Monday, July 28, 2008

Sweet and Sour Weekend

Just a few words to follow up on some topics I touched on in my last post.

For the most part, it was a good (sweet) weekend.  The Yankees won 2 out of 3 over at Fenway Park, and I'm ecstatic about that, but it's hard to not want to take all three after winning the first two.  I went to the movies with my good friend Jeanette on Saturday to see The X-Files movie and, while I enjoyed it, felt it could've worked as a movie by any other title.  The film was very light in the paranormal department but made up for it by putting the spotlight on the relationship between Mulder and Scully and their respective inner struggles.  I'll be looking for this when it releases on blu-ray later this year along with Fight The Future.  

I worked overtime on Sunday and am happy to have some extra cash coming in real soon.  

To put a cap on the sweet weekend is finding out how The Dark Knight continues to dominate at the box office.  As of today, it owns or shares 30 records in it's 11 days of release.  Amazing.  But this brings me to the one sour note for me: the box office take for the X-Files movie.  I so wanted this movie to do well so the franchise can continue on the big screen.  As a matter of fact, I previously stated that it would  "be lucky to make more than $25 million" and "I wouldn't be surprised if the new Will Ferrell movie Step Brothers does better".  Well, both happened.  Final weekend tally for X-Files: I Want To Believe?  $10 million.  Even Step Brothers made $30 million so it wasn't all about The Dark Knight.  Heck, Mamma Mia made $30 million last weekend in direct competition with TDK.  I want to believe that the X-Files franchise isn't dead but I'm afraid it is.  RIP X-Files.  You'll forever live in my dvd collection.  :(

On a lighter note: after much thought process, I figured out who would be ideal to follow Heath Ledger should the suits over at Warner Brothers decide to bring the character back.  Actually, I have two candidates as I can't chose one over the other.  I'll let you decide:


WB would be foolish not to seek out these clowns.  :D

Friday, July 25, 2008

A few thoughts...

Can this weather get any more miserable?  New York has been mired in a mini heat wave of late with temperatures barely getting under 90, and when it has, the humidity has been uncomfortably high.  At least it was comfortable today but upper 80s/low 90s is what's in the forecast for the foreseeable future.  

What a difference a month makes.  Not too long ago, the Mets were the talk around baseball with the badly handled firing of Willie Randolph as the the team stumbled along the NL East while the Yankees basically underachieved with a sub-.500 record.  As of this writing, the Mets are currently in 1st place after beating the Phillies in the 1st of a 3-game weekend series.  Meanwhile, the Yankees are 12 games over .500 and have moved to within 2 games of the 2nd place Red-Sox after beating them 1-0 in the 1st game of the 3-game weekend series.  

The Dark Knight juggernaut continues as the movie has basically broken every record held for biggest box-office earnings on a daily basis.  What I mean by this is that there's a record holder for highest box-office earning after 1 day, 2 days, 3 days, etc.  It's currently on pace to break the record for fastest movie to $300 million previously held by Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest which did it in 16 days.  TDK should reach the triple digit century mark on Sunday, it's 10th day in release.  Wow!  

I'm real happy that it's doing well since it's up there with Iron Man as my favorite movie this year but it doesn't bode well for the new X-Files movie which has received mostly negative reviews and has been marketed very poorly by Fox Studios.  Commercials have been seen sparingly at best and most people that aren't faithful X-Files franchise fans didn't even know this movie was coming out.  I wouldn't be surprised if the new Will Ferrell movie "Step Brothers" does better this weekend.  With The Dark Knight continuing it's box-office domination due to positive word of mouth and multiple repeat business, the X-Files will most definitely get creamed in it's release weekend.  Which is a shame since creator/director Chris Carter basically said that any possibility for future X-Files movies will rely on how "I Want To Believe" performs commercially.  Translation: This will be the last X-Files movie released theatrically. Bummer as I believe there are still good stories to tell in the X-Files universe.

