Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Most Anticipated Movies of 2015

Blah blah blah, here are my top 20 most anticipated movies of 2015. 

20. The Fantastic Four (Josh Trank) – This is probably my most-likely-to-be-hated-film of 2015 rather than anticipated. It’s January 6th 2015, the movie is being released in less than 8 months, we have been given no information on how this project is coming along. No official photos, teasers, trailers or promos have been released. Word on the street is the Fox Executives are upset with the project. I am giving Trank the benefit of the doubt- we needed a Fantastic Four reboot, I’m hoping for the best here. (cast below Miles Teller, Kate Mara and Jamie Bell, Michael B. Jordan)

19. Jurassic World (Colin Trevorrow) – Sure I was excited for another dinosaur movie, until the official trailer was released (below). Why is Peter Quill riding a motor cycle next to velociraptors? Are velociraptors domesticated? This dropped from the top of my anticipated list to the near bottom.  The trailer is also heavily CGI.

18. Taken 3 (Olivier Megaton) – He’s back and this time they took his wife. The second movie was garbage. GARBAGE! But somehow the guy who changed his name, to be remembered for the Hiroshima bombing in 1945, has sucked me back in for a third movie.  Megaton cannot do action- so I’m hoping, HOPING, there is better editing in the third film. 

17. The Revenant (Alejandro González Iñárritu) – An adaptation of a book with a similar name: A revenge flick staring DiCaprio and Hardy directed by the guy who just finished the most talked about film of 2015 (Birdman). Yes please. The synopsis: “In the 19th century, Hugh Glass (DiCaprio), a fur trapper, is mauled by a bear while hunting. His companions (Hardy, Poulter, and Gleeson) rob him and leave him to die, but he survives and sets out to get revenge on the men who betrayed him.”

16. Chappie (Neill Blomkamp)- 2012’s Elysium wasn’t the great film I was hoping to be, still enjoyed it for the most part, but it was obvious studio involvement hurt Blomkamp’s creative vision. Still, Chappie looks like a live action Wallie. Die Antwoord was going to play a major role in the film, but Ninja apparently is a diva, impossible to work with and was written out of the movie. Ninja is still in the trailer below, but probably will appear as a limited role. Fun fact: Matt Damon was the third choice for Elysium. Blomkamp wrote the role for Ninja, who turned it down despite being a Blomkamp fan  because he wanted his first acting role to be a true South African film instead of a big budget Hollywood one. Then they offered the role to Eminem, who insisted that he'd only do it if it's shot in Detroit. Since that's not feasible, they finally offered it to regular actors, and Damon got it.

15. Pan (Joe Wright) – The director of Pride and Prejudice and Hanna is directing an origin story of Peter Pan staring Hugh Jackman as Blackbeard.

14. Black Mass (Scott Cooper) – Hey another Boston movie about Whitey Bulger, staring Johnny Depp and Benedict Cumberbatch.

13. Ted 2 – I debated putting this on my list for 2015 after the disappointing A Million Ways to Die in the West, but I’m too big a Seth MacFarlane fan to let this go. I expect it to be a fun romp.

12. Spectre (Sam Mendes) – I expect a movie as breathtaking and gorgeous as Skyfall, but I would like this to a be a tad shorter and I and praying it does not overstay it’s welcome. I’m happy Sam Mendes is back, just please bring Bond back to being Bond. Do not need to make him relatable nor do we need to the dark and gritty Bond we have been getting lately.

11. Jupiter Ascending (Wachowski siblings) – The only original IP on my list this year. A brand new IP, that’s release date got delayed over a year- This could mean one of two things. 1) They needed extra time to finish CGI and post convert to 3D or 2) the studio was not confident of its success and wanted to release it in a month with less summer blockbusters. Let’s hope for the former, but let’s also take this as good news.  This is supposedly the start of a trilogy but only if the first film does well at the box office. The Wachowski's are in a difficult position because, outside of the first two Matrix movies, everything they've done has been a commercial or critical disappointment. Or both. I however am  110% supporting a new IP to Hollywood’s adaptation battleground.

10. Tomorrowland (Brad Bird) – One of the movies that was delayed to 2015- the trailer looks beautiful and it’s Brad Bird (Iron Giant, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Mission Impossible 4), doing his Brad Bird thing. Beautiful trailer below.

