Friday, June 30, 2006

MOVIE REVIEW: Superman Returns

After twenty years Superman has finally made his way back to the big screen, and I was very impressed with the flying effects and the overall look of the film. Now mind you, I only saw it on DTS not on IMAX, I'm hopefully going to be seeing it in 3D this Sunday, so we will hold out for another article on the effectiveness of the CGI. I have to say watching the opening credits with the original John Williams score did give me goose bumps, I mean the last time I saw Superman on the big screen I was nine, so I think I'm entitled. On top of that the last time I saw Supes he was being chased around by a nuclear guy with a spray on tan, girly fingernails and bad hair. This was a shitty movie and although it wasn't Batman and Robin shitty it did leave me with a terrible impression of old blue boy. Now for the last fifteen years or so Superman has been pawned off on one director/actor team after another, until finally settling in the hands of Bryan Singer.

Overall I enjoyed the film, but I didn't love it. As I write this I am trying to figure out why this film, for all of its potential, cannot touch the original Superman film in its greatness. I mean Superman uses a couple of lines from the first movie, which I guess is supposed to invoke some continuity, but while he made coy little references to the first two films he never really addresses them, so it's a little strange. I know that Singer loves the first two movies, especially Richard Donner's, but this movie feels like it is too much in the shadow of the Superman of the past, not the Superman of Tomorrow. I always believe that a good Superman story is very difficult to write because of many things but mostly because he's so damn invulnerable that you can go in only two directions; you tell a story that attacks his emotional state of mind or you create some alien badass with the same power of Superman to duke it out to the end. For instance one of the things I liked most about the first Superman is the warning that his father, Jor-El, gives him at the very beginning of the film. He says that he is forbidden to change the course of Human History; ergo he is not to use his powers to time travel in order to change an event. When Superman's earth father dies of a heart attack he wonders why, with all of his powers, was he unable to do anything to stop it. Fast forward to the end of the movie when Lex Luthor uses rockets to blow up the San Andreas Fault causing a massive earthquake in California. Supes saves the day but is too late to save his true love Lois Lane; she dies in a rock slide. So by the time Superman gets there she is already dead, Blue Boy goes into a rage, and breaks his father's ultimate rule. In one of the cooler scenes in cinema, Superman alters the rotation of the earth, causing it to rewind, thus saving Lois. This was a great plot point it challenges Superman to do bad things with his powers even if it's for a good cause. It shows while he is an alien he can also be selfish. In the new film Superman is poised with an interesting dilemma he has returned from a five year hiatus to find the love of his life Lois Lane with child and engaged to be married. This proves unsettling to the caped wonder, but unfortunately Bryan Singer does not dig into this point as much as he should have. You also have a great mystery about the whereabouts of Superman for the last five years, and then they don't really explore it, that really pissed me off. The only thing they say about it is that Astronomers thought they found Krypton so Superman left to go and check it out, apparently he found nothing and it took him five years to do it. I thought this explanation was a little lame. I mean, he knows and we know that the planet exploded, so what is he really looking for? Also, if you are going to present this as a possibility wouldn't you want him to find something of interest that could link him to his past? This was a totally wasted opportunity.

Anyway I thought that Brandon Routh as Superman was pretty good, he did have a lot of similarities to Christopher Reeve. The use of Marlon Brando's Jor-El from the first film was awesome and added a nice dramatic lift to the film. I thought that Kate Bosworth as Lois Lane was a bit of a miscast but she did ok overall. Sam Huntington was annoying as Jimmy Olsen. Some people think Jimmy is supposed to be this dork in a bowtie. Maybe in the fifties that worked, but even the Lois and Clark TV show got rid of the stupid bowtie and gave him a little more development. Frank Langella as Perry White was fine, but I guess his character made me also realize why Superman can be, well...boring--Everyone loves the big guy including the newspapers. I guess that's why I like Spider-Man more; it's tougher to be a hero when even the people you try to save hate you. James Marsden is the other man and I think he does an admirable job as Richard White, nephew to Perry. There isn't enough tension between Supes and Richard but I think that it was nice that he was not the clichéd dickhead boyfriend that obviously is not going to compete with Superman; he is actually a good guy. Of course Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor was fun, he was evil as always, he kept a sense of humor and he gets to stab Supes with some Kryptonite. Parker Posey as Kitty, Lex's girlfriend, was funny at times but she felt like a tired Ms. Teschmacher from the original film.

