Monday, September 29, 2014

Just a Quickie Please: Gotham Review

Loved Gotham....Burton's vision meets a contemporary dark, hard, and fast style. This is the look and feel Nolan missed in his three incarnations. It possess solid storytelling although the acting is a little shaky, but I'll give them a few episodes to tweak that. It is extremely difficult to craft a new take on such an iconic and overtly repeated franchise, but this has tremendous promise. I am especially digging the focus on the villains'' back-stories, nice touch. Also, anyone else get the Easter Egg that the young Catwoman looks exactly like a young Pfieffer, nice nod Heller! Two wins for DC, Arrow being the other, but unfortunately there are so, so many fails that came before.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Absolutely humbled to play such a very small part in making these two boys and their families day a special one.

Today was one of the best in my 42 years on this grand planet of ours. I was privileged to participate as Batman in a Magic Flight for two families, both with children battling terminal diseases. Suddenly I was reminded about how entitled, selfish, and petty as a society we have become. The next time you throw a fit because you waited, what you believe to be five minutes too long while your underpaid barista whips up your ridiculously complicated and utterly self-indulgent frozen or hot beverage. The next time you flip off a senior citizen who accidentally slides into your parking space, because, God Forbid, you might have to walk a few extra feet to the entrance of Walmart. The next time you think the world just came to an end because you added another crack to your Smartphone screen. The next time you complain about how bad your life is while you frantically text your best friend all the details as you watch latest episode of Desperate Housewives on your 52" flat screen in your air-conditioned room munching on your $25 overcooked overpriced take out. The next time you scream at your parents because they actually held you accountable for something, using the harshest verbal barbs as you continue your juvenile tantrum. The next time you vehemently scold your children because they act, well, like children. The next time you allow yourself to fall into your self-centered, over privileged, ungrateful coma, remember this; there are two little boys who are overjoyed just to see the sunrise on another day. Two little boys who can't go out and play but pray every day that they will have the chance someday. Two little boys whose greatest blessings are; no surgery scheduled that week, no battle with pain that day, and that they are able to open their eyes that morning to see mom and dad anxiously awaiting for them too. Two little boys that face their mortality moment by moment while we ultimately take ours for granted. Two little boys who, despite their minuscule age, get what a treasure every breath we take is. And then there are two sets of parents who have to wonder if tomorrow will ever come. Who suffer through what seems like endless sleepless nights and tearful days watching their most precious gifts struggle with no way to prevent it. Two sets of parents who would trade very so-called problem that you have just for an individual guarantee that their children will see another year without any further suffering. Two sets of parents who have to find strength, when the last ounce of it has just faded away. Two sets of parents who understand what the value of life is and how quickly we take it for granted. Two sets of parents who have a love for their children that defies any definition. Today I played the hero, but I was blessed to meet two small, very real heroes who possess more courage and determination than I ever will if I was to live a hundred lifetimes. They say a superhero is someone who defies the odds accomplishes the miraculous, discovering a power they never knew they had and using it to try protecting and saving the ones they love. That about sums it up for Caden and Jayce's Moms, Dads, Brothers, Sisters, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Grandparents, and friends. And most especially two little boys who I hope and pray will grow up to be amazing men!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Arrow Cosplay 2014

With Chelsea Sophia and Shaun Dickerson

Star Lord Costume 2014

Oh Yah....and then that happened!!

