Saturday, May 31, 2014

Jason Jones of the Daily Show in India, Part 4

Here's Jason Jones of the Daily Show with his final report from India. It's his quest to interview newly elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Colbert rips Marco Rubio over marijuana use

Conservative Republican Marco Rubio (Fla.) refuses to answer whether he ever smoked marijuana. He says if he says no, then nobody will believe him. And if he says yes, he thinks he's setting a bad example since he's "made" it. Yep, he's that full of himself. Great comic fodder for Stephen Colbert.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past 3D review

If you're going to see X-Men: Days of Future Past then you are going to have to accept the movie's rules regarding time travel and one big plot hole. The movie also owes its plot to the original series Star Trek episode, "The City on the Edge of Forever" and other Star Trek productions. It's reminiscent to Star Trek: First Contact. (1996) But it's more like Star Trek Voyager's series finale, "Endgame." I'm glad that director Bryan Singer threw in a clip from the original series Star Trek on time travel.

In X-Men: Days of Future Past, in future, it's not "a wonderful life" for people living on earth. Giant super robots called Sentinels now control mankind. The irony is that they were created by man to eliminate mutant human beings, the super humans who were featured the first X-Men movies but now the Sentinels subdue all of humanity. The X-Men live that are still free, live a life on the run. They are able to survive because mutant Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) can project a mutant's consciousness into the past to warn of attacks.

What caused the rise of the Sentinels is an event. During the 1973 Paris Peace talks between Viet Nam and the United States, Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), a mutant who can shape shift, kills scientist Bolivar Trask. (Peer Dinklage) You see Trask had experimented on mutants to create the Sentinels. He believes that the mutants are a threat to the human species known as homo sapiens. However, Mystique is captured and her abilities are used to make the Sentinels that can now utilize mutant powers. The murder of Trask leads to the creation of the Sentinels.

In the future, Professor Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart) and Magneto (Ian McKellen) hatch a plan to change their timeline. They will send Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) back to 1973 to stop Mystique. To do so, he must also convince younger versions of Xavier (Jim McAvoy) and Magneto (Michael Fassbender) to work together in order to find Mystique.

Based on a story by Matthew Vaughn, Simon Kinberg and Jane Goldman which in turn is based on a comic book by Chris Claremont and John Byrne; Simon Kinberg has created a rich screenplay. The dialogue sounds real. The conflicts are not contrived. Yeah, it does stretch believability with one plot point regarding President John F. Kennedy. Villains like Trask have real motivation and one can understand their logic thugh it's one based on fear. There are also welcome moments of humor. And I appreciate the metaphor that the X-Men movies present regarding human prejudice. One of the few flaws is an anticlimatic final act.

But as I said before there is one big plot hole in this movie and you're going to have to accept the movie's rules regarding time travel. If you've seen X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) then you know that Professor Xavier is killed by being disintegrated by Jean Grey.(Famke Janssen) And yes, there's an end credit scene where it seems he was able to put his consciousness into another human's body, we hope it's a brain dead body. But how does the body of the old Xavier in the form of Patrick Stewart exist in the future? Remember it was disintegrated. Oh and there is another plot hole. In the seventies, Wolverine enlists the help of Peter Maximoff aka Quicksilver (Evan Peters) to break out Magneto from prison. He's so fast that you can't see him. After he does his job, he leaves the movie. Hold on. Wouldn't it be prudent to use him to complete the mission? But of course that would end the movie in a few minutes.

And what about the time travel plot line? Any time you have a time travel movie where somebody travels back to the past, you will likely get the "grandfather paradox." It's an idea where you travel back into time and kill your grandfather thus eliminating your own existence. But the paradox is that you could not travel back into time if you didn't exist. X-Men: Days of Future Past has the same problem. The idea to send Wolverine to the past to change timeline can't happen since the dystopian future must exist to send Wolverine to the past. Yes, Star Trek's "The City on the Edge of Forever" handled it much better since the time Guardian was the device to send Kirk back into time to correct the timeline. By the way, Patrick Stewart is quite experienced in timeline change stories as Captain Picard. See Star Trek: The Next Generation's episodes, "Tapestry", "All Good Things..." and the movie Star Trek: First Contact. (1996) Maybe we should take the advice of Basil Exposition from Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999) when confronted with the time paradox in that movie. "I suggest you dont worry about this sort of thing. And just enjoy yourself." Clip below.

