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Saturday, June 4, 2011

What REALLY Happened in The Cuban Missile Crisis: X-Men First Class Review

Little known fact, because it’s nerdy as all get-out: Ern likes X-Men comics. Leeard likes (no, loves) James McAvoy. This week, these things came together in the new X-Men movie. Now, Ern is actually going to turn off the comic book fan and review the movie pretending she never read them. Why? Because most people haven’t and the movies are for the masses. Also, because the movies are nothing like the comic books. Occasionally, movies will follow the comic books exactly, and while that pleases purists, it doesn’t really work onscreen.

Onto the movie: This is the first of a planned origins trilogy, so it's nice to see good casting if we have to look at these people for years to come. One of the movie’s strengths is the bromance between damaged, vengeful Erik Lehnsherr and idealistic, encouraging Charles Xavier. Also, it’s really nice to see them younger and hotter and more mobile. James McAvoy’s Xavier brought lots of smiles to faces as a smart, idealistic little charmer with a heart and beer-chugging abilities. And that accent was adorable. Ern hated James M. because of the movie Wanted. Don’t even get her started on Wanted. BLECK. But now, she’s a fan. He did Professor X proud.

Michael Fassbender had some sort of weird, ever-changing accent that we can’t pin down. We know he’s a mix of German and Irish, in real life. But other than that, he was great, and it was the director's fault/idea anyway. ( There’s nothing like an antihero to steal a show. One of us has liked him since Inglorious Basterds (where his crazy accent actually got everyone killed), and he made an alright Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre too. But we think that both he and James did their best jobs here, and we’re glad to see them get such good material. The two had great chemistry and milked their parts for all they were worth. They could have been the only mutants in the darn thing, and it would have still been good.

Ern was really hard on Thor (too hard, probably) for being generic, and she gave it only a B. The X-Men movie is a little better, because it had more going on in the relationships between the characters. The story was fine, the direction was great, and the pacing was much better than Thor’s. It went by quickly and didn’t feel slow, while Thor sagged a bit in the middle. Really, what you want in a movie is to be entertained, right? Pacing is a big part of that.

There were a few good laughs and cameos too. There was tension, even though we all know what happens to the main characters, eventually. The effects were good. The X-Men movies have nice tolerance messages that can sometimes get a little heavy-handed, but we’ll forgive that. The new characters were fun.

What didn’t work for us? Well, Jennifer Lawrence brought a lot to a boring role, but we didn’t like the origin story where she and someone else were best friends. When you look at the other movies, there is no continuity with that plot line. Also, lots of things could have spanned two movies. They didn't need to wrap up and end so much if there is going to be a trilogy. Beast was a little whiny, and we weren’t digging the Kevin Bacon performance. Or the January Jones performance. But is that really a surprise?

Bottom line: This is one blogger’s second-favorite superhero movie, if you don’t count Kick-Ass, which was more of a comedy. The number one is still The Dark Knight. That was this blogger’s Titanic. This blogger saw it six times in the theater. Wow, why am I admitting that?

Movie Grade: A

Friday, June 3, 2011

Thoughts on The Hunger Games Cast

Time to comment on The Hunger Games cast, because they’ve chosen enough people for a full post. Of course, the blogger writing this post has read all three books. The other blogger has read the first book. We liked what we read well enough, and we are ready for a movie that doesn't ruin it.

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen- We couldn’t be more thrilled. People are quibbling, but there really wasn’t another contender, in our opinions. We don’t care that she had to dye her hair, and we aren’t too attached to her being thin and hungry looking. That is the only drawback we can think of, and there are enough of those girls in movies anyway. We know that it fits the part for her to be thin, but she did hunt to get food. It would make sense that she would be among the most well-fed in the poor part of her district, right? We saw Winter’s Bone, and the girl in that was pretty much Katniss. There aren’t that many young women her age who can bring strength to the screen. It could have been so much worse. From her quotes about the books, we feel like she has the right idea of who the character is and the right attitude to take it seriously. The author even likes her in the role. Approve.

