Posts Tagged ‘Oz: The Great and Powerful’

Anthony’s Favorite Movies of 2013

Christmas week, I blogged my 20 favorite albums of 2013 and not too many people checked it out.  Maybe there are more movie buffs than album buyers.  Based on the sales of albums and movie tickets, I might be on to something there.

Here are the first ten of my favorite movies of 2013 and noticeably missing are movies that I haven’t seen yet, but I plan on getting to in 2014:  “12 Years a Slave”, “August: Osage County” and “American Hustle”.

Now, remember, a movie is eligible if I watched it for the first time in that calendar year.

20

WORLDWIDE BOX OFFICE GROSS:  $236.4 MILLION

SILV

19

WORLDWIDE BOX OFFICE GROSS:  $771.5 MILLION  (STILL PLAYING)

The Hunger Games Catching Fire

18

WORLDWIDE BOX OFFICE GROSS:  $20.4 MILLION

The Sapphires

17

WORLDWIDE BOX OFFICE GROSS:  $180.3 MILLION

the-impossible

16

Cloudburst

15

WORLDWIDE BOX OFFICE GROSS:  $21.5 MILLION

the-way-way-back-poster

14

Speechless

13

WE'RE THE MILLERS

WORLDWIDE BOX OFFICE GROSS:  $269.2 MILLION

12

Prisoners

WORLDWIDE BOX OFFICE GROSS:  $118.4 MILLION

11

Oz-The-Great-and-Powerful-poster

WORLDWIDE BOX OFFICE GROSS:  $493.3 MILLION

Thank you for checking out #20 to #11.  How many have you seen?

Check in tomorrow for my favorite ten movies of 2013.

Anthony

Random Friday Thoughts — March 15, 2013

Happy Friday!  Can you believe it’s already the middle of March?  After you read this blog, if you live in the Quad Cities, northern Illinois, or eastern Iowa, get outside for a few minutes today to enjoy the warmest day, so far, in the month of March.  It’s pretty pathetic when the forecast high of 53° today qualifies as “warm” in mid-March.  This is just one of my random thoughts.

COOL, WET, WHITE MARCH

Now that the first half of March is behind us, temperatures in the Quad Cities are running 6.7° below average.  We’ve only had four days, counting today, with highs that made it into the 40s!  To put this chill into perspective, this past January highs were in the 50s or higher five times with the warmest of those days making it up to 62° on January 29, 2013, which is the warmest day in 2013!  In February 2013, two days made it to 50° or higher.

In a typical March, we see 2.86″ of precipitation (rain and melted snow).  In just the first 15 days this March, we’re up to 2.22″ in the Quad Cities.  Average March snow in the Quad Cities is 4″ and this March, we’ve had four measurable snows with a total of 5.7″.

THIS WAS ONE YEAR AGO THIS WEEK!!!

March 2012 Quad Cities

My colleague and friend at CBS4, chief meteorologist Andy McCray put together this graphic to show the high temperatures this time last year.  In addition to these seven unseasonably warm days, we also hit 82° on March 20th and 81° on March 21st.

March 2012 ended up 14.2° above average and it went down in the record books as the warmest March on record in the Quad Cities.

FACEBOOK FLASHBACK PICTURES

Look at how green and how in bloom everything was last March 15th-21st in my neighborhood!

March 19 2012 -3 March 19 2012 - 2 March 19 2012March 19 2012 - 4

MY CONCERT BUCKET LIST IS GETTING SMALLER!

When I got up for work at 1 a.m. Wednesday, I knew I was going to be up 33 hours.  After working my morning shift Wednesday, Ray and I drove 2.5 hours to St. Charles, Illinois, that evening for a concert and then drove back to the Quad Cities just in time for me to shower and go into work to get ready for the Thursday morning news.  Why the insanity and the sleep deprivation?

Last fall, I heard that one of my childhood idols was doing a few tour dates in early 2013 after giving up touring more than ten years ago.  However, most of the dates were in New York, Florida, and California.  Monday morning, I got a Facebook notice about a concert Wednesday night in St. Charles, a western suburbs of Chicago.  And, I knew I had to move heaven and earth to be there!

Back in 1973, I was almost 9-years-old when I bought my first 45 rpm record thanks to an allowance from my grandparents, John and Helen Peoples.  It was “Delta Dawn” by Helen Reddy.

Delta Dawn Helen Reddy

Although Helen had many Top Ten hits in America, she’ll be most remembered by her signature #1 hit from December 1972, “I Am Woman”.  That song not only became an anthem for women and equality, but it was also the first Australian-penned song to hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and to win a Grammy Award.  In her acceptance speech for Best Female Performance, Helen thanked “God, because SHE makes everything possible”.

