Wednesday, December 31, 2014 Presents: My Top Artists & Songs of 2014

As many of you already know, I am just as passionate about my music as I am about my movies. To keep track of my music, I use an amazing service called uses an app, called the scrobbler, to not only track the artists, songs, and albums you listen to the most, but it also creates your own social media page with your own radio station! If you have a song on your device that is in the library, when you scrobble it, it gets added to your own radio station. People can then go to your page and listen to the music you listen to! Additionally, they let you know when your artists are playing in your area, when they release new material, and they'll even recommend similar artists you might really like, really is a terrific service that is 100% free! You can check out my page and radio station by clicking the link in the links section.

Todd's Top 30 Songs of 2014:
1) New Medicine - Race To The Bottom
 2) Alice In Chains - Again
 3) The Donnas - Take It Off
 4) Buckcherry - Lit Up
 5) Seether - Fake It
 6) Linkin Park - One Step Closer
 7) Royal Republic - Be My Baby
 8) American Hi-Fi - Flavor of The Week
 9) Alice In Chains - Man In The Box
 10) Everclear - Heroin Girl
 11) Puddle of Mudd - Abrasive
 12) Lifehouse - First Time
 13) New Medicine - Laid
 14)  Limp Bizkit - Nookie
15) Marilyn Manson - The Beautiful People
16) Seether - Gasoline
17) Helmet - Pure
18) Saliva - Survival of The Sickest
19) New Medicine - Resolved To Fight
20) New Medicine - Rich Kids
21) Pearl Jam - Not For You
22) Pearl Jam - Spin The Black Circle
23) Seether - Fine Again
24) Local H - Bound For The Floor
25) Rob Zombie - Dragula
26) Local H - All The Kids Are Right
27) Alice In Chains - We Die Young
28) Rancid - Blast 'Em
29) Seether - Tonight
30) New Medicine - American Wasted 
Todd's Top 100 Artists of 2014:
TOP 25: 
1) Local H
 2) The Offspring
3) Buckcherry
4) Seether
5) Green Day
6) Foo Fighters
7) Anti-Flag 
8) Alice In Chains
9) Everclear
10) Papa Roach
11) Danko Jones
12) American Hi-Fi
13) Nickelback
14) Live
15) The Suicide Machines
16) AC/DC
17) Stone Temple Pilots
18) Marilyn Manson
19) Collective Soul
20) Puddle of Mudd
21) New Medicine
22) Shinedown
 23) Red Hot Chili Peppers
24) Silverchair 
 25) Bad Religion

TOP 50: 
26) Royal Republic 27) The Living End 28) MxPx 29) Tom Petty 30) Eve 6 31) Pearl Jam 32) Sick Puppies 33) Goldfinger 34) Nirvana 35) Marvelous 3 36) Fuel 37) Creed 38) Sugarcult 39) Bowling For Soup 40) Billy Talent 41) Hoobastank 42) The Donnas 43) Oasis 44) Saliva 45) The Smashing Pumpkins 46) Unwritten Law 47) Oleander 48) Goo Goo Dolls 49) Incubus 50) Sum 41

TOP 100: 
51) The Exies 52) Powerman 5000 53) Rancid 54) The Wallflowers 55) Ozzy Osbourne 56) Rob Zombie 57) NOFX 58) Finger Eleven 59) Lifehouse 60) Metallica 61) Bush 62) Fountains of Wayne 63) Our Lady Peace 64) Matchbox Twenty 65) Zebrahead 66) Lit 67) Madam Adam 68) Third Eye Blind 69) Stroke 9 70) Helmet 71) GOB 72) Linkin Park 73) Soul Asylum 74) Bon Jovi 75) The Pink Spiders 76) Josh Todd 77) The Bangkok Five 78) The Vines 79) Godsmack 80) The Rolling Stones 81) Disturbed 82) Vains of Jenna 83) Filter 84) My Chemical Romance 85) Limp Bizkit 86) Weezer 87) Kopek 88) Hinder 89) Less Than Jake 90) Three Days Grace 91) Sponge 92) Splender 93) Black Stone Cherry 94) 3 Doors Down 95) Hail The Villain 96) Rage Against The Machine 97) New Politics 98) Areosmith 99) Blink 182 100) Harvey Danger

