Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Canon MST3K Review: The Giant Spider Invasion

With a name like The Giant Spider Invasion, you expect that giant spiders will invade Earth and cause a ruckus. Well, in that aspect this movie did not disappoint. However, the movie did manage to disappoint in nearly every other way possible. Yet The Giant Spider Invasion is one of those movies that is so bad that it's good, and made for a rather humorous episode of Mystery Science Theatre 3000. The Giant Spider Invasion was made in 1975 and was directed by Bill Rebane, who made a career out of directing low budget horror films like this one. The movie stars a bunch of people that made their living doing guest spots on TV shows and playing small roles in movies, including Alan Hale (The Skipper on "Gilligan's Island") and Barbara Hale (no relation, but she did play the role of Della Street in the Perry Mason series). A few notes about this episode, and yes there are spoilers ahead:

- The movie takes a while to get going, choosing to introduce the characters of the film before the spiders start their invasion. This isn't a bad idea, however, the characters are so unlikeable that I just couldn't wait for the spiders to start killing people off. The worst of which is white-trash farmer Dan Kester (Robert Easton), who cheats on his wife, and tries to bed his much younger sister-in-law all in one night. His wife, Ev (Leslie Parrish), is a woman that is either drinking some alcoholic beverage or offering sarcastic remarks towards her husband, although it's hard to blame her considering the lout she's married to. Then there's the sherrif (Alan Hale), who seems like a pleasant enough fellow but spends the entire movie either eating or telling bad jokes or on the phone. Not to mention the stuck-up sexist NASA scientist Dr. J.R. Vance (Steve Brodie), who looks like a heavier Mean Gene Okerlund with a bad rug on his head, and sucks as a scientist to boot.

- The movie starts off with a giant explosion that takes place in Dan Kester's pasture at night. Dan, being the genius that he is, decides that now would be a good time to crash the bed instead of checking out the GIANT EXPLOSION on his property. At the very least, he could have got the heck out of there. Then again, I probably would have done the same thing. There's a man who crashes his motorcycle, and then something happens to him. You can't tell what, because the camera shot has no light whatsoever, and this would not be the first time that the film was shot in almost complete darkness.

- So, with a giant crash out in the middle of Nowhere, Wisconsin, NASA decides to send it's top man, Mean Gen, I mean, J.R. Vance, to meet with a Dr. Langer (Barbara Hale). This leads to a hilarious scene where the two meet, and Vance assumes that he's meeting Dr. Langer's husband, then her father, than her brother, before finally Dr. Jenny Langer informes the pig that it is actually she that has the appointment with a dumbfounded Vance. I guess J.R. Vance is a man from a simpler time, where women weren't astronomers and stay at home in the kitchen. Personally, I was hoping that Langer would slug Vance, but no such luck. Unfortunately, that was the last interesting scene in the movie involving the two until the end.

-  Eventually, the giant spider makes his appearance after a subplot of the farmer and his wife finding that all their cattle have been mutilated, but they found diamonds in some rocks (Of course, they failed to notice the spiders that were in each rock, to the point where Ev fixed herself a Bloody Mary without noticing the spiders in the blender.) Normally, I'm not the type of person that roots for the monster or bad guy in films, but in this case, I was cheering for the Giant Spider as if the Falcons scored a touchdown. First the spider kills off Ev, which is unfortunate but not a big loss, but then the Spider disposes of both Dan and his lecherous Charles Manson look-a-like cousin Billy. The spider should have been given an award from the townspeople for that alone.

- The giant 'spider' in this film was actually a bunch of spider legs around a Volkswagen Beetle. In one scene where the spider attacks a slow-pitch softball game, you can actually see the tire tracks the 'spider' leaves behind in its wake. Well, at least it's better than some crappy CGI image of a giant spider that would be used in a film like this today.

Overall, this movie has a lot of issues. For one, there are multiple scenes where Alan Hale is talking on the phone with someone and you're supposed to hear what's being said, but the audio is so low that you can't make out what they are saying. There's a couple of other scenes where you can't hear what the characters are saying, and there are quite a few scenes that are so dark that there's no telling what's actually happening. The effects are cheesy at best, the acting is mostly second rate, and the plot is easy enough to follow, but full of holes. Nevertheless, it's such a cheesy movie that it's actually quite funny even without the digs given by Mike and the Bots, and there are certainly worse movies to watch. Overall, the movie would get about a 2.9 out of 10, but the episode is a solid 7 out of 10. Remember, if you have any ideas for future reviews, or comments about this or previous reviews, then send them to me either by e-mail at KtheC2001@gmail.com or by leaving a comment on the blog.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Canon Restaurant Review: Sonny's BBQ, Commerce, GA

Earlier today, I had the opportunity to dine at Sonny's BBQ in Commerce, GA with my family. This was not my first time dining at this restaurant, and usually have enjoyed the food, although it had been some 18 months since I had last ate there. So I had hoped that this dining experience would also be a delightful one.

We got to the restaurant at around 7:30 or so and were able to be seated as soon as we walked into the door. The restaurant had a healthy crowd in the place, but by no means was it packed. Then again, it was a little late in the day, and I'm pretty sure that they were more crowded an hour before. Anyway, the interior of the restaurant was rather well-lit, and the walls were covered with various nic-nacs like signs and license plates and other similar items. The tables and the chairs were colored lightly brown, and the overall setting of Sonny's is rather casual, but not too causal. So basically, you won't look too out of place whether you're wearing a nice shirt and pants or just a plain t-shirt and jeans. There are four different televisions, one in each corner of the dining area. They weren't big-screen television sets or anything, but they are big enough that you can at least tell what's going on on the screen, especially if you are close to one of the corners.

Once we were seated, we order our drinks right off. My dad and I both ordered cokes, while my mother ordered an iced tea. When we got our drinks, our waitress, a woman named Dixie, had accidentally given us two iced teas, but realized the mistake before I had actually even noticed. Other than that, she was quite an exceptional and friendly server who constantly made sure that we had everything that we needed. We ordered our food next, and I went with the Dry Rub Ribs plate, which also came with two sides and two slices of garlic bread. For my sides, I went with a bowl of Sonny's original recipe BBQ beans and an order of fries. Meanwhile, my parents both ordered the Big Deal sandwich combos, which is a big barbeque sandwich with your meat of choice between two slices of garlic bread. They both chose the pulled pork sandwich, and both ordered fries, although for their second side they had different choices (mom ordered coleslaw, dad ordered a bowl of beans).

Our food came in what I felt was an appropriate amount of time. One thing I noticed right away was that there were a lot of ribs and french fries on my plate. There was a lot of meat on those ribs, and they were barbecued to near perfection, although I had a little trouble getting the meat off of one of the ribs. The beans were some of the best beans that I have ever had. Even though I ended up taking some of my food home, the beans were so good that I made sure to finish them while still at the restaurant. The garlic bread was freshly cooked and rather tasty, while the fries were pretty good, but I have had better before from this location. My parents both were rather pleased with their food, and they noted that while it was filling, the food still did not leave you feeling stuffed.

Overall, I rather enjoyed my dining experience at Sonny's BBQ of Commerce, GA. The service was excellent, the food was rather good, and the place was quite clean as well. Out of 10, I'd give Sonny's BBQ of Commerce, GA a 7.89 out of 10. Well, thanks for reading, and if you have any thoughts or issues with this or other posts, or future ideas for reviews, than feel free to share them by leaving a comment, or by sending me an e-mail at KtheC2001@gmail.com.

Sonny's Real Pit BBQ on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 27, 2010

The Canon Review is Taking a Break

As you could probably tell if you've been following the blog, I have not been updating the site as frequently as I was in the beginning. The truth of the matter is, I've just kind of struggled to come up with new topics to write about for whatever reason. I guess I'm just a little burned out. So I have decided to take the weekend off and come back fresh on Monday. If you have any ideas for future reviews, or feedback on the blog as a whole, than feel free to share them either by leaving a comment or by sending me an e-mail at kthec2001@gmail.com. So, until Monday, I leave you with a video of Ric Flair and Gene Snitsky:

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A look at Wrestlers Before They Were Big-Time

As the old adage states, "you have to start somewhere". Well, these wrestlers who went on to achieve such incredible heights in their profession started out at the low end of the totem pole just like anyone else. For some, their potential was apparent even in their early years, for others, it took some polishing before they could reach the big time. So, without further adieu, here is a look at some big-time wrestlers when they were only small-time.

Video 1: Sterling Golden (Hulk Hogan) vs. Chick Donovan

This match takes place in Georgia Championship Wrestling and is from 1980, I believe. Before the match starts, Golden gets on the mic and stumbles through telling the crowd how bad-ass he is before stating that he will put up 1,000 dollars if anyone can get out of the Golden Squeeze. Donovan tries to tie up with Golden three times, but each time he gets thrown to the ground by the much larger Golden. Donovan changes tactics and sends Golden against the ropes after a dropkick, but gets caught with a big boot while charging into Golden. Golden uses his power to his advantage, using the backbreaker to get a two count. Donovan hits another dropkick that stunned Golden, but after taking a thrust to the throat, Donovan is whipped in and caught with the Golden Squeeze, which is a bear hug. Donovan sells it like death and gives it up, giving Sterling Golden a victory. Nothing more than a squash here, and not much of one either. I'll give it a 1.1 out of 5.