So don't take what I said too much to heart. I did enjoy this film overall and I think most viewers will too. Superman is an iconic character that represents the birth of comics as an art form, while telling the story of a powerful immigrant who came from the stars to take on the traits of his adopted home: truth, justice, and the American way. Superman is America, and what better way to celebrate the birth of a nation by watching its greatest champion.
Grade: 3 Buckets

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


After seeing this movie I have to say Vince Vaughn is --- mental, but he is also extraordinarily funny. I thought that the movie was not a typical chick flick with a dose of male bonding just to appease the better half. I felt that it made a decent case for both sides and why everyone, male or female can contribute equally to a crumbling relationship.

Gary (Vince Vaughn) and Brooke (Jennifer Aniston) at the start of the movie meet at a Cubs game where Gary uses his bizarre crazy/coolness to blatantly hit on and actually win Brooke from some guy with some really bad plaid shorts. Thus they show their illustrious two years of happiness through a montage of photos showing how happy they are and blah, blah--opening credit sequence--blah blah. Then we see them at their jobs. Gary is a tour guide with one of those tacky buses showing tourists the sites in Chicago. Brooke is an art dealer for a quirky but funny Judy Davis as Marilyn Dean. They come home Gary wants to sit and watch the Cubs game, Brooke wants him to get ready for company. It all starts out so innocently, when he gets freaked out at dinner by her "not sure if he's gay" brother (John Michael Higgins) and she gets pissed at him when he won't do the dishes. "That is when people stop being polite and start getting real." (I know shameless Real World reference.) Brooke explodes by dumping Gary which sets off a chain of events that causes the couple to absolutely despise each other. He buys a pool table to replace the dining room table, she kicks him off their couples bowling team, they spar back and forth, mostly Brooke trying to make Gary jealous by bringing over different suitors. One of them was a complete moron the other one ended up liking Gary more than Brooke. Ultimately neither one of them wants to leave their cushy digs and apparently neither one of them can afford the apartment on their own. The supporting cast was great Jon Favreau was solidly funny as Gary's friend Johnny O and Cole Hauser as Gary's perverted brother Lupus.

Like Wedding Crashers, The Breakup, was funny and the chemistry between Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston was perfect especially when they were at each other's throats. If you love Vince Vaughn then you will get a good laugh, and for all of you Jennifer Aniston fans out there, Jen gives as good as she gets and you get to see great backside, literally.
Grade: 3 Buckets

Monday, June 26, 2006

MOVIES: Superman Takes Off On IMAX

This Wednesday IMAX will be featuring another Big Summer Blockbuster, Superman, but it's going to be a little different than usual. This is the first time a Hollywood live-action movie has been converted into IMAX 3-D. With some new high falootin' technology IMAX is able to convert 2D into 3D for about twenty minutes of the film. Those twenty minutes I hear are going to be of the spectacular aerial shots of Superman speeding through the sky. I'm pretty much a fan boy when it comes to this kind of stuff so I am obviously excited. There have been some early reviews mostly positive but I was hoping to hear more words like Amazing and visually fantastic. So far Entertainment Weekly said it was just ok, but everybody from Variety to the New York Post has enjoyed it immensely.