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

All American Christmas Carol

Starring: Taryn Manning, Beverly D'Angelo, & Tristan Lake Leabu
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I have always loved Charles Dicken's classic, A Christmas Carol. I have seen literally dozens of adaptations of it and I still find it to be one of the greatest things ever written. All American Christmas Carol is a redneck take on the story, and while it wasn't a bad film, it wasn't what I thought it would be. Cindy (Taryn Manning) is a single mother, who has three kids from three different men, and she's not even thirty. Her drunken, partying life style doesn't even cover the bills to keep her three kids, Harley (Tristan Lake Leabu), Skoal, and Cheese Doodle in their trailer. Her life and family are headed for disaster, when Harley's father, aptly named Jake Marley, dies in a paintball accident. After the funeral those three ghosts we all know and love show up and try to put Cindy on the right path. This film was unrated and had all the makings of another terrific raunchy Christmas film. I was expecting Bad Santa, instead I got it's Duck Dynasty-esq PG-13 cousin. Kill Theories, Taryn Manning stars and she was great, she was far more believable than any of the ghosts and really made you feel for her character. The other stand out in the film is young Tristan Lake Leabu, who plays her oldest son, Harley. Harley is the man of the house at the ripe old age of 13. With the hilarious redneck antics going on around him, it's hard to remember that he's doing a man's job at a child's age. Leabu played the both sides of this character and did so with the ease of an actor far beyond his years. This is not your typical Christmas Carol, it's not all that raunchy either, but for it was, I was pretty entertaining. I wish they had taken it to the next level and really gone all out with the comedy, but still it didn't take that much away from the film. Rednecks let this film be a warning to you, if you don't do more than drink and have sex, the ghosts of loved ones passed will haunt you and it will be hilarious.

Christmas With The Kranks

Starring: Tim Allen, Jamie Lee Curtis, & Erik Per Sullivan
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

With their daughter away in the peace core, Nora and Luther Krank have decided to skip Christmas this year, and take a cruise to the Caribbean. There is only one problem, their Christmas Eve party and elaborate decorations are a staple of their neighborhood, and when the neighbors find out that the family is skipping Christmas this year, they go out of their way to change their minds. This film is your typical goof ball, family, holiday film, except with a much better cast then these things typically have. The chemistry between Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis was terrific, and in my opinion make the whole thing work. Besides the big named cast, producers also included a ton of cameos from the likes of Cheech Marin, Dan Akyrod, and Felicity Huffman, just to name a few. Seeing a big name you really like, who is not listed in the credits, show up even for a small role, it always adds to the enjoyment of the film. This is not the kind of movie that is going to win any awards. It might not even be the kind of holiday film that is remembered ten years from now, but it's certainly entertaining, with some heartfelt moments, and it's good for a few cheap laughs. Christmas With The Kranks delivers everything you expect from a holiday movie, as it is something you can watch with the whole family and it will put you in the holiday spirit.

Hostages (TV Show)

Starring: Toni Collette, Dylan McDermott, Tate Donovan, Rhys Coiro, Sandrine Holt, Billy Brown, Quinn Shephard, Mateus Ward, & James Naughton

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

CBS's innovative and exciting new drama, Hostages, was chosen by critics to be the big hit of the 2013 fall season, but things didn't quite turn out that way. The show was much more than I expected and unlike anything else on network television, but the amazing story is both the reason people did and didn't watch it.

