MLB Productions’ Giants World Series Film Is A Giant Hit For Team’s Fans

Courtesy:  MLB Productions/Lionsgate

Courtesy: MLB Productions/Lionsgate

The countdown is on.  Spring training is winding down and opening day is now only days away.  In anticipation of Major League Baseball’s 2015 season, MLB Productions has just the thing to get fans–San Francisco Giants at least–into the mood for the upcoming season.  While it was released late last year, MLB Productions’ San Francisco Giants: World Series Champions 2014–Official 2014 World Series Film is just the thing to get at least Giants fans excited for the 2015 season.  The main reason that it will get fans excited is the story presented across the film’s near ninety-minute run time.  The story follows the Giants from the ups and downs of the team’s 2014 regular season ride to its incredible seven-game series against the underdog Kansas City Royals.  It spends most of its time focusing on the Giants’ 2014 World Series.  Though there is just enough focus on the regular season to enhance the importance of the team’s World Series appearance this year.  The editing that went into the film should also be noted in terms of what makes it so enjoyable for fans.  The editing includes the mix of the interviews and game footage throughout the film.  The work of the film’s editors helps keep the film’s pacing solid and in turn keeps audiences engaged from start to finish.  This is especially the case when taking into account actor Colin Hanks’ (King Kong, Dexter, Orange County) narration of the film.  Hanks’ almost deadpan deliery somehow makes the on-field action all the more gripping.  Perhaps it is because despite being a Giants’ loyalist, no favoritism is displayed in his delivery.  That coupled with the work of the film’s editors shows why the editing should be noted in its success just as much as the story itself.  Last but not least of all to note in examining what makes this film so enjoyable at least for Giants fans is the inclusion of the film’s bonus material.  The bonus features include the Giants’ full victory parade after the team’s surprising World Series win, a short feature on Giants star Michael Morse, and some of the most important moments of the 2014 World Series among a handful of others.  Whether for the noted bonus features or those not noted, the bonus material in full proves to be yet another reason that fans both of the Giants and baseball fans in general will enjoy this film.  All three elements together prove San Francisco Giants: World Series Champions 2014–Official 2014 World Series Film to be yet another win for MLB Productions and a must have for any Giants fans as the days count down to the 2015 season’s opening day.

The story that was the Giants’ 2014 season is one of the league’s more interesting stories, even coming into the 2015 season.  As audiences will see in San Francisco Giants: World Series Champions 2014–Official 2014 World Series Film, the Giant’s road to the World Series was anything but perfect.  The same can be said of the team’s seven-game series against the upstart Royals.  That story of the team’s up and down season and post-season is the central reason for the enjoyment of this recently released Blu-ray.  While it does highlight the ups and downs of the team’s regular season run, most of the story’s time is spent on the Giants’ post-season efforts.  Audiences will appreciate the efforts of those responsible for bringing the story to life as said individuals didn’t just sweep over the team’s regular season highlights or even focus too much on them.  The same can be said of the Giant’s post-season run up to the World Series, too.  Everything is relatively well-balanced, heightening the emotional impact of the team’s wins and losses alike.  The first-person commentary from the likes of Hunter Pence, Madison Bumgarner, Travis Ishikawa and others adds even more to that emotional depth.  And anyone that is familiar with WWE superstar Daniel Bryan will enjoy the story of how his “Yes” gimmick became a season-long rallying cry for the Giants and their fans.  These are just some examples of why the story behind San Francisco Giants: World Series Champions 2014–Official 2014 World Series Film makes it a must have for at least any Giants fan and any baseball enthusiast in general.  There is much more that could be noted here.  But there is not enough space or time for that.  Audiences will find plenty more of the film’s story to appreciate when they purchase this film for themselves.  In the same vein, the film’s editing is just as important to its success.  If not for the editing, the story presented on the disc might not have otherwise been worth the watch.

MLB Productions has maintained a high standard of storytelling and of editing in its presentations for years.  From its “Essential Games” collections to its stand-alone presentations the stories presented by MLB Productions have been gripping and fully engaging.  The story presented in San Francisco Giants: World Series Champions 2014–Official 2014 World Series Film is no different.  The same can be said of said films’ editing.  The editing involved in this film is no exception to that rule, either.  Between the game footage, the sound bites from the Giants players and staff, and their personal insights each element compliments the other from beginning to end.  Just as with the story telling itself, the editing that works with the storytelling plays its own part in keeping audiences entertained and engaged.  From the natbursts of the team chanting “yes” along with its fans at AT&T Park to the slow motion shots of Bumgarner throwing his pitches to the scene transitions and more, the editing throughout the film will leave audiences in awe.  It is one more standard that has for years kept MLB Productions’ presentations among the best in sports films.  Together with that aforementioned solid storytelling, it shows even more clearly why San Francisco Giants: World Series Champions 2014–Official 2014 World Series Film is a welcome addition to any Giants’ fan’s home library.

