Monday Musings

It’s Monday morning (at time of writing) and my mind is in a bit of an entanglement.

Firstly, AJ Green is hurt. The report says “some games” which is about as vague as the chances I give the Bengals of beating the Saints, without him. Apparently, he hurt it in the last game before the bye, whenever he got up grabbing at his toe. Some reports say that, after the game, AJ mentioned stubbing it and he’ll be fine. Then he was seen at PBS in a walking boot. Now they’re saying multiple games will be missed. It doesn’t take much to connect the dots and see that Tyler Boyd will be Andy Dalton’s number one target for the Saints game, the Ravens game, and maybe beyond that. In a league where the slimmest of margins separate wildcard teams from teams who finish 7-9, losing AJ really blurs that line for Cincinnati.

The Reds are being linked to a number of different free agents, and it’s got me excited. Sure, I looked at season tickets and realized peons like me aren’t meant to afford that regality (plus, different ticket apps make it cheaper and easier to go to the games I want, anyway) and the Opening Day tickets available on websites start at $150, right now, as the “market” preys on overenthusiastic instant-gratification junkies. That being said, I’m all in on Redsfest coming at the end of November and will probably type up a few words on it, too. I’d love to meet Dallas Keuchel, or Patrick Corbin, or even Nathan Eovaldi, but we’ll see. The powers that be for the oldest professional base-ball franchise have said they’ll break the bank. But whether it’s a bigger crack in the piggy bank or a full blown shattered oinker, remains to be seen.

I plan on writing more about this next thought, so I’ll be brief, but college basketball is back, baby, and this fool just got cable. Hope my wife is ready to hear lots squeaking sneakers and swishing nets!

UC football is back ranked in the Top-25 with a pair of games against good Florida football teams (USF and UCF). That being said, they get the lesser of two Florida’s at home, this Saturday, in a game I think they have a much better shot at winning than I did in August. Then comes the monster that is UCF. 21-straight wins (maybe 22 by next week) will face off against the Luke Fickell reclamation project. Coach Fick has built the Cats into bonafide football players in just a year and a half, and may be the next name to be plucked from Clifton to a big time job. Nobody, including me, saw the success he’s had this year as possible, and yet here we are. We could be talking about a 10-win Bearcats football side, come December, and that is magnificent.

I’m still on about Bohemian Rhapsody. What a film. Been listening to Queen all weekend.

Also, playing Red Dead 2 any chance I get. It’s so simple and yet so fantastic. Much like many a good Western flick. One of the latest “missions,” or maybe stories is a better term for them, that I completed was one where your character gets drunk, but has to keep his other drunk friend out of trouble, and then run from Johnny-Law. Rockstar just knows how to make an entertaining video game.

Right, well, back to Monday, I suppose.

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Bohemian Rhapsody Rocks

Freddie Mercury is the Freddie Mercury-est Freddie Mercury who ever Freddie Mercury-ed. That being said, Rami Malek did one heck of a job emulating Freddie Mercury.

Let me preface this post about a movie by saying that I do not care about the little details. I am not one who looks for this or that. I go to movies to get away. If a movie can get me to suspend disbelief, bingo, it’s done is job. I go for the feel of it. Did the movie provoke me to feel a certain way.

Bohemian Rhapsody was all over that. It did an awesome job of showing how Queen developed, how Freddie Mercury came up with this idea for that song, or that idea for this song. It talked about his background, but not in a boring, ho-hum way. It really made you feel as though you saw Freddie Mercury. As someone who loves Queen, but was two years old when Freddie Mercury died, this was a glimpse of something brilliant. Also, how they reacted when they first recorded the song that gave the movie its name is pretty much what I imagined.

It also made me think of how much Queen means to sports. Who, when attending a sporting event and the home team is either leading, or getting ready to take the lead, doesn’t get crazy excited when “We Will Rock You” blares through the speakers? At least every other time a Reds pitcher strikes out an opposing batter, I think “Another One Bites the Dust.” And the Lord knows, I cannot wait for the day that I get to scream “We are the Champions” for either the Reds, Bengals, or Bearcats. Queen has interwoven itself into the fabric of sports and sports fans.