Superman has been pretty terrible since Richard Pryor and the Nuclear Man and that was 1987. Over the years many writers, directors and actors have come and gone on Warner Brother's payroll to make the Man of Steel fly again. Sometimes I forget that at one time they cast Nicholas Cage as Superman, which had to be the worst bit of casting I have ever heard of. That's like casting Jack Black as the Green Lantern or Danny DeVito as Wolverine. I mean Nick Cage looks like a cross between an insurance salesman and a crack addict; it's those sunken eyes of his. I think if you wanted to make the movie with Nick Cage as Superman worse, you couldn't do any better than Tim Burton as the director. Now before anyone goes off on me about the greatness of Tim Burton, I just want to say that I think he's great. I enjoyed both Batman and Batman Returns but Tim Burton is too creepy to take on Superman. You need the Fourth of July, apple pie, good ole' American Boy Scout look to it, something that is completely foreign to Burton. The next writer director team slashed from the list, my favorite writer J.J. Abrams of Alias, Lost and the new Mission Impossible III. He also took a stab at writing two drafts for the new Superman movie, but alas he pissed off everyone including myself when he tried to rewrite Supes' history by claiming that Krypton didn't blow up. Now we come to the MTV director McG---The same McG of Charlie's Angels fame--Charlie's Angels? I've seen both and other than the fact that the women in that film are hot, these movies suck beyond anything made by the Olson Twins or Hillary "Make me want to puke" Duff. It boggles my mind that Warner Brothers would ever relinquish the directing reigns to a pole smoker like McG.--His name is friggin' McG people, that's your first clue.

So what makes this team of director Bryan Singer and writers Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris any better than the previous group? I think that Bryan Singer, who is not necessarily a comic book fan, directs comic book movies very well. I think he understands the audience but he also is capable of creating a realistic environment for his super hero characters to exist in. Dan Harris and Michael Dougherty both co-wrote X-Men 2 which has always been my favorite of the X trilogy and one of the best so far of the comic adaptations. With the addition of Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor this movie continues to look better and better.
So remember to go and see Superman Returns on Wednesday or this weekend and make sure you see it in IMAX, don't be a cheapskate, I'm still out of work and I'm gonna fork over my fifteen bucks, it'll be worth it---trust me.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

DVD REVIEW: House of Sand and Fog

This afternoon I decided I would finally sit down and watch House of Sand and Fog. I had this movie on my queue at Netflix for at least a year. The reason I have held off on watching this film is due to the depressing nature of the trailer. I kept telling myself this is going to be a good film, and it really is, but just watching the trailer makes me think in the back of my head that it's going to depress me to the point of putting a bullet in my brain. So today of all days I decided what the hell, it's a good movie it's got Jennifer Connelly in it and she look gorgeous in the trailers and it also has Sir Ben Kingsley, who tends to do a lot of crappy movies of late, but this is also the guy who played Gandhi and Itzak Stern from Shindler's List.

Kelly, (Jennifer Connelly) is evicted out of her house by the local government because of a business tax she claims to have never owed. Kelly is already deeply depressed as she is a recovering alcoholic, her husband has left her and it seems that she has a lot of trouble staying afloat financially. As she is being evicted she is comforted by a deputy Sheriff, Lester (Ron Eldard), who becomes romantically involved with Kelly. Almost as soon as Kelly is thrown out literally, on her ass, the government auctions off her house and it is bought by a former Iranian Colonel named Behrani. (Sir Ben Kingsley) In the beginning he appears to be a cold unsympathetic man, but as the story digs deeper we see a man who is out of place in the United States and it's culture, a proud man who loves his family, but has allowed his wild dreams of returning to Iran, and his house on the Caspian Sea, control his destiny which takes a turn into a cruel tragedy. While on the other hand Kelly has lost her sense of purpose and identity and decides that the house she was mistakenly evicted from is the cure to all of her suffering. Her new boyfriend Lester, who is convinced Kelly has been wronged not only by the government but the Behrani's themselves, tries fervently to push the Behrani's out of her house. While Kelly falls deeper and deeper into an almost suicidal tailspin.

Sounds like a fun movie huh. As depressing as this film was it was shot very well by the very talented Roger Deakins. The performances were extraordinary, especially from the ensemble cast like Behrani's wife Nadi (Shohreh Aghdashloo); she brought a Middle Eastern grace to the role that I have never seen in mainstream film before. In a sense this film also did what I felt Crash did last year, smashing the differences between ethnicities, old world and new world.
This was a powerful film about generally good people who have many chances to take a step back and do the right thing, unfortunately, because of their human weaknesses they end up turning the blade rather than stop the bleeding.
Grade: 4 Buckets

Saturday, June 17, 2006

CELEBRITY BUCKET 'O DUMB: Brittany's Birthing Hotspot--Namibia?

