Friday, April 29, 2016

New Movie's Friday: 4-29-16



This weekend is the calm before the summer movie season storm; therefore no potential box-office hits are being released.  This means that The Jungle Book will dominate the box-office for a third weekend in a row pulling in around 40 million.

The first major release is Keanu which is a comedy that looks like it could be pretty funny, but it won't do very well in theaters.  The movie is getting good reviews with a 75% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes.  Look for Keanu to open around 10-12 million this weekend.

The second release this weekend is the ensemble film Mother's Day.  You'd think a movie that stars Julia Roberts, Kate Hudson, Jennifer Aniston and Jason Sudeikis would be a hit, but not when it looks like a big steaming pile of shit.  The movie is getting horrible reviews with a 7% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes which is extremely low.  Look for the movie to pull in around 8-10 million and then disappear forever.

The third release this weekend is the animated Ratchet & Clank which is based on a popular video game series.  When I took my kids to see Zootopia this movie was one of trailers that were shown before the movie.  I remember being amazed that the trailer did not generate any laughs from the kids in the theater.  That is how bad this movie looks.  The movie is pulling in a poor 22% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes, so that proves the movie is as bad as its trailer.  I think the movie will pull in around 8-10 million this weekend and then it will join Mother's Day in the galaxy of forgotten movies.

This weekend there is a one movie opening that I want to see called Green Room.  The movie is in limited release and the buzz/reviews for the movie have been very good.  It is a thriller/horror film and it is currently at 88% fresh at Rotten Tomatoes.  I'll probably have to wait until the movie hits DVD to see it, but it will be worth the wait. 

Finally, next week I will be posting a huge blog that will breakdown the summer movie releases with predictions.  It will be epic.  It may even, break the internet like a Kardashian ass.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Prince Will Always Take Care of Everything


Sylvester Stallone To Star In TV Series

Stallone in 1991's Oscar



According to the Hollywood Reporter, Sylvester Stallone is going to star in a TV series called Omerta.  I may have not mentioned it before, but Stallone has been my favorite actor since I was 10 years old.  Yes, he has done his fair share of bad movies, but he has also done a ton of good ones as well.  Also, the guy is incredibly talented when you factor in all the movies he has written and directed over his career as well.

Stallone's role as Rocky in the movie Creed led to a ton of critical praise, acting awards and a Best Supporting Actor nomination at the Academy Awards.  He is riding that momentum to take on the role as a mob boss in the TV adaption of the best seller Omerta.  Omerta was the third and final book written by Mario Puzo for his mafia trilogy.  The first was The Godfather and the second was The Last Don.

Stallone has conquered the big screen and now it will be nice to see him do the small screen as well.  A network has not been announced yet, but I'm really hoping that the show will end up on one of the cable channels.  The shows on those channels have a movie quality that basic TV just doesn't have.  Antoine Fuqua is producing (directing as well?) the project.  He has directed movies like Training Day, Shooter and Southpaw.  Finally, this won't be the first time Stallone has played a mob boss type of character in his career.  He played mob boss in the 1991 comedy Oscar and in 1978 he played a mob boss type of character in F.I.S.T. which was loosely based on Jimmy Hoffa.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Music Review: Prince - HitnRun Phase Two




While many of those who grew up during the 80's stopped listening to new Prince music in the early 90's, his hardcore fans never left.  Since his commercial peak, Prince has released some very strong albums like The Gold Experience, Musicology and 3121.  HitnRun Phase II is in stores nationwide this Friday (4-29-16) and it is not only the last Prince approved studio album we will get, but it is his best album in 12 years.

Prince was a master of all styles of music.  Whether it was rock, funk, R&B, jazz or whatever, he could do it all.  For me, my favorite Prince songs and albums were the ones that were rock and/or funk sounding.  For those of you who have heard songs off of HitnRun Phase II, it shouldn't surprise you why I am such a big fan of the album.  This album is funky.  Prince let it be known many times over his career that Sly and the Family Stone was one of his biggest musical influences and that influence is all over this album.  The songs on this album are filled with amazing horn work and Prince playing the guitar like he always did.