Rami Malek, though, was Freddie Mercury. For a little over two hours, Rami provided a performance that made you feel like you knew Freddie Mercury. You saw his rise from a baggage handler at Heathrow Airport to, possibly, the best performer of all time. All the while, you never got a sense that it was being over-played. Like Malek was trying too hard. He had exactly the right look, exactly the right movements, and exactly the right voice to project one of the greatest musicians that ever lived.

I spent $15 on a ticket to see the movie at the Rave-Cinemark in XD. Don’t even care. Movie ticket prices, blah blah blah, it’s worth it if you love the music of, I’ll just say it, the best dang band there ever was, Queen.

Friday Flick File

Each Friday I will take a minute to reflect on the movies I watched in the past week. These will be just snipers of thought about each one, rather than a exposé.

Right now I’ll give a few nuggets on Deadpool 2, Avengers: Infinity War, and an older movie, but one I caught on Hulu, Fantastic Four.

I’ll start with Deadpool 2 as I managed to catch that just last night. Went to the new Cinépolis at Austin Landing, in Miamisburg, to watch it. Side note – when you’re in the Cinépolis, it feels like a hotel, but anyway…

Deadpool 2 was so funny that i gave myself a headache from laughing too much. Seriously, just like 22 Jump Street did with that pair of movies, the sequel to everybody’s favorite anti-hero was even funnier than the first. His irreverent, sarcastic, and dark sense of humor once again hit the nail straight on the head. Adding a serious character in Cable into the mix made for a great back-and-forth that added value to the movie. Here’s hoping Disney can finish its deal to purchase 21st Century Fox so that Marvel can be while (and we can see Deadpool interact with the Avengers).

Speaking of the Avengers, Infinity War is a top five Marvel movie, for me. I’ve seen it twice, now, and Marvel just continues to be better than everyone at movies with a myriad of main characters. Not once did it feel like one character was being left out, or half-assed, and this is the Be first time they’ve got this right. If you’re a Guardians of the Galaxy fan? There’s plenty for you to love. If you’re more of a friendly neighborhood Spider-man fan, you won’t go home disappointed. Black Panther fanatic? Wakanda is pivotal to the movie. They all come together in a pleasing and entertaining way.

Oh, and who else but Marvel can take a movie that has been hyped up for 10 years and make fans even more anticipatory for the sequel?

Lastly, I want to address the newest try at making the Fantastic Four work on the silver screen.

It’s already widely known that this was a huge flop, so I’m not exactly making a breakthrough take here. Still, the movie sucked. I really hope that Disney gets 21st Century Fox and can employ Marvel to Fox the wrongs done to one of the best comic book franchises there is. The Fantastic Four, and their arch-nemesis Doctor Doom, are very important characters in the Marvel universe, but have been MIA due to Fox owning the rights. Fox has done nothing of value with those rights, and really laid an egg on their last attempt.

I mean, really, Doctor Doom (aka Victor Von Doom) is a whiny brat who turns into a crash test dummy. That alone is worth shutting the movie off for, but I didn’t…for some stupid reason. They then botched Johnny Storm by making him a laid-back, drag racer who only cares about his car. Johnny, aka the Human Torch, is supposed to be a cocky jerk who acts like he’s better than everyone, because he’s rich and can turn into a flying fire guy. I like Michael B Jordan, but the writing hamstrung him from making the character good.

The movie was just overall terrible, boring, and I can’t even remember the big battle scene because it was just awful, and I watched the movie on Wednesday! Marvel, please fix this.

