Sunday, February 23, 2014

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn

Until a couple days ago, I have never seen Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn (trailer). I do recall over the years from friends and general buzz online that a lot of people consider this 1982 release the best of the Star Trek films. I was surprised to see it start off with a super young, pre-Cheers Kristie Alley manning the captain's chair in a training scenario as a new recruit before she fails miserably and Kirk (William Shatner) arrives to spread his wisdom.

Shortly after this, not all is roses and sunflowers on the Enterprise as Kirk encounters an old nemesis he banished into exile 15 years earlier from the original TV series, Kahn (Ricardo Montalban). Kahn manages to commandeer the federation ship, Reliant, and is hell bent on seeking redemption against Kirk at great cost. You are probably wondering about Kahn as the main villain from last year's film, Into Darkness, and yes, it borrows quite a bit from this film, but throws quite a few twists into it three decades later to make it its own.

This film goes deeper into Kirk's background as a theme of this film is him realizing he is getting too old for this stuff. We are introduced to Kirk's son David in the movie, though minus one well done scene towards the film's finale, not a whole lot is done with him here and he is mostly a background throwaway character. It is probably my only gripe with the film actually, though I understand he is featured in the films following this one.

The first movie lacked a lot of action, there was not even really a major final battle when you think about it. That changes here as we get some phaser duels, and later in the film's final act, a well produced back and forth dogfight between the Enterprise and Reliant. At least I thought it looked impressive for 1982 standards, and there is a noticeable leap in the visual effects again from the three years in between the first two movies.

The Wrath of Kahn's final act, and film as a whole now that I think about it is exponentially better than The Motion Picture. I did not find myself bored at various points in the film flipping through the factoids pop ups extra feature during it like I did last time as I was glued in from start to finish. With the intense dogfight, Spock sacrificing himself to save the Enterprise and the ensuing fallout afterwards provide some very gripping material that the first film did not come close to capturing. This film ended up being a first act, because Paramount wound up making a trilogy of this story arc, with Star Trek III and IV all tying directly together. I cannot wait to see how this pans out over the coming months.

This film holds up incredibly well 32(!) years later. Like with The Motion Picture, Paramount did a fantastic job restoring the film for HD as there is no film scratching and everything has a nice polished feel throughout. This especially stands out during the original extra feature SD interviews when they cut to the 1982 original printing footage of the film and the difference is night and day! Speaking of extra features, there are a boatload. I did not listen to neither of the two commentaries, though director Nick Meyer & Manny Cota got together to record a new one for the BluRay. The aforementioned library computer returns, as do storyboards for fans of those.

There are five previously released SD featurettes totaling two hours that are on the BluRay. I watched all five, but the two I recommend checking out are Captain's Log and Designing Kahn, both of which are just under a half hour apiece. Captain's Log details what it took to get the sequel made, how Leonard Nimoy almost did not sign on for the film, and what it was like to bring on director Nick Meyer, who at that time had very little knowledge of the franchise. Designing Kahn is all about covering the little intricacies of the film like what went into designing the new uniforms, and Nick Meyer taking credit for this film really embracing the Naval nomenclature and jargon and the rest of the TV series and films following suit.

There are four new HD featurettes for the BluRay adding up to a half hour. The standouts here are a short but sweet eulogy from director Nick Meyer on the career of Ricardo Montalban, and Collecting Star Trek Relics, or rather the last two minutes of this 11 minute feature which until then I feel only hardcore Trek fans will appreciate it being all about the hunt for the various films props over the years. The last two minutes you must see as they detail tracking down the original TV series captain's chair and what it was being used for; I will not spoil that tidbit here but I will say if I had happened to stumble upon it then I would probably use it exactly as they detailed in the interview.

If you were like me until now and have not seen Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn, then Netflix it, buy it, whatever, just see it because you will not be disappointed! I was familiar about all its acclaim going into it and was able to put together some of its plot threads beforehand going by the same parallels seen in Into Darkness, but I was still on board and loving it from start to finish. If I were to grade the first film, I would give The Motion Picture a 6/10, and now that I had a couple days to put it into perspective, it just goes to show Paramount got their act together with the follow up as I am going all out and giving The Wrath of Kahn a perfect 10/10!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

RoH Supercard of Honor V

If you are not familiar with Ring of Honor (RoH) Wrestling, they have been around since 2002, and have essentially been the top independent wrestling promotion in the country, a distant number three behind TNA, who is a distant number two behind WWE as far as the wrestling promotions ranked in the US today. The past five years has seen the company finally take some baby steps to go from Internet darling indy federation to becoming somewhat of a marginally recognizable national wrestling group. First there was a two year deal the company landed on HDnet in 2009, which was their first television deal of any kind and provided a much needed upgrade to their video production. Shortly after that deal ended, they were acquired by Sinclair broadcasting and now have a regional syndicated network television show, where if you cannot find them at odd hours in the night, you can watch for free on their website.

RoH was the home and breeding grounds of some big WWE names such as Daniel Bryan, CM Punk, Antonio Cesaro, Seth Rollins and Evan Bourne standing out the most in recent years, and many more finding success in TNA Wrestling over the years. I have been to one RoH show two years ago during Wrestlemania 28 weekend in Orlando, which featured an amazing match between Michael Elgin and Davey Richards I will never forget. Those have been the trademark of RoH, especially in their early years which featured high quality wrestling from top to bottom. In recent years they have balanced things out a little more smoothly, which is probably for the best so they do not burn out the crowd as easily, but usually each show tends to have one or two matches featuring high calibur wrestling that you do not get terribly much of on WWE/TNA today.

I try to watch one or two RoH events a year, as they sell all their live events on DVD on their website, so I usually end up getting their Supercard of Honor branded event each year. I am behind on watching these however, so today I am covering Supercard of Honor V from 2010. The first four Supercard of Honor shows took place during Wrestlemania weekend, usually in the same area that Wrestlemania took place in so they were packed with diehard fans from around the world in town for the weekend for Wrestlemania. RoH usually went all out on these shows, with the first two Supercard of Honors being notorious for featuring a pair of classic Japanese tag team matches. Things are different in 2010 however, with it now taking place a month after Wrestlemania in New York City.

The Briscoes have been lifers in RoH from the inception of the company until recently departing last year. They are my favorite tag team in RoH history, so I was a little bummed to see them open the show against Kenny King and Rhett Titus. It was still a pretty good match, especially with the Briscoes winning with the legendary Doomsday Device, but you can tell both teams were bringing their "B" game. The next undercard bout saw Erick Stevens brutalize the world's smallest lumberjack Grizzly Redwood, who I usually get a thrill out of his never give up little guy demeanor, but he was all business on this night which did not fare so well for him.

Christopher Daniels made his RoH return match next in my pick for second best match of the night against Eddie Edwards in a thrilling back and forth match up. I do not know if RoH still has a deal with Shimmer wrestling, but at this time the standout women's indy wrestling group lent stars to RoH periodically for their shows, which resulted in a great match between Sara Del Rey and Amazing Kong (aka Awesome Kong/Kharma). If you have not seen her in action before, Amazing Kong is a rather large woman, who can somehow work well with all body types and is quite capable of pulling off a variety of moves than the average large body type wrestler, and her and Del Rey delivered a damn entertaining match levels better than anything we see on WWE women's wrestling today. Next up, Austin Aries and Delirous had a interesting promo, which featured Aries manipulating the crowd to his amusement, which eventually peeved off Delirous and led to them having a brief match before it turned into a shmoz and got thrown out.

I am not a Kevin Steen fan. Something about the guy that just rubs me the wrong way. That said, he put on a great hardcore last man standing match against Colt Cabana which featured all the classic weaponry one would come to expect in this match like tacks, barbed wire bats, tables, ladders and chairs. This is one of the few times I saw Colt in a serious match, as he usually is the company's go to comedy wrestler (trust me, he is league's better than Santino Marella), but he pulled off this serious hardcore brawl well. Damn did it get bloody and gruesome by the end, which saw Steen make Cabana pass out after putting him a crossface with a barbed wire bat, and drip buckets of blood as a result.

The Kings of Wrestling (Claudio Castagnoli (Cesaro) & Chris Hero) and Motor City Machine Guns (Alex Shelly & Chris Sabin) went at it for the RoH Tag Titles next in my pick for match of the night. This featured tons of creative and innovative bits of tandem tag team offense that I rarely, if ever see in the WWE tag team scene (though it has improved tremendously this past year). It was just too bad it ended up with a cheap interference DQ at the end, but that is just a blemish in what was nonstop greatness from beginning to end.

The main event saw Tyler Black (Seth Rollins) successfully defend his RoH World Title against Roderick Strong. I am not a huge Strong fan, like some of his previous matches I saw this one started off pretty slow and methodical, which I usually do not mind, but Strong has a way of making the early stages of a match quite dull to me. The match picked up eventually and the closing minutes featured some great action which finally got me invested in the match, but if felt a little too late to make up for the early stages of the bout, and the earlier matches stealing the show for me. If you ask me, it is not a good thing when your world title main event ends up for fourth best match of the night.

This is the first time I saw an RoH DVD since their video production upgrade from signing on with HDnet, which resulted in a big step up to finally see an RoH show with near TNA/WWE quality lighting and video production. While the main event disappointed, Supercard of Honor V was still a pretty enjoyable show and is worth going out of your way to see for King of Wrestling vs. Machine Guns, Daniels vs. Edwards and Steen vs. Cabana.

Sunday, February 16, 2014


Around three years ago at work I grabbed a random section of our local newspaper, The Grand Forks Herald, to kill off the last minutes of break. In the arts and entertainment section, a local writer had a column on his top ten indie movies of the year. I think I never heard of a single one off his list, and threw nearly all of them in my Netflix Que. The only one of those films that I really enjoyed enough to track down and buy was the fantasy thriller Ink (Trailer).

It proved to be quite a task to track down actually, it had a small home video run, and every several months that I checked various online marketplaces, the only copies that were for sale were ridiculously marked up. About a month back I finally found a copy at a reasonable price, and popped it in right away once it arrived in the mail. As much as I hate to admit it, I am awful when it comes to mystery movies, or films that have a big twist coming as they usually catch me off guard in some way or another, and it can be a little difficult for me to pick up on those little hints the filmmakers leave for me. As if you could not tell by now, Ink is one of those types of movies.

When I first watched Ink I had no idea what was going on for the first half hour. In this bizarre first half hour, we are introduced to John (Chris Kelly) and his daughter Emma (Quinn Hunchar). The film jumps around at different points in their lives in the real world, and in a fantasy dream world which is mostly dominated by two types of people: Storytellers who pass on good dreams to empower individuals with hope while they rest, and their rival the Incubus, who you guessed it, are the polar opposite and pass on nightmares. Both John and Emma suffer awful accidents in the real world, and their dream world sub consciences are now in a state of purgatory to see if storytellers and incubus can fight to get them back in the real world or succumb to darkness.

I know, I know, that is quite a bit to take in, and I do not blame you if you are already shaking your head and are about to X out the Internet window. I think about 10 minutes on my initial viewing I started checking Twitter while only paying half attention to the film. Then around the half hour mark, there is a breakthrough sequence featuring several storytellers, who do not essentially spell it out for us how the real world and dream world coexist, but instead set off a very well produced chain of events that links together and makes sense of the extraordinary first act of the film, and by the end of the chain link sequence, I "got" how this world operated. It is my favorite scene of the movie, and watching it again on second viewing made a big impact on me; and now I cannot help but go about most things in my daily routine to a four note beat.

It is from there I was rooting for John and Emma to overcome the darkness of the dream world with the assistance of storytellers doing all kinds of Matrix-esque moves to vanquish all the incubus in their way. The final act is very powerful, in a good way that I wish I see more films strive for. There is a lot of dark imagery, and clever use of lighting and common objects to mask the limited budget of the indie film while still managing to make their unique dream world really pop out at you.

I watched a couple of the key scenes of the film with the director's commentary, where I learned some interesting tidbits like how the filmmakers went out on a limb funding this movie on their own after failing to find any studio investors. Ink never got a proper theatrical release, and only had a brief run in the film festival circuit before getting a small home video run. Other than the commentary, there are two short extra features, one is a several minute long montage of behind the scenes production shots throughout the two to three years of shooting the movie, and the other is a nearly identical length feature where the two main actors, Chris and Emma interview each other on what it was like to be a part of the film. Ink is a unique concoction of a movie, it is part thriller, part fantasy, part mystery, but they manage to make it all gel together quite well. If you are into any of those three genres, then I think Ink will be right up your block....just give it a half hour.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Star Trek: The Motion Picture

So here is the first of 12 blogs covering all 12 Star Trek movies. A few months ago I picked up two BluRay sets, one with the first six movies from the original Kirk/Spock era, and a second with the next four movies featuring the cast of The Next Generation to go along with the copies I have had of the last two JJ Abrams franchise reboot movies.

I am not a die-hard "Trekkie." I have not seen every single episode, nor do I own any seasons of the various tv series. I have seen roughly a couple dozen episodes of The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine and Voyager over the years and maybe just a handful of the original series and Enterprise, and until this blog I only recall seeing about half of the movies. With that said, I have always preferred Star Trek to Star Wars, probably because I was exposed to it more growing up with it having three separate television series on throughout the 90s and catching the occasional movie. Somehow, someway I was never really exposed to Star Wars from other friends in my childhood other than catching brief parts of it off cable here and there, so I do not have the fond reverence for it that almost everyone else has (I never saw the original trilogy in their entirety until about 5 or 6 years ago).

The last two JJ Abrams directed movies I was a huge fan of, and happening to run into great deals on the BluRay collections of the first 10 films inspired me to purchase them so I can catch up on my Star Trek history because there is no way I am watching all of those tv series. I dare you to join me on this Star Trek journey this year by watching all the films with me. If you are a casual Star Trek fan like myself, I highly recommend watching the 2010 documentary, Trek Nation, free off Hulu. It is a great way of catching up on the history of the franchise which is a nice overview of all the movies and tv series coming from the viewpoint of the son of the creator of Star Trek, Gene Roddenberry.

So now let's time travel back to 1979 with the release of Star Trek: The Motion Picture (trailer). The original tv series ended in 1969, and talks first started to get this film made in 1975. After the breakout success of Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind in 1977, it put the production of the first Star Trek film into warp speed, and production started on it the next year in 1978.

The Motion Picture kicks off roughly 10 years later from where the show left off timeline wise, with Captain Kirk (William Shatner) regaining the captain's seat of the newly upgraded Enterprise from Decker (Stephen Collins). Apparently an unidentified alien life force is approaching Earth which leads to Kirk regaining control of the ship, and shortly after reuniting with former number two, Spock (Leonard Nimoy) and the rest of the original tv series crew.

I have some mixed feeling on The Motion Picture. The first act of the movie really drags, though I can understand why it did at the time. In the opening scenes, Kirk is getting escorted on a shuttle to the Enterprise from a spaceport, and the shuttle takes its sweet time going around the Enterprise. I am not kidding, it takes literally 10 to 15 minutes in this opening for Kirk to board the Enterprise. I presume Paramount wanted to show off the new special effects they were able to pull off with their much larger budget now, but damn did they take their sweet time. There are a few other scenes like this later on in the movie too, where you can tell the crew is in love with all the new technological advances they now have on their hands with a big budget, and they went overboard showing it off.

From where I was sitting it seemed like there was too much focus on establishing the tension between Kirk and Decker on their new roles on the ship. Decker is pissed that out of nowhere he is no longer captain of the Enterprise, and has to cut off Kirk a few times midmission to get him up to speed on all the upgrades to the Enterprise. Eventually, the film gets to where it needs to go, with a team landing on this mysterious space entity and discovering its true nature. I liked the explanation of its origin, and how they resolve it from colliding with Earth. My memories of the original tv series and movies are a little hazy, but I do not remember them being too big on action other than an occasional fazer battle here and restricted ship to ship combat with many cuts to a shaking camera on the deck there. That is essentially what we got here, with a bigger focus on storytelling and this first movie pretty much becoming a showpiece of their latest special effects.

I never watched the original film before, and had no idea what to expect from how it would hold up technically 35 years later. It looks quite splendid actually, I came to find out afterwards that the original director, Robert Wise released a special remastered version of the film on DVD in 2001 with enhanced audio and new special effects. I own a few BluRays of some older films, and it is disappointing to watch HD versions of some of my favorite films that are not remastered and still retain those old screen scratch effects from the original theatrical release. That is not the case here, and for a lot of the early shots that really showcase the Enterprise ship in all its glory look fantastic a few decades later, where I imagined they would have looked ridiculously outdated otherwise. You can still tell this is an old film, but Paramount made sure to polish off the rough edges and make this film pop as much as they can in HD with a commendable remastering effort.

The first BluRay collection of Star Trek contains a bonus disc with a lot of new special features, I do not plan on watching that until I watch all of the first six films as I imagine the features on there would give away main plot points on the other films I have yet to watch. The extras that accompany The Motion Picture are a mix of old previously released DVD extras and a couple new features. There is a new commentary track, and three short documentaries all around 10 minutes each. I recommend watching the following two special features: The Longest Trek is a nice catching up behind the scenes on what transpired after the tv series ended to get the first movie made, while a Special Star Trek Reunion has several extras from The Motion Picture getting together over 30 years later reminiscing what it was like to live the dream and be a small part of the movie.

One cool BluRay feature that helped me get through some of the slower stretches of the movie is the Library Computer. It is a interactive database of various Star Trek lore containing definitions and backstory of Star Trek characters, races, weapons and countless other pieces of information on the Star Trek universe.

I would not recommend The Motion Picture as must see viewing, and that is what I gathered from discussing the film with other people going into it. I do not regret watching it however, as there is a decent movie buried in there and I just had to scratch that itch to see what the first movie was like.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Legends of Mid-South Wrestling

WWE has released several other video releases over the past decade featuring an extensive documentary and a collection of matches from various competing organizations' tape libraries it has acquired over the years. The Rise and Fall of WCW, The Triumphs and Tragedies of WCCW, The Spectacular Legacy of the AWA, and the most noteworthy of these releases is The Rise and Fall of ECW. Today I am covering WWE's latest look at a former competitor with the somewhat recently released Legends of Mid-South Wrestling (Trailer).

If you are scratching your head right now saying you never heard of Mid-South Wrestling, well that is probably because it went out of business nearly 20 years ago in 1987 when it was acquired by Crockett Promotions, which eventually transformed a short while later into what many people will remember now as WCW. The promotion staged most of their events in Missouri, Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Mid-South had its roots as the NWA Tri-State territory going back to the 1950s, but this feature focuses on the time when former Tri-State Wrestling star Bill Watts purchased the company from Leroy McGuirk and rebranded it Mid-South Wrestling in 1979. The front and back artwork of the video features several WWE legends of the 80s and 90s you will probably recognize such as "Million Dollar Man" Ted Dibiase, Junkyard Dog, Jake "The Snake" Roberts, One Man Gang, Michael PS Hayes and "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan. This release dedicates segments throughout its feature to each of these stars of the past and several more.

A lot of the aforementioned releases have standout, feature length documentaries covering in pretty extensive detail the history of each promotion, especially the ECW documentary which clocks in just over a whopping three hours. WWE tried things a little different with Legends of Mid-South Wrestling. Usually the feature is on one disc, and a second and third bonus disc tend to be bundled containing the promotion's best matches. Here they form a hybrid, with a several minute mini-documentary piece highlighting a particular star of the promotion, and then follow it up with one of that stars' standout interview or match from the promotion. This process is repeated for several more hours.

This effect yields mixed results. On one hand, I got a new perspective on stars like Ted Dibiase and Junkyard Dog who were bonafide headliners in Mid-South who never quite reached the same heights in their WWE careers. WWE tracked down as many Mid-South vets as they could to interview for this release, and it is mighty nice to see Ted Dibiase, Jake Roberts, Michael Hayes, Bill Watts, Jim Ross and more reflect on their careers 20 years later. The history nut in me is a little disappointed that the actual rise and fall of the promotion itself is more of an afterthought, with only small portions briefly setting up how Mid-South got started, how it tried to go national by rebranding itself as the Universal Wrestling Federation (UWF), which ultimately was too little, too late which wound up to it being acquired by Crockett Promotions. That little summary I stated right there is not too far off to how much attention they focus on the promotion itself, which is disappointing because most of the other documentaries mentioned in the intro here do a tremendous job detailing the highs and lows of each promotion.

Wrestling fans who may only be mostly familiar with WWE history should get a thrill of seeing some of the grass roots of their favorite stars as well as interesting portions of the feature dedicated to stars who never made it big in WWE like Magnum TA, Mr. Wrestling II, The Fabulous Freebirds and "Dr. Death" Steve Williams. There is also a few matches on this release featuring main event stars of WCW and WWE while they were super green rookies in Mid-South like Shawn Michaels, Rick Steinter, Sting and The Ultimate Warrior. While it is fascinating to see what these guys were like very early in their career, the 15-20 minutes of matches dedicated to these guys could have just as well been accomplished in a quick 1-2 minute montage. Did we really need this much time dedicated to these guys when they were not even a glimpse of the stars they would eventually become?

The DVD features 20 matches, while the BluRay has a few bonuses tallying it up to 24 all together. For about 6 or 7 of these matches we are treated to a nice bonus of having Jim Ross record new commentary for these matches, but recording his commentary like he was watching it live for the first time ever, and even on these older matches with some having less than stellar video production capabilities, Ross's commentary goes a long way to making them stand the test of time.

Unfortunately about half of the matches on the collection either do not hold up to the wrestling of today, or just are simply mediocre to lousy matches that should not have been on the collection to begin with. There are four matches on here that I thought stood out above the rest. Going in the order they appear, first off is Magnum TA & Mr. Wrestling II vs. The Midnight Express, which features several awesome vignettes setting up the match on how Magnum TA sought out the tutelage of the wise veteran, Mr. Wrestling II, only to have him get jealous and turn on him mid match! Next up is Terry Taylor vs. Ric Flair for the NWA Title, which Terry Taylor sets up perfectly beforehand in an interview where he was a nervous wreck because Flair showed up to the building in no shape to compete not too long before bell time, only to deliver another Flair classic match, and you could never tell for a second that Flair went 45 minutes in the ring hungover, and wound up producing the best match on this collection!

Third is One Man Gang vs. Bib Bubba Rogers (aka The Big Boss Man) for the UWF Title, which is a great back and forth slugfest between two behemoths. Finally, in the BluRay extras we have Bill Watts & Stagger Lee (Junkyard Dog under a mask) against The Midnight express, with nearly a half hour back story of old interviews and segments featuring Bill Watts coming out of retirement to seek revenge on the Midnight Express and trying his best looking high and low for the Junkyard Dog to take out the Midnight Express. This feud is worth spending the extra few bucks to get the BluRay, as none of it is covered in the standard DVD feature.

WWE could have done a much better job of chronicling the history of Mid-South, but I guess the route they go here is one I think could have worked with a better execution. If they decide to go this route again in the future, hopefully better match selection and paying a little more attention to the history of the topic at hand will go a long ways. I still give Legends of Mid-South Wrestling a mild recommendation if you are into old school wrestling and want to see the roots of some of your favorite superstars of the 80s and early 90s.

Monday, February 10, 2014


I have seen a lot of Rock movies over his post-wrestling career, and while I may tongue-in-cheek enjoy a lot of them out of fondness for his Brahma Bull persona that electrified sports entertainment, there are only two I classify as legitimately good films. One is for the awesome remake of Walking Tall that he graced, and the other for the 2010 action flick, Faster (trailer). I recall catching this in the theater and going in thinking this would be a return to the paint by numbers action flicks that dominated Rock's early Hollywood career like Rundown, Scorpion King and Doom, but was surprised with a film that to me at least stands out from your standard popcorn action movie.

Rock leads this film as a character that is only credited as "Driver." The film opens with him finishing his term in prison after going there when someone exposed him for being in a robbery and murdered his brother right in front of him. Guess what, no really guess, now he is out to seek vengeance on the people that betrayed him. In his way is a "Cop" (Billy Bob Thornton) leading an investigation that is on his tail every step of the way, and a "Hitman" (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) hired to take Driver out before he finishes the job.

There are three ways I still vividly recall how Faster popped out at me and makes it rise above the typical action flick:

3) Man of few words, around 200 Actually - After watching this the first time over three years ago, I remember coming out of Faster thinking "wow, Rock rarely speaks in this movie, I bet he says less than 100 words of dialogue from start to finish." I was only a little off, I was keeping track throughout the film on this second viewing, as Rock only speaks in sprinkled, gruff one liners for a majority of the picture, but towards the end he has a couple brief exchanges where he is speaking in a normal tone for a few lines which threw me off count, but I swear he has no more than 200 words of dialogue. Trust me, his presence more than makes up for it because, c'mon it is The Rock and the man is pretty damn good at conveying a badass presence whether you like it or not.

2) Shades of Gray - All three main characters, Driver, Hitman and Cop are not your cookie cutter heroes and villains and all have their own unique backgrounds on how they got to be where they are today. All three have their own fascinating demons they are fighting throughout the film, such as Cop trying to cope with a nasty drug habit and trying to save his family and Driver trying to set new bars for himself to achieve while trying to keep it together in the middle of a job on a call with his psychiatrist. Just watching all three characters develop throughout the film had me rooting for all three in their own personal plights.

3) Spectacular Cinematography - There is something about the way Faster is shot that gives it its own identity. There is a lot of film glare and intense lighting throughout, which is usually Michael Bay's calling card, but here director George Tillman makes the effect his own and somehow makes it shine in giving Faster a real gritty feel.

These three elements combine to make me absolutely love Faster. Without a shadow of a doubt this would make my Top 10 Films of 2010 had I been doing such columns back then. I am always usually a little bashful when discussing Rock movies with friends and coworkers because I am use to most people dismissing his films, but talking to several people over the years I am surprised that they all liked the movie too and I have yet to meet someone who has detested it.

I am always a sucker for DVD extra features, and I will try and give a quick recap on if they are worth seeing or not here in these blogs. For the BluRay of Faster, it has two exclusive behind-the-scenes features, with one highlighting the cast and the other covering the many car stunts throughout the film. Both features are not too long and are quick, easy watches which I thought were worth checking out because they provide some decent insight and are not your average puff piece that dominate a lot of DVD extras. If you only need to check out one extra feature however, make sure to check out the alternate ending, especially with the director's intro to help set it up. I have seen quite a few alternate endings which are not all that alternate, and just have a minor twist on the final product, but the alternate ending in Faster is a much more extended look that heavily involves all the main players in a scene we did not get at the theater at all.


I debated back and fourth on what to do a blog for 2014. I had no idea what I was in for last year when I blogged about my quest to conquer 13 resolutions for 2013. I hate to break it to you, but I am not going to be so daring and attempt 14 for 2014. I have a few personal goals I would like to achieve, and I will do just that and keep them personal this time around.

Looking back at the traffic for the 2013 blogs, the entries that attracted the most attention were my blogs about all the Clint Eastwood movies I covered. It felt great knocking out a bunch of movies out of my backlog, and I still have a box full of movies I have yet to watch (at least since buying the video, some of my collection I have caught only at the theater, or upgraded to the BluRay and have yet to view) so I am going forward to going to a themed blog around catching up on my home video backlog. I will write a blog as I watch a movie, and will do my best to blog at least one entry each under three different categories.

The three categories will go as follows

Star Trek - I recently acquire all 12 Star Trek films on BluRay, oh look, there are 12 months in a year, this could not work out any better!

Wrestling/MMA - I possess way too many wrestling/MMA videos, trying to pick away at least one per month is a great way to catch up.

All other movies - There are about 40ish random movies I have not bought since purchasing, so I will knock out one per month to pluck away at this pile, ideally two per month would work out better, but let's not get too ambitious.

I am expecting this sentence to be a lie, but I plan on most blogs not to be terribly long, hopefully just 200-300 words at most, but we shall see. I do not consider myself a film expert, just a general fan of movies. I intentionally avoid sites like Rotten Tomatoes so I can go into a film a plan on seeing with an open mind. I do no go out of my way online to see as many previews/trailers as possible because most of them usually give away so much of the movie nowadays. I only pay attention to general buzz of what friends, family and Twitter recommends.

You may notice the date and see I am a month behind, well, I already watched three movies in January that fit this criteria, so I will make haste and try to write up those entries within the next few days. Thanks for joining me on this ride, hopefully I will manage to keep up!