9. Ant-Man (Peyton Reed)- This was supposed to be directed by Edgar Wright but he dropped out of the project do to creative differences between him and Marvel. The project was picked up by the guy who did Jim Carrey’s Yes Man and Vince Vaughn’s The Break Up which doesn't ooze confidence, but it’s still a Marvel IP and they haven’t put out a terrible movie since 2010 (Iron Man 2). The teaser trailer was first released during Marvel’s premiere of Agent Carter on ABC.

8. Furious 7 (James Wan)- From the director of all those great horror movies lately (Insidious, The Conjuring) and the director that was supposed to do the next Terminator movie, James Wan will probably be responsible for the 2nd highest grossing movie of 2015. Furious 7 is going to make $2 Billion- everyone wants to see Paul Walker’s last movie (RIP), and everyone wants to see how the budget of Furious 7 ballooned to $200 million after the studio used CGI to replace Walker in the movie using a combination of CGI and Walker’s brother. So why is this movie going to be a huge hit and probably one of the most fun movies of the summer 2015? The series has circled around to connect the third movie (Fast and Furious Tokyo Drift) with the ending of the sixth movie (Fast Six) while adding two huge names to the cast- Kurt Russell and Jason Statham.  Other fun facts: martial arts expert Tony Jaa apparently has a role in the film and Lucas Black has signed a multi-picture deal (not unlike some of the Marvel comic book movie deals) to do future films. This franchise is not going away any time soon.

7. Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller) – It feels like this movie has been in development for 10 years (i actually had it being released in 2013), and in fact, Miller has been trying to get it made for 20. Judging by the trailer below, it’s going to be bonkers. I don’t think you’ll see a better trailer in your life. Fun fact: The movie has insanely minimal dialog- apparently Miller didn’t even write a script but instead just storyboarded the entire movie. Max has a total of 16 lines. *mind blown*

6. Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens (J. J. Abrams) I was not a fan of Abraham’s take on the Star Trek series, but I can appreciate a technically competent director at the helm of a huge franchise. I just don’t want it turn Lost-y on me. The good news? Damon Lindelof (the destroyer of all scripts) who has worked with Abrams on multiple past projects, is not involved in Star Wars. The better news? George Lucas is not involved with writing the screenplay and is only involved with the continuity of the Star Wars universe. The best news? Lawrence Kasdan, the writer of Empire Strike’s Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark, is involved with writing the screenplay. So as long as these terrible writers stay away from Abrams, I think this is going to be a welcomed entry into the franchise.  Fun fact: The Raid 2 - leading man Iko Uwais, Mad Dog / Prakoso actor Yayan Ruhian and The Raid 2 finale fighter Cecep Arif Rahman, credited simply as The Assassin - will all appear in JJ Abrams' upcoming Star Wars. The Raid 2 was in my top 5 moviesof 2014 and is a must watch for action fans. I’m hoping these guys are playing some badass Siths. (Teaser Trailer below)

5. Crimson Peak (Guillermo del Toro) It’s del Toro’s return to horror and with this synopsis, it’s hard to not get excited. “In the aftermath of a family tragedy, an aspiring author is torn between love for her childhood friend and the temptation of a mysterious outsider. Trying to escape the ghosts of her past, she is swept away to a house that breathes, bleeds...and remembers”- Lucky for me this press photo was released just seconds before I wrote this list.

4. Avengers: Age of Ultron (Joss Whedon) There’s nothing much to say here other than this might be the biggest Marvel movie ever. Joss Whedon’s future in the MCU is uncertain. (Trailer below)

3. Inside Out (Pete Docter)- The next Pixar film (that isn’t a sequel) that looks adorable. A story told from the perspective of the emotions inside the mind. (Trailer below)

2. Silence (Martin Scorsese)- A Scorsese film, starring Liam Neeson, adapting Shûsaku Endô’s historical fiction novel, Silence. In the seventeenth century, two Jesuit priests face violence and persecution when they travel to Japan to locate their mentor and to spread the gospel of Christianity. I just hope it’s not 3 hours long.

1. The Hateful Eight (Quentin Tarantino) -It's Tarantino. It's a Western. It's got Samuel L Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demian Bichir, Tim Roth, Mark Madsen and Bruce fuckin' Dern. <3

2014 Movie Reflection

It’s that time of year- the time where I reflect on my most anticipated movies of the year and re-rank them according to how they stood out over the 2014 Movie Release Calendar Year. I also will do a quick summary of my top movies of 2014 overall as of whatever day I’m posting this. If you want to see the original reasons for these rankings you can check out my post from April.

20. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Marc Webb) – Well I was right about this one in my anticipated summary; “disappointing” was definitely one of adjectives used to describe the sequel too. Underdeveloped Electro villain along with a crowded cast of characters for screen time and a complicated Spidey back story quickly turned this movie to mush. The only positive was the relationship between Peter Parking and Gwen Stacey. They had great chemistry on screen and appeared to setup future films nicely until the ending- Sony announced a Sinister Six and venom Spinoff movies after the release but recent Sony hacks revealed Sony is apparently spinning their wheels on where to take this franchise. We can only hope at this point the Spider-man IP swings its way back into the arms of Marvel Studios.

19. The Hobbit: There and Back Again (Peter Jackson) - TBD

18. Gone Girl (David Fincher) – Never read the book, and I’m glad I didn’t otherwise I would have been spoiled. I’m not going to divulge too much into why I liked this movie (for spoiler reasons) other than saying it’s probably Fincher’s best since Fight Club and it’s a 2014 must watch. I’m ashamed I didn’t have this higher on my anticipated list.

17. Unbroken (Angelina Jolie)- TBD

16. Blackhat “Cyber” (Michael Mann) –Pushed to 2015 and removed from my most anticipated 2015 movies- The Trailer looks incredibly boring and generic.

15. Stretch (Joe Carnahan) – I would call this the surprise of the year but I had it on my antispated movie list at number 15 and it ended up in my top 10 this year. Joe Carnahan rocked this humor- DO NOT let A-Team and Smokin’ Aces cloud your judgment hear. Stretch is light-years better than those. Ever since the Grey, Carnahan has been on a role. Another must watch for 2014.

14. 22 Jump Street-(Phil Lord, Chris Miller) Meh- The first movie was full of belly laughs but the sequel goes out of its way to remind the audience that its sequel will be doing the exact same thing as its predecessor. “The EXACT SAME”. Why would we want to see the exact same thing as an audience? There’s a few good scenes sprinkled in there, like every scene with Ice Cube, but the movie is an overall bloated mess. Let’s hope Sony was just kidding about the Men In Black – 22 Jump Street cross over film plans. Do expect a 23 Jump Street movie though.

13. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Anthony & Joe Russo) – Totally exceeded expectations. The Russo brothers have a handle on how to depict great action with Chris Evans as Captain America. This might be slightly better than the Avengers as the best comic book movie made to date. We should be happy to hear the Russo brothers have signed on to complete Captain America: Civil War (and rumored to also helm the Avengers Infinity Wars).

12. American Sniper (Clint Eastwood) – The book was full of short stories of how the most lethal sniper in US history was able to get his reputation, but it also depicts a ton of internal conflict between Chris Kyle and wife on re-enlisting instead of staying with his family. That makes this a perfect story to adapt.

11. Edge of Tomorrow (Doug Liman) – I wish they had kept the ALL YOU NEED IS KILL title, but this movie is enjoyable, even coming from a young adult book adaptation. I have to hand it to Tom Cruise, he continues to play the same character over and over, “Jack, John, Ethan,” and it continues to work. He’s still an action star and get this- Mel Gibson is the same age as Cruise. Look at a picture of them side by side.

10.  Noah (Darren Aronofsky) – So glad I avoiding reading anything about this prior to seeing it- it could have been a major spoiler and I will leave it at that again. Another movie hard to talk about without ruining the experience for people who haven’t seen it. I will just say I loved some of the “Things” in this movie.  My only big complaint is the viewer has no sense of time passing. I felt like Aronofsky should have paid a little more attention to detail there.

9. Transcendence (Wally Pfister) – Just terrible. I was wrong to assume director abilities and qualities could translate to a DP. Even Johnny Depp’s stardom can’t save this movie from being an unwatchable mess.

8. Guardians of the Galaxy (James Gunn) – Though the Russo Brothers is probably a better movie, I put Guardians of the Galaxy ahead of it because I felt it was more of a risk and I couldn’t have been happier with both movies. I was a huge Gunn fan with Slither and Super and Gunn nailed the humor the tone the universe and it’s safe to say GotG2 will be near the number 1 spot of 2017.

