voting for Tony Choko and the Dallas Cowboys to beat the Giants that evening (the Cowboys have won only one playoff game since 1996) but seeing as the Giants won the game and the division, the winner of this game is a toss up. It depends on which Giants team decides to show up. Will it be the Giants team who beat the Pats and almost knocked off the Packers or will it be the Giants team that got crushed by the Redskins? In a week division, its no surprise that they won the division, but how the Giants fare in a crowded NFC is certainly a mystery. They could be the dark horse or they could be a quick exit. The Giants will have home field in this one, but the Falcons have the better record and should be the slight favorite. Either team could win and not surprise me, but I will go with the Falcons.
My Pick: Atlanta Falcons

#5 Pittsburgh Steelers @ #4 Denver Broncos - Sunday 4:30 ET (CBS)- Tim Tebow and the Broncos are easily the story of the year. Now I am not a Bronco hater and I am actually a fan of Tim Tebow. I like the guy. He has all the intangibles and is a real winner. But the guy right now is a bad quarterback and this Tebowmania and Broncos hype is silly. I don't know if they have been rated high enough to be called over-rated,  but if so then they certainly are. Yes its a great story. Yes they started 1-4 and then benched Orton for Tebow and following that move won 7 out of their next 8 games. But did you see who those 7 wins were against? They were against the Dolphins, Raiders, Chiefs, Jets, Chargers, Vikings, and Bears. Yes, they played great in the fourth quarter and had several great comebacks, but the fact that it took overtime or fourth quarter comebacks to beat several of those teams I think is quite sad. During Tebow's run this season,  they have only played two playoff teams. They got slaughtered by both of them. To top it off, they ended the season on a three game losing streak which included getting pummeled by the Bills and almost blanked by the Orton and the Chiefs. Thanks to the Chargers beating the Raiders in week 17, they ended up on top of a three way tie in that division and got the playoff birth. Everything points to a quick and easy first round exit as they host the experienced Pittsburgh Steelers who always seem to find ways to win in the playoffs. Having said that, I do have to make the note that the Steelers come limping in to the playoffs with Ben Roethlisberger fighting an injury and Rashard Mendenhall being declared out for the playoffs. A first round bye would've really helped them out a ton, but nonetheless they have to give it a go this week and hope that Ben's injury don't slow him down anymore and that Isaac Redman is ready to go at Runningback. Even with a hurting Steelers team, I don't think the Broncos can do it.
My Pick: Pittsburgh Steelers

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

My Top 10 Movies of 2011

Now that it is officially 2012, it is time to look back on 2011. In doing this, I want to look back and reflect on my personal favorite movies of 2011. Specifically I want to make a top 10 list of my favorite movies that I watched. Now I didn't watch every movie released in 2011, but I did watch a lot. There certainly is a chance that if its not on here it is because I didn't see it, but I think I saw enough to make a pretty comprehensive list here. Now before I proceed, this top 10 isn't something I just created a few minutes ago. It's something I've been working on the whole year. I started this at the beginning of 2011 and after I see a movie I update my rankings. Yeah, call me a nerd if you want to. But I had fun doing this all year. Nonetheless, this is how it all turned out. I will start at number 10 and count down to number 1. Yes, you will notice that there are no R rated movies on this list. I hope it doesn't take you too long to figure out why.

#10- HANNA- This is a movie that most people will be surprised to see on this list. Not everyone liked this movie, but I personally loved it. And it was one that totally caught me off guard. I didn't hear much about it at all and the advertisements and previews didn't sell me on it or make me overly excited, but for some reason I went and saw it at the dollar theater and it blew me away. Saoirse Ronan does a superb job as the lead role of a girl who is raised by her dad to become an assassin. The action/chase scenes were bone chillingly awesome. The cinematography was beautiful. And last but not least the soundtrack was absolutely brilliant. I downloaded the main song "Hanna's Theme" on my iPod and on multiple occasions have listened to it over and over and over.

#9- 17 MIRACLES- This movie was a limited release into theaters. A Utah release. But it definitely deserves a spot on my list of favorites of the year. Its a story about the Mormon pioneers crossing the plains to Utah so you can guess why it was a Utah release. Specifically it's about the Willy and Martin handcart companies, depicted as if they had traveled together. The true story with these companies is that they made an ill advised choice to make the long journey to Utah late in the season and thus spent much of their journey crossing with limited supplies in the bitter winter. The movie takes you on quite the emotional rollercoaster and you gain a lot of respect for these people because of all they went through. It is written and directed by TC Christensen, whose resume of famous LDS films is quite a long one and he certainly hits a home run here.

