Sports Fans Please Donate

Any sports fans who are not feeling as sporty as usual, I have an alternative.
Donate your tickets to https://www.vettix.org/.
This is where you can put a smile on lots of faces. Veterans and their families can put those tickets to good use.
Please don’t burn, tear or otherwise destroy the tickets you do not want. Instead donate and let a veteran and her/his family’ enjoy a nice diversion for a few hours.
Doesn’t have to be just sports either. They take concerts and other tickets too. Halloween related events are popular right now https://www.vettix.org/feedback.php.
This is a way to give something to those who support and defend the Constitution. Possibly give you a sense of accomplishment.

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ShoutDown Review of American Assassin

This the ShoutDown Review of the movie American Assassin. This is a good action movie. I am glad that Alamo Drafthouse picked it for the distinction of a special screening including a Question and Answer (Q&A) session after the credits. Credit goes to the producers and distributors getting this film out there this summer.

I saw this film as part of a Victory member screening on 9 August 2017. I went to Mainstreet Theater in Kansas City, MO to view the film. This is more of a preview since the film does not wide release until 15 September 2017.

This is an operative’s story. This story replaces the shine and polish with grit and wit. This story talks about how you train like an operative. This story shows how you get to be an expert with combatives, weapons and knowledge. These are all things that James Bond would have done in mostly while in the Naval Reserves. We get to see how Mitch Rapp becomes a bad-ass. It is worth the time to show how the character becomes his true self.

This is not a spy story. While Mitch Rapp does use some subterfuge, one weapon from the spy arsenal. However he does not seem to care who sees what he is doing. He is not using any espionage or covert action that are a spy’s true tradecraft. He has his agenda and he sets sole purpose to completing his mission. It is nice to see straightforward storytelling that is also full of action.

This is an obvious attempt to create a movie series. Mitch Rapp is an interesting action character that operates within the realm of reality. It serves as a good start to a series. Moreover this is an adaptation of Vince Flynn’s origin story not his first Mitch Rapp book. I think that is a good strategy. As long as they stay grounded in reality with a tinge of current events; this could be a profitable series indeed. Sanaa Lathan, Shiva Negar and Michael Keaton all are awesome in supporting roles. As long as they keep the story and support fresh; this could be an entertaining series of movies indeed. Shall see.

The Q&A after was lively. One anecdote that was funny was about the extras. Two of the movie’s stars [Dylan O’Brien and Taylor Kitsch] talked about how the extras tried to get more screen time much to everyone else’s chagrin. By everyone I mean the rest of the cast and crew of the movie. Also both stars had a beer both before and after the film which seemed to lubricate their jaws to give honest answers. Creating a fun session that added well to an enjoyable movie.

In my opinion, this film is worth the time and money to view.

Rating 3 out of 5.

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Game of Thrones Leaks [My Take]

Just because it is written does not mean it is filmed.

Just because it is filmed does not mean it is in the show.

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The ShoutDown Review of Good Time : Too Much Team Edward

This the ShoutDown Review of the movie Good Time. I did not like this movie. I was disappointed that Alamo Drafthouse picked it for the distinction of a special screening including a Question and Answer (Q&A) session after the credits.

I saw this film as part of a Victory member screening on 9 August 2017. I went to Mainstreet Theater in Kansas City, MO to view the film. The previous Victory screenings I have been to have been good experiences. Previous films I got to experience both early and for free include Nerve last year and Get Out which I reviewed earlier this year. This particular movie did not live up to that standard.

I am going to try and scribble this review without spoilers. But without mentioning specific plot points; I will elude some things that happen but I will try and keep it general. My intent is not to give anything away. Just giving some hints about the story and what happens. Most of which you can get from the frenetic trailer.

This movie follows Robert Pattinson’s Connie Nikas over the course of an about 36 to 48 hours. Connie navigates New York City in this story which seems like a character itself. Generally everyone else is just there to further Connie’s story. There is just one problem; the story does not progress in that time. Also it not very interesting a tale either. In the end; all the characters are basically in the same position or the natural progression of where they belong.

Connie uses everyone. It is masked as trying to help his brother Nick played by Ben Safdie. That’s right, Nick Nikas very original name right? I guess he is a Marvel character too? Anyway; Connie’s actions are just as self serving as they are to help Nick get out of trouble.

As a quick note; the movie actually opens and closes with Nick. Strange since the story is really about Connie. I think it is enlightening to the style of storytelling in this film. Why is a supporting character the opener and closer.

Plus, Nick is only in trouble because of Connie! Connie did not need Nick when they got in trouble. Still Connie used him anyway. I still can not figure out why. Nick is not a good accomplice. And surprise Nick gets in trouble. Almost like Connie meant for it to happen. However that is betrayed by the rest of the film as Connie tries to “help” for Nick.

