Some thoughts on Cam Newton and the hypocrisy of the media

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton had a fantastic 2015 season that ended up with his team losing the Super Bowl on Sunday. It was not his best game, and the look he had down the stretch with not going for a fumble and the way he handled his postgame media availability have come under fire from all angles in the days following the game. Criticism for Newton’s performance during the game is a fair target, but I honestly feel the animosity the media has brewed over his postgame press conference is out of line.

I spent a few minutes sharing my thoughts on this on Medium, which I am going to try adding to my writing mix from time to time (because I clearly need another outlet to share my writing and thoughts).

Cam Newton praised for doing things his way until media wanted him to be a robot

Suicide Squad Trailer: We’re bad guys, it’s what we do

I continue to be extremely interested in seeing DC roll out their cinematic universe, especially as it becomes more and more clear they intent to go a different path than Marvel with their various properties between the movies and television programs. Whereas Marvel is using TV (and Netflix) to expand their Marvel Cinematic Universe that has been largely told on the big screen, DC Comics is keeping their movie and TV franchises living in alternate universes that may never cross paths. This year DC will take a giant step forward in the expansion of their cinematic universe with the release of the highly-anticipated Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice in the next couple of months. Batman v/ Superman will not only introduce to fans a new spin on an older Batman, but introduce to us key members of the Justice League to be formed with Wonder Woman. There are rumors we may get to meet the movie version of Barry Allen (The Flash) and perhaps even Aquaman or Cyborg, but we will find out soon enough. Read the rest of this entry »

2016 Golden Globe Predictions

Golden Globes

Award season in Hollywood is about to get started Sunday with the Golden Globe Awards. The combination of movies and TV generally reminds me I did not keep up to date on my movie watching in the previous year and suggests I don’t watch enough good TV, and this year appears to be pretty much par for the course in those respects.

Even though I have missed out on a ton of the nominated movies and TV shows in 2015, I still wanted to go on record with my official predictions for the Golden Globe awards. Let’s see how I do.

Below I have some quick thought son some of the more notable awards along with the nominees for each category and my prediction. Once I get through some of the awards I am most interested din, I’ll run through with some quick picks for the rest. I’ll do this again later for the Emmy’s and Academy Awards.

Best Motion Picture – Drama

Nominees: Mad Max: Fury Road, Room, Spotlight, The Revenant, Carol

I didn’t see any of these and the only one I heard anything about in the past year was Mad Max: Fury Road. However, because of that, I’ll guess the Golden Globe goes to one film I know essentially nothing about and go to Spotlight, with Michael Keaton continuing a nice renaissance in his career it seems. Also, Rachel Mcadams and Stanley Tucci are a part of the film.

The Pick: Spotlight

Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Nominees: Joy, Spy, The Big Short, The Martian, Trainwreck

I saw one of these last year, Spy. It was not bad but there is no way it is going to win this category. Not when Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper and Robert DiNiro headlined in Joy and not when The Martian received a tremendous amount of praise. I’ll go with Matt Damon’s out-of-this-world journey in this category.

The Pick: The Martian

Best Motion Picture – Animated

Nominees: Inside Out, Shaun the Sheep Movie, The Good Dinosaur, The Peanuts Movie, Anomalisa

I try not to let my personal bias interfere here, but The Peanuts Movie was such a darn good movie and was one of the best films I watched in 2015, and it was far better than Inside Out. The Peanuts Movie managed to take a loved franchise and give it a modern look with some brilliant animation that found a way to keep the lovable and simple charm of the source material without caving to the demands of modern times. I’ll be rooting hard for this one, and will be most disappointed if The Peanuts Movie does not win this category.

Best Television Series – Drama

Nominees: Game of Thrones, Mr. Robot, Narcos, Outlander, Empire

I know there are a ton of people who flock to Game of Thrones, but I only watch one of these dramas and I am hooked. It is no Mad Men or Breaking Bad of course, but Empire has me anxiously looking forward to the next episode like no other show on TV right now. I never heard of the other three.

The Pick: Empire

Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy

Nominees: Casual, Mozart in the Jungle, Orange is the New Black, Silicon Valley, Transparent

This is typically the category I am most fmaliiar with, but I’m on the outside looking  in for the most part this season. I still have yet to watch the latest season of Orange is the Ne wBlack, so I can’t say whether or not it is worthy of the Golden Globe. I never heard of Casual or Mozart in the Jungle and I got bored of Silicon Valley early on and have yet to watch Transparent. So I’ll be rooting for Orange is the New Black, but I’ll go on record with another.