Movie stars and Celebrities do and say stupid things and what kind of an entertainment blog would we be if we didn't write articles reveling in their dumbness. Hence the Celebrity Bucket 'O Dumb. This week's winner is-----Brittany Spears!

As you all know Brittany Spears is the pop starlet who wrote and performed some of the most god-awful bubblegum songs ever created on this little planet of ours. Songs like "Hit Me Baby One More Time" and "Oops, I Did It Again." Pop stations used to play these songs ad nauseum for years until finally K-Fed knocked Brittany up and got her off the charts. The good news is that she doesn't seem to be recording anything the bad news is the paparazzi and other entertainment news mags will not just let the girl fade into the night. Brittany has had her baby and now I can't watch even my respected news programs without them mentioning how Brittany is a bad mom. She drops her children in public and she apparently doesn't know how to operate the child seat. Now I will say in her defense that these snaparazzis get out of hand endangering the subjects they take pictures of and not allowing them any privacy, but I will also say that Brittany to some degree did do this to herself. There are many celebrities in and outside of Hollywood, some bigger than others, but if you really want to safeguard your privacy then you have to work for it. Most publicists like to think that any publicity is good publicity, and that is mostly true, but if you are considered a recluse and you rarely cause a scene, then after a while the public forgets about you. This isn't always the case but it can be, if said celebrity would try, but she's not going to Namibia to hide; she's going to Namibia to make more babies and get a little press.

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were recently in the African country of Namibia where she gave birth to their first child. Apparently they were shielded from the mainstream press by the Namibians and allowed to have as much of a normal birth as possible. Although I have to say I at least respect Pitt and Jolie for trying to make an issue out of these third world countries and allowing the U.S. to see how the other side of the world lives. Ms. Jolie obviously seems to care about these people and made a point by accepting 4.1 million dollars for pictures of their new baby and giving the money to a Namibian hospital. I have to say, that was very nice of them, and it shines a spotlight on Hollywood to lead by example. Anyway, going back to the reason behind Brittany’s Bucket award--she wants to go to Namibia to have her second child, not as it would seem because she too wants to help a third world country like the Pitts, no, that would assume that Mrs. Spears knows where Namibia is. She says that her husband K-Fed really enjoys African-American culture and that he'll feel at home rapping with the natives. Um, okay... But here's the real reason why Brittany wants to have her child in Namibia, she says to Matt Lauer on NBC, "I heard that Namibia has laws that let celebrities say whether or not journalists are allowed in the country. That's so important, even more important than getting the same villa that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt had." Are you frigging kidding me? This is a country with a high poverty rate and terrible living conditions; unless Mrs. Spears is looking to be even shallower than I believe she already is, it might behoove her to shut the hell up crank out that baby in sunny Los Angeles and never speak of this fairy tale place Namibia again.
(Please note: To show that I am not heartless, check out the links to Namibia. Click here, here and here as well )

Friday, June 16, 2006


Before I begin the review one must understand a few things about this movie. One: it stars Jack Black and if any of you have seen any of his movies he almost always seems to dance around and have weird facial ticks. If you find this style of comedy funny even endearing then read on. Two: Have you seen the last Jared Hess movie called Napoleon Dynamite? If you have and you thought all of those strange pauses and weird gestures were funny then you may continue reading this review. If you find Jack Black disturbing or annoying, if you find Napoleon Dynamite to be the strangest dumbest movie you've ever seen then you will hate Nacho Libre, you will hate it with the passion of a Bull with its balls tied in a knot. I for one find Jack Black amusing, in fact when I saw King Kong I couldn't take him seriously because he gets that bizarre wide eyed stare and that goofy grin I can't help but laugh my ass off.

Nacho (Jack Black) is a cook at a local Mexican missionary who is obsessed with the Mexican style of wresting known as Lucha Libre. It has the same kind of flair as the WWE but without the dramatic stories and rigged matches. Nacho, with the help of his homeless friend Esqueleto (Hector Jimenez), fight in a series of wrestling matches in order to pay for ingredients for the orphans' meals. It's a dumb fun comedy that has its share of fart jokes, pratfalls and rope dives. No comedy would be complete without a love interest, in this case played by the hottest nun I've ever seen, Sister Encarnación (Ana de la Reguera). The Sister seems to have a rapport with Nacho, but does not approve of his extra curricular activities. The question is will she leave the nunnery for Nacho?