7. A Million Way to Die in the West (Seth MacFarlane) – The only thing I would change about this movie is not having Seth MacFarlane play the lead- I think that hurt the experience to viewers who only know Seth MacFarlane for Family Guy. We got one of the better original songs out of 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NE5uCw7y7g4

6. Jupiter Ascending (Wachowski Siblings)-  Pushed to 2015.

5. Tomorrowland  (Brad Bird) - Pushed to 2015.

4. Godzilla (Gareth Edwards) – Just a sloth of a film. Just all over the place with this story- I think they wrote it based on the imagery on screen- "Gee how do we get them all to converge on the Golden Gate Bridge". This Aaron Taylor-Johnson guy- Did he have a pulse? This is who you cast in a gritty major franchise reboot? There's an hour and a half of boilerplate Hollywood drama centered on one of the most stiff and bland actors in the world. If you thought the military was bad in the 1998 Godzilla movie- shooting everything in NYC, wait to you see the 2014 Navy by the Golden Gate Bridge! 15 School buses, no problem we got that covered. Ken Watanabe's character realizing that Cranston could help them was only slightly less hysterical than Matthew Broderick the earth worm expert helping stop Godzilla.

3. The Raid 2: Berandal (Gareth Evans) –If I had one word to describe this movie it would be: “Bonkers”- This movie is hard to watch- not because it isn’t good, but because it’s basically the most brutal fighting movie ever made. Violence, gore and there’s even a scene that resembles a live-action Superjail. Evans knows how to create great action, as depicted in this gif below- The making of The Raid 2.

2. The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson) – There is nothing wrong with this movie- It is everything you would expect in a Wes Anderson film- I can appreciate this movie for what is it, I just did not find the story as compelling as some of Anderon’s previous work such as, Moonrise, or Life Aquatic, or Rushmore or hell even Bottle Rocket. If you’re a Wes Anderson fan, chances are you’ll love this movie.

1. Interstellar (Chris Nolan) – I cannot appreciate a movie more than what Chris Nolan puts on screen- He has the vision and ambition to go far beyond what you would expect in generic sci-fi. I still think there’s room for improvement with dialog (like Hathaway overacting the line “'Love is the one thing that transcends time and space.”)  and continuity, but overall his films are a marvel to watch.

Actual Top 10 of 2014
1. Interstellar
2. Guardians of the Galaxy
3. Gone Girl
4. The Raid 2
5. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
6. The Sacrament
7. Stretch
8. Edge of Tomorrow
9, The Lego Movie

10. Nymphomaniac: Vol. I 

Bottom 10 movies of 2014

10. 3 Days to Kill
9. Willow Creek
8. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
7. The Legend of Hercules
6. Under the Skin
5. Transformers: Age of Extinction
4. Into the Storm
3. 300: Rise of an Empire
1. Brick Mansions
1. Devil’s Due

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Next Best Thing Is Coming; Evolve First Impressions at PAX East 2014

Over my gaming years, I've learned to tame my excitement and anticipation for upcoming games. The latest game developed by Turtle Rock studios, Evolve, was one of these curbed when it was announced earlier this year. There are only so many modern shooters, sequels and heavily marketed games one can consciously be aware of [and play for that matter]. Evolve entered my radar in January of 2014 by making it as the cover story on the newest Game Informer issue. At the time, it seemed like different take on the Left 4 Dead formula (also conceived and developed by Turtle Rock studios), where four “survivors” take on a giant monster. But it wasn’t until I got to play Evolve at PAX East where it became obvious this was NOT just a different take on Left 4 Dead, it was something entirely different … and awesome.

                It is true; Evolve is heavily developed around cooperative play very similar to the four player format in the Left 4 Dead games. The tagline is even 4V1, representing four versus one. Four players, or hunters, are teamed up against a player controller monster called “Goliath”. The hunter’s goal is to kill the monster and the monster’s goal is to kill all four hunters OR a generator in the center of the map after evolving to level 3. (more on that later)

Being the Monster:  Waiting in line at 2K Studios, we were asked which character we wanted to play during the demo and I volunteered to be the monster/ Goliath. You can tell Goliath is heavily inspired by Tank from Left 4 Dead. In fact, one of its special attacks is borrowed- the Rock throw. When we were setting up our characters, we were allowed to assign 3 XP points to four special abilities; each ability allowed 3 slots for XP points. The Monster’s four abilities are: Rock Throw, Fire Breath, Jump Attack and a Charge Attack. I assigned 2 points to the fire breath and one to the rock throw, although I could have maxed out one ability. The Goliath can then level up (evolve) 2 more times during the match and assign up to 6 more XP points to the remainder of the slots available. To level up, the Goliath must kill and eat different wildlife in the map. It seems simple enough, but with four hunters on your trail and hostile creatures to kill, players need to strategize when to evolve or when to attack the hunters. To make matters worse for the Goliath, the hunters can track the monster’s footprints through the jungle while he is hunting prey and evolving. The Goliath can then hide its footprints by walking through water or entering stealth mode.

