Orphan Black – “Nature Under Constraint and Vexed”

April 20, 2014

Season Two, Episode One

orphan-black-nature-under-constraint

Grade: A

Wow! What a first episode back to the twisting and winding world of Sarah Manning and the clones fighting for their lives. We pick up right where the season one finale left off, with Sarah running through the rain right after discovering Kira and Mrs. S are missing. The shots with the moving camera following Sarah as she sprints down the street throws into the right tone of maddening distress that Sarah is feeling. But finally, she tries her best to cool down and think clearly as she drinks tea at an empty diner, until two suspicious men walk through the door.

At this point, Sarah has been through so much that nothing surprises her anymore. So when these two men obviously want to force Sarah to leave with them, she’s able to squeak out of there unscathed (with the help of the diner owner with a shotgun). But now what? Alison and Cosima’s phones have been disconnected. She hesitates before calling Paul because really, who trusts Paul? She meets up with Felix who gives her some good advice, ditch the phone because they’re probably tracking her with it. These are just some of the little things that Orphan Black does so well. Sure, it’s obvious to us that she’s being tracked, but in Sarah’s stressed state, something she should’ve noticed from the start never occurred to her.

Meanwhile, Alison gets a fantastic scene as she’s rehearsing in a musical where she winds up snagging the lead role after the death of Aisley. Quite poetic, don’t you think? And naturally, she sings and dances to a song about cleaning up after an unfortunate death with a mop. I just can’t say enough good things about Tatiana Maslany, but her comedic acting here is simply superb. There is meaning to this very funny scene though, and that’s how Art is still investigating Beth’s death and isn’t entirely surprised to see Sarah walking right where Alison is.

The episode builds up to when Sarah puts her plan in action to attend the Dyad Institute party as Cosima, which was a great little twist. Like I’ve said dozens of times, Maslany doesn’t disappoint. On top of her giving all of the clones their own personalities, she then has the talent to be a clone pretending to be another clone, without ever confusing the viewer unless it’s the show’s intent. Her conversation with Dr. Leekie was tense, but Delphine saw right through Sarah and her charade. Eventually, Sarah is able to get her one-on-one meeting with Rachel, who is as cool as a cucumber until Sarah fires a shot near her head. What we learn here is that Rachel doesn’t have Kira, but she knew that Sarah would come to her if she thought she had them. Pretty smart, but that still doesn’t prevent Sarah knocking out Rachel with her gun.

One thing that Orphan Black does very well is that it keeps us guessing which characters we can trust. Can we trust Delphine? Maybe. She seems to genuinely care for Cosima, but then again she did refer to Cosima as 324B21 when she hands Dr. Leekie the blood sample. How about Paul? Sure, Rachel and them are blackmailing him, but he does let Sarah go after she knocks out Rachel. But how will he react when they’re stuck in a much more difficult situation? Will he lay down his life for her? And then there’s Art, whom Sarah did say not too long ago is the only person she trusts. She was about to confess everything to him at the police headquarters, will she finally tell him everything? That’s the question we’re left with at the end of the episode.

If that isn’t enough, we see that Helena is alive! Sure, she’s stumbling around a hospital, leaving a blood trail until the nurses and doctors notice her, but she is alive and this is very interesting. During the first season, we were introduced to another factor dealing with the clones, the Church-crazed Proletheans. We find out that the two men from the diner who tried to obtain Sarah are Proletheans. And the straight-faced, man in the suit strolls into the same hospital where Helena is receiving help. This is an all-out war.

How much of this season will be about Sarah searching for Kira? What role will Art play with this? Sure, Sarah and her clone buddies could use some more assistance, but we don’t know how Art will react to whatever Sarah’s about to tell him. Then there’s the concern for Cosima as she continues to cough up blood. Is there a cure, or is she inevitably going to bite the dust from being a clone? And please, please, please, can we see the final production of Alison’s musical? Thanks.


Fantasy Box Office 2014

April 18, 2014

Last year, my friends and I started a tradition of competing in a Fantasy Box Office challenge, where we drafted off summer movies and see whose team will gross the most money domestically. It was a lot of fun and therefore we decided to do it again this year. For the record, I won last year so I’m hoping to defend my title! Anyway, we just had our draft and I figure that I would post the results. Here they are:

Randomly picking the order of the draft: Chris, Rob, Mike, Dan.