Connie is not smart. He is lazy otherwise he would have a job instead of getting in trouble. Nick is less smart. Why make this pair the focus of a film?

Connie treats every person he encounters with no respect at all. Of note are three characters in this film. His supposed girlfriend Jennifer Jason Leigh who plays Corey. By the way Ms. Leigh is underused and woefully miscast. Connie is sweet to her when he needs something. And mean to her the rest of the time. A woman her encounters along the way Gladys Mathon’s Annie. Connie takes and takes from Annie. She is not very bright so it makes it easier for Connie to use her.

The character who gets screwed over the most is Annie’s granddaughter. Taliah Webster’s Crystal gets screwed the worse. In fact; she almost gets more than metaphorically screwed despite the fact her character is 16. Connie almost does it just to save himself from her knowing he is a bad guy. Doesn’t even seem like Crystal would even care. But she ends up in a bad position by the end of the movie. She is probably the only redeeming character that gets significant screen time. But ends up much worse off having ever met Connie. Almost like an allegory for the viewer.

The other characters are of no use. Connie even calls out one of the characters as useless to society, another allegory. The others are not worth mentioning. The plot of this film is to simply follow Connie on his adventure. One that does not go anywhere. Making me question why we all went on this journey at all?

Connie’s demeanor and style of interaction results in the main flaw of the movie; I did not care about him. Since he dominates the screen time; it is important to care about the main character. It is hard to care for anyone in the movie except to pity Crystal.

I was, however, on the edge of my seat throughout. Lots of stuff happens. The pace is difficult to keep up with for most of the film. Partly because of a lack of true storytelling that is sacrificed for that pace and shaky camera style. Does that make it a good film though?

The film does keep you wondering what will happen next. But during the Q&A after the film, one of the producers mentioned that they wanted to make a real thriller movie. But wondering about the character is not really all that thrilling. It is just a series of actions. Happening to someone who is completely unlikeable.

Also during the Q&A the writers mentioned that Robert Pattinson asked a lot of questions about Connie’s backstory. I did not see that detail in the film. All I saw was a lazy douche-bag. How many questions could there be about that?

The film opened on 11 August 2017. It was screened during Cannes Film Festival which is supposed to be the top film festival or at least one of them. It did not win Palme d’Or however I am not sure why it was even in the running. It did win a soundtrack award so maybe that is why it was screened.

Cannes screening might have been the impetus for Alamo’s screening. Or maybe someone who works for Alamo is way too much on Team Edward. Either way; Good Time is a misnomer as a title. This film misses the mark. The main character is completely selfish in a story that is without progression giving the audience nothing to care about.

I suggest you skip this one. Even though I got to see it for free. I should have skipped it. Then I would have missed all the Bruno Mars traffic that was headed to Sprint Center. I think I would have enjoyed the concert a lot more.

Rating 1 out of 5.

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The Mighty have fallen

Usain Bolt does not even finish his last race as the anchor leg of Jamaica’s 4X100 relay team. He could see that both the US and UK were in front of him. Did he pull up lame? Or did he just give up? He has been less than stellar in his races this year. It is just time for him to fade away. He still have the world record. And a ton of gold. He will always be a great champion of the track.

The bigger surprise to me, the United States beat Jamaica but still does not win. Great Britain & Northern Ireland team was super fast. They had four solid legs. Culminating in a Gold medal. They ran a very strong race and little surprise they captured the Gold.

The Jamaican women also failed to get gold for the first time since 2011. They were without their best athlete Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce. The Jamaicans still got a bronze for their effort. Was not enough to beat the Americans.

Big congratulations to the Women’s Team that was able to beat the host nation. The US sprinters have been tough and near the top. The success at the last few Olympics has not translated in the same success at Worlds. This year; the women showed up and won it. It will be nice to see the Women on top of the podium where they belong!

Good luck to the athletes in the remaining events at tomorrow’s final day.

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When is it going to happen?

When is a certain former insider going to be hired to ask questions at the press briefings at the White House?

Which network is going to do it?

There is no use in some false sense of loyalty. This person is in that position because of a lack of loyalty.

Moreover; one lucky news agency or network can make a great decision.

One lucky former insider can make a pay-day.

Sounds like the best for everyone.

When is it going to happen?

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The ShoutDown : We know the origin already

[Spoilers for Spider man : Homecoming but nothing too major]
Comic book movies are littering the movie theaters all year. Warner Brothers with DC Comic stories and Sony, Fox and Marvel with Marvel Comic stories. There is no formula for success though. Only thing that bothers me worse than a boring and bad story is seeing the same stories over again. Weird that one comic executive is advocating just that.