Liam Hemsworth as Gale Hawthorne- The guy from the latest Miley Cyrus movie? Ugh. He’s not dark-looking, he’s not a great actor, and he’s not that hot. With all Gale’s hatred, this could have been an interesting role. Not anymore. He may yet surprise us, but right now, we disapprove.

Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark- We like his excitement to play the character, especially when he changes in the third book. We didn’t see The Kids Are Alright yet, but we are going to. We aren’t thrilled with this choice, because there were a lot of choices for this role (unlike for Katniss), but we’re reserving judgment until we actually see him in something. He doesn’t have to be Brad Pitt if the personality can swing it. So many young women fell in love with this guy, and it’s understandable that everyone had a solid picture of him and wants him to be their type. You really can’t please most people with this character. Romance and dreamboatness aside, we will just wait and see the performance.

Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket- So many people were crying out for Kristen Chenoweth for this role. Not us. We are more excited to see her in Good Christian Belles, because we’ve seen her be an Effie Trinket before. We haven’t really seen Elizabeth Banks in a role like this, and we like her from all the great TV and decent movies she’s done. She’s capable, she’s got the look, and she won’t just be recreating lots of her old roles. Approve.

Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy- One of us hates Woody Harrelson from Cheers and Natural Born Killers. Those are both things we loathe. However, he was funny in Zombieland. But will “funny” cut it for Haymitch? When the casting directors were picking this one, we wonder if they went off a character description that just said, “He’s drunk a lot.” Where’s Robert Downey Jr. when you need him? Disapprove.

Willow Shields as Primrose Everdeen- Who really cares? This character was supremely lame until book three when she started doctoring people. But our requirements for Primrose is that she looks and acts like a sweet, innocent, 12-year-old girl who could never have survived in The Hunger Games. Does she look a little too old to anyone else? Other than that, fine.

Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman- Pretty perfect. We’re excited for this choice.

Lenny Kravitz as Cinna- Not what we envisioned, but ok. We’ll accept it.

Paula Malcomson as Mrs. Everdeen- She looks appropriately tired and old enough to be the mother of a 16-year-old. She’s also attractive, which fits, because she was a heartbreaker when she was younger.

Donald Sutherland as President Snow- Love, love, love this choice. He’s a good actor with a strong resume, and he looks creepy enough.

Amanda Stenberg as Rue- She’s cute, she’s young, she’s black, and she’s an unknown. Approve.

Phillip Troy Linger
as Katniss's Father- We’re just happy we get to see this guy. Flashback alert!

The other tributes/everyone else- Don’t care. Foxface has a foxface. That’s all we really require, haha.

What do you think?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Voice so far

Well, now that American Idol is done, we're glad that The Voice is here to keep us company. Here's a list of the people on each team and our thoughts about them.

Team Adam:

Casey Weston – One of us loves her. She had a pretty good blind audition, and she sounded amazing in the duet. She has a tendency to sound a little …. goat-y at times, but if she cuts that out, she’s a great singer. We don’t expect her to win, but we’ll enjoy her voice as long as she’s on the show.

Javier Colon – An early favorite, for good reason. His audition was definitely better than his duet, but we’re just glad he knocked out Angela Wolff. He’ll stay for a while, if his iTunes success is any indication.

Devon Barley – This pre-med student is just too precious. We think he pretty handily beat Rebecca Loebe, even if the song wasn’t the best choice for either of the singers. We haven’t heard too much about him though, so he’ll have to grow a fan base quickly.

Jeff Jenkins – We adore him. He has such an amazing voice. We read a comment about him somewhere that described his voice as a good hug, which is basically the best way we can think to describe it. He’s definitely one of the frontrunners right now.

Best duet:

Verdict: Team Adam is pretty stacked. The only change that we can think of that might’ve made his team even stronger would’ve been Casey Desmond instead of Devon Barley, and even that isn’t too big of an increase in talent. Team Adam should do well in the next phase of the competition.

Team Blake:

Patrick Thomas – We are so confused by him. We enjoy his voice, and he seems like a nice enough guy, but there’s something about him that comes across, to us, as fake. Judging by what just happened on American Idol, though, we might be in for the long haul with Patrick.