ROUND 1:

1. Transformers: Age of Extinction (Chris)
2. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Rob)
3. Godzilla (Mike)
4. X-Men: Days of Future Past (Dan)

ROUND 2:

5. How to Train Your Dragon 2 (Dan)
6. 22 Jump Street (Mike)7. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Rob)
8. Hercules (Chris)

ROUND 3:

9. Guardians of the Galaxy (Chris)
10. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Rob)
11. Jersey Boys (Mike)
12. Maleficent (Dan)

ROUND 4:

13. Tammy (Dan)
14. Planes: Fire and Rescue (Mike)
15. Edge of Tomorrow (Rob)
16. Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return (Chris)

ROUND 5:

17. Jupiter Ascending (Chris)
18. A Million Ways to Die in the West (Rob)
19. The Expendables 3 (Mike)
20. Neighbors (Dan)

ROUND 6:

21. The Fault in our Stars (Dan)
22. Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (Mike)
23. Sex Tape (Rob)
24. Lucy (Chris)

ROUND 7:

25. Think Like a Man Too (Chris)
26. The Giver (Rob)
27. Blended (Mike)
28. Jane Got a Gun (Dan)

ROUND 8:

29. The Hundred-Foot Journey (Dan)
30. Million Dollar Arm (Mike)
31. The Purge: Anarchy (Rob)
32. Step Up All In (Chris)

ROUND 9:

33. Deliver Us From Evil (Chris)
34. Into the Storm (Rob)
35. If I Stay (Mike)
36. And So It Goes (Dan)

ROUND 10:

37. Get On Up (Dan)
38. Lets Be Cops (Mike)
39. Mom’s Night Out (Rob)
40. Earth to Echo (Chris)

ROUND 11:

41. When the Game Stands Tall (Chris)
42. The Loft (Rob)
43. As Above So Below (Mike)
44. The Fluffy Movie (Dan)

I’m pretty happy with my selections, though there is plenty of uncertain films on my roster. Chris taking Transformers with his #1 pick is probably the safest bet, since those movies all gross more than $300 million. My pick for #2 was The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which I wasn’t entirely sure about but my thinking is that you can never go wrong with the first film to open up the summer season in May. I’m expecting it to gross over $300 million. Mike’s first pick was Godzilla, a questionable pick because there’s no guarantees. There hasn’t been a Godzilla film in 14 years, and the last time it was successful at the box office was in 1998 starring Matthew Broderick. But even that film only grossed $136 million. Mike is expecting a much bigger response this time around for the gigantic lizard, but will it deliver? Dan’s first two picks are as solid as any film this summer: X-Men and How to Train Your Dragon. X-Men First Class grossed $146 million, so you can expect that number to go up with the star-studded sequel. And How to Train Your Dragon was a surprise hit, grossing over $200 million in 2010.

For me, my top six picks were: Spider-Man, Planet of the Apes, TMNT, Edge of Tomorrow, and A Million Ways to Die in the West. I’m hoping these six films will gross my roster close to $1 billion domestically, and I don’t think that’s impossible. Spider-Man should shoot north of $300 million, then if Planet of the Apes makes $200 m, TMNT with $150 m, Tom Cruise’s Edge of Tomorrow with $100 m, and Seth MacFarlane’s Western comedy with $150… that’s approximately $900 million. Last year I won the competition with $1.3 billion, so if these films pull through I should be safe for at least second place.

What it comes down to is the handful of surprises throughout the summer. Last summer, We’re the Millers grossed $123 million and The Conjuring grossed $135 million. No one could’ve expected this much from an August comedy and a horror movie, respectively. I’m hoping to get the same results from The Giver (an adaptation of the beloved novel) and Into the Storm (a disaster film that could have success like 2012′s Chronicle). We’ll see what happens and I’ll keep updating throughout the summer.


Flickchart Battle: Apollo 13 (1995) vs. Little Children (2006)

April 18, 2014

flickchart-apollo-children

This week’s match-up has the universally beloved Apollo 13 against the small, dark movie, Little Children. Let me just state from the beginning that I love both films very much and I already know this is going to be a difficult choice for me to make. Let’s get started.

Beginning with Apollo 13, this film was released in 1995 and was a huge success: grossing over $172 million domestically and receiving 9 Oscar nominations. Ron Howard directed this historical drama about America’s third Moon landing mission that went awry, with Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, and Ed Harris starring. When I think of Apollo 13 I think, what’s not to like about this film? It’s an important piece of American history and the film is incredibly suspenseful as the astronauts try to get home safely. I loved the separate story-lines between the astronauts, the control room in Houston, and the families glued to the television screens as the media covered the event. Needless to say, everything was very well done.