Man, August isn't even here yet and I'm already looking forward to September and having my favorite shows back on the air.  Shows I'm looking forward this fall season are: 

Monday, September 1
Tuesday, September 2
Wednesday, September 3
  • Bones (FOX) 4th Season Premiere [2-hour]
Sunday, September 7
Monday, September 8
Tuesday, September 16
  • House (FOX) 5th Season Premiere
  • Fringe (FOX) Series Premiere
Wednesday, September 17
Thursday, September 18
Monday, September 22
  • Heroes (NBC) 3rd Season Premiere [2-hour]
Wednesday, September 24
Sunday, September 28
Monday, September 29
  • Life (NBC) 2nd Season Premiere
Wednesday, October 1
There will be more shows that will be premiering this fall season that I may look into but I usually wait to base my decisions when Entertainment Weekly releases their Fall TV Issue.  I believe Lost and 24 won't return until sometime in January.  Shows also returning next year that I'm anticipating are Reaper (CW), Big Love (HBO), Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO), Damages (FX), Nip/Tuck (FX), Rescue Me (FX) and In Treatment (HBO).

I realize that most won't share my taste in TV shows but, other than The Ultimate Fighter, I stay away from reality TV shows like the plague.  :)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Mirror's Edge (videogame trailer)

Scheduled for release later this year, Mirror's Edge is a first-person action game similar in gameplay mechanics to Breakdown in which the whole game is viewed from the main character's perspective.

"The story follows Faith and her struggle to free her sister from a corrupt government. Her parents were killed while protesting against the government and she was forced to grow up on the street, later becoming a runner. Faith was taught not to rely on modern forms of communication, partially because the ruthless police state prefers eavesdropping every chance they get. As Faith attempts to rescue her sister, while running messages for the criminal underworld, she gets caught up in a series of events which lead to her being pursued by the government".

"Though set in a seemingly utopian city environment with low crime, clean streets, and sterile architecture, it is ruled by a totalitarian government regime that conducts unbridled levels of surveillance on citizens. In this world of communications monitoring, the only way to deliver confidential information between parties is to employ couriers (called runners) to physically deliver the information". Source: Wikipedia

I'm really looking forward to seeing how this game turns out.

Box Office Gold

In my July 4th blog, I posted that The Dark Knight was expected to break some box office records. That was an understatement as TDK has currently shattered 9 records including biggest midnight preview gross (of which I was a part of), single day and 3-day weekend grosses. Source:

And it's not done as it's probably going to break 4-day, 5-day, 6-day, etc. records as repeat business due to excellent word of mouth amid stellar reviews will push this film into the record books.   I'll be doing my part as I plan on taking in another screening but on the highly recommended IMAX format.

This Friday, the new X-Files movie debuts in what I think is a head-scratching move by Fox Studios. Instead of releasing this earlier in the summer or in mid-August, X-Files: I Want To Believe will try and get moviegoers away from The Dark Knight. Something I think will be very difficult with the little marketing I've seen from Fox Studios and the fact that it's been a few years since the X-Files tv series has been off the air. Not to mention repeat business for TDK, I think the X-Files movie will be lucky to make more than $25 million, which will probably be less than half what TDK pulls in. As an avid X-Files fan and someone that's waited years for this latest film, I'm hoping it's at least entertaining and makes enough money to warrant the creators (Chris Carter in specific) to seriously consider making more X-Files films.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I'm Back

After dealing with internet connection issues for the last 2 days, I'm finally back up and roaming. First things first, updated pics on my site (which you can get to from link on lower right) and will have a few things to share here about events that went on the last few days soon enough.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Mighty Rays

My brother was able to get 5 tickets from a tenant at his job for the July 9th game between the Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays and asked me to find 3 friends to go with us. After a whole day of back and forth texting amongst friends from all boroughs, we finally were able to get Todd, Ulises and my cousin Javier to join us for the 1pm game. We were all looking forward to the game for various reasons: the tickets were free, it's the last season at the current Yankee Stadium and it was the Rays. I understand this last reason may be a head scratcher.