The Vampire's Ball: Act 4

The Vampire's Ball:
Act 4

It was months after that horrific night and the acts of atrocity were almost all but forgotten by the simple community.
All but Felicity.
Their wealthy benefactor had fully adopted the young ladies and showered them with gifts and graces. He transformed them from dirty, ragged urchins to beautiful, educated, and articulate debutants who had become not only accepted by the once resistant townsfolk but respected and almost unbelievably adored. It is amazing what a little polish and prominence will do, especially when wealth and position are applied.
How quickly the sins are forgotten when intoxicated by the wine of excess and entitlement. After all, it was half a year ago and Nicoli had nearly drowned the town in charity, providing coffers for repairs, a new stockyard, and numerous donations to a plethora of forsaken folks. Using his contacts he established the town as a hub for sea trade bringing overwhelming prosperity to a providence which was nothing more than unexceptional before.
He finally purchased the orphanage with the help of public dissent and Vladimir’s failing health. Almost overnight, it went from tragic eyesore to a proficient and superior facility that serviced every orphan’s need, providing the highest levels in care and accommodation. He brought in the finest staff with exceptional pedigrees and schooling. Even with all of the improvements to service and structure, adoptions remained low, but with the institution in such an efficient and comforting state, none question or even whispered a complaint.
Despite his unconditional generosity, Nicoli remained unseen for over the last few weeks with only his daughters acting as his liaisons. The girls had garnered the profound admiration from the town’s populace and went out of their way top prostrate themselves upon the rich young ladies presence. The elders poured their gratitude upon them publicly and at every instance. With each meeting, the air was filled by abject humility and overt appreciation. In their minds, their selfish and vile acts mercilessly inflicted upon these two helpless children must have been repented for by now.
In their minds.
It was October when the mystery began. It started with the disappearance of just one or two of the orphans but then by mid-month the number had increased into the teens. The constable was perplexed as there was no evidence of foul play or bodies ever found. Could they have simply run away? Left of their own accord? That seemed impossible with the strict and consistent security and safety procedure that Nicoli had put into place and the relentless commitment of the staff. There was no evidence of a forced entry or struggle. No witnesses to interview or crime scene to meticulously review. By the last week of the fall month, a total of twenty children had gone missing with a shred of proof as to why.
With All Hallows Eve fast approaching, the town was distracted from the strange disappearances with the upcoming Fall Ball that the Nicoli and his prodigy had planned. It had been a staple of the season since the wealthy lord had taken possession of the plantation. He majestically decorated every square inch of his palatial manor and served an immaculate cuisine. The air would be saturated with the most angelic of ballads and melodies as an armada of talented minstrels performing classic works and contemporary favorites. It was a spectacle of autumn hues, delectable scents, and the joyful glees of all who attended.
And this year would be no exception.
Felicity had taken the reigns of all of the planning and preparation for this year’s festivities. She intended this to be the grandest of all of the balls they have hosted before. The decorations were more extravagant, the menu riddled with delicacies from all around the globe, costumes crafted by the most nimble masters, and musicians renowned throughout the world. She spared no expense to create a celebration of the decade, maybe a century.
While her sister, orchestrated the magnificent party, Katalina spent her time at the orphanage providing her assistance in anywhere needed. She was neither impressed nor attracted to such social indulgences but would rather remain shrouded by her kindness and humility. Her heart was larger than anyone who had ever lived in the small town, greater than anyone who had existed to that point in time. Her life was dedicated to helping others, even at her young, na├»ve age. There was not much time or desire for anything else. She had grown distant from her sister, not by choice, with Katalina’ s volunteer activities and Felicity’s social and public engagements made it very difficult for the two to meet even by accident.
Adding to her solitude was the sorrowful fact that she had not seen her loving father in weeks. She was told by the rather secretive staff that he had gone across the sea to Europe to further establish trade relations with the small province. To say she was skeptical would be a significant understatement. She had also instituted her own investigation into the missing orphans, although it seemed, at the time, she was the only one still concerned. Felicity visited the orphanage on a regular basis as well but never when her sister was there. She had developed a close relationship with the staff, one that kept them distant from Katalina as well. The once very receptive and gracious team seemed more aloof in her presence these days.
Despite her tenaciousness, Katalina was unable to gather any new or more detailed information regarding the disappearances. She even found the staff quite unresponsive and uncooperative when she questioned them. Her suspicions’ grew with each passing day, what were they hiding? Where was her father? Why such secrecy? It had to be all connected, but to do so would be an enormous stretch.
So one night, a week before the ball, she decided to throw caution to the wind and truly dig deeper into the matter. She would sneak into her father’s office, a place forbidden to both of them since the came to the manor. But his warnings had been voided; she needed to know where he had gone and deep within her soul she knew the locked room would hold all the answers.
Answers she would wish she never came to know.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