I did at times find Jack Black's Spanish accent inconsistent, sometimes it was dead on and very funny other times when Nacho would do his Tenacious D rock out he would slip on the rolling of his r's. Overall I found this film to be funny and entertaining and I recommend you see this movie instead of the Keanu Reeves Sandra Bullock snooze fest The Lake House. NACHOOOOOOOOO!
Grade: 3 Buckets

Thursday, June 15, 2006

COMICS: Why a Civil War is better than an Infinite Crisis

After reading only the first full issues of Marvel's Civil War and Civil War: Front Lines I have already come to the conclusion that the guys over at the House of Ideas have won round two against their rival DC comics in the battle of the blockbuster cross-book showdown.
(Round one was won outright by a revamped DC, written by novelist Brad Meltzer, for Identity Crisis over the horrible House of M by Brian Michael Bendis.)

Civil War, written by Mark Millar and penciled by Steve McNiven is the straw that broke the camel's back from Avengers: Disassembled to the aforementioned House of M. I think this story works well off the bat not just because it pits Tony Stark aka. Iron Man versus his close friend Steve Rogers aka. Captain America, but because the story itself revolves around so many of the character's ideals and how they are put to the test against one another. Civil War examines a United States in crisis over its Super Hero and Super Villain population, after an explosion in Connecticut killing a large number of men, women and yes children. The congress has decided to pass a Super-Human registration act, forcing heroes and villains to come forward and reveal their identities to the world or face prosecution and imprisonment. Iron Man is supporting this legislation and he's asking Spidey, Peter Parker, after years of trying to keep his identity a secret, to come clean to the world. While Captain America has a severe problem with the conduct of the U.S. government on this issue and finds himself on the outs with S.H.I.E.L.D. (Government Spy Agency.) So the question is who is going to join Cap? Is Spider-Man really going to reveal he's Peter Parker? Who's next? If these things interest you in any way, and I'm sure they do then you need to pick up Civil War as soon as possible.

So why does this story line kick Infinite Crisis' ass. This is a big story that focuses on big events but it also finds time to focus on individual characters, and their core beliefs. Infinite Crisis by Geoff Johns, while interesting at first, becomes this giant explosion of multiple, multiple characters and their former multiple multiple universes and how a former good guy Alexander Luthor goes nuts because, in his mind he wants to make the universe a better place. He's a bit disillusioned with the heroes of late after Identity Crisis and other revelations, he believes the heroes have lost their way so he thinks if he brings back all of the multiple earths, everything will be ok, the only problem he can't power his machine without the help of a few living batteries so he abducts heroes and villains to supercharge his superconductor of craziness. So this guy is a Luthor, so really is it that much of a shock that this guy would lose his marbles and go to the dark side? Anyway, after seven issues of this thing I was more confused then ever and I would like to think I have a pretty good handle on Marvel and DC characters but my brain was totally overloaded on the cavalcade of heroes and villains pouring into this series. I thought the purpose of the original Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1985 was a way of condensing the DC universe not expanding it. I won't give up the ending to you but there are quite a few deaths and

---SPOILER ALERT----I'm still confused about Nightwing, Dick Grayson, is he dead or what, cause he looked dead with the blood gushing out of his mouth and the very pissed off Batman, but obviously Superboy is no more and I was also a little confused with the Flash, Wally West, what the hell happened there? I've been reading the new, One Year Later issues and I got the impression that Wally and his family didn't really disappear but they are living comfortably somewhere and that Wally might not have his powers anymore.

So I'm still confused by the past events of Infinite Crisis but I've been reading 52, which is the aftermath, and it's not bad, everyone is dealing with the fallout and we get to learn about some little used characters like Renee Montoya, Elongated Man, aka. Ralph Dibney, Black Adam, The Question and Steel aka. John Henry Irons. Apparently the big 3 Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman have quit and these few people have decided to fill in the gap. Could be interesting, but we'll see where this goes. So to sum up if you read the DC big event stories make sure you read it twice cause you might not get it the first time. However if you are interested in a healthy political debate between heroes with what we hope will leave more mental scars than physical, I mean come on people they are supers and one of them heals really damn fast so I say bring on the mental scarring.

