Tag Archives: Movies

The Greatest Show 139: I’m Not Giving It Seven Episodes

A game of chess is played, drunken ramblings return to the show, we discuss a plethora of 80s movies, Underworld’s new TV series, Watchmen, I bequeath Preacher unto Jon, and a little bit of randomness.

Hosts: DJ “Emerald Specter” Allen, Tricia Allen, “Metal Jesus” Kevin Lama, and Kevin Couick (with guests Jon Cabral and Steve!)

Contact:
Website: www.EmeraldSpecter.com
Email: emeraldspecter.com@gmail.com
Twitter: @LPOKMNJ @MadeByTricia @EmeraldSpecter
Instagram: @MadeByTricia @EmeraldSpecter

Here’s the SHOW!

Emerald Specter Movie League

If you’ve clicked over, you’re interested enough in the headline to learn more about what I’m calling the Emerald Specter Movie League. There are movie drafts online, on podcasts, and in work places that allow you to draft movies and compete with friends and co-workers to “earn the most money,” but Movie League is different… yeah, I’m going to make it more complicated. Let’s get the “splash” image going right here:

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The idea behind the Emerald Specter Movie League is to allow people to compete against everyone else by drafting movies and trying to come out at the end as the “big winner.”

DJ, that sounds exactly like every other movie draft… ever.

Yeah, but Emerald Specter Movie League is different.

The Emerald Specter Movie League will take place over the course of two, yes TWO, distinct movie “seasons.” The regular season will run from June to September for 2016, with the top half of the competitors will then be able to participate in the “post season” schedule, running from October to December 2016. The ultimate winner will be the one who not only advances TO the post season, but is the big money winner IN the post season.

The 2017 will hopefully have some mad large participation and we can get the ESML running with lots of folks. The 2017 season will run from April 1, 2017 to September 30, 2017 and the post season will run from October 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018… because movies are awesome.

So… here’s the rub. Here’s what sets the ESML apart.

The movies eligible for the draft will be posted prior to the draft, and you will bid on movies to try to win them from your competitors. You’ll be bidding in the millions of dollars and you don’t have a spending limit. Read that again: there is no limit on how much you can spend.

DJ… DJ… DJ… we can just go on bidding forever? How is that going to work?

I’m glad you asked.

Let’s say the movie in question is Larry Bond: 003.5. So, Joe Q. Public bids 100 million to buy Larry Bond, Sam Body bids for 125 million, with Bill Fold bidding 155 million. Bill wins, he now owns Larry Bond: 003.5 for a whopping $155 million. The movie finally comes out on June 1, 2016 and earns (domestically) $162 million (rounded up)… here’s where the catch comes in and why the bidding stopped when it did. Bill Fold has his $155 million bid SUBTRACTED from the total domestic gross of $162 million, leaving him $7 million towards his ultimate total in the ESML. Bill regrets spending so much, but the movie was rated so highly and he really wanted it… he just wishes he spent a little less on it.

Your bids are subtracted from the domestic (American) gross. If your bid is MORE than the domestic gross, you still subtract it… which means you can potentially earn NEGATIVE totals in all of your bids. This creates a new strategy and will eliminate anyone just putting all their eggs in one basket with a big blockbuster (i.e. Star Wars or Harry Potter) and makes you consider more options.

Boom.

The 2016 season will be invite only, though I will take some enthusiastic potential requesters at emeraldspecter DOT com AT gmail DOT com.

Who’s in?

The Greatest Show 77: Movie Edition

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In a world where things are not what they seem. In a land of things that never seem to go right. In a time when technology is totes the bomb, yo. You have a mission to accomplish.

She’s the fastest cook in the West, in the modern day, wearing totally tight pants that her husband loves staring at… especially her butt. She has the ability to make things burst into flames with her mind. She’s the brains of the operation, but she’s also the beauty. She is Tricia Allen.

He’s got a beard that thinks for itself. No one has ever bested him in a game of lawn darts. Water flows around him because it’s afraid what will happen if it gets him wet. He is the vampire, werewolf, medieval knight that likes to hit people with magical foam weapons. He is Bob Miotto.

Dashing, daring, pony tailed up… he is the stealth, the low budget apartment residing hacker who knows that a night on the town may involve him dressing up and playing the role of someone completely different. He is Kevin Couick.