One Minute Movie Review: Winter's Tale

Not to be confused with Shakespeare's play of the same name, minus the “a”.  This film, based on the novel by Mark Helprin, is a somewhat bizarre, slightly nonsensical, supposedly symbolic, vaguely allegorical adult fairy tale that accomplishes the near miraculous, both succeeding and failing at the same time.  The story is well-told and acted, but its attempt to transition between realism and fantasy feels forced, awkward, almost fragmented.   In addition, it has the worst example of a quick but charming, intensely emotional, passion filled courtship that leads up to one of the most lackluster, cold, and clumsy love scenes in cinematic history.   The ensemble is wonderful, although some character interpretations and casting choices are a bit puzzling, Smith as the Devil wearing a Bob Marley shirt under a two piece suit in the 1800's comes to mind.  However, Crowe, Findlay, Farrell, Connelly, Hurt, and newcomer Twiggs perform superbly, playing off each other with such honesty and authenticity that their performances are nearly mesmerizing.   In addition, it possess a uniquely surprising, albeit improbable twist at the end, but it is unfortunately  lessened by a plot that tries so hard to keep its audience guessing that it borders on confusing instead of intriguing.   For a story of good versus evil and the conflict between destiny and free will with an attempt at an Austin and Dickens' like exploration of timeless love, this cinematic journey takes a few missteps and detours, runs into some potholes, and sputters during acceleration but in the end manages to reach its fantastical destination.  2 out of 5 Kernels; a little too much told in too short of time greatly detracts from a picture filled with plot and performance potential.   

Friday, September 19, 2014

Our Playground the Church

Church has become country clubs, three-ring circuses, fight clubs, and/or Broadway spectaculars, sacrificing biblical principles to fill pews.  Ravaging smaller family sanctuaries to a point of ruin in order to meet attendance goals and finances supporting elaborate, unnecessary programs and projects so they can be boasted about to distract from disobedience.     Places where any scripture that makes us feel uncomfortable is quickly removed and replaced with seven-step programs, moronic mottos, ten piece bands, and a slew of self-indulgent musicians who believe repeating the same chorus ad nauseam somehow equates to worship.   Gone are the days of the teacher/pastor replaced with the spin doctor who pours out his endless smile and positive dribble watering down the gospel so it is never bitter or harsh.   We have abandoned Psalms and Proverbs for mimes, comedians, MMA fighters, dancers, and poets.  We replaced truth, conviction, discipleship, and submission to an Almighty God because modern culture, fad, and the pseudo-religious have dictated us to do so.  We take down the crosses in our sanctuaries to avoid offending anyone, exchanging them for unique, cutesy names designed to hide our true identities.  We so quickly judge others all the while ignoring the daily secret sins we commit with little or no hesitation.   We bow when we should stand, talk when we should listen, complain when we should fall on our knees and thank God for every single breath we take.    We call ourselves persecuted when inconvenienced all the while others die without pause in places where their beliefs are deemed criminal.  We proudly wear blinders while others are forced into slavery, tortured, maimed, imprisoned, and martyred by the thousands.  The great I am has become who we are, at the moment we are in, trading service for complacency, obedience for avoidance.   And who is the enemy who brought us to this ignored low?  The devil has his day of rest, because it is us, we as Christians that have collectively turned our backs and become domesticated by our desire and selfishness.    Serving only if seen and published, praying only when all else has failed, worshiping only if the formula for it is provided.   The evil one needs not lift a finger as we continue to exert all of our effort to dismantle what greater men and women who have come before, achieved.  We don't need revival; we need only to open our eyes, face our shame, and rise with the strength that never left us.  Return home on a path that was always there before us.  Open the book that has the answers for those brave enough to ask the questions.  But alas, that would mean doing God's work, with His reward, one that includes trial, tribulation, and refining.  Things that would thrust us suddenly from our comfort zones, holding a mirror up the hypocrisy we would have no choice to face,   Can we move past convenience or we will face God with empty hands and broken crowns?   Will we learn that all that we thought we did for the Lord proved only to be vanity and superficiality, something we knew, deep within our souls, all the time.  Please Lord Jesus forgive us all, for taking your church and making it our playground.  