Video 2: Rob Zakowski in USWA Week 3

This video from 1992 features a match with Rob Zakowski (Rob Van Dam) taking on USWA enhancement talent Bill Rush. Rush has the build of a young Mark Curtis, while Zakowski/RVD has a blond mullet and is wearing plain blue trunks. Zakowski backflips into the ring, than starts the match with a couple of hip tosses before back flipping over a ducking Rush and hitting a dropkick on his opponent. Irish whip to Rush, Zakowski does a split and then monkey flips Rush on the rebound in a spot he would go on to do hundreds of times in his career. Zakwoski does a series of basic wrestling holds, like the armbar and side-headlock takedown, while the announcers compliment Zakowski not just for his speed but for knowing the basics as well. An eye gouge gives Rush the advantage for a few seconds, until Zakowski counters an arm-wringer with a series of quick kicks finishing with a leaping heel kick to the head. A backbreaker from Zakowski sets up his finisher, the split-legged moonsault. Zakowski nearly lands on his head, but does a last-second rotation to land the move perfectly and get the victory. Another squash, but this match had Zakowski showing off some skills and moves that weren't so commonplace in 1992. I'll give it a 2 out of 5.

Video 3: Jake Roberts vs. Shawn Michaels (UWF 1984)

It's the Heartbreak Kid as a kid taking on the veteran Jake "the Snake" Roberts, who also would go on to bigger and better things not long after this match. The video features no commentary, which is probably for the best. Michaels looks somewhat similar to Rob Zakowski in the last video, with a blond mullet and blue trunks. Tie up to start, and Roberts backs Michaels up against the ropes before making a clean break. Michaels surprises the veteran with a pair of hip tosses. Jake regains control with a headlock takedown. Back up, Michaels reverses an Irish Whip and ducks down, but Roberts stops himself and catches Michaels with a right hand. Another headlock takedown from Roberts grounds the youngster. Michaels is able to get up and whips Roberts into the rope, Jake leapfrogs Michaels, but takes a right hand for his efforts. This makes Roberts mad, and he backs Michaels into the corner and knees him in the gut. Big scoop slam from Roberts, who follows that up with a series of hair pulls. Roberts remains in control with brawling tactics, before Michaels starts firing back with some rights of his own. Michaels staggers Jake with a dropkick, than whips him in the corner to continue brawling with the Snake. Michaels tries to whip Jake out of the corner, but gets a kick to the gut and a brutal short-arm clothesline instead. Roberts hits his patented DDT, and the match is over. Short match, but not too bad, and Michaels got in more offense than I would have expected him to, making this a competitive battle. I'll give it a 2.35 out of 5.

Video 4: Leviathan (batista) vs. Brock Lesnar (OVW)

Two future world champions and MMA fighters (although I doubt Batista will have the success of Lesnar) square off in this Ohio Valley Wrestling match from 2000 or so. Batista is accompanied by his manager Synn and her slave, whose name I didn't quite catch, while Lesnar comes out on his own. After a couple of tie-ups, the match remains a stalematie until Leviathan catches Lesnar with a back suplex. The two brawl for a while before Lesnar slams Leviathan to the ground. Lesnar bounces off the rope, but a spinebuster from Leviathan stops him cold. Leviathan stays in control with a series of shoulder blocks in the corner and clubbing blows to the back. Leviathan whips Lesnar in the corner, but Lesnar rebounds with a cross body block that drew a two count. Leviathan takes back control with a kick to the gut, and uses more brawling tactics. A side salto slam from Leviathan gets a two count, and Leviathan than grounds Lesnar with a chinlock. Back up, Lesnar fires some elbows to the gut and bounces off the rope, only to get caught with a DDT from Leviathan. Leviathan keeps control until Lesnar reverses an Irish Whip into the corner and delivers an overhead belly-to-belly on his opponent. Clothesline from Lesnar, and another overhead belly-to-belly from Brock. Synn's subordinate gets on the apron to distract the ref while Lesnar plants Leviathan with a body slam from the Fireman's Carry position. But the ref is distracted, and Synn sprays a substance into Lesnar's eyes, giving Leviathan a chance to finish his opponent with the spear. That's what Leviathan does, as he gets the tainted victory. Post match, Lesnar clotheslines Leviathan and the back, slams Synn down to the mat, than grabs the other woman before Leviathan makes the save with a blow to the back. Leviathan stomps away on Lesnar while the referees and another wrestler unsuccessfully try to pull him off. The match wasn't terrible, but both men were awfully green here. I'll give it a 1.6 out of 5.

Well, I think I'll stop here for now. I hope that you have enjoyed this look back at some wrestlers back in the day before they hit the big time. Well, thanks for reading, and if you have any ideas for future posts on The Canon Review, or thoughts about this post, than let me know about them either by leaving a comment or e-mailing me at kthec2001@gmail.com.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Canon Wrestling Review: TNA Hardcore Justice, August 8, 2010

A mere two weeks ago, TNA decided to drum up interest in their product by putting on a PPV entirely dedicated to the memory of a promotion that died nine years ago, but due to legal purposes, they couldn't exactly advertise the name of said promotion. Yep, I'm talking about Hardcore Justice, which featured the former stars of ECW. Back in the day, I was as big a fan of ECW as anyone else, but I really had no interest in watching this show at all. However, I was talking about it with my brother and Canon Review reader Ben, and he challenged me to watch the show and write up a review on the proceedings. Well, a challenge is a challenge, so without further adieu, here is TNA's Hardcore Justice. Justice for what, exactly? I'm not sure, but nevertheless.

We open with a montage of the ECW stars that will be here tonight, with voiceovers of the wrestlers explaining how important ECW was to them without actually mentioning ECW.  Former ECW ring announcer Stephen Deangelis introduces Taz to start off the show. Taz says that over the past few years, there has been some haters of ECW, saying they were only about violence. He goes on to say that 'they' were the little engine that could and they did. Did what, exactly? Well, according to Taz ECW revolutionized the business, and that's a shoot. Taz then tells the haters to kiss his ass or something and the former Human Suplex Machine goes to join his partner Mike Tenay to call tonight's action. Nothing says hardcore wrestling more than Mike Tenay. Up first is a six man tag between the Full Blooded Italians (Tony Marmaluke nee Tony Luke, Guido Maritato, and Tracey Smothers w/ Sal E. Graziano) vs the team of Kid Kash, Simon Diamond, and Johnny Swinger. Unfortunately, the Musketeer does not accompany them to ringside. Sal E. has lost some weight over the years, not a lot, but some, and apparently he gave that weight to Simon Diamond. For some reason, the lights surrounding the ring are dark blue, making it very dark in the arena. The match starts with Guido and Kash exchanging holds, than Swinger and Luke get in and Swinger hits a sick backdrop driver on Luke. Both men tag out, to Smothers and Diamond respectively, and Smothers brawls with Diamond some before a jumping heel kick sends Diamond to the outside. Simon gets the mic and explains that "Simon has a problem". Well, you don't have to tell us twice. Simon blames Kid Kash for their troubles, and then challenges the FBI to a dance-off. Simon and Swinger display some of the worst dancing I have ever seen. Smothers gets on the mic and says that if the FBI can't do better than that than "everybody dies". OK then. The FBI bust some rather interesting dance moves before Simon and Swinger get tired of it and attack them from behind. Simon and Swinger go after Big Sal, but Sal clotheslines both men down to the mat. Everybody starts brawling on the outside, which allows Kid Kash to take everyone out with a suicide dive after the referee conveniently went to his knees so Kash can launch himself off his back. The match continues, and everybody starts to do their signature moves. After a minute or two, everybody gets in the ring to fight it out. Luke goes to the top rope, but Kash and Swinger catch him and set him up for the superplex. Guido and Smothers then come up behind Kash and Swinger and pick them up on their shoulders, resulting in a mega superplex for poor Tony Luke. Simon comes in and hits the Simon Series on Guido, but is clotheslined down by Smothers. Swinger gets back up and hits Smothers with the Skull Crushing Finale, but Luke catches Swinger with a missle dropkick. Kash hits the Moneymaker (double underhook piledriver) on Luke, which impresses both the crowd and the announcers. Guido kicks Kash in the gut, goes to the second rope and hits the Sicilian Slice on Kash. Simon goes to pick Guido up, but Guido goes behind and hits the Kiss of Death (Killswitch, Unprettier, etc) on Simon to get the three count. The match had its moments, but overall wasn't too good. I'll give it a 1.75 out of 5.

The announcers tell us that Jerry Lynn will not be able to wrestle Rob Van Dam in the main event, so instead we get RVD vs. Sabu. Well, that could be good or be a complete trainwreck. We then get some pre-taped comments from Tod Gordon, Gary Wolfe from his car, and the Blue Meanie. Wolfe threatens that we haven't seen the last of the legendary Pitbull #1, and all three express their gratitude to the fans for making this possible. Another video is shown, this time of TNA stars expressing their memories of ECW. AJ Styles talks about the Dremaer-Sandman Singapore Cane match from 1994, while Angelina Love exclaims that she didn't watch much ECW until 2000 because Canada didn't get ECW until then. That was worth it. To the back, where Al Snow tells Head not to mention those three letters or otherwise they'll get sued. Stevie Richards and Nova show up, and Al asks Nova where his scooter is. They're really shooting now. One half of the legendary Phi Delta Slam is there dressed up as the Blue Meanie, and he does a rather convincing impression. For reasons unknown, Lupus shows up, but is told by Nova that he couldn't get him on the card. I just wonder, how many people remember Lupus? Hopefully he got paid.

CW Anderson comes to the ring for the next match, and EVERYBODY HERE COMES 2 COLD SCORPIO!!!. Unfortunately, he does not come out to that theme. Anderson looks nearly the same as he did 10 years ago. The match starts and CW tries to ground Scorpio, but Scorp keeps escaping. Standoff, Scorpio offers his hand for CW to shake, but CW spits at the offer and starts pounding away at his opponent. Scorpio sends CW out of the ring with a dropkick, and then hits a nice looking corkscrew plancha outside the ring. Back inside, Scorpio keeps the advantage until a big-time superkick from CW changes the tide. CW covers, but only gets two. CW then does some Anderson style work on the arm, but Scorpio is able to escape with a superkick out of a hammerlock. The two exchange blows, but CW wins that with a loud right hand. That only gets 2. Some more blows are exchanged until Scorpio whips CW in and hits a somersault kick on Anderson in the corner. Scorpio is on the second rope, and hits a front flip legdrop, but only gets two. Scorpio goes back up and tries a moonsault, but CW gets the knees up. Anderson spinebuster only gets two. After some forearms, Anderson comes off the rope, but eats a superkick for his trouble. Scorpio sets Anderson up, climbs to the top rope and finishes him with a moonsault leg drop. Afterwards, the two end up shaking hands and Scorpio raises CW's arm for a well fought match. Short, but pretty good none the less. I'd say a 3.05 out of 5.