The acting performances are just "marvel"ous. Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen display two men who have grown wiser with time. The same goes for Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. He's less angry because he's older. Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique is driven with rage and the will to survive. Peter Dinlage's Trask is a man who's also concerned with survival but it's tinted by fear of mutants. James McAvoy as the younger Xavier is a man who's lost his way. The always excellent Micahel Fassbinder's Magneto also is driven by fear. Fear that normal humans will kill all the mutuants and he's also got a power complex believing that mutants are the future. They should rule. And kudos to Evan Peters as the teenage Quicksilver. He's a delight as a young adult full of good humored mischief.

Director Bryan Singer not only commands the material but he shows a respect and affection for it. The battle sequences between the mutants and the Sentinels are exciting. That's because you feel the desparation with the mutants who are fighting for their lives. The scenes involving Cerebro and Quicksilver's ability to make time stop at least to him, are stunning visual achievements. And of course, he gets all the emotions needed for this movie from hs actors.

X-Men: Days of Future Past was filmed in 3D and it shows it. There's pop and depth. The 3D cameras capture all the real life objects and is able to display them to you in 3D. This allows them to be integrated with CGI effects. The result? Stunning 3D images. Check out the afforementioned use of Cerebro and Quicksilver's actions when confronted with armed guards. The latter scene is worth the price of the premium you pay to see this movie in 3D. Recommendation. See X-Men: Days of Future Past in 3D.

X-Men: Days of Future Past is a compelling piece of comic book science fiction. If one can get past the plot holes and paradoxes, you will be in for some fine entertainent. The grade is A.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

HILARIOUS. Stephen Colbert's take on the Idaho Republican Gubernatorial Debate

Okay, you've been saying I am a liberal who rants that there are crazy conservatives in the Republican Party. Well, here's the proof. The Idaho Republican Gubernatorial Debate which featured two crazy conservatives, Harley Brown and Walt Bayes. Perfect comic fodder for Stephen Colbert.

Stephen Colbert's funny interview with Patrick Stewart

Stephen Colbert is a Star Trek fan. I mean check out all the Trek references in his show. So, it's cool that he interviews Patrick Stewart aka Captain Jean Luc Picard. Funny stuff with Sir Patrick.

Republican Tea Party Darling O' Donnell: "Moderate Republicans are ... extinct."

Conservative Christine "I am not a witch" O' Donnell is a Republican Tea Party darling. She ran for Senate in 2010 as the Republican candidate in Delaware. Well, she told the News Journal what I've been saying all along. There are no more moderates in the Republican Party. That's why I stopped supporting the Republican Party in 1980. I could see it coming. Gone would be the Jerry Fords and Nelson Rockefellers. Here's what she said.

"Moderate Republicans and RINOs are extinct."

If you're looking for moderation in government, don't look to the Republican Party.

Jason Jones of The Daily Show on India Elections, part 3

In a continuing series on Indian elections, here's part 3 of Jason Jones of The Daily Show's report. By the way, did you know you can buy news stories in Indian newspapers?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

John Oliver shows what the Climate Change Debate should look like

Here's John Oliver with his piece on climate change for HBO's Last Week Tonight. His point? On TV, it's a fifty fifty debate. Oliver says it should not be since 97 percent of scientists say climate change is happening.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Colbert Interview: Elizabeth Warren

Here's Stephen Colbert's interview of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Ma.) where he asks the big question. No, he's not asking for her hand in marriage. It's whether she's going to run for President. And no, I'm not going to tell what she says. Watch the interview.

Part Two: The Daily Show's Jason Jones in India

Here's part two of Jason Jones of the Daily Show, covering the Indian election.

Reds win a big one over Washington

The Cincinnati Reds were reeling after dropping two straight to the Philadelphia Phillies. Last night, the Cincinnati Reds endured and beat the Washington Nationals, 4-3 in extra innings. Those extra innings numbered six. Here's the story from MLB. It was an important win because it stopped the bleeding. The Reds climbed back to within three games of .500.

