Geek in the City

Mixing pop culture news, reviews, and socially biting commentary with mildly amusing entertainment.

Runner Runner

A Movie For Online Gambling Fans

Today, there are more people who have played casino games online than those who have actually made the journey to a land-based casino. It’s so simple to start gaming online, especially with so many sites now offering not only welcome bonuses when a player first puts down a deposit, but also giving new players a no-deposit bonus amount of credit when they first register on the site. The no-deposit bonus is the best way to try out games on a site and see if you like it; as you get to play the real money games for free.

Continue reading

Evil Dead 2013 – Review

Every critic with a keyboard is going to open their review with a comment on remaking a classic horror film such as Evil Dead. The really hack ones will reference the cheesy nature of the original, without commenting on just how deeply disturbing and relentlessly mean that first film was to watch. Even worse are the critics that simply assume that since Evil Dead gave rise to Evil Dead 2, which begat Army of Darkness and thus the cult of Bruce Campbell (hallowed be his chin) that any attempt at resurrecting the truly unforgiving tone of the first film is a fools endeavor. And you know what? To a point, they are correct. Then again, for as much as I love the first Evil Dead, there is a special kind of gumption in letting some young filmmaker take a shot at a classic with the original masters looking on. For that alone, let’s give this sucker a fair shake.

Evil Dead opens very strong, with some of the more visceral scenes from the trailer actually playing out in the opening minutes. The screenwriters and director Fede Alvarez made a smart choice in dropping the audience right into the mix of the horror and gore. Evil Dead arguable started the “cabin in the woods” sub-genre of horror, so to take 20 minutes and get the characters into the setting isn’t really needed or wanted. Still, we need to get to know our characters if we care about their pending demise, which Fede does allow, but that opening scene lets the audience know that this isn’t going to be a pretty picture.

Except that it is. Evil Dead is very well-shot and has some strong cinematography. Fede has a good eye for horror and knows when to hold the shot and when to pull away. For as much as I am a fan of letting my mind fill in the blanks, this is Evil Dead. This is a film that, by it’s very nature, must punish the audience for watching. As if it’s angry that you dared it to freak you out. Although in it’s beauty, it loses some of the quality that made the original such an impact. The original Evil Dead was shot on 16mm and no amount of post-production trickery can fix that fact. As a result, the original feels like we’re watching something that we really shouldn’t. While Fede’s Evil Dead has an eye to the emotional feeling, it’s a little too polished. Mind you, he and the effects crew go a long way in selling you the scene, but there is just a shine to the final product that lacks that last little punch.

The acting is hit or miss, although leaps and bounds better than the original. Which, in all honesty, isn’t that large of an accomplishment. By all accounts, the actors in this Evil Dead are trained and have some real films under their belt, something the original crew just couldn’t claim. Still, some of the dialog is a little stilted. Jessica Lucas is strong in her role as the nurse and it’s a shame she fell victim to the cliché of the Black actor dying first, as I would have much rather seen her play the longer-lived Natalie; merely played adequately by Elizabeth Blackmore. (If you’re angry about spoilers, come on, this is Evil Dead. No one survives). The same desire to see roles swapped happens with our two males lead, as Shiloh Fernandez playing Mia’s brother David never really sells his role in the film. Unlike Lou Taylor Pucci, who steals the scene as Eric whenever he’s up. He’s the perfect “comic” relief in a movie that never allows for a laugh outside of our need to chuckle to cover our horrified feelings.

Finally, we come to Mia, played by Jane Levy. Everyone was up in arms over a “female Ash.” Here’s the thing friends, this isn’t that Evil Dead, which means no Ash. In a way, this version owes much to Within the Woods, with our main character going bad relatively quickly and causing pain and torture to every poor soul in her way. She is fantastic. This poor girl was put through hell in this flick, and clearly enjoyed every nasty minute of it. If they do indeed do a sequel to this movie, I can’t wait to see what Levy brings. It’s been a long time since horror had the tough as nails female lead that takes the nastiness as well as she gives it, and Levy is more than capable to step up to the plate.

