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Off-Hand Reviews: Red Bull & Monster

Here’s a new style of reviews that I’m looking to incorporate.  Somewhere between the roots of my blog (the brief quote reviews) and the Lightning Reviews on The Impulsive Buy, these will be quick reviews of various products.  Most of the time they’ll be items I’ve tried, just not in an environment where I can provide a full, hands-on review.  Or it’s just my natural human laziness, you pick.

Red Bull Red

If you like cranberries, you may find something to like here.  Conversely, if you hate cranberries, keep your distance.  And wouldn’t a strawberry flavor be more fitting of red?

Red Bull Silver

I’m glad I’m not design-blind, because Red Bull Silver would have me shouting up a storm for mixing it up with my can of Red Bull Zero.  Not just at the fact it’s a different flavor, but the fact I might as well add my Red Bull to a bottle of Sprite so I can get some lemons while I’m at it.

Red Bull Blue

George Carlin once said that white people ought to understand that they’re job is to “give people the blues, not get them.”  Well I’m white, and I bought Red Bull Blue.  I got the blues, so now what?  In all seriousness, this is the best of the new Red Bulls and the only one I’d call enjoyable.  That said, even those flavored grams of sugar and milligrams of caffeine did nothing for me.

Monster Absolutely Zero

Seems Monster had no trouble getting into the world of absolutes.  No sugar, no calories, no crappy designs and no shortage of a chemical rush.  The fact this stuff works its magic on me makes the off flavor and odd ingredients more than a bit concerning.  At least it keeps me upbeat in a retail environment.

Monster Lo-Carb

Absolutely Zero had no shortage of a chemical rush, Lo-Carb is in lo’ supply of lo’ding me into a kick.  The comparatively boring design doesn’t help either.

Monster Ultra Zero

This can has an engraved design and texture.  What will they think of next, cans that blow several grams of sugar up your nose upon opening?  It’s going to take more than nifty designs and good tastes to make me return to a drink that might as well have as much kick as sugar-free iced tea.

 

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Casting Calls That Could Have Been…

Most of us know the movie industry well enough to realize that initial casting choices are like kids and vegetables: They seldom stick.  Recent news that Leonardo DiCaprio was considered for The Riddler in The Dark Knight Rises has become the latest in many publicized could-have-beens.  Some might even remember that before Keanu Reeves, Will Smith was sought for the role of Neo in The Matrix.  Stretches like these happen quite frequently, which are generally…interesting to stumble upon.  So to find out just how bewildering initial considerations were, here’s a list of various roles that could have gone to somebody else.

Spider-Man: Leonardo DiCaprio and James Franco as Peter Parker.

The suit must be surprising comfortable.

While we’re on the topic of Leonardo DiCaprio and superhero films, he was actually one of the actors considered for the part of Peter Parker in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man.  And in a twist of heroes and (semi) villains, James Franco, who went on to play Harry Osborn, was also among the screen tested actors.  Leo sure seems to shrug away from superheroes.  He’ll play a full-on retard and controversial, supposed homosexual, but isn’t up to being a comic book hero or villain?  Where’s the fun in that?

The Shawshank Redemption: Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise, Nicolas Cage, Johnny Depp and Kevin Costner as Andy Dufrense.  And Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, Paul Newman and Robert Redford as Red.

Prison does things to a man.

Yes, there were quite a few potential combinations for the roles of Andy and Red in The Shawshank Redemption.  Those who’ve seen the film know that Andy is a very subdued character, so I’m really flabbergasted that Nicolas Cage came to be considered.  But hey, maybe a transition Vampire’s Kiss to one of the few subtle Stephen King stories isn’t as much a jump as I suspect.  Though in all seriousness, Johnny Depp and Clint Eastwood playing together in the famous roles sure sounds interesting.  Maybe that way Clint could warn Johnny to back away from Tim Burton a bit earlier and keep his resume from molding up.

Titanic: Matthew McConaughey and Macaulay Culkin as Jack Dawson.

I know, right?

DiCaprio’s role as Jack Dawson in Titanic probably isn’t one that he’d label as self-defining.  But hey, it probably brought on a big, fat paycheck and plenty of attention-paying teenage girls; hard to complain with that!  And Matthew McConaughey has always struck me as a guy trying to be charming or suave, so I can understand his consideration.  Then there’s Macauley Culkin.  Who’d have thought Home Alone’s own Kevin could’ve followed up losing his family (twice) by dying on the infamous ship’s maiden voyage?  The kid hasn’t exactly had a brag-worthy career either; maybe he’s got some relation to Bad Luck Brian.  In all honesty, his twig of a body probably wouldn’t have endured past hauling Kate Winslet over the stern of the ship.  Can’t win ’em all.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Bill Murray, Steve Martin and Robin Williams as Captain Jack Sparrow.