The Pick: Transparent

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Dramas

Nominees: Saoirse Ronan, Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Brie Larson, Alicia Vikander

Once again, I did not see any of the films these women were in, so I’m pretty much mailing in this pick and going with the only name I’m remotely familiar with.

The Pick: Cate Blanchett (Carol)

Best Performance bu an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama

Nominees: Will Smith, Michael Fassbender, Eddie Redmayne, Leonardo DiCaprio, Bryan Cranston

Now we have some names I am more familiar with, but I still have not seen any of the films these guys are in. I’ll be rooting for Will Smith for his role in Concussion, but I suppose Leonardo DiCaprio or Bryan Cranston are the favorites.

The Pick: Bryan Cranston

Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Nominees: Lily Tomlin, Jennifer Lawrence, Melissa McCarthy, Maggie Smith, Amy Schumer

No wasting time. Just go right to my pick.

The Pick: Jennifer Lawrence

Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Nominees: Al Pacino, Mark Ruffalo, Christian Bale, Steve Carrell, Matt Damon

As I mentioned above, I think The Martian will have a big night. I think that will be supported by Matt Damon taking home this Golden Globe category.

The Pick: Matt Damon

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Drama

Nominees: Taraji Henson, Robin Wright, Viola Davis, Caitriona Balfe, Eva Green

I absolutely have grown to love Robin Wright in House of Cards, but the best character on TV right now just might be Cookie, performed to perfection by Taraji Henson on Empire. Viola Davis gets plenty of respect, but give me Henson in this category.

The Pick: Taraji Henson

Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Drama

Nominees: Bob Odenkirk, Jon Hamm, Rami Malek, Wagner Moura, Liev Schrieber

I love bob Odenkirk in Better Call Saul, but I think this one is going to serve as the last call for Mad Men. Jon Hamm’s performance as Don Draper was a storied one, and he should get one last accolade for his work on the show.

The Pick: Jon Hamm

Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy

Nominees: Rachel Bloom, Liliy Tomlin, Gina Rodriguez, Jamie Lee Curtis, Julia Louis-Dreyfus

I have been a fan of Julia Louis-Dreyfus for years and feel she can take this category very easily. However, I’m going to go with the star of Jane the Virgin as she continues to be one of the rising stars in this category.

The Pick: Gina Rodriguez

Best Performance by an actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy

Nominees: Aziz Ansari, Gael Garcia Bernal, Rob Lowe, Jeffrey Tambor, Patrick Stewart

Please, Rob Lowe cannot win this award for the grossly overrated The Grinder. I’d love to hear an acceptance speech by Patrick Stewart, but I think the award goes to someone else.

The Pick: Jeffrey Tambor

Other Quick Picks

Best Performance by an actress in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture: Kate Winslet (Steve Jobs)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture: Sylvester Stallone (Creed)

Best Director – Motion Picture: George Miller (Mad Max: Fury Road)

Best Screenplay – Motion Picture: Tom McCarthy Josh Singer (Spotlight)

Best Motion Picture – Foreign Language: [throws dart at wall] Hungary (Son of Saul)

Best Original Score – Motion Picture: Ennio Morricone (The Hateful Eight — keep an eye out for Star Wars: The Force Awakens next year?)

Best Original Song – Motion Picture: Simple Song #3 (Youth)

Best Television Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television: Fargo

Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television: Queen Latifah (Bessie)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series or a Motion Picture Made for Television: David Oyelowo

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for TV: Regina King (American Crime)

Best Performance by an actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for TV: Ben Mendelsohn (Bloodline)

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows trailer

Oh, this might be good. No, seriously, I’m intrigued.

The good: Longtime TMNT fans FINALLY get to see BeBop and Rocksteady on the big screen. For as long as I have considered myself a fan of TMNT, I have always wondered why we never got to see two of the iconic dimwitted bad guys on the big screen. Instead, we got Toka and Razor (they’re babies!).

Toka and Razor

So consider me happy to finally see Bebop and Rocksteady taking on the turtles after all these years. Kudos.

