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NYTimes: Moment in Convention Glare Shakes Up Khans’ American Life

Moment in Convention Glare Shakes Up Khans’ American Life

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Star Trek Beyond

As the movie opens, the Enterprise of the Kelvin alternate universe is in the middle of its five-year mission of space exploration. Captain Kirk returns from an unsuccessful diplomatic mission questioning his role in Starfleet. As Bones McCoy points out in a private moment, Kirk is still competing with his dead father, especially on the impending anniversary of Kirk’s birth (and his father’s death).

The Enterprise heads for a deep space port named Yorktown where the crew can have a little downtime.  However, we learn that Kirk is tiring of trekking and, to no crewmembers’ knowledge, has requested a transfer to an administrative assignment.  Elsewhere on Yorktown, Spock, who feels he should be doing more to help New Vulcan, receives a visit from two Vulcans who notified him of Ambassador Spock’s death.  His melancholy has already affected his relationship with Uhuru as they have broken up.

Before Kirk and Spock can act on their feelings, however, they are assigned to help rescue a stranded crew on another planet in the quadrant. However, just before arriving, the Enterprise is attacked and Kirk and crew must fight for their survival.

Star Trek Beyond deconstructs the characters and relationships of this alternate timeline crew and then spends the film reconstructing them.  As the situation separates them, we see Kirk and Chekov working together.  Sulu and Uhuru form another team on a different mission. Scotty and a newfound alien, Jaylah, are another team. Finally, we have Bones and Spock working together. As the film meanders along, these teams come together to fulfill an even bigger threat off planet.

One of the striking things to me, as a fifty-year viewer of this television and movie franchise is how well these new actors have stepped into the old shoes of their predecessors. The newer characterizations are so spot on that my brain is willing to accept the massive cast shift. This has been evident since the 2009 reboot, but this is the first time that I’ve felt the characterizations have moved beyond imitation and parody into inhabiting the characters as we grew to love them.  I’m fully invested in this cast. Kudos to cast member Simon Pegg (Scotty) and Doug Jung who wrote the script which reflects the heart of the original television series.

At this point, I should mention the untimely death of Anton Yelchin, who played the rebooted Chekov. Unlike that of original cast member Leonard Nimoy, Yelchin’s death is not dealt with within the context of the film.  Both are handled with slides at the beginning of the end credits.

Justin Lin has directed Star Trek Beyond with great energy which many expected as Lin made the Fast and the Furious franchise what it is today. However, Star Trek Beyond does not feel like Fast and Furious in space.  The set pieces are fantastic, but Lin handles the character interaction with great skill. Idris Elba (as Krall) and Sofia Boutella (as Jaylah) are great as guest stars.

Star Trek Beyond is a welcome 13th edition of this franchise and third film in the rebooted series, Producer J.J. Abrams has already stated that another film is in the works with Chris Hemsworth returning as George Kirk.  So. James T. Kirk will have the opportunity to work out his “Daddy” issues.

Meanwhile, enjoy Star Trek Beyond.
Live long and prosper.

★★★★☆  4 out of 5 stars 

Rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and violence

Trailer:

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – Ultimate Edition

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Like many fans, when I viewed the theatrical release of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, I was incredibly disappointed. I found it disjointed, full of plot holes and inexplicable character development.

Well, the inexplicable character development is still there and a few plot holes still exist, but BVSDOJ: Ultimate Edition is a vastly superior film to its theatrical release.

As the opening credits roll, we get director Zach Snyder’s version of the Batman origin story. However, by the time the credits are done, we’re done with the origin story as well.

An older Bruce Wayne arrives in Metropolis as Superman and General Zod battle over the city as we saw in Man of Steel. However, this time it’s all from Wayne’s point of view. We begin to see the reason why Wayne thinks of Superman as someone who should cease to exist.

Clark Kent is a much more developed character in the Ultimate Edition than he was in the theatrical release. His character feels more in line with the character of the previous film. His relationship with Lois Lane is fleshed out (pun intended) as well as that with his Mom.

The dream sequences that Wayne had in the theatrical release are far less disjointed and re-edited into a form which makes better sense.

This film introduces Wayne and his faithful butler from the Batman saga and Alexander Luthor from the Superman saga. Ben Affleck and Jeremy Irons play their characters well and Jesse Eisenberg is slightly less goofy in the extended version rather than over-the-top in the theatrical version. Unfortunately, Laurence Fishburne is chewing a lot more scenery in BVSDOJ than in Man of Steel.

While I’m talking about characters, let me just mention as an aside that I don’t understand why the characters of Steve Lombard, Jimmy Olson and Clark Kent (Kent to a much lesser degree in the Ultimate Edition) were wasted in this film.