Someone else playing me?  Hand up the rum.

Pirates of the Caribbean sat in development Hell for over a decade, with the story originally being pitched for Steven Spielberg to potentially direct.  At the time, the colorful lead character was pondered on quite a bit; and guess what?  Most of the initial actors lean(ed) towards silly, comedic roles!  Given the shaky track record Steve Martin and Robin Williams have, it’s weird to imagine them as the wobbly but strangely thoughtful captain.  As for Bill Murray, he just seems to come off as dryly sarcastic, so I’m not sure how colorful and upbeat he’d be.  I think this is just one more instance that the final choice is one we can agree was for the best.

Air Force One: Kevin Costner as President Marshall.

Surely the make-up wouldn’t be THAT bad?

Oh the many, many actors we’d rather see as the President of the United States.  Many people (including myself) absolutely loved Harrison Ford as the fictionalized President in Air Force One, a film light on plausibility but heavy on entertainment.  Although any movie where the President is a decent individual–let alone a badass who does things himself–has no realism in this day and age.  Then there’s the insanely inconsistent Kevin Costner.  I might be alone here, but I think the man is talented and is given too much flak.  I could see him playing the President quite well, though I doubt his voice would command nearly as much as Ford did.  But hey, this role wasn’t such a waste; I’m sure The Postman will live on with much more respect and recognition.

Alien: Veronica Cartwright as Ripley.

Switch roles?  You got a face-swap for us?

Right now one might make an argument the Alien franchise has hit the point of being milked.  Even so, throughout the course of over thirty years now, the role of Ripley in each Alien movie has become a bit of an icon.  And with a character this memorable, you can be sure a lot of it has to do with the actress, to which Sigourney Weaver proved to be likable in each film.  Now, looking back, could we see another actress tackling and sticking with the role?  One of the other Alien stars, Veronica Cartwright, was actually considered for the key role.  I for one could see her playing Ripley in Alien, but I’m not so sure about the sequels.  But thanks to the way Weaver handled her speech at the end of Alien, she ultimately got (and stuck with) the role.

Sandra Bullock as Maggie in Million Dollar Baby

We’re not convinced.

Here’s one we can shrug aside in hindsight, since both ladies in question were given an Academy Award.  But at the time of Million Dollar Baby’s release, you’d have to wonder even more just what Maggie could have been like.  I won’t hide that I’m not the biggest Sandra Bullock fan, finding her to essentially be a more famous Linda Hamilton.  She has talent, but I’m glad that Swank was chosen, since I always find her to be a versatile actress–precisely what the role called for.

Angelina Jolie and Winona Ryder as Queen Ravena in Snow White and the Huntsman

Angelina gets to play a make-up and costume-drenched freak after all.  Happy seasons!

For one of these actresses, I can definitely see why they were considered.  For the other, I can’t imagine it.  But given the final choice, I’m thankful.  Angelina Jolie seems to be an immediate go-to actress for these big, tough female characters.  And I might risk what little reputation I have already, but she can never suspend me.  I feel that her as the Evil Queen wouldn’t have been nearly as interesting, but it’s probably more than what I can say for Ryder.  She’s certainly a likeable actress, but as the intimidating villain?  Sorry, but her child-like face just doesn’t scream evil or queen-like in any way.

Chloe Grace Moretz and Shailene Woodley as Katniss in The Hunger Games

Does this face scream bows, burns and harsh survival?

Here are two young actresses I’m quite fond of, despite having only seen one or two performances by each of them.  Chloe Grace Moretz of Hugo and Kick-Ass has already established herself as more adaptable than most adult actresses.  And Shailene Woodley turned out to be perhaps the biggest, most pleasant surprise of The Descendants.  That said, this is another instance that I must say I’m content with the final choice.  Jennifer Lawrence is another still-rising actress who’s impressed me with her filmography thus far.  For the role of Katness, I think she pulled it off better than the others could since she seems more physically adept (please don’t take that out of proper context).  The performance likely would have been great if any of the other two were chosen, but Lawrence just looks the part so much more.