As of this writing, the Rays have the best record in baseball and are a major surprise among baseball fans everywhere. Since their inception in 1998, the Rays have always been the doormats for the rest of the American League as opposing teams have always looked forward to playing the "Devil Rays" in an attempt to pad their division lead or gain ground on opposing teams. Not only have they never had a winning season but they have finished dead last in every season but one AND are the only team left in the major leagues to have never been to the play-offs. The one season they didn't finish in last, 2004, saw them reach a franchise high in wins when they ended the season 70-91, good for 4th place.

With help from some key trades, rare free agent signings and excellent farm system, the Rays are on pace to win 95 games this year and ensuring that, whatever happens the rest of the way, their manager Joe Maddon will be in serious consideration for manager-of-the-year honors. Outside of my team, I have no problem rooting for the Rays to make the play-offs.

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Monday, July 7, 2008

Good Weekend

After a boring first week on vacation, I finally had a good time worth talking about. On Saturday, fellow LCVGer Phil and his girlfriend Diana came over to watch the UFC pay-per-view. Although the PPV in general was mediocre, the main event between Forrest Griffin and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson was edge-of-your-seat excitement and worth the price all on it's own. It ended a fun night which started with Phil and I sharing funny stories, playing some Rock Band and feasting on home cooked spanish food. But the fun didn't end there. Oh no.

The next day, Maria and I took the kids with us to Queens to meet up with Phil and Diana where Phil and I played some handball while the ladies went shopping. Phil played pretty good for someone who claims to not have played in a good while. We played one close game against each other in which I was able to squeak out a victory with a score of about 21-17. We were going to play another singles game but thought we should ask the young kids (they looked like they were in their late teens) on the other court if they wanted to play us. Hadn't been watching them play or practice so I didn't know how good they would be. But I thought we were in for a long game when they agreed and proceeded to take the court each with a cigarette in one hand. I thought, if these guys are gonna play with just one hand, either they're dumb or they're gonna smoke us (pun intended). Well, it ended up being the former and not the latter. Once they saw we were serious, all hands were on deck for them but it wouldn't be enough as Phil and I beat up on them 21-11. They agreed to a rematch to which they asked for the game to only be limited to 15 points. Don't know if this was because they had to be somewhere else or they foreshadowed a beatdown based on how dominantly we put them away towards the end of the previous game. I'd like to say it was the latter as Phil and I steamrolled over them 15-1. I take great pleasure in beating on opponents that are about half my age. :)
I'm sore as I type this but, as you can imagine, with a big ass grin on my face. Need to get back on the handball court this week to get the soreness out.

Friday, July 4, 2008

The Day The Earth Stood Still

Trailers.  I absolutely love them.  Also known as movie previews, trailers (and teaser trailers) get audiences worked up and helps word-of-mouth spread for a movie that is probably still a few months off.  One of the best cases of this was when Transformers was released in summer 2007.  A trailer for a movie came on that didn't have any known actors or a hint of what was going on other than a city under attack.  Towards the end of that fantastic piece of screen tease, all that was shown was the name of executive producer JJ Abrams and the date: 1-18-08.  That was the release date for Cloverfield.  Like the trailer before it, I absolutely loved the Cloverfield movie.  But even people who didn't like the Blair Witch shaky-cam style of film making in Cloverfield admitted that the teaser trailer was extremely well done and the main reason why they went to see the film.  This brings me to The Day The Earth Stood Still.
Before the screening for Hancock on Tuesday, we were shown a trailer for The Day The Earth Stood Still.  Starring Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Connelly and Kathy Bates, DTESS is a remake of the 1951 black and white film of the same name.  I've never seen the movie but have heard about it many times and how it "tells the story of a humanoid alien who comes to Earth to warn it's leaders not to take their conflicts into space, or they will face devastating consequences." Source: Wikipedia

Being a big fan of alien invasion films, the trailer has me very anxious 
to see this one. The original is currently sitting on the top of my 
Netflix queue. It should arrive by mid-week. Can't wait.