The editing and storytelling that went into San Francisco Giants: World Series Champions 2014–Official 2014 World Series Film collectively show plenty of reason for baseball fans (and especially Giants fans) to add this film to their home libraries.  While both elements show plenty of reason for fans to purchase this film, there is still one more element included in its presentation that pushes it over the top.  That final element is the film’s collective bonus material. Included with the film as bonus material is the Giants’ full victory parade, specific highlights from the team’s season and post season, and even a fun little look into one of the team’s long-running traditions to “welcome” new pitchers to the team among plenty of other extras. The tradition in question will have audiences laughing, especially when manager Bruce Bochy’s son opens his lunchbox. Yes, the tradition in question involves lunch boxes. And it is absolutely hilarious. That much will be said and no more for the benefit of those that have yet to see this tradition for themselves. It is original, needless to say. The victory parade shows the pure joy of the players, having overcome so much adversity including injuries that hurt the team’s post-season chances, low expectations early on in the season by the talking heads, and more. It is a truly powerful and moving moment even for those that might not be Giants loyalists. It’s just one of so many great moments that will leave viewers agreeing that the bonus material included with this disc is indeed deserving of the title “Bonus.” It is one more moment that shows why the presentation’s bonus material is just as important to the film as the editing or even the storytelling. And in seeing this, audiences will agree why together with the film’s editing and storytelling, all three elements make San Francisco Giants: World Series Champions 2014–Official 2014 World Series Film a welcome addition to the home library of any Giants fan and any baseball enthusiast in general.

There is a lot to say to the positive in regards to San Francisco Giants: World Series Champions 2014–Official 2014 World Series Film. The story presented within the film will keep viewers engaged from start to finish. The film’s equally impressive editing plays its own part in making the story so enthralling, too. The bonus features included with the film add even more depth and enjoyment to the story of the team’s 2014 season. Whether for the in-depth look at the team’s season, the more lighthearted moments or the more emotional moments, the bonus features live up to their title. And together with the story itself and the film’s editing, the presentation in whole again proves itself well worth the watch by any Giants fan and baseball fan in general. And it is just as worth the addition to any fan’s home library. San Francisco Giants: World Series Champions 2014–Official 2014 World Series Film is available online now and can be ordered direct via MLB Productions’ online store at http://shop.mlb.com/product/index.jsp?productId=51967716&cp=1452365.2184768. More information on this and other titles from MLB Productions is available online at:

Website: http://mlbproductions.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/mlbprod

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

One Way Mirror’s New Album Will Capture Any Rock Fan’s Attention

Courtesy:  Pavement Entertainment

Courtesy: Pavement Entertainment

Late last year this critic introduced audiences to a four-man band from Lyon, France called The Amsterdam Red Light District. The band’s new album Gone For A While proved to be an album that will keep the band around for quite a while. Now with the old year gone and a new year started, this critic has another band from France to introduce to the world. The band’s name is One-Way Mirror. The five-piece will release its second American release and fourth overall album next week in the form of Capture. The band’s latest LP is a solid record for anyone that might be new to the music of One-Way Mirror. That is thanks in large part to the approach taken by the band on this record. The twelve-track, fifty-one minute record utilizes a melodic hard rock sound that makes it a good fit for any mainstream American rock radio station considering the current climate of mainstream rock. One way that it proves this is through the electro-rock sound of ‘Warnings.’ The song starts with a keyboard line that conjures thoughts of Nine Inch Nails circa 2007. From there it builds into a full-on opus that is sure to have any listener singing along. The string arrangements and keyboards that are incorporated into the album’s closer ‘We Love To Complain’ make it stand out just as much in its own way. And the band’s rocked out take on ‘Lady Marmalade’ will entertain audiences just as much. One of the elements of this cover that makes it so intriguing is the similarity in sound to the likes of Saliva and Fozzy. Front man Guillaume Bideau even sounds like Fozzy front man Chris Jericho at points while the song’s overall musical side hints clearly at influence from both Fozzy and Saliva if not other bands. It’s just one more of the album’s dozen total tracks that makes the record in whole well worth the listen and worth the play by radio programmers across the country.

One-Way Mirror’s latest full-length studio release Capture is a rather aptly titled record. That is because thanks to the mix of musical stylings from one song to the next, the record is certain to (bad pun fully intended here) capture the attention of any rock devotee. There is a hint of rap-rock at random points throughout the record. There is also a throwback to the days of big hair and even bigger riffs at another. And as is evident in ‘Warnings,’ there is even a semi-industrial element thrown in for good measure. Speaking of ‘Warnings’ it is one of the strongest of the album’s songs. The song starts off with a keyboard line that sounds like it was lifted right from Nine Inch Nails’ 2007 album Year Zero. The vocal harmonies that are laid over the keyboard line are similar stylistically speaking to so many other acts being played on any mainstream radio station across America. Lyrically, if the song is to be properly interpreted, it comes across as being something of an introspective opus with Bideau singing, “Why in the hell did we turn into this/It’s not always easy to be yourself/Not easy to be yourself/Could we change/Could we change ourselves/Let’s close our eyes/When we’re frightened by ourselves/We’re frightened by ourselves/So many warnings…so many feelings I’ve hidden inside…” He goes on to ask “how much are ?” It almost comes across as a song questioning a person’s feelings toward himself or herself. That could be entirely wrong, of course. It is merely the interpretation of this critic. It would be interesting to find out the true meaning behind the song’s lyrics. That aside, the song’s musical side makes for enough reason to listen to the song. That it could create such discussion on its lyrics only serves to make it all the stronger of an anchor for Capture. It isn’t the only song that makes Capture worth the listen, either. The band’s rocked up take of ‘Lady Marmalade’ adds even more reason to listen to this record.