What Turtle Rock did right: Gave Goliath a bigger purpose- Playing directly across from the four PAX attendees playing the hunters, I could hear their frustration in trying to track me, which only encouraged me to use the stealth mode more, jump incredibly long distances (which makes you feel like you’re the Incredible Hulk) and climb tall cliffs. All of these things make it increasingly difficult for the hunters to find you. When you’re playing as the monster, it shouldn’t just be a single minded “Go Kill the Hunters” mentality. But Turtle Rock knew they had to make playing the monster more dynamic or being the monster would be a chore. Using the stealth tactics bought me more time to eat more wildlife and evolve to the level 3 Goliath which was my goal from the beginning. Knowing the hunters are frustrated while tracking made evolving to level three even more enjoyable. But once I reached the max level, I felt unstoppable. My Fire breath, rock throws and leap attacks were maxed out and the hunted became the hunter.

Taking out all four hunters was a lot harder than I thought. Griffin/Trapper, Hank/Support, Markov/Assault and Val/Medic working together will be a challenge, especially if the players know what they’re doing. The Trapper’s unique role is equipped with a harpoon gun, restricting movement of the Goliath. The only way for me to breakout of the restriction is to use a physical attack against the Trapper. And you are typically engaged with one of the other three hunters when the harpoon gun is deployed, so breaking out of the trap is frustrating. The Support’s role is using the shield gun which produces a shield around another player, much like the Medic’s role using the medic gun for healing, which functions similarly to the medic gun used in Team Fortress 2. And finally, the Assault’s role is to inflict as much damage as possible against the Goliath.

The Goliath doesn’t just have a health bar as you would expect, but also a shield bar, which can be refilled by eating wildlife and evolving. Once the Goliath evolves to level 3, the Goliath can now choose to destroy a generator in the center of the map instead of killing the hunters. This also changes the strategy of the hunters; do the hunters now continue tracking the Goliath through the jungle? Or do they retreat and defend the generator? It’s this kind of gameplay shift that is a formula for an incredibly successful game- player don’t want the same thing over and over again, they want variety and they want surprise and Evolve appears to have added this dynamic.

Using the fire breath is great for when the hunters are bunched together- the attack releases a powerful stream that does heavy damage to players. The jump attack works similarly to how the hunter worked in Left 4 Dead. When you press slightly on the jump attack, a target area appears on the ground for where the Goliath will land. If any enemies are in the area when the Goliath touches down, he performs an earthquake shattering move that will knock players down. The rock throw also works this way and is good for players that are just out of reach of the jump attack and fire breath. There are cooldowns for all of these attacks so switching between the different attacks as well as making sure you are attacking the correct enemy class will be a strategic and fun way to keep players keen to their HUD.

My overall experience was extremely positive. I was only able to incapacitate 2 of the 4 hunters before I was killed; but it was a good 20 minutes of exploring the jungle, evolving and learning the Goliath’s special abilities. I was playing on an Xbox controller which I did not enjoy and prefer mouse and keyboard, so getting used to the controls was tricky. The option of destroying the generator never crossed my mind; I was confident that once I evolved to my full form, I could take out all of the hunters, but I underestimated their abilities. I also misevaluated my plan for taking out the medic first, thinking that role was the backbone of the hunters, but the trapper and support roles were just as important. Attacking the hunters needs to be carefully evaluated during the battle and the Goliath even has opportunities to escape, replenish health return to battle if needed.

What Remains to be Seen: It is unclear whether Evolve will have a single player campaign (probably not), but I don’t think one is needed. The big question mark I have is replayability. What is Evolve going to do to make the game continue to be fun after 100 hours of gameplay- Will it have some kind of “Director” that changes the environments in the map that forces the Goliath or players to change their strategies? This could easily be done by adding/subtracting different power ups and wildlife etc, but will Maps be different every time they are played? Will some maps have less terrain to make playing as the monster more challenging? Or less that allows the hunters to track the monster easier?

It is also hinted that more monsters will be revealed- will these monsters have different abilities? Will there be more hunters introduced? Will this formula be supported in the form of future DLC or free PC updates like the Left 4 Dead campaigns saw? Will the game be released on steam? (hopefully).