The Dark Knight: Ticket Purchased!

Batman Begins was an excellent reboot to a franchise that was in desperate need of one. Seeing that Marvel Comics (now Marvel Studios) was having much success with their superhero characters on the big screen, Warner Brothers decided to bring back their vigilante hero with the creepy mask. But how do you do that and get the bad taste of the Joel Schumacher films out of everyone's mouth? Quite easily, actually. Hire Christopher Nolan (Memento, Insomnia, The Prestige) to direct and work on the screenplay with David S. Goyer (the Blade films, Dark City). Then surround yourself with talented actors such as Christian Bale, Liam Neeson, Gary Oldman, Ken Watanabe, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine. Even second hand villians were played by excellent actors Tom Wilkinson and Cillian Murphy. The only questionable hires were Katie Holmes and Rutger Hauer although they both held their own, IMO. Although a critical success, I was always surprised Batman Begins didn't make more than the $200 million it made. Although $200 million is nothing to sneeze at, it didn't make as much as other vastly inferior superhero movies. Hopefully, The Dark Knight will make up for this.

The creative team behind the first film return with some familiar faces. Bale, Oldman, Freeman, Caine and Murphy all return and are now joined by Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckart and Maggie Gyllenhall who steps in to replace Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes. Buzz around the intrawebs suggest that The Dark Knight is poised to break some records. Which ones? Remains to be seen but apparently advance ticket sales have been through the roof and most of the tickets for opening weekend in major cities have been sold out. "As of June 27th, Dark Knight has sold eight times as many tickets on as Spider-Man 3 at the same point in the sales cycle - 21 days from the films official release." Source:

For those that don't know, Spider-Man 3 currently holds the record for biggest 3-day opening weekend with $151 million and sits 3rd for overall grosses on the superhero genre list with $336 million. The only negative thing I can say about this upcoming release is that it's quite unfortunate that the late Heath Ledger won't be around to bask in the glory of the films obvious success and potential oscar nomination that he most certainly deserves. That being said, ticket for the Friday July 18, 12:01 am showing has been purchased. I'll get to work later that day running on fumes but a happy camper. :)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Vacant Vacation

Vacation time finally comes around and it finds me in a rut.  Normally, I'd have a travel plan mapped out where we would visit a friend or family member we hadn't visited in awhile.  My preferred mode of transportation is driving but with the escalating cost of gasoline (which doesn't bode well for airline tickets either), vacation travel this year has been postponed.  

Haven't done much of anything lately and that includes playing handball or videogames.  The only thing that I've actually gotten around to doing is finally watching some movies.  So I thought I'd finally update this blog with my thoughts on the movies I've recently seen.