‘Warnings’ is one of the most notable moments offered by One-Way Mirror on its upcoming album Capture. The song’s seemingly Nine Inch Nails-influenced sound and deep, thoughtful lyrics together make the song a solid anchor for the album. It isn’t the album’s only solid moment, either. The album’s closer ‘We Love To Complain’ is another of the album’s high points. It starts off gently just as with ‘Warnings’ before launching into a sound similar to that of so many radio friendly bands from the 90s and from music’s current era. The string arrangements that are used to introduce the song expertly set the mood for the song thanks to the notes’ staccato approach and minor key. It is so easy to see this song becoming a favorite among fans both on record and in a live setting. Lyrically, the song comes across as a piece that takes on those people who never seem to be happy about life no matter the situation. The argument can be made as Bideau sings, “Cause we have all that we want/Cause we have all that we need/But it’s never enough and we’re wasting it all/We can be anything we want…but we can never get enough.” As the song progresses, it displays increasingly a Euro-metal sound akin to Lacuna Coil and others of its ilk complete with huge keyboard and string arrangements that soar alongside the band’s own lines. As with ‘Warnings’ the coupling of that musical and lyrical depth makes it just as solid and strong an anchor for the album.

Both ‘Warnings’ and ‘We Love To Complain’ prove to be solid points for Capture. While both songs prove important additions to the album’s body, they are hardly the album’s only songs that listeners will like. The band’s take on ‘Lady Maramlade’ is just as certain to entertain listeners. One wouldn’t think that amping up a classic pop song such as ‘Lady Marmalade’ and would work. But somehow One-Way Mirror made it work. And it did so quite impressively, too. Musically speaking, the song mixes elements of hard rock with classic arena rock from the days of big hair and even bigger riffs to make a song that will, again, capture any listener’s attention. At times Bideau himself sounds like Fozzy front man and superstar wrestler Chris Jericho. If audiences were listening to this song and didn’t know it was Fozzy, that factor alone would make them think that they were listening to Fozzy. At other times, there is a southern sludge-rock feel about the song. Once again, it sounds like an odd combination to have a song such as ‘Lady Marmalade’ handled in such fashion considering that this song is commonly sung by female artists. But it works here nonetheless. As a matter of fact it works so surprisingly well that it would be no surprise if this song also becomes a live favorite. If for no other reason than this cover, audiences will want to check out this album when it is released next week. Who knows, maybe after hearing this song, audiences will give a chance to the others noted here and to those not noted including the full throttle ‘F*** Your Autotune,’ the radio ready riffs in ‘Cliffs,’ and the aggro-rock sound of the album’s opener ‘Stinkin’ of Gold.’ Whether it be for any of those songs or the remaining six works not noted, audiences will find plenty of reason to take in One-Way Mirror’s new album and let it *ahem* capture them.
Capture is currently scheduled to be released next Tuesday, January 27th via Pavement Entertainment. The band currently has no tour dates scheduled. When the band announces its latest tour dates, audiences can find them and all of the latest updates from the band online at:

Website: http://www.one-waymirror.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/One-Way-Mirror/26220377436

Twitter: http://twitter.com/owmirror

MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/onewaymirrorband

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

Guardians Of The Galaxy Is 2014’s Best New Movie

Courtesy:  Marvel Studios/Disney

Courtesy: Marvel Studios/Disney

Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy is the best new movie of 2014 hands down.  This diamond in the rough is a solid answer to director Tim Burton’s recent declaration that he wanted to see a happy superhero movie.  Given, the “guardians” aren’t exactly superheroes.  But at a time when the fare offered by Marvel and DC has become increasingly dark and dominated by damaged, anti-hero figures, this movie shines as the antithesis of those movies.  One part action and one part fantasy it is the breath of fresh air that the superhero/comic book genre has needed for some time and could not have come at a better time.  The movie’s multifaceted script lies at the center of its success.  The acting on the part of the movie’s cast is just as important to its success.  And last but hardly least worth noting of the movie’s success is its collective look and feel.  That includes both its backdrops and its special effects.  The combination of all of these elements proves exactly why Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy is one of this year’s best new movies if not the year’s best new movie.  One can only hope that Marvel won’t abandon everything that made this movie great when its sequel comes along in 2017.  Time will tell.  Until such time, audiences will agree that this movie more than deserves a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new movies.

When Warner Brothers debuted its Tim Burton-helmed take on Batman in 1989, it proved to be something of an anomaly.  No movie at the time or even before had taken the route taken by this movie.  It was dark and brooding, just as Bob Kane had first envisioned him.  It wouldn’t be until 2005’s Batman Begins that audiences would see the rebirth of the brooding superhero.  Some will argue that 20th Century Fox’s X-Men franchise, which started in 2000, would qualify in that category.  But that’s only because of the inclusion of one Wolverine.  That being said, Batman Begins is to thank and to blame for what has become of the superhero/comic book genre.  That being said, the debut of Guardians of the Galaxy is a breath of fresh air.  It is the antithesis of those movies in every sense.  And that is thanks first and foremost to the movie’s multi-faceted script.  The script, crafted by James Gunn and Nicole Perlman, avoids every one of the trappings of the movies churned out by both Marvel and DC in recent years.  One of those trappings is the brooding superhero approach used by both Marvel and DC throughout the studios’ ongoing competition.  The script keeps the brooding to an extreme minimum with the extent of it being centered on Peter’s own thoughts of his mother’s death when he was a boy.  The brooding on the part of Drax and Gamora on the loss of their own families at the hands of Thanos and Ronan is kept to just as much of a minimum.  Because Gunn and Perlman keep the characters’ brooding in question, it allows for the movie’s related themes, jokes, and story to take center stage.  The end result is a script that while hardly timeless is still one of the most entertaining to come along in a long time both within the superhero/comic book genre and within the action drama in whole.