But why was this game big? The Reds didn't quit. They don't have their big bats in Joey Votto or Jay Bruce due to injuries. In the thirteenth and fourteenth innings, the Nationals came within a glove's length of winning the game. First, Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips made a diving catch to end the inning. Then in the fourteenth, Reds centerfielder Billy Hamilton made another diving catch to end that inning. Both would have scored winning runs. Finally, in the fifteenth, Reds third baseman Todd Frazier hit a two run home run to give the Reds the winning edge. They endure and win, 4-3. The Reds move to within six games of division leading Milwaukee Brewers. Season isn't over yet. Here's Lance McAlister's blog post with video of the two catches and the home run.

Colbert destroys Republican conservative Karl Rove

Conservative Republican Karl Rove has been spreading rumors that Hillary Clinton may have brain damage. Here's Stephen Colbert with his hilarious take down of Karl Rove or should I say Ham Rove.

Stephen Colbert says "Bleep it" to global warming

Scientists are saying it's too late to do anything about the melting glaciers due to global warming. Now satirist and fake conservative,Stephen Colbert says, "Bleep it." And he notes that conservative Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) says the same thing. Here's Colbert with his funny piece "The Word" on the topic.

UFO attacks Taliban

Okay, this crazy video is going viral. It shows a triangular UFO hovering in the background. In the foreground, there's a military vehicle, perhaps a tank. Supposedly this was filmed by U.S. Marines. Lights flash on the bottom of the UFO and there are major explosions beneath the UFO. The area hit was allegedly a Taliban camp. New York Newsday report, May 8, 2014.

Hoax? On the fake side, there is no authentication of the video. Giant claims require giant evidence. Could also be a drone, though that type of weaponry is too futuristic.

Real? Are aliens and I mean space aliens not the Mexican ones on the side of the United States? Futuristic weapons. Video is fuzzy enough to say not a CGI creation. You hear a Marine say something like "What the bleep was that?" That's the type of thing any human would say if a UFO come out of nowhere and zap an enemy.

I vote hoax. Without authentication, you can't believe this video. Still it's fascinating.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Godzilla 3D review

In the giant monster destroying cities genre, there was the tongue in cheek Godzilla (1998), the ridiculous Cloverfield (2008) and the fun Pacific Rim (2013). Now comes the serious Godzilla, a roboot of the original 1954 movie of the same name. How serious is this movie? Well, let's look at one aspect, Alexandre Desplat's marvelous score. One of the themes of the original Godzilla (1954) and this one is the evils of atomic energy. Desplat's score is full of dissonance reflecting the tragedy of the use of nuclear power. It's reminiscent of Penderecki's Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima, depicting the horrors of the atomic bomb, though Desplat is nowhere near as harsh in his treatment. Yes, this Godzilla is that serious.

This Godzilla starts out in a flashback to the year 1999. At the Tokyo Janjira nuclear power plant, supervisor Joe Brody (Bryan Cranston) has a problem. He's got a fat lazy employee named Homer who likes to eat doughnuts all day. Um... okay, that's the Simpsons. Sorry. Back to the movie. The problem is that the plant is experiencing a seismic event. He sends his wife, Sandra (Juliette Binoche) to investigate. A terrible accident occurs causing the destruction of the plant. We then move to the present. Brody's son, Ford (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) , is an explosives ordinance disposal officer in the U.S. Navy. He's living with his wife Elle (Elizabeth Olsen) and their son in San Francisco. He gets a call that his father has been arrested in Japan, trespassing in the area of the plant. Ford travels to Japan and finds out that his father has been investigating the disaster for years. He convinces his son to go to the plant grounds where they discover that it was no accident. It was a great white shark. Sorry, that's Jaws. What caused the disaster? Monsters. No typo there, that's plural.

Godzilla has an interesting cast. Bryan Cranston and Julliette Bioche add gravitas to the movie. And what a surprise to find Binoche in a big budget monster movie. Aaron Taylor-Johnson is fine as the dedicated soldier and family man. Elizabeth Olsen is given very little to do than be a nurse, mother and look terrified at opportune times. And before you in the PC police jump on me, being a mother and nurse are important jobs in real life. But in this movie, the critical roles are the ones that deal with how to stop the monsters. Rounding out the cast are Sally Hawkins as Vivienne Graham and Ken Watanabe as Ishiro Serizawa. They're two sincere scientists who have an idea on the origin of the monsters. And let's face it, there's got to be a connection to Japan during the last two acts of the movie, so you've got Watanabe.

