By Tommy Dennis:
Well we are at the end of summer and this means many things..School, football, and the start of the summer theater films hitting home video (and milking a little more cash from our pockets). One of the first notable summer releases out on video is "The Great Gatsby." This is the seventh major movie adaptation of the 1925 novel..but it was not a lucky number in this case.
This time around Leonardo DiCaprio and company take a shot at telling Jay Gatsby's story. On the surface, this adaptation had plenty of reasons for optimism. A relatively well know cast working with a $105,000,000 budget should have made for decent entertainment. Combine this with the exotic reproduction costumes and scenery, and Gatsby should have been an Academy Awards shoe in.
Unfortunately, life is not so predictable and this remake surprisingly fell flat on its face. It's not easy to pick specifically where it went wrong but here are a few ideas. The movie was over 30 minutes in before DiCaprio/Gatsby makes an appearance (kind of expect a bigger impact from the namesake character). By contrast, the supporting character Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) is in more scenes and the story is told from his perspective. The premise of casting an A lister like DiCaprio is defeated by watering down his role. The worst part of the film was that it featured mostly modern hip hop songs as the musical score. This totally killed the mood for a drama set in the roaring 20's (50+ years before rap was even invented!).
I wish I could find some redeeming qualities for this film but they were few and far between. DiCaprio, Maguire, and Isla Fisher turn in decent performances...but still worse then most of their prior work. The movie did over $331,000,000 in worldwide box office...decent but well below expectations..and the generally bad consumer reviews mean many people felt they got ripped off. Even the few bright spots of this movie had dark under clouds!
The final word on this one is save...as in save your money and time while looking elsewhere for your home viewing fix! Great Gatsby 2013 already made way too much money for the little it gave at the box office. No need to repeat the mistakes that many made over the summer at the theaters. I give it 3/10 and I think even that rating is another undeserved charity!
By Tommy Dennis:
It is definitely a daunting task for a star-studded and highly anticipated movie to live up to it's hype when it hits theaters. Though far from perfect "The Butler" definitely delivers a powerful and gripping spectacle as promised. There is something for everyone who goes to see this potential Oscar nominee.
Set during different stages of the civil rights movement, the film chronicles the life of Cecil Gaines (based on the real life story of Eugene Allen. Excellently portrayed by Forrest Whittaker we follow the time and troubles of a black butler who served the White House for over 34 years and 8 different US presidents. This film does a superb job of showing tremendous historical events through the eyes of its main character via his professional and personal experiences. The movies wonderful ensemble of stars and extraordinary production takes us on a ride through the triumph and tragedy of "The Butler." From humble beginnings of a sharecroppers son to retiring as the highest ranking butler in the White House, this amazing mans life comes full circle...but only after leaving his job.
The most powerful aspect of "The Butler" is the all star cast. In this day and age it is rare to see so many future and current legends in one movie. Oprah Winfrey, Robin Williams, John Cusack, Terrence Howard. Cuba Gooding Jr, Jane Fonda, and Vanessa Redgrave are among the strongest supporting cast you will see all year in any film. Winfrey and Gooding Jr are particularly strong in their portrayals and sometimes limited screen time. Seeing various well respected actors like Williams and Cusack focus their talents on portraying famous US presidents was a great treat for me!
Despite the film fast forwarding through some presidential terms and significant civil rights events, "The Butler" is a comprehensive, historical walk in time. 8 out of 10 presidential stars for this grand movie and its reminder of our rich yet checkered history as a country. The subtle yet moving ending will captivate and delight you.
Announcers: Michael Cole, John Bradshaw Layfield, & Jerry Lawler
Spanish Announcers: Carlos Cabrera & Marcelo Rodriguez
Ring Announcers: Justin Roberts & Lillian Garcia
Interviewer: Renee Young
The Host: The Miz
Pre Show Panel: Josh Matthews, Booker T, Shawn Michaels, & Vickie Guerrero
Pre Show Match -
WWE United States Championship -
Rob Van Dam defeated Dean Ambrose via disqualification
*Ambrose remains the WWE United States Champion
Referee: Rod Zapata
Ring Of Fire Match -
Bray Wyatt defeats Kane via pinfall
Referee: John Cone
Cody Rhodes defeated Damian Sandow via pinfall
Referee: Charles Robinson
World Heavyweight Championship Match -
Alberto Del Rio defeated Christian via submission to retain the World Heavyweight Championship
Referee: Chad Patton
Natalya defeated Brie Bella via submission
Referee: Mark Harris
No Disqualification Match -
Brock Lesnar defeats CM Punk via pinfall
Referee: Mike Chioda
Mixed Tag Team Match -
Dolph Ziggler & Kaitlyn defeated Big E Langston & AJ Lee when Ziggler landed the pinfall on Langston
Referee: Rod Zapata
WWE Championship Match -
Daniel Bryan defeated John Cena to win the WWE Championship via pinfall
Referee: Triple H
WWE Championship Match -
Randy Orton defeated Daniel Bryan via pinfall to win the WWE Championship
Referee: Triple H
The next time we will be bringing you pay-per-view will on Sunday, September 15 for WWE Night Of Champions. We will kick things off with a live pre-show at 7pm, followed by a live chat during the event, and we finish things off at 11pm with a post show recapping everything that went down.
