Tuesday, August 28, 2012

2012 NFL Predictions: Preseason

Those of you who know me real well will know that I have been doing NFL season predictions for several years now and a few of you out there know that I have quite the elaborate system in making these predictions. Most of you, however, don't know and so now you are being educated. Here is my system in a nutshell. Sometime before the regular season starts I copy all of the 32 NFL teams' schedules into one Excel file. Once that is done, I pick the winners of each individual game and do that for all 17 weeks. That makes it so I come up with a predicted set of standings and using the NFL tie breaking rules, I determine the playoff match-ups based on my predicted standings and I thus predict the playoffs game by game and come up with a Super Bowl champion. Yeah, it does take up some time, but I enjoy it and there are some Excel shortcuts and codes that make it go faster. I think it provides a much more realistic set of predictions than what I could've come up with otherwise because not only does it implement how I think each team will perform, but it also implements the teams' schedules into the equation. Every year there are always teams that underperform because of a really hard schedule and teams that overperform because of a really hard schedule, and that is often portrayed in my predictions. Sometimes people will ask me why I predicted a team to do so good or bad and I can't respond because I surprised myself with the pick. So that's how it rolls. I update my Excel file weekly on my own time and re-predict monthly. When I re-predict monthly, I will post it on my blog. I hope you enjoy! And feel free to question me about any pick I made. It will kindle some fun football debates.

P.S. - This being the preseason edition does not mean I am predicting the preseason. It means I am predicting the regular season and playoffs before the season begins. My preseason predictions.

Regular Season Predictions


AFC East
*-New England Patriots - 13-3
y-Buffalo Bills - 9-7
Miami Dolphins - 7-9
New York Jets - 6-10

AFC North
z-Baltimore Ravens - 10-6
Pittsburgh Steelers - 8-8
Cincinnati Bengals - 6-10
Cleveland Browns - 6-10

AFC South
z-Houston Texans - 10-6
Tennessee Titans - 7-9
Indianapolis Colts - 5-11
Jacksonville Jaguars - 4-12

AFC West
z-Denver Broncos - 10-6
y-Oakland Raiders - 10-6
Kansas City Chiefs - 8-8
San Diego Chargers - 6-10


NFC East
z- New York Giants - 10-6
Dallas Cowboys - 8-8
Washington Redskins - 8-8
Philadelphia Eagles - 8-8

NFC North
*-Green Bay Packers - 13-3
y-Detroit Lions - 12-4
y-Chicago Bears - 10-6
Minnesota Vikings - 6-10

NFC South
z-Atlanta Falcons - 11-5
Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 8-8
New Orleans Saints - 7-9
Carolina Panthers - 7-9

NFC West
z-San Francisco 49ers - 11-5
St. Louis Rams - 8-8
Seattle Seahakws - 5-11
Arizona Cardinals - 2-14

x- Clinched Playoffs
y- Clinched Wild Card
z- Clinched Division
*- Clinched Division and Homefield Advantage

Friday, August 24, 2012

Top 30 Lost Deaths

Lost is by far my favorite TV show. No TV show like it. Just over two years ago when it finished, I was watching the finale live on TV. Shortly after I decided to create a list of the top 30 Lost deaths inspired by a YouTuber that had done the same thing. After watching his, I wanted to create my own. So I did and I kept it in an Excel file. Well, recently me and some friends decided to watch the whole series again, because some of them hadn't seen it all the way through. Watching it the second time through, I picked up on a lot more details and a lot more questions that I had were answered to the point where I have no questions about what happened. It all makes perfect sense to me. And there are so many reasons to love the show that I won't even go there. But during this process of rewatching the show, I also redid my list of top lost deaths, but this time I created it as I went, updating it as each death came up and switching up the order on occasion. I have just recently finished watching it for the second time and thus my list is done. If you have watched the series like I have, this will provide you with a good trip down memory lane as you go through this. If you haven't seen Lost, I recommend you skipping this because there are a ton of SPOILERS. Here is how I will do things. I will give a brief explanation about each choice and then provide you with a link to watch the death (embedding all of the videos in this case was too much of a headache).

30- Anthony Cooper - There are a lot of great actors in this show and Sawyer (James Ford) is certainly one of them. Haunted his whole life by the death of his parents due to the con man Anthony Cooper, it is rather awesome when we finally get to see him face up against Cooper on the island in the third season.

clip:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=emMq_r1BrGE&feature=related

29- Cladia (Jacob's birth mother) - How extremely brutal it is for Jacob's "mother" to help a young mother give birth to twins, beat the mother to death with a rock, then raise the babies as her own. It puts an interesting spin on the Jacob / Man in Black story. Before it was all white and black, but after this episode you kinda feel for the Man in Black. All he wanted to do was go home and escape this lady, while Jacob is just willing to do what she says. So who is bad and who is good?

clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OaFSic6c4A4

28- Danielle Rousseau and Karl Marin- You really feel for Alex in this one as she watches her boyfriend and mother get shot within moments of each other by Keamy's men. It's especially surprising to see Danielle get shot and killed just like that after being invested in her character since the very beginning.

clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnIgU7e5s78

27- Anna Lucia Cortez and Libby Smith - What lengths will a man go to in order to save his son? I don't know about you, but killing two innocent women is going a little to far. Too bad Michael came to that realization long after he did this. It's interesting to note that Lost probably wanted to keep Michelle Rodriguez longer, but she got herself into some trouble in real life and they had to write her off. The Libby death is devastating because her and Hugo had just begun to fall in love, but it gets cut short abruptly right before their first date. It was awesome that they got to have that date later on in the 6th season during the flash sideways.

clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPuqF-jmBy0

26- Caesar - Caesar wasn't a huge character, but his death at the hands of Ben was pretty cool. "This gentleman and I are taking a boat. Anyone else have a problem with that?" No, you don't mess with Ben Linus. Unless of course you are the Man in Black, then you can do what you want.

clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwTH4SCr-do&feature=related

25- Michael Dawson - As mentioned in #27, Michael goes really cold in the name of Walt. After he finally realizes what a horrible mistake he made, its great to see him come back and do his best to make up for what he did and die saving some of the main characters from the show.

clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5Er1uPYwK8 (4:08 - 6:50 in this one)

24- Dogen and Lennon - Dogen was pretty boss and it turns out he knew what he was talking about. Sayid killing him and his translator Lennon was pretty brutal considering it directly caused the Man in Black to enter the temple and kill the people remaining there. And Sayid knew exactly what he was doing. That's him being in one of his "I don't care about the world" phases before he changes and tries to fix things again.

clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1x3TQ3iWNM

23- Ethan Rom - Ethan was a great season one villain as we are just beginning to learn that the survivors of the crash aren't the only ones on the island. The Charlie and Claire story line throughout the season is one of the best romances in Lost and it is rather awesome seeing Charlie get his revenge here after Ethan had kidnapped him and Claire. This fight beforehand in the rain is also pretty epic.

clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOCI2FzvDQc

22- Boone Carlyle - This death is monumental as it is the first death of a main character. It also teaches us for the first time that Lost isn't afraid to kill off main characters, which keeps us all on our toes as we continue through the series. Watching him go right at the same time Aaron is being born is rather touching. Although not shown in the following clip, it is probably the most fitting scenario with the "Life and Death" song that always plays when a character dies because we experience a life and a death.

clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AItvHZwTSBc

21- Martin Keamy - If we were to rank Lost villains, Keamy would certainly be up there. He is a great actor and does such a good job of being a cold-hearted killer that you hate and want gone. He actually died twice, the second time being in the flash sideways in the second season, but for purposes of this list, it will be the first death focused on. Ben gets his revenge over Alex, but Keamy had the bomb detonator strapped to him so when Ben couldn't resist, the freighter exploded killing Michael amongst others. I apologize for the following video and the music, but it's the best I could find for Keamy.

clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ST1gpRmp1Ew

20- Charles Widmore and Zoe - If we hadn't figured it out before, this scene showed us that the Man in Black was purely evil in the way he killed Zoe. Years of being trapped on the island really got to him. In this the second to last episode, we also once again question if Ben is good or bad after seeing him shoot down Charles Widmore, one of the few remaining disciples of Jacob.

clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7RJrYzrmFA

19- Jacob's "mother" and the Man in Black's body - This right here is a very critical scene in Lost. We once again feel for the Man in Black. All he wanted to do was leave the island and live a normal life. He had found a way to leave, but yet that was squashed when their mother ruins it all. He kills her in a moment of rage and thus Jacob gets mad and throws him into the heart of the island, thus in essence killing his old body and transforming him into the Smoke Monster. So who is the victim in this whole scenario? This scene is also cool because we learn who the "Adam and Eve" skeletons were that were found in the caves in season one.

clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQTPtqwYciQ

18- Ilana Verdansky - This isn't the first or best death by dynamite scene, but it is a pretty good death. With the role Ilana had as a follower of Jacob, you didn't expect her to get blown up like that but she did and suddenly that was the end of Ilana as she got scattered all over the beach. Moral of the story: be careful with dynamite. Don't carelessly throw your bag on the ground when you have four sticks of it.

clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWmci6-Ke2E

17- Daniel Faraday - One of the more tragic deaths on the island right here. Daniel was awesome and Eloise his mother was a very creepy lady. And how about those last words. "You knew this was going to happen. You always knew. But you sent me here anyways." "Who are you?" "I'm your son." Ouch. That's gotta hurt.

clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzEsJ-pCs38

16- Neil (Frogurt) - Frogurt wasn't a main character, but nonetheless his death was one of the coolest deaths. It was a cleverly written death. Right as he is complaining about fire, specifically right when he says the word fire, he gets shot with a firey arrow. I mean, come on. How awesome is that?

clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6_M2n19YJM

15- Gary Troup - Who? Gary Troup was the first death shown on Lost. Yup, the guy that got sucked into the engine, causing it to explode. That was a pretty boss death and I bet you didn't know that the writers of Lost were creative enough to give that guy a name and a background that is mentioned in passing. Check him out on Lostpedia to learn more about him. In the meantime, enjoy this awesome 15 second death clip.

clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1bT_oap_jg

14- Goodwin Stanhope - Goodwin was the less epic version of Ethan for the back of the plane. He was an "other" that is quickly forgotten once you get passed the second season, but despite being an unimportant character, the manner in which he died was rather epic. Anna Lucia was definitely boss during this fight. The only clip of this I could find was from the YouTuber's countdown that I mentioned in my introduction. My list is much different, so just ignore the number 27.

clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kf9I225lj04&feature=plcp

13- Ryan Price and Tom Friendly - This scene here is quite the funny and awesome turn of events. Stuck in quite the sticky situation, Hurley comes in and saves the day by running over Ryan Price, Sayid then snaps the neck of the other unnamed guy, then Sawyer shoots Tom Friendly after he had surrendered. Way to go Lost writers!!

clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4jpMlWGpGRA

12- The Pilot - Frank Lapidus was supposed to be the pilot of this plane, but lucky for us he wasn't because his character was awesome and what happened to this pilot was gruesome. When I first saw this part, I jumped pretty good as he was snatched from the cockpit by the Smoke Monster. Our first of many experiences with the Man in Black in his black smoke form leaves the pilot all bloodies up in the top of the trees. Yikes.

clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pg107BbAcsk

11- Leslie Arzt - Ok, I mentioned back in number 18 that despite Ilana's awesome death by dynamite it wasn't the best death by dynamite. Here in the season one finale is where we see the best death by dynamite scene. The crazy science teacher is lecturing the group about dynamite safety when it explodes and send him all over everyone. Then comes the epic line by Hugo, "You've got some Arzt on you." Haha!

clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35kWxQCTuWA

10- Mr. Eko - The death of Mr. Eko was a very sad death because Mr Eko was such an awesome character and it was hard to see him go. He was really only there for just over a full season, but yet he was a character that everyone really liked. Combined with that I put this death so high because it is the first major clue we get about this mysterious Smoke Monster thing that we are really confused at this point in the third season. When you watch it over again knowing what you do about the Man in Black, this death becomes quite epic and foreshadowing. You realize that the Lost creators weren't just drunk. They knew what they were doing and where they were going with everything.

clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNnnyLac_8s

9- Jacob - You hear so much about Jacob throughout the whole series and one of the many questions you have is that is he or is he not real? The season five finale comes around and you realize that he is indeed a real person guarding this island. At the end of the episode when Ben and the Man in Black confront Ben, you don't think Ben is going to follow through with what he's been asked to do my the Man in Black, but the shock factor hits you pretty good when Ben actually does kill Jacob right there and suddenly this character who has been spoken of for so long dies in his first episode appearing.

clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GxCe0biKq8E

8- Alex Rousseau - This is such a brutal scene that makes you really hate Keamy. It is really well acted and extremely emotional. You feel bad for Ben and can empathize him when he kills Keamy later on, despite the consequences that came with killing him. And how terrible is it for the last thing your daughter hears you say is that she doesn't matter to you? Ouch. Poor Ben. You thought the whole scene that Alex was going to make it, but the shock factor his really hard when she doesn't.

clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGVRQ4_Oqas

7- Juliette Burke - Getting close to the top 5 deaths, we have the very sad death of Juliette. Season 5 was a little odd and pointless at times. Specifically the 1977 storyline - the 2007 storyline was great. But one good thing that did come from that storyline is Sawyer and Juliette. Some of the best acting and best chemistry come from those two, the finale being especially great. The fantastic acting between the two when Juliette is slipping down the well is what makes this scene so sad and emotional.

clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3rBS0HTIsNY

6- Sayid Jarrah - One of the greatest aspects of Lost, if not the greatest aspect is the character development of the main characters in the show. Sayid's progression is one of the most interesting storylines along those lines. It is great to see him go out as a hero in the way he did when he died after just recently in season 6 as well as season 5 being this cold hearted killer who doesn't care about anything. Great progression for him.

clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDu51r14754

5- John Locke - This scene is quite amazing because it doesn't really hit you as extremely emotional and sad until the fifth season finale a few episodes later and I think that is brilliant writing. You get the impression in the episode that despite being murdered in a cold hearted way via Ben (it seems like a lot of the great Lost deaths are at his hands), he gets resurrected by the island. Nope. It turns out it was just the Man in Black taking his form and suddenly you are saddened at the deaths of one of the greatest characters on the show.

clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FNwS8DBgDB8

4- The Man in Black - The unnamed brother of Jacob is referred to as the Man in Black. It is revealed in the final season that Jacob got angry at his brother after he murdered their "mother" and shoved him to the heart of the island, thus transforming him into the Smoke Monster that has appeared in the show since the pilot (see death #19). When Desmond unplugs the light in the heart of the island and turns the Man in Black into a mortal man once again, the ensuing battle between him and Jack is quite awesome, finished in an epic way as Kate comes to the rescue and saves Jack's life. It turns out that Jack never fully recovers from injuries he sustained in this fight.

clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFUPMI-WFRI

3- Jin and Sun Kwon - If there is one scene in all of Lost that would make you cry, this is the scene. There are several good love stories in Lost, but I think that this one is the best and it gets topped off in this scene when Jin shows a true act of love. They spend all of season five and most of season six apart from each other, a total of three years in the storyline of Lost. Shortly after reuniting they find themselves in the sub trying to escape the island only to find out in is a trap. The whole group gets saved from death by Sayid's sacrifice, but the explosion traps Sun. Sun begs Jin to save himself, but instead he decides to stay with her and they die together holding hands. How romantic!

clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_SxoS-Gd_s

2- Charlie Pace - The dearly beloved Charlie was easily one of the best characters on the show. Him and Claire also would contend for best love story in Lost. With this said, seeing Charlie get killed off was really sad and devastating. Not completely surprising, though, as they built up to this moment for a good part of the third season. I had this death listed at number one for the longest time until I decided to change my mind at the last moment.

clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-KaR5NUrws

1- Jack Shephard - As I just barely mentioned, I didn't originally have this as the top Lost death, but after going through and watching Lost for a second time and contemplating on the series, I had to put this as number one. Many people didn't like Lost and were frustrated at how it ends, but I would strongly disagree with them. I personally believe that the ending to Lost is really epic and I don't know if I will ever find a TV series that I like more. Now is not the time to discuss the details as to why, but if you wish to discuss this with me on a personal note, feel free to do so. The death of Jack is incorporated into the final scene as they flash back and forth between him dying and the reunion in the church and so my choice to put Jack as number one is because both of those scenes together, not just the death of Jack. But in speaking of the death of Jack it is totally awesome they did it. Lost begins with Jack opening his eyes while lying in the bamboo field, Vincent the dog walking up to him and licking him, then Jack getting up and wandering out. It ends by him wandering into the bamboo field, lying down, Vincent walking up and licking him, then finally ending with Jack closing his eyes. Very well done!

clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3D6EG35WP0

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Bourne Legacy Review

The Bourne trilogy in my opinion is one of the better trilogies ever made. Jason Bourne is so totally boss and Matt Damon will be forever a legend in my eyes because of his portrayal of Bourne. Also added to that is that the story line that arches over the three movies is very intriguing. And it is a complete story. As in it ends perfectly. So why do a fourth movie? Well, easy. The Bourne movies are based of the Bourne books and there aren't just three books. There are ten. However, the first three were written by Robert Ludlum and those three are deemed the Bourne trilogy. Then what happened is that Robert Ludlum died in 2001 and when that happened Eric Van Lustbader continued the series and since 2002 has written seven additional Bourne novels. Now I have not read any of the books, but from what I hear, the original three are better than other ones. So with that in mind, Hollywood sees that there are 10 books and decides that it is a good idea to make more than just three movies. The funny thing is that while The Bourne Legacy is the title of the fourth book, the fourth movie is not remotely based off of the book. The only similarity is that they share a name. The fourth movie doesn't even have the character Jason Bourne in it. Now that wasn't the original intentions I don't think, but when Paul Greengrass, the director of Supremacy and Ultimatum, decided he didn't want to continue, Matt Damon decided not to as well and so they decided to go a completely new direction. Now Legacy is not a remake or reboot by any means, rather it is a spin-off with completely different characters for the most part. I compare this project to the fourth Pirates of the Carribbean. The fourth one of that is the beginning of a new Pirates trilogy separate from the first trilogy, but also not a reboot.

With all of that intro out of the way, I have to admit that I was extremely nervous about this movie. I thought that it would be a good idea to leave it at Ultimatum and not do more. I was sure that without Matt Damon or Jason Bourne this movie would be terrible. However, I had a change of heart in May. After being blown away by Jeremy Renner's portrayal of Hawkeye in the Avengers, I suddenly became excited about Legacy because it was Renner that would be the main role. Now after seeing it, what do I think? Well, it was a slight disappointment for sure. A step down from the first three Bourne movies, but at the same time it wasn't a terrible movie. It gets a pass in my book.

The tagline of the movie is 'there was never just one'. They shoved that down our throats in the trailers and advertisements for it to try and justify to all of us why they are doing a sequel. It worked enough to get me excited. Here's the deal though. It felt like they were shoving that down my throat the whole movie as well and it frustrated me a bit. Don't spend the whole movie justifying another sequel. Just make a good sequel with a good story line and that will justify the movie to the audience. But alas they didn't follow that last piece of advice and thus the story line of the movie was just weird, messy, and forced. I mean we start out in Alaska. Then we jump to Virginia. Back and forth between that and Alaska for a while before we decide to throw in a flashback and suddenly Renner has made it to Virginia. Then we are Chicago. But before that we had to flash to Korea and Pakistan for a few moments. Now suddenly we are off to the Philippians. Add to that, our main characters are suddenly on the chopping block wanting to get killed by a bunch of people.