#8- RANGO- I had been looking forward to seeing Rango for quite some time. Ever since I saw the very first teaser trailer. I didn't have much of an idea of what it was about at the time, but it looked very clever and very funny. After nearly a year of anticipation I finally saw it with very high expectations and it met and even exceeded my expectations. It was a hilarious movie. I was laughing the whole time. And not only that, but it was a very well written story that had a serious plot to it that made it even that much better. And it had one of the best villains ever, Rattlesnake Jake. Even though it was early, right when I saw it I decided it should win the animated movie of the year. Much disagreements went on throughout the year about this but alas as all is said and done, Rango as animated movie of the year is almost a consensus prediction at the moment.

#7- PIRATES OF THE CARRIBBEAN: ON STRANGER TIDES- This age is certainly one of sequels and it seems that if a movie does really well in the box office, a sequel is almost inevitable. A lot of these sequels end up as inferior to the predecessors and thus many people are skeptic of sequels these days. The first Pirates was epic. The second one was average. The third one was awful. So on paper doing a fourth one seems ridiculous and caused it to take a huge dip in the box office success due to people not wanting to see it. That was in the states anyways. People outside the United States had the right idea and due to the huge international box office success, worldwide it became the 8th highest grossing movie of all time, one of only 10 movies to top a billion dollars. I think it was deserving. While not quite as epic as the original, this one was certainly entertaining and a huge improvement over the last two.

#6- THOR- A lot of comic book movies were released in 2011. Some memorable. Others not. Thor was released as one of the first comic movies of the year and was the first movie to kick off the crowded Summer. Several comic book movies followed it and in my opinion, none were able to top it. Thor was immensely entertaining and was very well done. It was casted well and subsequently the acting was very well. And to my surprise, it was a good comic relief at many points. I especially enjoyed Loki as the villain who was one of the more clever and well done villains I've seen in a movie thus far.

#5- FAST FIVE- When talk of this movie started up and I heard great initial reviews, I quickly caught myself up to speed in the Fast and Furious series. The main point of the movies was to display pretty girls and car races while doing so on a fairly thin story line at best. I wasn't overly impressed with those first four because of that. I enjoy movies that have a good story line along with the action. I don't quite know what took the makers of this series to realize that, but sometime between the fourth and the fifth movies, they decided that it was a good idea to make a movie that had depth and character to go along with the showmanship that they wanted and thus made a great movie when they did this fifth installment. The girls and the car races/chases were certainly there as a main focus, but in this movie there was an intense story line to go with it that made this movie a much deeper movie than the others in the series. And the action that that they included was even improved on the other ones and thus made for a way good film. And towards the end it had one of the greatest police chases I've ever seen in a movie.

#4- HUGO- Hugo was just an all around beautiful movie in so many ways. It is based on the book "The Invention of Hugo Cabret" and is the story of a boy named Hugo who lives by himself in a train station and the drama and adventures that happen to him. On the cover that sounds a bit odd, but it is brilliant. Asa Butterfield did an amazing job as the boy Hugo and made me really excited for Ender's Game the movie when I heard he got cast as Ender. All the other actors did great. The visuals were stunning. The music was beautiful. The message was very profound. And its a clean family film that everyone will enjoy. You should hear this movie's name at least once or twice during the Academy Awards and there is good reason for that.

#3- THE RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES- Now this is a summer movie that caught just about everyone by surprise. The original Planet of the Apes movie is a classic but after that every Planet of the Apes movie has received mixed reviews with the majority of people expressing their distaste, especially towards the Tim Burton remake a few years back, so no one expected much difference from this movie. Boy were any any skeptics dead wrong. This movie was amazing. Very intense and very emotional. James Franco and Andy Serkis take center stage in making this movie a success. And all the apes were CGI? That's incredible. Although I wasn't sure if I should cheer for the Apes dominated or the be sad about the humans being wiped out, but I still was amazed. No spoilers there. No more than the title gives anyways. No one would've predicted this to be the best movie of the Summer, but the argument can easily be made.

#2- HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS: PART 2-  Ok, you got me. I will openly admit that I am a huge Harry Potter fan. And if I were to tell you that had no influence on this being so high, I would be lying to you. I enjoyed all the books and enjoyed all the movies. I thought that this last installment, together with part 1, was easily the best movie in the series. In turning the 7th and final book into a movie, I don't think they could've done a better job. It was very true to the book, more so than any other Potter movie and yet it was true to itself at the same time. It was an epic conclusion to an epic series and after seeing it I definitely had some feelings of nostalgia as Potter books and Potter movies were definitely a big part of my childhood. I don't think this movie could've made me any happier.