Jared Blake – We’re kind of meh about him. We like his backstory, and we definitely think he’s put in enough hard work and dedication that we’re happy for him for getting this far, but we haven’t been blown away by him. Hopefully he’ll do something awesome soon so we can be fully on his side.

Dia Frampton – One of us loves the band Meg & Dia, so we’re thrilled that Dia is on this show. We’re kind of surprised that she seems so awkward on stage, since she’s been performing for so long now. Her voice is so amazing though, so we’re glad she gets to share it with more people on this show. She probably won’t last too long, but one of us is crossing her fingers, hoping she sings “Monster” before she leaves.

Xenia Martinez – We love her. Once she gets more confident on the stage, we hope she’ll start kicking butt. From what we’ve seen so far, she has a great, young personality; if she lets America see that, she should stick around.

Best duet:

Verdict: Team Blake isn’t too bad. One of us loves Dia and Xenia, but we aren’t too sure that Blake’s team will have the mass appeal that other teams appear to have. We possibly would’ve picked Tyler Robinson over Patrick Thomas, but we’re okay with the decisions.

Team Cee-Lo:

Vicci Martinez – Easily had our favorite duet of the entire battle rounds. We think she has a great energy and we’re so excited to see her next week. The goodwill she earned from the duet will last her a few weeks, for us at least.

Nakia – We are way less excited about Nakia than the judges and most of America seem to be. We like his voice, but we just don’t understand it. But apparently people don’t agree with us, since the judges love him.

Tori and Taylor Thompson – We have a confession to make. One of us loved American Juniors, and remembers quite a bit about the show. So much so that when they first appeared on The Voice, she knew exactly who they were. While they’re not spectacular singers alone, together they’re good. We don’t think they can win though; the show isn’t called The Voice(s).

Curtis Grimes – We are shocked. Not that Curtis and Emily kissed, but that Cee-Lo picked country Curtis over punk rock Emily.

Best duet:

Verdict: We’re confused by Cee-Lo’s team. We adore Vicci and we know the crowd and judges love Nakia, but Curtis over Emily? And Tori and Taylor over Kelsey? We’ll see about this.

Team Christina:

Frenchie Davis – One of us preferred Tarralyn over Frenchie in the duet, which surprised us. Frenchie has a pretty good amount of name-recognition though, so we expect her to do well.

Beverly McClellan – We love her. She honestly seems like someone we would want to hang out with, which is kind of rare in a reality competition show. We want her to do well.

Raquel Castro – Again, we disagree with Christina’s decision. We think Julia Eason out-sang Raquel in their duet, but apparently Christina forgot, again, to call us to ask our opinion. She's cute, and has a fun personality, but we don't see her lasting long.

Lily Elise – We didn't love this duet, but after Christina was bummed she didn't pick Lily the first time, we're not surprised she chose her as the winner of the duet. We don't see her lasting too long either.

Best duet:

Verdict: We disagreed with quite a few choices Christina made, but we'll defer to her expertise in this area. We hope Beverly does really well, though.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Bachelorette - Sizing Up the Guys

