Monday, January 19, 2015

2015 Movies! Nos. 1 thru 5

A little something different for 2015 w/r/t to coverage of movies. In 2011 (maybe?), I stole an idea from a Facebook friend (someone I went to BGHS with and was friends with, but didn't hang out with) and that was to document every single movie I watched in that year, on Facebook, with a little blurb about each.

Obviously that lasted only a few months.

Then, when I started this blog, I instead did full-on reviews for some of the big blockbusters that I would see (read: NERD movies). As my blogging went from pretty prolific in its early days, to non-existent more recently and now, onto, "I'm giving it my best shot" it has become apparent that full-blown movie reviews (like this, or this, or this, or this) take WAY too much time to write.

[Side Note: Each and every blog post that I've written is very time-consuming. Never would have thought this to be the case and not an excuse for how much I cut down in the past but just the truth]

Anyway, so I figured I'd start a hybrid, where I capture all the movies that I see this year, whether new or a repeat, on whatever medium (theater, Blu, TV, etc.) and write a very brief blog about each.

At least that will be the thought...We shall see... Mild SPOILERS may be ahead...

(1) Guardians of the Galaxy

This was my Blu-Ray re-watch from when I saw it in the theaters the first time.

Don't know what to tell you. If you missed this -- only the highest grossing movie of 2014 [Note: Hunger Games 3 is likely to ultimately surpass it] -- you simply don't watch movies (or, alternatively, only watch snobby indie bullshit).

This is the movie that made Marvel Studios the King of the Motherfucking Mountain, if you will.



Take an absolutely unheard of Marvel comic properties (well, at least unheard of to all but a handful of diehard NERDS) that features a talking raccoon, a blue-skinned Bautista in the main cast and a talking tree that only says three words ("I. Am. Groot."), and it doesn't look like that's a recipe for success.

Yet, that's exactly what happened. A smart script tied just enough to the rest of the Marvel universe + tight, fun direction + a great soundtrack + an a-star-is-born performance from leading man Chris Pratt = Huge Box Office Success (not to mention a belief that Marvel can do no wrong, to be put to the test this Summer with Ant Man).

Oh, and a Yes and Please!

Zoe Saldana, Yes and Please!
(2) Godzilla

Also a re-watch from seeing it in the theaters this summer. This was a surprise hit as it the first trailer led to near-universal derision coupled with "We need another Godzilla?" sentiment.

Probably a lot of it was due to bad feelings from the last time someone tried to make a Godzilla movie...

Starring Matthew Broderick = WHAT THE FUCK?!?!
That steaming pile of shit Godzilla just about broke even at $130MM domestically (but was also pretty huge internationally, adding another $242MM) but is also considered a laughingstock.

THIS new Godzilla grossed $200MM domestically (good for 12th in 2014) // $528MM total worldwide. In other words, a HUGE American AND International hit. 

But it's also a GREAT Godzilla/action movie. 


The direction, F/X, score are all amazing. Plus, Godzilla is unequivocally the GOOD GUY, fighting two other giant monsters to put "nature back in balance." In the process, Manila, Honolulu, Vegas and San Francisco all get absolutely obliterated and it's all good stuff. The acting is "Meh" (even Bryan Cranston for the 15 minutes he's in the movie) but that's not why you're watching a Godzilla movie in the first place. Finally, unlike most Hollywood movies, this one is relentlessly pro-military, showing how members of the US armed forces are selfless and courageous to a fault, even against an "enemy" that simply cannot be defeated by military means...they keep following orders and going after it anyway.

(3) Inside Man

Have seen this a bunch of times. Late one night, saw it starting on one of the movie channels and ended up watching the whole thing.


Of all of Spike Lee's movies, I think (total guess) that this was his biggest commercial success and also my favorite. As a critical endeavor, it's merely a bank heist movie, but an exceedingly smart one at that, with prime-level acting talent. 

It's got Denzel, Clive Owen, Jodie Foster, Christopher Plummer, and Chiwetel Ejiofor before he was anything. And, as Denzel says "This ain't no bank robbery!" -- it's much more than meets the eye than that! Plus it's got Nazis. Nazis getting their comeuppance is always a good time!

(4)  The Grand Budapest Hotel

This is the talk of Hollywood with its surprise nine Oscar nominations (tied with Birdman for most).