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Vampire's Ball: Act 3

The Vampire's Ball:
Act 3
Nicoli Eripmav came to this small town a quarter of a century ago. He appeared suddenly and mysteriously one misty and brisk autumn night. It was not long after his arrival that he came to occupy the Brandywine Manner, the plantation home of wealthy widower Thomas Weane. Weane sold his family home late that month for reasons unknown, but most of the populace was well aware of his affection for gambling. He was especially fond of card and parlor games. Some say he owed more than his soul was worth, others whispered about an affair with a lonely spinster who died under mysterious circumstances, a case that remains unsolved to this day.
Nicoli was rich beyond comprehension. He refurbished the mansion, making it the most majestic and architecturally ornate in the entire city. He was the most generous man as well, donating millions over his time as a citizen of the community, building the town its square, a new jailhouse, and school. He gave liberally to local law enforcement as the depressed economy of the last decade spawned a surge of petty crimes to dangerous theft. A new steeple for the church, cemetery, and meeting place were just his last few acts of charity. The simple townsfolk adored him and deeply respected his words and wisdom. They were so intoxicated by his open coffers that upon noticing his repeated absences during most daytime happenings, the council, with unanimous support from its votes, moved all of its parades and celebrations to the evenings to facilitate his nocturnal schedule. Or maybe it was the mere fact that void of his apparently limitless bankroll none of these said events would even have occurred.
Nicoli had no wife, or children, he was alone, living in the Manor with an exuberant amount of empty, expensively decorated rooms. Those who had the privilege of visiting this magnificent estate often wondered why? Why a man who seemed to have everything was so very isolated, surrounded only by the cold company of soulless possessions. Many suitors called on him, but none accomplished more than a pleasant evening that included a grand tour of the vast estate, English tea, and veiled conversation. It seemed the polite but secretive gentleman had little or need for romance.
But recently, the usually calm and reserved lord was enthralled in a war of words and actions with the owner of the dilapidated, unsanitary, unwanted local orphanage. Despite his best efforts to pour needed money and assistance into the facility, the cold and callous Vladimir refused his generosity at every offering. Even when Nicoli brought wanting parents into the establishment in the hopes of adopting some of the unfortunate offspring, Vladimir made it as tedious and uncomfortable as possible for both the adoptees and their potential parents. Many simply walked away, while few battled until they were able to wear the old curmudgeon down and finally rescue their choices from the sorrowful habitat.
But with the sheer numbers of poor and lost children every victory seemed eclipsed by the weight and volume of the continuous sadness hiding in every corner, with its tears staining every floor and wall board saturating the air with desperation. Nicoli swore he would find a way to take possession of the orphanage and would do so at any cost. It was the first and only time the stale souled Vladimir feared anyone or anything.
Then two young girls became the newest inhabitants of this earthly purgatory. Just a couple of small, insignificant scurrying rats cloaking themselves in the darkness of night to rummage through the dankest of corners for the tiniest scraps to fill their empty aching bellies. Their loneliness and hopelessness haunting the dusk as it whispered through the cold, damp wind. He felt them immediately, their quiet but constant agony and futility of their existence. It tormented him in the silence, filling his mind and heart with a heavy, piercing pain. He knew they were destined to become part of his family, to take their rightful position as his only daughters. He knew it more than he knew himself.
The years, decades of empty wandering through the hollow halls of time would finally end. The isolation and meaningless of his never-ending agelessness would be now be occupied by the warmth and light of fellowship and compassion. It has been an eternity of quiet desolation now suddenly interrupted by the sweet song of companionship. They needed his support and mentoring as much as he needed their mere presence. The vibrancy of their life would illuminate the tomb of his, resurrecting a soul long abandoned and forgotten.
After he had brought them home, freed from their bonds and torment, not one single soul complained despite their outrageous disdain for the two annoying urchins. No one would dare chance offending or angering this powerful and benevolent spirit. For if they did, if he left, this town would indeed die a swift and merciless death.
It took weeks for him to nurse them back to health, the toll of their torture and shame taking great pleasure in ravaging them down until only the faintest of heartbeats remained. Each morning his team of attentive nursemaids brought them their meals, each with a crystal chalice of the sweetest nectar either had ever enjoyed. It was as if composed of every flavor existing all at once in a beautiful menagerie of color, texture, and taste. With each sip, they found renewed strength of body and mind. Their physical wounds healed quickly, but their spirit took longer to mend, nearly broken under the oppression of the hate and callousness of the town’s people.
No one was innocent; they were all guilty of the scars of scorn now etched deeply into their bruised hearts. But as each season passed, thanks to the compassion and salvation of their new benefactor, they found something they thought would elude them the rest of their days. They found the one thing that meant more than warmth, breath, time, or treasure. He gave them a gift that no one else ever thought of offering.
Little did they realize, how much more he had imparted to them? How life would never be the same, even by its own definition.