He is a lover, not a fighter… and he’s a fighter. He has counted to infinity… twice. He doesn’t read books, he intimidates them into giving him the information that he wants. He wears a live rattlesnake as a belt. He is the most interesting man in the world… he is DJ Allen.

This is the movie edition.

Review of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

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I literally just got home from watching Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. As I have started to do with many of the “big release” movies, I am reviewing that for you here on Emerald Specter.com. Let’s get to it.

I am a Marvel fan, have been since I started actually “collecting” comics. While the first superhero I fell in love with was Shazam (aka Captain Marvel), I usually put my hat into the ring with the Marvel cast of characters because they’re a little more realistic in my book. That said, the Marvel movies are a huge hit with me and I’ve been interested in seeing how DC would respond to that for some time. I did write a companion piece about how DC’s cinematic universe would fail, but I didn’t know about what this particular installment would be like.

Spoilers from this point on.

The idea that Bruce Wayne wants to kill Superman for no apparent reason (thinking that he’s saving the planet) bothers me. Building that up over the course of the first half of the movie was a little annoying, like they were trying to justify a reason for Batman to fight Superman. I found Lex Luthor annoying as all get out and the government just allowing him unfettered access to the Kryptonian ship was bordering on the unbelievable. The James Bond-esq nature of Diana Prince’s involvement was a little weird, seemed out of character to me, Bruce Wayne doing all kinds of the cloak and dagger outside of his bat suit, and the fact that Gotham and Metropolis seem to be right across the river from each other was too convenient for me. The critical reception of Man of Steel concentrated on the rampant destruction wrought across the planet (centering on Metropolis) and that continued here as a conveniently uninhabited island and a conveniently abandoned dock are laid waste… oh, and Metropolis takes another hammering.

That said, I think there is more good in this movie than bad.

Doomsday was cheesy, or at least how he was created was cheesy, but they needed something that the DC “holy trinity” would combat and because two of the three of the trinity are superpowered they needed a villain that was powerful enough to give them trouble. We did NOT need Jesse Eisenberg in this movie as the “chicken hopped up on Red Bull” Lex Luthor that we got. He was highly annoying, flighty, and there is absolutely no way anyone with half a brain is going to allow him unrestricted access to an alien ship without supervision. The very concept strains credulity. Remove him from the movie and you’re looking at a solid star increase in a five star system.

Jeremy Irons was a great Alfred. Just like Sean Pertwee in the Gotham TV show, we get an Alfred that isn’t just an old guy that happens to know who Bruce Wayne is at night. His level of involvement was perfect, too. I also like Laurence Fishburne as Perry White, generally, but he was borderline annoying in this movie… he shouldn’t have been such a pushy ass.

Ben Affleck was a great Batman. Michael Keaton was told he wouldn’t be great in the suit and he was, Christian Bale was great in the suit, and now Affleck makes a great Dark Knight. I enjoyed the portrayal immensely and anyone that says he didn’t do a fantastic job is a complete idiot. I can’t wait to see more of him as Batman.

We didn’t need the Knightmare scene, the part where Batman is wearing a trench coat and fighting Superman soldiers and whatever those big things were… it did allow the Flash to pop in with a warning about something or other, which I believe is the red herring to what he was actually talking about, and I know that was needed mainly to put in the trailers to build up the short Batman/Superman fight. Without that scene, we could have had more story building on Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent researching what they really needed to be worried about: Luthor.

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman was perfect. Wonder Woman’s movie is going to be great and I’m seriously looking forward to seeing that movie. I’ll be interested to see how DC and Warner Brothers are going to build up the characters rather than continuously reboot them according to movie executives thinking they know better than the source material. Wonder Woman isn’t a hard sell, you just had to do the character right instead of trying to just do the character how you THINK the character would be responded to by the general populace. Superheroes aren’t for the general populace, they’re supported by actual fans.

I left the theater hopeful that my column about DC failing being wrong. There is still a lot of possible ways to screw up but I’m more hopeful now. Jason Momoa as Aquaman is going to be awesome and, while I’m not a Cyborg fan, Im curious as to what the hell that damn cube thing was that started making him Cyborg.

With Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Cyborg, and Aquaman teased, that gives us six of the “big seven” of DC. Green Lantern would be the seventh and I hope they go with the John Stewart version for the Justice League. We’ll also get to see Shazam at some point, but I wonder if they won’t use him until his actual movie, hoping whomever is cast for that character fills the role of Superman for the “next version” of the Justice League. I can totally see that happening already, replace all the original heroes with different ones so that 15 years into the future, they aren’t relying on Henry Cavill to still be interested in playing Superman.