It seemed like this nonsensical story line continued on for the whole first half of the movie, with only a few brief periods of awesomeness with Renner. Then in the last half of the movie, the ball finally got rolling and despite me still wondering why we are doing what we are doing, the movie started to become awesome and fun to watch. This last half of the movie felt like a true Bourne film to me. And man Jeremy Renner as Aaron Cross was so totally awesome. Not quite as boss as the legendary Jason Bourne, but still very boss. And the lead female that was running with him was also fantastic. She of course was Rachel Weisz playing Dr Marta Shearing. Not only were they great in the action / chase scenes, but the acting was superb. Especially when Aaron was trying to convince her to help him out with the issue he was trying to get solved. The ending was satisfactory and left you wanting more from Renner and Weisz. Which knowing Hollywood, we will probably will get.

Overall, if I were to award number grades to the first three Bourne movies, they would all get either an 8, a 9, or something in between. Like I have been saying, Legacy isn't quite to their level, but it is still an enjoyable movie. I give it a 7 out of 10. And that's pretty generous. If you are a Bourne fan, my recommendation to you is to give it a shot, if for nothing else to watch Jeremy Renner be awesome.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Top 10 Superhero Movies

In case you didn't get the memo, Hollywood is on a Superhero craze right now. Now there has been Superhero movies for a long time, but until the new millennium Superman and Batman were the only Superhero movies that were really popular. X-Men in 2000 and Spider-Man in 2002 were really the two movies that changed that and ever since those two we have had ten years of what seems like non-stop Superhero movies. And it's not about to stop anytime soon. Next year we get another try at a Superman movie and if that works out well, Batman may get another reboot in order to attempt a Justice League movie. And of course Avengers phase two will begin as Marvel has already announced it's lineup of Iron Man 3, Thor 2, Captain America 2, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Ant-Man. We'll also get the sequels to the newest Spider-Man reboot and I'm sure plenty more. With all that we've experienced and all that we are now looking forward to, I feel it's time to pause and reflect for a second on my personal favorite Superhero movies thus far in the form another top 10 list. Like always, these selections are my personal choices, so don't hurt me if you disagree.

#10- Spider-Man 2- There was much debate in my mind over this choice. The first nine spots were pretty easy to pick, but in my mind there was a bit of drop off after those. I contemplated The Incredible Hulk or Captain America. I also thought about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) since that was one of my favorite movies as a child. I even thought about putting Megamind here, but in the end I decided to give some credit to Sam Raimi and his Spider-Man trilogy. Yes, X-Men came two years earlier and had decent success, but it was probably Sam Raimi's Spider-Man in 2002 that turned everyone's heads in Hollywood as it earned 403M here in the states. That total at the time was not only the highest grossing Superhero movie of all time but the fifth highest grossing movie ever behind only Titanic, Star Wars, ET, and Star Wars: Phantom Menace. Yes, the trilogy had it's problems with questionable lead roles, a story line that strayed from the comics quite a bit, and an awful third installment, but I still enjoyed the first two and the second one especially deserves credit as I thought it was a really good movie with a movie story and an amazing villain.

#9- The Dark Knight- WHAT?!?!?!?!?!?!?! The Dark Knight comes in at number 9 on the list? Am I on drugs? I realize that this will be a controversial selection and I risk the chance of getting stoned because The Dark Knight is at least in the top 3 of 95% of people's favorite Superhero movies. But not mine. I had issues with this movie. Main reason is that it was really dark. Nothing happy happened the whole movie as it was just bad luck after bad luck after bad luck for Batman, ending with him being seen as a criminal or a villain in the eyes of most people from Gothom. The other main reason was what they did with Rachel. First off, the casting change from Batman begins. Sure, Katie Holmes leaving wasn't really in their control but they could've cast someone a lot better because Maggie Gyllenhaal was awful. Second, they blew her up after building up that romance story line for a movie and a half. It kinda shows that Nolan sucks with romance in his movies. But with that said, this wasn't a bad movie. I did enjoy it as you can see it made this list. I just thought it was a bit over-rated as it is not good enough in my eyes to be any higher than this.

#8- Iron Man- I don't imagine there being much question with this choice. Now I am not a huge comic book fan, but I know enough to say that Iron Man isn't exactly up there in popularity with other superheros like Batman, Superman, and Spider-Man, so this movie being such a big hit is impressive. Robert Downy Jr. made Iron Man legendary as his performance was brilliant. The second movie had it's issues, but the first movie was an all around good movie in addition to Downy Jr.'s excellent performance and definitely deserves a spot on this list as one of my favorite superhero movies.

#7- Thor- Now I know that this will be my second controversial pick at least because for some odd reason, a bunch of people hate Thor, but I really liked that movie. It was my favorite of the pre-Avengers movies. The movie had a great story line with amazing special effects. Thor was great as a superhero. He was both funny and awesome and his character went through great character development. Loki was one of my favorite villains and the scenes between him and Thor were fantastic. Natalie Portman as Thor's girlfriend was a useful girlfriend I thought as opposed to the girlfriends that do nothing but get captured and need rescue. Can I also compliment an excellent cast that includes Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgard, and Kat Dennings? Thor defended.