More ECW memories from TNA stars are shown. Madison Rayne says nothing of significance, Matt Morgan talks about attending an ECW show at a bar he was bouncing at, while Ken Anderson says something about ECW bringing a new edge to wrestling. To the back, where Rob Van Dam and Bill Alfonso talk about RVD's decision to wrestle Sabu tonight. Fonzie, as the manager of both men, promises to call it right down the middle. Justin Cre, I mean, P.J. Polaco comes out for the next match to take on Stevie Richards, who is accompanied by Nova and the Blue Tillie. Lupus, meanwhile, is left in the back. If Stevie can have an entourage, why can't the man formerly known as Justin Credible have one? Surely, Jason and Nicole Bass would have shown up if they had only asked. Oh well. The two start off by exchanging blows and chops. They go to the outside, where Polaco suplexes Richards on the mat. Polaco goes back in, only to dive back out with a plancha on Richards. Back in, Polaco has Richards trapped in the corner, and then powerbombs Richards out of the corner to get a two count. Running DDT by Polaco also gets a two count. Richards launches a comeback, which ends when he launches Polaco outside of the ring, with Polaco landing face first on the stairs. Polaco gets back in, and Stevie keeps the advantage with a side slam and a sit-down powerbomb, but only gets a two count. Polaco connects with a superkick, which nearly gets a three-count. Undaunted, Polaco sets up Richards for That's Incredible, and connects. Cover, but Polaco unwisely gets up to jaw with Nova on the ring apron. Polaco then goes to tell Richards his old catchphrase, but Richards reminds Polaco that he can't use that anymore by kicking his head off with the Stevie Kick. That gets the three count. Polaco does not take losing well, and canes Richards a few times before the arena somewhat darkens. When the lights come back on, relatively speaking, The Sandman is in the ring, and he shows Polaco how to use a Singapore Cane, leaving Polaco laying in the ring. Match was decent, but nothing special. I'd give it a 2.2 out of 5.

A video of Francine is shown, who explains that she'd rather spend time with her daughter than show up for this show to be piledriven by Tommy Dreamer again. She thanks the fans and the other ECW wrestlers for supporting her over the years. A screen is shown paying tribute to all of the wrestlers that have since passed that once competed in the Philadelphia-Based extreme promotion. Up next is a Three Way Dance between three wrestlers with a long history between each other, Al Snow, Brother Runt (Spike Dudley) and Rhino. The match starts with a double headlock on Snow and Runt. Rhino sets up Runt for the gore, but Snow trips Rhino up from outside the ring. Back in, Snow hits a backbreaker on Runt. Eventually, Rhino and Snow find their way to the outside of the ring. Runt tries to hit a plancha on both of his opponents, but is caught by Snow and Rhino and thrown back over their heads to the entrance ramp. Snow and Rhino trade some moves back inside the rings, including Al's infamous series of trapping headbutts. Backstage, some TNA wrestlers are watching the action on a monitor. Well good for them. Snow grabs his but missed Runt, allowing Rhino to back suplex Snow down. Double-foot stomp from Runt on Snow. Acid Drop attempted by Runt on Rhino, but Rhino throws him off easily. Rhino charges Runt in the corner, but gets a boot in the face and then a headscissors takedown for his efforts. Runt fires forearms at both of his opponents and tries for a double Acid Drop, but gets thrown outside of the ring instead. Snow inadvertently knocks the ref down, but takes advantage by nailing Rhino with his Head, so to speak. Runt comes back with a chair, and throws it to Snow and dives down on the canvas, leaving Snow with the smoking gun. Not to be outdone, Snow hits the canvas with a chair and goes down to the mat as well, leaving all three men down and the referee confused as to what just happened. The ref gets up and removes the chair, Snow tries to take advantage by using his Head, but he misses. Acid Drop from Runt on Snow gets the three and eliminates Snow. But Rhino is getting up, and gores Runt to the canvas to get the victory. Taz compares Rhino's gore to a Jack Lambert tackle, which kind of shows Taz's age but I appreciate the reference nonetheless. Well, at least this match was short. 1.2 out of 5.

To the back, where Mick Foley takes a break from reading Hulk Hogan's book (seriously) to tell why he's the perfect choice to officiate tonight's Tommy Dreamer vs. Raven match. Meanwhile, some guy named Brutus Magnus talks about ECW some, while Chris Sabin shares his memory of watching the Sabu vs. Terry Funk barbed wire match, which made him a big-time fan of ECW. Sabin also mentions that RVD was his favorite wrestler to the point where he called himself Josh Van Dam while backyard wrestling with his friends. I also did some backyard wrestling back in the day and ripped off an ECW personality to come up with my wrestling name, Jim E. Dangerously. I think my name is better than Josh Van Dam, but that might be because I'm a little biased. Wait, what was I talking about? Oh yes, here come Axl Rotten and Balls Ma, I mean, Kahoneys. Kahoneys looks as if he's been on a two year meth bender. In other words, he looks about the same as he did before minus a few pounds. Kahoneys Mahoney says that he and Axl were the most hardcore tag team in wrestling history, and they challenge anyone in the back to take them on. Could this be the return of Da Baldies? No, instead Team 3D comes out with Joel Gertner wearing a hideous faux mink coat. Gertner then proceeds to introduce himself as only he can:

Afterwards, Brother Ray gets on the mic and says these people don't want to see us have a wrestling match, why not have a South Philly street fight? In Orlando, FL. Sure, why not? The match is on, as Brother Devon squares off with Axl while Ray and Kahoneys duke it out. All four men exchange moves and eventually end up brawling in the crowd, where I can't tell what's going on because it's so dark. Back in the ring, and somebody brought a bunch of weapons into the ring. Kahoneys uses a cookie sheet on Ray. He tries a leg drop from the second rope but Ray moves out of the way. Brother Ray uses a teflon skillett to slow Kahoneys down. Axl gets the cookie sheet and slams it into Ray's head. Devon comes back in and he and Axl brawl to the outside. Kahoneys leaves the ring, and comes back with a toy lightsaber. The hell? Devon throws Ray a lightsaber as the crowd chants "Use the Force". The two duel with the lightsabers, and Kahoneys wins by 'stabbing' Brother Ray in the gut. Kahoneys does his trademark series of punches, but before he can cap it off, Bubba grabs the lightsaber and slams Kahoneys in his kahoneys. Axl comes in, and a few moves are exchanged before everybody leaves the ring and comes back with steel chairs. Chair duel takes place, and Axl and Balls actually win one, but can't get the three count. They argue with referee John Finnegan and whip him in the ropes, but Finnegan ducks the double clothesline and attempts a clothesline of his own. That doesn't go well, but Team 3D saves the day by slamming chairs into the heads of Balls and Axl. Team 3D then does the WAZZZUPPP headbutt, which I don't think they ever did in the original ECW, but who cares, and Ray asks Devon to get the tables. Devon fails to do his job properly and comes back with only one table, but luckily Gertner has some lighter fluid, so Team 3D makes do and sets the table on fire. Ray picks Kahoneys up, and the two powerbomb him through the flaming table and get the victory. Afterwards, Ray gets on the mic and proclaims Team 3D the best of all-time, which draws some dissenters with a cartful of weapons in the form of the Gangstas, Mustafa and New Jack. The Gangstas attack Team 3D with a variety of weapons, including a hockey stick, which causes Taz to say that New Jack was a big Clark Gilles fan. I think the number of people watching this that know who Clark Gilles is is probably less than 100. New Jack gets a guitar, Gertner tries to come in and gets blasted with the guitar for his efforts. The two teams face off in a staredown and then they all, HUG? Really? I know this is a tribute show in all, but that was a little much to take. The match was a bad imitation of the old ECW Dudley Boys-Balls and Axl matches, which had a lot more intensity than this. I'll give it a 0.8 out of 5.

A video is shown of Raven talking about his kayfabed relationship with Tommy Dreamer that supposedly goes back some 30 odd years. Raven claims that Dreamer stole his girl and his family, so by golly Raven's going to steal Dreamer's moment at Hardcore Justice and do to him psychically what Dreamer did to him emotionally. More TNA stars give their memories of ECW, as Jesse Neal talks about attending a show in Florida and feeling the energy and the vibe, which was so different than any other wrestling show, especially the UWF. Kazarian talks about getting in the ring with guys like Chris Candido and Jerry Lynn during his training under Killer Kowalski, and how TNA's X-Division was largely based off of the Jerry Lynn-Rob Van Dam series of matches. Another video is shown of the originals talking about Joey Styles' impact on the company. Mick Foley comes out first as the next match begins. Raven comes out and says something to Tommy's wife, the former Beulah McGillicutty, and her daughters. Also, TNA President Dixie Carter just happens to be sitting next to the Dreamers. Dreamer comes out, and Taz mentions that Tommy is wearing the same boots that he wore in his last match against Raven. Will the boots come into play? We will find out.