Monday, September 15, 2014

One Minute Movie Review: The Book Thief

Very rarely does a film adaption of any award winning novel do justice to its literary grandeur and depth.  Masterfully crafted, beautifully told, deeply moving, with performances so genuine and passionate that you quickly transcend from audience member to fellowship with old friends.  Director Brian Percival creates an intensely earnest and utterly engaging silver screen incarnation of the international best seller painstakingly penned by Markus Zusak.   Filled to overflowing with intense and honest moment after moment, affecting every sense and emotion, from rage, to compassion, hope, tragedy, and triumph.   Young lead Sophie Nelisse delivers an Oscar-worthy performance supported by an inspired cast that includes such extraordinary talents as Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson.   The history and authenticity of every stitch, backdrop, and frame are undeniable reminding us of how a relentless evil stole the innocence and integrity of a people leaving an inexplicable and irreversible horrific crimson stained scar on its history perpetuating an unforgivable atrocity that still haunts humanity's legacy.   No matter how many times the story, the history has been told, this feature reignites all the rage and disdain for the tyrannical empire forged in the darkest and vilest pits of hell.   It also demonstrates the unbelievable levels of sacrifice, courage, heroism, and even martyrdom of those who chose to resist the oppression, violence, and misery of the Third Reich and stand firm in their beliefs and compassion.   Among all of the blockbuster flops and over hyped disasters this is a shining star piercing through the deepest theatrical thunder clouds.  A must see if only to remind us of the importance of never forgetting the darkest parts of our history so they will never be repeated again.  5 out of 5 Kernels;  one of the best films of 2014 that you probably didn't know existed.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Never Forget

Those who forget the mistakes and horrors of the past are destined to repeat them.

Never forget the fallen and those who sacrificed everything to rush into the heart of darkness, towards the roar of chaos.

Never forget who the real enemy is, ignore fools who tread boldly into confusion, ignoring the terrain they travel and the trappings of nonsense below their feet.

Never forget the cost of freedom and that its defense knows no rest.

Never forget that those who would kill the innocent do not possess a heart to win over, or a soul that wishes for salvation.

Never forget, we choose the fate of our nation with every single vote cast or ignored.  That the lesser of two evils should never be a choice.  That there was a time when we were governed by statesmen and not politicians and that we alone are accountability for that transformation.

Never forget that death is a silent hunter who disobeys the graces of time.  So love for today, pray for tomorrow and never allow the shadow of regret to occupy any inch of your soul.

God bless the families of those who lost loved one on that horrific day.  God bless the men and women who turned fear into hope, chaos into compassion, and weakness into unbridled strength and courage.  God bless those who face their mortality on a daily basis in the name of liberty for total strangers.   God bless this country, for it truly is the land of the free and home of the brave.  And no force great or small, foreign or domestic shall take that birthright away.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Vampire's Ball: Act 2

One night, the sisters found an open window at the local bakery. Their mouths watered as they shimmied through the narrow window frame eagerly imagining the days, maybe weeks of bread, cakes, and cookies they would store and then feast upon. Hands trembling, they scurry from the back kitchen to the storefront, snatching a couple of large and worn burlap bags lying on the floor. Their hunger nearly overcoming them, anxiously hoping to break the forced fast of the last few days as even the smallest scrap of refuse was hard to come by. The townsfolk were now concealing their trash, securing windows and doors, sitting on watch to prevent these new pests from entering their domiciles and stores. They would tolerate their antics no more, and if that meant starving them, even from their carelessly cast aside leftovers and garbage, so be it.

As they creep deeper into the bakery, eyes widened, as case after case filled with delicious treats comes into view. Pausing only for a moment to mentally digest the delicious panorama, they sprint, splitting up to mercilessly pillage each case of any and all contents that will fit in their sacks. Like vaporous blurs they move from area to area, grabbing all they can. Once their bags are filled to near overflowing, they begin to stuff whatever else they can snatch into their mouths, barely chewing each bite. Each taste is indescribable, a symphony of flavors orchestrating complete satisfaction. They want to eat more, but quickly find themselves full, nearly ill from the rapid fire buffet. Physically satiated, but psychologically famished, they hoist their goodie bags over their shoulders and make way to their escape, unsure of how they are going to exit with their newfound delectable treasures.