#6- The Incredibles- I didn't think about including this one at first, but when I thought of it, I couldn't leave it out. This list isn't my favorite Superhero movies based on comic books. It's just a list of my favorite Superhero movies in general and the Incredibles certainly fit the bill. It's funny when I think about Pixar movies they have recently been attempting to join the sequel kick, but doing sequels of movies that don't make sense. Of course the Toy Story sequels worked out brilliantly, but Cars 2 was a disaster. The Monsters Inc prequel Monsters University doesn't make sense in my mind and neither does a Finding Nemo 2 if they go forward with that. Pixar needs to realize that if they are going to do a sequel kick, an Incredibles sequel would make the most sense. This movie was just brilliant.

#5- The Amazing Spider-Man- As you will shortly see, I was a huge fan of all three Superhero movies that came out this year. It was really a good Superhero movie year. As far as The Amazing Spider-Man goes, I was really skeptic for a long time. It didn't seem right to reboot Spider-Man after just five years, but it happened and it turned out to be a great decision. Yes, the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies were groundbreaking and all were all box office monsters, but this version was surprisingly better. It was a lot more true to the comics. Andrew Garfield is a much better Spider-Man than Toby Maguire was. And Emma Stone. Oh my goodness. I am in love with that girl. She was so awesome. Also, while a lot of Superhero films are nearly 100 percent action oriented, this one had depth and character rather than just forced action. And when the action did come, it was well. Being cliche, this movie was amazing.

#4- Superman- Yes, the 1978 version. You honestly can't create a list like this and not include this classic on the list. It was pretty much the father of Superhero movies. Sure, it wasn't the first one, but it was the first hugely popular one earning 134M back in 1978 which is equivalent to 450M today after adjusting for ticket price inflation. No this isn't a list of most well done Superhero movies because it wouldn't necessarily make that list, but this is a list of my favorite Superhero movies and I do really enjoy this one. It was one of my dad's favorite movies to watch and so I thus watched it a lot and it is enjoyable movie and certainly a classic. Classic to the point that when you think Superman, you think of Christopher Reeve and when you think of Christopher Reeve, you think of Superman. He is Superman. Superman is a tough comic book character to adapt to the big screen and make it done well, but I think this one did a good job and so far no other Superman movie has come close to topping this original Superman movie.

#3- Batman Begins- There have been a lot of Batman movies made, but now that Christopher Nolan's trilogy is complete, we can officially crown Nolan the Batman King. He totally rocked this one. True I was mildly disappointed with the second one, but it still made this list and so did the most recent one (a precurser of things to come on this list), meaning that the whole trilogy made my list of favorite Superhero movies, which is impressive. It's also rocked the box office as The Dark Knight was the second movie to ever pass $500M domestically and now The Dark Knight Rises is closing in on that list as well. Batman Begins was a very good start to the trilogy and provided a great message that just sat well with me. While not as epic as the Joker or Bane, this movie still provided great villains with Liam Neesan and Cillian Murphy portraying Ra's Al Ghul and Scarecrow respectively. It also had a great story arch that just left me feeling great afterwards and a great romance story line that sadly got ruined in the second one, but was great in the first.

#2- The Dark Knight Rises- I just gave praise to this trilogy, so no need to do that again, but I must say that in my opinion, The Dark Knight Rises was the best movie of the trilogy. Sure there were several things negative things that I could point out about it, but the level of epicness certainly outweighs those negatives. It's still early in it's release, so I won't say much right now so that I won't spoil anything if you haven't seen it, but this movie was just so epic. And by epic, I specifically mean the ending. I praise how Nolan closed this. I praise Bale for being a great Batman throughout the trilogy as well as Michael Cane and Morgan Freeman for their excellent performances throughout. Lastly for this specific movie I praise Tom Hardy, Joseph-Gordon Leavitt, and Anne Hathaway for making this movie what it was.

#1- The Avengers- I'm sure you knew by now that this was on top. Either you talked to me, read my Avengers review, or noticed that this movie wasn't in places 2-10 and thus had to be number one. This movie was just so totally awesome! Ever since Nick Fury appeared at the end of Iron Man, I knew that The Avengers movie was going to be a thing and I was very excited about that for the whole four years that I had to wait. Making it that hugely anticipated and making five movies to build up to it was certainly a high risk thing, but in this case high risk turned into extremely high reward as it was just as epic and possibly even more epic then I even thought. Seeing Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, and Hulk alongside the SHIELD squad, specifically Hawkeye and Black Widow, was so awesome because they all did so good. I went and saw it four times in theaters and loved it every time. In fact, I just recently saw a trailer for it in the dollar theater movie that I went to and got excited again. Definitely the best Superhero movie of all time and also easily one of my favorite movies of all time in general. Go Avengers!!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Movie Preview - August 2012 (part 2)

(continued from part one)

