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How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love ‘How I Met Your Mother’ Series Finale

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Photo credit: eonline.com Photo credit: eonline.com

March 31, 2014 12.9 million viewers tuned in to watch the HIMYM finale, and many were left disappointed. To be honest, I was one of them.

As the credits rolled out, several questions ran through my head, ‘Why did they kill off The Mother?’, ‘Why did they spend the entire season building up to Barney and Robin’s wedding and then made them get divorced?’, ‘How come Ted got together with Robin again? and ‘Wait, what about the pineapple?’ I felt what many people felt: I felt I was cheated on.  I was totally pissed.

I also have to confess: I could not help crying. Crying over a sitcom, really? Not many movies or books can make you cry, not to say alone a TV show. But it was a sign of something done right.

The next day I was still thinking about it, and the day afterwards (and yes…

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Posted by on September 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

SAG Awards – Full List & My Thoughts

The Screen Actors Guild revealed today their nominees, with 12 Years a Slave taking the lead with four nominations. The Steve McQueen biopic is closely followed by August: Osage County and The Butler with three nominations each. Dallas Buyers Club also surprised, netting a nomination for McConaughey and Leto, as well as Best Film Ensemble. Other surprises include Daniel Bruhl for his role in Ron Howard’s Rush, and Barkhad Abdi for Captain Phillips. Notably absent was Scorsese’s Wolf of Wall Street, whose later release date may have hurt its chances at more nominations. Also absent was Spike Jonze’s Her, omitting Phoenix and Adams from the nominees. Adams was also left out of Best Actress for American Hustle. No mention of Bradley Cooper or Christian Bale, either, as the film seems to be losing traction. Another snub was Tom Hanks for Saving Mr. Banks, but he did get nominated for Captain Phillips. Historically though, the SAG awards seem to closely resemble the Golden Globes, and when the eventual winners are announced in January, we’ll have a good view at Oscar winners. Still, with surprises like Osage County and The Butler, the two films seem to be rising on the voters’ radars, while The Wolf of Wall Street and American Hustle seem to be falling, showing the power that the SAG awards could have on the rest of awards season. See the full list of nominees below, including television nominees:

BEST FILM ENSEMBLE
“12 Years a Slave”
“American Hustle”
“August: Osage County”
“The Butler”
“Dallas Buyers Club”
BEST ACTOR
Bruce Dern, “Nebraska”
Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years a Slave”
Tom Hanks, “Captain Phillips”
Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”
Forest Whitaker, “The Butler”
BEST ACTRESS
Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”
Sandra Bullock, “Gravity”
Judi Dench, “Philomena”
Meryl Streep, “August: Osage County”
Emma Thompson, “Saving Mr. Banks”
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Barkhad Abdi, “Captain Phillips”
Daniel Bruhl, “Rush”
Michael Fassbender, “12 Years a Slave”
James Gandolfini, “Enough Said”
Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”
Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”
Julia Roberts, “August: Osage County”
June Squibb, “Nebraska”
Oprah Winfrey, “The Butler”
BEST STUNT ENSEMBLE
“All is Lost”
“Fast & Furious 6”
“Lone Survivor”
“Rush”
“The Wolverine”
TV AWARDS
TV DRAMA ENSEMBLE
“Boardwalk Empire”
“Breaking Bad”
“Downton Abbey”
“Game of Thrones”
“Homeland”
TV DRAMA ACTOR
Steve Buscemi, “Boardwalk Empire”
Bryan Cranston, “Breaking Bad”
Jeff Daniels, “The Newsroom”
Peter Dinklage, “Game of Thrones”
Kevin Spacey, “House of Cards”
TV DRAMA ACTRESS
Claire Danes, “Homeland”
Anna Gunn, “Breaking Bad”
Jessica Lange, “American Horror Story: Coven”
Maggie Smith, “Downton Abbey”
Kerry Washington, “Scandal”
TV COMEDY ENSEMBLE
“Arrested Development”
“The Big Bang Theory”
“Modern Family”
“30 Rock”
“Veep”
TV COMEDY ACTOR
Alec Baldwin, “30 Rock”
Jason Bateman, “Arrested Development”
Ty Burrell, “Modern Family”
Don Cheadle, “House of Lies”
Jim Parsons, “The Big Bang Theory”
TV COMEDY ACTRESS
Mayim Bialik, “The Big Bang Theory”
Julie Bowen, “Modern Family”
Edie Falco, “Nurse Jackie”
Tina Fey, “30 Rock”
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep”
TV MOVIE/MINI ACTOR
Matt Damon, “Behind the Candelabra”
Michael Douglas, “Behind the Candelabra”
Jeremy Irons, “The Hollow Crown”
Rob Lowe, “Killing Kennedy”
Al Pacino, “Phil Spector”
TV MOVIE/MINI ACTRESS
Angela Bassett, “Betty and Coretta”
Helena Bonham Carter, “Burton and Taylor”
Holly Hunter, “Top of the Lake”
Helen Mirren, “Phil Spector”
Elisabeth Moss, “Top of the Lake”
TV STUNT ENSEMBLE
“Boardwalk Empire”
“Breaking Bad”
“Game of Thrones”
“Homeland”
“The Walking Dead”