The problem with Hostages was that if people did watch it an it was renewed, where else could you go? Season 2 would have required a whole other cast and story or else it would risk just going around in circles. It's also the kind of show where you have to watch it from the beginning and see every episode to know what's going on, so either way the show was doomed from the beginning. Don't get me wrong, the story was phenomenal, and would have been one of the best mini-series ever, but beyond that there was nowhere to go and I think people realized that.

Dr. Ellen Sanders (Toni Collette) is one of the best surgeons in the country, and her day has come as she has been selected to operate on the President of The United States. The Sanders family are on top of the world, until one night a group of mercenaries break into their home and give her a simple task. Kill the President or we kill your family. From there the family is held hostage until the surgery is upon them. 

Toni Collette stars, and while she's been in a ton of things, this was easily her best performance since the Sixth Sense. She was so good that it seemed like the kind of role that was written specifically for her. The doctor had some wild ideas and took some crazy risks to try and find out who the mercenaries were and why they were really doing this. 

Collette is paired with veteran TV star, Dylan McDermott, who plays double duty as both her captor and as an FBI agent, who has a ton of other things on his plate. The story itself seems simplistic, but there are so many side elements that effect each character, but none more so than McDermott's charachter, FBI agent Duncan Carlyle. 

Hostages is edge of your seat excitement, with a cast that is top notch. There is so much more going on here than a simple hostage situation. Each character has their own story that could really be worthy of a film and the show goes in so many unexpected directions, it just really was outstanding in every sense of the word. 

I absolutely loved this show and watched all 15 episodes in a week, still the show was easily doomed to a single season, because of the complexity and inflexibility of the story.

Dark Space

Starring: Alana Dietze, Steve West, & Tonya Kay
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Dark Space was a small budget independent film, that came out last year. Even with it's small budget, the special effects were really cool, unfortunately, that's where they spent all their money. In the future, space vacations is big business, and six college kids on spring break have rented a ship to travel to one of the many off world locations. The ship is set to go the speed limit and that's not cool for the drunken students. After altering their ship, it flies out of control into an uncharted region, where the group crashes on an unknown planet. The story told in Dark Space is a good one and the special effects were the best I've seen in such an independent film, but the acting was awful! Alana Dietze is the lead and she literally sounded like she was reading from a teleprompter the entire film.  Even the emotional scenes and the action sequences were just so badly portrayed that it was like watching someone read the news. The male lead, Steve West, wasn't much better either has he gives a dry and uneven performance. Independent films are where a lot of people get their start, and to get recognition, they have to do things to help the film stand out of the rest. That is why they spent so much  money on special effects, but what good are the effects or even the terrific story, when you have actors that are so bad, you feel like your watch a middle school play? I liked everything about this film and with a more competent cast, it would have been terrific. If you like a good science fiction story, I'd still watch the film, but the cast just really doesn't cut it.

 NOTE: This is our 700th review!!!

Sunday, December 7, 2014


Starring: Shailene Woodley, Theo James, & Kate Winslett
Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars

When I first heard about Divergent, I though the first Hunger Games rip off was upon us, and besides that the whole story seemed somewhat confusing. It is Science Fiction and Directed by Neil Berger, the mind behind Limitless, so I decided to give it a shot, and it was the best idea I had in a long time.
In a post war America, the city of Chicago is fenced off from the rest of the world, and has split into five factions of people. At the age of 18, all citizens must take an aptitude test, to determine where they belong. Beatrice (Shailene Woodley) is one of the girls taking the test as the movie starts, and her results show that she has an aptitude for all five factions, making her Divergent. Divergent's are highly intelligent, rebellious, and seen as a threat to the Government, so she hides her results and joins Dauntless, the equivalent of the National Guard in Chicago. During her rough training, the now renamed Trice, meets up with Four (Theo James) who she has an instant connection to, but who is also a threat to her secret identity. One thing that was never explained is why these people have to take the aptitude test, if they are allowed to join whichever faction they choose. It's a major plot hole and the only reason this film didn't receive 5 stars, as I really hate plot holes. Shailene Woodley stars as Trice, making the jump from TV to film, and she has done it with a bang. In much the same way Jennifer Lawrence was the perfect choice to play Katniss, Woodley was perfect for the role of Trice, and brought so much more to the film than I ever thought she would. Theo James is also terrific as Four, the mysterious trainer and love interest of Trice, and together the team is the perfect pair. Divergent is highly original, really well written, and introduced Hollywood to a whole slew of new stars, not to mention it's Director, Neil Burger, is on one hell of a successful run of films. Divergent has everything I look for in a film and in my favorite genre, and for that it is now one of our must see movies!