Basically, if you like Wes Anderson movies, you'll like this. If you don't, it's best to skip this one. Almost all of his standard actors are in this, including Bill Fucking Murray. But most of all, it might be the most Wes Anderson of Wes Anderson movies possible (to date).

The plethora of Oscar noms might be a little surprising because he has not been all that successful with the Academy. Nevertheless, I'd say that this is probably his most "complete" movie, with the most complete plot and overall characterization. 


It has all the tricks that the Academy likes, in this case a story-within-the-story-within-the-story structure, well-loved actors, a girl with a tattoo in the shape of Mexico on her right cheek and a heavy dose of inter-war Europe nostalgia (this period of time, if done well with set design, costuming, etc. always fares well with Academy members). It also has perhaps the most ludicrous prison escape scene ever on any TV show or movie.

It's supremely well-acted, as any Anderson movie is, especially Ralph Fiennes (though its rare that he's not great). Best picture quality? Eh, not for me. And I even put a few of his other works (Life Aquatic, Mr. Fox, even Moonrise Kingdom) ahead of this one.

(5) Neighbors

FINALLY got around to seeing this on Blu. You all probably know the basic premise as one of the we're-bringing-back-the-R-rated-comedy genre movies that have come out lately.


Long story short: Seth Rogan and Rose Byrne are married (pardon my editorial laugh at that ludicrous coupling, HA-HA!) with a small baby yet still not ready to accept that the baby has changed everything about their former lives.

Fraternity, led by Zac Efron and Dave Franco, moves in next door. Rogan/Byrne try to be cool while still requesting that the Fraternity "keep it down" a bit. Parties/noise/pranks/fights/hilarity ensues. Great soundtrack. Epic parties. Rose Byrne is a Yes and Please! Hall of Famer. Efron's GF in the movie, played by someone called Halston Sage is a Yes and Please! newcomer. 

First, the newcomer:


And now the Hall of Famer (and with her Australian accent, just that much HOTTER) ...


Thursday, January 15, 2015

#FOOTBALL

Welp, my arch college football enemy, The Ohio State University Buckeyes, are officially the first college football champions decided by an actual, factual playoff.

The NFL's final four are: Green Bay Packers (BOO), Indianapolis Colts (YAY-ish), New England Patriots (BIG BOO) and Seattle Seahawks (YAY).

Rex Ryan HIRED by the Bills without the Bears making any play for him, not even interviewing him.

John Fox FIRED by the Broncos after the upset home loss to the Colts and he immediately becomes the front-runner for the Bears job.

In-depth thoughts about all if you READ ON!

OSU: The First "Real" National Champion

After years of hand-wringing, the NCAA finally took the BCS out back last year and shot it in the head. It was replaced by the "College Football Playoffs" that would feature four teams selected by a panel of "experts" that included such noted football geniuses as former Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice.

Now, this new system is not perfect, to be sure. It should be expanded to eight teams, with automatic bids for the champions of each of the "Power Five" conferences (ACC, B1G, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC), with the three others still being chosen by the same panel of robot elders (SILENCE). With this modification, both TCU and Baylor would have been in the playoff instead of #Butthurt about being left out.

Anyway, Ohio State jumped into the four spot with its absolute annihilation of Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game. Then it outplayed and beat betting favorite Alabama/Nick Saban in the Sugar Bowl before dominating Oregon (who itself dominated Florida State in the Rose Bowl) in the National Championship Game. 

And, oh yeah, they did all of these things with their third-string quarterback, Cardale Jones, who first played in the Michigan game when the second-stringer went out with an injury.



The dude is an absolute BEAST. How the fuck does Urban Meyer convince such a talent to go to Columbus to be a third-stringer? This baffles me. 

Anyway, as a Michigan man, it pains me to say this but Urban Meyer has now supplanted Nick Saban as college coaching's best (though I'm hoping Michigan's new man challenges this as quickly as possible). Remember, Ohio State was supposed to contend next year. Gross as it feels, congrats to the Buckeyes.



The one positive from Ohio State's win is that it reestablishes the Big Ten back into football relevance. I guess all those the-Big-Ten-is-dead stories from about Week 4 were a little premature, eh?