As for Little Children, it’s based off the Tom Perrotta novel about two lovelorn spouses from separate marriages in a small town, which includes a sex offender and a disgraced former police officer. The acting is superb with Kate Winslet and Patrick Wilson leading the way, along with Jennifer Connelly, Jackie Earle Haley, and Noah Emmerich. With a cast this talented, it’s not a surprise they breathe life into every word from the Oscar-nominated screenplay. And although Todd Field has only directed two films in his career, those movies include In the Bedroom and Little Children, both very dark and very thought provoking in regards to intimacy and marriage.

These two movies are very hard to compare because they’re so different. Apollo 13 is a very uplifting, heartfelt film that will have you shedding happy tears at the end when the crew returns safely home. Those seconds of silence as the world is waiting to see if the heat shield holds up is excruciating. Little Children doesn’t have any of these moments. Instead, it’s a film that will keep you engaged in conversation for hours after it ends. It will bring up topics of morality, ethics, and real life discussion about pedophiles and the boundaries people flirt with when dealing with a dead-end marriage. It’s heavy-hitting material.

If we’re basing this off of the “which movie would I leave on if both were on TV” test, it would depend on what kind of mood I was in. If I were in the mood to watch a film that would make me question society’s view on broken marriages and second chances for offenders, Little Children would be the perfect film. But because Apollo 13 is more accessible, it would win that test the majority of the time. But I do feel that Little Children is a slightly better film all-around, especially if you take out Apollo 13′s special effects.

At the end of the day, it comes down to Apollo 13 being more enjoyable than Little Children. I still revisit Little Children every so often and highly recommend it to those who haven’t seen it, but Apollo 13 is close to a historical drama classic and it’s a film that’s tough to beat in any match-up. It has slightly more star-power and I’d rather talk about the success and fortunes of NASA than the trauma of unhappy people any day.

Winner: Apollo 13


The Ultimate ’90s Kids Movies Bracket (Part Five)

April 17, 2014

90s-kids-movies-blog

Complete coverage of the FIRST ROUND here.

Complete coverage of the ROUND of 32 here.

Complete coverage of the SWEET SIXTEEN here.

Complete coverage of the ELITE EIGHT here.

It’s been a long road, but finally we’ve reached the conclusion of the tournament. We only have four films left in the FINAL FOUR.

bracket-final-four

Which movie will move onto the championship to hold the title as the Best Kids Movie from the 1990s? Let’s find out right now!

In this round, we all decided to secretly vote for the film we like better and then reveal at the same time, then start the discussion.

#1 Toy Story vs. #4 Aladdin

toy-story-poster          aladdin-poster

Chris: This is just more of a personal pick because they’re both iconic and they’re both right in the childhood wheel-house. It’s just which one meant more to you as a kid.
(Voting reveals: Toy Story – 3, Aladdin – 1)
Rob: So Mike, why’d you pick Aladdin?
Mike: It’s just one of the movies that I loved all the characters from. I just find them ever so slightly more enjoyable than the characters in Toy Story.
Rob: I went with Toy Story because I watched that movie more recently and more times overall than Aladdin, simply because it’s better.
Chris: In Toy Story, I felt that every scene was entertaining, and every character was funny and enjoyable. But with Aladdin, if it was just Jafar and the Sultan, it’s not the same. Aladdin is my favorite Disney movie, but it’s really Genie-heavy and his scenes make the movie.

Winner: Toy Story

#2 Toy Story 2 vs. #3 The Lion King

toy-story-2          lion-king-poster

(Voting reveals: The Lion King – 3, Toy Story 2 – 1)
Mike: And Toy Story 2 is eliminated! The biggest upset of the bracket.
Rob: Well, not really. It was a #2 versus a #3.
Rob: Dan, you voted for Toy Story 2.
Dan: Yeah, this was was my personal #1 seed. The introduction with the new characters was great and I think it was actually funnier than the first. There’s just so much to love about that movie.
Rob: It is rare to see a sequel either as good or better than the original, and that’s what Toy Story 2 offered.
Chris: I think it hurts Toy Story 2 a little here because it was a sequel. Maybe I’m in the minority here, but I wasn’t a big fan of the new characters.
Dan: Are you kidding me?!
Chris: To me, The Lion King is just a better overall movie. Maybe it’s not as funny, but to me it’s better.
Mike: The Lion King is such an emotional ride…
Chris: Plus with the whole overlapping moral of the circle of life.
Mike: It’s a really epic cartoon.
Chris: It really is!

Winner: The Lion King

And that leaves us with the championship match-up! Which movie will be crowned as the Best Kids Movie from the 1990s?

