The Muppet Christmas Carol

Release: December 11, 1992 christmascarol

I have made the commitment to look back at past Christmases and my childhood to revisit some fun holiday films. I plan on reviewing a different holiday flick every week until the jolly fat-man comes barreling down our chimneys.

Seeing as Jason Segel just brought back my favorite ragtag gang of felt to the world; I feel it fitting that the first film to be watched is The Muppet Christmas Carol!

This was the first Muppets film after the death of their creator Jim Hensen in 1990 with his son Brian taking the helm of the ship.

The Muppet Christmas Carol is a retelling of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. The story follows Ebenezer Scrooge, (Michael Caine) a man who’s about all work and no play or heart. On the eve of Christmas he gets a visit from his deceased partners Jacob and Robert Marley (Statler & Waldorf) who foretell of three ghosts that will visit Scrooge in the night to show him the error of his ways and his possible future. All the while, we get treated to narration and commentary by The Great Gonzo and Rizzo The Rat.

To say that this was a “nostalgiagasm” would be an understatement.

WHAT WORKED:

– Michael Caine. The guy always brings his A-Game. The scenes where we’d have close ups on his face make me believe he’s a Timelord like Doctor Who or Sean Connery. Caine hasn’t aged too badly.

His delivery and acting weren’t too exaggerated like some actors around The Muppets. That’s right I’m talking to you David Arquette.

– The Great Gonzo and Rizzo The Rat. Adding two visual narrators was a great idea on the part of Brian Hensen (director) and Jerry Juhl (writer). They broke the story up well and added much to the comedy aspects of “Muppet-vision” of A Christmas Carol.

WHAT DIDN’T WORK:

– The Songs. Yes, as always The Muppets had some good music and well short musical sequences but nothing stood out for me. There are many Muppets songs I can still recall from my childhood, but none from this film. In fact I watched this last night and can’t remember the songs now.

– The lack of my boy Fozzie The Bear. Not enough of him. Unacceptable.

This was a great flick. The nostalgia factor of it alone would make it worth watching again. But the story, acting and overall awesomeness will be the payoff for plopping this into the DVD player during the Christmas season! Because The Muppet Christmas Carole is Verified Awesome.

The Descendants

descendantsThe Descendants is a comedy-drama from Fox Search Light, and is also based on the novel of the same name by Kaui Hart Hemmings. It stars the ever-fantastic (except Batman & Robin) George Clooney. The Descendants is directed by Alexander Payne who has previously brought us About Schmidt and Sideways.

Once again I’m going to stress that I always separate my feelings on a film from the novel that it is adapted from.

The film follows Matt King (our boy Clooney) as he copes with his dying, comatose wife and troubled family. To top it all off he is also dealing with the sale of his family’s trust of a large piece of Hawaiian land. Over the course of the flick Matt discovers details about his wife’s infidelity.

What Worked For This Film:

– The soundtrack! The descendants boasts musical score from entirely Hawaiian musicians. It’s soft or stressing at all the right moments but doesn’t dictate the films emotion.

– Clooney. This film is just another reason why I think he’s still in the top 10 best leading men. He right for the role of Dad. I could totally see this guy cleaning a pool and making a craptastic lunch.

– The kids. I have to give them props. Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller and Nick Krause keep up in the thespian department with Clooney.

– The writing. Payne, Jim Rash (Yeah, Dean Pelton) and Nat Faxon really opened up a world we all could live in for good and for bad.

What Didn’t Work For This Film:

– I’m seriously still looking.

The Descendants is AWESOME.

DVD Review: UFC Ultimate Knockouts 9

ufc-ultimate-knockouts-9DVD Reviewed by Steven Wilson

With the holiday shopping season right around the corner, its time to start looking at the latest releases that can appeal to the MMA fan on your list, and the first of such releases is the latest in the UFC Ultimate Knockouts DVD & Blu Ray series, this installment being Volume 9, hitting shelves on November 8th.

Much like the other releases in this series, the DVD checks in with a 93 minute run time and features the latest in high profile knockouts from UFC battles that took place over the past year.

As the tag line on the DVD`s back cover says, nothing puts an exclamation mark on a fight like a great knockout, especially when your least expecting it. This was the case in Anderson Silva vs Vitor Belfot fight from UFC 126, It was the crane kick to the head heard around the world which would later spawn Lyoto Machida`s similar finish on Randy Couture at UFC 129. To say the least I have always been a big fan of the knockout, and honestly regardless of the type of UFC fan you are who doesnt like a good knockout every once in a while?

The release features action from 30+ fights that ended in a Knockout or Technical Knockout. Some fights are show in full, while others are joined in progress shortly before the “big bang” so to speak. These bouts include the afformentioned Anderson Silva/Vitor Belfort fight, as well as the Lyoto Machida/Randy Couture fight, also featured are the heavyweight title bout between Brock Lesnar & Cain Velazquez from UFC 121, the very short Matt Hughes BJ Penn UFC 123 fight, Dan Hardy vs Carlos Condit from UFC 120, Chuck Liddel vs Rich Franklin from UFC 115, and Shogun Rua vs Jon Bones Jones from UFC 128

Extras are slim on this release, limited to only a Total TKO’s featurette. However considering the DVD’s main subject there is little more you can expect out of a 1 disc release such as this one. That being said, UFC producers still try and go all out with another one of their awesomely produced highlights packages.

For the big fans of the KO out there, this series continues to provide exactly what your looking for. It may not be content heavy release, but could always be good for a quick afternoon watch with your fellow UFC fans, and for the UFC fan on your holiday shopping list, its an affordable gift that should be much appreciated.

UFC Ultimate Knockouts 9 will be released on DVD and Blu Ray November 8th via Anchor Bay Entertainment. You can order your copy via quality online retailers such as Amazon for as little as 21.98$ for the DVD version

The Rum Diary

Rum DiariesThe Rum Diary is the latest film starring everyone’s favorite gay pirate: Johnny Depp. Depp plays Paul Kemp, a novelist trying to make some cash as a freelance journalist for a failing paper in Puerto Rico.  It was written and directed by Bruce Robinson, who’s last directing venture was Jennifer Eight with Andy Garcia in 1992. The screen play is an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Hunter S. Thompson.

As I do with all flicks based on books, I’m going to ignore the fidelity it has to Thompson’s Novel. (Which is badass so you should read it anyways.)

The movie starts with a scene of  a hangover morning in what I swear could have been a reality Show on Depp’s life. It’s exactly how I’d be if I were Depp. F–ked up in a random hotel room craving eggs with blood vessels busted in my eyes.

This flick follows the misadventures of Paul Kemp while in Puerto Rico. It really feels as if this script was written while Robinson was really high on five different psychedelic drugs. Theres constant change in direction. Unlike Napoleon Dynamite, there is reason for the conflict but shares the same lack for true resolve.

What worked for this film:
– The dialog between Depp and paper photog, Sala (Michael Rispoli). I could have watched a three-hour film with just a mid shot on these two talking.
– Kemp’s love interest: Chenault. Need we say more?

What didn’t work for this film:
– Giovanni Ribisi. Moburg as a character was too eclectic and animated for what I felt to be a “realistic” film.
– The drug trip scene with the CGI. Really guys?
– The lack of resolve during the film.
– The camera work. I don’t know. For me a film should have a constant style. This just kept changing. Not to mention a very “up-chuck” inducing walking beach scene.
– The erratic mess of direction. Was this a buddy-stoner/drunk film? Because I know another movie where 2 idiots have a small baby blue car that goes missing. And that one had more boobs!

This film gets the toilet!

Paranormal Activity 3

PA3It’s always smart to be weary of any horror film’s second sequel. With all the Saws and whatnot. However, Paranormal Activity 3 stands up pretty well, even on it’s own.

This time around it’s Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost at the directing helm of this flick. These guys directed the documentary Catfish They take the “surveillance camera” tactic to it’s OG roots with VHS and home-brew rigs.  This is another prequel to the 2007 film that started it all. Taking us all the way back to when Kristi and Katie are but little gals in 1988.

What worked in this film:

Little Kristi! (Jessica Tyler Brown) This kid has some acting CHOPS! I’m not too sure how old she is. That means IMDB and Wikipedia don’t have anything on her yet. But she can’t be more than 7 in this and she just blows the rest of the cast away. With the noted exception of Toby.

The continued lack of music. I know you’re saying “Duh, this is a hand-held docu-style horror film!” But it’s what kept me on the edge of my seat. I have a pretty large posterior so it a feat in itself.

The fact that the characters in the film never get concrete idea about what is going on leaves the viewer feeling their panic.

What didn’t work for this film:

The mom Julie. (Lauren Bittner) I know I’m just pulling at straws but She really got blown out of the water by a ginger-child-of-the-corn.

It really takes a while before this film gets going. I’d say the first 30 minutes feel much longer than they really need too. I had the time to finish my Ice Cap and contemplate getting a second. But just as those thoughts start, so does the movie’s true suspense and freaky I’m-not-going-to-stand-near-almost-open-doors-again-ness.

I wasn’t a fan of the first two films in the series, but I’m totally digging on this one and might have a hard time sleeping tonight.

Paranormal Activity gets a 4 out of 5 from me.

PS: Paramount is once again using social media to help promote the flick. For PA3, they’re using twitter with @TweetYourScream.

UFC Ultimate Knockouts 8 DVD Review

Reviewed at MainEventRadio.com (Tony Stabile)

There are three ways to end a fight in the Octagon of the UFC; judges’ decision, submission or the most exciting of the three: KNOCKOUT! “They leave no doubt, by way of Knockout!” is what Mike Goldberg utters during the intro, and that is exactly what these men do in UFC’s latest DVD/Bluray release:

This release only features one disc.  However it features over 80 minutes of insane knockouts from all the best in the UFC. This DVD starts off strong with what was probably one of the more surprising knockouts in the history of the UFC in the fight between UFC knockout legend “The Iceman” Chuck Liddell and Shogun Rua in Montreal at UFC 97. It goes on to feature names like Drew McFedries, Lyoto Machida, Anderson Silva, Forrest Griffin, Frank Mir, Frank Trigg, Shane Carwin and Brock Lesnar.

The Bonus features are somewhat light but acceptable for a small highlight release like this one. It features Promos for other releases from the UFC and “Total TKO’s.” This is where the production shines. “Total TKO’s” is a six minute highlight reel of some of the best TKO’s in the history of the UFC, nicely spliced together with quick match highlights and tough music to blend it together.

For the casual fan it’s a great way to spend an evening reliving some of the UFC’s best knockout finishes! For 20$, this is a must to any MMA DVD/Bluray collector. It continues the hard-hitting action from itspredecessors.

UFC’s Ultimate Knockouts 8 is available now on DVD and Blu Ray from Anchor Bay Entertainment for more information or to pick up your own copy check out www.ufc.com or Anchor Bay’s Web page for the release viawww.anchorbayentertainment.com

UFC 121 DVD Review

Reviewed at MainEventRadio.com (Tony Stabile)

The Ultimate Fighting Championship is back again with what can be seen as one of their biggest events yet:. This event was held on October 23rd, 2010 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. The UFC set out to shake the world and they indeed just that as in the main event of the evening Cain Valesquezdefeated Brock Lesnar to become the new UFC World Heavyweight Champion. The fans in attendance certainly got their money’s worth and now you can too, in the comfort of your living rooms.

The card is stacked from top to bottom and like always, this DVD is incredibly well produced and put together.

We start the night off with Brendan “The Hybrid” Schaubvs Gabriel Gonzaga in a Heavyweight bout. These too men take some time to feel each other out in the 1st round, but Schaub finishes strong as he swarmed Gonzaga with solid punches. Round 2, begins in the favor of Schaub again as he capitalizes on Gonzaga’s mistakes. This continues into the 3rd round and Schaud take the fight via judges’ decision.

Next up is a Light Heavyweight fight “teacher vs student” featuring “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Tito Ortiz vs “The Hammer” Matt Hamill. Tito opens strong, with many strikes until Hamill takes him down. The spend most of the round standing and boxing hard. Hamill takes the fight to the ground in the 2nd round, where he dominated. Hamill takes this on after going the distance via judges’ decision.

The 3rd fight of the night is Diego Sanchez vs Paulo Thiago in the Welterweight division.  These two men hit hard and go the distance (for the third time tonight) and Sanchez takes this fight via Judges’ decision, as he dominated Thiago to finish this fight.

We continue the night again in the Welterweight division as Jake Shields took on Martin “The Hitman” Kampmann. These men go the distance, making this a lengthy evening for the UFC as Shields picks up the win by judges’ decision.

Finally, we get to the bout that everyone has been waiting for: Brock Lesnarvs Cain Velasquez for the UFC Heavyweight Championship. What a shocker this is as Lesnar gets shook hard and never recovers. Velasquez is your new UFC Heavyweight Champion as he wins via TKO in the 1st round.

The bonus features of this 2-disc DVD set include the preliminary fights from the evening, Countdown to UFC 121, The Weigh-In Show, and the usual behind the scenes and other promos.

The crowd in Anaheim is vocal the whole way through, and really gives this event an epic feel. So whether you’re just a casual follower or a die-hard, this is a must own. Your night will be action pack and filled with many different examples of why the UFC is the leader in MMA.

UFC 121 – Lesnarvs Velasquez is now available on DVD From Anchor Bay Entertainment; you can pick it up at your favorite local DVD retailer, or order it online, For more information check out http://www.anchorbayentertainment.com and www.UFC.com