Director Gareth Edwards with a screenplay by Max Borenstein and a story by David Callaham create a tense, scary film. There's no levity in this picture. The monsters are destroying cities, and it could signal the end of humanity. The closest thing to any humor is when one of the monsters levels Las Vegas. Love the scene where it tears down the cheesy casino version of the Eiffel Tower. But maybe that's the problem with this movie. It's too serious. I mean I remember old Godzilla fighing a giant moth. Mothra vs. Godzilla. (1964) Back to the seriousness of this movie, check out the music when Ford parachutes into danger with Ligeti in the background. What is this 2001: A Space Odyssey? Yet with all the monster mayhem, the movie maintains a very human story about the Brody family.

If you see this movie, skip the 3D version and watch it in 2D. First, it's a conversion from 2D. That means no pop. Many times I forget I was watching it in 3D. There didn't seem to be any thought given to the 3D effect. Second, the picture is literally too dark. That comes from the conversion process where the lighting for the movie may not have been adapted for 3D. Add to that projecting on the screen the two images, along with you and the projector wearing dark glasses. The result? You get a dark picture.

Godzilla is a very serious, taut science fiction movie. There's not much fun and that's the point. It shows deep respect to the first Godzilla. So much so, that this Godzilla even looks like it has fat, pear shape lower half of the original. Guess giant monsters don't have access to Pilates. The grade is B.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Congratulations Roberto Orci on getting Star Trek 3

Congratulations to Star Trek Into Darkness writer, Roberto Orci, for getting the gig of directing Star Trek 3. Variety report. Bob is a big fan of Star Trek. And he's helped write some of the biggest recent blockbusters. Transformers, Star Trek, Star Trek Into Darkness, The Amazing Spider-Man. The Star Trek franchise is in good hands.

Colbert's hilarious fake Koch Brothers ad to defeat the Columbus Zoo

Last week, the Koch Brothers' Americans for Prosperity helped defeat the Columbus Zoo's levy. Supporters vow to bring it back up in November. Here's Stephen Colbert's hilarious fake Koch Brothers ad to defeat again the Columbus Zoo.

Jon Stewart on the Donald Sterling interview

Clippers Owner Donald Sterlng shows us what a racist idiot he is with his CNN interview. Sounds like great comic fodder for The Daily Show's Jon Stewart. Here's his very funny piece.

Jon Stewart on the NFL's first gay player and Clippers Owner Donald Sterling

Here's Jon Stewart of the Daily Show with his take on NFL's first gay player and the so bad that it's funny interview of Clippers Owner Donald Sterling. And what I mean by bad, I mean Sterling put his foot in his mouth again.

Conservatives mock #BringBackOurGirls; Jon Stewart destroys Rush Limbaugh

I stopped supporting the Republican Party in 1980 because the conservatives were taking over. There was an air of meanness with the right, i.e. the heck with the poor, etc. In case you think this is a ranting of a liberal, one must merely see the cynical meanness directed at the Twitter movement #BringBackOurGirls. "Intellectual" conservative heavyweights like George Will, Rush Limgaugh and Ann Coulter have been mocking the movement. As a reminder, the hashtag protest was designed to bring attention that a Nigerian radical fundamentalist group called Boko Haram kidnapped 276 girls.

Will said on Fox News Sunday this:

" I do not know how adults stand there facing a camera and say, ‘Bring Back Our Girls.’ Are these barbarians in the wilds of Nigeria supposed to check their Twitter accounts and say, ‘Uh-oh Michelle Obama is very cross with us, we better change our behavior?’”

Ann Coulter sarcastically put her two bits in a picture with a sign that read "Bring Back Our Country." Thank God for the Internet as people Photshopped her sign and put their own hilarious comments on her sign. Huffington Post. Ann Coulter's Attempt to Make Fun of #BringBackOurGirls Goes Beautifully Wrong.

Let me explain this to the conservative "geniuses." The campaign has brought awareness to the plight of these girls. That publicity has led to actual action. Three countries, The United States, Great Britain and China have offered help. There are now U.S. advisers in Nigeria now.