August 17th - 19th - There are a grand total of 15 nationwide releases scheduled for August, over half of July's 7 releases. Week 3 of August contributes 4 of those. And those four are quite diverse, bringing something to about everyone. First up we get some serious action packed fun with The Expendables 2. The first Expendables movie came out two years ago and did fairly well. It was enticing because it brought in a whole slew of famous action stars into one movie. And if you have that, you pretty much know what you are getting into. The second one should be about the same, except the already large cast of action stars gets bigger. It includes Sylvester Stallone, Jet Li, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris, Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dolp Lundgreen, Terry Crews, and Randy Couture. You can't get a more highly decorated action-star cast than that and when you go into it, you aren't going for anything smart, moving, or deep. You are going for explosions, action, shooting, and fighting. And that is exactly what you will see in Expendables 2. Pure guys flick. Now I really don't know what Liam Hemsworth is doing this, but he's in there as well. There was a story about it being dummed down to PG-13 thanks to something Chuck Norris said or did, but it turned out to be false when it got the R rating a couple of weeks back. Now as some good counter programming, we also get a couple of family friendly films. The first of them being an oddly placed animated movie in ParaNorman. I say oddly placed because usually we don't get a major animated movie in August. But at that same time it does make sense because there is a huge slate of animated movies this year. We've already had The Lorax, Madagascar 2, Brave, and Ice Age this year, with a couple of smaller ones as well, and still have Hotel Transylvania, Frankenweenie, Wreck-It Ralph, and Rise of the Gaurdians each about a month a part so August is the only place ParaNorman fits in without having to worry about any competition close around it. Animated movies have been doing quite well this year with three of them having topped $200M and an additional one topping $100M. Now ParaNorman specifically is stop motion animation and the highest grossing stop motion animation movie is Chicken Run with 109M, so a extremely high total shouldn't be expected, but it's being advertised as from the creators of Coraline, which earned $75M back in '09. If ParaNorman matches those numbers it will be considered a success, but anywhere between $50M and $75M should be expected. It has a Supernatural / Halloween feel, which could be a draw for those in an early Halloween mood. The other family friendly film coming out this week for those not interested in ParaNorman is The Odd Life of Timothy Green. The genre of this movie is a fantasy drama movie. It's about a young couple who are unable to have children. They put their wishes for a child into a box and bury it. The next day, the child they want shows up on their doorstep. However, the child turns out to be different than he appears, part of which may being little branches growing out of his legs as he informs everyone he came from the ground and not from his mom's belly. It seems like a touching family film with a great cast as the lead roles are Joel Edgerton and Jennifer Garner. Last up we have the tribute to the late Whitney Houston called Sparkle. It is a music drama that stars both American Idol winner Jordin Sparks and Whitney Houston, with Whitney being one of the producers as well. It wasn't intended on being a Whitney Houston tribute originally, but the singer died just three months after filming finished so that is what it has become. Whitney Houston fans should turn out for this to remember her and her legacy.

August 24th - 26th - This the fourth weekend in August is definitely the weekend that we can look at the movies coming out and officially decide that summer is over. Besides having a few weird movies that I will get into in a second, this weekend ushers in the horror season with The Apparition. Starring Draco Malfoy, I mean Tom Felton, this horror film plays with the psychological aspect of belief. The tagline in the movie is "Once you believe, you die." The idea in the movie is that ghosts are only real and haunt us if we believe in them. And of course, this being a horror film, it won't be all peaches and roses. People will believe and thus people will get haunted and possibly killed because they believed. Does that have truth to it? I don't know. I'll let you think about that. Playing with this psychological aspect of the human mind could successfully freak people out if done well and thus attract the crowds that like being scared by movies. But let's move on. The next movie could be really cool or it could be really dumb. It is Premium Rush.. Upon reading up on it and watching the trailers, what it honestly reminds me of is The Fast and Furious movies. But with bikes. A bike messenger picks up an envelope that gets the attention of the police. This leads to the police chasing the cyclist all around the city. The interesting thing is that the lead character, the cyclist, is played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. JGL has become a huge Hollywood name recently, partly due to his role in Inception amongst other things and most recently, The Dark Knight Rises. He is also scheduled to be in Looper and Lincoln this year, so it's a big year for him. It'll be interesting to see if he can attract crowds to an odd movie like Premium Rush. Finally we get treated to another raunchy comedy called Hit & Run. In addition to being a raunchy comedy, it also is an action movie and includes a romance story line, so it looks like it is trying hard to be a big hit by expanding it's audience, but I honestly think it will be another flop. Make fun of me later if it becomes big.

August 31st - September 2nd - Yes, this weekend has two days in September, but the weekend starts in August, so I am including it in my August preview. The extreme movie rush that was August has ended by this point as only two new releases come out this weekend. The first is an intense action movie called Lawless. It gets the "based on a true story" tag that will make in intriguing. It is about two brothers that become outlaws and then after becoming outlaws they become heroes. They picked an interesting cast of brothers. One brother is Tom Hardy, who is ridiculously awesome. The other brother is Shia LaBeouf, who is really not that awesome. They both try to pull off the bad-a role and I believe Hardy can do it, but I don't know about LaBeouf. It also includes Guy Pierce and Gary Oldman, which make the cast more intriguing. On top of all this, it does have a Western feel to it. The second of the weekend and last movie of August is the second straight horror movie, The Possession. The Possession is what it sounds like and if the previous week's The Apparition doesn't scare crowds, this one should do the trick. I was kinda creeped out by the trailer, but maybe I'm just a wimp. It's a movie about a father and his daughter. The young girl buys a mysterious box at a yard sale that ends up having a spirit in it that possesses the young girl. The father does his best to try to find a way to get rid of the spirit, so it definitely has an Exorcism feel. Trying to creep out crowds even more, the movie is based on a true story.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Movie Preview - August 2012 (part 1)