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Wednesday night, I got to see the incredible and amazing Helen Reddy in concert!!   While she has aged 40 years since her chart topping days of the early 1970s, she sounded amazing.  The 90-minute concert was surreal.

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While Helen charted with more than a dozen Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 in the 1970s, she only performed a handful of those radio hits:  “Angie Baby” (#1), a medley of “Delta Dawn” (#1) and “Ain’t No Way To Treat A Lady” (#8), along with “You And Me Against The World” (#9).  For her encore, she performed two versions of her iconic #1 international hit, “I Am Woman”.  She recited the lyrics of the song and then she asked the audience to sing along with her.  While most people were shy and just sat there, I sang along with my childhood idol!

Most of the songs that Helen performed where favorites picked by her, whether they were album cuts that never made the radio or songs written by her music business friends.  You could tell that she was having a blast onstage and it never seemed that she had been away from the spotlight for eleven years.

She has a fantastic sense of humor and shared many little personal stories between songs.  Twice, she would be telling a story at the front of the stage and then turn around to the band and ask “what song is next?”  It was so cute and funny.

Two other times, she would be setting up the next song and then pause and the band would be a couple of seconds behind her and she would look around and ask if they were still there or she told the audience, “I thought they left”.

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It may have taken me 40 years to see Miss Helen Reddy in concert since I first heard “I Am Woman”, but it was definitely worth the wait.  Aging like a good wine, the 71-year-old mother and grandmother, sounded just as incredible and alive as she did back in the early-1970s when she was one of the biggest international music stars in the business!  I’m not ageist.  I’m only mentioning her age because she brought it up and I hope that I’m still traveling the world when I hit my 70s!

The only thing that could have made this night any more perfect would have been to meet Helen.  We were on the meet & greet list, but the Arcada Theatre management’s own “meet & greet” messed that up and it left me and Ray and about eight other ladies waiting at the edge of the stage to reminisce about her albums and her glamorous looks of the 1970s.

Oh well, maybe Helen and I will cross paths again!  We’re both young at heart. 🙂  I really can’t complain since we were sitting in the front row stage left and Ray told me that Helen was singing directly to me during some songs.  🙂

That was a classic medley from the 1970s with Helen performing one of my favorite songs, “Keep on Singing”.

Now, I only have Olivia Newton-John and Lorrie Morgan left on my must see list before they retire.  And, if Helen Reddy is any indication, great music stars don’t retire forever, they take a break from the business and live life!

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Bad Meal WineHappy Stray Dog

“THE FOLLOWING” IS DRIVING ME NUTS!

Fox’s “The Following” has been renewed for a second season in 2014.

With only seven episodes left before this season’s April 29th finale, the show is driving me nuts.  SPOILER ALERT ahead if you haven’t watched this past Monday’s show!  So, I’ll stall for a moment with a picture from the show, so you can skip ahead to the next segment of my random blog!

Joe & Ryan The Following

While the search for escaped serial killer, Dr. Joe Carroll continues, I’m totally frustrated by the incompetence of the FBI agents on “The Following”.  They’re definitely not Mulder and Scully, FBI agents from Fox’s other successful series, “The X-Files”!  Every week, they come some so close to cracking Joe’s “following” and find his kidnapped son, Joey.  So close, yet so far!

Paul, Emma, & Jacob

Three episodes ago, Paul (left) and Jacob (right), the “gay couple”, escaped and disappeared after a shoot out with the FBI and Paul was bleeding profusely after being stabbed by Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon).  And, they haven’t been back in the last two episodes even though they were mentioned.  Hello!!!!!!!!!!!

And, Emma (center), has to DIE!  She is so evil.

Okay, I’ve stalled long enough.  While I love the show, it ‘s definitely dragging things out.  While I love Agent Debra Parker and Kevin Bacon’s Ryan Hardy character is likeable even with his flaws (the biggest being that stupid pacemaker storyline), my favorite character is Agent Mike Weston, played by Shawn Ashmore.  Last Monday, I commented on Facebook that it would be shocking and cool if Hardy died in the season finale and that I wanted to see more Ashmore.

Shawn Ashmore

And, then Monday night, Joe’s crazy followers kidnapped Weston and I said, “Oh no, if he dies, this is it!  I’m done”.

After refusing to give away Claire’s whereabouts (the FBI has her hidden away to keep her safe from Carroll), Weston was beaten and bloodied as Hardy and Agent Parker closed in on rescuing him and then it happened!!!!!!!!!!!  Follower Charlie stabbed him as Ryan breaks in only to have Weston whisper, “I didn’t tell them” and his body goes limp in Hardy’s arms!!!!!!!!!!