We also don’t yet have a release date; hopefully the planned Q3 2014 release is accurate and we’ll see the game later this year, but I won’t be surprised if it gets pushed into 2015.

Bottom Line: My prediction is Evolve will be the new hotness; the buzz surrounding the Evolve booth on Day 1 of PAX was heavily positive and after waiting in line for 2.5 hours the playable demo did not disappoint. Evolve will also fill the void that Left 4 Dead 3 should have filled these past couple of years and will most likely even knock Titanfall down a peg on the hot FPS multiplayer GOTY. This game will have legs if launched correctly, and given Turtle Rock’s history, we have no reason not to believe this. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Most Anticipated Movies of 2014

I'm late with this. But I've been desperately trying to catch up with seeing everything on my 2013 list which I am still missing six movies; due to two not being released in 2013 and four that I flat out just didn't go see. I'm annoyed that Mad Max was pushed out to 2015 which makes it seem like it's been in production for 7 years. When I get closer to 100% completion on my 2013 list, I'll post a wrap up. 2013 shaped up to be a very weak year in cinema for me despite being so excited for it, so I am not getting my hopes up in 2014. I still of course have a list and a baseline to what I want to see in 2014, so here it is.

20. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Marc Webb) - The first 2012 film was disappointing, being a lover of the Raimi series. I didn't think the casting of Andrew Garfield was too bad and I liked the villain. I just thought the action set pieces were lousy and so was the writing in the 3rd act. Why is this movie on my list for 2014? Because the trailer shows us 3 villains and there's tons of comic book Easter eggs to spot.

19. The Hobbit: There and Back Again (Peter Jackson) - This is low on my list, because 1, I haven't yet seen The Desolation of Smaug (although I loved an Unexpected Journey) and 2) I might be a little burnt out on Middle Earth. I think that's why I haven't seen Smaug yet.

18. Gone Girl (David Fincher) - What has David Fincher done that is not awesome?

17. Unbroken (Angelina Jolie)- Jolie's directorial debut, but that's not why this movie is on my list. Unbroken was written by the Coen brothers- which automatically means the dialog is going to be pristine.

16. Cyber (Michael Mann) - I am not usually a Michael Mann fan having hated Miami Vice but loved Collateral. I'm anxiously awaiting a trailer for a Michael Mann movie on hacking. This should be lower on my list but 

15. Stretch (Joe Carnahan) - LOVED The Grey, so Carnahan has made it to my anticipated list with Stretch.

14. 22 Jump Street (Phil Lord, Chris Miller) - Probably the funniest R-Rated comedy I've ever seen, the first movie was a surprise. The trailer for the second movie looks just as good.

13. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (Anthony & Joe Russo) - I have two Marvel movies on my list this year. I suspect I will have two Star Wars movies on my list next year. The standalone movies always end up being entertaining so I am looking forward to seeing Captain America fight the Winter Solider.

12. American Sniper (Clint Eastwood) - This was originally going to be directed by Spielberg but passing it off to Eastwood is just as good for me. This is an adaptation of the autobiography with the same title, by Chris Kyle, the most lethal sniper in U.S. Military history.

11. Edge of Tomorrow (Doug Liman) - I finished All You Need is Kill in 3 days, the fastest I've read a book since I was assigned to do so in High school. I loved the story and Edge of Tomorrow is an adaptation on the book. I'm not a huge fan of Tom Cruse, but i AM a huge fan of Emily Blunt. Trailer below.

10.  Noah (Darren Aronofsky) - It's Darren fuckin Aronofsky. The end.  

9. Transcendence (Wally Pfister) - Who is Wally Pfister? He's Chris Nolan's cinematographer and this is his directorial debut. I'm hoping a little bit of Chris Nolan has rubbed off on Wally (I think we all are hoping for that) and the trailer below is a little spoilerific, but Wally has definitely impressed me so far. 

8. Guardians of the Galaxy (James Gunn) Huge fan of James Gunn (Slither) and obviously Marvel has done well with its standalone comic movies; I trust all parties involved and this looks to be a winner on the cast alone;

7. A Million Way to Die in the West (Seth MacFarlane) Most people hate his humor, but I don't.  I love all of his animated TV shows and really enjoyed Ted. I also loved him hosting the Oscars last year- Seth MacFarlane's second silver screen appearance-

6. Jupiter Ascending (Wachowski Siblings) The creator's the Matrix are back with another sci-fi adventure. Trailer below as it speaks for itself.