In the backroom, they cautiously place their plunder down to devise a plan of exodus. Suddenly Katalina interrupts their strategy session, “Felicity,” she screams, “The window!” Felicity looks up to see their point of entry now tightly boarded up from the outside. “Oh God,” she gasps, “They know we are here, it’s another trap!” “What do we do now,” Katalina cries? “We have no choice, we have to run to and through the front door,” she commands with the determination of a seasoned captain. She sharply grabs her sister's arm, leaving their prized cornucopia behind, “Run and don’t stop,” she demands. They spring from the back into the arms of a mob of angry awaiting arms.

Before they can react, they are bound and beaten by the furious posse. Dragged from the store they are brought to the town’s square and furiously locked into the stocks for all to view and mock. The relentless throng of the irrational horde endlessly pelts them with rotten fruit and wet and putrid trash. Soaked with the vulgar smells and textures of excrement and refuse the two weep, their tears burn like acid as they mix with the atrocious concoction now covering them like a slimy, stench ridden second skin. Felicity looks up from her hunched posture and glares through the fiery assault bombarding her tired eyes. She strains to see her attackers, her ears slowly filling with their taunts and profanity. The vile mixture drips into the crevices of her lips as her tongue retreats to avoid the hellish taste of her shame.

“I curse you all,” she struggles to scream as more of the repulsive residue oozes into her mouth slinking down her throat. “I will have my revenge,” she growls but is quickly muted by the heavy hand of the constable who incarcerated them. He strikes her two more times for good measure, “You will have nothing,” he scolds, “because you are nothing!” Blood streams down her forehead, embracing and dancing with the rest of the fluids she is engulfed in. Katalina cries out to her, but her sister has surrendered to the exhaustion, disgust, and pain. Katalina weeps as the constable provides her with his demented form of discipline as well.

In time the scowling and violent crowd subsides leaving the two battered and bruised siblings to suffer alone in the courtyard, chilled to the bone by the crisp night air. “We are in hell,” Felicity barely whispers, “it is certain now.” Katalina has neither the strength nor desire to respond. Hopelessness has taken hold, crushing their bodies and spirits with the weight of regret and solitude. “We are truly lost and alone,” she weakly continues, “there is no one to save us now.” Katalina groans as the heaving of her sorrow is painful as her body stands contorted and twisted by her shackles and wooden constraints. “We are utterly alone,” Felicity mumbles as she drifts out of consciousness again.

The air is still but brisk as the moon rises illuminating the scene in its eerie glow. All is quiet but the sounds of approaching footsteps, confident and determined. A shadow falls over their limp and fragile frames. A tall and slender figure looms over them, shaking his head, “Tsk, Tsk. Tsk,” he sighs, “what have these backwards fools done now to condemn their souls?” His large top hat nearly eclipses the moon as he drapes his silver handled snake's head cane over his arm near the elbow. He is wearing a black wool overcoat that covers his entire body, with only his black, leather, silver-tipped boots are visible. Pale skin, far whiter than even the moon’s silent luminance, glistens in the night's hue. He removes his grey glove and gently touches Felicity's bruised face, brushing away her matted hair, stripping away the dried and dismal coating with his fingers. Felicity does not respond she has nothing left to give; it is as if she is awaiting the sweet release of death’s cold hand.

His dark and empty eyes soften “No, my child, your story is not over,” he whispers as he bends down to her ear, “it has only just begun.” He rises and stares up at the grand ball of white fire smoldering among the shimmering stars. “It has only just begun.”

One Minute Movie Review: Sabotage

This is put simply, just an excuse to fill nearly two hours with excessive amounts profanity, violence and CGI gore.  With a fragmented, at best, script held together with obscenely vulgar sexual references, F-bombs galore, and an abundance of sexists and masochistic dialogue, it appears to be written by a prepubescent fourteen-year-old online gamer toke’d up on Red Bull and Swizzle Sticks.   Schwarzenegger really needs to rethink his career, as a dramatic actor, try not to laugh after reading that, he fails epically and, as an action star, despite his great shape, now possess all the agility of rigor mortis.   Add in the unremarkable, barely lucid remaining, kinda of A-list but mostly B-List cast and you have one steaming cinematic stool sample.  I bet Worthington misses working with just the computer generated version of Arnold; at least that version could act.  Then again, the only version of Sam that seemed to possess any ability was computer animated as well.  And Howard, who seems to be in a casting chaos, has to be kicking himself for abandoning his Rhodey role thanks to his superhero sized ego.  Despite the deliberate attempt of realistic urban combat tactics, this film has all the authenticity of a spray tan liberally applied to an incoherent, nonsensical plot.   Director David Ayer is apparently trying to portray himself as some big screen, hardcore, extreme version of Dick Wolf but lacks the vision, talent, or maturity to do so and the majority, if not all, of his incarnations, are box office Kryptonite.    0 out of 5 Kernels: that's 1 hour 50 minutes I'll never get back, to bad nobody sabotaged my Blu-ray player before I decided to watch this atrocity.  