#1- WARRIOR- And the number one movie of 2011 goes to Warrior. A movie that for some odd reason has been very much overlooked. It got almost nothing in the box office and has not even hardly been mentioned in Academy Award talks. Maybe that is because of the marketing and its release timing, but its certainly not due to the movie quality. Perhaps it will get mentioned when they do the ESPYs next because it was a sports drama. MMA to be exact and easily the best fighting movie since Rocky. If you like the Rocky movies, I highly suggest you see this. It is very emotional and very powerful. And the fighting scenes are way awesome and intense. Tom Hardy is certainly a beast and will make a superb villain in the Dark Knight Rises as Bane, so if you are looking forward to that movie, seeing Tom Hardy's performance in this will certainly get you pumped up. It's PG-13 for some strong language, so if that bothers you than beware, but I highly recommend it. If me claiming its the best movie of 2011 isn't enough to get you to go see it, I don't know what will. Because it is. At least in my opinion out off all the many movies I have seen thus far.

HONORABLE MENTIONS- We Bought a Zoo, Arthur Christmas, Kung Fu Panda 2, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, The Muppets

NOTEABLE MOVIES NOT YET SEEN- Midnight in Paris, The Help, Moneyball, Real Steel, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol 

Monday, January 2, 2012

We Bought a Zoo Review

This holiday season brought audiences several great movie options to see. Out of all of them, earlier today I believe I shave seen my favorite. Not War Horse, Sherlock Holmes, Tintin, Mission Impossible, or Alvin and the Chipmunks. The winner is We Bought a Zoo. Now to be fair, I haven't seen Mission Impossible 4, but despite all the great things I've heard about it, I don't think it will strike a chord with me like We Bought a Zoo did. It is such an inspirational story with a powerful message. And it gets quite emotional in several spots. Now I'm not an emotional person typically and I've never actually cried in a movie, but this movie almost broke me. My mom, who cries a lot during movies, certainly was crying in a few spots, so its a tearjerker.

We Bought a Zoo is based on a true story. Specifically the memoir of Benjamin Mee, which is his story of, as you can guess, him buying a Zoo. There are some noticeable differences in the movie and in the real life story as I have looked at it afterwards, but those changes were adapted only after the approval of Benjamin Mee himself, who still owns and lives in the Zoo he purchased. In the movie, Benjamin, played by Matt Damon, is going through some serious family troubles. Namely, his wife the he dearly loved has just recently passed away which has made life for his young family really difficult emotionally, especially for him and his teenage son. Seeking to get away from life a bit, he decides that he wants to move and falls in love with a certain country house some 9 miles outside town. Before purchasing it, he quickly learns that it is a somewhat broken down and struggling Zoo. Despite his background as an adventurous person, he has no knowledge of Zoology. However, he decides to take on the task to help renovate and re-open the struggling Zoo. With that said, yes it is a story about a Zoo, but telling a story of how a man renovated a Zoo is not the point of this movie. It is a story of courage. A story about moving forward in life despite the difficult times. Lastly it's a story about maintaining good relationships with your family and those around you. There are a few taglines in the movie that really just jumped out at me that I will remember and use in my own personal life to help me.

Now We Bought a Zoo isn't without its flaws. There are times when I was slightly bored with it and times where it seemed to move slow. I wasn't a big fan of some of the acting by several of the more minor characters. But overall it was a very well done film. The strongest part of the movie was certainly Matt Damon. He has become one of my favorite actors recently and in this he gives a very good performance. If the Academy Awards were up to me, I would give him the Oscar for best Actor after this performance. I hope he at least gets nominated because he deserves it. The cast around him was also superb for the most part. Scarlett Johansson did a great job in the lead female performance, that being Kelly the lead Zookeeper. Elle Fanning did a great job acting as one of the younger crew members of the Zoo. Lastly, Benjamin's two kids ages 14 and 7, were done quite well. His 14 year old son Dylan, played by Colin Ford, even looked and acted like a young Matt Damon. The score in this movie was absolutely beautiful. It really made the movie. In my opinion it is one of the best scores of the year. The cinematography was also great. I especially loved the animal shots in the movie.

In conclusion, We Bought a Zoo is no action-packed, high suspense adventure movie. If you are looking for that, go check out Mission Impossible or Sherlock Holmes. What it is is an inspirational family movie that I really enjoyed. I highly recommend you check it out. I give it an 8 out of 10.