Top Ten Marvel Movies of the Last Ten Years

It’s been ten years since Marvel embarked on its journey to take over the cinematic world. Ten years since Tony Stark dawned the Iron Man suit, for the first time, and flew around the planet. At that time, Avengers: Infinity War was an idea that the top brass at Marvel knew about and fans dreamt of. Now, with a little over three months til liftoff, Infinity War is on deck. There have been 18 movies leading up to this point and I felt like ranking my top ten. Here goes…

1.   Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2img_3604

What??? A sequel? They’re never as good as the original…eh, wrong. At least in this case. Guardians 2 took up where the first left off and then threw things into hyper drive. Growing up, Spider-Man was my favorite hero…but that’s because I had never heard of Peter Quill aka Star-Lord. Chris Pratt easily became one of my favorite actors through these movies and I cannot wait until I see what the Guardians do in Infinity War. Also, and this isn’t a factor of deciding a movie’s ranking, but this movie had the best poster.

2.   Deadpool

Yeah baby! Disney bought 21st Century Fox and Bob Iger made no bones about the fact that the X-Men and Deadpool will now be integrated into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This movie, in particular, was amazing. It had all the drama and intrigue we’ve come to expect from a superhero movie, while turning the humor up to 11. There has never been, nor may there ever be, such a perfectly casted character as Ryan Reynolds playing Deadpool. Really looking forward to seeing him get thrown in with Iron Man, Spider-Man, and all the classic Marvel heroes he chummed around with in the comic books.

3.   Guardians of the Galaxy

Yup, two of my top three are the Guardians. Seriously, I had never heard of these guys before this movie. When I left the theatre, I knew they were my favorite part of the MCU. They just happened to make a sequel that I enjoyed even more.

4.   Thor: Ragnarokimg_3607

Chris Hemsworth and crew stepped it up in the third Thor movie. The first two were only sort of decent, but this one smashed it out of the park. It can kind of double as the good Hulk movie…because the other ones that exist suck…because both Thor and Hulk had an awesome team-up. Some thought this movie too light-hearted and funny, but I thought it was just the right amount and seriously entertaining.

5.   Spider-Man: Homecoming

Yeah, I am a sucker for Phase Three Marvel, but I am also a huge homer for the Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man. Tom Holland played an awesome young Peter Parker, really nailing the awkward dichotomy of being a superhero and a high school student all at once. I honestly think he is the best of the three guys to play Spider-Man. Tobey Maguire was too old and Andrew Garfield was too cool. Also loved Michael Keaton as Vulture. Disney made an interesting decision with his character background, giving the audience a murky view as to why he was a villain. Sure, he was opposing Spider-Man, but it was also the niche he found to take care of his family. And Michael Keaton is one of the best actors there is, so that doesn’t hurt.

6.   The Avengers

Now, depending where you are from (and given that 99.9% people who read my blog are from America, this isn’t a thing) this movie is also called Avengers Assemble which I think helps clear up any confusion as to which Avengers movie someone is referring to. That being said, Loki was great in this movie. Marvel showed the world that a good team-up superhero movie could be done. Remember what everyone was worried about back then? “Will it be too busy?” “Will it be too confusing?” “This many characters in one movie, how will anyone get enough screen time?” Marvel answered those questions then, and has been answering them ever since.

7.    Doctor Strange

Also known as “Marvel can get any actor it wants” as the superhero giant nabs Benedict Cumberbatch to play the brash genius, Dr. Stephen Strange. Think of what a perfect mix of Inception and a superhero movie looks like, and you got this movie. Chiwetel Ejiofor was awesome as Mordo and I look forward to seeing where Marvel takes his character. Also thought they did another phenomenal job of presenting a character I, previously, knew nothing about, and making me like him. Looks like he is going to be big in Infinity War and I cannot wait to see him in it.

8.   Captain America: Civil War

At this point in Marvel’s pursuit of cinematic dominance they have well-proven that they are capable of delivering a coherent team-up movie. This one they even take it a step further and pit two teams of good guys against each other. The result was a tense feud that finds you on the edge of your seat by the end of it. To be fair, all three Captain America films are phenomenal, but this one was just the icing on the cake. Plus the nice twist at the end with Hydra….oh…well…in case you haven’t seen it, I will leave it at that. Just know that Captain America cannot escape Hydra constantly harassing his life. This movie also had very satisfying, introductory cameos of Spider-Man and Black Panther.

