Tuesday, August 18, 2015

John Oliver skewers greedy, corrupt televangelists

John Oliver destroys slimy, greedy televangelists who advocate a belief called prosperity gospel. Basically the belief is that getting rich is God's favor.. So these televangelists get people to send them money with the hope that those people will get wealthy. Here's John Oliver's funny piece from HBO's "Last Week Tonight."

Heidi Klum trumps Trump

Conservative Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump told the New York Times that model Heidi Klum is "no longer a ten." I wonder what happens to Trump's third wife, Melenia, should she no longer be a "ten" in the Donald's eyes. Watch out Melenia, he likes blondes. See former wives, Ivanka and Marla. He was also interested in Princess Diana! (People.com) Anyway, here's Heidi's response via Instagram and courtesy of TMZ. Oh, yeah Heidi. You are beautiful in my eyes.

Donald Trump repsesents the conservative Republican

According to a recent CNN poll, super rich guy, Donald Trump is leading Jeb Bush by a whopping thirteen points. Trump 24 %. George W.'s brother er.... Jeb at 11%. CNN: Donald Trump sinks GOP's 2016 Dream Team.

Come on conservative Republicans, accept who you are. Trump represents your values. Don't think so? Let's again do a little deduction ala Sherlock Holmes. The GOP has purged moderates and liberals from the party. How's New York governor Pataki doing? And the Party according to Gallup, is overwhelmingly white. It's also supported and dominated by men. Pew Research. No stretch to say that the Republican Party is the party of white men. No stretch to deduce that Donald Trump is the candidate of the conservative white man. So stop whining conservative Republicans. Donald Trump represents you.

Enjoy that Gjallarhorn while you can, Destiny fans

I hope those of you who bought the Gjallarhon from Xur last week are having fun with it. Because it's one cruel joke from developer Bungie. You see they're going to nerf it soon. See Destiny Weapon Tuning 2.0.

By the way Bungie this blows up your specious rational for nerfing or weakening the weapon. You argued that people were being excluded from Raids and Nightfall strikes because they didn't have it. Now, I imagine a lot of people have it. So there is no longer any reason to nerf it. But here's my opinion. Bungie must extend the game to Destiny 2 and also get players to buy the September DLC, The Take King. Nerfing and making year one Legendary weapons obsolete pushes players to purchase the DLC with the promise of more potent guns. Of course, I've got a fist full of Glimmer to bet that you will have to find those good guns, and level them up. Look, the weakening of all first year weapons doesn't help the gamer. It does help Bungie milk every last dollar from the gamer.

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. review

It's that eternal quest for Hollywood studios. Find a movie franchise that can rake in the money for shareholders. Sometimes this means raiding beloved old TV shows when the studio suits can't take a risk on anything creatively new. Mission Impossible. Bewitched. What next, The Beverly Hillbillies? Um, never mind on that one. Well, Warner Brothers has just released a feature film, based on the sixties TV show, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and given it the same title. What did you expect? "The Search for More Money Affair?"

This new movie takes place during the Cold War, roughly 1962-1963 as we constantly see TV clips of President John F. Kennedy. CIA agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) is in East Berlin trying to extract Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander) who's nuclear scientist father has gone missing. The fact the guy can build a nuclear bomb is disturbing to the Americans. The Soviets have dispatched KGB agent Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) to also grab her. Solo succeeds in getting her out. However, the Russians and Americans believe that the father has been kidnapped by Nazi sympathizers Victoria Vinciguerra (Elizabeth Debicki) and her husband, Alexander. (Luca Calvani) The Americans and the Russians team Solo and Kuryakin to infiltrate Vinciguerra's company, find Gaby's father and possibly get his plans for the nuclear bomb.

Director Guy Ritchie and Lionel Wigram's script is okay. I mean it's got some good jokes and nicely sets up the sixties Cold War spy story. But what's the purpose to use the U.N.C.L.E. organization in name of the movie since the film is almost all about how Solo and Kuryakin met and their first mission. Oh, yeah, it's that franchise thing.