The set pieces in the movie flowed naturally with the narrative and I think many will enjoy the major fight sequence in the film.

Query: was that Wonder Woman theme in the theatrical release?

All in all, BVSDOJ: Ultimate is a much better film than the theatrical release. It’s plot flows more evenly, many characters are better developed and, although the film weighs in at 3 hours and 3 minutes, I didn’t want to leave my seat for fear of missing something.

On a 10 scale, I rate BVSDOJ: Ultimate up from a 6 to a 9.

Trailer:

Rated R for sequences of violence.
Theatrical cut rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action throughout, and some sensuality. 

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

JJ Abrams seems to be the only producer to get me in an actual movie theater. He first accomplished that with Star Trek, then Super 8.

Now comes 10 Cloverfield Lane, the first official blood relative to 2008’s Cloverfield. (Mr. Abrams and others may not agree, but I actually feel Super 8 is worthy of that title.)

Now,  you’d have to be brain-dead to hear Mr. Abrams talk about this film and expect a direct sequel to the eponymous 2008 film. Yet, even I was surprised at the numerous twists and turns this latest entry takes.

Mary-Elizabeth Winstead portrays Michelle, a woman who has decided to end her relationship with her unseen boyfriend, Ben. She’s driving through rural Louisiana talking to him on her cell phone when she’s forced off the road.

When she awakens, she has an IV in one arm and is handcuffed to a bed by one leg. Enter Howard (John Goodman) who explains, in chilling fashion, that no one will be looking for her.

I won’t be the one to give away the various secrets of this film. I suppose that will happen faster than you can spell Wikipedia. I will say that you’ll be trying to figure out what the heck is going on as much as Michelle is.

Honorable mention to John Gallagher, Jr. who portrays Emmett, the third  member of Howard’s impromptu family.

Most of the action takes place in Howard’s bunker and it can be quite claustrophobic at times. Yet, a pivotal event occurs and all hell breaks loose.

10 Cloverfield Lane will keep most guessing right to the very end. Director Dan Trachtenberg is to be commended for constructing a film that mostly keeps you on the edge of your seat. The fact that most reviews won’t reveal the secrets of the film should tell you everything you need to know.

Highly recommended!
Out of 5 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐+1/2⭐

Rated PG-13 for thematic material including frightening sequences of threat with some violence, and brief language.

Trailer:

Is this man the Clippers’ GOAT?

The first team to score 100 wins.  It’s The Law!
Ralph Lawler

Ralph Lawler is the beloved play-by-play broadcaster of the Los Angeles Clippers. Mr. Lawler, who recently celebrated his 76th birthday, has broadcast over 2700 Clipper broadcasts. He is finishing up his 35th year as a Clippers broadcaster. His banter with broadcast partner, Michael Smith, and former partner, NBA legend Bill Walton has entertained generations of Clipper fans. As a Clipper fan, if Ralph isn’t calling the game, it doesn’t feel like a Clippers game. According to Clippers.com, “his enthusiastic calls of “Bingo!,” “Fasten your Seat-belts” and “Oh Me Oh My” [continue] to be familiar favorites for Clipper fans.”

If there’s any doubt after reading this essay, please know he’s beloved by me also. However, lately, I’m beginning to think he may be responsible for some very troubling losses by Doc Rivers’ Clippers.

Among Clipper fans and many broadcasters, Lawler’s Law is well known. It’s also highly accurate. According to an article on vorped.com its accuracy rate is 93.5%; the article also states that others have estimated its accuracy around 91.5%.

logo_mcs_vfs_inline took the results of the 94 regular-season and playoff games of 2013-14 as reported by Basketball-Reference.com, cross-referenced those results with the play-by-play as stored by NBA.com and learned that Lawler’s Law was 90.5% for this season (so far). Here’s the breakdown.

Of 94 games played to date, there were 10 games where neither team scored 100; so Lawler’s Law didn’t apply. There were 27 games where the opponent didn’t score 100, which the Clippers won. There were 11 games where the Clippers didn’t score 100, which they obviously lost. Of the remaining 46 games, Lawler’s Law was sustained 38 of 46 times. Therefore, in games where Lawler’s Law was applicable, it was sustained 76 of 84 times or 90.5%.

However, in tracking Lawler’s Law throughout the season, I’ve noticed a troubling trend surrounding Lawler’s Law. Doc Rivers’ Clippers have some trouble once they reach 100 points. Need proof?