We didn’t like Ashley last season. Not that there was a lot to like about Brad’s second season, but still. Anyway, here’s a recap of the new guys on The Bachelorette and our thoughts/predictions for each of them. Keep in mind, these are our first impressions.
Sidenote: We wrote this after the first episode, but were just now able to post it. We’ll talk about our thoughts on the second episode later
Ryan P.; 31; Corona del Mar, CA; “Solar Energy Executive” - Describes himself as “someone who genuinely wants better for the world”. As opposed to all those other jerks who want the world to go to hell in a handbasket? Seems like a sweet guy, if a little bland. Actually reminds Leeard of Jake, pre-crazy. Also, he got the first impression rose, so good for him.
JP; 34; NYC; Construction Manager – Cute, and we’re pretty sure we’ve seen him in the previews, so he’ll go at least a few weeks.
Ames; 31; NYC; Portfolio Manager – Other than the wonky eye, he’s cute and obviously intelligent. We did feel slightly insulted when he felt the need to tell us that Yale is in Connecticut, but hopefully he doesn’t turn out to be the kind of person who always needs to talk down to other people. He has been to 70 countries though, so Leeard is pretty envious. We won’t really go into his marathon obsession.
Ben C; 28; New Orleans; Lawyer – We love New Orleans, so he’s up there so far. Also, he’s a piano player and describes himself as romantic and passionate, and he’s adorable. We like him so far, but we’re afraid he won’t really stand out. AND he speaks French. We just changed our minds; there’s no way he’s not making it far.
Ben F.; 28; Sonoma, CA; Winemaker – He reminds Leeard a little of Rafael Nadal, so yes please. He also has a (recent?) parental death, which reminds Leeard of Chris L. from Ali’s season, so basically if this Ben doesn’t hit it off with Ashley, he can call Leeard.
Bentley; 28; Salt Lake City, UT; “Businessman” – Um what exactly does “businessman” mean? His daughter is completely precious, if poorly named (Cozy). He kind of comes across as an arrogant jackass, so this should be exciting. Ashley is stupidly giving him a chance.
Anthony; 28; Wyckoff, NJ; Butcher – He seems very entertaining, with a good personality. We think Ashley might find him abrasive, but we hope not. And apparently we were right, since he was eliminated at the first rose ceremony.
West; 30; Chapin, SC; Lawyer – He has a horrible backstory about losing the love of his life. He seems like a great guy, and we really want him to be happy, but he probably shouldn’t be on this show.
William; 30; Galloway, OH; Cellular Phone Salesman – He has such a wonderful smile that he’ll probably stay for a while. He’s another one that seems pretty boring though.
Jon; 26; Vancouver, WA; “E-Commerce Executive” – Kind of weirdly suggested that he and Ashley just go straight to the honeymoon, which some women would be charmed by. Apparently Ashley isn’t one of those women, because he was eliminated at the first rose ceremony.
Lucas; 30; Odessa, TX; Oil Field Equipment Distributor – We love Texas boys, and he definitely seems like a gentleman.
Mickey; 31; Cleveland, OH; Chef – He went in for the kiss before even introducing himself, but luckily he did it in a funny way. He’s pretty cute and, from what we’ve seen so far, has a decent sense of humor.
Tim; 35; Long Beach, NY; Liquor Distributor – Literally the first words out of Leeard’s mouth: “Yeah, he’s not sticking around for a long time”. And she was right; Ashley eliminated him before the first rose ceremony. Of course, getting hammered the first night probably didn’t help matters.
Stephen; 27; Manhattan Beach, CA; Hairstylist – For a hairstylist, his hair was looking pretty greasy to meet Ashley. Kind of a bland introduction, so we don’t see him lasting too long if he doesn’t bring out the big guns.
Chris D.; 25; Chicago, IL; Sports Marketing Coordinator – He rapped (well, tried to rap) his introduction, which was weird. But it showed a fun side of him, so it might’ve been a good move. If he can bring out the goofy side of Ashley, he’ll stick around.
Rob; 27; Monroe, MI; Technology Executive – Uh-dorable, with some sort of accent. We liked him, but it was pretty obvious he was going home when we learned next to nothing about him. Obviously Ashley didn’t get a chance to read his profile, because he sounds pretty awesome.
Matt; 28; Bridgewater, MA; Office Supply Salesman – Tried to teach Ashley a handshake when he first met her, which we liked. We kind of hope he makes it far enough to tell us what exactly inspires someone to get a Turf Management degree. His mom can call us and drop those little pearls of wisdom whenever she feels like it.
Jeff; 35; St. Louis, MO; Entrepreneur – And we’ve finally made it to the masked man. We don’t really know how we feel about this approach. On the one hand, it could be like The Voice: judge based on personality, not looks. On the other hand, this is The Bachelorette. How can Ashley get rid of the ugliest guys first if she doesn’t know what one of them looks like? Anyway, let’s see how long his shtick can last. Ern is pretty sure that if a GIRL did this on The Bachelor, the guy would get freaked out and eliminate her immediately. But this was a great way to get the producers to pick him in order for him to make the cut for the show.
Frank; 29; Murfreesboro, TN; College Admissions Director – Yeah, there’s no way he’s going to last. Ashley’s laugh when he picked her up was about as fake as they come. Plus, he kills the college dreams of hundreds of stupid kids every year. Sad.
Mike; 29; San Diego, CA; Technology Salesman – Nope. Not happening. This is what we mean when we say that she’ll get rid of the ugliest guys first. He did make some cute dentist jokes though. And, no surprise, he got eliminated at the first rose ceremony. Note: we don’t think he’s ugly, but in terms of this competition? Kinda.
Chris M.; 27; Edmonton, Canada; Construction Company CEO – Ridiculously good-looking, and is full-on Canadian. It might be just that one of us missed hockey, but we love him. We weren’t happy when he got eliminated at the first rose ceremony, partly because we’ll miss him and his accent, and partly because we definitely didn’t call him leaving that early.
Ryan M.; 27; Royal Oak, MI; Construction Estimator – Is a “big fan” of The Bachelor. Oh honey. And he brought a camera. Well that’s kind of weird. But also probably smart. Anyway, he has to go home soon. But apparently he won’t be going home too soon, since he made it past the first rose ceremony.
Nick; 26; Tampa, FL; Personal Trainer – He’s probably our favorite for Ashley right now. We can’t really explain it, but at the beginning of every season, Leeard gets a feeling about one of the bachelors. She’s only been right once, but that was Trista’s season, and we all know how that turned out. Basically what we’re saying is that the bachelorettes should call Leeard and pick the guy she likes the most.
Blake; 27; Greenville, SC; Dentist – The dentist!!! Okay, we love him, too. And we were glad he wasn’t eliminated.
Constantine; 30; Atlanta, GA; Restaurant Owner – Tied a floss ribbon around her finger. We actually think that was adorable, and way cheaper than the ballet tickets Ames tried to use to buy Ashley’s affection.
Guys left after the first rose ceremony: Jeff, Constantine, Ben. F, Lucas, Stephen, Matt, Nick, Chris D., Ryan M., Blake, Mickey, Ben C., West, William, JP, Ames, and Bentley