You can also follow us on Twitter @RantEMRadio for match results as they happen.
By Tommy Dennis:
If you just read that title and said WTF! You are not alone. I stumbled upon this little gem of a show in my Netflix about a week ago. Hell on Wheels is not new as it just started it's third season over the weekend on AMC! Though not a household name this adventure/western/drama/thriller packs a punch/bang/kick/wallop.
Set in the old western days, Hell on Wheels documents the incredible story of the construction of the first transcontinental railroad build. It stars Anson Mount as Cullen Bohannon and the rapper Common as Elam Furguson. These two form a contentious and many times awkward friendship as they help build the railroad and defend it's destruction from invaders of all kinds. Both men endure many trials personally and professionally in their attempts to succeed!
This series has a ton of moxie and guts with a lot of amazing qualities to keep the viewer intrigued. First and foremost, the incredible detail in the scenery and clothing really puts you in the old west. If visuals aren't your thing, there is plenty of gratuitous violence and blood for the fans of the morbid. Sex,romance and those kind of things play a prevalent role on the series...though it is mostly wrapped in some sort of tragedy. The biggest plus that Hell on Wheels has going for itself is the revolving issues that come up in each episode such as racism, greed, lust, and corruption..which brings home how these ills have and always will impact society.
There are a few factors that will have a long term effect on the longevity of the show. The ratings have been solid but not over the top. Unfortunately, this is not all in the shows control since it airs on a Saturday night (not exactly prime real estate for a tv show). Also, the very subject manner and time setting of this western type will probably pigeon hole the show's potential following (Lone Ranger Movie ring a bell).
All things considered, the strong character portrayals, action, and sexuality usually makes for a powerful formula no matter what era is involved. The ever changing plot twists and character changes makes Hell on Wheels a powerful old school drama. This series may be a bit under the radar but it gets 9 blips out of 10 in my stratosphere. Definitely worth a look on Netflix or on a lonely Saturday night out on the prairie!
By Tommy Dennis:
Among the usual onslaught of summer sequels..it's time to look at the one with the most actors eligible to join AARP. RED 2 hit the theaters recently and it is definitely more of a cougar than an old lady! Speaking of cougars...Helen Mirren and Mary Louise-Parker are back for this sequel...enough said.
Many of the qualities that made the predecessor a surprise hit are back in force for this sequel. In addition to the ladies, the living legends Bruce Willis and John Malkovich are back. This version also retains much of the timely humor and great dialogue of the first movie. Most importantly, Red 2 has the creatively unique fighting and bombastic explosions that have come to define the franchise.
As important as the returning elements are...there are new twists that make for new surprises. New exotic and foreign locations such as Paris and Moscow give the action a fresh look. New yet old faces such as Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Byung-hun Lee (Storm Shadow in GI Joe franchise) add a definite edge that was not present before.
Though few and far between there were a couple of disappointments this time around. Too much Bruce Willis...at this point in time Brucey is just not reinventing the wheel in his performances...and this one is no different...including some very robotic fight scenes. Second, not enough Helen Mirren...She is by far the hottest woman over 60 in the world...Mirren's sexy action scenes and attitude are amazing in her few and far apart scenes.
Lack of my favorite cougar aside...Red 2 absolutely surpasses the original in quality and pure entertainment. I will give this sequel 8 out of 10 bottles of Geritol. This franchise may need to be renamed Red Wine...because it's getting better with age!
