Friday, September 23, 2011


This movie was pretty incredible, and probably the all around coolest film to hit theaters this year. The opening sequence alone is well worth the price of admission. We join Ryan Gosling's character, the Driver, as he escorts a couple of burglars through the city, avoiding the police all the while. This entire sequence, shot from the passenger seat of the Driver's car, is really intense, and sets the stage early on for what's certain to be a different movie going experience.

There are elements of a more dramatic, arthouse style of film, yet blended in throughout is also quite a heavy dose of action. The action is really raw and gritty, and I loved every second of it! Car chase scenes are actually shot in a way that doesn't leave you confused and dizzy, and the visceral action is all very clearly shot throughout, which is just a real treat to find in any action movie these days.

The plot itself is actually fairly simple. So simple, in fact, that even summing it up would likely give away some major plot points. But basically, it's a heist gone wrong, and that's all I'm going to say about it. Not to take anything away from the writing, which is very well crafted. But even more than the story itself, what's really important about this movie is the execution, which is beautifully stylized, and damn near flawless. The movie takes its time, developing the characters and their various relationships, all the while never feeling slow or drawn out. It keeps you engaged and really wanting to learn more. And as we learn more, our characters gradually find themselves getting into bigger and bigger messes.

The Driver is a very awkward character, someone who fills conversations with long silent pauses and happens to do a lot of odd staring. This initially feels quite inhuman, almost robotic, but as the character grows and he gets deeper into trouble, he slowly opens up and shows us why he is this way. It's a very deliberate performance from Ryan Gosling, who completely sold the character.

The real star of the movie, however, is the soundtrack. The 80s style music in this film is just phenomenal, and really compliments the retro-esque LA setting like no other. This is some of the best use of songs in a movie that I can remember, at times making for what are sure to become some of the most memorable moments in film for years to come.

I know I've mentioned very little about the plot and what this movie's really about, but honestly, I'm not sure that it's entirely important to know going in. I went into the movie knowing very little about it myself, other than what I had heard about the action/arthouse mish-mash that I mentioned. But this is a movie that will shock you, and definitely shouldn't go missed. It's one of the absolute best films I've seen all year, and was truly a delight to watch. Go see it!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Randy Orton: The Evolution of a Predator

So this week I bought the new Randy Orton DVD, The Evolution of a Predator, and after ranting about it to a friend, I will now be reviewing it at his request. I only watched the main documentary portion, but I've seen most of the matches included in this set already. The match list is decent enough, though I already own most of them. It's sort of telling that the further we get into Randy's career, the less matches are covered from that period, despite him becoming a much bigger star. And that's pretty much where this whole DVD starts to go wrong, because it completely skips over some of the most crucial moments of Randy's career thus far.

I've watched a ton of WWE's documentary features, and for the most part, they're really well done. This one, however, is a disaster from the very start. There is absolutely no focus whatsoever, the feature just randomly hops from one point in Randy's career to the next, with no rhyme or reason. To start things off, it doesn't even begin talking about Randy Orton, but rather, the Wrestlemania event in general. I guess since the DVD was being made around the time Wrestlemania XXVII took place, this is sort of the closing point that the feature is leading to, so they were starting us off here as well to try and bookend it a little.

However, we then randomly jump to about a month prior to this event, where they now shift focus on the Elimination Chamber. Yes, Randy's involved in the match, but they barely mention him, instead choosing to talk about the Chamber match itself and how dangerous it is, despite that it literally has no impact on the remainder of the story they're trying to tell us thus far. It's also at this point that they mention Randy's throw-away feud with CM Punk, which I'll get back to in a moment.

After randomly focusing on Wrestlemania and the Elimination Chamber, we finally start talking about Randy Orton himself. However, as I mentioned before, this feature just hops all over the place. We start off talking about some things that happened before he got into the business, then we randomly start talking about things after he had been in for a while. Then we, again randomly, start talking about the things he's currently up to, before jumping back to before he was in the business again. And it just hops back and forth and back again. Really, whoever put this thing together truly did a piss poor job of it. I've never seen a WWE documentary feature that was this sloppy, so needless to say, it was frustrating getting through it.

And it's a shame, because some of the things this DVD covers is actually fairly interesting. Like when they talk about his incident with the Marines, and when talking about his redemption with his family. Hell, they have all the tools at their disposal to tell us a classic story of one man's downward spiral and his gradual climb to the top, complete with the nice happy ending and everything. But instead of starting at the beginning of his career and working through chronologically, they just cover random bits and pieces in no particular order whatsoever, leaving behind a cluttered mess instead.

Now, while some of the things they covered was interesting, it's what they blatantly left out that's especially frustrating about this feature. Here's where I'll re-mention CM Punk. Going into Wrestlemania XXVII, Randy had a nothing feud with Punk, basically something to just keep the two preoccupied for the time being. However, going by this set, you'd think that this was the biggest thing to happen in Randy's WWE career. They place so much importance on this feud throughout, hyping it up, showing us backstory, and even going so far as to put together a highlight package of their match at the end. All of this for a feud that nobody even remembers just a few months after the fact.

Meanwhile, this DVD left off some of the most vital aspects of Randy's career. They barely mention his time in Evolution, and even then, they make no recollection whatsoever to his major ongoing rivalry with Triple H after the fact. They also completely ignore his year long feud with John Cena, the feud that elevated Randy up to the main event mainstay that he is today. They speak briefly of his first title reign, yet all his other, more meaningful reigns, as well as his Royal Rumble win, are never once spoken of. They pretty much gloss over every major detail that made Randy's career what it is today, and instead place focus on his throw-away feud with CM Punk.

Like the beginning of the DVD, when they're talking about Wrestlemania and the Elimination Chamber instead of Randy, there's a moment where they highlight the Hall of Fame ceremony, and even start talking about Shawn Michaels and what a great career he's had. Yeah, great, as if Michaels doesn't have enough DVDs of his own, he's gotta be shoved down our throats on this one as well. They use this as a way to sloppily transition into Orton's time with Legacy, which is, like every other major aspect of his career, only briefly touched on.

At the end, this was a very disappointing DVD, and by far the worst I've ever seen WWE put out. I really don't know what they were thinking with this set. It's poorly edited, poorly structured, and has a complete lack of focus, to the point where they're not even talking about Randy Orton for significant portions of the feature. Considering this is his first DVD, this is especially off-putting. Orton deserves better than this crap, and WWE is most certainly capable of putting together a much better set. After this lackluster set, though, I'll definitely be thinking twice before picking up future WWE releases.