On the big screen:
  • Hancock  Will Smith stars as a superhero with amnesia and serious character flaws.  Also stars Charlize Theron and Jason Bateman (who's great in just about everything he's in).  1st act of the movie was great while the 2nd and 3rd acts go in totally different directions.  Comedy was great while action sequences including the special effects were hit and miss. These problems notwithstanding, I quite enjoyed Hancock as I'm a huge Will Smith fan and the dialogue in the 1st act were golden.  Not his best film but far from his worst (Wild Wild West and Bad Boys franchise). Looking forward to his next film titled Seven Pounds with Rosario Dawson and Woody Harrelson scheduled for December 12, 2008.
  • WALL•E  What can I say about Pixar that hasn't already been said? These guys keep bringing out exceptional movie entertainment with every release. Won't get into the story only to say that it's not toddlers since there is practically no dialogue for the first 30 minutes.  I'm a big fan of the Pixar films and have to go way back to A Bug's Life in 1998 for the last time I thought one of their movies was just ok.  Since then, Toy Story 2, Monster's Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Cars and Ratatouille have all gone to huge commercial success and become some of my favorite animated films.  Even their animated shorts that play in front of the feature films are great.  Looking forward to their next projects, Up releasing in 2009 and Toy Story 3 scheduled for 2010.
  • Wanted  James McAvoy and Angelina Jolie star in this over-the-top action film with elements of The Matrix sprinkled in.  Morgan Freeman and Terance Stamp (in his 2nd "bad guy" role this summer behind Get Smart) co-star in this hugely entertaining film loosely based on the comic book miniseries by Mark Miller.  
  • Get Smart  Although I haven't watched all the episodes of the TV show, I was always a fan of the show when I was fortunate enough to catch them on reruns.  So, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that a big screen version was being readied and that Steve Carell would play the bumbling secret agent Maxwell Smart.  Also starring Anne Hathaway, Dwayne Johnson and Alan Arkin, Get Smart is a very enjoyable summer movie.  
  • The Incredible Hulk  Following the disappointing box-office of Ang Lee's Hulk in 2003, Marvel Studios decided that Hulk was too big of an IP (intellectual property) to just die under the bad reviews of that film.  So, a reboot was in order and out comes this summer's 2nd (behind the awesome Iron Man) excellent superhero flick. Starring Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, Tim Roth and William Hurt, this iteration of the Hulk does right what the previous version fails at. Where the 2003 version was basically a drama with action sequences sprinkled about, this one is action with drama sequences mixed in.  
On the small screen:
  • Juno  A charming movie about a teen (played by Ellen Page best known for Hard Candy), who gets pregnant after her first sexual experience, decides to give the baby up for adoption to a couple (Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman) who have been having problems conceiving children of their own.  Film also stars Michael Cera (SuperBad) as her boyfriend and J.K. Simmons (Spider-Man, Oz) as her father.  Rainn Wilson (The Office) has a small amusing part as a store clerk during the opening scene in the movie.
  • The Girl Next Door  Not to be confused with 2004 comedy of the same name which starred Elisha Cuthbert of 24 fame, this documentary (filmed over the course of 2 years) chronicles the life of Oklahoma housewife Stacy Baker and how, on a dare from her then-husband, submitted a topless photo to Hustler magazine.  The photo won her top honors and helped launch her career in the adult industry as Stacy Valentine.  An interesting look into how working in the "porn" industry has affected and changed her personal life.
  • 28 Weeks Later  Sequel to the very popular 28 Days Later about a virus that turns the population in the UK into blood-crazed psychopaths bent on destroying the uninfected.  I enjoyed this very much but wished that filmmakers would abandon the "MTV-style" camera work where they think getting an intense scene to work means the need to film up close and with nauseating abandon.  Makes me wonder if the director himself was  infected with the "rage" virus.
  • Michael Clayton  George Clooney headlines an excellent cast of actors in this boring thriller about a "fixer" who must retrieve a colleague that has suffered a mental breakdown after getting off his meds and comes to realize that he may have vital information that can jeopardize the firms 3-billion dollar, 6 year class-action lawsuit that he's been working on.  Also stars Tom Wilkinson, Tilda Swinton and the late Sydney Pollack.
  • Untraceable  Diane Lane stars in this thriller as an FBI agent within the cybercrime division that is tasked with trying to find a killer that is using his website to display live executions where the number of visitors to his site factors in the amount of time the victim has left to live.  The murders are quite imaginative ala Saw.  Although a bit predictable, hard for me not to like a movie with Ms. Lane involved.  Also stars Tom Hanks son, Colin Hanks of Roswell fame.  
  • Rambo  After the very successful and entertaining Rocky Balboa, Sylvester Stallone reprises his role as one of the 80s most iconic characters, Vietnam veteran John Rambo.  Living in Thailand, Rambo joins up with mercenaries to rescue a group of Christian aid workers kidnapped by a ruthless local infantry unit.  Very violent yet enjoyable.  Also stars Julie Benz (of Dexter fame) and long-time TV actor Paul Schulze (of 24 fame).