Foley gives some instructions but Raven doesn't want to hear them as he gives Dreamer a kick to the groin. To the outside, and Raven Russian Leg Sweeps Tommy into the guardrail. Back to the ring, Raven sets up a chair in the corner, but that backfires as Tommy whips him into the chair and sends Raven back outside the ring. Tommy gets a soda and spits it in Raven's face, stealing Carlito's gimmick in the process. Back inside the ring, Tommy sets up two chairs, but that backfires as Raven does his patented drop-toe-hold into the chair on Dreamer, only this time he used two chairs. To the outside, and Dreamer takes a chairshot right to the head in front of his family. Dreamer's busted open, and the kids are taken by a staff member to the back. Back inside, and Raven sets up a chair, but this time it is Dreamer that does the drop-toe-hold instead to chair on Raven. A 'fan' has a sign that says, "Use This, Tommy" and Dreamer does, cracking Raven on the skull. Dreamer rips the tape off to reveal that the sign is actually a DEAD END sign. Now Raven is bleeding from the head. Dreamer gets a ladder and sets it in the corner across the second rope, than catapults Raven throat first into the ladder. Ouch. Dreamer sets Raven up on the top turnbuckle and stands on the ladder, but Raven counters, and crotches Dreamer across one of the ladder in a move that every man watching felt. Raven goes for the Evenflow DDT, but it is countered into a Spicoli Driver, which nearly puts Raven away. Undaunted, Dreamer hangs Raven in the tree of woe, puts the sign over his face, than does a sliding dropkick into the sign. These two are pulling out all the stops tonight. Dreamer goes under the ring for something, and comes up with a string of barbed wire. Dreamer uses the barbed wire and puts Raven in a crossface with the wire over his mouth! Just as Raven is about to give up, Nova and the Blue Tillie come in and take out Mick Foley for a few seconds, than attack Dreamer. Nova hits a Flatliner while Blue Tillie goes for a splash, but misses. Dreamer takes out both men with a DDT-neckbreaker combo. However, he left himself open for Raven, who kicks Dreamer in the gut and Evenflows him down to the mat. Cover, but Dreamer just barely kicked out in time. That leads to Foley and Raven arguing, and Foley finally snaps and punches Raven a few times before pulling out his patented sock and stuffing it down Raven's gullett. Lupus is here! He legdrops Dreamer from the top rope. This does not please Foley, as he wraps the barbed wire around his sock clad hand and delivers a mandiable claw to poor Lupus. That cannot feel good, even if it is somewhat gimmicked. Lupus leaves with blood pouring out of his mouth. Raven finds some handcuffs and uses them to tie Dreamer's hands behind his back. Uh oh, Raven's got a chair. Foley tells him to reconsider, but Raven blasts Dreamer in the back with a chair. That brings out Beulah Dreamer, who tries to convince her one-time beau (at least in the storyline) to show mercy. Raven hugs Beulah, but hits Dreamer with the chair anyway. Raven goes after Mrs. Dreamer with the chair, but thankfully Foley puts the kibosh to that. No good deed goes unpunished, as Mick takes a chair to the back. Raven goes back to stalking Dreamer and Beulah, but Beulah hits a low blow, and Dreamer gets up and somehow DDTs Raven while handcuffed. Cover, but Raven just gets out at three. Raven kicks Dreamer in his bum knee, and then Evenflows him head first into the chair. Foley reluctantly counts three and Raven has defeated Tommy Dreamer once again. This was probably the closest thing to an ECW match this show has had so far. Even though there were some slow points, I actually quite liked this match, so I'll give it a 3.6 out of 5.

To the back where Jeremy Borash and So Cal Val are plugging the website when the Gangstas appear. New Jack informs So Cal Val that "once you go black, you get bad credit" and Mustafa leaves with Val. New Jack then casually informs JB that he is now 'his bitch'. Well, what a charming segment that was. Our last video package of the day shows the originals talking about the impact Paul Heyman had on their careers. Rob Van Dam comes out to his crappy TNA Theme. The fans seem to enjoy it, but personally I prefer this version instead. Bill Alfonso comes out with RVD, but runs to the ramp in order to accompany Sabu to the ring. Wow, he really does call it right down the middle. Sabu is now completely bald, which actually makes him look more menacing than before, but it was a shock to see at first. The match starts with RVD stalling Larry Zbyszko style. The two exchange a hold or two, break it up, then one of the two point either in the air or at themselves. Finally, Alfonso throws a chair in the ring, which Sabu uses to throw in Van Dam's face. Van Dam ends up in the crowd. Sabu sets the chair up and does a triple jump plancha over the guardrail onto Van Dam. Back in the ring, Sabu slows Van Dam down with a half camel-clutch. Sabu whips Van Dam into the corner and sets up the chair, but Van Dam is able to kick the chair into Sabu's legs, stopping his momentum. RVD with a monkey flip into the chair, than he picks up the chair and throws it at Sabu. That gets a two count. RVD whips Sabu into the corner, but Sabu counters with a clothesline. Sabu whips RVD into another corner, they both try to springboard kick each other but end up colliding in mid air. Both men are down, and Alfonso comes in to give Sabu a bottle of water. He also presents Van Dam with a bottle, and the two take a break as the fans chant "Water Break". These TNA fans spent the entire freaking show coming up with stupid chants, to the point where I can still hear them in my head. If somebody came out eating Fig Newtons, those fans would probably chant "FIIIG NEEW-TONS", but I digress.

After the impromptu water break, both men go to opposite sides outside the ring and dig up a table. Van Dam catches up to Sabu and catches him with a kick off the apron. Van Dam sets up Sabu on the guardrail and delivers a corkscrew legdrop from the apron. The carnage continues as Van Dam sets up Sabu on the apron, sets a chair onto Sabu's throat, and hits a slingshot legdrop on the chair. Van Dam goes to the top rope, but Sabu throws a chair into his face, crotching Van Dam. Sabu with a nice huracanrana that sends Van Dam flying onto the chair. Arabian Facebuster gets a two count for Sabu. Sabu goes to make him humble with the Camel Clutch. Sabu attempts a triple-jump moonsault, but Van Dam throws another chair into Sabu's face. Sabu is crotched on the top rope. Alfonso comes in to hold a chair in front of Sabu and RVD kicks it in Sabu's face, which Taz calls the Van Assasinator. Split-Legged moonsault from RVD, but Sabu kicks out. RVD sets up a table, and Sabu once again throws a chair into Van Dam, once in his back and once in his face. Van Dam catches Sabu with a kick, sets up a chair on him, and hits Rolling Thunder, hurting both Sabu and himself in the process. Cover, that gets a two count. Sabu's down in the corner, allowing Van Dam to dropkick a chair into his face for another two count. A series of reversals ends when Sabu delivers a nice springboard off the ropes into a tornado DDT on a chair. Arabian Facebuster from the second rope by Sabu, once again drawing a two count. Sabu sets up RVD on a table, and tries for the top rope Arabian Facebuster again, but Van Dam moves and Sabu goes through the table instead. Five-Star Frog Splash on Sabu, and RVD gets the victory. After the match, Sabu and RVD hug and Sabu lifts' RVD's arm up in the air. All the ECW guys come out with beers, and Dreamer offers his thanks to the fans, to the wrestlers, to Atlas Security and TNA President Dixie Carter, who is brought into the ring by Brother Ray. Dreamer says that this was "one hell of an F'n PPV". Well, I'm glad he liked it at least. As for the match, it took a while to get going, but at least they hit all of their spots. Still, it kind of lacked a certain something. I'll give it a 2.5 out of 5.

Overall, this show wasn't quite as bad as I feared it would be. There were two or three solid matches, mixed in with a couple of matches that I could have done without. This show wasn't as good as the first One Night Stand in 2005, but it wasn't too bad of a show. Even the announcing of Mike Tenay wasn't too annoying, although I wish the fans would stop chanting and actually react to what's happening in the ring. Overall, I'd give it a 5.7 out of 10. Thanks for reading, and if you have any comments about this post or ideas for future posts, than send them this way either by commenting or by e-mail at KtheC2001@gmail.com.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Canon Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Since I reviewed the book Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone last week. I decided to watch the movie and see how it matched up to the book. The film version was directed by Chris Columbus (Home Alone, Mrs. Doubtfire, Nine Months) and stars Daniel Ratcliffe as Harry Potter. The movie also stars Emma Watson, Rupert Grant, Richard Harris, Maggie Smith, and Alan Rickman, among others. The movie was released in 2001, and set a then record for the highest grossing opening weekend in movie history. The film made 974.7 million dollars at the box office worldwide, which is currently the seventh highest grossing film of all-time. A few thoughts about this movie, and I must warn you that there are spoilers ahead:

- Unlike some movies based on books, the movie's script follows the original source material rather closely. Sure, there are some scenes that are taken out of the book, and the manner in which Hagrid gives up his dragon is changed, but other than that, the script nearly follows the book to a tee. In fact, it kind of impaired my enjoyment of the film because I had just read the book, and therefore I knew what was coming.

- The special effects in the movie are really well-done. Particularly the scenes with the three headed dog and the little dragon of Hagrid's. Heck, they look so life-like that they almost look real. The giant troll looked kind of silly, though, especially when Harry jumped on his back. But overall, the special effects were well done and did not subtract at all from the movie.

- As I said before, one of the strengths of the movie was that it followed the book so thoroughly. However, I must say I was disappointed by the exclusion of Snape's defense mechanism in guarding the Sorcerer's Stone. That was one of my favorite parts of the book, and also the scene would have only taken a minute or so to do. But instead they went right from the chessboard to the final confrontation. Oh well.

- One odd thing about this film is that for a fantasy film, the movie almost seems too practical. Compared to the Lord of the Rings movies, with its gorgeous scenery and larger-than-life characters and effects, Harry Potter looks kind of run-of-the-mill, to be honest. Yes, some of the special effects are nicely well done, but most of the settings in the movie look like settings that you've probably seen in other movies before. I don't know, I guess overall I had imagined a far grander film than what I ended up watching.