SPORTS: Randy "Old Man" Johnson Is Not Finished Yet

Well I caught yesterday's game and I guess my little pep talk to Randy Johnson worked. Randy worked his way out of 6 and a third innings and only allowed one run in the Yankees victory over the Tribe, 6-1. The Yankees have taken 2 out of 3 games from the Tribe and looking for the big sweep tonight. A-Rod struggled at bat again but he did get a bloop single that hopefully will boost his confidence going in today's game, the guy is really slumping he's 4-33. Johnny Damon and the Yankees new resident powerhouse Andy Phillips both had home runs.

Here's where it got a little anal on the umpire's part, in the sixth Cleveland pitcher Jason Johnson hit Jorge Posada with a pitch. Everyone got jumpy and the Umps warned both benches. So for some reason Randy pitches a high and inside pitch in the next inning to Perez and the Ump ejects Johnson on the spot. Are you kidding me? He didn't even hit the guy. I think it's fair for the Umps to give the warning but to eject someone for almost hitting somebody, I mean what's up with that. So Randy finally has a great start and the Ump cans him because he threw too close to a batters face? All I have to say is: DUMBASS! Anyway the Yanks and the Indians cleared their benches after the ejection but there was no brawl and no more funny business after that. Our relief pitchers Scott Proctor and Ron Villone finished out the game nicely with 2 and a third scoreless innings.

So Randy I hope our little talk yesterday helped you pitch that great game and I hope we won't have to be having the talk anytime soon. Your a big boy now, you're a little older a little wiser and I think you can do this pitching thing all on your own. Today Mike the Moose Mussina will be taking the mound against Cliff Lee, I can't wait to see what Ol' Moose is gonna throw today. I don't think I need to have the talk with Mikey but we'll see how he pitches.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

SPORTS: Miami Heat get a win is it enough to call it a series?

Every question on sports analyst’s mind asking is it a series? Answer: Hell Yes of course it’s a series since the start of game 1. Although the Heat may have been favorites and the Dallas Mavericks out played them in both gm1 and gm2. It isn’t over until one team takes the best out of seven in these NBA Finals. The question should be are the veterans on Miami Heat hungry enough for the Championship Title. Cause if you ask me they don’t seem like it to me.

Last nights win was heroic due to one Dwayne Wade who lead the Heat to a 98-96 win over the Mavericks (Dallas leads series 2-1). A player who had received his fifth foul with eleven minutes left in the 4th Quarter and the Heat down by as many as 13 pts. Wade overcame the foul trouble and scored 42 points (12 of those in the 4th Qtr.) to lead the Heat to win number 1 with crucial game number 4 on Thursday evening. As for the veterans without a ring Payton, Walker, and Mourning these veterans when given playing time must make their presence felt in every minute of gm 4. Shaq being the most experienced playoff player needs to find his grove in making critical Free Throws (FT) down the stretch like last night’s game. But in my opinion Shaq, one of the greatest centers to ever play the game, does not need to win another ring, but would be a great accolade to his career within the league.

I welcome feedback whether good or bad on my sport’s opinions and comments.

SPORTS: Yankee fans Boo A-Rod Merited or Not Merited…

It amazes me that Yankee fans can’t give Rodriguez a brake. I attended last night’s game and although A-Rod was 0 for 4. Fans were brutal with Boos after each AB and chants of trading A-Rod on the street after the game. So it seems A-Rod might be in a bit of a slump, but every great player goes through one or two during a season. Unfortunately it comes during a time when the Yanks are fighting to stay afloat at the top of the division with injuries to their roster with Matsui, Sheffield, and Giambi (not at 100%). Now I know most Yankee fans feel that A-Rod should earn his keep with what the Yanks pay for his salary, and he should put up numbers rather than 3 strikeouts in a close scoring game like last night. But A-Rod has still produced 13Hrs, 45RBI, and is only 2nd to Giambi on the Yanks, but for the fans to put the weight solely on Rodriguez’s shoulders is unfair in my opinion. Baseball is a team sport and the rest of the Yanks need to be held accountable as well.