The start of August signifies that the Summer is coming to an end. In Hollywood it means most of the big summer movies have already happened and we are ready for the Fall movie fast that always happens before the big Summer movies and the big Winter movies. Having said that, there are always a few surprises in August and some late Summer hits. Last summer had Rise of the Planet of the Apes and The Help, but nothing else really. This August, while it won't be the most entertaining month of the year movie-wise, it should be fairly eventful when compared to previous Augusts. There is a possibility that this may be due to movie makers trying to avoid being drowned out by Spider-Man and Batman and releasing their movies in August instead, but who knows. There's also a chance that they could mostly all flop and thus give us a typical August, but we shall see. Here's how August shapes up:

August 3rd - 5th - When the Dark Knight was in theaters, it impressively pulled off a four-peat, winning weeks three and four by less that 5M each week. Now for whatever reason, The Dark Knight Rises is falling harder than The Dark Knight as it opened barely ahead and is now trailing by 30M after two weeks, so the chances of it pulling off a four-peat as well are somewhat slim, but possible. This upcoming weekend there are two movies coming out that will attempt to dethrone it after just two weeks as box office king. 30M-45M is probably what TDKR will end up with, so it will have to be a great showing, but could be possible. The big candidate to do this is Total Recall. Now it seems as if Hollywood is getting less creative and less original. Sometimes they do movies that are based off books and other times they do movies that are remakes of old movies. In Total Recall's situation, both are being done. Totall Recall is a remake of 1990's movie of the same title, which in turn is based off of the short story entitled "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale" by Philip K Dick. The 1990 was an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie that debuted to 25M on it's way 120M total. If this remake can match those numbers it will be considered a success. Now those numbers were pretty good for 1990, so if Totall Recall of this year gets the same attendance, it will be real huge. But Collin Ferrell is no Schwarzenegger, so that probably won't happen, but he's not a bad actor and has Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel around him, so there is worse things that have happened. It's an interesting action, sci-fi film that sounds like it has a crazy twist to it. What is real and what is not? Could be fun. The other movie that will attempt to knock down TDKR is the third Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie called Diary of a Whimpy: Dog Days. If you are uneducated about Diary of a Wimpy Kid, it is a newer book series that started in 2004 and now has 7 books out. It is unique because the books are in diary form. The diary of a kid, filled with notes and drawings of his daily adventures. The two previous movies have been fairly popular. Both opened up in the low 20M range, finishing above 50M. This third movie will probably do the same thing. It most likely won't beat TDKR or Total Recall, but it will make for a busy weekend to start off August.

August 10th - 12th - Yes, it is possible for The Dark Knight Rises to replicate The Dark Knight's four-peat, but I don't think that happens. There are four new releases and there is one of them that will most certainly top the charts. That is The Bourne Legacy. The three previous Bourne movies got increasingly popular with the third one opening to nearly 70M and finishing just north of 225M. Now I doubt that this fourth one will replicate that due to there being no Matt Damon, or Jason Bourne for that matter, but Bourne fans should still turn out in big numbers for this. At first I questioned them doing a Bourne movie without Jason Bourne, but that doubt quickly went away after seeing the Avengers. Jeremy Renner was ridiculously awesome as Hawkeye in that movie and thus I am confident that he will awesome in this movie as the lead role Aaron Cross. Better than Jason Bourne? Not possible. But still awesome. Besides Bourne Legacy, we have a pair of comedies coming out. The one that is more highly advertised and will most likely end up with more box office success is The Campaign. The Campaign will also be the more raunchy comedy as it gets the R rating. Now R rated comedies did great last summer as four of them topped 100M, but so far Ted is the only comedy to do so this summer, unless you count Magic Mike (more of a drama - but partial comedy). This movie has a great chance of breaking that trend and being another successful raunchy comedy. This one stars Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis. Will Ferrell typically does well with his comedies in the box office, his last one coming in 2010 with The Other Guys. The Other Guys opened to 35M and ended at 120M. I imagine this movie should do similar numbers. The fact that it is election season will help this movie as well. The other comedy coming out is Hope Springs. Hope Springs opens up on Wednesday the 8th, so it has a two day head start on The Campaign and a PG-13 rating which could bring a broader audience. It also has a cast of Steve Carell, Tommy Lee Jones, and Meryl Streep, which is intriguing. Steve Carell, though, already has a comedy flop on his record this summer, so this movie is no guarantee for success. Unless it gets great reviews it will likely get drowned out by Will Ferrell's comedy. Last up this week should be a real fun movie. Nitro Circus: The Movie comes to theaters on Wednesday the 8th as well. This brings Travis Pastrana and company together along with their insane and hysterical theatrics to the theaters for the first time. It is also heavily advertised as being in 3D. I'm not a huge 3D fan, but crazy stunts in 3D might actually be fun to watch. It won't do great in the box office initially due to it only opening in 800 theaters, but still.

(continue with part two)