Gunn and Perlman are more than deserving of applause because of the fact that they took the road less traveled in their script, opting to keep the story’s brooding to an extreme minimum.  In comparison to the rest of the movies churned out by Marvel and DC in recent years, it really is the single most important factor of the duo’s script. It isn’t the only reason that the script works, either.  The themes of family and friendship that the pair incorporated into the story are even more reason for applause.  They go hand in hand with that lack of brooding.  Throughout the course of the story’s script, Gunn and Perlman note the importance of family and friendship.   Gunn and Perlman essentially tell audiences through their script that friends and family don’t have to be just like one another to come together.  They don’t always have to completely like one another, either.  They even go so far as to jokingly say through the quartet’s interactions that the least likely of friends and families can come together when one least expects it.  This message is driven home in the movie’s final minutes, which won’t be given away for the sake of those that have yet to see the movie.  It is something of a cheesy moment, given.  But again in comparison to the previous releases from Marvel and DC, it’s a refreshingly cheesy moment.  It’s yet another aspect of the Guardians’ script that makes the movie such a success.  The jokes that are tossed around throughout the movie is yet another aspect of the movie’s script that adds to its enjoyment.

The contrast of the positive themes and overall lack of brooding in the Guardians’ script is a hugely important aspect of the script that makes it a success.  The jokes that are tossed around throughout the script make it even more of a joy for audiences.  Whether it be the jokes added to Peter Quill and Rocket Raccoon’s banter or the pop culture references used as jokes, or other jokes in general, Gunn and Perlman did an outstanding job in this area, too.  The banter between Peter and Rocket is a laugh riot.  Of course the acting on the part of Chris Pratt and Bradley Cooper respectively doesn’t hurt that banter and its jokes, either.  It’s classic back and forth that audiences haven’t seen in a very long time.  There are also plenty of pop culture references used themselves as jokes, including constant references to the hit 1984 Kevin Bacon starring vehicle Footloose.  And Peter’s attempt at a dance-off in order to distract Ronan at one point (again that moment won’t be revealed here) is itself a reference to Michael Jackson if one watches closely.  It’s one thing to use pop culture references in a movie or TV show by themselves to get laughs.  But to use them as jokes (especially as running gags) is rather smart writing.  There are also plenty of stand-alone jokes that will have audiences laughing along the way, too.  The jokes in question aren’t right in audiences’ faces.  But they are clear enough that there’s no missing them.  Again, such placement is very smart writing.  It still is not the end of what makes the script’s writing the key point of success behind Guardians of the Galaxy.  Last but not least worth noting in considering the strength of the Guardians’ script is the story itself.

The story behind Guardians of the Galaxy is the last element of its writing that makes it the hit that it has deservedly proven to be.  The reason that the story works as well as it does is its simplicity.  It seems on the surface that there is a lot involved in the story.  That is because of the amount of backstabbing that goes on.  But the story, at its heart, centers on one fanatical madman’s attempts to destroy an entire race of people and their home world because of his own personal beliefs.  It was used in J.J. Abrams’ recent reboot of Star Trek most recently.  It’s a tried and true plot that has been used any number of times before in other action movies.  And even here it still manages to work in its given setting.  This is especially worth noting considering the story’s extra elements—the chase for Peter Quill and the Orb, Gamora backstabbing Ronan, etc.  There is a lot of extra backstory that is thrown into the mix.  That extra could easily have bogged down the central story.  But even with two people handling the script, that didn’t happen, amazingly enough.  Because those extras don’t bog down the movie’s central plot, said plot is that much easier to grasp and follow, thus keeping viewers engaged from start to finish.  That, alongside the other noted factors that went into the script, shows once and for all why the movie’s writing makes it the best new movie of 2014.

A lot of work went into the writing behind Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy.  The painstaking efforts that were taken to make this blockbuster stand out against its competition were not for naught, either.  Rather it collectively paid off and then some.  The acting on the part of the movie’s cast should not be ignored as a reason for its success, either.  The acting on the part of the movie’s cast is just as much to thank for its enjoyment and success as the writing behind the movie.  The constant back and forth banter between Bradley Cooper and Chris Pratt makes for plenty of laughs throughout the movie.  At no one point does the duo’s arguing feel forced.  It feels entirely natural, which is what makes it so entertaining.  Cooper’s portrayal of Rocket set against Vin Diesel’s Groot is just as funny.  Both situations are classic comedy brought into the 21st century. Pro wrestler Dave Bautista’s own interactions with his cast mates on screen make for their own laughs, too as audiences will see when they watch the movie for themselves. One would be remiss to ignore Pratt’s own comic timing both by himself and set against the talents of others. Audiences will laugh uproariously at his comic timing when he distracts Ronan with his “dance off.” It’s yet another way that the cast’s acting makes Guardians of the Galaxy such a surprisingly entertaining work. Yet it still is not all that makes this movie so enjoyable, either. The movie’s look and feels make the movie even better. They collectively round out the movie’s positives and prove once and for all why any lover of action movies and the superhero/comic book genre will love this movie. Together with the cast’s acting and the movie’s overall writing, it proves once and for all why Guardians of the Galaxy is the best new movie of 2014.

It seems like almost every one of the movie spit out by Marvel and DC in recent years have become increasingly dark and gritty in their stories but in their look and feel, too. Thankfully Guardians of the Galaxy is the polar opposite of those movies in this aspect, too. It incorporates some dark elements in terms of its look and feel, yes. But there are also rather bright, colorful backdrops used throughout the movie. And thanks to all of the comic elements incorporated into both the movie’s script and the cast’s acting, the movie’s feel is just as colorful, light, and light-hearted. It is such a welcome change of pace from all of the movies released by Marvel and DC in recent years and even harkens back to the likes of Iron Man in its own interesting way. Not only does it have that same sort of light hearted, comedic feel, but it also has that same sort of playful edge about it, too. That mix of the movie’s fun feel and its balance of light and dark backdrops is perfectly balanced from the movie’s opening flashback to its final minutes. The end result of that mix leaves audiences wanting to see more in the best way possible. With any luck, Guardians 2 will have just as much of a positive look and feel. For that matter hopefully it will have just as solid a script and acting. If it does, then it will prove the success of this movie to be far more than just a fluke.