And yet, for as much as I enjoyed this new Evil Dead, I still walked away wondering what could have been. See, when left to his own devices, Fede Alvarez shows some real promise as a horror director. He has a good sense of pacing and attention to details. Although he lacks Raimi’s chaotic relationship with the camera, he has more than a few inspired shots. Alas, be it first time feature jitters or directing input from those higher up, Fede slips into a few too many homages to Raimi and the original crew. As much as I believe you can learn all aspects of filmmaking, you’re either a little nuts like Raimi in the original or you’re not. (Indeed, it might be Fede’s more formal training in filmmaking that hinders him, whereas Raimi was pretty clueless as to the “rules”). Still, there were too many moments where the audience (myself included) were cheering for a scene simply because it harkened back to the original films. Once that happened, I know there were more than a few viewers that started looking for those moments. It’s a subtle, but rather large misstep in a movie that really could have held it’s own as a nasty little horror flick.

It’s hard to watch this new Evil Dead and completely dissociate it with it’s inspiration, given that the original holds such a place of honor within the horror genre community. But even if you can’t, this Evil Dead is a solid horror film. It does a good job of selling the gore and violence. Everything horrible that happens in this movie happens for a reason, not just because they want to gross out the audience (though that does happen). Alvarez’s Evil Dead is a strong, if flawed, return to classic American horror.

The Muppets

What would happen if we fans were given the keys to revive and drive a franchise back to the glory that was once was? What if George Lucas gave the keys to the Star Wars prequels to the fans and allowed us to create the clone wars and the rise and fall of Anakin Skywalker?

The Muppets is a prime example of the ultimate fan film. Jason Segel takes a dying franchise and revives it back to glorious life.
When I say “dying” franchise, I am referring to how the Muppets were slowly losing the charm and fun that made them great all those years ago when “The Muppet Show” was on television every week back when I was a lad.

When the TV show finished, Jim Henson and crew made The Muppet Movie at the right time; the very height of the Muppets popularity. The innocence and joy that was The Muppet Show translated perfectly to the big screen with all the great cameos and each of the Muppet characters staying true to themselves.
As the years progressed each Muppet movie and TV special just seemed to lose me. Perhaps I was getting older and lost what boyhood love I had for the Muppets. Finally, on the sad day that Jim Hensen passed away, I was sure the Muppets would pass along with him. After the diminishing films such like Muppets From Space and Muppet Treasure Island I was all but certain tit was over

Now 22 years after the passing of Jim Hensen, and well into Disney owning the rights; I am so happy to say that the Muppets are back baby.
The Muppets is such a welcome return to the days of The Muppet Show and all the joy and entertainment that the Muppets brought to us all those many years ago. Jason Segel, who wrote and stars in “The Muppets”, takes what we all remember about the Muppets and brings it all to life on the big screen once again.

Mary (Amy Adams) and Gary (Jason Segel) are the most perfect cute little couple living in Smalltown USA, smack dab in the middle of America; they have been courting each other for ten years and for their ten year anniversary Gary wants to take Mary to Los Angeles for a fancy dinner.

Gary has a little brother, Walter. Walter is obsessed with The Muppets, he knows all the old “Muppet Show” episodes by heart, his room is covered in Muppet paraphernalia, and his dream is to one day see the Muppet Theatre. Gary and Walter are very close, so Gary surprises Walter with an opportunity to go with him and Mary to LA so his dream can come true.

Oh I forgot to mention…Walter is a Muppet.

Now I am not going to get too deep into spoiler territory here; I am just laying down the basic plot line.

Once in LA Walter, Mary and Gary find the old Muppet Theatre dilapidated and condemned. It’s a sad little tour down memory lane as Walter looks at Kermit’s old desk covered in cobwebs, pictures of past hosts such as Steve Martin and Bob Hope also covered in cobwebs adoring the walls.

Walter happens to be in the theatre when an oil tycoon named Tex Richman (dastardly portrayed by Chris Cooper) moseys on in to sign a contract to purchase and tear down the theatre so he can drill for oil underneath the theatre.

Walter pleads with Gary and Mary to help him find Kermit the Frog to make a desperate plea to get the band back together and put on a “Muppet Show Telethon” to raise enough money to save the theatre from Richman.