#1 Toy Story vs. #3 The Lion King

toy-story-poster         lion-king-poster

Rob: Can we put both and have co-winners?
(Voting: Toy Story – 3, The Lion King – 1)
Rob: Go ahead Mike.
Mike: Growing up, The Lion King was the movie that I had playing constantly, and as much as I love Toy Story, if they were both on TV right now I would pick The Lion King. It just has a sentimental place in my heart.
Rob: You’re a musical guy too, so that probably played a part.
Mike: I did really enjoy the music.
Rob: That is something that The Lion King definitely has over Toy Story.
Chris: But even on top of that… let’s say that the execution of Toy Story wasn’t that good, the IDEA of it is amazing. Just the idea of toys coming to life. That’s what I think drove Small Soldiers too, thinking that our action figures would come to life. So it just took that to a whole nother level with the humor and the superstar voices. It puts it over the top.
Rob: Do you think Toy Story would’ve been as successful if Tom Hanks and Tim Allen didn’t do the voices? This was Pixar’s first film and at the moment the film was released, Tom Hanks was arguably the biggest actor in the world with Forrest Gump and Philadelphia. Plus, that was Tim Allen’s prime as well. Would Toy Story have been that big of a success?
Mike: I think it would have.
Dan: It might not have been a slam dunk, but it would’ve still been successful.
Chris: They [Hanks and Allen] made those characters. Because everyone had a Mr. Potato Head and a slinky and army men, but those actors made Woody and Buzz.
Rob: Man… but The Lion King is so good too!
Mike: The way you watch Simba grow throughout the whole movie gives it that epic feeling.
Chris: You have little kids watching a life story, with lessons like “one day you’re dad is going to die and you’ll have to replace him.” Is there anything bigger story-wise than that?
Mike: Yeah, and there are so many other lessons like there is danger in the world.
Rob: And even family members, like Scar, could be evil!
Mike: Just how you can watch the film now and take away something from it that you might’ve missed watching as a kid. That makes it a quality film.
Rob: Definitely, and that was the same thing with Toy Story.

Winner: Toy Story

Well that’s it, folks! Our pick for the Best Kids Movie from the 1990s is Toy Story! Do you agree with us? Whether you do or don’t, it’s been a fun ride. We’ll make sure to do another bracket in the near future. Thanks for reading.

Do view the full bracket, click here.


Orphan Black – “Entangled Bank”

April 16, 2014

Season One, Episode Eight

orphan-black-entangled-bank

Grade: A-

This episode ended with a jaw-dropping occurrence, which strangely hasn’t been a constant for these season one episodes. Orphan Black doesn’t usually end with such a cliffhanger that will have you screaming. Usually, they show a subtle reveal or an addition character gets in the loop with what’s actually happening. But in “Entangled Bank,” the purest thing in Sarah’s life gets hit by a car. Poor, innocent Kira. After she’s persuaded out of the house by Helena, she crosses the street to return to her mom but gets struck by a car in the middle of the street. It’s a troubling scene to witness.

In this episode we move forward, jumping from Sarah, Alison, Cosima, and even Helena. Sarah and Paul have each other’s trust while Felix fends off the police detectives, but they’re finally onto what they can only assume are Beth’s twin sisters. Alison is still paranoid as hell and sleeps with Ainsley’s husband, then fights her in the middle of the street. But Sarah finally tells Mrs. S about everything that’s happening, with Alison with her. It’s a lot to take in but Mrs. S takes the news very well. My suspicions about her have all faded away.

Meanwhile, Dr. Leekie tells Delphine to speed up her process and to get him names of the other clones Cosima has been in contact with. After sleeping with her, Delphine is shocked to discover Cosima is in contact with several other clones. There are two important things about this discovery: First, Dr. Leekie seemed very intrigued/surprised to hear Sarah Manning’s name and second, Delphine leaves out Kira’s name. Why? It really cannot be determined yet.

Despite what her handler is saying to her, Helena isn’t willing to kill Sarah just yet. She still believes that Sarah is someone special, but her creepy fascination towards her and her daughter is definitely alarming. I assume we’ll get a quick answer whether or not Kira is alive and that will certainly change the game entirely. We know Dr. Leekie is up to something, but what exactly? He doesn’t seem to know who’s killing the clones while using Delphine to monitor Cosima. In addition, who the hell is Alison’s monitor? And how long will it take until Art pays Felix another visit?