Maybe we need a satirical look at Boko Haram and the mean conservatives. Boy, do we need Jon Stewart of the Daily Show to destroy Rush Limbaugh. And so here he is. Thank you Jon Stewart.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Stephen Colbert's Tip of the Hat/Wag of the Finger torches Fox News

Here's a Stephen Colbert's riotous piece Tip of the Hat/Wag of the Finger. He goes after right-winger bakery that wants to discriminate against gays and Freemasons? Later he covers a female bug with a um... male organ. Finally, there's a hilarious piece where Colbert torches Fox News' Five Eric Bolling for wishing a non-fact to be true about President Obama so he can criticize him. I love the way Colbert uses Fox News Dana Perino's correction for Fox News new motto. "Great point if it were true."

The Daily Show covers the 2016 Presidential election

Oh my God. The news media is covering the 2016 Presidential election. It's only 2014. Clinton versus Jeb Bush? Clinton versus Bush again? Oy. Sounds like great comic fodder for Jon Stewart and The Daily Show. Here the hilarious video piece, parts one and two.

Stephen Colbert's interview with actress Ellen Page

Here's Stephen Colbert's funny interview with the charming Ellen Page. For science fiction fans she's known to us from the X-Men movies and of course, Inception. (2010)

The Cincinnati Bengals 2014 Draft Grade

Fist, maybe you should call me "The Draft Guru." Yep, I predicted correctly that the Bengals would pick Darqueze Dennard. (CB, Michigan State) I thought that other teams would find other cornerbacks more attractive as better athletes thereby letting Dennard fall to the Bengals at the twenty fourth pick. But what about the rest of the Bengals draft?

Here's the list.

1. Darqueze Dennard (CB, Michigan State)
2. Jeremy Hill (RB, LSU)
3. Will Clarke (DE, WVU)
4. Russell Bodine (C, North Carolina)
5. A.J. McCarron (QB, Alabama)
6. Marquis Flowers (OLB, Arizona)
7. James Wright (WR, LSU)
7. Lavelle Westbrooks (CB, Georgia Southern)

First let's talk about the Bengals trading up to get Russell Bodine. The Bengals traded with the Seattle Seahawks by giving up their fourth round and an extra sixth round pick so no big loss here. I've said the Bengals need to address the center situation. And Bodine does that. He's mean and strong but not fast or agile. He may not need the last two. He can also play center.

But the big elephant in the room is the second round pick of Jeremy Hill. If the Bengals wanted a bruising back, Ohio State's Carlos Hyde was there. So what's the problem with Hill? Character. A trait that doesn't matter with the Bengals According to Lindy's Sports Pro Football Draft (pg. 22) , Hill has a conviction for sex with a minor from 2010. (2011) Then while on probation for that offense he committed an assault in 2013. If you're a Bengals fan, the story of Stanley Wilson should come to mind. Wilson was found high from cocaine the night before Super Bowl XXIII and left off the team. Oh, then there's WR Chris Henry who had a ton of talent but his personal demons led to his death. Character matters to me. Off field problems are embarrassing to the city, set a bad example for kids and can lead a player to not contribute to the team due to suspensions.

What about Hill's talent? Well at LSU, he played behind a good run blocking line. Look at the tape, some of those holes he ran through, you could drive a truck through. On the upside, he's big and fast. Will break arm tacles. Let's hope he'll run through defenses. It would help if Hill would come out and address the character issue with the Cincinnati media. Second, I hope he says this. "When I run with the ball, I will do so feeling the pain of the Bengals fans. I will try to outrun and over all that pain."

Of other interest is A.J. McCarron. Yes, he's led Alabama to two national titles. He's a Heisman Trophy runner-up for 2013. But there are reasons why so many teams passed up on him. Not a big time arm. Worry about the fatigue of his throwing arm. At times, he floats the ball. Don't expect him to replace Bengals QB Andy Dalton. McCarron may not even make the team.

So, what's the grade for the 2014 Bengals draft? The Bengals are taking a big gamble with Hill. He's high risk, high reward. Still, they addressed every need. For the most part, the Bengals let the draft come to them. There were no major trade ups, mortgaging the future. The grade is B.

Neighbors review

I've said this many times. Comedy is a subjective thing. What makes one person laugh may not make me laugh. I find Stephen Colbert to be hilarious but usually don't find The Three Stooges to be funny. So one may come up with different views on the movie Neighbors as to whether it's funny.

