Jack Ryan Still Not On His A Game

Hollywood is obsessed with repeating itself. Chris Pine helped kick off a new reboot? Let’s put him in another one! Let’s take a franchise ruined by Ben Affleck and hope that Pine can do his magic again. This results in a very mediocre espionage movie.
Jack Ryan. That name should be familiar with to most. He is the star of a string of novels by Tom Clancy many which have been made into movie. Jack Ryan come to the big screen in Alec Baldwin’s shoes, but hit his peak with Harrison Ford. Then in 2002 Affleck stared in a reboot that removed itself from the chronological events in the first movies. This movie failed to bring Jack Ryan back.
jack-ryan-shadow-chris-pine-kevin-costner-bench-600-370Pine’s version in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit brings Ryan into our generation. He joined the military after 9-11 and was injured in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan which ended his military career. Ryan is brought into the CIA by Thomas Harper, played by Kevin Costner who is viscously trying to reboot his career. Ryan starts off in office work, tracing accounting and national security threats with in big money. When he stumbles across a grand scheme involving Russia, Ryan must go out to the field and see if he still has what it takes.
This whole movie is confusing. I am curious as why Russia was once again chosen as the villains in this piece when they are updating Ryan’s story. Russia figures prominently in earlier works especially during those during the Cold War. Are they just going from this or trying to make us see that Russia is still a valid threat while we are concerned with the Middle East and North Korea? Or is it simply, just an un-thought-out plot idea?
Then of course is the actual threat to the American government that only someone with a PhD in economics can understand and decode. When Harper says dumb it down, the script should have dumbed it down. Somehow, Russia is selling off American money and coordinating a terrorist attack so the American dollars sinks so low the Great Depression will look like drop in the bucket. Not that I understood any of that, but I nodded my head and went with it. There are various other things along the line, but let’s look at other aspects of the movie.jack-ryan-shadow-recruit
Ryan fiancée Cathy Muller is played by Keira Knightley with a horrible American accent. Once again, Knightly plays a rather bitchy female with no empowerment that seems to have become her staple character. Not all of the horribleness of this character is her fault though; she is written horribly and in a very ant-feminist way. She thinks Ryan is cheating on her throughout the movie though he is begging her to marry him so he could confide everything to her. Cathy is moody, week, and unrealistic.
Pine does attribute something positive to the movie. Ryan is given some very complex emotions. While these do not last long, Pine actually makes the audience feel how upset Ryan is with having to kill someone. His Ryan is not all swaggers. This is probably his best role to date.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit leaves a lot to be desired. Kenneth Branagh dos double duty playing the villain and directing the film. I think it may have gone better, if he had chosen one role. But I do have to admit Jack Ryan looks really good up on that IMAX screen.

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It’s Funny When Your Friends Get Old

Grudge Match isn’t your typical sports movie. Sure there is some boxing, but the movie focuses more on the relationships of life instead of the sports.
 Grudge Match pits Robert De Niro against Sylvester Stallone. The two are retired boxers who have held a grudge even though they game is over. Stallone’s character Razor has spent the majority of his money on his coach and makes animals out of scrap metal in his spare time. When he is laid off, Razor makes some money with a video game. The easy money gig gets complicated when he comes face to face with his rival Kidd. The two exchange blows and their fight go viral. The hype gets the two a real gig: facing off in the boxing ring to still who is really the champ.
Critics complain that the movie relies too much on old people jokes, but the whole idea of age and humor is central to the story. It’s hard not to make constant cracks when the boxing stars are 67 and 70. The brilliant Alan Arkin is unapologetic and a more vulgar and male version of Betty White. The combination of Kevin Hart and Arkin is especially funny as the young and old collide. The movie is just pure fun. The only trouble with the humor is Stallone. He is not good at witty humor and his lines would have sound better coming out of Ray Ramon’s mouth.
For something so fun, it does have some depth and drama. The drama is best handled by Jon Bernthal. Bernthal is Kidd’s estranged son who deals with the tension between his real father and his mother. Bernthal is full of emotion and love and gives fierceness as a coach that Razor’s side does not have. In fact, during the fight, Bernthal looks like he would gladly beat up Razor himself. He and De Niro have great chemistry and their scenes are touching.13091901_Grudge_Match_20
Grudge Match is like Real Steel; the theme is not about winning a sports match. It explores the relationships between men and women, parents and children, colleagues and co-workers. These movies are often off putting to sports fans. Sure, most of the story is easily deducted: relationships are rekindled, families are reunited but it all ends happily. And sometimes we need that happiness as an escape from real life.
Grudge Match is a fun movie that has a plot. The characters develop and we learn even old men can change their ways.

Devastation is All That Remains

Fans have eagerly awaited Telltale Games Season Two of The Walking Dead. The first episode doesn’t disappoint. The game has actually improved from the first season with better control and ramped emotional impact.
“All That Remains” is one of the most emotional episodes to date. After losing Lee in Season 1, Clementine has caught up with Omid and Krista, and the trio travel through the zombie wasteland. But the reunion is short lived.  Within minutes, a beloved character is dead, and Clementine is on her own to face the zombie hordes. Creating this loose so soon in the beginning of the episode truly drives home what a devastating and lonely world it is. Not only do you lose humans, but an animal friend turns foe.  The level of violence in this turn of events is quite shocking. Truly, Clementine (and the players) can trust no one, human or animal.

This episode also contains one of the most cringe worthy scenes. Between the comics, the show and the games, zombies are common place and it takes much creativity to gross viewers out. Telltale goes a different route. Instead of goring up the zombies, Clementine has to sew a gash in her own arm. Players must do this stitch by stitch listening to Clementine pain and shrinking away as if it were their own arm. I haven’t cringed this much since Rick and Glenn put on zombie guts in the first season of the TV show.

Finally, the controls have been updated allowing players to use both hands to guide the action and attacks. Gamers also move Clementine in new ways, ducking under objects and side stepping walkers. This rounds out the game play and makes the game less clunky.

The Walking Dead Season 2 is set up for success. But the biggest question is this: can Telltale produce nonbuggy episodes on a timely basis. Time delays and buggy episodes will be it’s only down fall.The-Walking-Dead-Game-Season-2-game