NFC Championship Game: Green Bay at Seattle

What the fuck is a catch in an NFL game? The fans don't know, the broadcasters don't know, the referees don't even fucking know. By now, this Dez Bryant non-catch has been talked about endlessly:



I guess, according to the very technical, jargony rules of the NFL, this was not a catch because he didn't maintain "control" all the way through the process of the catch. Personally, I think that's bullshit and that this is a catch. He catches it, takes three steps and lunges for the endzone before the ball comes loose. And, even though the ball does come loose, it NEVER TOUCHES THE GROUND.

Now, the Packers were ahead 26-21, there were only four minutes left in the game and this was the Cowboys' 4-and-1 play (DeMarco Murray, where ya' at?!) Even if this call had gone the Cowboys' way, there's no guaranty, of course, that they would have scored a touchdown, or that they could have stopped Aaron Rodgers from scoring on the next possession (especially considering he'd likely only need a FG). 

Rodgers, with a tear in his calf, was clearly not 100% but was still excellent, going 24-35, 316 yards with 3 TDs and no INTs (Rodgers simply does not throw interceptions at Lambeau) but a very important aspect of his game, namely, his ability to scramble, was pretty much non-existent due to the injury. 

If he is unable to scramble in Seattle, I just don't see anyway that the Packers can beat the Seahawks, especially as they are playing at their highest level of the season right now. Against Carolina, the Seahawks were really hitting on all cylinders. Despite this, both Cam Newton and the Panthers hung tough, however, with the game always seeming closer than the 31-17 final score. The game wasn't really wrapped up until the amazing Cam Chancellor Pick-Six that everyone was rightly gushing over the next day)



Despite the Seahawks being the defending champs (which normally would steer me away from them), and all the annoying-as-shit "12th Man bullshit" of their fans and how irritating Pete Carrol's face can be, I'm rooting for them the rest of the way due to my love of #BeastMode Marshawn Lynch and, of course, Russell Wilson, who is just flat-out fucking awesome.

Wilson was a supremely efficient 15-22, 268 yards, 3 TDs, no INTs and a paltry (by his standards) 22 rushing yards. 

Both Wilson and BeastMode had amazing, definitional plays in the closing weeks of the season against Arizona. I'm going to take this opportunity to show them!

First, another BeastQuake:



Now Wilson:



Absolutely unbelievable stuff.

Anyway, for Sunday's NFC title game (3:05 on FOX) in Seattle, the Seahawks are -7.5 according to Sportsbook. Like I said, if Rodgers can't scramble, I don't see any way that they can handle Seattle's defense. And, frankly, despite Julius Peppers playing out of his mind right now (where was that last season, asshole?), Green Bay's defense isn't all that great.

I'll take Seattle 31-21 for its second straight trip to the Super Bowl.

AFC Championship Game: Indy at New England

The Ravens had the Patriots, up 14 points TWICE, before letting Herr Grumblelord and Tom Brady back in it and, ultimately to victory in Foxboro, 35-31.

There's no reason that I should dislike the Patriots (other than maybe Spygate) but I do. Tom Brady played at Michigan, Belichick is obviously a football wizard and his grumble/grumble schtick with the press entertains me to no end (that he's a MILF Hunter is also great). Plus Gronk! Who doesn't love Gronk!


Famous Gronk photo with ex-girlfriend and
former porn star Britney Maclin aka Bibi Jones


Yes and Please Bibi Jones! Please go back to
making high quality adult entertainment!
Anyway, there's plenty for me to like about the Patriots (I failed to mention above that I also have a soft spot for dynastic teams) but I don't. I think I've determined that it's due to Boston fans being the most insufferable in all of sports. Alright, so fuck the Patriots!

Baltimore came out pretty aggressive and played well from the outset. Joe ELITE Flacco continued his string of post-season impressiveness but ultimately fell short. His line: 28 for 45, 292 yards, 4 TDs and 2 pickles. Running back nobody Justin Forsett -- who I now love because I got him off waivers in fantasy fairly early, then rode him all the way to a championship -- continued his season-long good play too, rushing 24 times for 129 yards (a 5.4 per carry average - I believe he led the NFL in yards per carry this season).