5. Tomorrowland  (Brad Bird) - GOOD NEWS! Brad Bird! Bad news... Damon Lindelof. Ugh. I'm looking past that and acknowledging Bird has directed my two favorite Pixar films as well as the most entertaining Mission Impossible movie... the plot of this movie has been kept a secret but it appears to be an adaptation of the ride Space Mountain at Disney World's Magic Kingdom.

4. Godzilla (Gareth Edwards) - Another film that seems like it's been in production for 7 years- Gareth Edwards got Hollywood's attention with his independent film Monsters, which I also recommend. The creators of this movie decided to make Godzilla a mile tall. See this chart for details and be sure to watch the trailer below?

3. The Raid 2: Berandal (Gareth Evans) -  The fourth and final sequel on my list- The Raid: Redemption was much better than Dread, so naturally I want to see what Eveans will do with the second installment. I could post the trailer, but I like the teaser much more.

2. The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson) - I have not yet disliked a movie Wes Anderson has released, (like the number 1 director on this list) and everything about this trailer seems full of win. Cannot wait.

1. Interstellar (Chris Nolan) - This is an easy one. It's Chris Nolan helming this project and everything he touches turns to gold. This being another original script (like Inception) with some familiar faces returning such as Michael Caine, Anne Hathaway and the first time he's worked with the red hot Matthew McConaughey. Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay. Teaser below. 

Saturday, August 31, 2013

What I'm Currently Obsessed With (August 2013 Edition)

Like my previous obsessed" entries in September 2012 and February of 2012, this one yet again is music that I have not been able to go a day without listening to it. I have never liked Daft Punk and I never liked Pharrell Williams. I hate retro anything and that goes for disco anything, but for some reason Daft Punk has taken a disco theme and added a version of funk and lyrical rhythm that I love. I ended up buying the album and discovered there's a track I love even more. It's called Instant Crush and it's embedded below. Anyone else obsessed? 

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Best Massachusetts Burgers - Part 2

Shake Shack (430 Calories per cheeseburger)

Shake Shack is brand new to Boston; or more specifically the Chestnut Hill Mall area in Newton. This chain comes directly to Mass from New York and preaches great things about their food including, 100% all-natural Angus beef, vegetarian fed, humanely raised and no added hormones and antibiotics. These things are important to my generation health eaters who want to splurge on a good burger every once in a while. In addition to their high quality food source, Shake Shack also boasts 100% of the electricity used is offset through window and renewable energy, waste is properly recycled, most structures inside each location has been constructed from recycled material (table tops are repurposed from old bowling alley lanes), food properly composted and 5% of sales are donated to charitable organizations (think Costco). It’s clear, Shake Shack makes a point to go out of their way to differentiate not just by their food offerings, but by their presence in the community. Ok Shake Shack, you have my attention.
                 These burgers are fantastic. Probably the best tasting burgers I’ve ever-- well they are good! Perfectly cooked, juicy, with the perfect melted cheese to patty ratio. When you take a bite, it’s exactly how you would want a cheeseburger to taste.  You do not need to order a double cheeseburger here! A single patty burger will suffice.  Sure you can order a double, but there is little advantage in doing so. If you are worried about the amount of food you’ll receive, order two single cheeseburgers. The double patty is just big enough to be annoying to eat, especially when it comes directly off the grill. Your first bite will throw hot scorching juices to the back of your month, destroying your tongue in the process. Of course, the alternative is just waiting a few more minutes for your burger to cool, but when you’ve been waiting for 30 minutes for your food, there’s little patience left.

Fries are awful (as awful as fries can be… does that make sense?). They are tolerable fries because there’s nothing really special about them (especially when put up against the rest of the fries on this page) and it reminds me of the fries I used to get in middle school. Feels like they took the fries out of the freezer and threw them in the oven for 10 minutes and served them. In fact, I would go as far to say they reminded me of the old Burger King fries before BK started copying McDonald’s fries. But let’s face it; you don’t come here for the fries. 

Another big differentiating factor that Shake Shack has from other “burger places” is the hotdogs and frozen custard and shakes. All three are delicious menu options that allow Shake Shack to appeal more to families with different tastes in food and deserts. And I mean all members of the family. Want to bring your dog to hang out at the outside patio? Shake Shack offers “treats with those with four feet”, several different types of dog biscuits. The Dapper Dog, an all-beef hotdog with American Cheese and shallots will leave your taste buds drooling while the Concretes and Shakes are the perfect pallet cleanse to finish off a meal. Not a desert lover? Then Shake Shack can offer a verity of beers to wash down your burger and fries. Beer with burgers was once only dreamed of when watching Pulp Fiction. Everything on the menu should be experienced at least once.