 
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Posted by on June 21, 2012 in Film, Movies

 

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The Films of 2012 You Shouldn’t Ignore

Well before 2011 was over people were already claiming 2012 to be one of the best years for film.  After all, the only thing better than sequels, remakes and adaptations are above average sequels, remakes and adaptations.  But while films like The Hunger Games and The Avengers bask in the financial intake, there are a slew of movies being overshadowed.  Not that they need help to generate revenue, but those who want something a bit different from the publicized crop can venture a look.
Lawless

A Depression-era film starring shouter Shia LaBeouf might not be the best way to kick a list off, but films that deal with law-shrugging gangsters still seem to resonate with many people–and who can blame them?  Plus, we have The Road director John Hillcoat at the helm here with a cast that includes Tom Hardy, Guy Pearce and Gary Oldman, who make relatively good film choices.  And as an added bonus, we have Jessica Chastain filling in the pretty-face card.  The trailer certainly looks enticing and the film should be a good way to keep our attention between the summer and fall film slaughters of 2012.

Trailer:

Moonrise Kingdom

A few people are keeping their eyes open for this latest film by Wes Anderson, which got very positive reactions at the Cannes Film Festival.  After all, what’s not to like?  It’s a dramedy by a talented and acclaimed director, the premise and scenario is different, the cast includes Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton and Harvey Keitel and–brace yourselves–it’s not adapted!  Between this and the trailer, which implies a perfect balance of charming and awkward comedy, there should be more anticipation for Moonrise Kingdom than Men In Black 3.  Of course, we all know the chances of that happening.

Trailer:

ParaNorman

Even with the misstep that was Cars 2, Pixar still appear to have quite a following lined up for Brave.  But what about the other animated movies?  Frankenweenie has been showing before literally every movie and, quite frankly, sounds more like a bad porno title than anything.  Then there’s ParaNorman, which has a very off-beat vibe based on the trailer…but that’s why it might be worthwhile.  There’s a bit of Tim Burton meets Nick Park here, except the former aspects should be handled well.  And if that turns out to be accurate, then we should have our second promising animated flick this year.

Trailer:

Red Lights

Most movies that deal with the paranormal are little more than campy, B-grade throw-outs, but here’s a movie that could prove to be a little different.  The cast is decent enough, which should help Cillian Murphy continue his slow climb of recognition; shame he’ll probably be as old as Christopher Plummer before becoming a household name.  That aside, Red Lights should work since it might take its audience seriously.  Granted, it’s unlikely this will be a game-changer (since Hollywood hardly know the definition), but the movie can at least raise the standards for its siblings to come.

Trailer:

Premium Rush

Okay, let’s be honest: the main reason people will see this movie is because of Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  The man seemed to become an overnight sensation and favorite thanks to 50/50, which isn’t difficult to reason.  Beyond that, this film looks to be a fairly by-the-numbers chase/action-thriller, but that’s just the point.  Everyone knows all the action movies they want to see this year, so hopefully Premium Rush will be a fun by-the-numbers film.  In fact, calling it Speed on a bicycle really doesn’t sound all that crazy after giving it some thought.

Trailer:

Gangster Squad

Oh look, another gangster/mafia film!  Except where Lawless may or may not look merely decent at this point, Gangster Squad could potentially bring us back to the former mafia glory of the 90’s.  Almost all of Ryan Gosling’s recent films have been acclaimed, critic-favorites Sean Penn and Nick Nolte are alongside him and, just for good measure, Josh Brolin, Giovanni Ribisi and Emma Stone have parts too.  Not everything about the film is promising, however; let’s be honest, the title is just silly and Ruben Fleischer is at the helm.  This would be fine, except a little number known as 30 Minutes or Less made his other effort, Zombieland, look like Resident Evil with Citizen Kane-like execution.  We’ll just have to hope Ruben has learned from his misstep, much like we’re hoping for Pixar’s redemption after a merely subpar sequel.

Trailer:

The Words

What is it with the sudden surge of movies about writers?  Ghost Writer, Being Flynn, Ruby Sparks and this: The Words.  Though Bradley Cooper did stretch his acting wings in Limitless, this just might make him a card worth taking seriously.  Based on the trailer, it almost looks like the movie wants to shoot for some sort of Academy recognition.  Now, we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves, but the film does look promising.  Drama, some light-hearted humor and, more than likely, a typical Hollywood ending, should make this a modest hit with casual critics–if such thing exists.

Trailer:

Looper

Hey look, it’s Back to the Future meets Inception!  There’s a good chance people have noticed the poster for this movie, but don’t know anything about it.  Audiences seem to enjoy the movies that do away with some laws of logic while keeping others, and Looper is looking to fit the bill wonderfully.  Just don’t expect it to be nearly as huge as either of the aforementioned films, since it’s clear this is more an adrenaline fix than food for thought.

Trailer:

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2012 in Film, Movies

 

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