I welcome feedback whether good or bad on my sport’s opinions and comments.

SPORTS: The Yankees Pitching Problem

Last Night I had the privilege to see my beloved New York Yankees play and defeat the Cleveland Indians with Chien Ming Wang on the mound. Wang was exceptional he pitched 7 and a third innings without allowing a single run. His counterpart for the tribe was equally strong pitching 6 innings and only allowing one run, a solo homer by Robinson Cano. I feel that even with the waves of bad luck hitting the Yanks, with injuries, illness and let's say it a rash of elderly sloth, I feel that they have been dealing with the hard luck very well. This was a huge win coming off a four game losing streak allowing the Yankees to tie with the Boston Red Sox for first place. (The Sox dropped last night's game to the Twins.)

I still can't help but feel something isn't right though, and I came to this realization when I noticed who was pitching in the second game against the Indians, Randy "Old Man" Johnson. Admittedly the Yanks hitting has been sour, and the fielding has been at times downright cringe worthy, but they have been at their worst when Johnson pitches. This guy lately has been pitching at best four innings and allowing at least five runs. Now I know who he is and what he has accomplished in his long career, but I think it's time, before this guy retires, to make a bold move into the farm system and bring up a couple new pitchers. I believe without a shadow of a doubt that the Yanks bullpen has improved almost eighty percent because they started to utilize some of the younger stronger pitching arms on the club. Scott Proctor has improved greatly from last year, Farnsworth has a ways to go but if the Yanks keep using him good things will happen. The problem I see is starting pitching. Mike "Moose" Mussina is almost a guaranteed great outing on the mound; Wang is shaping up to be as well, unfortunately after these two it gets problematic. I love Sean Chacon but he has not been the rock this year that he was last, he's had some consistently dreadful starts. Obviously Johnson is a problem, then you have Jaret Wright who is a tough kid but he's streaky at best and you’re never sure if he's a 100 percent healthy to begin with. Pavano has been the biggest disappointment in a pitcher, the guy has been making millions and he's been consistently hurt for almost three whole seasons. So you look to Aaron Small to pick up the slack. He's great in a pinch but he has struggled this season, we have yet to see the great stuff from last season.

So to sum everything up with Matsui, Sheffield and Crosby on the DL and the terrible starting pitching, I'd say if the Yankees are looking toward November it's time to start pushing money at a whole slew of strong pitchers before the All Star Break. Drop Pavano and Johnson and pick up a newbie and a veteran that has a career under the five year mark. Please--Please Mr. Cashman no more Randy Johnson or Roger Clemens--It's time to push the young kids, it’s their time-- let them flourish. Otherwise the Yanks may go another six years without a title, and frankly that is not something my stomach can tolerate.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

MOVIES: This is not a Review, This is not a Rant, Just an observation of X-MEN 3: The Last Stand

Summer is finally here and like everyone who enjoys Big Blockbuster extravaganzas I was eagerly anticipating X-Men 3: The Last Stand. I saw the trailers, I was nervous that they would be doing drastic things, but I did not read too much into the hype all of the fan boys and movie critics heaped onto the film, good or bad. Where I had my moment of clarity is when my close friend Ori, who like me, is a comics fan. (He is also an excellent artist and will soon be an artist on any of the top comic mags in the industry.) Ori told me that they butchered the Phoenix saga story arc, for those uninitiated the Phoenix saga was one of the milestone comic stories in Marvel and in perhaps comicdom history. It ranks up there with the death of Gwen Stacy in Spider Man and the first appearance of Galactus the world devourer from the pages of Fantastic Four.