Out of five stars, I’m going to give Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice a reluctant four. I think it was better than three but would have been closer to five if Jesse Eisenberg wasn’t in the movie. He made an annoying Luthor, and just like my loathing for the Joker, now I have a reason to hate Luthor.

Go see the movie. Critics are dissing it and people are comparing it to other movies that weren’t good but those people and critics are wrong. 4/5, it will be a great movie franchise if they go in the right direction.

Emerald Specter 9: The Review of Spectre

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The 24th installment of the James Bond franchise has come out and the results are both encouraging and discouraging at the same time. Do read on.

Going into this movie, I was hopeful for something meaningful in the way of a James Bond story. My Bond is Daniel Craig because he’s played the character better than I’ve seen anyone else do it… yes, I’m saying that Sean Connery isn’t the best (in my book, he’s not even the second best). But, I digress. Craig brings the same level of effort to the character that he has in all his other installments (Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall) and this one is no exception.

Here’s my problem with the movie: it’s a “Star Trek Into Darkness” reboot of a character that should not have been reboot.

The thing about Khan (from Star Trek) and Blofeld (from James Bond) is that the characters were done correctly exceptionally well the first time and the attempt at improving them has a 1% chance of success. That means that 99% of the time you’re going to screw it up. In both of those cases, that has been made true. Bond should have learned from Star Trek and left well enough alone.

The idea of Spectre was one I was glad to see come back into the franchise. Make the characters behind the organization new and interesting but still have that looming threat. The Fleming books, which I’ve read, all have an organization running through them (SMERSH) that was adapted to the big screen version of James Bond when Connery was in the role. That part was fine. The part where they rebooted Blofeld wasn’t.

In the end, I have to give the movie an “average” as far as James Bond movies go. Casino Royale was epic, Skyfall was epic, and now Spectre would fall just above Quantum of Solace as Craig’s third best film in the role. Whether or not he comes back for another installment is still up in the air but now that Bond has been reestablished with the Craig storyline leading into Spectre, I think I’d like to see someone else tackle the role.

You can see this movie but don’t go in with super high expectations.

Why DC’s Cinematic Universe Will Fail

The Emerald Specter is back in the driver’s seat for you all and I’ve decided to kick things off with a look at the impending DC Cinematic Universe, the one that will supposedly rival Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. Without burying what I think in some obscure paragraph down below, I’d like to say that the DC Cinematic Universe will fail… now read why I think that.

EmeraldSpecter300Marvel had no plan, apparently, about starting a Cinematic Universe. They launched Iron Man as (what they would be planning as) a stand alone trilogy. There was just a plan to set another one of their characters towards the big screen and hopefully make themselves a little bit of money in the process. Well, guess what, someone got wise and threw in a stinger (coda?) at the end of the credits to tease out the Avengers. The buzz was so intense that they included a stinger (coda?) at the end of the Incredible Hulk and almost completely designed Iron Man 2 around the idea that Avengers was happening. Thus began the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

Marvel’s cadre of super heroes has always been a little, for lack of a better description available to me right now, more realistic. No one NEEDS a cape. Underwear is solidly underneath the clothing. Very few heroes need a logo for marketing purposes. That’s not really fair to DC but if we’re just comparing surface details, that’s basically the way things boil down. Marvel’s heroes are more realistic.

My favorite super hero is Captain Marvel/Shazam. I’ll call him Shazam from this point on. He’s originally a Fawcett Comics creation but that company was purchased by DC, so even though I “grew up” reading mostly Marvel comics, I am solidly a huge fan of Shazam from DC. I love what the New 52 has done with Shazam and I’m really hoping to see more of that because if they’re going to leave Billy Batson perpetually 11, he might as well get a cool revamp like he has.

But what does this have to do with DC failing?

Man of Steel was the grand relaunch of Superman’s origin… again. Just like their other “big name,” Batman, we’ve seen Superman done to death. We didn’t need another origin of DC’s most famous super hero but since we got one, at least the origin was a fairly awesome one. Man of Steel received mixed reviews but I give the movie a solid 4 out of 5. This was DC’s first salvo in an attempt to build a DC Cinematic Universe (DCU), which they have begrudgingly gone ahead with.