- Last week, my sister Maggie warned me not to watch this film because the actors were just kids then and therefore the movie wasn't all that good. Well, after watching the film I'd say she wasn't wrong. Of the three main characters, I thought that Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley turned in the most convincing performance. Daniel Ratcliffe played Harry Potter, and even though I don't want to be too critical, it seemed as if he turned in a lackadaisical performance. Emma Watson as Hermoine Granger was all right I guess, but I felt the movie made her too much of a know-it-all. Actually, the movie made Hermoine out to be somewhat unlikeable, whereas the book portrayed her as a misunderstood overachiever, the movie kind of made her out to be a stuck up know-it-all. The adult actors all played their parts rather well, particularly Robbie Coltrane as the gentle giant Hagrid and Rickman as Professor Snape, although I felt he wasn't in the movie enough.

- One problem I had with the movie is that, while the events took place almost identically as described as the book, it seemed as if something was missing in the retelling. For one, in the book Harry was kind of freaked out in the beginning about being a wizard and discovering this new world and all that, but in the movie, he seemed to accept everything rather quickly, and just acted as if all of these new things were just normal everyday stuff. Also, in the book Harry and the gang were always scared about passing classes and gaining acceptance, but you hardly see any of that in the movie, other than Hermoine worrying about Harry and Ron getting her killed "or worse, expelled".

- The movie also cuts out a lot of scenes featuring Harry's family the Dursleys, who are much more important in the book but only get a couple of minutes in the movie. Also, Draco Malfoy's character in the book was a rich stuck-up bully who tormented Harry and Ron all year. In the movie, he's more of a troublemaker who serves little purpose but to advance the story.

Overall, while the movie is very faithful to the original material, it comes off as a flat retelling of the tale instead of adding to it, if that makes any sense. It lacks a lot of the emotion and suspense of the book and the movie kind of drags in the middle. To me, the film is simply a by-the-numbers retelling of the book I found it okay, but something was lost in the translation from the book to the film. I'll give it a 5 out of 10. Well, thanks for reading, and if you have any thoughts about this post, or ideas for future reviews, than share those thoughts and ideas either by leaving a comment on the blog or by sending me an e-mail at kthec2001@gmail.com.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Canon Video Game Review: World Series of Poker (XBOX)

Over the past few days, I have found myself playing a lot of the 2005 game World Series of Poker for the XBOX. It is the best first-person shooting game I have ever played. Well, not really. Like you might have guessed from its name, World Series of Poker is a poker game that features the logos of the World Series of Poker and some poker professionals from the World Poker Tour. Other than Chris Ferguson, I don't know who any of the pros are, but I guess they had to be pretty successful to get into the game. Or maybe they paid somebody, what do I know? Here is the cover for the game, courtesy of amazon.com:

In World Series of Poker, the game offers four different games of poker to play. There's the most well known, Texas Hold 'Em, as well as Seven Card Stud, Omaha, and Razz. Both Seven Card Stud and Omaha also have hi-lo split versions, where the lowest and highest hands split the pot. Even though I only knew of Texas Hold 'Em when I first started playing the game, the other games are not too hard to pick up. However, the instruction book and the game itself wasn't too helpful in explaining the rules. So basically you're either left to figure it out on the fly or look up the rules somewhere on the internet. The graphics are nothing to write home about, but since it is just a poker game, graphics aren't really the most important factor. I will say that the characters look rather normal, and you can clearly see everything that is going on. The game provides commentary from poker announcer Lon McEachern, but I think he says only eight phrases throughout the game, and the commentary gets rather repetitive after the third hand or so.

The game offers a career mode where you create your own player and get 10,000 dollars each year to participate in various events, depending on the game, the type of bet (no-limit, pot limit, limit bets) and the amount of cash it takes to play each game. Of course, the big event is the World Series of Poker. Although it's a rather simple career mode, I have found it to be quite enjoyable. The game also offers different poker chips for achievements on the game, such as winning tournaments, eliminating pros in a showdown, getting certain hands and also for the amount of money you win throughout your career. You can't really do anything with the chips, so it's basically like the achievements on an XBox 360 game.

The game itself moves pretty fast, so you don't waste a lot of time watching the CPU players making their decisions, unlike the World Series of Poker game for the XBox 360, which takes forever to play just one hand. The AI players range from extremely aggressive to extremely conservative, although most of the players seem to lean towards the former. This makes things rather frustrating at times, especially when they'll go all in with a crappy hand like a 7-2 or something. Of course with my luck, they'll end up getting three more sevens or something, but I digress. I will say that they are rather predictable, so an experienced poker player will be able to pick up on each player's betting tendencies early in the game. One rather annoying thing about the game is that the CPU likes to rub it in when they win, and since most characters only have about 6 or 7 lines of dialogue, you hear the same things over and over again. One guy kept saying "Trying to knock down a dinosaur" after dang near each bet he made. Not only is it a dumb thing to say, but the constant repetition finally caused me to turn the sound down and listen to some music. Luckily, the game offers the use of custom soundtracks, so you can just listen to the music stored on your XBox is the sound gets too annoying. The game also has online play available, but since I don't feel like renewing my XBox live account, I won't be playing it online anytime soon. From what I remember, it's not too bad, but a little slow and if the host leaves the table, the game automatically ends instead of the game finding another host, which kind of sucks.

Overall, World Series of Poker is just a basic cookie-cutter poker game, but it still is quite enjoyable to play, in least in my view. There are a couple of weaknesses, but overall the game moves quickly and should provide anyone wanting to play some poker a good time. I'll give the game a 6.5 out of 10. Well, thanks for reading, and if you have any ideas for future reviews, or thoughts about this and previous reviews, than feel free to leave a comment or send me an e-mail at KtheC2001@gmail.com. Now, here's a video of a lucky poker hand for Chris Ferguson:

Brett Favre is BACK! I think, and more fun with YouTube reccomendations

Well boys and girls, it seems as if our national crisis is over. Brett Favre is in Minnesota right now and all sings are pointing to Favre coming back for a 93rd season in the NFL. Personally I'm disappointed, as I thought Favre would drag the suspense out one more week before coming back. But Favre's back and his return can only mean one thing, that football season has officially begun. I'm so excited that I can't think straight, so I'm going to watch a few videos that YouTube tells me to watch and share my thoughts about them.

Video 1: Brett Favre's First Completion

Actually, this wasn't a recommendation, I just wanted to see a Brett Favre video. This video is of a young Brett Favre in 1992 playing against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who at this time were still wearing their hideous orange and white uniforms. In this clip, Favre rolls out to the right and throws, but his pass is tipped by defensive end Ray Seals. Favre, ever the competitor, is undaunted by this turn of events, and proceeds to catch the live ball himself. This doesn't go well for Mr. Favre, as he is quickly tackled for a loss. So, yes, Brett Favre's first completed pass was to himself. Also, even as a youngster, the announcers are quick to point out the competivness of Brett Favre. If he pulled this same play this year, I'm sure whoever is announcing will have an on-air orgasm explaining how Brett Favre 'just likes to have fun out there' Especially if those idiots on the ESPN Monday Night Football crew call the game. I don't think there's a football player those guys don't love, especially Jon Gruden, who gushes over quarterbacks ad nauseum. But I digress.

Video 2: Bobby Heenan unveils Narcissist Lex Luger

Well, this was rather interesting. I believe after watching this video that not only is the Narcissist in love with himself, but Bobby Heenan is in love with the Narciassist. The whole video is five minutes of Luger posing in front of a mirror while Heenan prods him on by saying things such as 'Don't tease us Lex, show us', and "oh, are you ever put together". Finally, Luger stops posing to drop some knowledge on us, telling us that all the other wrestlers will bow down on their knees before him, and that he is the "most mesamorphically, magnificent physical specimen"  Luger threatens Heenan's former charge Mr. Perfect some and that's all there is to it. After the interview, Heenan says that this is the "highlight of my career". I'm 99.9% sure that Heenan would not say the same about this moment today. Anyway, the Narcissist made such an impact that he was repacked a mere six months later as Lex Luger, the All-American.

Video 3: ESPN MLB Commercial

I believe that this commercial is from 2007, but I'm not 100% sure. Anyway, it's just a basic commercial which describes how much you love baseball or something like that. I wouldn't think that I needed to be told how and why I came to love baseball, but by golly ESPN does that for me anyway. Maybe I'm just tired, but I did not care much for this commercial. Perhaps you will like it more.

Video 4: The Price is Right: Temptation Goof from 1983:

In this clip of a Price is Right episode from back in the day, a woman is playing a game called Temptation, where she must select a number from the prices of four items to guess the correct price of a new car. It's hard to believe that the price of a new car could be less than 10,000 dollars, but here we are. The person can either take the four prizes and walk away, or try to play for the car. If they win the car, they also get the other prizes, if not they win nothing. Usually they play for the car. The prizes are a $350 dollar space heater, some luggage, an electronic blood pressure reader, and a touchtone telephone which must have been a big deal at this time, because it was valued at $550 dollars. I wouldn't pay more than five dollars for that phone today. Anyway, the lady chooses her numbers, and gets the first three right without a problem. But as Bob Barker pushes the button to reveal the fourth number, the door won't drop. Bob tries and tries, but the blasted thing won't work. Bob explains to the lady that she will have to wait until the next day. The lady then tries to push the button and what do you know? It works and she won the car. To be honest, I think they made up a malfunction just to build up suspense, but hey, that's showbuisness for you. I wonder what happened to all of those prizes?