There are problems. It's Ritche's direction that deflates parts of this movie. First, let me talk about the music. I was expecting to hear Jerry Goldsmith's iconic spy theme from the TV show. I can barely recall it being in this movie. Then Ritchie uses some strange and novel music. Some of it is sixties pop that doesn't fit and some of it is weird electronic music. The movie would have been better served with orchestral spy type music. Other times, there were scenes that cried out for music. The romantic scenes needed it.

Needed much more of this type of music and theme, Guy.

And that brings us to Ritchie's handling of sex scenes. They're not very sexy. Those scenes feel as if they were shot by a virgin teenage boy. They're unsure, and seem to be cut so the movie easily fits a PG rating. I'm kind of amazed this movie was a PG-13 rating rather than a straight PG.

Ritche also mishandles the action set pieces. As with today's modern filmmaking, he lets the editor fast cut his way to generate excitement. The result? Not very exciting since it can get confusing. Then Ritchie uses split screens during a military assault on the villains base. Very difficult to figure out how the attack went and there weren't enough shots of the heroes leading the assault and firing their guns. Let me put it this way. James Bond movies did it better.

But what saves this movie are two things. First, I love this cast. Henry Cavill is suave as Solo. Arnie Hammer gives his Kuryakin a hot headed passion driven by the injustice done to his family by the Soviets. It's his best work since The Social Network. (2010) Elizabeth Debicki steals the movie. She has grace and reminds me of Audrey Hepburn. All three are beautiful and sexy. They're just great to look at.

Then there's the style of the film. Ritchie's movie has just enough color drain to make the movie feel as if it's from the Sixties. The sets, the mannerisms of the actors all feel genuine from the period. And let's not forget the costumes. Wow. Kudos to Joanna Johnston for her clothing designs. It was as if I was looking at Vogue magazine from 1963. The result of all this excellent work is that one feels that they were transported to another time and place.

Elizabeth Debicki and Henry Cavill strike a pose.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is a good movie with problems but is carried by its groovy style. It needs more of the U.N.C.L.E vibe to be more fun but perhaps we can look forward to that in a sequel. The grade is B.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Conservative Republicans must own Donald Trump

You'll see conservative Republicans fret over the rise of Donald Trump as the possible Presidential nominee. (Washington Post article, August 8, 2015) He's made racist, misogynistic and crazy comments. It's obvious his extreme views would most likely doom the GOP's chance at winning the White House.

But conservative Republicans must own Trump. His large leads in the Republican Presidential polls reflects the GOP. I mean they'e purged the moderates. Have you heard any candidate say he's a moderate and do well? And it's not the party that has guys like former, late President Gerald Ford anymore. It's a a very conservative party which has a heavy Tea Party influence.

Let me put it this way. Where is Trump's support in the Republican Party coming from? It's not coming from liberals. It's not coming from moderates. Because both don't exist in the party. It's coming from conservative Republicans. And here's my guess. I don't see a whole bunch of African American women supporting Trump. It's angry white male, conservative Republicans.

Bungie's Big Mistake by making Legendary weapons obsolete

The upcoming DLC for Destiny, The Taken King does not allow you to upgrade existing Legendary weapons and that sucks. It demonstrates developer Bungie's contempt for gamers. (See Game Informer report, August 4, 2015.) Along with the nerfing of favorite weapons like the Gjallarhorn, this last disrespect could be the "nail in the coffin" for Destiny's projected ten year run.

To demonstrate Bungie's contempt for you the gamer, I pose this question in the spirit of the late President Ronald Reagan to the fans of Destiny.


Of course, the answer is "no." Let me explain. Let's say you obtain that hard to get hand cannon Fatebringer from the difficult raid, "Vault of Glass." It is possibly the best hand cannon and one of the best weapons in the game because it has explosive rounds, the perk Firefly and Arc damage. You ascend it in late May to the maximum attack rating of 365 due to that month's DLC, "The House of Wolves." You begin to use it and start to rock your enemies. Your Destiny gaming is easier and more fun. That's assuming you like your gun to do damage and not be a BB gun.

Flash forward to September's release of the DLC "The Taken King." Just four months or even less, your beloved Fatebringer is now obsolete. All that hard work to obtain this magnificent weapon is now wasted. And I mean hard work. You must reach level 20 to use it, must obtain the weapon as a RNG drop, level it up AND obtain the difficult to get Etheric Light to get this gun to the maximum level.

All of these changes to weaken favorite weapons are designed to get you to try the new weapons from the upcoming DLC.

“I definitely feel like some of our players are ready to play with some new toys,” says (Bungie) creative director Luke Smith. “And we’ve built a whole bunch of new toys. There are definitely some weapons that you are going to find better versions of – there’s going to be something that replaces that sniper rifle that you love.” Game Informer article, August 4, 2015.

And how do you get to those new weapons? Buy the DLC for a whopping forty bucks or more depending on what version of the game you get. Look, I get the idea to make a buck but it's way too early to make favorite weapons obsolete. At this time, the game is not even a year old. We're a long way from Destiny Two so why weaken Destiny One weapons roughly every three months? Yeah, it's a way to milk every last buck from the gamer but it does not benefit them. And let me respond to Luke Smith. Those great weapons he talks about in The Taken King will probably not be available right away. I'm guessing from older DLCs, you will have to get those from complicated Raids and difficult tasks such as playing The Prison of Elders on harder levels I also question whether the new primary weapons will have elemental damage right away. If not, the Destiny player is in a weaker position at the start of The Taken King because his powerful gun from the Destiny One is now obsolete. It's going to be more pain and suffering.

Finally let me answer those who support the changes. If you read articles about the obsolescence of Destiny year one weapons, you get this feeling that some of them are for it. Here's David Thier of Forbes writing if is for the best. Okay, my fellow gamers, those that support it are usually the guys who write for the organizations that support big business, the gaming industry or depend on their survival to the success of Destiny. I, my fellow gamers, do none of that. I'm a gamer. So, I've got no financial motive for supporting Bungie's decision to weaken or nerf favorite weapons or criticizing it. Let me make this clear. I do not support Bungie's garbage. And as I have demonstrated, making your favorite Legendary Destiny wepons obsolete stinks.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Fantastic Four review

Sometimes a commercial premise for a story will "doom" a movie. And unfortunately, the latest reboot of the superhero team , Fantastic Four, suffers from such treatment.The big problem with film is that it is inspired by the Ultimate Fantastic Four comic book series. (Comics Alliance, "Fox's Fantastic Four reboot: What the FF?" February 20, 2014) That series re-imagined the Fantastic Four as much younger people.

I can imagine how the suits at Fox wanted to reboot the Fantastic Four. "Well we have this Marvel franchise. Got to reach the young kids who go to the movies. Hey, check out the box office for The Hunger Games. Can we make the Four younger? Wait. Check out the Ultimate Fantastic Four comics. Voila, we got box office gold." Well, going for the bucks sometimes dumbs down the story.

You see the big problem with this reboot of the 2005 movie is that it's unbelievable. I'm supposed to believe that a bunch of kids, Reed Richards (Miles Teller) and Ben Grimm (Jamie Bell), at a science fair have developed a way to transport matter to an another dimension. Reed is recruited by Dr. Franklin Storm (Reg Cathey) to work at his lab to work on a transporter being developed by Victor von Doom (Toby Kebbell) and his daughter, Sue Storm. (Kate Mara) Look, I know brilliant high school kids. But to believe a bunch of kids can build a matter teleportation device that can warp people to another dimension is ridiculous. Kids don't have the scientific, and life experience to do something like this. Imagine high school kids building the first nuclear bomb. You get the picture. In the older version of the Fantastic Four, Richards has a doctorate and white hair.

Anyway, the government tells Dr. Storm and the kids that they are going to use real astronauts to send them to the other dimension which has a planet they call Zero. Richards, Grimm, Doom and Johnny Storm (Michael B. Jordan) who is Sue's brother believe they won't get credit for their work and decide to go to the planet. Okay, the first thing that does feel real. High school kids doing stupid things. You can guess what happens. The kids transport to the planet and things go bad. Doom gets stranded. Sue Storm tries to get them back. The machine explodes on the trip back altering Richards, Grimm and both Storms. Richards can stretch to extraordinary lengths, Grimm is a rock monster called the Thing has super strength, Sue Storm can turn invisible and create force fields and Johnny can turn into a human torch who can fly.

The government whisks them away to Area 57. Ha. Ha. It's Area 51, guys. But I digress. Richards escapes. But they use Grimm for military operations. The Storms are also being groomed for service. Of course, if you know anything about the Fantastic Four, you know Doom is coming back. And he's not bringing flowers.

Rebooting the Four as kids has created problems with the casting. You must find young actors who can act. Miles Teller is not mature enough to exhibit much emotion. He's like the rock that encases The Thing. And yes, I will say it. Casting an African American to play Johnny Storm who's white in the comic books is wrong. First, he's the sister of Sue Storm, a blonde white woman. You're going to have to explain how they can be siblings. Well, the movie does, but it's wasted energy by the audience trying to see the sibling relationship. Second, imagine if Johnny were originally black. And if they cast a white man to play him. Yes, there would be an uproar by the pc police. To be fair, it must go both ways. Third, Michael Jordan who plays Johnny is just as bad as Teller. He's also a talking rock. The only actors who do well are Kate Mara, Toby Kebbell, and Jamie Bell. Mara as Sue Storm is smart, resourceful and sexy. Bell's "The Thing" which is created by CGI works because he gets the pain he feels after being transformed into something that doesn't look human anymore. Toby Kebbell's Doom is the best Doom ever. He's vicious, evil and downright scary.

Director Josh Trank is not a bad director but he's let down by very bad script. Simon Kinberg
Jeremy Slater and Trank wrote this mess. As stated above, using kids as the Four just strains credibility. Second, Planet Zero which has much of the action is not very interesting which makes a large chunk of the movie uninteresting. Third, it takes more than half the movie to get to the point where the Four use their powers for good. While it's good to show how they got their powers, it shouldn't take more than an hour to get to the "Fantastic Four." Finally, I know there's a trend for superhero movies to be grittier, and more realistic. But that can drain the fun and joy out of them. This Fantastic Four movie is just hapless. There's very little humor that the franchise had. And the only time I laughed was when they got Area 51's name wrong. I got no joy watching Johnny Storm fly, Sue Storm turn invisible, or Reed Richards stretch. There was no heroism until the final act of the movie.

Fox should think twice about a sequel to this movie. Rebooting again would also be a problem as you would be asking audiences to watch another reboot within about three years. They should just recast and do an original Fantastic Four movie set within the original Marvel universe. In that case, you'll need a short exposition to reintroduce the characters. Until then if you want to see a good Fantastic Four movie, go watch "The Incredibles." (2004) The grade is C.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Donald Trump wins debate

Let me start with this caveat. I'm a politically incorrect liberal so you may be suspicious of my opinion of Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump. But I'm going to try to be objective as possible. Here's my view of who won the first Republican Presidential Debate on Fox News last night.

Donald Trump won the debate.

First right off the bat, it was clear Fox News was after him. The first question asked the candidates to raise their hands if any would not pledge to support the Republican nominee and forgo an independent run. Trump raised his hand. While this question was of great interest to Republicans and its media wing, Fox News, it's hardly what the country is worried about. It was a question that one would ask of Trump as the Republicans are scared that Trump may run as an independent if he does not get the nomination. There was some boos. After the question, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul accused Trump of hedging his bets and buying politicians. Trumps retorted back. "Well, I've given him (Paul) plenty of money." Touche Trump.

And on it went. They peppered him about campaign contributions. Questioned whether he was a Republican. Went after his sexist remarks. Grilled him on his businesses' bankruptcies.

The result? Trump brushed them all off like a tough, rich New York businessman that he is. If I can describe his demeanor, his answer would be "Whatever. Sue me. I don't care. I'm rich." He didn't care if he pleased every Republican in the audience. He didn't want to. He took the hits and did not fall down.

And since he's leading in the Republican polls, he won the debate. The others had to bring him down and outshine him. Forget about it. He was a giant and they were mice. A whopping twenty four million people watched this political circus. And they didn't tune in to see Jeb Bush or Scott Walker talk about defunding Planned Parenthood.