My favorite song on the album is Xtraloveable which was a song he originally wrote in 1982 for Vanity 6, but nothing came from it.  The song features the sexy lyric sytle Prince used to always write with a great groove that just reeks of funk.  Another great song on the album is Baltimore which was done in tribute to Freddie Gray and all African-Americans abused by police officers.  There are other great songs on the album like RocknRoll Love Affair, Stare and Black Muse.

Since I got this album over a month ago from a record store in Minneapolis, which was the only place in the US Prince was selling it at the time, I have known that there is no way this album doesn't make my 2016 Top 10 list.  It is just that good.

Finally, if you are wondering what I thought of 2015's HitnRun Phase I, I didn't really care for it.  A few good songs on it, but I couldn't connect to most of it.

If you ask me, it is only fitting that Prince left this earth after putting out his best album in years.

GRADE:  A  






Friday, April 22, 2016

New Movies Friday: 4-22-16



Last weekend The Jungle Book debuted better than anyone expected pulling in a huge 103 million its opening weekend.  The word-of-mouth for the movie is excellent so it will easily dominate its second weekend.  The movie will most likely drop 40% or so and should pull in around 62-65 million.

The only major release this weekend is The Huntsman: Winter's War which is a prequel to 2012's Snow White and the Huntsman.  Honestly, I'm not really sure why they have made this movie.  Snow White was not that big of a hit as the movie had an opening weekend of 56 million and ended it's domestic total at 155 million.  For a movie to have that good of an opening weekend and then stall at that amount shows the movie was not liked by audiences.  While the first film had a poor 48% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes this new film has a terrible 17% fresh rating.  Bad reviews and no hype mean a disappointing opening weekend.  Look for The Huntsman to pull in 20-24 million this weekend; which would be over a 50% drop from the first film's opening weekend.  Yikes.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

His Name Is Prince & He Was Funky



Today we unexpectedly lost one of the greatest musical artists and entertainers in the history of popular music.  Unlike the majority of today's music stars, Prince could play over 30 different instruments, wrote his own music, wrote his own lyrics, arranged his own songs and produced his own songs.  He truly was the artist.

Being an 80's kid, I grew up on Prince's music.  Michael Jackson was my first love when I started to discover my own music, but Prince was up there for me.  However it wasn't until the 90's that I fell in love with his music.  What made Prince special was that he could write and play any type of music there was.  He was a master of rock, funk, R&B, jazz and hip-hop.  His output was also extraordinary as he released 39 studio albums during his career and rumors are that he has hundreds of songs completed that he never released.  The man not only was a master of music, but people forget that he was a movie star too.  His movie Purple Rain made 68 million dollars in 1984 which would equal 174 million adjusted for inflation today.  He also wrote and directed two movies.  The man could do it all.

As I said earlier, I grew up liking Prince, but it wasn't until the 90's that I fell in love with his music.  By 1995/1996 all I owned was The Hits/B-Sides album by Prince and nothing else.  A friend of mine told me that Prince's latest album, The Gold Experience, was one of the best things Prince had done.  He then made me a tape of the album and I was blown away.  Not too long after that, I bought every album Prince had released and have bought everything he has done since.  Was every album perfect?  Nope.  Some albums felt like albums of nothing but filler (Come, The Rainbow Children, etc), but the majority of them were very good.  While his 80's work will always be the music that he will be remembered for by the casual fan, the man released excellent albums in the 90, 00's and 10's.