A few things I think need to be addressed though. A hole opens up over New York City and alien ships come flying out of it? Are the TMNT now in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (because I’d be cool with that)? Has this theme of aliens flying into New York not been played out enough? If this is an opening to Dimension X, I’ll be cool with it. But I think the TMNT’s first move should be to call the Avengers. Although, they’ll be too busy fighting amongst themselves.

Stephen Amell is playing Casey Jones. Here’s hoping he gets a chance to tell Shredder he has failed this city. Tyler Perry playing The Nutty Professor, or Baxter Stockman. Eh, we’ll see about that one. I always thought Rick Moranis would have made a great Baxter Stockman.

I think Michael Bay is going to make good on his second attempt at the Ninja Turtles. If nothing else, the preview suggests there will be a more light-hearted attitude with this second installment in the latest film series. That’s the best way to make a turtles movie.

New Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer

The battle lines are being drawn, and a new combatant has entered the field. Read the rest of this entry »

Don’t call it a Comeback (Well, actually, yeah, call it The Comeback)

Later today I will begin a new writing gig, because I simply do not have enough to fill all of my free time. Starting today I begin taking on shifts on the news desk staff for The Comeback, a new sports and pop culture site that launched earlier this week. Read the rest of this entry »

Captain America: Civil War trailer

I am super excited for next year’s release of Batman v. Superman, but this clash of superheroes is going to be even better.

Hyrule has a new Hero(ine) of Time

Well excuuuuuse me, Linkle.

Well excuuuuuse me, Linkle.

Move over Link, Hyrule has a new hero and she’s ready to kick some butt. On Thursday, Nintendo unveiled a brand new character to the Zelda universe. Linkle — that’s the best name they could come up with, apparently — is a female version of Link that will debut in Hyrule Warriors Legends for the 3DS. Read the rest of this entry »

Someone else thought The Peanuts Movie was perfect

If you read my review of The Peanuts Movie, you know how strongly I feel about the movie’s ability to handle a reboot of a fan favorite franchise with such excellence. I was worried, however, that my life long obsession with Peanuts clouded my judgement, and perhaps it did at times. This is why I was happy to see Andre Meadows echo my sentiments in his latest review for Black Nerd Comedy.

Movie Review: The Peanuts Movie is everything a Peanuts movie should be

peanuts-2

The Peanuts Movie is everything that is great about Peanuts, and the modern look stays as true to the original style of the franchise as faithfully as could be done with modern animation techniques. The updated technology excels in not losing an ounce of Peanuts charm. As someone who was raised on Peanuts, slept in Peanuts sheets, can recite most lines from the Christmas and Halloween specials, has read the entire franchise and recently visited the Charles Schultz museum, the opening sequence to The Peanuts Movie honestly brought a slight tear to my eye.

This is the Peanuts movie I have waited for, and it was perfect.

SPOILER-FREE PLOT IN A NUTSHELL

Charlie Brown is a failure at almost everything he does, but he stops at nothing to try and impress the Little Red-Haired Girl. His trusty dog Snoopy, who has never been a normal dog like everybody else’s dog, is there every step of the way to encourage and help Charlie Brown build up his courage and confidence/

Very minor spoiler alert (because if you’ve read Peanuts or seen any specials, movies or TV shows, you’ve likely seen this all before. It’s OK though, because you’ll still love this)

OK, so maybe it is not “perfect.” Lucy and Linus being in the same class is a bit odd given their age difference in the series, unless Linus is so wise he’s actually skipped a grade. Peppermint Patty, Marcie and Franklin are supposed to be in the next town over, attending a different school, but maybe budget costs have forced the schools to consolidate. Those are minor details at best that really have nothing to do to detract from the actual plot of the film. I can deal with these minor concerns, because the movie rewards long-time Peanuts fans with so much nostalgia in an updated environment and sneaks in plenty of nice little easter eggs to make those paying close enough attention smile. For instance, Sherman has one line where he tells Franklin or Pig Pen (I don’t remember which), that he saw Charlie Brown first. He did, of course, in the very first Peanuts strip.

First Peanuts comic strip

The Peanuts Movie throws in plenty of standard references for young and old Peanuts fans alike, such as Snoopy’s obsession with Linus’ blanket and the Red Baron as well as Snoopy’s passion for writing the next great American novel with Woodstock by his side. Charlie Brown’s lovable loser persona coupled with his continued commitment to never give up. Sally’s fondness for Linus and Lucy’s admiration for Schroeder, who still loves his Beethoven and piano. Peppermint Patty is still the athletic tomboy with a crush on Charlie Brown, and Marcie continues to try and keep her best friend in line. The list goes on. If there is a Peanuts character you can remember for any reason, odds are they are in there. Except for Rerun, which was a nice refreshing surprise for me.