9.   Captain America: Winter Soldier

This one and number ten are pretty much a tie, in my mind, it just depends on what kind of mood I’m in. Today I’m feeling the Stars and Stripes. Plus, Steve Rogers kind of goes through a Mission: Impossible-like scenario. The return of Bucky with a metal arm hits all the points of intrigue that my child-like brain can handle, and his battle with Cap was pretty awesome. Plus, I mean, Hydra. I won’t say it…because I will type it…Hail Hydra.

10.   Iron Man

By far, the best of the Tony Stark trilogy, I love the very first entry into the MCU. I enjoy seeing the beginning of the eccentric Stark and seeing all of his crazy technology at his house. Jarvis is also awesome, and Obadiah Stain is an easy-to-hate bad guy played by The Dude. Add in AC/DC and you got a solid movie.

Really the rest of the MCU can fall into line in no particular order from 11-18. Except for maybe Iron Man 2. That one will always be the bottom.

Bring on Thanos!

Please Sir, May I Have Some More

I have a hot take today…ok, well, it’s not a take I’d figure would even be a take. A hot take is a controversial opinion on something. So in order for it to even be controversial, a good number, maybe even a majority, of people have to believe the opposite. Which is ludicrous to me because I never would have thought this would strike some cord in someone’s mind as a bad thing, but I digress.

I love the fact that Disney loves to make money. There, I said it, call me a sucker, call me an idiot, whatever. I love the fact that Marvel and, to a lesser extent, Star Wars movies are just pouring out of the studios and on to the big screen. Think about the alternative.

Do you want to go back to a world where George Clooney in Batman and Robin is the sole superhero movie of the year, or maybe two years? Did your Star Wars loving self just revel in the decades without stories from a Galaxy Far, Far Away? I sure as heck didn’t.

I love spending my money at the box office, so maybe I am a little on the extreme side of this. However, give me more, give me more. I will watch it, I will pay for it, and if it’s good (which it pretty much has all been so) I will love it. Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, all the way to Ant-Man and Doctor Strange. Marvel can do no wrong. Then Star Wars, bringing in the new characters, new stories. Doing origin stories of characters, I love it. Don’t stop.

The Solo trailer brought about some strong feelings against Disney. Now, I don’t know if it was because they didn’t like the trailer or if people were just waiting for the trailer to be released, but this movie was announced a while ago. It has, not-so secretly, gone through some personnel shifting in the production team. So this isn’t out of nowhere. In fact, most Star Wars fans knew that the release date is this May, causing speculation a trailer may have been released on Episode VIII. Yet, there were a good number of folks saying the movie isn’t needed, it’s too much, leave Han Solo alone, it’s just a money grab.

First, let’s address that last point. The point of Disney is to make money…so yeah, it’s a money grab. They don’t make this movie, they aren’t doing their jobs. Secondly, what movie is needed? Has anyone said they needed a movie? I love Star Wars almost as much as life itself, but I don’t need it. SO far as leave Han alone, I would love to see a whole series, let alone one movie, about Han before he helped save the Rebels at Yavin IV. Heck, bring on a whole movie about how Han and The Millennium Falcon made the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs. So yeah, bring on Solo.

On that note, I loved the trailer. I think the kid they got to play Han looks like a good pick and I love DannyDonald Glover as Lando and can’t wait to see how his character is unveiled. Woody Harrelson as Han’s mentor/boss is interesting, in a good way, and, of course, who isn’t happy about Chewie being in another movie? Also, a brand-spankin new Millennium Falcon just gets me all giddy.

So, yeah, bring on yearly Star Wars movies and monthly Marvel movies. I’ll continue to hemorrhage cash while beaming from ear to ear with movie theater butter all down my shirt.

Call out it’s name…

JUMANJI!!!

