Dark Skies A Dark Horse Candidate For One Of 2013’s Best New Movies

Courtesy: The Weinstein Company/Anchor Bay Entertainment

Courtesy: The Weinstein Company/Anchor Bay Entertainment

Dark Skies was met largely with mixed reviews when it originally debuted in theaters early in 2013.  This movie proved to be another work for which there was no grey area.  Either audiences liked it or they hated it.  Those that panned it seemed to do so mostly because of the expectations of it being a horror movie.  Those same individuals obviously weren’t or aren’t fans of science fiction, as (not to spoil the movie too much) that’s what it really turned out to be.  It turned out to be more psychological science fiction thriller than horror.  And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  Even this critic went into the movie, having not seen it during its stint in theaters, expecting it to be just another ghost story.  It was a pleasant surprise to discover that that wasn’t the case.  As a matter of fact, it was that surprise twist that helped to make this underappreciated thriller an edge-of-the-seat thriller that is deserving of being seen at least once.

What makes Dark Skies worth being seen at least once is the manner in which Writer/Director Scott Stewart has managed to take advantage of that line between science fiction and horror that has become increasingly blurred through the modern history of movies.  That same blurred line is what irked many viewers and critics.  But odds are those individuals that were so bothered by the story’s surprise were specifically horror fans rather than science fiction fans or a combination of both.  What’s more, the expectation among so many horror fans today is that a horror movie apparently can’t be horror without a significant amount of bloodshed.  That in itself is a sad statement.  Those expecting such levels of violence and bloodshed won’t get that from this movie.  Stewart has proven that his movie doesn’t need all of that, either in order to be successful.  It does well enough without the sex, violence, and bloodshed, as it pays tribute to Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Poltergeist, and specific other classic horror and sci-fi flicks.  There’s even something of a tribute to Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller, The Birds tossed in for good measure.  Stewart was not trying to directly rip off said movies or anger viewers who have become far too accustomed to unnecessary story elements.  Rather, he was paying tribute to the classics and proving at the same time, that movies with real substance still have a place in today’s overly crowded market of otherwise dry works that try to cover up their lack of substance with those unnecessary extremes. 

Dark Skies has quite a bit which makes it a successful work, despite what other critics might want to believe.  For all the positives to this undervalued work, it isn’t without at least one fault.  That major fault would be the scene transitions.  Many of the movie’s scene transitions early on feel like little more than a grouping of jump cuts, making following the story not as easy as it perhaps could be.  Luckily, if one allows one’s self to become engaged in the story, one will see that the jump cut feeling in question does eventually make way for better transitions.  In turn, one will better enjoy the story right up to its surprise twist ending, which is yet another of the story’s positives.

The surprise twist ending is just one more of so many positives that make Dark Skies a movie worth seeing for anyone that is open minded enough to give it a chance.  Just as interesting as the story’s twist ending is the deleted scene that was the original ending sequence included in the bonus deleted scenes featurette on the brand new Blu-ray/DVD/VUDU combo pack.  Viewers can watch the original ending both with and without commentary, along with a whole grouping of other deleted scenes.  The bonus commentary does add even more appreciation for the work that went into making each scene.  Though even in watching the deleted scenes without commentary, audiences can gain just as much appreciation for what was and was not used in the final film.  It’s yet more proof of the value of bonus features in a movie’s home release.  It is those bonus deleted scenes, along with everything else that went into making this movie that makes it worth another watch now that it’s available on Blu-ray/DVD/VUDU.  Dark Skies is available today in stores and online.

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Yankees/Red Sox Rivalry Returning To ESPN, Angels & White Sox Face Off Tonight On ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball

Courtesy: ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

One of the biggest rivalries in sports re-ignites in its latest round Sunday, June 2nd.  David Ortiz and the Boston Red Sox will take on Robinson Cano and the New York Yankees will face off at 8pm that evening.  Dan Shulman will host the evening’s broadcast.  He will be joined by analysts Orel Hershiser and John Kruk.  Buster Olney will be on hand with commentary.

Tonight’s matchup pits the Los Angeles Angels against the Chicago White Sox in the “Windy City.”  Dan Shulman will host the evening’s broadcast along with his colleagues, Orel Hershiser, John Kruk and Buster Olney.  The game will be available across all ESPN platforms including:  ESPN Radio, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Deportes Radio, WatchESPN and the WatchESPN app for mobile media.  Pre-game starts at 7pm tonight.  The ESPN Sunday Night Baseball Crew offered its thoughts on tonight’s games, which can be viewed right here.