Who are your favorites so far? Let us know in the comments!

Hey, at least there was an evil peacock. Always a win.

While we enjoyed the celebrity voices in Kung Fu Panda 2, we didn’t think it was as funny as the first one. Only Leeard saw the first one, but she really liked it. The strength was the jokes. The second movie was heavy on fight scenes and light on jokes.

We don’t know about you, but if we want to see an hour of action, we don’t want it to be cartoon action. There just needed to be more jokes, because the ones that were there were funny. Kids should like it just fine, but was a little boring for adults. And way to rip off the plot of Harry Potter!

Movie Grade: C+

Phil: It happened again. Tracy: What is wrong with you three?

Once again, we disagree with the majority of critics on this one. Their point is that it’s the same plot in a different location, so a lot of it lacks the element of surprise. The critics say that this makes The Hangover 2 a bad, unfunny movie.

While we acknowledge that the same thing happens in the movie, we ask you, in a sequel to The Hangover, DOESN’T THERE HAVE TO BE A HANGOVER? Isn’t that the whole point of these movies? Granted, there didn’t have to be a wedding in order to induce said hangover, but other than that, there needed to be the same plot.

If you go in knowing that the same thing happens to these poor guys a second time, you will enjoy the jokes and the differences rather than feel like you just paid ten bucks to see the same movie. Just go in expecting that.

Because once you get past that, The Hangover 2 has some really funny moments. It moves fast, it shocks, and it entertains. The beginning where they set it up is a little slow, because you know where it is headed. But, after that, you’re just laughing at a monkey, Alan, and the horrible things that happen to Stu.

The majority of people who would see this movie will be entertained. A girl in the theater behind us actually asked the question, "Who is Bangkok?" The Hangover series isn't exactly Chris Nolan-level fare, but for what it is, it's funny. This movie is not recommended to anyone who didn’t like the first one. It’s for people who want more of the first one. If the first one is an A-, this one is a B+.

Movie grade: B+