Go see Jumanji. If you already have, great! Go see it again.

The first time I saw the preview I thought, “Oh no, here comes another remake that ruins the original.” I truly felt this movie was unnecessary. I was completely wrong.

First off, Kevin Hart and The Rock are officially one of the best duos around. The two of them work together extremely well. Their chemistry is compounded by the way the movie allows them to riff on themselves and each other. Probably the best element of the movie is the stars getting to make light of who they are. The Rock trying to figure out where his hair went, Kevin Hart getting mad about missing the top 2 feet of his body, and Jack Black outright saying “I’m an overweight, middle-aged man,” in an effeminate voice all suck the audience in to loving these characters.

Speaking of Jack Black, he is the MVP of this movie. Pretty much everything he does solicits laughter. He was the best example of why mistaken identity is so funny. From stammering for his phone, to teaching a woman how to flirt, Jack Black played a pretty hilarious woman.

Karen Gillian also turned in a nice performance. This is the third movie I have seen her in, Guardians of the Galaxy I and II being the others, and it is different seeing her being not blue and part android (She played Nebula, Gamora’s sister, in Guardians). She continued to be the shy badass, which is a part that suits her.

I also thought the subtle undertones of poking fun at the inner workings of video games was a nice theme. Despite being actual people, the minor characters who were the NPCs did a very good job of showing that they were limited to only a specific series of responses, which makes the moviegoer feel as if they are in the video game, too. The movie doesn’t just say the characters are in a video game, and then go about it’ business. It pays attention to the little details that will always separate video games from real life, no matter how realistic the graphics get.

There’s also some action and splosions, which are also cool.

Go see it, seriously.

A Movie Review Nobody Asked for – Spider-Man: Homecoming

It’s been tried twice before. Toby Maguire and Andrew Garfield gave it their best shots, but ultimately they fell short. Given the past showings, they may have attempted to capture the essence of the most difficult superhero to accurately portray.

Spider-man has always been my favorite superhero. Batman is great, Superman is…well…super, but there’s something about Spider-man. He was always a kid trying to figure out life stuff while at the same time trying to calm down a genius with robotic tentacles coming out of his back or a man who is really a scorpion. At the end of the day, when the baddies were put away, he’d go back to algebra homework and figuring out how to talk to Mary Jane.

Tom Holland captures that with his performance in Spider-Man: Homecoming. We get the awkward teeny-bopper that Maguire and Garfield just can’t evoke. Holland shows the ability to get a laugh out of a tense situation, and that is my favorite part about Spider-man’s character. When the Green Goblin is tossing little pumpkin bombs at him, Spidey has the kind of personality to say “Hey, you forgot this!” while throwing the bomb right back at the Goblin.

You also really get the feeling of Spidey trying to fit in with the superhero world. Sure, it’s written in as a plot point, but you really feel the frustration that Peter Parker has whenever Tony Stark tells him he needs to keep focusing on the little things. Holland easily plays a teenage Spidey who feels unappreciated.

Another area where Homecoming hits the nail on the head is with the villain. Michael Keaton is a terrific actor who has played many roles. In Homecoming he plays a dude you could almost level with. Sure, he makes a living stealing things and turning them into his own creations but his reason is sort of admirable. The government screwed him over, so he now does what he does to get back at them. Plus, his suit is pretty cool. I like the pseudo-robo Vulture.

Overall the movie was good. I’d give it 4 out of 5. A little word of warning heading into the movie, the beginning is slow and it takes a minute to get going. One of the biggest victories for this rendition of Spider-man, though, is that they don’t spend half of the movie telling you what you already know. In the movie, Uncle Ben died a while ago. So much so, I do not remember a conversation between Aunt May and Peter where they mentioned Uncle Ben. Big plus, I say.

So go see it. Go see it if you like action, go see it if you like superheroes, and definitely go see it if you’re a fan of the Web-slinger. For this installment, the Friendly Neighborhood Spider-man, will have you walking out of the theater satisfied.