Holy crap, “The Following”, you’re driving me nuts!

Oh, and since I said I wanted to see more of Ashmore, here’s a bonus from a June 2008 “Cosmopolitan” magazine spread.  And, it has nothing to do with “The Following”.  Enjoy! 🙂

Shawn Ashmore in Cosmo

MORE FACEBOOK FLASHBACK PHOTOS

Earlier in the blog, I featured some pictures I posted this week last year during our early season “heat wave”.  Here are a couple from this week in 2010, which definitely showed that winter was hanging on.

Miss ABBA was enjoying playing with Lucky and Odie.  Now, all three of them are playing together in “puppy heaven”.

Lucky ABBA Odie 03202010

And, on that same day, I saw a deer walk by our window in the ravine behind our house.  I grabbed my camera and ran out the door into the front yard and down the street a few house to sneak around back and try to cut it off in the ravine.  I was successful and got this great picture!

Deer 03202010

“OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL”

This past Monday, Ray, Gretel, and I went to see the prequel to “The Wizard of Oz”.

Gretel Anthony Oz

“Oz The Great and Powerful” stars James Franco as Oscar “Oz” Diggs, Mila Kunis (Theodora, the Good Witch), Michelle Williams (Glinda, the Good Witch of the South), and Rachel Weisz (Evanora, Theodora’s sister).

The $215 million, Sam Raimi-directed fantasy movie, grossed a very impressive $167 million worldwide in just the first six days of release.

In the movie, Franco’s Diggs is a small time magician/con artist traveling from town to town hitting on the pretty women and leaving a trail of heartbreak.  When a muscled strongman that is traveling with the carnival finds out that Diggs has been making the moves on his woman, he goes to confront him.  Diggs barely escapes in a hot air balloon only to get sucked in by a tornado.  Oh, and the first part of the movie is in black and white.  Wait, this all sounds familiar. 🙂

Diggs winds up in the Emerald City and Theodora thinks that he’s the Wizard that has been sent to save them.  If he breaks the spell of the Wicked Witch, he will become king and have all the riches!  We also know that either Theodora, Glinda, or Evanora will become the Wicked Witch!

The world of Oz is beautiful and stunningly colorful.  I absolutely loved the movie and there’s been talk that it would have been a better movie if either Johnny Depp or Robert Downey, Jr. had been the magician.  I disagree, as I was captivated by Franco as the Wizard.  And, Michelle Williams is always incredible.

As for kids seeing the PG-rated movie, Ray and Gretel are “jumpers” when watching movies.  She jumped twice (and one was SOOO predictable) and Ray jumped once.  I have to admit that his one jump scene was totally unexpected and fun!

A must see!

GRADE:  B+

FUTURE PICK HIT

Okay, say what you about Ke$ha.  I used to like her auto-tuned to death, sugary, pop confections, but I didn’t think she was very talented.  That changed when I bought “Warrior”, her latest album.  I absolutely love it.  But, I still wouldn’t commit to seeing her in concert!

Her new song, the third release from the album and the follow-up to “C’Mon” is “Supernatural”.

When I blogged about the “Warrior” album and gave it an “A” back in January, here’s what I said about her new single, “If you’re already a fan of Ke$ha’s music and you like to dance, you’ll love a very Ace of Base sounding, “All That Matters (The Beautiful Life)”, “Out Alive”, “Wherever You Are”, “Last Goodbye”, and “Supernatural”.

PEEPS’ ’80S FRIDAY FLASHBACK

And, one of the co-writers on Ke$ha’s “Supernatural” is featured in my weekly ’80s flashback!

In England, singer Nik Kershaw was a 1980s teen idol and made eight appearances on the Top 40 music charts.

Sadly, here in the United States, the closest he came to the Top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 was with “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”.  The song peaked at #46 in 1984.  I still love the video and the song today!

Okay, that’s enough random thoughts for now.  I could go on and on and on.  What’s on your mind?   Maybe something about what I said today or something else random?  Let me know.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day weekend!

Anthony

Things I Look Forward To In 2013

It’s incredible that we’re already three weeks into the first month of 2013.  Where does the time go?  I remember being a kid and it seemed that the days lasted forever.  Now, I make lists just to get things done.  I’ve been pretty successful at not planning in the new year.  In the past, I would plan things a year in advance and I was always counting down to those things.  I never lived for “today”.

My main goal in the upcoming month is to return to the land of the working.  What?  I’ll figure that out in the weeks to come.