So much work went into bringing Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy to life. And that work more than paid off. The movie’s multifaceted writing is its cornerstone. It incorporates themes of family and friendship that audiences of all ages will appreciate. It also avoids all of the brooding that has been a trademark of so many of Marvel and DC’s other previous releases. And the story itself is simple in every sense of the word. The acting on the part of the movie’s cast makes the movie all the more entertaining. It will leave audiences laughing nonstop from beginning to end. The look and feel of the movie is the polar opposite of so many movies that have come before, too from Marvel and DC. Each noted element makes Guardians of the Galaxy a memorable and entertaining movie in its own right. Together, they make it the single best new movie of 2014 fluke or not.

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

Fozzy Shows Real Growth On Its Latest P

Courtesy:  Century Media

Courtesy: Century Media

Guitarist Rich Ward (Stuck Mojo) and pro wrestler Chris Jericho have been friends for many years.  The pair’s friendship goes back to the days of Jericho’s tenure on the now defunct WCW.  So it came as not too big of a surprise that the pair’s friendship would eventually lead to the creation of Fozzy in the late 90s.  What has come as a surprise is the success that the band has enjoyed since the release of its self-titled debut back in 2000.  That album was pure covers.  And the use of faux names for the band members made Fozzy appear as little more than a one-off Spinal Tap style project put together by the two friends.  Little would anybody know that almost fourteen years after the release of that album, Fozzy would go on to release four more albums each one separating the band even more from its semi-satirical cover band roots.  Now in 2014, the band has released its fifth full length studio album titled Do You Wanna Start A War.  And it is everything that audiences have come to expect from the band and then some.  Whereas the band’s previous albums were full on hard rock opuses, this album maintains more of a balance between that hard rock sound and a more mainstream feel.  It’s almost as if the members of Fozzy have finally found that “happy, familiar place” on this record.  The end result is a record that offers plenty for audiences in both the rock and hard rock realms of the music industry.  On the hard rock side, audiences have already been offered up a solid slab of hard rock in the form of the album’s lead single, ‘One Crazed Anarchist.’  This song is sure to impress fans of both Fozzy and Ward’s other primary project, Stuck Mojo.  On the more mainstream, radio ready side of things, the band offers a heavy yet uplifting piece in the form of ‘Unstoppable.’  And in the completely radio ready realm, the band offers up the up-tempo yet happy-go-lucky style ‘Tonight.’  These are just a few examples of why Fozzy remains a fan favorite nearly fourteen years after its debut record’s release.  Each of the album’s remaining nine songs plays its own role in the overall enjoyment of this record.  And together with the trio of songs noted here, all twelve tracks on this record collectively make it an album that is sure to impress Fozzy’s fans new and old alike.

Fozzy first built the hype over its new album early this spring with the release of ‘One Crazed Anarchist,’ the lead single from its new album.  There is quite a bit to note concerning this song that makes it work.  Musically speaking, audiences that are familiar with the work of Rich Ward and fellow Stuck Mojo band mate Frank Fontsere will instantly hear the influence of the pair’s work with that band in this song.  Front man Chris Jericho’s vocals are just as powerful as he sings about quite a disturbed individual, singing, “One crazed anarchist/He’s ready to blow/Grenade in his pocket and he’s ready to blow/Finger on the trigger/And he’s waiting to pull/It’s time to deliver and his docket is full.”  The song’s chorus seems to hint at how said individual became what he become as Jericho sings, “How did my love just fade away/Faith and hope/Have gone astray/I can’t run away from the beast/Rip the scab/And set it free/It’s the killer in me.”  Of course, he’s speaking metaphorically about “running from the beast.”  It almost hints at someone that has become an extremist of sorts as a result of having lost everything both physically and emotionally.  Keeping that in mind, it makes the song an even harder hitting piece coming at it from a lyrical angle.  Add in the songs steady crunching guitar line underneath Ward’s primary guitar part and an even deeper emotional impact is created.  One should take into account, too Jericho’s own vocal delivery.  He does quite the job of interpreting the subject’s seeming emotional and psychological state as he sings about the unnamed man.  This serves to make ‘One Crazed Anarchist’ one of the best examples of how much Fozzy has grown over the course of its life.  Audiences can check out the songs video now online via YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9aKjbRIJ_k.  Just as much of an example of the band’s growth, is the still heavy yet uplifting song ‘Unstoppable.’