There are comments from Nick Lowe in an article that can be found here : https://www.fatherly.com/play/spider-man-homecoming-uncle-ben-problem/?utm_source=postup&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=377. Nick argues that we need Uncle Ben in the new film Spider man : Homecoming. Maybe Nick means Uncle Ben’s sage advice and strong moral character he instilled in Tom Holland’s Peter Parker. But something tells me Nick thinks we need to see Uncle Ben die. Again. And I am wondering, why?

I think Uncle Ben Parker’s death had a big effect on Tobey Maguire’s Peter in his trilogy. It is a real turning point in the movie and for Peter when Cliff Robertson gets killed. The first two movies were solid and moving in the right direction. But the real problem with that version and its sequels are, Tobey was age 27 when he made the first film. And his character didn’t age well primarily because the stories were not interesting. No true intrigue to keep the viewing public interested in the character just bad stuff happening. Reference this ill-advised scene that is not up to Superhero dance sequence standards https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zu2IlAKu4po [I will mention the gold standard later].

Andrew Garfield was equally unconvincing as a teenager. He was of course even older at age 29 when he started his shortened tenure with the webslinger. The real problem with Garfield’s Peter is he is mean. I reference this clip and the proof comes at about 6:20 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETMvpdfS1rU it shows what I mean. The story at least did not start with Green Goblin who is overused. Martin Sheen bite the dust in this series but not sure if he taught this Peter well enough so I question Ben’s inclusion. Worse still they botched trying to introduce Mary Jane, who is kind of an important character for the franchise, so much they did not even include the scene though I am told they are in the DVD additional scenes category. Shailene Woodley took the blame for her perfomance here : http://www.tvguide.com/news/shailene-woodley-amazing-spider-man-2-1082883/ . But this two film “franchise” was botched from the beginning. At least we got Branzino.

So why exactly does Homecoming need Uncle Ben? Tom Holland’s Peter seems to be a responsible kid. The choice he makes at Homecoming is the responsible one. In fact; he seems to crave more direction from a certain Avenger which substitutes for the lack of Uncle Ben in a way that is much more enjoyable. Tom Holland’s Peter is able to find things that demonstrate he is a responsible person even if he needs more maturity. Which he should since he is a teenager.

If someone is missing it is J. Jonah Jameson. It would have been interesting to see how teen Peter took Jameson’s form of criticism. Especially from someone who later becomes his boss. Assuming Sony goes that route which they didn’t for the “Amazing franchise”.

Speaking as someone in the viewing public; I am weary from origin stories that have been told multiple times over the last 3 decades on screen. Particularly Batman’s and Superman’s respective origins which are so well known. Weird thing is during my first decade of Superhero exposure; I am not even sure if some of my first superheroes depictions had origin story episodes.

My first Superhero was Batman ‘66. Adam West in his Blue and Gray “The Bright Knight” suit. I can’t remember them covering the deaths of Thomas and Martha Wayne. I do remember that I knew Batman was a good guy doing good things. Not because his “Batusi” was so groovy [even though it is the gold standard of superhero dance sequences I mentioned]. And not because of the capes, of which Spidey does not have conveniently. It was because he was doing good to the bad people. Fairly easy premise to understand. Even for a kid watching old syndication during the afternoon.

My second Superhero exposure was Wonder Woman series from the 70s. I think the origin was mentioned that she was from Paradise Island. But there is little mention why she is so righteous from her upbringing as a demigod. To the contrary; in the show her primary motivation is her attraction to Steve Trevor. Not that heroic a narrative to have. But she did what a superhero should. She did good and beat the bad people.

My last real basic exposure to Superheroes was the Superfriends cartoons. And while I still don’t know what Wendy and Marvin were doing in the Hall of Justice; this group of Heroes did good. I don’t remember if origin stories were mentioned. The action crowded out the origin if it ever was mentioned. The stories were compelling and looked cool, that is why I watched. Not because any of the Superheroes lost someone.

Plus these days; we don’t have to rely on just comics for an origin. Most major characters have had their stories told on TV or movie screens multiple times. Superhero origins are well documented on not only Wikipedia and even on comic and character specific wikis. So why does every reboot need to redo said origins? Why is that appealing? Particularly when most of the origins are about death. The stories no matter the medium don’t keep characters dead forever.

When Henry Cavill is replaced [because he will be at some point, just like Brandon Routh and Tom Welling and Dean Cain to name a few] why do I need to see Krypton’s destruction? Again! To get to that destruction, we have lost some great actors. We have seen Marlon Brando die (2 Oscars experience lost). Also seen Russell Crowe died (1 Oscar still a great loss). Even Kara Zor-El’s parents died on the TV version of SuperGirl. What did this do to the narrative? Very little at this point. There are 75 years worth of stories to draw from. Producers should feel free to diversify from Krypton’s destruction and Zod; two things that come up in most Superman franchise products.

Same with Ben Affleck when he is replaced [seriously Warner Brothers had 4 animated films in 2016 with Adam West (Return of the Caped Crusader), Jason O’Mara (Justice League vs. Teen Titans & Bad Blood), Kevin Conroy (The Killing Joke) alongside Bat-Fleck in BvS: Dawn of Justice. That is 4 actors playing the same character at one time so his replacement is inevitable] . Michael Keaton saw his parents die. Christian Bale made it international. Ben Affleck too had to relive that. Even young David Mazouz has gone through this trauma on the Gotham TV series. Why?

We have the internet now. We get it. Joe Chill or Jack Napier killed The Waynes. Beyond the morbid motivation it provides; that scene had about a ⅓ of the influence someone like Alfred Pennyworth (Bruce Wayne’s butler and Batman’s assissant?) has. Who should have had more of an impact? A live Alfred or two people who died when Bruce was 10? Why hasn’t anyone tackled Alfred’s backstory/ origin in earnest. It is being addressed on the Gotham TV series. Still that seems like a movie Warner Brothers could make and it might even be something that is not all that expensive.

This could even be a series with the right writers. Show him as a young man. There are a few stories including on Gotham of Alfred being in the Army and moreover the Special Forces. There is a story there. Also how he learned to be a butler which probably expanded on his duties in the Forces. And last how he came to work for the Waynes. You got a trilogy about a beloved character that audiences already know and love. Wouldn’t that be better than trying to tell a story no one wants?

Of course; having a fan base does not guarantee success. The Mortal Instruments has not only its own series of main books also two other series. But the first movie was not a success. It is on TV now on the little know channel Freeform which used to ABC Family. I wouldn’t call that a huge success considering it is a popular book series. ABC Family had success with Pretty Little Liars so maybe Freeform can do it with Shadowhunters. Only time will see.

Same happened with the Divergent series. It look like they will not be making the last film Ascendant with this current cast. But Lionsgate owns the rights for now. Nothing stopping them from trying to redo it. There was some talk of Ascendant being put out on TV. Maybe it was intended as a backdoor pilot? Either way; the storytelling is what you have to take a chance on. Not simply trotting out old characters without good purpose.

All movie companies should focus on telling good stories. Telling the same story with new actors is in no way compelling or interesting. Look at Tom Cruise’s The Mummy. The lackluster reception puts Universal Studios plans for a “Dark Universe” in jeopardy. It will be interesting to see what they do with the many other properties they own like Van Helsing, Dracula, Frankenstein, Wolf Man and others available.

Maybe this will force studios to tell a truly compelling story(ies) in the future. Not just trot out a “star” in a “classic tale”. More than the same for superhero stories we have all seen too. The right story could have just about any cast / “star” in it. Which should be a refreshing revelation to movie studios trying to cut budgets at every turn.

New and compelling stories are what is going to keep the viewing public engaged. Look at the success of series on Netflix like Daredevil and Jessica Jones. I know they are building towards a franchise. But is seems like the right way by building up with good stories and then meddling those complex character.

Telling the same stories did not work for the first two Spider man franchises. I found it refreshing seeing something a little different and high school aga appropriate. Maybe now the character can grow with Tom Holland? It will be interesting to see where this franchise goes

Also I would really like to see cameos from Tobey Maguire and/or Andrew Garfield. Because I do like nostalgia when it is done correctly. Just not when it is done ad nauseum. But oddly, Tom Holland has an interesting idea for a cameo : http://www.cinemablend.com/news/1681109/tom-holland-wants-tobey-maguire-for-this-spider-man-role.

I find it funny I am more in line with Tom Holland who is half my age than Nick Lowe who is closer to my age. I am just a strange guy though. I still think it high time the industry tell good stories. Concentrate on the product. Get the perspective of the customer. Let that be the standard instead of rolling out tired stories that no longer need to be told. Let’s hear about a Peter who is in college or maybe even out of it?

Uncle Ben could be a moneymaker for Sony. Maybe his own origin could make a story the fans could sink their teeth into? A character that fans and Nick Lowe like. I mentioned Alfred Pennyworth’s origin as a compelling story. Nick Lowe might suggest Uncle Ben’s origin as compelling too. But Mark Millar’s take was not that well received in the miniseries Trouble. That might have been because the series pushed a lot of boundaries and changed some vital canon. Still young adult Ben Parker making a hard life decision sounds more watchable than the upcoming Emoji Movie.

In the end, Good Luck to Sony. Look at what Marvel has done at Disney. Fox is doing some fun things with Logan and Deadpool. Sony has to look at how to leverage good stories. Capitalize on the momentum the this new Spider Man has generated. Make a ton of cash along with it.

Maybe even make people happy and have some fun too !!

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