Well, I think I'll stop for now. Tommorrow I will try to have two posts on the Canon Review, but I'm not promising anything. I will promise that soon justice is coming to The Canon Review, and by justice I mean TNA's Hardcore Justice 2010. I can feel your excitement coming from your various internet connections. Remember, if you have any ideas for future reviews, or comments on this post, then send them to me either by e-mail at KtheC2001@gmail.com or by leaving a comment on the blog.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Pro Football Hall of Fame's Worst of the Best: The Worst Hall of Famers by Position

Last weekend, the Pro Football Hall of Fame inducted their newest members into the Hall. Which got me thinking a little bit about which players would be considered the worst of the best, the lowest of the elite, the players that make you wonder how he got in and another similar player is on the outside looking in. Well, a week later, I finally decided to get around to it and list who I think are the worst Hall of Famers by position. Were all of these men good football players? Sure, but nevertheless, their inductions range from questionable to downright dumbfounding. So, without further adieu, here are the most mortal of the immortals, the worst Pro Football Hall of Famers by position, as well as players on the outside looking in who perhaps should be in instead.

Quarterback: Joe Namath, 1965-1977, Inducted 1985

Namath is best known for leading his New York Jets to victory in Super Bowl III after guaranteeing a win against the heavily favored Baltimore Colts. While that is one of the greatest moments in NFL history, it shouldn't be enough to get into the Hall. Looking at Namath's numbers, one wonders just how a quarterback with his numbers could get in. Namath threw more interceptions than touchdowns (220-173) and only threw more touchdown than interceptions in two of his thirteen seasons. His completion percentage (50.1) and quarterback rating (65.5) are downright pedestrian. Namath defenders will say that it was a different game, and those statistics were low for all quarterbacks. Well, maybe so, but over the course of Namath's career (65-77), Namath ranks 33rd in completion percentage and 28th in quarterback rating amongst quarterbacks with over 1000 attempts. Namath ranks behind such legends as Randy Johnson, Bill Munson, and Bob Berry. Bottom line, Namath got in thanks more to the perception that he was a great quarterback rather than reality.

If Namath is in, then why not:

Kenny Stabler? Stabler and Namath are similar in many aspects. Both men led their teams to a Super Bowl win (Stabler in Super Bowl XI). Both men won MVP awards (Namath in 1968, Stabler in 1974). Both men threw more interceptions than touchdowns (222 INTs, 194 TDs for Stabler). Both men quarterbacked at the University of Alabama under Bear Bryant and both men had reputations for scoring both on and off the field. However, Stabler had the better numbers, as he completed 59.8 percent of his passes and finished his career with a quarterback rating of 75.3. While Namath finished his career with a losing record in games he started, Stabler put together a record of 96-49-1 as a starter. Yes Stabler had better teams around him, but Stabler deserves some credit, as he lead his teams on 26 game winning drives late in the game (Namath had 16, btw). Yet after all these years, Stabler is still on the outside looking in.

Running Back: Paul Hornung, 1957-62, 1964-66, Inducted 1986

Hornung is remember as being a key member of the Vince Lombardi era Green Bay Packers of the 1960s, and acquired the nickname 'The Golden Boy' due to his accomplishments at Notre Dame and with the Packers. However, while Hornung was considered a threat to score whenever he handled the ball and not only played running back, but also served as the placekicker for a few years, he seemed to be a jack of all trades but a master of none. In his nine years with the team, Hornung only received 100 or more touches in only four seasons. He never gained more than 1000 yards from scrimmage in a season, and was named to only two Pro Bowl teams in his career. Yes Hornung has 62 career touchdowns and led the NFL in scoring three straight seasons (1959-61). But I have a hard time putting somebody in the Hall of Fame when he was only the second best running back on his team (Jim Taylor got most of the carries for the Packers, btw).

If Hornung is in, then why not:

Timmy Brown? Brown played for three different teams, primarily for the Philadelphia Eagles, from 1959-1968. To the best of my knowledge, nobody has ever made an argument that Timmy Brown should be in the Hall of Fame. But Brown, drafted in the 27th round in 1959 by the Packers, was actually quite a similar player to Hornung. A three time Pro Bowler, Brown finished his career with more touchdowns than Hornung (64 to 62), more rushing yards (3,862 to 3,711 in nearly the same amount of carries), more receptions (235 to 130) and more yards from scrimmage (7,261 to 5,191). While Hornung helped his club on special teams by kicking field goals, Brown was a special teams maven in his own right, returning five kickoffs and a punt for a touchdown. In 1963, Brown set a record (since broken) by gaining 2,425 all-purpose yards. Yet since Brown toiled away for a mediocre Philadelphia Eagles team, he is hardly remembered today, while Hornung is due to his time with the Packers. I guess that's the way the cookie crumbles.

Wide Receiver: Lynn Swann, 1974-82, Inducted 2001

There may not be a more controversial selection to the Pro Football Hall of Fame than that of Lynn Swann. Swann's induction seems primarily based on his reputation of making spectacular catches, such as the catches he made in Super Bowl X in winning the Super Bowl MVP. Swann's detractors say that his stats weren't that of an elite receiver (336 career catches, no seasons with 1,000 or more receiving yards) and that Swann was nothing more than a beneficiary of playing for such a great team in the Pittsburgh Steelers. Swann's defenders would have you believe that his stats are so low only because the Steelers were a running team first, and only used Swann when a big play was needed. Personally, I feel Swann was a good player but he wasn't even the best wide receiver on his team (John Stallworth, also a Hall of Famer), so, like Hornung, I have a hard time accepting that Swann is a Hall of Famer.

If Swann is in, then why not:

Cliff Branch? During Swann's career, Branch had more catches (413 to 336), more yards (7,257 to 5,462) and more touchdown receptions (59 to 51). Branch was a four-time Pro Bowler and three times was a first team All-Pro, compared to Swann's three Pro Bowls and one All-Pro selection. Branch had 2 seasons of over 1,000 yards receiving, Swann had none. Branch led the NFL in receiving yards in 1974, and in touchdowns in 1974 and 1976. Swann led the NFL in touchdowns only once, in 1975. Swann was a member of four Super Bowl winning teams, but Branch was a member of three such teams himself. Of the two, I'd say Branch had the better career, but since Swann had a big performance on a big stage and was more outgoing than Branch, he's the one in the Hall of Fame.

Offensive Lineman: Bob St. Clair, 1953-1963, Inducted 1990

I'll be honest, this was the hardest position to find a 'worst' for. St. Clair was a very good player for a number of years with the San Francisco 49ers, making five Pro Bowls and allegedly blocking 10 kicks during the 1956 season. The 6'9" St. Clair was a towering presence over his opponents and blocked for fellow Hall of Famers Y.A. Tittle, Joe Perry, Hugh McElhenny and John Henry Johnson. But somebody's got to be here, and St. Clair's lack of a single consensus All-Pro selection puts him on the list.

If St. Clair is in, then why not:

Jerry Kramer? In 1969, the NFL named Kramer one of the two guards on it's all 50th Anniversary Team. Of the players named on that team, Kramer is the only one not to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Not only was Kramer a key player on the Green Bay Packers' dynasty of the 1960s, the five time All-Pro also served as a placekicker for a couple of seasons for the team, and he threw perhaps the most famous block in the history of the NFL that allowed Bart Starr to score the winning touchdown in the Ice Bowl. The only reason that I can think of as to why the Hall has yet to induct Kramer is that 10 of his Packers teammates are already in, and one more may be too much. To that I say hogwash. After all, Lynn Swann was inducted even though he had 10 or so teammates in the Hall already, and not to belabor the point, but Kramer was a much better player at his position than Swann was.

Defensive Lineman: Dan Hampton, 1979-1990, Inducted 2002

Hampton was a big part of the Super Bowl Champion 1985 Chicago Bears and was named to four Pro Bowl teams during his 12 year career. But for a supposedly dominant defensive lineman, Hampton seems to fall a little short of his reputation. Yes, he was named to four Pro Bowls and 1 consensus All-Pro team, but men such as Bob Baumhower, Fred Smealers, and Joe Klecko, and those guys aren't going to be in the Hall anytime soon. Was Hampton a great player, yes, but there are better lineman than him that are not in the Hall of Fame.

If Hampton is in, then why not:

Richard Dent? It was Dent and not Dan Hampton that was the most destructive force on the legendary Bears defense of the 1980s. Dent is sixth all time in sacks with 137.5, and like Hampton, Dent played in four Pro Bowl and was named an NFL All-Pro once. For years, Dent has been a Hall of Fame finalist, but every year Dent is passed over in favor of lesser candidates such as Fred Dean, Derrick Thomas and Andre Tippett. Eventually, you have to figure that the MVP of Super Bowl XX will join Hampton in the Hall, but until that day comes, we are left to wonder just why Dent has been passed over again and again.

Linebacker: Andre Tippett, 1982-1988, 1990-93, Inducted 2008

During a four year stretch for 1984-1987, Tippett was the best outside linebacker in the NFL not named Lawrence Taylor.  In those four seasons, Tippett recorded 57 sacks and was named to the other Pro Bowl after each of those seasons. In his other seven seasons, Tippett was a decent linebacker, but hardly a gamechanger. Yes, Tippett had a spectacular four year run, but so did DE Mark Gastineau and OLB Pat Swilling, and neither one of those players have been mentioned for Hall of Fame consideration.

If Tippett is in, then why not:

Kevin Greene? Greene, like Tippett, was a tremendous pass rusher from the Outside Linebacker position. Greene, like Tippett, played in five Pro Bowls and was named to two All-Pro teams. Unlike Tippett, Greene was more consistent, putting up 10 seasons with 10 or more sacks. Greene's 160 sacks is the third most in NFL history, and yet he has not even been on the final ballot in his five years of eligibility. Tippett did not get in until his ninth year of eligibility, so maybe there's hope for Greene just yet.