‘Unstoppable’ is another example of the growth on Do You Wanna Start A War because while it is a rather heavy song in its own right, it also presents a positive message.  That message is one of self-determination.  The band brought in guest singer Christie Cook for this song.  Her vocals are just as powerful as Jericho’s.  But there’s something that just makes it all perfectly fit here as she sings in the song’s chorus, “You’ll never break me/I’m unstoppable/You’ll never shake me/I’m unstoppable.”  Perhaps it is that certain grittiness in her voice that makes it work.  It’s almost a mix of Lita Ford and Joan Jett, if one can envision such a hybrid sound.  And just as ‘One Crazed Anarchist’ bears its own similarity to Stuck Mojo’s sound, so does this song bear a certain similarity to Stuck Mojo’s ‘Invincble.’  That song in question comes from Stuck Mojo’s most recent release, 2009’s The Great Revival.  One can almost see her on stage with the band, pumping her fist in time with the audience as she sings, “I do just what I want to/Because I know it’s right/Don’t tell me I can’t make it/Won’t down without a fight/Away from my past/Because in my eyes/I can do anything/Now watch me rise.”  This is such an anthemic song.  It is the kind of piece that could easily inspire people in so many situations.  That ability to so easily inspire audiences combined with such a heavy sound make this song one more of this album’s examples of how much Fozzy has grown throughout the years.

Fozzy’s new record shows so much growth from the band. That’s already been evidenced in both the album’s lead single ‘One Crazed Anarchist’ and the driving, uplifting ‘Unstoppable.’ There is at least one more example on this record of just how much Fozzy has come since its earliest days. That example is a song that is perhaps the album’s most mainstream song of all—‘Tonight.’ If ever there was a song that could be used as a radio single it is this song. Jericho and his band mates sing in this arena anthem, “This is our last chance/To show the world/Jus what we’re made of/We’ll bring this town to its knees/And then/We’ll take our chance to shine/Take our chance to fly(and stage our battlecry)/Take our chance to shine/Take our chance to fly (it’s time).” That positive vibe runs throughout the course of the song. It offers that same sort of inspiration as ‘Unstoppable’ that is sure to uplift audiences and entertain them at the same time. It is one more example, as audiences will hear, of how much this band has grown from little more than a novelty cover band to a serious musical group. And as audiences will hear from the album’s other songs, those songs along with the pieces noted here exhibit that growth even more.

Do You Wanna Start A War is available now in stores. Audiences can currently pick it up at Best Buy and get a free Fozzy bandana with purchase. Fans can also pick up the album at any of the band’s live shows. The band is currently touring alongside Theory of a Deadman in support of its new album and will be in Syracuse, NY next Friday, August 2nd at the Chevrolet Court. The band also has a performance scheduled at the famed Fillmore in Charlotte, North Carolina on Wednesday, September 24th. The band’s current tour schedule and all of the latest news and updates from the band is available online at http://www.facebook.com/FozzyRock and http://www.fozzyrock.com. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Pro Wrestling Gets New Respect Thanks To The Booker

Courtesy:  Indiepix Films

Courtesy: Indiepix Films

Professional wrestling is one of the biggest businesses in the world today. From America to Mexico and all the way to Japan, professional wrestling brings in millions of fans and dollars every year. This is despite the reputation that it still bears even now in the twenty-first century. Most of that business is brought in by the powerhouse that is World Wrestling Entertainment. However, WWE is not the only wrestling brand out there. Any number of tiny indie brands exists throughout the world. In the brand new documentary The Booker: Saving The Art of Pro Wrestling One Match at a Time, audiences will see the fight of just one brand to try and make a name for itself in the huge market that is pro wrestling. It has already been noted that there is still a stigma attached to pro wrestling and its legions of fans. So why watch this documentary? The first reason that anyone should take the time to watch this documentary is that in watching it, they will see that it isn’t just a documentary about wrestling. It’s a documentary about a business. Secondly, audiences will see just how hard hopeful wrestlers work especially at the indie ranks. Lastly, audiences will see just how hard hopeful promoters (one in particular in this case) work to get their brands off the ground. All of this taken into consideration, audiences that give The Booker a chance will see what makes both this documentary and pro wrestling as an art so important.

The Booker: Saving The Art of Pro Wrestling One Match at a Time is a surprisingly interesting documentary for what it is. On the surface, it’s a documentary about an indie wrestling brand trying to make a name for itself in the multi-million dollar world of pro-wrestling.  On a much deeper level though, audiences get a much more in-depth story in the course of the documentary’s run time.  It clocks in at just above the ninety-minute mark.  That in itself is another positive to the overall presentation on a side note.   Getting back on topic, audiences get a story here about a business trying to get off the ground; a traveling theater group even as one interviewee reveals he has come to learn. It could be argued that it is just one of so many models of a small business just trying to get its foot in the door. Viewers see the struggles and hurdles that have to be overcome by the business’s head in order to try and get the business above water. If audiences can take in the documentary from this angle, they will see that pro-wrestling is more than just pro-wrestling.  It is a business and a way of life for so many.  Speaking of a way of life, audiences will take away a new appreciation not just for pro wrestling in watching this documentary, but also for those that make it their life.

Audiences will have a new appreciation not just for pro wrestling in watching The Booker.  They will also gain a new respect for those that make pro wrestling their life.  Audiences will see that for those trying to make a name for themselves in the business, life isn’t easy.  Many, if not all, upstart wrestling hopefuls have to balance being on the road doing shows with their regular workaday lives.  And many of those workaday lives are quite mundane to say the least.  The juxtaposition of the two lives is itself intriguing.  To top it off, many of these people also have families.  That’s one more factor that many hopefuls have to consider.  As is shown here, all of these considerations have led to some casualties.  Some of those hopefuls admit in interviews that they simply couldn’t try to balance it all and chose a normal life.  In an odd way, it’s heartbreaking to see those struggles and casualties.  It makes the entire feature all the more worth the watch.