 
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Posted by on December 11, 2013 in 2014 Academy Awards, Uncategorized

 

Rush Review

Rush

Ron Howard’s Rush is a beautiful film. From the expert cinematography to the intense, poetic racing sequences, everything in Rush combines to make a compelling and gripping drama, and one of the best movies of the year.

Rush is a dramatic biopic, depicting the rivalry between two Formula One racers, sexy and popular James Hunt, and dangerous newbie Niki Lauda. The film opens by going back to the beginning of their rivalry, from Lauda’s buying-in to the F1 lifestyle, and Hunt’s ever-increasing F1 champion titles. As the two compete in season after season, an intense rivalry develops, all culminating in a big accident almost claiming Lauda’s life, and a final showdown that comes down to one race.

Like any good rivalry movies, the movie makes a good choice in making neither of the two men very likable. They’re not not likable, but they’re certainly not saints either. This allows you not to be swayed towards one man or the other.

Even if you’re not a Formula One fan like myself, or don’t know a thing about racing, Rush is still a very enjoyable drama. An intense rivalry that boils up to one final breaking point makes Rush a perfect film for biography nuts or anyone who enjoys a good rivalry.

Chris Hemsworth excellent portrays James Hunt, the popular, glamorous ladies’ man. His personality is perfect for the role. Even better is German-actor Daniel Bruhl as Niki Lauda. His work here is incredible, playing the role with such sternness and conviction. His character is stubborn, and his performance will be instantly remembered once the film is over. I’m looking forward to seeing Bruhl more in the future. Supporting actors Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara, and Natalie Dormer lend their talents as love interests, but don’t make very much of an impressions. That’s not much of a loss, however, since the film is focused more on the rivalry.

Howard’s directing acts as beautifully choreographed poetry. The race scenes in particular are astonishing. Beautiful cinematography abounds; from the car’s engines to a first-person helmet view, you’ll be blown away by the imagery. A breathtaking soundtrack composed by Hans Zimmer adds to the drama, and heightens the wild race scenes. The film on the whole is quite a rush (pun intended), and I found myself always interested in what was happening next, despite my lack of knowledge of anything racing related.

Rush always keeps you on your toes, and the film’s 120 minute run time flashes by in a breeze. Ron Howard’s directing is impeccable, accurately portraying the intensity and “you only live once” attitude that the film demands. More than just a racing biopic, Rush is one of the best movies of the year, featuring outstanding performances by the two main leads and an intense tone that will make you want to take this wild ride for another spin.

Overall: 3.5 stars out of 4

  • Directed by: Ron Howard
  • Written by: Peter Morgan
  • Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Bruhl, Olivia Wilde
  • Genre: Biography, Drama, Action, Sport
  • MPAA Rating: R
  • Run Time: 123 minutes
 
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Posted by on September 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Flashback Review – Batman: Arkham Asylum

This is something new I’m trying on my blog, where I review a game or movie that has been out for a while. I’m going to start with Batman: Arkham Asylum, which I just purchased off PSN last week (on sale!).

Batman: Arkham AsylumBatman: Arkham Asylum is the first game in Rocksteady’s trilogy featuring the Dark Knight. The game starts with Batman taking the Joker prisoner, and the two arrive at Arkham Asylum, a prison currently holding many of the Joker’s goons. He soon flips the tables and takes over the joint with the help of Harley Quinn, and kidnaps Commissioner Gordon. Batman must spring into action to save the day and stop the Joker’s plans.