Game of Thrones – “The Lion and the Rose”

April 14, 2014

Season Four, Episode Two

GoT-lion-and-rose

Grade: B+

The war is never over. Apparently, Game of Thrones hates weddings. It seemed obvious something was going to happen after Lady Olenna gave her sympathies to Sansa saying how awful it is to have death at a wedding. It does seem like she’s the one who poisoned King Joffrey’s goblet, though Tyrion is the perfect scapegoat. But after tormenting his uncle, I can’t imagine any viewer without a huge grin on their face while watching Joffrey take his last breath. Finally, karma has come back to the Lannisters.

This obviously had to happen sooner than later, but now things get a lot more interesting. Tyrion is in immediate danger as the suspect of Joffrey’s death. As for the land living in peace after conquering many battles, what’s there to say when the most powerful family in the world gets torn up from the inside? Tywin knows things are about to get chaotic, and I’m sure Cerseia and Jaime knows it too.

But how great was the final ten minutes or so between Joffrey and Tyrion? The banter back and forth was full of tension, then naturally Joffrey takes their dispute to another level of douchebaggery. For the last time we watched as many viewers’ favorite character was being humiliated by everyone’s most hated character. So now what?

The rest of the episode shows Bran still traveling with his group, Stannis and Melisandre still burning people at the stake for the Lord of Light (will his daughter be next?), Theon completely broken by Ramsay Snow, She being shipped away from King’s Landing, and Bronn training Jaime how to fight with his left hand. It’s funny how such a big event happened at only the second episode this season. While it didn’t come close to the impact of The Red Wedding, it’s still a major development for the season. If there’s one thing to take from this episode, is that do not get married in Westeros.


The Ultimate ’90s Kids Movies Bracket (Part Four)

April 14, 2014

90s-kids-movies-blog

Complete coverage of the FIRST ROUND here.

Complete coverage of the ROUND OF 32 here.

Complete coverage of the SWEET SIXTEEN here.

We have now entered the Elite 8! Let’s check out how the brackets look:

bracket-R4-1                       bracket-R4-3

bracket-R4-2                         bracket-R4-4

Onto the match-ups!

#10 The Santa Clause vs. #2 Toy Story 2

the-santa-clause         toy-story-2

Mike: Oh boy! The Santa Clause goes down in flames! (Silence) In my opinion I guess.
Chris: I’m voting for The Santa Clause.
Dan: Wait, what?!
Chris: You guys are building up Toy Story 2 too much!
Rob: What are you talking about?!
Chris: I mean, for a sequel it is really good.
Dan: The Santa Clause is a borderline terrific film.
Chris: Borderline?!
Rob: Toy Story 2 is actually a terrific film.

Winner: Toy Story 2

#6 Beauty and the Beast vs. #3 The Lion King

beauty-and-the-beast          lion-king-poster

Mike: Oh man! This might be the match-up of the bracket!
Dan: It’s hard because I haven’t seen either movie in forever.
Dan: Emotionally, I think that The Lion King resonated more, so I’m going to go with that.
Rob: Do you think that’s because The Lion King came out after Beauty and the Beast?
Chris: I think that does play a role.
Rob: Beauty and the Beast has a chick main character…
Dan: That’s true, but they also had those funny supporting characters.
Rob: And I think Gaston is one of the most hilarious Disney bad guys.
Mike: And his minion was great too!
Chris: Critically, Beauty and the Beast was nominated for Best Picture.
Rob: Yeah, it was the only animated film to be nominated before they expanded the number of nominees.
Chris: I’m going to go with The Lion King.
Mike: I have to go with Beauty and the Beast.

Winner: The Lion King

#5 Jurassic Park vs. #4 Aladdin

jurassic-park-poster         aladdin-poster

Chris: For me it’s Aladdin.
Dan: I have to go with Aladdin as well.
Mike: Aladdin is my favorite Disney movie. I would’ve picked it over Beauty and the Beast.
Dan: That is one movie I’ve probably watched a hundred times.
Mike: But Jurassic Park is one of my favorite movies of all-time, so I’m picking that.
Rob: As a kid I watched Aladdin more, but obviously now I’d put on Jurassic Park.
Dan: Jurassic Park is so influential.
Mike: Growing up, Jurassic Park was my favorite movie. I was blown away by the epic-ness of the film.

Winner: Aladdin

#40 Rookie of the Year vs. #1 Toy Story

rookie-of-the-year         toy-story-poster

Rob: I’m surprised Rookie of the Year was still around.
Mike: Don’t be so surprised!
Dan: I still vote The Mask over Rookie of the Year.

Winner: Toy Story

That concludes the Elite 8. Check back soon for the results of the Final Four and then the Championship to determine what is the best kids film of the 1990s!


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 233 other followers

%d bloggers like this: