Monday, March 26, 2012

Film Review: The Hunger Games

Living overseas for the past few years, you can miss out on a book series. If the people that you trust to tell you about good books never tell you about a book, then there is a good chance that you won’t read the book.

I had no idea what “The Hunger Games” were about until I saw a preview for the film. While I was watching the preview, I thought that it was a total rip-off of the 2000 Japanese film “Battle Royale”.

Now as a film critic, sometimes I feel the need to explain to you why or what baggage I bring to a film before I tell you about it and in this case, I thought that it would be needed.

If you a long time reader of my reviews, you will remember a few years ago when I listed my all time favorite films and in that list I included“Battle Royale". So when I stated to do research about the film “The Hunger Games” before I went to watch it I wanted to see how much of the Royale story was included in this film.

So this review is being written by a huge fan of the film “Battle Royal” and a person who has not read any of the books associated with this series.

Now I went and saw this film on a Friday afternoon and to my amazement there were about 300 people waiting in line for this film. There were a lot of kids between the age of 12-18 in line with their parents and the students were on spring break and the few that I asked had told me that they had read the book, had never heard of Battle Royale and were on spring break and that they really loved the books and wanted to see the film.

I really went into this film thinking that this is a PG-13 of “Battle Royale” aimed right at the fans of the “Twilight” series and after I saw the film, it did not thing to change my mind about my previous idea. The Author of the book, Susan Collins, claims that she had never heard of BR and that it was just a coincidence all of the similarities of her book and the BR story.

If you have seen BR and you love the film, then you should not watch this film and avoid it at all cost. If you saw BR, then you saw the killing and how brutal is was when 24 teen-agers kill each other. I kept looking at the death scenes herein this film and thinking how clean and how fake all of killing looked, and to get the PG-13 and the American Teen audience, it had to be that way.

The film takes about 1 hour to get the idea and plot set up before THG starts and when it does, the teens in my audience became quiet and really focused into the film. After the film was over, the majority of the teens that I talked to wanted part 2 and 3 of this series to be in the theaters ASAP. They loved the movie and I hated it.

Now readers the next part is up to you, do you see THG when it opens in Korea in 04/12 or do you give it a pass? My recommendation is this…

If you liked the Harry Potter and Twilight Series then you should go and see this film. If you have also read the books then I feel that you should also go and see the film because I think that you’ll like it because the teens in my audience did and they left the theater wanting more. If you’re a fan of BR, then please pass on this film for the reasons that I have earlier stated in this review.

There were no extra scenes at the end of the credits and the teens that stayed for the end of the credits were disappointed by it. I really haven’t said much about what happens in the film in this review, I feel that you should watch it spoiler free and make your own call about that.

Good luck with your choice and please let me know what you think of this film.

Grade D-…Pathetic Rip-Off of Battle Royale…..

Monday, March 12, 2012

Cancer update

Well it has been a few months since I have given an update and now it is time for one.

On March 27th I will have a pet-scan to take a closer look at the cancer. With all of the cat-scans that I took in Korea, there never was a good look at the cancer. So this will be about a 1 hour scan that will be able to tell how far the cancer has advanced. When I know what is going on I will let everyone know asap.

I have found a nice little church here in Texas but I must be honest I still miss the Church in Daejeon that helped me out a lot my last few months in Korea.

I have learned that the cancer pills that I took in Korea have great results with Asian bodies but with the Western anatomy the pills just don’t seem to work. SO if anyone else in Korea has the cancer please take the chemo if you’re a westerner. IF your child is a western/Asian combination and they have cancer, there are no studies on which is the best cancer drug.

Now I am taking a drug called Xeloda, it is a chemo pill that doesn’t have the side effect that the chemo had on me at Eulji Hospital. So far I haven’t had any bad reactions to the medicine.

I was able to get me a 1994 Black El Dorado Caddy car for my drive to doctor appointments and I love the car. It is real comfortable and I was able to get a nice little HD radio for the car and to hear AM stations sound like an FM station is just weird.

I have to resubmit the disability paperwork to SSN on the 15th. The reason it was turned down the first time was that I didn’t have any income in the USA from 2005-2011. So I found out that I needed the actual Korean Income Tax paperwork and since Woosong had mine from 2006-2011, this should hopefully take care of this problem. I will keep you up with this as it progresses.

To be honest right now I am stuck, I am getting 456.00 a month for partial ssn and 104 a month in food stamps and I am on Medicare right now but if I get a job It can only be part time because if I make too much $$ then I lose it all. I really hate this cancer and the fact that right now I cannot work. I am so used to always working and now that I can’t it is kind of weird.

Now I was able to get 4 tickets to the Texas Ranger games this season and I will so miss the HANWHA baseball crew that I saw so many games with in the past. April 25th vs YANKEES (I know big surprise) MAY 26th vs Toronto (Will miss my Canadian friends so much during this game) Aug 10th vs Detroit (To see the Prince) and Sunday the 30th of September LA Angels (Playoffs maybe?)

It was weird not to be at Woosong getting ready for the Spring semester but sometimes life just throws you a curve.

I once again want to thank everyone who helped out and gave their time and talents for my goodbye party at the Yellow Taxi. Whenever I still think of that night it always brings a smile to my face.

Take care everyone and more details to follow.. Mike
Movie Review: Red River

Now I know what a lot of people are looking at this one. Why is Mike doing a film review of a movie that came out in 1948. Well the reason is something that I am noticing that might be a small trend here back in the USA and might soon come to Korea.

What happened here in my hometown of Denison Texas is that the 1 screen Rialto has reopened and is showing classic films from the past along with plays and small concerts. The day I went to the movies was the day that they were showing “Red River”

Now what is not well known outside of Denison is that this film had its world premier here in Denison back in 1948, so it was a nice little tip to the past that this film would be one of the first ones to be shown at the reopened “Rialto Theater”
I must admit that I had never seen this film on the big screen and I knew that I had to take the chance to see this film on the big screen and after it was over, I could understand why seeing John Wayne on a big screen is so much better than seeing him on a small TV Screen.

I recalled from the past when I went to the Daejeon Art Cinema and finally saw “Singing in the Rain” on the big screen. I had never understood why Fred’s dancing in the rain was revered as a classic moment on film, I finally understood it when I saw that screen on the big screen, and it just so much worked better on the movie screen than it ever did on the TV.

I have no idea if any small theater in Korea will show classic films from Korea’s past or classic films at all. Occasionally the DAC will show classic films from the past and I think that they need to be viewed on the big screen so we can see it as it was truly meant to be shown.

If you have the chance and the DAC or any cinema in the world is showing the classic films then we all should watch and remember why we liked the movies in the first place.

Grade A+
The Lorax
I went and saw this film in the 3-D format and was happy that I spent my time with this film. I really was not expecting a lot in this film but it was a nice little film that will make a few people upset with the slight anti-business vibe within this film.

The idea of this film is simple, there is a town made of plastic and no one remembers why there are no longer any more trees in their world. We are given a teen love story and we see the boy in love trying to save the day.
The film will be a great film for families and also for a one time showing but that all this film was, just a good film and not a great one. The film just fails to attempt to take the next step for it to become a classic. The film plays it safe with no real new ideals given to the audience.

You will like to see the film but I really can see any real reason for more than 1 viewing of this film.

Grade: B-

Project X

Once again we are shown a film that was supposedly based on ”Found Footage” and this time it was based on a party in California that soon becomes the party the high school and college students claim to be “Legendary”

When I read that Todd Phillips (The Hangover) was a producer of this film, I thought that this could be a teen version of “The Hangover” What we were shown were 3 teens and 1 cameraman trying to capture a teen birthday party from the simple idea to the cops and SWAT being unleashed to end this party. With all of the nudity, sex and drugs, I have no idea if this film will ever play in Korea.
The film is worth a look and with a small unknown cast they really made you think that you were actually at this party. Please see this film when you get the chance.

Grade: B

Act of Valor

Now I had no real ideal what to think about this film before going to see it. This film was made with real Navy Seals, and these could be some of the men that actually killed Osama Bin Laden. How in the heck could any former soldier dare try and insult these men? It just wouldn’t be right.

The film also stated that these stories were actually based on Seal’s past missions so this really made want to watch this film and I am glad that I did but the film is only a good film not a great one.

The film action scenes were great but every time the Seals would try to act, it just reminded me of some very bad Ed Wood films of my past and that is why the film just didn’t work for me. When you see the action shots you will believe them but every time they spoke, it felt like a bad chalk experience on a chalkboard.
The film is ok but not great and should be treated as such

Grade: C-

Safe House

Now I had no idea about this film, all I knew about it was that it was Denzel Washington once again acting like the anti-hero and with Ryan Reynolds as the young idealistic agent, this just looked good.
The film takes you on a 2 hr adventure with a few twist that left the audience not seeing that one coming and the longer the film went the more the crowd seemed to enjoy it.

The film ends with maybe a part 2 coming and the audience seemed ok with it. The film is worth at least one viewing for a good night at the films. It could have used a tighter edit in my opinion but the majority of the audience left with smiles on their faces. In the end that is what matters to the film viewer.

Grade: B

The Vow

As I have said many times in the past I really hate it when the film stated that this film is based on a true story. Why can’t they just actually tell the real story instead of making it up as they go?

Well with this film, you are shown a love story between a couple and you see that they have a car accident in which the man is ok but the wife has lost all memory of their time together but what is worse that she still believes that she in engaged to her former lover. The love story just got too unbelievable here and lost the majority of the male audience in this film.

The female audience seemed to really like this part of the story but to me, the longer it went, the more unbelievable the film became. By the end of the film you are told what happened to the real couple that this film was based on. That was the story I wanted to see in this film, not the made up, so called real film that was shown.

Please pass on this film.