I was lucky enough to see Prince perform two times.  Back in 2004 Prince did a tour to promote his great album, Musicology.  At that time, Prince had an online fan club for his website.  For $100 a year, you got private access to his website which included tons of unreleased music, videos and most importantly, access to buy tickets to shows before they went on sale to the public and at a lower price.  I joined the fan club for this reason alone.  When tickets went on sale, I got second row tickets for a show at the Honda Center in Anaheim and fourth row tickets for a show at the Staples Center in Los Angeles for the same week.  The shows were incredible.  In fact, they were even better than I had hoped they would be.  When it comes to a stadium show, I doubt I'll ever see anything as good as those two shows.

Now, here is a "funny" Prince related story.  In 1999/2000, Prince announced a show at the Palladium in Los Angeles.  The show sold out super fast.  My buddy and I decided to go down to the venue and try to get tickets somehow.  We found a guy selling tickets on the street.  We talked to him, went to the ATM to get money and bought the tickets for 100 bucks each.  We then got in line and waited for the doors to open for the show.  We were in line for at least two hours before the doors opened.  It then took another half an hour or so for us to finally get to the door.  We then handed over our tickets, the person at the door said, "You realize these are fake tickets, right?"  My buddy and I looked at the guy and each other and were just stunned.  We were then told to get lost and that was that.  All added up, we wasted roughly four hours of our time and were 100 bucks poorer too.  Obviously I made up for this day at the 2004 Musicology shows, but that day at the Palladium is one I won't forget either.

Looking back at Prince's career I think what I'm most grateful for is the vast amount of music he put out.  Prince was an artist that would put out a new album one year right after another at times in his career.  In fact, he has released three albums within the last 12 months.  What an amazing gift for the fans.  Right now all I can envision is Prince and Michael Jackson getting together so they can finally write and record some songs together like they should have done in the 80's.

"Only now do we know what it sounds like When Doves Cry - the absence of music from loss of The Artist." - Neil deGrasse Tyson

#PrinceRIP
#TheArtistRIP

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Music Review: The Like Magnets - Amazing Pulsar



Something I have been wanting to do here at Various Crap for a long time is to review the new music as I buy it.  Believe it or not, I have already gotten 16 albums from 2016, so I have some catching up to do.  To start the reviews for 2016 I'm starting off with the debut album from The Like Magnets.  

The Like Magnets features singer/songwriter Walt Lafty who I have been a huge fan of for 12 years.  Walt Lafty's first band was Silvertide whose only full length album came out in 2004.  These guys kicked ass, but due to label issues the band had to break up.  After that Walt released a great acoustic demo album, then fronted Automatic Fire and then fronted Sinai (both were great btw).  As you can tell, any band Walt writes and sings for is a band that will get my attention.  What makes The Like Magnets even more intriguing for me is the band also features Mark Melchiorre who was also in Silvertide.

Lafty's previous bands were all hard rock bands and The Like Magnets take a more indie rock route with power pop style melodies.  Amazing Pulsar really shows growth for Lafty and Melchiorre as the album sounds more mature and lyrically, the album is on another level compared to what they've done in the past.  The album features some songs that groove like Esc_ape and I Want Everything, while also featuring mellow songs like Awoke and the title track that are strong and moving.  For me, the strengths of the album are Lafty's great vocals and the lyrics.  I would say they are both the best of his career thus far.

I would imagine that Amazing Pulsar may not appeal to all the fans of their prior work, but it will definitely gain them new fans they have never reached before.  What is really exciting about The Like Magnets is that they are doing everything on their own.  They are in complete control of their destiny and that type of freedom will only benefit the fans.  Amazing Pulsar will be available digitally on April 22nd from iTunes and Amazon.  It will also be released on CD in July and on vinyl August/September.

Songs to Check Out:
Amazing Pulsar:  https://youtu.be/7SVAysy2LVk

GRADE: A-



Thursday, April 14, 2016

Farewell to #24



As a life long Lakers fan, you get used to special and historical moments.  That is just how it is for this franchise.  For the last 20 years we have been thrilled time and again by Kobe Bryant and last night we got to watch him in the final game of is illustrious career.  The last three years of Kobe's career have been difficult to watch as the man who was the best player in the game for years, was now battling serious injuries.  His will was as strong as ever, but his body was broken.  With their best player no longer able to play at an elite level, the team suffered.  Basically, it hasn't been as fun to watch Lakers games the past three years.  Last night was all about saying goodbye to Kobe and he decided to give us one more special moment in his final game.