The rest of The Muppets is a journey to find the old gang and once again bring some much needed life back to the theatre but more importantly some much needed life into what once made the Muppets great.

And that is exactly what The Muppets does. I am not going to lie my fellow readers. I had a grin on my face a mile wide throughout this amazing movie. The singing (yes I know, I don’t like musicals), the hilarious cameos (I will give none away here, that’s part of the fun), Kermit, Fozzie, Gonzo and his Chickens, and even Sweetums. I loved loved loved every part of this movie.

I even was able to (finally) get over the fact that Kermit’s (and others) voices were not quite the same; and that’s taken me a long time to get over. I learned that the voices do not make the characters. It’s the love of these Muppets, it’s the message of nothing but pure entertainment. That is what I love about the Muppets; and that is what I love about this film.

The Muppets is full of surprises, I could go on and on about them all. But, that would take away from your experience, and that just wouldn’t be right.

So I leave you with this; get to the theatre cause it’s time to get things started on the most inspirational – celebrational – Muppetational this is what we call The Muppets.
Welcome back gang!

And Jason Segel; thank you for being a fan of the Muppets. And, thank you for bringing back what made the Muppets so great to all generations.

-Scott Dally

Conan the Barbarian (2011) – Movie Review

Let’s try and kick this review off with a positive word. Conan the Barbarian is Marcus Nispel’s best film to date. I know, when your pedigree includes the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake and Pathfinder, that isn’t the highest of praise. However, you could argue that Marcus improves his craft with each film. See, that’s two positive things right out the gate! One of the biggest mistakes this Conan makes (that isn’t casting Rose McGowan) revolves around the very premise of the film. Conan seeks revenge against the slayer of his father, played wonderfully by Ron Perlman, and if he happens to save the world and bed a hot she-monk in the process. Fine. As explained by those that are far greater fans of Robert E Howard’s creation than I, Conan isn’t about revenge or what is right. He’s about what is right now. He’s about surviving in a very harsh and deadly world. If that means being a thief, a pirate, a killer, or an assassin so be it. Sure, if you skewer one of his few friends, he’s gonna’ come and bash the every loving Crom out of you. He’ll even take some pleasure in killing the man that took out daddy all those years ago. But, go out of his way and take the time to save the girl in the process? Nope. Not how the last Cimmerian rolls. Still, this is a film for American tastes and we need him to right wrongs and get justice. Just know, that right off the bat this movie misses the core being of Conan the Barbarian. But, so have all the other films and television shows about him. Whether or not we will ever get a true cinematic adaptation of Howard’s work is an argument for another time.

Jason Momoa. He isn’t bad. This is nowhere near the performance we saw from him as Khal Drogo, but the potential is there. I think maybe Jason does best when he doesn’t have to speak any English. His decrees in Dothraki carried far more emotional impact than when he gives a line or two in the common tongue. There are a few instances when we see the Conan we all want, but it has more to do with the tone of the moment and less so about the actor. I mean, when Conan commands “Woman. Come here.” it just works. Although I’m pretty sure anyone could grunt that out effectively when covered in the gore of your vanquished foes. He’s still a little too pretty for my taste, but I think that’s more attributed to modern filmmaking than the actor. Next time (and I think there will be a next time) let Jason get a little dirty and scruffy. He’s playing THE barbarian, not a runway model version.

Momoa and Perlman are really the only actors trying to sell their roles. Momoa, because his hungry and this is the perfect time for him to make a run at being an honest movie star. Perlman because, well, he’s freaking Ron Perlman and even when he phones it in, you love the guy. (Side note, after taking an informal post screener poll. Other Conan fans, fellow critics, and I would watch a King Conan flick starring an aged Perlman in a heartbeat. Get on that). Stephen Lang as the villainous Khalar “Don’t Call Me Thulsa” Zym is just your baddy of the week stuff. He’s still leaps and bounds better than his wanna-be incestuous daughter Marique played by Rose McGowan. I might get that tingly feeling when I see her in Charmed reruns, but to say she can act is a stretch. Rachel Nichols rounds out the main cast as the pure-chosen-holy-strong-victim-love-goal-monk chick that everyone wants to bed in one way or another. She’s just there to drive the plot and give Conan a reason to, well, I say kill or lay, but he doesn’t really need a reason for that. He’s Conan. I’ll give Rachel this, I didn’t want to poke out my ears every time she spoke. You listening Rose? If you can’t do an accent, don’t.