11 November 2013
11 November 2013

Chris Paul hits a 16 foot jump shot to put the Clippers in the lead 100-89 with 5:13 remaining in the fourth quarter. The Timberwolves score five points in the next 1:13 before Ryan Hollins hits the second of two free throws. Kevin Martin scores five more points in 34 seconds to bring the margin to within two points. The game seesaws back and forth until Nikola Pekovic scores a layup from three feet out to make the score 109-107 Clippers with 28 seconds remaining. The Clippers take a time out with 11 seconds left with possession. Blake Griffin misses a layup from 2 feet with 7 seconds left. Kevin Love rebounds the ball and the T-Wolves call a timeout with 6 seconds left. When play resumes, Kevin Martin misses a jumper from 16 feet. Pekovic rebounds and misses a layup. Love rebounds and misses a layup and the Clippers escape with the victory.


8 January 2014
8 January 2014

With 8:26 remaining in the fourth quarter, Jamal Crawford hits a jumper from 19 feet out to give the Clippers a 16-point lead, 100-86. In the ensuing eight minutes seven seconds, the Celtics outscored the Clippers 21-11 to narrow the Clippers’ lead to four points. The Clippers finally scored on two Willie Green free throws with one second remaining to reverse the scoring trend.

Ralph Lawler, Jamal Crawford
Ralph Lawler speaks with Jamal Crawford pre-game – File Photo: Orange County Register
15 January 2014
15 January 2014

With 2:47 remaining in the third quarter, Matt Barnes hit a 25-foot trey to give the Clippers a nine-point lead. From that point until 9:44 of the fourth quarter, a span of five minutes and three seconds, the Clippers didn’t score another point and committed several turnovers contributing to a six-point Mavericks lead, a swing of 15 points. Among the turnovers: a foul by Matt Barnes putting the Mavericks in the bonus; a five-second violation by Blake Griffin; a missed 24-footer by Barnes, a missed 20-footer by Jamal Crawford, a missed 4-foot jumper by Barnes, a missed 4-foot jumper by Griffin, a missed 2-foot jumper by Darren Collison, a bad pass by Griffin that was stolen by the Mavericks, a missed trey by Griffin, a lost ball turnover by Crawford, a missed 25-footer by Jared Dudley and a shooting foul by Dudley. This calvacade of unforced errors was ended by a 4-foot floater by Barnes. Amazingly, the Clippers got down by as many as 17 points at 4:49 (4th), score 123-106.

At that point, to the fortune of the Clippers, the Mavericks had a meltdown of their own. The Clippers outscored the Mavericks 23-4 to take the lead and win the game 129-127, sustaining Lawler’s Law for another day.


8 March 2014
8 March 2014

With 5:58 remaining in the 4th quarter, Blake Griffin hit a driving layup from three feet out to give the Clippers an 11-point lead, 100-89. All of a sudden, Pero Antic and Kyle Korver turned into Batman and Robin. Between the two, the Hawks went on an 11-2 run to bring the score within two 102-100. Then, Paul Millsap, DeMarre Carroll and Jeff Teague got involved and worked the score into a tie with 1:35 remaining in regulation.

In the time remaining, Chris Paul hit a 3-foot layup, but DeAndre Jordan fouled Teague with one second remaining with an opportunity for the Hawks to tie the game and send it into overtime. Fortunately, Teague missed the first of two free throws. Although Millsap stole a Turkoglu inbounds pass, there wasn’t enough time remaining on the clock and the Clippers won by a single point.


10 March 2014
10 March 2014

8:41 Fourth Quarter
Matt Barnes hits an easy layup from one foot out to give the Clippers a 21-point lead over the Phoenix Suns 101-80. On the floor for the Clippers: Paul, Griffin, Granger, Barnes and Jordan.

At that point, the Morris Twins, Goran Dragic and Gerald Green outscored Chris Paul and Matt Barnes 25-11. The Clippers committed six turnovers to one for the Suns. The Suns outshot the Clippers 55.6% to 18.2%

Clearly, the Suns ran out of time.


17 March 2014
17 March 2014

A crazy day in the Southland. Angelinos woke up to a 4.4M quake at 6:25am. Yet, the Clippers weren’t in Los Angeles. They were in Denver to play the Nuggets. Yet, the 100-point line of demarcation worked in a mysterious way this day.

Denver cross the barrier first when Ty Lawson hit a 17-foot jumper with 3:46 remaining in the game and take a 101-98 lead. Fouled by Reggie Bullock, Lawson hit the free throw for a four-point Denver lead.

The Clippers worked the ball around the perimeter and Matt Barnes passed the ball underneath the basket to DeAndre Jordan for a dunk to bring the Clips within two, 102-100 with 3:31 remaining.

The Clippers never scored another point.


13 May 2014
13 May 2014

Game 5 – Western Conference Semifinals

Well… we all know what happened Tuesday.


I really don’t blame Ralph Lawler for all of this.
Yet, I have to wonder if Lawler’s Line has more of an effect on this team than it should have.

And so it goes.

Ciao for now!
Mike