Going into last nights game the general thought was, the Lakers don't care if they win, it is just about giving the fans a chance to cheer for Kobe one last time.  When the Utah Jazz took a 16 point lead, you as the fan were not upset because you were appreciating watching Kobe on the court this last time.  All of a sudden, the Lakers, led by Kobe, started to close the gap and you started to get the feeling that the fourth quarter was going to be magical.  In that fourth quarter we saw Kobe do something he hadn't really done in the last three years, he got in the Black Mamba zone.  For 17 of Kobe's 20 years in the NBA, we Lakers fans saw him get in that zone many times, but it has been a while since we saw it.  Last night, the Black Mamba carried his team to a come from behind victory and was able to recapture the greatness of his younger years.  He was slower on the court and breathing heavier than we saw him in his prime, but it was still beautiful to watch.  Kobe took his warrior mentality, played through the pain and showed us he still knew how to win.

Kobe ended his career on his terms.  In front of his home crowd, 60 points scored, with a victory and by overshadowing the Golden State Warriors record breaking victory.  That is just so Kobe.

#ThankYouKobe
#KB20
#BlackMamba


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Netflix Started Streaming Animaniacs



In what could be the best Netflix related news in a long ass time, Warner Brothers has released to Netflix every episode of Animaniacs.  Animaniacs was produced by Steven Spielberg and is one of the greatest cartoons ever made.  This show came out back in 1993 and I remember giving it a chance because Spielberg was involved and I became hooked immediately.  Not only was this show hilarious, but it also brought us the fantastic Pinky and the Brian (which eventually got its own show).  So if you are a parent, I highly recommend you introducing your kids to this excellent cartoon show.



Friday, April 8, 2016

New Movies Friday: 4-8-16




This weekend, Melissa McCarthy is going to try to kick Batman and Superman's butts at the box-office.  For the past two weeks, the box-office has been dominated by Batman v Superman and this is its first real challenge for the #1 spot.  BvS is heading towards the 300 million mark in the US and hopes to win it's third weekend in a row.  The superhero battle flick had a big 69% drop last weekend, but blockbusters that have big second weekend drops, usually level out in week three.  Look for Batman v Superman to barely hold on to the top spot this weekend with around 23-25 million.

McCarthy's new movie, The Boss, wants to take the top spot from BvS, but I think it will fall a little short.  McCarthy has become a big star and has had a string of hit movies playing the same type of character over and over again; so it makes sense for her to keep doing it.  In 2013, her movies were opening in the 30+ million range, but since then her films have been opening in the 20+ million range.  A check over at Rotten Tomatoes shows the movie is getting a poor 19% fresh rating, which is close to what her 2014 hit Tammy got at the site.  I think The Boss will do exactly like Tammy did at the box-office, so look for the movie to open around 21 million and to end its run with around 80 million domestically.

The final major release is the action film Hardcore Henry which puts an interesting twist on the action genre.  The movie takes the popular first person POV style from video games and uses it for the entire movie.  While the movie has an interesting look, the reviews aren't so good as it has a 54% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes and the movie doesn't have any decent stars in it either. Look for the movie to open to 8-10 million this weekend.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Rouge One: A Star Wars Story Teaser Thoughts



When Disney bought the rights to Star Wars and announced a new trilogy, I jumped on the dinner table and did this for about an hour or so:



When I regained consciousness from passing out from all that activity, I then read the rest of the article and found out they were planning to do other Star Wars movies as well.  Basically, they decided to expand the Star Wars story beyond the Skywalker story-line.  I wasn't keen about this idea because I never cared about the Star Wars expanded universe.  My biggest fear was that Disney was just going to milk the Star Wars brand for everything it could and this would lead to movies that tell so-so stories.  I gained a little optimism after The Force Awakens came out because that flick was so damn good.  After seeing the Rouge One trailer today, I would now say that I am cautiously optimistic for the December release of Rouge One.