Otherwise, here are some of the things that I’m looking forward to in 2013 in the entertainment world.

2013 MUSIC

All_That_Echoes

Josh Groban’s voice is so incredible and sexy.  His new album, “All That Echoes”, comes out February 5, 2013, and the first single, “Brave” is already a smash.

This is a behind the scenes video of the song.  The real video has not been released yet.

SPRING 2013?

Cher’s latest, her 26th studio album and the first since 2001’s “Living Proof”, is expected to be released in March.  “Woman’s World” is the rumored first single and a tour is in the works this year.

Depeche Mode

Also, in March, the latest album from the English band, Depeche Mode.

Janet Jackson may or may not be working on a new album.  April 2013 is the release date that is circulating on the internet.  You know if it’s on the internet, it has to be true! 🙂

Natalie Maines

On May 7, 2013, Dixie Chicks lead singer, Natalie Maines, will release her solo debut, “Mother”, which is expected to be a rock album.

FALL 2013 or TO BE ANNOUNCED

ARTPOP

The third studio album from Lady Gaga, “ARTPOP” is expected by the fall????

Britney July 2011

And, Britney Spears will be releasing her eighth solo album this fall.  I sure hope it includes her current Top Ten hit, “Scream & Shout” with will.i.am because I don’t plan on buying his album.  Also, it’ll likely be announced soon that Britney will be taking up residence in Las Vegas as a regular performer to the tune of a rumored $100 million or more!

2013 TELEVISION

One new show that I want to see debuted last night and, of course, we were watching a marathon of “The X-Files” and forgot that it was on.  So, I’ll have to catch it online.

“The Following”, the new Kevin Bacon Fox series, looks incredible, creepy, and highly entertaining.  It focuses around serial killer, so it has the potential to be great.  If I start watching it, I’ll make it a regular part of my limited television viewing that includes “Nashville” (ABC) on Wednesday, “Elementary” on Thursday (CBS), and “Malibu Country on Friday (ABC).

There are two new shows that sound interesting.

Bates Motel

“Bates Motel” comes to A&E on March 18, 2013, starring Vera Farmiga as Norma Bates and Freddie Highmore as Norman Bates.  It’s a prequel to Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 horror thriller, “Psycho”.

A&E has ordered ten, first season episodes.

Hannibal

And, in another “original” idea, NBC has ordered 13 episodes of “Hannibal”, yes that Hannibal.  As in, Hannibal Lecter, starring Mr. Claire Daines, Hugh Dancy.

dexter

I can’t wait until season seven of “Dexter”, the third season of “The Walking Dead”, and the fifth and final season of “Fringe” are released on DVD.

Right now, Ray and I are watching “Six Feet Under” (we’ll start season two soon) and we’re still watching the first season of “The X-Files”.

2013 MOVIES

Oz_-_The_Great_and_Powerful_Poster

On March 8th, Disney’s “Oz  The Great and Powerful” starring James Franco, Mila Kunis, Rachel Weisz, and Michelle Williams arrives in theaters.  It’s a prequel to “The Wizard of Oz”.

In May, “Star Trek Into Darkness” hits theaters and in June, “Man of Steel” blasts onto movie screens.  While I want to see both movies, I’ll likely wait for them to released on DVD.  However, it’d be a disservice not to feature Henry Cavill (Superman) 🙂

*EXCLUSIVE* Henry Cavill returns to Canada to continue Superman Film [NO Canada, NO UK, NO Ireland, NO Germany, NO Austria] superman-man-of-steel-henry-cavill-set-photo-011

On June 21st, I want to see the delayed zombie apocalypse movie, “World War Z”, with Brad Pitt.  Like the last two movies I mentioned, I might wait for this to come to DVD, too.  Interesting that in this trailer, they mention the word “zombies”!

And, finally, we recently watched “The Hunger Games” and I loved it.  On November 22nd, the sequel, “The Hunger Games:  Catching Fire” arrives in theaters just in time for Thanksgiving.

CATCHING FIRE

Those are some of the things that excite me in the entertainment world right now.  Of course, I’ll lose interest in a few and I’ll find others to replace them.

Anthony

“Rise of the Guardians” and the Fall of Regal Cinemas

I hope 2013 is off to a great start for you.  We started our new year at the movie theater and Regal Entertainment Group, the new owner of the Great Escape movie theater in Moline, Illinois, has some issues that need addressing.  This may have been a fluke, but it’s worth noting so it doesn’t become a regular occurrence.