A lot of the strength in Arkham Asylum’s storytelling comes from its cast of characters. Obviously, the Dark Knight is the star here, voiced with brilliance by Kevin Conroy. He’s calm under pressure, and can handle whatever trick Joker throws at him. The Joker, played by Mark Hamill, is also excellent. Insane and loony, the Joker works with many other classic Batman villains in his attempt to take over the island. You’ll meet Bane, Killer Croc, The Scarecrow, Poison Ivy, and many more.

The good thing about all of these villains is that it keeps the story from ever getting too stale. Around the corner, there’s a new villain to be found, and Batman must stop whatever they are cooking up. It keeps you on your toes and keeps you hooked. The one criticism I have about the game being structured this way is in its mission layout. Arkham Asylum is semi open-world, meaning that you can explore the island freely, but some areas are restricted until you finish a mission. The missions mainly come down to: enter a building, track a scent/fingerprint, take down the boss. It gets repetitive after a while, which is a shame. The bosses, too, are unremarkable. Simple pattern solving gets monotonous and dull, and some drag on far too long.

Arkham Asylum is played third-person, as you control Batman and maneuver him around the island. You have a lot of gadgets at your disposal to aid you in exploration and puzzle solving. The batclaw lets you grab onto things and pull them down, explosive gel lets you blow up weak walls, and the line launcher allows Batman to cross horizontal gaps. These gadgets are fun to use and are utilized in clever ways.

Using what is called “detective vision”, the Dark Knight can see through walls, track enemy movements, and find hidden secrets. You can see how many foes are in the next room, or even see how the guard is feeling at the time. It makes getting around and planning your moves a lot easier. On the exploration side, the Riddler has hidden hundreds of riddles and challenges around the island. These range from small question-mark trophies to solving riddles within the many buildings around Arkham Asylum. These allow for some excellent replay value, considering that sometimes you might not have the right gadget, and must come back later.

Besides problem solving and exploring the island, you’ll be punching a lot of the Joker’s goons and villains. Combat boils down to an easy system; one button attacks, the other counters. This allows you to string together long combos and dish out some powerful attacks. Whenever you see a flash above an enemy’s head, you can quickly counter it before getting hurt. A lot of new techniques are thrown into the mix here and there, and soon you must also stun guys first or jump over and attack from the rear. Continuously throwing in new enemies forces you to reconsider strategies and change tactics often.

Batman isn’t always about attack head-on, though, and sometimes you’ll be thrown into a room with seven guys armed with machine guns, in which attacking head-on would lead to death. Luckily, you’ve got a lot of stealth mechanics to work with to make the job easier. First, Batman can swing across gargoyles suspended above the room, to give him the height advantage on his enemies. From here you can survey the room and plan your attack, taking down guys one by one. You can hang from the ceiling and string up the bad guys, or glide down below and silently eliminate them. The freedom of choice you’re given during these confrontations is a nice bonus and allows for some cool planning in how to best get the job done.

Once you’ve finished the main quest, there is a challenge mode to tackle. Here, you play through combat and predator maps, where you’re literally tossed into a room with a bunch of guys and must take them down. You get rewards for stringing together combos and utilizing your gadgets during combat. Predator maps are stealth-based, where you must eliminate all the guards while fulfilling certain goals. These are a lot of fun, and offer great incentive, as the top scores are displayed on online leaderboards.

Arkham Asylum looks pretty good graphically. The island setting of the game lends for some dark visuals, where you might not be able to see anything, but the environment as a whole looks great. Characters, however, not so much. Audio doesn’t sync well with what they are saying, and besides from Batman and the villains, the secondary cast looks awful. The soundtrack is great, offering loud environmental sounds and tense action tunes. The soundtrack reminds me of Nolan’s films, which is a great touch.

Batman: Arkham Asylum is a great action-adventure game. The plot keeps you interested and the combat and puzzles are fun and engaging. Besides some inconsistent missions and dated visuals, Rocksteady has set the stage for what already is an excellent franchise, and I’m excited to see what they cook up for Arkham Origins.

Overall: 8.5/10.0

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2013 in Game Reviews, Uncategorized