Born Killers

Starring: Jake Muxworthy, Lauren German, & Gabriel Mann
Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5 stars

I never would have thought that I could be bored watching a movie about a pair of serial killers. Born Killers changed all that, as it is easily the worst serial killer film I've ever seen. Surprisingly enough, this film starts out pretty good and slowly descends into being unwatchable. John & Michael were left to learn about life from their father, a complete psychopath, so it's no surprise, that they turned out to be killers as well. John (Jake Muxworthy) is the quiet, good looking, methodical one, while his brother Michael (Gabriel Mann), is reckless, leaving John to clean up his mess. After we get the back story on the brothers, and see them in action, they go their separate ways, and the story focuses on John. Jake Muxworthy plays the quiet killer, who eventually meets up with a girl. He falls in love and tries to put his killer urges behind him to live the normal life. Muxworthy was the only reason this film got a rating at all. The film lacked the action I was hoping for and just turned into one conversation after another, but Muxworthy was as advertised, as this good looking, methodical killer, who not only plans things down to the last detail, but who also narrates the story. Born Killers wasn't bad in a way where the movie didn't make sense, the problem was how boring and slow moving it was. After the initial action, nothing really happens except for a lot of people doing a lot of talking, and if that's all I wanted to see, I'd just hang out at the mall.

Sleeper Cell

Starring: Michael Ealy, Oded Fehr, Henri Lubatti, Melissa Sagemiller, Alex Nesic, & Blake Shields
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

It is a common misconception that Sleeper Cell was cables first failed attempt to recreate the hit show 24, in a more extreme format, and that Sleeper Cell was the precursor to the smash hit Homeland. In reality, Sleeper Cell was a highly rated mini-series that was picked up for another year. The show was actually the inspiration for Homeland, as if one were to take Sleeper Cell and mix it with 24, the result would be Homeland.

The story follows Darwyn Al-Sayeed (Michale Ealy), the FBI's best undercover agent, who also happens to be a Muslim, making him the perfect choice to infiltrate the domestic side of Al-Queda. Darwyn poses as a recently paroled Islamic militant, who wants to strike a blow against the country that imprisoned him.

Through his prison contacts, Darwyn is connected to a mysterious man named Farik (Oded Fehr), who even the FBI can't identify. Through a series of tests, Farik introduces Darwyn to the rest of his cell and together they start to plan an attack on Los Angeles. 

Michael Ealy stars and played the role of Darwyn as if it were specifically written for him. Ealy is the kind of actor who is easily recognized from dozens of minor movie roles, but I've never seen him star before. The character he's playing, Darwyn, is basically Jack Bauer with a lot more self-control. He's cool and collected, but ready to take action at a moments notice, making for a great character.

Ealy is paired with Oded Fehr, of the Mummy series, and he too was terrific. Obviously you need an actor with a Middle Eastern background to play this role, but Farik isn't you're typical Al-Queda, as he is able to easily fit into the suburban community. Farik is a ruthless killer, but also has a peaceful, caring side, that really comes across in the episode where they go to Mexico. 