Okay, so I’m really harping on the flick. Truth be told, there were quite a few times when I found myself whopping and hollering at the screen. During the first half of the flick, Nispel really embraced the full-frontal carnage and violence inherent in Conan. He set the camera back a few extra feet, ramped up the gore, and let the fight scenes play. The first half of this movie has some really great moments. Hell, the damn thing opens with a sword literally birthing Conan from his mother’s womb… That we see from inside dear old mom! I mean, come on, when you set the stage with that bit of insanity, you better keep up the pace. Alas, something happens right about the time Conan launches a henchman with a Trebuchet into the battleship drawn by elephants that everything goes to cinematic hell.

Yes. You read that line correctly. Conan shoots a man into the sky with a Trebuchet to deliver a message. A message to a man riding inside a freaking wooden battleship carried by ever-loving’ elephants!

Baby sliced out of mom on the field of battle! Elephants carrying battleships!! Ron Perlman!!! Everything we’d ever want.

Until they ran out of money and realized they still had 40 minutes of movie to make. And that pesky end boss battle. From there the fun just goes away. Sure, there is still plenty of killing. Most of which isn’t even necessary for the story, other than watching Conan kill. (Which is a legitimate reason in a Conan flick, I’ll give you that). But, the fight scenes go from open and free-flowing to a couple of folks flaying about. All while the camera crew zooms in tight and shakes the crap out of the lens as if 5-Hour Energy flows through their veins instead of blood. The movie just gets lazy. Scenes you know where meant to involve massive beasts, turn into 2nd unit dueling shots from Pirates of the Caribbean.

In all honesty, this Conan the Barbarian really wants to be a good movie. Alas, wanting and doing are two wholly different things. The seed of potential is sitting there. It just got lost under a mountain of dismembered bodies and CGI blood.

Oh yeah…

Morgan Freeman?!

Superbowl Comic Book Trailers

The cards are on the table as it were. Four comic book adaptations hitting your local theater this summer. Green Hornet doesn’t really count in the 2011 season, sucker was planned for something like 1983. (I know, I know – No snarky ass comments, I don’t have a sarcasm font).

We at GeekintheCity are starting to sound like a broken record, it doesn’t matter. We’re still smarting from the painful lack of a one Mr. Brian Blessed. Alas, the Frost Giants are still coming and us Asgardians must press on. Everything looks right on this one, even if you don’t like the idea of Thor and his crew being aliens. It looks cool. Still not fully sold on the story. However, Kenneth Branagh directing a flick with flying hammers, rainbow bridges, and mighty beards? Glory!

The only non-superhero flick on this list. Cowboys and Aliens might be the adaptation we’re most excited to watch. Readers have been passing this book around for years and it’s good to see it make the transition to film. Burned on his experience in Iron Man 2, it looks like Jon Favreau is having fun again; and even more impressive, he made Harrison Ford look human. Now if we could only get audiences to stop laughing at the title. Trust us, Cowboys and Aliens isn’t the joke flick the title suggests. This is the one that will tank instantly, or be the steady performer that sticks around for months.

Hard to judge a movie by one 30 second teaser. Still, for this friendly neighborhood Geek, Chris Evans is slowly eroding the doubts. The visuals look nice. Good diluted colors, which one needs with a character that charges into battle wearing the Red, White, and Blue. Staging Captain America in World War II is a smart choice and will give us viewers the perfect balance of pulp action we’re looking for. Now bring on the Red Skull focused trailer!

This is not easy to write. But you know what? This isn’t a good trailer. It’s actively working against my desire to watch the movie. Remember, this is coming from a dork with two, count them two, Green Lantern tattoos! Come on Warner Brothers, you need to knock it out of the park with ‘ol Hal and the rest of the Corps. For the first time in forever, GL is an a-list character within the DCU. Don’t friggen ruin it with your creepy muscle costumes and over stuffed plot.