Now I know you are looking at the date on this blog and you are thinking, Jeff, the X-Men movie came out like three weeks ago, what's more to say it made millions at the box office and stands fourth in the biggest opening of all time, obviously no one needs to hear your opinion. I couldn't disagree more, the reviews were OK to bad on this film from the mainstream critics, but it did seem to me that the people who really got into this movie, the people who really loved every frame of it were people who have only seen the movies and were not big fans of the comic or just had no knowledge of this particular storyline altogether. Now I am not saying that when making a comic book movie you have to go out of your way to please the comic book geeks like myself who know these particular stories. I don't think you do, look at Spider Man they retold the Gwen Stacy bridge throwing scene from the first movie A: They replaced Gwen with Mary Jane. B: The Chick didn't die in the movie. Why were there no boycotts on this, I think it's as big of a change as the one in the X-Men. The reason I think is the themes, even though there were some cast changes and plot changes the ultimate theme of the story remains consistent about a unlucky loser kid turned Spider-Man who faces up to his responsibilities and attempts to balance his dual life as a struggling anti-social student and as a web slinging hero. Sam Raimi does a phenomenal job here. So why is X-Men such a disappointment for us sticklers for storytelling---Because the themes are all wrong! Almost all of the original X-Men except for Cyclops act out of character for their respective personalities.

*SPOILER ALERT* If you were one of the few hundred million people who have yet to see this movie, please do not read any further.

If you were a follower of the first two X films you would see an interesting progression in character development. Scott Summers (AKA Cyclops) is worried for his girlfriend Jean Grey because her mental powers appear to be more than she can handle. I realize that Cyclops part has been slowly diminished after each film, but I think James Marsden does a decent job of understanding the strong bond between Scott and Jean Grey. From even the first X movie Cyclops understands almost as much as Xavier how powerful Jean really is and what could happen if she lost control. Now we come to the third film, where poor Cyke is grieving terribly for the loss of Jean at the end of the second film. He goes back to Alkali lake to deal with his demons and discovers that his lost love is actually not as lost as everyone had thought. So instead of an interesting psychological story of the constant struggle for power over true love, the writers of X 3 decide to kill the lover and replace him with someone who is not particularly known for his romantic outbursts or sad sack emotions: WOLVERINE. Yes, that's right the writers of this film have decided that because Wolverine is so popular he could do multiple rolls in the film, in the beginning he plays himself Wolverine, by story's end he is playing the roll of Scott(Cyclops). This movie has taught me a valuable lesson in what you wish for, because, we got it. Everyone thought it would be cool to do the Phoenix story; the problem is this story may be too big for the movies. Personally I think they should not have done it at all, or it should have been the main and only story. This particular story is about a love between Scott and Jean and how their love is so massive, that their bond is so great that it can penetrate the greatest power in the universe, the Phoenix. That theme was completely ignored by the writers Zak Penn and Simon Kinberg, they obviously didn't get it, and the only solace I have to look to is that even though this film made a crazy amount of money opening weekend, it fell off by about sixty percent the next weekend, the reason I think is that no one liked it enough to go back.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Troy's Bucket -- The Beginning

Welcome to the Bucket where we chop up, spit out, dice, cough up---yada yada-- entertainment and sports news that is oh so important to you. Now you may be thinking, I read Entertainment Weekly, I read US magazine, I read Sports Illustrated--I read Wizard (For those of you that don't know it's a mag about Comics.) Well I just want you to know that I think it's great that you read all of these magazines cause we do to, but we like to think that all of these mags, while enjoyable, they bow to their corporate sponsor. We at this point in our infancy have no such sponsorship, so we can pretty much say whatever the hell we want about whoever we want, all celebrities, all TV shows, movies, comics, sports (This means you Barry). Now here's where I'm going to be honest with you, if we do get said sponsorship, if we get thousands of dollars in advertising for our little web site, then yes we will not hesitate to sell out. We will become just like those great magazines you read when your taking a shit, so I don't want to hear a few years from now how everyone thought that Troy's Bucket was such a great little website with that Biting commentary, what happened to them, they've gotten so commercial. You see I am doing what no other Blog or Mag has ever done I am acknowledging that we will eventually sell out; it's the nature of the beast. But like I said, that could take a while, so until then please enjoy our sharp wit and clever bashing of America's and possibly Israel's entertainment and sports scene. We will have guest writers, hopefully as the week progresses I want to get my wife's father's commentary on the World Cup this year--He's a bit of a nut about Futbol.

So sit back and crack open a cool one, I prefer Stella's personally, and enjoy
Troy's Bucket. And folks remember we want your feedback so please let us know if you like what you read, just put your two cents in the commentary portion of each post. Thank you for your patronage and we will see you---In the Future!