Sleeper Cell has all the action and edge of your seat drama that 24 had, and more, because let's face it, This was a cable show. Thanks to a top notch cast, some well known Directors, and a great team of Writers, Sleeper Cell was a sleeper hit on Showtime, that was easily overlooked, because it was only on for a short time. Besides only having 18 episodes, Showtime originally presented the show in a very strange way, airing all the episodes on back to back nights. This means that combined, both seasons were on the air for less than a month, and in a time before on demand had gotten popular. That is why this series was so overlooked, but thanks to Netflix, Me and thousands of others have been exposed to this hidden gem, that is worth every second that you put into to watching it.

Jesus Henry Christ

Starring: Jason Spevack, Toni Collette, & Michael Sheen
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

When you watch as many independent films as I do, you know you're going to come across a few weird ones. Jesus Henry Christ may take the cake though, as it was really out there. 10 year old Henry Herman (Jason Spevack) is a genius, with one of the highest IQ's ever recorded. This genius was actually a test tube baby, and his lifelong goal has been to find out where his genius comes from. It's certainly not from the Herman family, which is the definition of a dysfunctional family, so whoever it is, has to better than them. Henry will come to discover that his father is a college professor, who wrote a book about how to condition your children to be gay from birth. He has a sister too, who thanks to her father, is the laughing stock of her whole school. When the two halves of Henry come together, hilarity ensues in this screwball comedy. Young Jason Spevack stars, and while he's just a kid, his character was super annoying. If you hate people who think they are smarter than everyone, try watching a kid who knows he's smarter than everyone. Thankfully, there is more to the movie then the musings and rambles of young Henry. His Grandfather and half-sister are both hilarious, and easily are the best part of the movie. Unfortunately, they don't have huge roles, and the film is left with simply moments of hilarity. Overall, Jesus Henry Christ is a strange film, with a few funny moments, but generally it's pretty slow and uninteresting. Toni Collette of Sixth Sense fame is the only person of recognition in this cast, but her role was so insignificant, that she doesn't do much to help an otherwise young and inexperienced cast. While it's not a bad film, Jesus Henry Christ isn't great either. It has it's moments and the story is somewhat interesting, but unless the storyline interests you, I would go ahead and skip this one.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Neighbors (2014)

Starring: Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Dave Franco, & Rose Byrne
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

From the Director of Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him To The Greek, comes Neighbors, and you usually can't go wrong with a comedy that stars Seth Rogen. In this film, Rogen is actually playing a grown up, with a new baby and a new house. Life seems to be perfect for Mac (Rogen) and his new wife Kelly (Rose Byrne), until they get new neighbors, a fraternity house. They seem like they'll get along okay, until the couple finally calls the police on their neighbors, then all hell breaks loose. This film had all the makings of a great comedy and would have been terrific, if there had been less partying, and more fighting. While there were some extremely funny moments, most of the film either features the eye candy partying or Rogen and Byrne consistently interrupting each other during their long, loud, confusing conversations. This film really was the first time I understood peoples complaints about Rogen, as his rambling and interrupting was just ridiculously over the top. The surprise of the film was easily Zac Efron. I've seen him in several films before and he's good at what he does, usually playing this super attractive, really nice guy, in some love story or teen drama. I can honestly say until this point, I never really enjoyed anything he was in, except for 17 Again. This film marks a change in direction for the young stars career and he was really great. Most of the funny moments in this film, actually came not from Rogen, but from Efron. It was great to see, but still not enough to save this film. There is a lot of partying, drinking, pot, and eye candy, but when it comes right down to it, this film really wasn't anything special.