I say begrudgingly because Warner Brothers, who owns DC, seems to have a hard time with the concept of doing anything with any character on the big screen that isn’t Superman or Batman. They have openly admitted that Wonder Woman would be too difficult (in the past) and after Green Lantern failed (they went in the wrong direction, cast the wrong lead, and went too CGI for this movie) they seemed to really want to crawl back in their holes and go with another Batman or Superman reboot. Really? That’s when Man of Steel hit.

This is being written after a great success with Guardians of the Galaxy, a second season of Agents of SHIELD (a show that had it’s own problems until Captain America: The Winter Soldier) started off strong, and DC having made a slew of movie release announcements. What have they announced? Well, that is why I am going to tell you… and it’s why I think they’ll fail.

In 2016 we’ll get Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (to be read as “Batman Five Superman Colon Dawn of Justice”), which is quite possibly the most ridiculous title for a movie I have yet to hear. Leave off the first three bits and just call the damn thing Dawn of Justice, for the love of all that’s holy. What’s this about? Well, I’m guessing that Batman is going to battle Superman, and we already know about a slew of cameos by other DC heroes to be named later in this list.

Also in 2016 we’ll get Suicide Squad. This will have little to no real success as there is no build up of these “villains,” they’ll be doing heroic things and most people won’t know what the issue about their villainy is, and as far as I understand it from the “buzz,” there isn’t anyone interested in seeing this movie. I’m not.

We move to 2017 for Wonder Woman and Justice League Part One. Only after Marvel released a fun movie including a talking raccoon and talking tree does DC say to themselves “well, maybe a film about a woman would work.” Wonder Woman should have been on the big screen a long time ago and the fact that she hasn’t only shows that old, white men not only run the country, but they also run Warner Brothers. And you split your Justice League into a Part One and Two? Playing this hand like this was a huge mistake and I can say that unless you have a solid single movie premise that gets resolved IN THAT MOVIE, you’ll fail with this one. How do I know it’ll fail? The Matrix, one of my favorite trilogies ever, has been given terrible reviews for leaving a second movie open and having a supposedly flimsy end to the third. If Justice League couldn’t survive as a single movie, you should have played those cards closer to your chest, DC.

We move to 2018 with the Flash and Aquaman. First, let me say that casting Jason Momoa as Aquaman was the single best piece of casting I’ve seen. Better than RDJ as Tony Stark. Better than Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones. What I don’t like is that you’re all over the map with your “plan.” Either do the build up like Marvel and debut everybody before Justice League or do Justice League first and all the movies can be “prequels.” I’ll actually get to the Flash a little later, so I’m quiet right now.

How about 2019 with Shazam and Justice League Part Two? While I have been super excited for a Shazam movie, I’m really disappointed that I have to wait until 2019 to see it. And that is assuming that the production doesn’t get pushed back. Moving on.

We have 2020 giving us Cyborg and the Green Lantern reboot movies, ending the announcements of DCU. Unless GL is a new Hal Jordan (done much less Ryan Reynolds) or is John Stewart, I’m not interested in this movie. I have never been interested in Cyborg.

The DCU seems poised to fail.

As I made comments above, if you are using Man of Steel as the launching point, simply call the second movie Dawn of Justice to introduce a few of the other Justice Leaguers and conquer a foe just complicated enough to need multiple heroes. After that, jump right into Justice League (a stand alone film), followed by Wonder Woman, the Flash, Green Lantern, Shazam, Aquaman, and Cyborg movies telling their origins. THEN go for a second Justice League movie. DC/Warner Brothers seem to have no surface plan, even though to do what Marvel did, they need to have a detailed roadmap.

Now let me get to my Flash comments. Arrow on the CW is one of the most awesome shows on TV right now. They recently spun off the Flash as another show and if they would have used Stephen Amell and Grant Gustin as Green Arrow and the Flash in the movies, I’d have been more interested in what the DCU was doing. As it is, though, they are casting a separate Flash for the movies and are leaving Arrow and the Flash TV shows as separate universes. Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb…

You have built up a history with Arrow over three seasons. The Flash is starting with a bang. Man of Steel gives you enough punch for a Superman to carry the Justice League movie WITHOUT needing Batman five Superman colon Dawn of Justice. Add in Green Arrow and Gustin’s Flash and you’re ready to obscurely explain where Batman, Aquaman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Shazam, and Cyborg came from while fighting someone like Darkseid.

If the DCU doesn’t fail, I’ll be shocked. They aren’t surprising us with anything, they’ve got an erratic looking roadmap and have teased very little to get anyone excited. The Nolan trilogy had two good movies and a “meh” one, yet they toss that one in the trash to reboot for what? Yeah.

Time will tell, but my money is that Marvel will do much better than DC because DC makes some very odd decisions.

A Review of Assassin’s Creed IV – Black Flag (The Movie)

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As with before, these all come from YouTube and a wonderful movie maker of video game movies… I will be checking out more of them, too, I think.

This is the latest in the Assassin’s Creed series, this one felt odd without having Desmond around to help tell the other part of the story, but by now, you should be getting used to the idea that there is something else going on that will lead us to an eventual end to this story… I still miss Desmond, though.

Unlike the other installments, this one felt only loosely related to anything from before in the Assassin’s Creed series as it concentrates exclusively on Edward Kenway at real life pirates like Blackbeard, Anne Bonny, Mary Read, and so on.  There was so much concentration on the pirate activity, in my opinion, any connection to the assassins and the Templars was more of less a sidebar of a tale.  That was a little disappointing, but the visuals were great.

Being a former Naval man, I did enjoy the ship stuff but I can easily see how tedious watching every ounce of the Naval combat would have been if the whole scene would have been shown.

I did enjoy the Edward Kenway story but I would have more so enjoyed a story about an assassin finding something from the first civilization, like in previous installments.

I give this one a four out of five, but that’s more to do with the obscure sideways connection to the rest of the series rather than the direct story tie in.  It WAS good, though.

A Review of Guardians of the Galaxy (Non-Spoiler)

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Wow.  Just wow.

I like me some science fiction, a lot, and if you do as well, this is the movie for you.  There are so many awesome things going on here that make this movie great I can’t even list them all… even if I wasn’t going to spoil the movie.  What I will say is that this movie does something I don’t think enough science fiction does: drops you right in without explaining a damn thing.  Boom.

There’s action, there’s a mystery, there’s some adventure, and there’s Groot.  Hell, I was worried about Rocket Raccoon being cheesy but that wasn’t even close to being the case.  I loved every single character in this and I’m even going to start reading this title because of this movie (by “this title” I mean the comics, for the uninitiated).

This one is the best non-Avengers Marvel movie so far… I still have to give the Avengers the edge, just slightly.  Five out of five.  Bravo!

Go see this.  Many times.

I am Groot.

A Review of Assassin’s Creed III (The Movie)

This is the review of the third (numbered) installment of the YouTube movie series for Assassin’s Creed.

ac3My favorite line comes from the mentor to the assassin in this one: “I’m not even going to try to pronounce (his name).”  The main character’s actual name is Ratonhnhaké:ton, though he is also called Connor… which is how I’m going to identify him.

Connor is the result of a swerve at the beginning, which is a twist in the story, and once we see Connor is the one we are going to be following.  He starts out in much the same way Ezio did, not really knowing what he needed to know but we get to see the progress happen a little more quickly than we did with Ezio.  The other thing is the deep connection to the Revolutionary War, which in my opinion, was a great backdrop to the action going on.

The story was enthralling enough to keep me watching right through in one sitting, which is the first time I’ve done that with these AC movies… and this is the final bell for Desmond, but I won’t tell you why that is… you should check the movie out to find out why!

I give this one five out of five stars AND I think this is the best one so far…

A Review of Assassin’s Creed: Revelations (The Movie)

Yes… a YouTube movie review again.

ac2revEzio is back in this final installment, well, final for Ezio.  We get some Inception this time around, though, as Desmond is in the Animus watching what Ezio is doing, who is also getting a lot of Altair’s life… a dream within a dream within a dream.  That’s kind of heavy.

We get ALMOST to the end of the Desmond Miles saga as Ezio brings us to a place where we can all go “holy crap that is awesome.”  The last Ezio adventure also shows us that the man, while awesome, is running on fumes.  The “elder statesman” role is something I don’t like to see Ezio doing but he manages to be cool right up to the point where we realize that this is the last hoorah.

In case anyone was wondering, I’ll use this opportunity to say that some of us aren’t good at games like this.  Those that are tend to be a specific type of person and the great guy who put these movies together has given me the chance to witness the awesome story without having to be ashamed of my gaming skills.  I give this one five out of five stars for content, but I’ll say that AC2 is still better.