I’m not going to say I was “let down” by Shake Shack…the food was definitely good… but when you walk up to the Newton establishment and see a line out the door for a restaurant that you need to order by a counter, it kinda takes the wind out of your sale. So that’s standing in line for 20 minutes, ordering, then finding table to wait for 10 more minutes. Would I drive all the way out to Rt 9 for their food? Not with my other options like 5 Guys and Bobby’s (Review soon to come). If I was passing by would I stop in for their food? Not if I saw the line out the door… like it is EVERYDAY. Your move Shake Shack

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Best Massachusetts Burgers - Part 1

I’m proud of my generation, making a stand against the fast food restaurants that have dominated the region for decades. McDonalds, Burger King and Wendy’s were the only quick burger options in Massachusetts. But because of this refusal to eat processed meats and the desire for more options than just “would you like fries with that?” the result is dozens of premium burger places popping up around New England and hopefully staying for good. We saw how quickly food fads die when Krispy Kreme came to Medford back in 2003 and promptly left in 2005. Are these burger joints here to stay? I hope so. I also hope their presence makes In-And-Out, Whataburger and Sonic think twice about expanding in the Bay State. These options do not hold a candle to the burning inferno that is the new burger places talked about on this page.
I’ve sampled a few of the new burger places and graded them on the three things I like to see in burgers. Quality of the beef, price, time to wait for a burger and a bonus grade of how good their fries are. Each grade is out of a 5 star system and each cheeseburger was sampled without any toppings or condiments to not skew the reviews. Because let’s face it, if you’re ordering a hamburger over a cheeseburger you have bigger problems than “what do I put on my burger?”

DISCLAIMER: What I am not talking about here are the specialty Boston Burger joints that have been around for a couple years now. That goes for most of the Boston/Cambridge and Somervile Burger places like Park Restaurant, Grass fed, The Gallows, and Charlie’s Kitchen. This write up is for the new chains that will hopefully push out the places listed in the first paragraph.

5 Guys - (840 Calories per cheeseburger)  

I first had 5 Guys back in 2006 down in South Carolina and I was blown away. We just don’t get this kind of burger back in Mass. Since then, there have been 15 establishments that have opened up within 50 miles of Boston and the burgers are just as good as I remembered them. 5 Guys prides their burgers on two facts: no freezers exist in their buildings and there are 250,000 ways to order a burger at a 5 Guys. So that translates to the beef is never frozen giving a fresher, juicier burger and even folks with food allergies can get in on the 5 Guys experience. When ordering a burger, employees will have no trouble cooking a bunless burger for those that have celiac disease and whom are gluten intolerant. They recognize that folks who love burger and do not want to deprive them of good beef. So that means as they are building the burger which you can watch from the counter, they will carry the patty to the tinfoil and pile on the lettuce, tomatoes, onions and pickles before wrapping it up for the customer. Customers can choose to bring their own glutenfree bread or carry out. There is a great selection of toppings to choose from including different sauces (personally I eat my cheeseburgers with ketchup on the side, dipping the edges of the burger as I choose) including Hot sauce, BBQ Sauce and A1 Sauce??

Cheeseburgers start around $6 but the cost can quickly escalate when you start adding fries and drinks. Don’t be surprised when an order for two order is in the upper $20s. Add Bacon to an “All the way” (meaning all the toppings) Cheeseburger (920 Calories) can cost up to $7.80.A large frie is $4.99 and believe me, a large is freakin huge. I’d recommend sharing even a regular order but boy are they good. Most 5 Guys have a white board on the wall depicting where their potatoes are from. Which doesn’t really add anything to the taste but it’s a nice nod to local produce (where available). The fries always catch me off guard because they are typically smokin’ hot when they are served to you. Crispy on the outside with soft innards. It really is the perfect frie. The other great thing about 5 Guys is the wait. Even when they are busy, standing for your order is not a tiring, aggravating event. There's definitely a reason why it's called "5 Guys Famous Burgers and Fries".

I started with 5 Guys because they have proven to be an all-around great experience in the four areas I mentioned above. Delicious trans-fat free burger, short wait, decent price and Fuxin fantastic fries.