Baseball Tonight analyst Aaron Boone on the C.J. Wilson- Chris Sale matchup:
With Jered Weaver down, C.J. Wilson needs to assume the head of this rotation. They need to be able to hang their hat on his starts and count on him to be close to an ace. Sale needs to get his slider down. While he’s been pretty good, he hasn’t quite been the dominant ace. I’ve seen a little bit of slider elevation from him. If he can get that pitch down, he’s an ace.

Baseball Tonight analyst Alex Cora on Wilson:
I think that the key storyline is C.J. Wilson. We’ve been talking about the Angels being a contender and Weaver being hurt. Here’s a guy that they signed last year to either be their ace or their number two and he hasn’t done it. For them to turn this around, they need him to pitch the way he’s capable of pitching.

MLB Insider Buster Olney on the Angels’ struggles this season:
Early in every season, there are a handful of teams that quickly move into desperation mode, and little more than a month into the 2013 season, that’s where the Angels stand. They cannot afford to lose more ground, and even though it’s May, this team of great stars will be playing with a sense of urgency. The Angels can turn it around, but because of the lack of depth in the pitching staff, the impetus for a comeback has to come from their offensive stars: Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton and Mark Trumbo.

MLB Insider Tim Kurkjian on the Angels facing Sale:
This is a big weekend series, especially for the Angels. They are in danger of falling out of the race in the West unless they start winning immediately. Their come-from-behind win Thursday night might be the spark that finally gets this team going but they are up against Chris Sale on Sunday night. I don’t know how anyone gets a hit off of that guy.

Olney on Sale’s delivery and repertoire:
Chris Sale is a one-of-a-kind pitcher, with an unusual delivery, and a nasty slider.  I think  Orel made a fascinating comparison: Sale reminds you a lot of the former Yankees Cy Young winner Ron Guidry, because of the quality of his slider and his angular build.

ESPN MLB Insider Pedro Gomez on the Angels’ struggles:
The Angels cannot afford to continue to spin their wheels and expect to remain in the AL West race. They need pitching to really start to shine and they absolutely need more production from their two cogs in the middle of their order, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton.

Cora on Hamilton’s plate discipline:
He needs to take a step back. We get it, he’s an aggressive hitter. But right now, he’s getting 0-2 pitches in the first pitch of the at-bat. They know he’s swinging. They aren’t even trying to get ahead of him. They are going to the put-out pitch on pitch one because he’s swinging. He needs to be more patient. He has two home runs in last few days but still he needs to take some pitches. The whole league knows that he’s been very aggressive and chasing a lot. He must take a step back and see some good pitches.

ESPN MLB Insider Jim Bowden on keys for the Angels to improve:
The Angels can turn it around but they have to stay healthy. There is not enough depth to withstand injuries, as we’ve seen to date. Hamilton and Pujols must get back to MVP form. The key to the team will be the starting rotation. Blanton and Hanson have to be good enough to win 12 games and pitch 180 innings. A trade for more pitching is a must. Hamilton’s not loading and his timing is not in sync. If he corrects those two flaws he will hit. His bat speed is still there. He also must improve his strike zone awareness and cut down at swinging at balls out of the zone which is at a poor rate of 49%.

Boone on the struggling power hitters in both lineups:
If these teams are going to live up to expectations, their big guys in the middle have to get it going. We need to see production from Konerko and Dunn for the White Sox and Hamilton and Pujols with the Angels.

Cora on White Sox Manager Robin Ventura:
It’s Robin’s second year, so right now it’s his team. Obviously last year he had a great season. They made some changes and lost A.J. So, I think now he’s settled in. It has been a tough month for them, so let’s see what kind of manager he is. Last year, they kind of lost it at the end in September and they seem to be in the same pattern now. We need to see what kind of manager he will be.

Next Sunday on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball, the Tigers head to the Lone Star State to take on the Rangers.  The latest Sunday Night Baseball schedule is available below.

Upcoming Sunday Night Baseball schedule:

Date Game
May 12 Los Angeles Angels at Chicago White Sox
May 19 Detroit Tigers at Texas Rangers
May 26 Atlanta Braves at New York Mets
June 2 Boston Red Sox at New York Yankees
July 14 St. Louis Cardinals at Chicago Cubs
July 21 New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox
   

*Additional games for June and July will be announced three weeks in advance, while games for August and September will be made two weeks in advance.

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.