In Neighbors, we meet married couple Mac Radner (Seth Rogen) and his wife, Kelly Radner (Rose Byrne) as a couple who have a house and a new baby girl. Their marital bliss is broken up by the new neighbors who happen to be a college fraternity Delta Psi. It's run by Teddy Sanders. (Zac Efron) The Radners make an agreement with the fraternity to not call the police if they party too loud. But one night, the fraternity brothers party loud and hard. After trying to call the Teddy to keep the noise down with no avail, Mac calls the police. That starts a war between the neighbors with the Radners trying to find a way to drive the fraternity out of their house.

Look Seth Rogen was born to play comedy. He's chubby, and goofy. He's willing to humiliate himself for the camera. And for the most part, he's kind of funny. Rose Byrne is also a good sport as she is also willing to make fun of herself. Ditto for Zac Efron. The "bromance" borders on gayness between him and his best frat friend, Pete. (Dave Franco)

But when it comes to frat comedies, one has to compete with Animal House (1976) and Revenge of the Nerds. (1984) And while Neighbors has its moments, it struggles to compete with the bawdiness of those two. The problem with this movie is the baby. She's cute and it becomes hard to make some really crazy stuff around her. The humor of this movie is more suburban than college kid craziness.

Neighbors is a funny movie but not a hilarious one. Somebody might laugh harder but this one won't make my all time comedy list. The grade is B.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Stephen Colbert skewers conservative hero Cliven Bundy

Yep, he's been the hero of conservatives for a few weeks until he made some racist remarks saying that African Americans were better off as slaves. Here's Stephen Colbert's hilarious take down of this guy in song. Check out the video clips of conservatives like Sean Hannity fawning all over this racist.

Joey Votto wins it in the ninth with a walk-off home run

As a Reds fan, we expect things like this. Reds Joey Votto drives in the winning run in the ninth inning. In this case, Joey Votto blasts a deep home run to center to win the game in the ninth inning. Reds beat the Colorado Rockies, 4-3. Here's the highlight and story of Votto's walk-off home run. I tried to embed the video below but there seems to be some technical difficulties.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Cincinnati Bengals 2014 Draft Preview

Okay, let me get this out of the way. The Bengals should not and will not draft Lousiville QB Teddy Bridgewater with the twenty fourth pick. His stock seems to be dropping and he could be there for the Bengals. But picking him would mean he's better than your quarterback right now who is Pro Bowler (2011) Andy Dalton. Drafting quarterbacks can be a hit or miss. Remember Ryan Leaf? I didn't think so. There's no consensus that Bridgewater is a sure thing. The Bengals should skip him. If he's there in the third round, maybe. The Bengals have a good back up in Jason Campell, a former first round draft pick.

The Bengals Needs.

1. Cornerback.

With cornerback Leon Hall coming back from an Achilles injury and Terence Newman and Adam "Pacman" Jones getting older, the Bengals are a little thin here. Granted former first round pick Dre Kirkpatrick was injured his first year so we have not seen much from him. That being said, Kirkpatrick had a great game against the Baltimore Ravens last year on Dec. 29. He had nine tackles and 2 interceptions with one for a pick six.

Top corners in the draft. Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State, Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State. Marcus Roberson, Florida.

2. Offensive Line. The Bengals lost left tackle Anthony Collins to free agency. It's important to note that the left tackle protects Dalton's blind side. Will the Bengals move Andrew Whitworth back to left tackle after moving him to guard? The Bengals also cut starting center Kyle Cook. I think the Bengals will address the tackle situation before center unless a top rated center drops to them in the second round.

Top offensive tackles. Jake Matthews, Texas A & M. Greg Robinson, Auburn. Zack Martin, Notre Dame.

Top centers. Travis Swanson, Arkansas. Weston Richburg, Colorado State. Bryan Stork, Florida State.

3. Outside Linebacker. The Bengals got the deal of the decade when they signed undrafted Vontaze Burfict. He made the Pro Bowl last year. But he's more of an inside linebacker and the Bengals need more from the outside linebackers.

Top outside linebackers. Anthony Barr, UCLA. Ryan Shazier, Ohio State. Khalil Mack, Buffalo.

Prediction for the Bengals 2014 First Pick.

Defense wins championships. Ask the Seattle Seahawks. The Bengals will pick a cornerback since the best ones are usually picked in the high rounds. I believe Darqueze Dennard falls down to the Bengals.

Here's the scouting report for Dennard.