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

One Minute Movie Review: Transcendence

This is an excellent example of the importance of why many Sci-Fi films fail time and time again.   As an Uber Fan Boy of this genre for over 33 years, especially the more cerebral fare, when telling such imaginatively strange stories they must be, even in the most minor way, believable to the mainstream avoiding the trappings of becoming encumbered in either the director or writer's message, tech, perspective, or ideology.    Whether driven by a conceptual prophecy, political dissent, morality play or futuristic warning, if the propaganda eclipses the storytelling, depth or authenticity of the characters, and/or relate-ability of the plot itself it will fail.  If the scientific exploration, spiritual, psychological and/or philosophical expression, Avant-garde presentation, or explanation of  the technology introduced or examined moves from intriguing and engaging to overbearing sermon, self-indulgent art-show,  and/or outright lecture, no matter how talented the actors are or how well the script is written and performed, a possible extraordinary cinematic journey becomes a tedious, burdensome dead end with all of the time spent communicating the production's purpose simply lost in translation.    And, unfortunately, despite possessing two of my favorite thespians, top notch character players; this feature is immediately crippled thanks to the aforementioned Achilles’ heel.   It starts strong, a bit of a logical stretch, but I was willing to work with it.  By mid-section, the intellectual fabric of the story, so carefully woven in the beginning, begins to fully unravel, trying too much to be an abstract metaphor about dissecting religion, justifying terrorism, government corruption, and the dangers of technological dependence.  None of which stick because the recipe never cohesively evolves thanks to an over indulgence of disconnected ingredients.   They just spread the concepts so far they become transparently thin.  This is director Wally Pfister's first outing, and with the disastrous box office returns, it may be his last.  0 out of 5 Kernels;  in this, as in many other cases of Hollywood of late, proves that high priced star power is never a solution to save a poor production, sometimes studios need to pull the proverbial plug and transcend to another more potentially successful project.  But do the Tinsel Town elite even know what that looks like anymore?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Vampire's Ball Act 1: The Tragic Tale of the Eternal Sisters Felicity and Katalina

The Vampire's Ball:
Act 1

Have you ever heard of the tragic tale of the eternal sisters, Felicity and Katalina? It all began on a crisp autumn night in September of 1790 at the Vladimir Orphanage in the alleys of southern New Orleans. The old and rotting institution housed over fifty orphans ranging from infants to teenagers just about to partake in adulthood. 

Over the years, the former dilapidated plantation turned wretched half way house saw its share of disease, death, poverty and hunger, duly earning the nickname, Death’s Nursery. It had haunted the streets of the city for over ten years and in that time; it bore over seventy graves of the children who simply wasted away under the weight and heartache of starvation and daily filth. So much so the city forced the owners to utilize one of their many acres behind the property to create a makeshift cemetery.

With poorly dug and maintained graves and decaying wood crosses in lieu of headstones, it was a place of deep sorrow and hopelessness. Dark, dank, and with every fog that rolled in during the misty morn, the stench of mold, mildew, and the recently deceased gleefully floated into town, invading every home and nostril. A despised place, ignored by the denizen of the districts. The children imprisoned there an inconvenience to them, no longer flesh and blood, spirit and soul, but refuse staining their lives and homes with the filth of their existence. It was most certainly a place death would be proud to call his home.

Mr. Vladimir, the founder of this architectural atrocity, never cared for children and only opened the facility to appease his young wife whose barren womb plagued her with shame and regret. The only way she could subdue the aching guilt of her condition was charity, as selfish and unwanted as it was among this stoic community. As an anniversary gift, he gave her the plantation, and she decided to use it to save the lost and homeless children of New Orleans. She was going to save them all, be a mother to the suffering and abandoned, find families to love them as she would have. It was a glorious and vain ambition, but midway through the reconstruction, she contracted Scarlet Fever and died soon after. By then, the incomplete habitat housed over one hundred souls and Vladimir had no intention or concern to maintain the burden. But the city fathers gave him no choice, so he operated it with the lowest of priority and compassion, employing the most coldhearted and hateful of staff.