Donkey Kong Country is tough. Tough doesn't even do it justice. DKC is infamous for taking all your childhood hopes and dreams, and grinding them into banana stew. Everyone remembers DKC for it's groundbreaking graphics. Go back and play any of those first three DKC games and try to walk down THAT path nostalgia. They'll pull the carpet out from under you and smash your skull with a barrel. Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D continues the tradition of punishment and shame, but it's reward is worth it. "Hey, Lex! What reward?" The reward of being able to say that you beat Donkey Kong FREAKING Country Returns (3D)! You badass, you.
DKCR3D (thank the gaming gods for acronyms) plays just like the DKC's of old, with a few new twists. First of those new additions is the ability to pound the ground with DK. This helps in cases where the ground could be broken to unveil hidden areas, when a button needs to be pressed, or when DK needs to flip over an enemy. The mechanic works well and it's fun to see DK go apeshit (aw, com'on. I had too...). Another new mechanic that works pretty well is the ability to duck and blow. Yeah. DK now has the ability to crouch and blow into the wind. "Hey, Lex! Why the hell does DK need to blow?" Well, I'll tell you, reader. In the jungle, there are things such as dandelions and flower pedals that can be blown on to uproot the plant, and most of the time, there's a prize attached to the root. You can also extinguish flaming enemies with the blow. Like I said, this works pretty well, but it's not perfect. A mechanic that didn't work very well is DK's roll and, unfortunately, that's the mechanic I used the most (besides running and jumping, of course). The roll often triggers when you don't want it to, sending DK flying off a cliff with no danger around. I accidentally triggered it hundreds of times by trying to use the blowing mechanic, since they use the same button to activate. The circle pad on the 3DS can't be even a hair in the diagonal position when hitting the button, or you'll be sent rolling along. This leads to a theme of this game: Frustrating Deaths.
You best stock up on balloons (the extra lives in the series), because you will definitely need them. I went through hundreds, maybe even over a thousand, lives. Luckily, collecting coins to buy balloons is easy and the coins themselves are plentiful. But man, will you be stocking up on them balloons. I honestly have not played a game that was so unrelenting since I took on the challenge of "Prinny: Can I Really be the Hero?" for PSP, which was another game I really enjoyed, but was fed up with by the end. You see, you've got to be precise with every jump and every button press. You will have cheap deaths and you will scream at your 3DS, only to apologize later when you play an easy-going game like Animal Crossing (review for that coming soon). "I'm sorry, baby. Why do you make me do it?"
At times, it can feel like DKCR3D doesn't vary it's gameplay enough. Other times, you'll be surprised at the creativity that developer Retro put into the game. The boss battles are nicely done and strike a balance between "Challenging" and "Simple Enough." Diddy Kong rides on your back when you're lucky enough to find his barrel. Diddy is equipped with a jetpack that allows you to hover for a short period of time, which is a great advantage, but it's also something that you'll lean on. Things like Hanging on mossy walls, swinging from vines, riding in mine carts and rhinos, and flying in rocket propelled barrels all add variety, but these things are all called on a bit too much. Still, it'll be tough to find a 2D, platforming experience quite like this.
Look & Feel
DKCR3D is a beautiful game, most of the time. The 3DS is a great little system, but it can only do so much. This game was meant to be played on a larger screen, and this was the only game I've played for 3DS so far that made me think, "I REALLY need a 3DS XL for this game!" Even then, I've been told that the XL doesn't help much with this game. The lines around models aren't always crisp, but all in all, everything holds up. Some of the levels are what you'd expect: Jungle animals, trees, rocks. Other levels are absolutely breathtaking, switching you between the background and the foreground. Speaking of background and foreground, my favorite level in this game shadows the whole foreground, but leaves the background normal. This creates a highly stylistic look that I'd put up against any painting in any museum. The music in this level is also a remix of a classic DKC track.
All in all, DKCR3D is a DKC game. If you didn't like the SNES versions, you won't like this. However, if you want a challenge on the go, you'll be hard-pressed to find a better offering than this. It's got that Nintendo charm, but it will also turn your soul inside out. For those of you who are DK fans, but don't want the challenge this game presents, there is a beginners mode. But if you can beat this game on Original Mode, you've certainly got my respect. I held off on this review until I did just that, and here it is 2 months later. And it will take you a while to finish, but even after that, there are collectibles aplenty. While it's not my favorite game for 3DS, and while it also has it's faults, DKCR3D is a good game and definitely not the worst title to have in your collection. But be warned, this game will drive you bananas. Ok, I'm done.