Defensive Back: Dick Lebeau, 1959-1972, Inducted 2010

Lebeau is the most recent induction on the list, and his 62 interceptions give him a strong case for his induction. However, there are a couple of factors to consider. One, Lebeau played nearly his entire career opposite Dick "Night Train" Lane and Lem Barney, two Hall of Fame cornerbacks in their own right. Therefore, Lebeau had a chance to pick more passes off because quarterbacks would rather throw at him than his teammate. Two, Lebeau only made three Pro Bowl, and never was selected a consensus All-Pro. Third, Lebeau gained momentum for his induction largely due to his role as the defensive coordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers and as the innovator of the zone blitz, which is all well and good but should not be considered into inducting Lebeau the player. I'm happy that Lebeau was inducted after such a long wait, but one must wonder if he would have been inducted if not for his second career.

If Lebeau is in, then why not:

Johnny Robinson? Robinson, a 12-year pro for the Kansas City Chiefs from 1960-1971, was a Hall of Fame finalist six times during the 1980s, but is no longer on the ballot and now must be considered by the Veteran's Committee. He should be. Robinson played in seven Pro Bowls, and was named to the first team AFL and NFL teams six times during his career. Robinson finished his career with 57 interceptions, twice had 10 interceptions in a season, and was named to the NFL's All Decade team of the 1960s.  Robinson is probably the greatest defensive back in the history of the AFL, and deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame.

Head Coach: Bud Grant, 1967-1983, 1985, Inducted 1994 

Grant coached the Minnesota Vikings for his entire NFL head coaching career, leading them to 12 playoff appearances, 11 division titles, and four Super Bowl appearances during his tenure in Minnesota. However, Grant failed to win a Super Bowl and even one of his team's appearances, and often the games were over by the end of the first half. Yes, the Vikings had a remarkable run, but it seems that a team as talented as they were would at least win one Super Bowl.

If Grant is in, then why not:

Dan Reeves. Like Grant, Reeves took a team to the Super Bowl four times, including three trips in four years. Like Grant, Reeves never coached a team to a Super Bowl victory and often the games were over by halftime. Unlike Grant, Reeves didn't coach teams exactly bursting with talent. Yes, his Broncos teams of the 1980s had John Elway at quarterback, but the rest of the team was primarily league-average talent at best, with a few solid players such as Karl Mecklenberg and Dennis Smith thrown in there. Reeves also led the 1998 Falcons to a 14-2 record and a NFC Title, and I doubt that any non-Falcon fan today could name more than five starters from that team. Yes, Grant has the better record, (158-96-5 to 190-165-2), but Reeves has the better playoff record (11-9 to 10-12) and was able to do more with less than most coaches to ever coach in the game.

Well, that's it, the worst Pro Football Hall of Famers by position. To be fair, all of the men mentioned were fine players, and I'm not asking that they be voted out of the Hall of Fame or anything drastic like that. It's just that there's got to be a player that just barely meets the specifications of what a Hall of Famer should be, and I was just interested in discussing just who that is. If you happen to agree or disagree with my selections, than feel free to express your opinions on this topic. If you have any comments on this post, or ideas for future posts, than send me them either by leaving a comment or by e-mail at kthec2001@gmail.com.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Canon Book Review: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

This review idea comes from Canon Review reader Maggie W., who is a big fan of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series and wanted me to read and review the first book of the series, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Before I read this book, I must admit that I had very little knowledge of Harry Potter and his world. Sure, I heard the names Harry Potter and Voldemort and Quidditch and the like, but my knowledge on the subject was sparse. To be honest, I just had no interest in the whole Harry Potter saga. For all I knew they all flew around on brooms and turned each other into frogs, which, actually, wasn't too far from the truth. However, that's only really part of the story. In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Harry Potter in the beginning is just a poorly treated kid who lives with his aunt and uncle who are his only living relatives. He sleeps in a closet, gets treated like dirt by his aunt and uncle and is constantly picked on by his spoiled cousin and his posse. One day, a letter is addressed to Harry that will change his life forever, as he learns that he is a wizard, like his parents, and is taken to Hogwarts school to learn the skills to become a great wizard. However, Hogwarts proves to have its own hurdles to climb for the young Potter. A few notes about this book, and I am warning you in advance that there are SPOILERS ahead:

- There are two different titles to this book, which is kind of strange. The original book was titled Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, but for reasons beyond me, it was changed to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone when the book was first sold in America. Anyway, just to clear up any confusion, I'm going to keep referring to this book with the Sorcerer's Stone title, because that's what my copy of the book says.

- The Harry Potter saga, so to speak, has taken some criticism from religious types for promoting witchcraft and for having Satanic undertones. To that I say hogwash. The idea that Harry and his friends could be seen as some sort of Satanic cult was the furthest thing from my mind after finishing the book. This book is a fantasy story, full of magic and wizards and other things beyond the realm of possibility, not a Wicca guidebook or some sort of religious text. But I guess some people just think that anything that doesn't fit their strict, buttoned-down philosophy just has to be evil. Go figure.

- Harry's life before discovering his magic skills really sucks hard. He lives in a closer under the stairs and is treated as an afterthought by his aunt and uncle, the Dursleys. Interestingly enough, the Dursleys are portrayed as the type of people who would complain about a book like Harry Potter being evil and what not, as the Dursleys are the ultimate conservative family unit, looking down at anything different. Their son Dudley actually reminded me of a couple of people I knew, as he's a big spoiled brat who bullies people, including his doting parents, to get what he wants. Then again, if I had the misfortune of being named Dudley Dursley, I'd be a miserable person to be around as well. Anyway, back to Potter, whose life sucks because he lives in a closet and the only things he had are things Dudley can't use anymore. Even though the Dursleys seem to treat Potter as a third-class citizen, they take extreme measures to ensure that Harry never learns of his magic skills (which are only significant enough to nearly destroy the baddest wizard of them all, Voldemort, after he fails to kill a then two-year old Harry). You would think they would have been happy to rid themselves of Harry for nine months out of the year, but due to their fear of the unknown, the Dursleys go to great extremes to keep Harry from receiving his acceptance letter to Hogwarts.

- One problem I have with the story, and it may be just me being picky, but I wonder why it took the main villian in the story, whose name I won't mention so as not to spoil to story, so long to come up with a plan to steal the Sorcerere's Stone in order to free Voldemort. I mean, it took him until the last week of school to finally decide to go after the stone. Surely he could have come up with a way to get past the various protection devices to get the stone in less than nine months. Or maybe not, I don't know. I will say that Rowling did a great job of concealing that character's main intentions, as the story led you to believe that it was another person trying to steal the stone, so the reveal came as a huge surprise to me.

- Rowling mixes in a lot of familiar aspects of the common concept of wizardry, such as wearing robes, using magic wands, and flying on broomsticks, but she also throws in a few original ideas of her own in there. One of them is the sport of Quidditch, which as best as I could tell is a bizzare mixture of soccer, basketball, and dodgeball played on brooms in mid air. The person with the hardest job in Quidditch has to be the goalkeeper, who must defend three different goals at different heights against four other people, all the while trying to dodge two heavy balls hit by the game's 'beaters'. The beaters can't score, but they do get to hit the crap out of heavy balls with clubs, so that would probably be pretty fun. Harry eventually joins his house's Quidditch team as a seeker, whose lone purpose is to catch a small, elusive golden ball called the snitch, which only seekers can touch. Catching the snitch not only scores 150 points (regular goals are worth 10 points) but also ends the game. Seekers are usually the fastest players on the teams, however, they also are the person most likely to take a severe beating in the game due to the importance of catching the snitch. Well, I guess the game makes sense to them, because I could barely make heads or tails of what was going on during the Quidditch parts of the book. Seems like it would be mass chaos in mid-air and one hard game to officiate.

- One of the things that I think made this story so popular is that, even though this is a school and land of wizards and magic, the characters are all relatable in some way. There's the know-it-all overachiever (Hermoine), the rich snob who bullies those he considers 'under' him (Draco), the clumsy, but likable oaf (Neville), and the extremely strict teacher that all the students hate (Snape). Rowling does a great job of making these seemingly larger-than-life characters seem like regular people, making the story easily accessible to both kids and adults reading the book.

Overall, I'm surprised to say that this was quite an entertaining read. It is an engaging story that kept me interested from beginning to end. It's not very long, so one can read it in a few hours. Even though it's considered a kids book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is a book that can be enjoyed by all readers from 8 to 800. I'll give the book a 7.3 out of 10. Well, thanks for reading, and if you have any comments about this or previous posts, or ideas for future reviews or posts, than share them either by leaving a comment or by sending me an e-mail at KtheC2001@gmail.com.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Canon Video Game Review: Ultimate Basketball (NES)

Sorry for the lack of activity the past couple of days, as I overdosed on Jon Voight movies and spent two days searching for Jon Voight's car. Anyway, today's review is of the first basketball video game that I ever owned and played, Ultimate Basketball. Released in 1990 for the Nintendo Entertainment System, Ultimate Basketball was developed and published by American Sammy, which produced various other games for the Nintendo and Super Nintendo over the years, including Jimmy Houston's Bass Tournament U.S.A. I remember playing Ultimate Basketball as a kid, but I also remember not liking it too much. I still have the cartridge around somewhere, but my NES doesn't work, so I must play on an emulator instead. Here's the cover for the game, courtesy of allgame.com:

Well, you can definitely tell that it's a basketball game. Anyway, in Ultimate Basketball, you can play either an exhibition game or a tournament. The game features seven fictional teams with fictional players, each team having different strengths and weaknesses. What they are, I don't know, since they all seem to play the same style of basketball, full-court press on defense and constantly driving to the hoop on offense. The graphics are not anything groundbreaking, and the players look and move like cro-magnon cavemen, but the game does have a horizontal view of the court and you can usually tell what's going on. There are certain plays, such as a dunk, three-pointer and free throw, that will change the view into a close up view of the action going on. When going up for a dunk, there's a meter that shows up, and you have to hit the shoot button at the right time or otherwise, you will miss. The controls are rather straightforward, although you have to hit the jump button twice to shoot, and there's not a button to steal the ball, as steals seem to happen at random. The music in the game is neither memorable or annoying, it's just there. The sound effects are mostly realistic for a basketball game, except the sound of a missed shot sounds nothing like a ball hitting the rim. Instead, it sound like the sound of a small hammer hitting a piece of scrap metal, if that makes any sense.