Ultimately, however, the Ravens D, long its stalwart, couldn't stop Brady, who was 33-50, 367 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT plus a rushing TD. The Patriots also only ran the ball 13 times for a 1.1 average (and I can't recall them really rushing at all the second half). Gronk did his thing with 7 catches for 108 yards and a TD and when they looked his way, the Ravens had no answer for him.

But the play of the game and the decisive blow came on a JAP PLAY that they Patriots had apparently been keeping under their hats all the way back to last year!



Oh that Bill Belichick! He'll fucking run a Jap Play on you, yes he will. He will also design a new type of formation, completely within the rules, but never seen on offense before that will literally have John Harbaugh losing his fucking shit on the sideline, drawing a 15-yard penalty.

Anyway, they won and now have the privilege of hosting the Colts on Sunday (6:40 p.m. on CBS) with the AFC title on the line.

As for those Colts, their win was clearly the shocker of the weekend and represented a real changing of the guard as Peyton sadly looked the part of a broken down old man and Andrew Luck playing the roll of the new king.

After the game, we learned that Peyton has had a quad injury for the past month, and that would explain why his passing has been so off (and bad). He was especially bad in this game at any throw more than ten yards. He wasn't helped by two drops by Demeryius Thomas (also a guy who came up big for me in my fantasy football win), who had his worst game of the season (despite the first TD) since Week 1 when he had a dreadful performance against these same Colts.

Really, in the 24-13 loss, the Broncos looked bad all around. They didn't sack Luck once. And with the diminished Manning, held the ball for almost ten full minutes less than the Colts. Really this game felt more like 34-13 when it was over. And it felt like they were out-coached, which makes the next item down all the more shaky for me.

While I don't think the Colts overall have the roster to YET beat the Patriots, they'll certainly be able to move the ball in Foxboro. And Luck might just be able to pull it off. They're 7 point dogs and I won't pick them to win, but I'll go with them to cover.

Patriots 37, Colts 31.

State of Da Bears Rebuilding

Ladies and Gentlemen, your new Chicago Bears head coach, this guy:



Actually, this isn't official yet but starting to be reported as fact. Look, there's no denying Fox's overall success, both with the Panthers and with Broncos (both without Peyton (1st year) and obviously with). He's well-respected around the League, with players too, and a strong locker room presence and head coach "gravitas" are sorely needed after the Trestman era.

But I'm also a little "meh" on him. He makes the same bone-headed game management mistakes that most NFL coaches do. So I guess because they nearly all do (sans Grumble-Lord), I can't be too upset. AND, if he brings on Kyle Shannahan as offensive coordinator as is also being reported then I'm totally sold.

But backing up a few paces, about a week ago George McCaskey/Ted Philips/Ernie Accorsi hired their GM man from the Saints, 37-year-old Ryan Pace. This guy:



There's very little to know about him by someone like me. What I do know is that all the Saints beat reporters were on twitter saying what a good hire it was for the Bears and what a loss it will be for the Saints' front office. Then all the national NFL people (i.e., Jay Glazier, etc.) were tweeting that he was a star and that was always going to get a GM opportunity, with a little surprise that it was so soon sprinkled in.

He was impressive at his introductory press conference (then again, so were Emery and Trestman in each of theirs), stating that he really wanted the Bears to be a tougher team.

His coaching hires will be a first indication as to whether he knows what he's doing. Going with Fox carries the least amount of risk. That can be a good or a bad thing. Time and a few drafts will tell the story.

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Idiot Box -- Quick Hits: Marvel's Agent Carter and Empire

MARVEL's Agent Carter -- "Now is Not the End" and "Tunnel and Bridge"
(Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on ABC)

This is Marvel's second foray into TV. I have to admit that I gave their first, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. a chance (probably like 5-6 episodes) before abandoning it as super boring.


Allegedly, the series had a tie-in with Captain America: The Winter Soldier (S.H.I.E.L.D. being infiltrated by HYDRA) that was very well received and, from all accounts the show has been much better since then. Oh well. Guess I missed out.

Agent Peggy Carter also comes from the Captain America universe, if you'll remember, as she was an integral character in the first Captain movie (The First Avenger) and a near love interest for Steve Rogers. Of course, because the Captain froze himself at the end of the first movie and now lives in modern times, Agent Carter didn't go with him.

Instead, this new, eight-episode stand-alone series takes place solely from her perspective. She's played by the same actress as in the movie, Hayley Atwell, who is borderline Yes and Please! material (i.e., in some pics yes, in others not).