The plot of the movie is simple enough. Charlie Brown has a crush on The Little Red-Haired Girl and he tries everything he can to impress her. This being Charlie Brown, his intentions are always good but rarely do anything but fail in spectacular fashion. Of all the Charlie Browns in the world, he is the Charlie Browniest, after all.

CASTING

Keeping in line with Peanuts tradition, The Peanuts Movie cast a bunch of kids to voice the characters in the film. Many of them are spot on compared to previous voices we have heard for the characters. You likely won’t know any of these kids, although the voice of the Little Red-Haired Girl is, actually, a little red-haired girl (Francesca Capaldi) that is on the Disney TV show “Dog With a Blog.” The voice of Schroeder was voiced by Noah Johnson, who also provided the voice for Young Mike in Pixar’s Monsters University.

Aside from the kids, there are some other noteworthy casting notes in The Peanuts Movie. Kristin Chenoweth provided the voice for Fifi, the love interest in Snoopy’s fantasy world. Chenoweth actually played the role of Sally in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” on Broadway. This role, though, may go down next to Vin Diesel’s role as Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy.

Adults in the Peanuts universe are never actually heard in any recognizable language. Instead, they speak in trombone-speak, and who better to provide the adult vocalizations for the movie than me? I mean, I’ve been playing trombone since 1991, so I’m qualified. I never got the call though, but I’m glad the people in Hollywood were able to get Trombone Shorty for the gig. Hey Big Sky Studios, give me a call for the sequel.

One of my favorite parts about the cast though is how they put together the audio for Snoopy and Woodstock. Archived audio recordings of Bill Melendez were able to be used for this film to keep Snoopy and Woodstock the most authentic characters in the movie. Melendez has a special role in the history of the Peanuts franchise. He was the animator largely responsible for making the Peanuts television specials a reality, as he was the only animator Peanuts creator Charles Schultz trusted with the franchise. Melendez and his studio worked on every animated adaptation of the Peanuts gang until now, and he directed a good number of them as well as providing the voices for Snoopy and Woodstock.

PRE-MOVIE SHORT

Cosmic Scrat-tastrophe

Fans of the Ice Age franchise will enjoy the animated short that is shown prior to the feature film. Cosmic Scrat-tastrophe follows the always determined Scrat as he chases his acorn and only gets into trouble along the way. This time his pursuit takes him into orbit. Now that I think about it, this is a perfect short to show before a Peanuts film. Like Charlie Brown, Scrat has become the lovable failure who never gives up.

SEE IT NOW OR NETFLIX?

If you have enjoyed Peanuts in the past, you will enjoy this feel-good story. It’s everything Peanuts was set out to be and has been. It is clean and family-friendly and doesn’t resort to dumbed-down attempts at humor. That wouldn’t be the Peanuts way. So I recommend going to see it if you are a fan of Peanuts, but there is no real rush. As mentioned above, the plot ties in many themes and plots we have seen before in print or video form at one point or another. It just has a fresh look to it.

ANY GOOD PREVIEWS?

Previews tend to vary by location and theater, but expect plenty fo animated film previews coming your way. This was my second time seeing the preview for Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur, which I saw before Inside Out, another Pixar movie earlier this year. This preview was a bit more expanded and showed more of the plot. It’s not for me, but it is a Pixar film so I am sure it will do well. There was also one for Kung Fu Panda 3. There were a couple of others, but I do not remember what they were for now, a few days later. I was holding out hope I would get the new Star Wars trailer, but it was not meant to be.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Taking a franchise as beloved as Peanuts and giving it a modern feel was a risky adventure. It was bound to happen though as studios have breathed new life into franchises like Alvin and The Chipmunks, The Smurfs, Scooby-Doo and more. Fortunately, Big Sky Studios took good care of the Peanuts franchise and found a way to keep the classic feel of a Peanuts film while avoiding the urge to go overboard with making it more modern. If Peanuts was given a digital animation update 10 or 15 years ago, it would not have translated as well as this one did. In this case, patience really was a virtue for Peanuts fans.