I like the fact that the story takes place right before A New Hope and I am intrigued by the plot for the movie.  To tell the story of how the Rebels got the Death Star plans is a great idea for the first expanded Star Wars story.  Why?  Because while this movie will expand to characters we have never known, it is still close enough to the original story to make us care about what they do.  Also, I love seeing the Stormtroopers and AT-AT Walkers in the trailer and I am thinking that I am going to love Forest Whitaker in this.  So lets just say that as of now, my excitement level for Rouge One is low, but as the full trailer and more info about the movie comes out, I expect that level to rise.



TV Review: The People v OJ Simpson




Last night was the finale of FX's The People v OJ Simpson and it was awesome.  As a person who lived through the "Trial of the Century" and paid attention to it, what this series did was make me realize how much I didn't know about it.  There were so many elements to this trial that were incredible, if this had just been a TV show that wasn't based on true events, people would say the story was too unbelievable to believe.

The show starts the night of Nicole and Ron's death and takes us all the way through OJ's release from prison.  What makes the show so good is it focuses on the legal aspect of the story.  On one side, you have the prosecution.  Their strength they had was all the evidence a lawyer could possibly need to convict a suspect.  Their weakness was overconfidence in their case, not doing due diligence on their witnesses (Mark Fuhrman) and having a prosecutor who had no understanding of the feelings of inner-city African Americans.  On the other side, you have the defense, "The Dream Team."  Their strength was to ignore all the facts of the case and to create a story so sensational, that the jury will focus more on that story than the facts against Simpson.  The lead prosecutor, Johnnie Cochran, understood the emotional feelings of the African American jurors and their opinions on the LAPD and he manipulated those emotions with his story beautifully.  Their weakness was keeping fellow defense lawyer Robert Shapiro from being a total idiot.  Honestly, the entire trial was so bizarre, it is still hard to believe it actually happened.

As for the show, it was excellent.  Besides the incredible story it is telling, the acting is fabulous.  The strong performances were lead by Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark, Courtney B. Vance as Johnnie Cochran and of course, Cuba Gooding Jr. as OJ Simpson.  The lone performance that I did have difficulty with was David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian.  Not because he didn't give it his all, but because it really felt like Ross from Friends was the one doing the performance.  It was just weird.  Of course, that is a very small complaint in an otherwise fantastic show.  I highly recommend you checking this show out on On Demand or Netflix/Amazon/Hulu/etc.  I just wish there could have been more episodes, because 10 was just not enough.

GRADE:  A



Monday, April 4, 2016

MLB Opening Day & Predictions




While the 2016 season officially started yesterday, the season for most teams starts today.  This includes my favorite team the Los Angeles Angels.  The Angels missed the playoffs by one game last year and while they didn't make any of the big off-season moves that I had hoped for, they made numerous small moves that have improved the team over last years team and it has given them more depth.  Last year the Angels won 85 games and this year I think they will win around 88-90 games.  Hopefully that will be enough wins to make it to the playoffs, but that is a long time from now and the AL West is a very good division.  Speaking of the playoffs (PLAYOFFS?!), here are my predictions for who will make the playoffs.  Obviously they don't mean shit, but they are fun to do.


American League

East:  Blue Jays
Central:  Royals
West:  Astros

Wild Card: Red Sox and Angels

Going with the Blue Jays to win the American League

National League

East: Mets
Central: Cubs
West: Giants

Wild Card: Nationals and Dodgers

Going with the Cubs to win the National League

World Series

Cubs over the Blue Jays


GO HALOS!!!



Movie Review: Zootopia



I was several weeks late, but I finally took my kids to see Disney's Zootopia and it was excellent.  The movie tells the story of a little rabbit from the farm who has huge aspirations in the big city of Zootopia.  The movie is filled with a ton of social messages like not giving up on your dreams, prejudice, friendship and more.  That is great and all, but for me it comes down to whether the movie was funny or not and it is hilarious.  

I remember back to opening night of The Force Awakens and seeing the Zootopia trailer for the first time.  The trailer was actually a full scene from the movie in which our little rabbit goes to the DMV hoping to get some information really quick.  She discovers the employees at the DMV are all sloths and that this information is not going to be quick to get.  The execution of the scene is perfect and hilarious.  I was very happy to find that the entire movie was that way.  The movie is nonstop funny and the story is very fun.  This is a kids movie that everyone will like.  The animation looks great as well.  Zootopia is from the people who made Frozen and Big Hero 6 and it is safe to say that we should expect more great work from them.

GRADE: A

Friday, April 1, 2016

No April Fools Joke: GnR To Play First Reunited Show In Hollywood Tonight

Photo via MetalSludge.tv


It has been heavily rumored for the last couple weeks that the semi-reunited Guns n Roses would be playing a secret show in Hollywood tonight.  The website Metal Sludge has been closely monitoring this situation for the last week or so and they were able to confirm it is indeed happening tonight.  The crazy thing is the show isn't happening at one of the more famed clubs in Los Angeles, but at the old Tower Records building.  Of course, it is widely known that Slash worked at this Tower Records before Guns n Roses got a record deal.  According to Sludge, there are already up to 500 people in line and security told Sludge exclusively, that only 250 wrist bands will be given out to fans for the show.  For the most up-to-date information on the show, keep checking MetalSludge.tv as I am sure they will be posting updates all day and night long.

11:11am Edit:  Metal Sludge has confirmed that the show will actually be at The Troubadour.  Like I said, pay attention to the Metal Sludge website for most accurate updates regarding this show.

Mike Trout Pranks Pitcher Garrett Richards For April Fools



If you like baseball at all, you gotta love Mike Trout.  He plays hard, is a great teammate, he is awesome to his fans and he is the best all around player in the MLB today.  Well, we have just found out that you can add hilarious friend to that mix as Mike Trout contacted The Prank Academy and told them he wanted to prank fellow Angels player Garrett Richards for an April Fools joke.  The Prank Academy does a fantastic job with the prank.  So, check out the clip above and have a great April Fools Day.

New Movies Friday: 4-1-16



When the biggest new movie of the weekend is God's Not Dead 2, you know it is a weak group of releases.  The only question that matters this weekend is how much will Batman v Superman drop in its second weekend?  Last weekend, Batman v Superman broke all March records pulling in a huge 166 million and it's numbers during the week have been strong for this time of the year as well.  There is no historical reference for a superhero movie at this time of the year, so the usual rules don't apply.  The Marvel movies second weekend drops usually fall within the 55%-60% range, but that shouldn't be expected for this film.  While the first week numbers have been impressive, the word-of-mouth for the movie is average, so the drop should be more steep than the big Marvel hits.  Look for Batman v Superman to drop 60%-65% this weekend which would mean its second weekend will come in around 58-66 million.  Anywhere in that range would be more than acceptable for BvS, but anything less would not be good news for the movies domestic longevity in theaters.

The only new major release this weekend is the sequel to the surprise 2014 hit, God's Not Dead 2.  Unlike in 2014, when the movie was the lone faith based film in theaters, God's Not Dead 2 comes out after a month of faith based movies hit the theaters.  After Risen, The Young Messiah and Miracles from Heaven, I have serious doubts this movie will achieve the 60 million domestic gross the original made in theaters.  A check over at Rotten Tomatoes shows the film isn't getting good reviews as it is currently 17% fresh, but reviews won't matter to its audience.  Look for God's Not Dead 2 to pull in 10-12 million this weekend and for the film to end its run around the 35 million mark.