The character previously made an appearance in a short that's on the Iron Man 3 DVD but, despite owning that, I've yet to watch it.

Anyway, the series takes place post-war, with Agent Carter working in the Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR). Because she's a woman and its 1946 she's basically treated like a glorified secretary by her bosses and co-workers, notwithstanding all her good work during the war as set forth in Captain America. 

The good news? Her boss at SSR is played by Shea Whigham, last seen as Eli Thompson in Boardwalk Empire (may it rest in peace sigh).

The main narrative is that Howard Stark (reprised by the same guy who played him in the movie) has been accused by the U.S. Government of treason. Apparently a bunch of his prototype weapons have gone missing and some of have shown up on the black market. So obviously, despite his enormous wealth (taking away one motive for becoming a traitor) and his good works during the war (like, you know, creating/inventing Capt. America himself), he's a traitor and subject to Congressional hearings. On the last day of his testimony, he disappears (skips town, if you will), making his capture SSR's number 1 priority.

Agent Carter, being a useless WOMAN, is of course relegated to the sidelines. Just as well as Stark covertly meets with her and asks her to help clear is name. And that's the premise for at least the first 8 episodes: Carter working within SSR to undermine its efforts to nab Stark and to clear his name. Also introduced is Stark's butler, Jarvis, who will be at Carter's disposal to assist in her mission (and who will, of course, become Tony Stark's master computer in the Iron Man movies, voiced by Paul Bettany).

These first two episodes, played back-to-back, were entertaining enough. The feminism stuff is a little heavy handed but it's sure off to a more promising start than Agents of SHIELD was. And the critics -- Alan Sepinwall, TV Club and EW -- seem to like it.

It's good enough for me to keep watching, especially with a short episode commitment. 

Grade based on first two episodes: B

Extras:
  • Andre Royo, better known as Bubbles from The Wire and, more recently, as the voice of Marcus on Bob's Burgers, makes a short-lived appearance as a high-priced fence. Always good to see Wire alumni getting work!
  • Marvel premiered the Ant Man trailer during the episodes. Not sure what to think but due to how Great Guardians of the Galaxy was, I'm willing to trust the studio on any of its movies right now:


Empire -- "Pilot"
(Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on FOX)

I've always been a sucker for primetime soaps (the original 90210, the first season of Revenge, etc.) so I've been intrigued for Fox's new rap-world-take-on-King-Lear show since commercials started airing months ago.



The pilot, at least, did not disappoint as the world was fully-formed, most of the characters were complete people, the two leads -- Terrance Howard's rap-mogel/family patriarch, Lucious Lyon and Taraji P. Hensen's, Cookie Lyon -- are both fantastic, and the music, my God the music, supervised by Timbaland, is radio quality profession (and Fox is selling songs on iTunes, naturally).

As I mentioned above, this is a staging of King Lear in a modern, rap "empire" setting. Lucious, the patriarch and founding musician of the label, is just about to take it public. 

His oldest son, Andre, a business school graduate with, of course, a white she-devil wife (Kaitlin Doubleday, moderately Yes and Please!), has been helping run the board room and getting the IPO ready. 

The middle son, Jamal, has his father's music talent (he looks like, and his music is like, John Legend) but there's a problem -- he's a GAY! Oh no! This is especially bad in both the Black and rap communities where, as apparently the last bastion of civilization, homosexuality is not yet universally acclaimed. The third son, Hakeem, is a talented rapper who seems to be taking the the "rap star" life (booze, broads and blunts) quite well.

Lucious finds out he has ALS and maybe, at most 3-4 years to live. This prompts him to tell all three sons that one of them has to step up to become the heir-apparent (surprising Andre, who rightly thought he already was), thus the King Lear parallel (which is even expressly mentioned).

There to shake everything up though, is Cookie, who has just been released from prison after a 17-year stint (surprising everyone because she had a 30-year sentence) for drug dealing. Turns out she was dealing drugs to use the proceeds to start the label. In other words, she's a ticking time bomb who could fuck up Lucious' shit right quick and she is there to get what is her's!


Andre and his white she-devil wife think that this is perfect. He is going to convince Cookie to manage Jamal's career (which such career Lucious gladly gives up for her silence because, you know, he's a Gay) such that Cookie/Jamal are constantly at odds/war with Lucious/Hakeem. This will lead to Andre taking charge of Empire, get it?

So that's basically the set-up: Lucious is dying and needs to find his successor. Cookie is back to stir up shit and the three sons will be drawn into a fight over the company, with all the family drama that a soap opera set in the world of rappers can promise. Based on this trailer, I'm definitely going to keep watching though I'm sure it won't sustain this quality. If and when it ultimately starts to falter, I'll revisit. Hopefully that won't happen.

Pilot Grade: A

Extras:
  • Can't say enough about how great Taraji P. Hensen is. She was also great in Person of Interest but this is a whole new level.
  • Lucious just flat-out murders his best friend/closest member of his entourage when the latter tries to extort money from him. Once a gangsta always a gangsta, right?
  • Also can't overstate how great the music was. Here's just a sample of one song from the pilot:


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Idiot Box: The Simpsons, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Bob's Burgers

When I first started this Blog, recapping/reviewing TV was my primary objective/goal. If my blogging generally fell completely by the wayside and became less than sporadic, blogging about television became non-existent.

I'm back, trying to change that! And, in coming weeks, I hope to review the opening of some new shows like Marvel's Agent Carter (ABC), Empire (FOX), Better Call Saul (AMC), The Last Man on Earth (FOX), as well as do some semi-regular coverage of a few of my favorite (and TV's best) returning shows like Game of Thrones, Justified, The Americans, The Walking Dead, Hannibal, Mad Men, Banshee and Archer.

Unfortunately, my first foray back into this realm is with a pretty horrible Simpsons episode and average episodes of both Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Bob's Burgers. Anyway, let's do it.

The Simpsons -- Season 26(!)/Episode 10 -- The Man Who Came to be Dinner
Jan. 4, 2015


Synopsis: The Simpsons get on the wrong ride on a trip to Dizzneeland amusement park and are transported to Kang and Kodos’ home planet, where Homer finds himself on the locals’ menu.

Ugh. Was this episode bad. Much was made in the lead-up to this episode as to whether Kang and Kodos would now be a part of "the canon" (having always previously appeared only in Halloween episodes which are not canon) but they took care of that with a throwaway line at the end. Answer: Who knows?!

Basically all there was here were a few jokes at Disney's and/or Star Wars' expense, the best of which was the new, politically correct version of the Pirates of the Caribbean Ride ("No means no! We know now!):

video

Jokes/Quotes:
  • Short credits meaning no chalkboard gag
  • Couch Gag: Paintings of the Simpsons in various styles of famous artists, looked upon by the family at an art museum. They get bored so the paintings become televisions and they all sigh with relief
  • Rides at Dizzneeland: Mr. Bug’s Slow Crawl, Country Storm Trooper Jamboree, Jim-Jam Bonk’s Wild Ride, Jabba the Tiki Hut, Pirates of the Caribbean “Politically Correct” version, Hall of Dizznee CEOs (No Shareholder Questions), The Let Go Loop, Toonton Abbey (Closed due to Anglophobia), Rocket to Your Doom (Just Opened)
  • "Welcome humans. There is nothing to fear. I am Kang the Abductor."
  • "Wow. This place is completely alien but everything’s in English. Just like Canada!"
  • "Homer, you have to stop dropping your pants for everyone who claims to be a doctor."
  • "And here comes sacrifice Homer Simpson. His hobbies include sitting, lying down and reaching for things without success."
  • "Way to go George Mucus, the fattest, stupidest man on earth slipped right through your sticky tentacles."
  • The end credits spoofed a bunch of Star Trek stuff and did so pretty well (especially the Crazy Cat Lady's cats as the tribbles):
video


Brooklyn Nine-Nine -- Season 2/Episode 12 -- "Beach House"
Jan. 4, 2015

Synopsis: A getaway for the detectives at Charles’ beach house is spoiled when Jake invites Holt. Meanwhile, Rosa sends text messages to her new boyfriend with help from Charles; and Gina gets a kick out of an inebriated Amy.

One of the weaker episodes of what has become a consistently very funny show. I just think taking them out of the precinct loses some the characters' best humor wells (especially for Holt).

Jokes/Quotes:
  • "Just to clarify, how untethered is Vacation Terry from is wife?" "Very tethered."
  • "You call your ex-wife 'mommy?'" "Not consciously.
  • "Separate parties! Separate but Equal! Forget I said that phrase."
  • "I know they say it’s not good to have a TV in the bedroom, which is why I don’t."
  • "Any smile that lasts more than a second and a half is a con man’s ruse."
  • And this, which is much better heard than transcribed:
video

Bob's Burgers -- Season 5/Episode 8 -- "Midday Run"
Jan. 4, 2015

Synopsis: Tina will do whatever it takes, including enlisting Gene and Louise, in her campaign to secure a much-coveted and powerful hall-monitor promotion.

Usually a Tina episode would be gold. Especially with Zeek playing a major role in the festivities. This one was only average. The B-story, where Bob attempts to salvage some bit of drawing talent was the funnier story, if only for the art shop owners, who are never not funny. I also finally looked up who the voice of Mr. Frond is and it is none other than Michael Bolton from Office Space!!!

Jokes/Quotes:
  • Next-Door-Neighbor Store Gag: "Cat-Like Refluxes: Feline Gastroenterologist"
  • Exterminator Gag: "Wouldn't It Be Mice Pest Control"
  • Burger of the Day: Beets of Burden Burger (served with too many beets) $5.95
  • "What are you? Narc-y Narc and the Narc-y Bunch?"
  • "Oh you must mean the emergency drawing package. Yes! Do you have that? NO! B/c there’s no such thing! Takes years of training to be an artist. YEARS!"
  • "I did! I asked Coach B if I could borrow the suit fair and square but he wouldn’t let me. Probably thought I was gonna poop in it just 'cause I used to poop in stuff."
  • This epic Frond taunt should be my new ringtone:
video

MOVIES! The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Finally, thirteen years after Fellowship of the Ring came out, we come to the last of Peter Jackson's Tolkien movies, The Hobbit 3 (The Battle of Five Armies). We go to Middle Earth for #OneLastTime.


First, let me say that I do not understand professional movie critics. Don't get me wrong, I read reviews. And, despite the following rant to the contrary, if a movie I was maybe looking to see gets near-universal horrible reviews, I usually decide to skip it. That said, these professional reviewers really grind my gears sometimes. The Filmdrunk reviewer gave this movie a D. What the what?

Yes, stretching this story into three 2.5 hour+ movies was nothing but a naked money grab (the first two could have been combined, pretty much everything after they left Bilbo's house in the first one was superfluous BUT this installment was exactly as it should have been). For me the overriding purpose of a movie is to entertain. Story, acting, action, music, etc., any one or more of these pieces can be "off" but if the overall experience is entertaining, then the time to watch was worth it. I don't feel like critics feel the same way. All of the elements need to be perfect and the question "Was I entertained?" is not nearly as important as whether a movie (or "film" if you will) checks the boxes on some checklist from central office of movie critics.

Anyway, end of rant. Who the fuck cares about Filmdrunk's in-house reviewer anyway? Fuck me for wasting time on him! On to the movie instead:

CAUTION: SPOILERS AHEAD!

When we last left Bilbo and the Thorin-led Dwarves, they had awoken Smaug from within the Lonely Mountain and, to put it mildly, pissed him off. The final shot of "The Desolation of Smaug" was the great dragon out of the mountain, flying toward Laketown to get his revenge with a devastating Bilbo asking himself "What have we done?"

What indeed.

That's pretty much where The Battle of Five Armies begins, with Smaug circling overhead, about ready to lay fiery waste to Laketown. And lay fiery waste he does. It's a pretty exciting, not to mention dramatic, way to open the movie, though it renders the best part of the trilogy, Smaug (voiced again, though minimally, by the always-excellent Benedict Cumberbatch), out of the action within the first 15-20 minutes.

Though Smaug well and thoroughly destroys Laketown (even though the Laketowners didn't really actively assist Thorin et al.) he's felled by the Black Arrow that Bard had been hiding all of those many, many years. If you'll recall, Smaug had just the one weakness on his entire body -- a single scale missing -- and, of course, Bard's shot (with a makeshift "bow" a key component of which is his son's shoulder [That's not how bows and arrows work!!!]) hits just the spot it needs to kill Smaug, much to the dragon's utter surprise/confusion.