Grade: D

This Means War

Well I guess the plot of this film started with a good idea, it would be CIA spy Vs CIA Spy over the love of a girl who is dating the both of them at the same time. I guess that is where the film should have stopped and never been made.
For a love story to work you must care about the couple but this triangle I kept cheering for the bad men to kill this girl and to end this bad idea of a film. When this happens, you know that you are watching a bad film.

This had 2 good male actors but the female lead, Renee Witherspoon, just never made me feel any compassion for her. I thought that it was just me but after the film had ended, I overhead a few females state that they hated her in this film.
Please pass on this film.

Grade: D

Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds

Now I have no idea if this film will ever play in Korea. As you Know Tyler Perry has made a few films with his alter-ego Madea and those films have made Perry into a US Star. I really had no idea what to think about this film but after watching it, he should stick with Madea and not anymore films like this one.

This film should have been a good one but instead it just felt flat and I still have no idea why this film should have been a huge hit has became a mild disappointment. It just left the majority of the audience; I saw the film with just leaves and wonder why they didn’t like this film either.

Please pass on this film

Grade: D

John Carter

Now this film has had many times tried to be made in the past and there have been many reasons why this film never came together, but after watching this mess of a film, I wish that they hadn’t made this film.

The majority of this film was shot using a lot of special effects and that is one of the main reasons I soon hated this film. None of it ever seemed real to me and I just kept waiting for this film to try and come together but this film just never did.

It was the acting, the script, the special effects, the plot and many other things went wrong with this film so much that by the end of the film, I couldn’t believe that they are trying to make this into a series. It just fails on every level and the 3D extra for this film just made it look worse. It was that bad of a film that I hope no one will waste their time or Won on this film. Please pass at all cost.

Grade: F

A Thousand Words

Now for the first half of this film it really seemed like this film was going to be another sad attempt by Eddie Murphy to try and recapture his former glory and when I learned that this film hadn’t been screed by the critics, I was ready to writer up a very bad review of the film after watching the first half of the film.

Then something happened, the film did a slight turn and then the film slowly stared to get better and then by the end it had turned from a bad film into a good film. I really could not believe that Murphy had delivered this great of an acting job.
The idea was very bad I thought as first, a man had a tree attached to him and with each word he spoke a leaf would fall from the tree until there would be no more leaves and then Murphy would die after all of the leaves had fallen from the tree. It was when the tree was down to its last leaves that he said the most by speaking such few words. I have no idea why it worked but it did and after the film was over I could not believe that the film was this good.

For the first half of the film, I really hated the film but after that I really loved the film and that is why I give this film a B grade. Please see it if it plays in Korea

Grade: B

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

by John Ondrasik

I loved Andrew Breitbart.

Ironically, it took an Andrew Breitbart to give me the courage to say publicly that I could love an Andrew Breitbart.

Andrew had the back of those who worried about a backlash to their livelihood. He was the bodyguard, the kid who stood up to the bullies. He was the bouncer you couldn’t elbow out of the doorway.

His best friend was his childhood pal and business partner, Larry. For many of us, though, Andrew was our best friend. If we didn’t have a brother, he filled that void. If we needed a mentor, he fit the bill. If we desired a third child, there was Andrew. For all of his incredible energy and gifts, it was, at times, like caring for a wild-eyed teenager with no sense of time and space. We didn’t mind taking him in, in fact, we arm-wrestled for the chance.

Many of us, including Andrew, live and lived for our nation's military. I’ve often asked young American soldiers how they deal with the death of a buddy in combat. How do you keep going, do your job, continue to live and push forward? The answers are all profound and different. I will never have the courage of our nation's bravest, but for the first time in my life, I have a sense of that empty foxhole. That notion, that though the fight is right, a chunk of me is gone -- never to be filled.

There are great stories floating around about Andrew, and I have them too. I’m just too sad to lay them out.

Andrew loved music, was an aficionado. Today, I’m struck with the same feeling I have when a Jeff Buckley or Kurt Cobain dies too young. I lament for the songs they will never write. What path would have been chosen? Would they continue the meteoric prodigy rise, or lose the spark somewhere along the way? At a Lakers game a few weeks ago, Andrew was so excited about his new site launch that I got a mere three sentences in over dinner, rather than my usual six. Because Andrew was Andrew, his army is full of smart, passionate, soldiers who will continue his mission. Still, whatever becomes of the Breitbart Empire, his song will remain unfinished.

Appropriately, many conservatives are asking how we replace the irreplaceable Breitbart?

The answer is a cruel, cold. We can’t.

Closer to home, we are deeply concerned about Susie and the kids, and more selfishly asking, how can I ever replace my best friend?

Death’s answer is equally cold and final. You can’t.

Yes, Andrew would be laughing about trending on Twitter for 24 hours, be humbled by the love, and emboldened by the hate. I’m not a religious man, but I’d give my left arm for a retweet button in heaven.

On my instant message buddy list, Bodiaz is still is online.

This is brutal.

I hope they never turn that computer off.