Regal_Entertainment_Group_logo

Gretel and I decided today would be the day we’d go check out “Rise of the Guardians”, while Ray was home making New Year’s Eve dinner.  He wasn’t up for seeing a group of holiday “guardians” take on evil.

On the way to the theater, Gretel and I talked about the fact this was our first movie together by ourselves.  As a family, we’d gone to see “Up”, “Hop”, “Rango”, and “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs”.  Gretel, who is 11-years-old, told me in the car that she was glad we were getting there early because she loves seeing the previews so she can plan out her future movie going experiences.

We get there and we buy our tickets and sign up for the new “Regal Crown Club” card since Regal’s website Friday night had issues and prevented me from signing up online for our rewards card.

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After buying our large popcorn and two large sodas, it was off to grab prime seats with minutes to spare.  As we walked in, there were only three other people in the theaters for “Rise of the Guardians” since it’s been out for six weeks now.  As the reminder to the turn off your cell phone begins to fade away on the screen, the image freezes.  This remains on-screen for several more minutes.  Since I didn’t stop at the restroom on the way in, I took advantage of the opportunity to escape and let the usher know just in case movies start by automation now.  She replied, “was it on the turn your cell phone off reminder?”  I said, “yes” and she told me that’s happened recently and the movie will start shortly.

I get back and the theater is pitch black with just music playing.  Fifteen minutes later, there’s still music and theater movie etiquette reminders, but no previews and no visuals, just audio and a dark theater.  Gretel, getting very impatient, asks if we should go to the Rave Theater in Davenport, Iowa, and exclaims, “worst movie experience ever”.

About 30 minutes after the movie was supposed to start, there’s a flicker on the screen and the movie abruptly begins with no previews.  My movie review is coming up, but here are my final thoughts on Regal.  You’re the nation’s largest movie chain.  Welcome to the Quad Cities.  In my seven years here, I’ve been to this theater many times and I’ve never experienced this.  Hopefully, I won’t have to again.  Your popcorn and soda and the free refills, with the purchase of a large, were great.  However, no explanation of the “issue” left a bad taste with us.  When a tween replies, “Maybe Great Escape should buy the theater back”, it’s not a good thing.

We were really looking forward to the previews of “Oz:  The Great and Powerful”.  Since that didn’t happen, a nice solution would be to surprise Gretel with two passes to see that movie when it premiers in March.  We’ll even buy our own popcorn and soda!

DEBUT REGAL MOVIE THEATER EXPERIENCE:  D

“Rise of the Guardians”, a $145 million production, has already brought in more than $255 million worldwide and is a modest domestic success at $90 million.  It’s already earned a Golden Globes’ nomination for “Best Animated Feature Film” and has won several film festival awards for best animated feature.  I think it’ll earn an Oscar nomination in that category, too.

The story focuses on Jack Frost, voiced by Chris Pine, a fun and energetic teenager that makes kids happy with snow days and blizzards.  The only problem is that no one can see him and that is one of the things he wants most.  He wants to be famous like Santa Claus (Alec Baldwin), the Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), the Tooth Fairy (Ilsa Fisher), and Sandman/Sandy, who makes dreams a happy place for kids at night.

Jack Frost gets his chance when he’s summoned to the North Pole 300 years after we’re introduced to him at the beginning of the movie.  More and more kids are no longer believing in Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy.  But, what’s even more urgent is that Jack Frost is being asked to join the Guardians to fight Pitch Black, also known as the Bogeyman, voiced by Jude Law, who is behind the kids losing faith and belief.

Pitch Black is on a mission to replace happy dreams of unicorns and fun dinosaurs with evil nightmares.  Pitch is successful and his darkness takes over the world with the exception of Jamie, the last kid on Earth that still believes.  That little boy is the last person that can restore believing.  In a last-ditch effort, Jack Frost shows Jamie that there is reason to believe and Jamie becomes the first person in over 300 years to actually see Jack Frost.  But, is it too late????

While trying to restore faith in youngsters around the world to continue believing in Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy, Jack Frost learns that he wasn’t always the spirit of winter and that he had a family before he became Jack Frost.

The movie is fun, appealing, exciting, and, at times, very funny and very dark.

I loved the rapport between Jack Frost and the Easter Bunny, who Jack jokingly refers to as a “kangaroo”.  The two have had issues since 1968 when Jack Frost brought a winter wonderland to Easter.  The Easter Bunny is still holding a grudge.  And, a tattooed Santa has a fun edge and sense of humor.

I’ve been wanting to see “Rise of the Guardians” since I saw the trailer last fall and it was definitely worth the wait.

ANTHONY’S GRADE:  B

GRETEL’S GRADE:  A

Anthony