So anyway, Smaug is dead and Laketown is destroyed, its inhabitants scattered but Thorin is pleased as pie. He's now got the Mountain and all the riches inside PLUS Smaug won't be coming back! Win-win, right? Well, not exactly.

You see, like his grandfather (Durin) before him, Thorin is a wee bit susceptible to "dragon sickness" -- that is, being around so much gold has made him so greedy that he wants it all for himself, won't honor his bargains if it means parting with any of it and generally that he becomes even more of a deranged asshole than he already was. One problem: still no Arkenstone.

By now, the Wood Elves, led by their King, Thranduil, have heard that Smaug has been killed and make way to the mountain with a host to reclaim the Elvish jewels that are their. Bard, for his part, take the surviving Laketowners up there too. Remember, he made a deal with Thorin for his help. He he wants his share of what's coming to him.

Due to the aforementioned dragon sickness, Thorin basically tells the Elves and the men to "Fuck Off" because it's all his. So the Elves and Men make ready to storm the mountain.

Meanwhile, while all of this has been going on, Gandalf has still been trapped at Dol Guldur until Galadriel, Elrond and Sarumon show up to rescue him. This leads to a really cool scene where Galadriel tends to Gandalf while Elrond and Sarumon fight the nine Nasgul, still more in "phantom" form than walking/talking men like they are in the LOTR trilogy. They pretty well defeat them, leading Sauron to show up and mock them. That's when Galadriel takes over, using her vast power to banish Sauron and the Nine far, far away (presumably to Mordor where construction on Sauron's tower will commence). This leaves Galadriel completely spent, so Elrond will tend to her. Gandalf makes haste to get to Eribor to warn everyone of the Orc army on the way there, led by Azog. Sarumon, for his part, says "I will take care of Sauron" and everyone in the theater goes "Uh oh!"  I for one am just thrilled that they were able to make all six of these movies before either Christopher Lee or Ian McKellan check out for the great gig in the sky (and hopefully Sir Ian can stick around to film X-Men: Apocalypse).

Thorin finds out that Bilbo was the one hiding the Arkenstone from him and goes even crazier before finally realizing what has happened to him. And not a moment too soon as the Orc army arrives unexpectedly. Thus the sides are: Thorin and his mates + a Dwarf army under the command of his cousin? + the Woodland Elf army + the men from Laketown vs. two Orc armies = five armies. Some reviews claimed to be confused about the five armies were. Please again note my rant about reviewers above. Turns out they're also often stupid and/or get basic facts wrong about the material they are reviewing.

Anyway, the battle, while not as big as the Fields of Gondor, is easily the best Jackson has done with respect to the f/x being spot-on. There's a set piece up in the mountains on ice, where Thorin finally fights Azog one-on-one which is absolutely amazingly put together.

At the end of the day, we know that the good guys win and that Bilbo heads back to The Shire, though with a secret(!), setting up the LOTR trilogy.

If I had my druthers, Hobbits 1 and 2 would have been combined into a single movie (with very little from the first one making the cut) and Battle of Five Armies as a standalone pretty much exactly as-is. This was, as usual, very well put together in all aspects and had great action. It's pretty much start-to-finish action, making the

FINAL GRADE: A-Minus

Extras:
  • So at the end, Gandalf knows that Bilbo has something in his pocket but doesn't ask to see it? It's like "Hey, I know you've got something magical and mysterious in your pocket. No need for me to check it out though, Off you go!" STUPID STUPID STUPID!
  • Saw this in fake IMAX (not 70 mm) 3D. The IMAX was probably not necessary for this movie.
  • What a year for Martin Freeman, no? Absolutely perfect in Fargo and, I'm told, in Sherlock (though I've never seen, it's on my list!). He's also the core of these Hobbit movies. In lesser hands, Bilbo would not have been nearly as compelling and, without a compelling Bilbo, there's really nothing to these movies. He was also great as host of SNL.


  • The first teaser for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens was released about a month or so ago online and was also played before this movie. Upon it's release it quickly became the most-watched trailer ever. The last Millennium Falcon scene in this teaser is already way better than anything George Lucas put to film in the prequels:


  • Some of the other trailers: Jurassic World, Terminator: Genysis, The Walk