The struggles of those trying to balance their everyday lives with their in-ring lives is just one part of the human drama that makes The Booker such a surprisingly interesting story.  Just as interesting to behold are the emotional struggles of PCW’s head Paul Scarborough/Paul Platinum.  Scarborough is so dedicated to getting his brand off the ground.  And it shows both when he is working with his wrestling hopefuls and when he is by himself.  It presents a man who is not just a wrestling head or promoter but a struggling businessman trying to make his business work.  At times, viewers will feel for Scarborough.  At others, they might yell at him.  One of those points comes when Scarborough tells his wrestlers that their success or failure at a particular show means whether or not he and his wife would have to take out a second mortgage on their home.  That was rather harsh.  And he could have taken another route to motivate them.  But one can really see his desperation to get the best out of his team.  Taking that into consideration, it will have viewers feeling for Scarborough even more.  It shows again how dedicated he is to what he’s doing.  That dedication ties in with the dedication of PCW’s wrestlers and the very premise of this documentary to make The Booker a piece that both those inside and outside the world of pro wrestling will appreciate after having watched it.  Outsiders will hopefully gain a new respect for the business and those trying to make it in the business, too. Insiders will hopefully smile at the very real portrayal of the lives of those in the business.  It shows in the long run that pro wrestling isn’t just a hobby.  And it deserves far more respect than it gets today from outsiders.  The documentary is available now on DVD.  More information on The Booker is available online at http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Booker/301962783176574.  To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

ESPN Announces Information For Friday Night Fights Season Premiere

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN’s Friday Night Fights presented by Corona is returning for its seventeenth season.  The Worldwide Leader in Sports has announced that FNF will begin its new season on Friday, January 3rd live at 9pm ET on WatchESPN and ESPN Deportes+.  The show’s seventeenth season will kick off with a bang, too.  Season Seventeen will open with a twelve-round IBF title bout between Junior Lightweight titlist Argenis Mendez ( 21 – 2 – 1,  11 KOs) and undefeated Rances Barthelemy (19 – 0, 12 KOs).  Also slated for the season premiere of Friday Night Fights presented by Corona will be a ten-round co-feature featuring up-and-coming Middleweight contender Caleb Truax (23 – 1, 4 KOs).  As an additional note, ESPN Deportes will re-brand its broadcasts with the new name, Noche de Combates.  The newly re-branded broadcast was previously branded as Viernes de Combates.

The season opening bout, the first of the 2014 season’s twenty-six total fights, will be broadcast live from the Target Center in Minneapolis, MN.  It is co-promoted by former Heavyweight Champion Mike Tyson and his promotional company, Iron Mike Productions.  Tyson also promoted the final bout of FNF’s 2013 season, which featured Argenis Mendez in the world title main event.

Brian Kweder, ESPN Senior Director of Programming and Acquisitions, expressed expectations for the 2014 season in a recent statement.  He also  noted changes being made for the upcoming season of FNF.  “We are eagerly anticipating the upcoming season of Friday Night Fights and Noche de Combates,” he said.  “We start the season just as we finished last season with a world title fight co-promoted by Mike Tyson’s Iron Mike Productions. The biggest change for 2014 is that we are assigning dates to promoters with as much advance notice as possible to allow for even better fights and bigger crowds.  We’ve partnered with a group of promoters who have always delivered in the past and are committed to upping the ante even further for 2014. Having a world title fight and names like Kendall Holt, Zsolt Erdei and Arash Usmanee early this season show that the strategy is already paying dividends.”

Long time FNF broadcast team Joe Tessitore and Teddy Atlas will be back again for all of the ringside action each week.  Tessitore will call the matches and Atlas will have in-match analysis for every match broadcast on ESPN2.  Both men have been awarded the Sam Taub Award for Excellence in  Broadcast Journalism.  Teddy Atlas won the award in 2001 and Tessitore in 2010.  Studio host Todd Grisham will be back for his second full season on FNF.  He will fill in for Tessitore in ESPN2’s season opener and will have all of the latest boxing news and highlights.  Also back again will be Bernardo Osuna.  Osuna will contribute to broadcasts both on FNF and Noche de Combates. 

Pablo Viruega and Delvin Rodriguez will have the call for ESPN Deportes and ESPN Deportes+.  The will be joined live by studios hosts Leopoldo Gonzalez and Claudia Trejos.  As a new addition to the studio show for ESPN Deportes and ESPN Deportes+, Hall of Fame referee Joe Cortez will join Gonzalez and Trejos in studio throughout the season.  Osuna will contribute reports and interviews each week.  The latest slate of fights is available below.

 

Date Time (ET) Main Event Location Networks
Fri, Jan 3 9 p.m. Argenis Méndez (21-2-1, 11 KOs)  vs. Rances Barthelemy (19-0, 12 KOs) —12-rounds, IBF Junior Lightweight Title Target Center, Minneapolis, Minn. ESPN2, ESPN Deportes+, WatchESPN
Fri, Jan 10 9 p.m. Arash Usmanee (20-1-1, 10 KOs) vs. Juan Antonio Rodríguez (25-4, 23 KOs) — Junior Lightweights Emerald Queen Hotel & Casino, Tacoma Wash. ESPN2, ESPN Deportes+, WatchESPN
Fri, Jan 24 9 p.m. Javier Molina (14-1, 6 KOs) vs. Kendall Holt (28-6, 16 KOs) —10-rounds, Junior Welterweights Little Creek Casino, Shelton Wash. ESPN2, ESPN Deportes+, WatchESPN
Fri, Jan 31 9 p.m. Zsolt Erdei (33-1, 18 KOs) vs. Elvir Muriqi (40-5, 24 KOs) —10-rounds, Light Heavyweights Codey Arena, West Orange, N.J. ESPN2, ESPN Deportes+, WatchESPN

 

More information on the latest from FNF and Noche de Combates is available online at http://www.facebook.com/espn.fnf, http://twitter.com/ESPNBoxeo, and http://twitter.com/ESPNFNF.  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.