It was in the summer of 1790 that two young sisters, Felicity and Katalina, came to the orphanage from Mississippi. Their parent’s dead of influenza, and grandparents unwilling to take them in, they were sent, by stage, to this purgatory on earth. Stubborn and rebellious, Felicity, the eldest, soon found herself at the receiving end of many beatings and inhuman punishments. Whether locked in an empty room for days with no food, water or human contact or made to stand on a stool with her arms raised, stacked books in each hand, for hours as her tears and screams of agony were either ignored or mocked.

Katalina, the younger, naive, pure, and honest found herself continually bullied by the stronger children, left out of every game, forced to forage for the scraps of food left after everyone else had eaten. She was weak and pale, but her spirit remained high despite every reason for it to fail.

It was soon after their arrival that the two decided to sneak out at night and haunt the streets concealed in the darkness seeking adventure and something to fill their empty, cramping bellies. With so many children to keep track of and so little compassion to go around, they were barely, if ever missed.

They would scavenge garbage cans desperately seeking the smallest morsel to eagerly devour. Each night they found open windows and shabbily locked doors, which became gateways of escape from their relentless misery.

If they found something inside it instantly became theirs. Theft became their only glimpse of control. They would steal and then horde their stash in an old shed behind the orphanage. They stole everything from trash to tattered and ragged garments, broken furniture, to photos carelessly cast away by thoughtless, unsentimental hosts. It was their treasure, their only joy in this curse called life.

But it took very little time for the townsfolk to realize who had been invading their shops and homes. To them they were as obscene as the rats that scurried across the streets at midnight leaving their droppings and mites to pester the citizens of the small settlement. And like rodents, they had to be trapped and exterminated. However, the sisters were far cleverer than their hunters and for the longest time avoided every snare and pitfall with ease. They were shadows just before the dawn, too quick and elusive for the curmudgeons to capture. But like all things that fate has a hand in, it all was surely about to change.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

One Minute Movie Review: The Expendables 3

Undoubtedly simplistic, entirely predictable, & teetering on the edge of absolute ridiculousness, this third installment of the franchise, directed by the somewhat unknown Patrick Hughes, brings the series full circle.  Yes, it is low on plot & acting but it sets new heights on testosterone fueled 80's action mixed in with an overdose of effects & explosions that would certainly make Michael Bay orgasm.   This film performs exactly how it was designed, as a high energy, non-stop, one-liner laden, violence galore, Bro-Block-buster that packs more punches than Jay Z's sister in law in an elevator.   Forget about the fact that most of those one liners are grunted, mumbled, & drooled through by the collective oratory skills of Stallone, Statham, & Lungren, so much so that not even a quantum computer version of Google Translate could provide any assistance.   Or that the good guys can't miss at any distance, from any vantage point, with any weapon, & at the same time no matter how much ammo their enemies expend they are unable to hit the proverbial & literal broad side of a barn.    Or that if most of the cast was to consider even making a 4th installment they would require armor plated rascals & adamantium walkers.   Or that this script could have been written in crayon by sugar addled toddler.  If you are a man of any age, none of that matters, as long as we can watch Crews mercilessly empty a mini-gun into a thousand or more baddies, Snipes ram a train into a gulag creating a brilliant eruption of flame & chaos for no good reason, or Rousey wipe out an entire platoon with her bare hands.  For us, this is what cinema was born to do, to erupt onto the silver screen like Vesuvius spraying bullets, body parts, & corny signature retro quips into the gleefully awaiting audience.   Stallone is the da Vinci of brainless, brawn driven, spectacle & we are humbled by his blatant disregard for story, substance, & character development.  That is as long as dirt-bikes are allowed to jump seven stories into a vacant building while its occupant riddles his attackers with shrapnel without regard for physics or, even gravity.   This is a celebration of male gravitas in its most exquisite form, &, Sly, we thank you.  Super excited to see Snipes return in all of his Kung Fu, heavily ripped, snappy comeback magnificence which begs for a serious BBB (Bring Back Blade)! 3 out of 5 Kernels; the sequel was the best, but this is a well-expressed exclamation point to end the trilogy.