Europa Report

Starring: Anamaria Marinca, Michael Nyqvist, & Daniel Wu
Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5 stars

I've let my feeling be known many times on how I feel about these found footage documentary films, that use camcorders. They are lazy, usually have no storyline, and the constant camera movement is just nauseating. Europa Report is different, as the film is told through surveillance cameras, aboard a state of the art space ship. Europa is a privately funded mission to the sixth moon of Saturn, to investigate strange heat signatures detected by NASA, that could be alien lifeforms. The cinematography was better than most of these film, and there was somewhat of a back story, however Europa Report is really not much different than a million other similar films. Nothing really happens until they reach their destination, they find something strange, and then must decide if fighting for their lives is worth the potential for scientific discovery. I bet you can name a dozen other films that were similar. As for the cast, they were just like film, in that they were very average, with little to nothing of note. Science Fiction is my favorite genre and I'm always hoping these films will show me something new and excited, but as with Apollo 18, Mission To Mars, Sunshine, and Moon, I was extremely disappointed. Europa Report wasn't a bad film, but it wasn't unique in any way. If you haven't seen many films, you may be wowed by something like this, but if you're like me, all you're going to find is a very boring and unimaginative film. 

Arena (2011)

Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Kellan Lutz, & Katia Winter
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Human trafficking is one of the most heinous crimes imaginable, but what if it was used for something other than sex or slavery? The story of Arena is of a rich millionaire, who wanted to blend the UFC with Roman gladiators. The people taken are all men in excellent shape, who believe they're about to have sex with a beautiful woman, when they are kidnapped, and forced to fight to the death on a highly popular internet site. Everyone from the rich to college kids bet on the fights and then determine the fate of the loser. To be honest, I wasn't expecting much from a film like this, but the story far exceeded my expectations. There is a huge back story to their most recent acquisition, a firefighter from Denver, who is dubbed as Death Dealer. Kellan Lutz plays him and he's one of these OC, Twilight, model types, who gives a surprising performance. This guy must have some kind of special fight training and portrayed this scary dude, who just wasn't going to give up. He's paired with the legendary Samuel L. Jackson, who was his usual hilarious, twisted self. Jackson is one of these guys who is just at a point in his career where everything he does is worth watching, and in a relatively small role, he really adds a lot to this film. Arena was a little better than I expected, until it reached it's conclusion. At the end of this film, there was a huge twist that would have made M. Night Shamalyan proud. I really didn't see it coming and the ending changes the whole theme of the movie. It's the kind of ending that makes you want to watch the film again, after you know the ending, to see if there were clues to figuring out the truth earlier than it was revealed. Arena is far from an award winning film, but it's got much more going for it then I ever would have expected. It's got some crazy violence, but there is also a pretty compelling story, with an ending that will absolutely blow your mind.

Deadly Code

Starring: John Malkovich, Vilius Turnalavicius, & Arnas Fedaravicius
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

When used properly, John Malkovich is the best of the best when it comes to playing the bad guy. In his latest film, Deadly Code, Malkovich is playing the Grandfather of a Siberian crime syndicate and much like Brando in the Godfather, is used sparely to impart words of wisdom on his young decedents. Siberia is one of the coldest and most desolate places on the planet. When a criminal is too dangerous to even be put in the jail of a major Russian city, they are dumped into Siberia. Crime is rampant and everything is run by organized crime families, who's strict code of loyalty and honor puts even the Italians to shame. Kolyma (Vilius Turnalavicius) is the grandson and the film is split between Kolyma in the army, hunting down a wanted man, and his time growing up in a crime family under his Grandfathers guidance. Mafia movies traditionally follow a format and this film was no different, with the except of the setting, so when I heard it was the Godfather of Russian organized crime and started John Malkovich, I wondered how it was possible that I'd never heard of it, well now I know. There are these crazy rules and code of honor that these guys live by, making them gangsters who aren't really violent. They simply steal from the government to help their community. In a real sense, it's about sophisticated, responsible criminals, helping people, and avoiding the police. While honorable, it makes for an extremely slow moving film, add to that all the Russian actors trying to speak English, and you have a film that's somewhat hard to even understand. Subtitles and some more action would have helped, but so would a more experienced cast. Most of these guys have no other listings on IMDB and the inexperience shows. The story of Deadly Code seems like a good idea, but when you have a lack of action, mixed with inexperienced actors, speaking in a way that is barely understandable, you have a very uninteresting movie that is more than somewhat hard to watch.