Expanding My Virtual Horizons

My name is Adam Droge. At the present time I reside in Provo, Utah while I am going to school at BYU. And if you are reading this, I'm certain you already know that. I'm not a stranger to the virtual world. And honestly, I'm not a stranger to blogging either. However, I have not yet attempted to start my own blog until now. Why not? Well, I've never really found a reason to. I use facebook as my main source of social media in expressing thoughts and connecting with others. I have had email for quite along time, although I think email is a lot different now than it is once was. It used to be that email was the main source of social interaction with friends on the web. Now it isn't. It used to be that when you made a friend, you usually got their phone number and email address. And yes, phone number used to be home phone number. Remember those phones that connected to the wall? You only needed one phone line for the whole family and many phones had wires that connected them to the wall. Cell phones weren't as popular and smart phones certainly didn't exist. That's what I remember growing up. And that was the day of email. Email was your main connection to the virtual social world. Times have changed. I think most everyone has an email address. I still do. And although I don't use it to email friends and connect with friends anymore, its certainly a part of my virtual connections. I mentioned facebook and I've had that for a number of years now. Twitter is more recent. Twitter isn't the best for social media, but its certainly fun to use to follow famous people and organizations and read what their thoughts are. Twitter is also a great source of news and information. I've always enjoyed online debating, specifically on sports sites. Before heading off on my two year mission, I got to the highest reputation level on That was fun. Currently I enjoy Utah Jazz 360 (UJ360) to debate the Jazz.,, are frequently visited sites for my sports information and discussions. I also have recently created my own YouTube channel. I have 5 or 6 videos up that don't have very many views (between 50 and 200 views). But they are their so I have contributed to the vast YouTube world. Of course like almost everyone these days, watching YouTube videos is a thing I spend time doing. So all of these aspects contributed to why I didn't think I needed a blog. I have lots of other things I like to do online, so it seemed unnecessary. I know a lot of people use it for a personal online journal type thing to tell about life events that happened to them. I'm not big into that. I have my own journal that I keep my own personal history in. I don't want to write my history to the world. And in posting photos, I prefer doing that on facebook. So there have been many reasons to not start a blog. Although it is fun to read other people's blogs on occasion, I never had a reason to start one on my own.

So why am I here? You just read a big long paragraph as to why blogging has never been pertinent to me and now you are about ready to call me crazy because you think I am starting a blog to complain about blogging. But keep your peace. That is not the case. My good friend Bane Nathos, who is the manager of Blue Box (linked on this blog), got me writing movie reviews for Blue Box and I've decided I like that. In the last two or three months, I've gotten close to ten movie reviews written. We have it set up where when either one of us sees a movie, we go home and write a review about it and he posts it on Blue Box. Yep. That's the motivation behind this. I want to start my own blog for movie reviews and other movie discussions. Yes, in the last couple of years I have become quite the movie buff. And being a Stats major, I love following the Box Office numbers each week. Now this isn't meant to compete with Blue Box, but rather to team up with it because when I post a review here on DrogeMiester's Lair, I plan on giving Bane the review and letting him post in on Blue Box. Then the review might go up in a third place and that is the Internet Movie Database. IMDb. The Movie Wikipedia. Yes, if you didn't know, when you go there and click on a movie, you can scroll down and read hundreds of reviews users have written. So that's a third place. The more exposure the reviews get, the better. So after deciding that I wanted to do that, my ideas expanded. I didn't just have to limit it to movies, I can use my blog to write my thoughts I have on sports. I love the NFL and love predicting what will happen and giving insights each week. I can use my blog to do that. Same goes for the NBA to a lesser extent and lots on the Jazz. I occasionally write blog posts for UJ360 and I can post those here as well. And I can give American Idol commentary as well as other TV shows I watch. Or if I have a random thought on whatever it is, I can post that. And as I think about it the possibilities are almost limitless. And so I am way excited about this. At first I was unsure when to start this, but I decided that the new year is a good time. I'm not big into New Years resolutions for various reasons, but this year doing this blog can be a New Years resolution. So I am excited. Are you? Writing is fun for me when I'm writing about something I enjoy, so hopefully reading this will be fun for you, whomever you are.

And as a PS, if you know how to pronounce my last name (Droge), you'll be tempted to pronounce DrogeMiester wrong. DrogeMiester is pronounced without the long "e" sound that normally is pronounced when you say my last name. So its three syllables long. :)