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 3D review

To make a good movie romance, you've got to have three things. One, the plot conflict must be plausible. The stereotypical love triangle where one partner is kind of bad usually ends up in bad cliche. Two, you've got to have realistic dialogue between the two lovers. Three, there must be chemistry between the two. So, why am I discussing screen romance when reviewing the summer's first popcorn superhero movie, The Amazing Spider-Man 2? Because at its heart, this film is basically a romance.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 starts out with a flashback. We see Richard Parker, and Mary Parker, the parents of Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield). It's their last moments alive on a doomed plane. This is a plot point from the first movie, The Amazing Spider-Man. An assassin is on the plane and Richard struggles with him. A gun is fired and the plane decompresses. Richard is able to send a secret message via his computer. The movie then flashes forward to the streets of New York. Peter Parker aka Spider-Man is trying to thwart the theft of plutonium by Aleksei Sytsevich. (Paul Giamatti) It's a wild car chase scene that has some touches of humor. Perhaps a little too wild as I thought the movie would veer into camp. During the chase, Parker gets calls from his girlfriend Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) reminding him of his high school graduation ceremony. This leads Parker to see images of Gwen's late father who made him promise to leave Gwen out of his actions as Spider-Man. At one point, Spider-Man saves Max Dillion, (Jamie Foxx) a nerdy OsCorp employee. Anyway, the truck containing the plutonium runs over Spider-Man squishing him like a bug and the movie ends after twenty minutes. Okay, that didn't happen. Spider-Man stops the theft and Parker makes his graduation.

Later, Max Dillon finds out that his plans to unify the power grid of the city has been stolen by other employees at OsCorp. Additionally, he's forced to work overtime to repair electrical problems at OsCorp's research labs. Now Jamie Foxx is a fine actor but he's too strong to play a geek. Thankfully, that part of his performance is short as Max falls into a vat of mutant electric eels. He's transformed into Electro, a super villain who can manipulate electricity. It's this transformation and his final stage as Electro where Foxx is truly frightening. Meanwhile, there are other changes at OsCorp. Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) returns to run the company. There's very little exposition for Harry as he's Peter Parker's childhood friend. But Garfield and DeHaan do a good job of showing us a real friendship. But Harry's got a problem. He's suffering from a genetic disease.

Director Marc Webb returns from the first film. This time he uses slow motion and stop action shots to demonstrate Spider-Man's "Spidey" sense. This is good since it gives the audience a clear understanding of what is going on in an action set piece. I appreciate the break from the fast cutting that modern moviemaking has devolved to. Webb knows how to handle an action scene. They're fun and exciting. Less impressive is the music. Gone is The Amazing Spider-Man's first heavy weight composer, James Horner. In his place are Hans Zimmer and Pharrell Williams. Unlike the first movie with heroic musical themes, we get a kind of musical wallpaper. The movie also ends abruptly, sapping a little out of this epic.

But it's the romance between Peter and Gwen that makes The Amazing Spider-Man 2, well, amazing. The three elements for a good screen romance are here. Plausible conflict. Peter feels guilt and worry over his relationship with Gwen after promising her late father to "leave Gwen out of it." She's in danger as long as he is around her. Gwen wants to be able to choose how to maintain her relationship with Peter rather than leave it to her dead father's wishes. Two, there is realistic dialogue. I found the conversations between Peter and Gwen to be things that people in their position would say. Three, there must be chemistry between the two lovers. It helps that actors Garfield and Stone have a real life relationship. But that must still be duplicated on screen and in character. There's a chemistry between Peter and Gwen that's electric. Their love leaps joyously across the screen.

Much of the credit for The Amazing Spider-Man 2's success should go to the writers of the screenplay, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci (Star Trek Into Darkness) and Jeff Pinkner. It's a script that balances the action with heart and the themes that are part of the Spider-Man world. Great power requires great responsibility. Heroism can come from ordinary people. And of course, there's the amazing romance between Peter and Gwen.

Less amazing however is this film in 3D. Unlike its predecessor, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was converted from 2D rather than shot in 3D. To paraphrase Roger Ebert, you cannot make a 2D movie into 3D. This film did not pop or have that popping effect where the action reaches into the theater. Depth was lacking. And almost all the live action scenes did not work in 3D. Go see The Amazing Spider-Man 2 but skip the 3D version.

It's the romance rather than the explosions that is more compelling in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. I walked out of the theater captivated by Peter and Gwen than thrilled by all the action. But if you want that, it's there too. The grade is A.