G.I. Joe Sequel Another Of 2013’s Worst Movies

Courtesy:  Paramount Studios

Courtesy: Paramount Studios

2013 has been a rough year for the movie industry.  It has been either feast or famine for the big studios.  That is thanks in large part to the glut of sequels churned out by the industry’s major studios.  From the upper echelons all the way down to the general movie-goer, those same studios have been lambasted for their increasing reliance on sequels.  The latest movie in the G.I. Joe franchise justifies those darts even more.  Sure it has lots of flash-bang-boom action sequences and its share of special effects, and an easy to understand storyline, it doesn’t have much else.  Some might consider this a good thing for an action movie.  But the reality is because of this, it turns out to be one more movie that won’t take long to end up in the discount bins at retail outlets now that it is officially out on DVD and Blu-ray.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation isn’t the worst of the year’s movies.  It isn’t the worst of the record thirty-seven sequels that will have hit theaters by the year’s end.  But it isn’t one of the year’s best movies, either.  The question remains then, what is it about this movie that has left it in movie limbo so to speak?  To answer that isn’t easy.  But it isn’t impossible, either.  The best place to begin with the movie is its writing.  The story’s writing is for the most part, relatively simplistic.  It is also very predictable.  Right from the story’s opening minutes, audiences learn that at the end of the franchise’s first flick, Cobra Commander and Destro had both been captured and placed in special suspended animation tanks of sorts.  It is pretty obvious from this point where the story would progress.  It doesn’t get much better.  From here, audiences are introduced to the story’s secondary plot, the evil twin plot headed by the evil Zartan.  Simple math, right?  Yes.  Two plus two equals four.  Yet another world domination plot on the part of Cobra, which at least goes along with the old cartoon series from the 80s and early 90s.

The predictability of the story in G.I. Joe: Retaliation is just one microscopic part of the problem with its writing.  Just when one thinks the writing couldn’t get any worse, writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick make the story even more convoluted by adding in a third storyline involving Snake Eyes’ (one of the few remaining Joes after Cobra’s attack on the Joes) hunt for his arch nemesis, Stormshadow.  Snake Eyes has to nab Stormshadow and bring him back to answer for the murder of his sensei, of which he was accused of committing as a child.  This additional storyline really wasn’t necessary to the overall outcome of the movie.  Wernick and Reese must have known this as they tried to justify it by making sure that only Stormshadow would know the full extent of Cobra’s evil plans this time out.  They could have still had him be a key player without the extra drama.  Had all of this extra fluff been cut, it would have saved a lot of time and maybe even made all of the movie’s over-the-top fight scenes and explosions justified.  But no, they couldn’t leave well enough alone.  Instead, they left it in.  And to make matters even worse, they made the story drag on even more by adding in unnecessary elements of melodrama both on the part of Stormshadow and the remaining Joes.  There is the whole aspect of Stormshadow having to come to terms with Zartan being the real killer and tricking him when he was a child.  And then there is Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson) coming to terms with taking over the Joes after Duke’s (Channing Tatum) death early on.  Let us also not forget Lady Jaye’s own drama involving her father issues, too.  It’s all extra fat that could have been trimmed from the whole thing to make it at least more bearable.

Had the unnecessary elements noted above been removed from the movie’s final script, that removal would have made G.I. Joe: Retaliation more bearable.  Sadly, that didn’t happen.  Even the choice of the movie’s title is problematic.  The very inclusion of the word “retaliation” in the title hurts the movie even more.  It’s an ambiguous subtitle.  That’s because in reality, both Cobra and the remaining Joes are retaliating against one another for everything that had happened in the course of the franchise’s first film.  More than likely, the intent was for the subtitle to be aimed more at the retaliation of G.I. Joe against Cobra for its actions against its forces.  But again, the ambiguity is there; too much of it in fact to make such a subtitle work.  And along with the already poor writing, it reduces the movie’s credibility even more.

There is so much that went wrong with G.I. Joe: Retaliation.  However, it would be unfair to ignore the only shining rays of hope that this largely forgettable Summer action flick does have.  Those rays of hope lie in the movie’s really cool gadgets and its action sequences.  Again, had the gadgets and action sequences been left with the predictable writing, the movie would not have been half as bad as it turned out to be.  But because that didn’t happen, the action sequences come across as little more than an excuse to try and distract viewers from the poor writing.  This is most clearly evident in the ironic fact that the most exciting of the action sequences was one that itself might not have even been necessary.  It involves Snake Eyes and his protégé, Jinx, facing a horde of ninjas along a sheer cliff face after having recovered Stormshadow in the aforementioned equally unnecessary extra story line.  As impressive as this sequence was, the only way that it (and its companion story line) could be justified is the fact that so many of the cast members from the previous film didn’t return this time out for whatever given reason.  So something was needed (in the minds of the writers) to advance the storyline.  Thus this sequence and its associated story line were inserted.  Had both elements been removed in the end, G.I. Joe: Retaliation still could have survived.  Sure it probably would have still ended up being forgotten in the grand scheme of things.  But it still would have survived and even taken more seriously.  As enchanted as studio heads continue to be with franchises, it would be no surprise if audiences eventually see another sequel or even a franchise reboot already.  When either of these scenarios plays out, one can only hope that whoever writes its script will learn from all of this and will make a movie that will return honor to the name and legacy that is G.I. Joe.

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