After playing the game, I suddenly remember why I didn't like this game in the first place. For one, passing the ball inbounds is nearly impossible, as the cpu opponent will steal it if you throw the ball to anyone that is not directly in front of you. It doesn't matter if you throw the ball to the left or the right, the ball will magically appear in the CPUs hands, and he'll go in for the easy dunk unless he misses. Speaking of which, there are way too many times where the cpu will go for the dunk, and the close-up animation will show up, and the computer won't even try for the dunk, instead just floating by the rim. Wouldn't it be more realistic if there was an animation of the player missing the dunk?

From there, it gets worse. Apparently, the CPU has an incredible ability to steal the ball. All he has to do is run up behind the player, get relatively close to him and poof! the ball is in his hands. Even if you're on a fast break, the computer will catch up with you nearly every time. However, if you try to do the same, you more than likely will either fail or get called for a foul. Actually, I got called for a lot of fouls on both ends, as apparently breathing on an opposing player will cause a file. The worst call happened when I had just inbounded the ball and was called for a charge, and all of a sudden, the cpu starts shooting free throws. I guess they changed the rules of basketball while I wasn't looking. Another rule change for this game is that jumpballs don't just occur at the beginning of the game, but rather at the beginning of each quarter. Who knew? One advantage that you have is that 75-foot shots are remarkably easy to make on this game, but that goes for the cpu as well. Even on the easiest level, the CPU' defense is sharp to the point of being unrealistic, while your non-controlled players seem to enjoy standing on the half court line and watching the other team go to the rim. Frustrating does not begin to describe this game. It's like being in a home run derby with Albert Pujols, and you have to use a wiffleball bat.

Overall, I must say that I do not like this game. Sure, there a couple of neat effects, like the dunk closeup shot and mini-game that goes along with it, and the game has decent graphics for an Nintendo basketball game. But the degree of difficulty and the cheapness of the A.I. is such that it makes the game completely unenjoyable, and not worth playing much more than one game. I'll give it a 2.09583 out of 10. Well, thanks for reading, and if you any ideas for future posts, or thoughts about this post, than either leave a comment on the blog or send them to me at e-mail at KtheC2001@gmail.com

Monday, August 9, 2010

Canon Movie Review: U-Turn

The Canon Review's weekend of Jon Voight concludes with the 1997 Oliver Stone film U-Turn. Based off of a novel written by John Ridley title Stray Dogs, the movie has a big-time cast, starring Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, Jennifer Lopez, Billy Bob Thornton, Voight, Claire Danes, and Joaquin Phoenix. U-Turn tells the story of a drifter named Bobby Cooper (Penn), who is on his way to Las Vegas to pay a debt off, has to take a U-Turn after the radiator hose in his car bursts and finds himself in the town of Superior, Arizona. After that Bobby's day goes from bad to worse, as he has difficulties with the town's mehanic Darrell (Thornton) a beautiful woman named Grace (Lopez) and her real-estate developer husband Jake McKenna (Nolte), who oddly enough, each wants Penn to kill off their respective spouses. Penn also meets a blind man (Voight) who loves to drink Dr. Pepper and pops up from time to time to offer Bobby advice, and a fickle girl named Jenny (Danes), whose frequent flirting with Bobby leads to problems with her boyfriend Toby N Tucker, aka TNT (Phoenix). No matter how hard Bobby tries, he just can't seem to get out of Superior, and ends up getting deeper and deeper in a web of lies, jealousy, and greed. A few thoughts about the film, and there are SPOILERS ahead:

- Director Oliver Stone is a talented filmmaker, and his talent shows in this film. The cinematography is excellent in this film, and Stone uses different tricks such as flashbacks to add background to the characters and slow-motion shots to add a sense of importance to certain scenes. However, Stone does get a bit too reliant on these and other gimmicks, so to speak, and a lot of it doesn't really add anything to the film at all and just seems as if he's trying to show off.

- As Bobby Cooper, Sean Penn does a wonderful job of playing the role, and manages to get the audience to root for this seemingly lowlife character to succeed in his quest not only to get out of town, but to pay off his debts as well. You almost feel sorry for him seeing his money being destroyed by a shotgun blast from a store owner after a failed robbery attempt from two local thugs, and his constant battle with the mechanic over the bill is something people can relate to, as most of us have been in slightly similar situations before. Penn plays Cooper with such skill that it's hard to imagine anyone else playing the role better. Certainly not Tom Cruise and Bill Paxton, who also were considered for the role. No offense to either men, who are both fine actors in their own right, but I feel like something would have been missing had anyone else other than Penn had played the role.

- Actually, most of the acting in this film is quite top-notch. Billy Bob Thornton does an excellent job playing Darrell the redneck mechanic, making him one of the film's more memorable characters. Jon Voight is a little over-the-top as the blind man who carries a dead dog with him, but the movie in itself was over-the-top, so it fits the film perfectly here. Actually, Voight was almost unrecognizable at first, so kudos to the makeup department for making Voight look like a hapless old blind bum. Voight's Anaconda co-star Jennifer Lopez also turned in a solid performance as Grace McKenna, and did more than just hold her own in her many scenes with Penn. Nick Nolte, however, was just ok as Jake McKenna, as he really just seemed to be going through the motions and didn't give his character a whole lot of depth. Meanwhile, Joaquin Phoenix was hysterical in his portrayal of the high-tempered TNT, nearly stealing the show despite being in the movie no longer than five minutes.

- This movie is shot and directed very well, and is acted very well. However, I must say that I felt the plot was a little bit flat with a few holes in it. There were quite a few moments where you may wonder "What are the chances of that happening?" Also, the story has so many twists and turns that some might end up confused, and the movie has so many false endings that at the end, I just couldn't wait for the makers of the movie to just pick an ending and go with it instead of dragging the film on.

Overall, this seems to be Oliver Stone's attempt at making a scuzzy, Tarantino-esque film. While the acting is strong, and Stone's talent shines through, there are some weaknesses with the plot and a few scenes just wind up going nowhere. It's a good film, probably worth seeing and I wouldn't be surprised if others like this more than I did, but to me it just fell short of being a great film. I'll give U-Turn a 5.920 out of 10. Well, thanks for reading, and if you have any thoughts about this post, or ideas for future reviews, than share those thoughts and ideas either by leaving a comment on the blog or by sending me an e-mail at kthec2001@gmail.com.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Canon Movie Review: Midnight Cowboy

The Canon Review's weekend of Jon Voight continues with the film that made Voight famous, the 1969 classic Midnight Cowboy. Starring Voight and Dustin Hoffman, and directed by John Schlesinger, Midnight Cowboy won three Academy Awards, including best picture and best director. In fact, Midnight Cowboy is the only X rated movie to win the Academy Award for best picture, although by today's standards the movie would be rated R. Midnight Cowboy is about a young man from Texas named Joe Buck (Voight) who goes to New York in the hopes of becoming a high-priced gigolo. While there, he meets a crippled con artist named Enrique "Ratso" Rizzo, who at first cons Buck out of twenty bucks, but eventually gives Buck a place to stay after learning that Buck had nowhere else to go. The two then try to scrape by in the big city, doing whatever it takes to survive and make money and improve their surroundings. A few thoughts about this film (SPOILERS AHEAD):

- The director, Schlesinger, used a lot of flashbacks and fantasy sequences in the film, to the point where there are a couple of times where you're wondering what is real and what is not. Despite that, Schlesinger uses the flashbacks and fantasies to great effect, telling of the background of Joe Buck from his confusing relationship to his grandmother to the relationship he had with a girl named Crazy Annie. The fantasy sequences also give a deeper impression of both Rizzo and Buck's ultimate dreams, Buck's to become a man making his money making love to rich women and Rizzo's desire to leave New York behind and start a new life in Florida, using Buck to accomplish that goal.

- One of the aspects that make this film such a work of art is the soundtrack. From the use of Harry Nilsson's "Everybody Talkin at Me" whenever Buck is featured in a scene either walking around or riding the bus, to the haunting tone of John Barry's score, including his Grammy Award winning "Midnight Cowboy Theme". The soundtrack adds a lot to the film and really helps tell the story being presented.

- Last night I laid into Voight's performance in Anaconda, although to be fair, it wasn't as if he had a whole lot to work with. Well today I have a completly different opinion on Voight's acting in a movie, as he just did a magnificent job playing the naive cowboy Joe Buck. Voight perfectly captures Buck's transformation from a hopeful man ready to make a living for himself in New York to a man willing to do just about anything, except going back to washing dishes, to get by and provide himself and Rizzo with a life outside of a condemned building they currently call home. The experiences that Joe has had in New York changes him greatly, and Voight is able to capture and show all of the little changes of Joe's personality effectively.Voight even gets the Texan accent down perfectly, not bad considering he's a native New Yorker.

- Meanwhile, Hoffman also turns in a strong performance as Ratso Rizzo, a crippled low-rate thief who will do anything, much like a rat, to survive his environment another day. Even though Rizzo is little more than a petty thug, Hoffman is able to humanize him, to make Rizzo a sympathetic and likable character to the audience. A tour de force performance from one of the greatest actors of his time.

- Ultimately, the heart of the story is the strange friendship that develops between Buck and Rizzo, mainly because they realize that one can not survive without the other. Buck is hopelessly naive about life as a hustler in New York City, which Rizzo at least knows a little about, while Rizzo comes to depend on Buck as not only a physical protector of sorts, but also as the one person that can help him escape from be a rat in New York and enjoy a new life in Florida. So, while the story is at first glance a tale of hustlers trying to scam a buck, it's actually a story of despair and loneliness and a friendship between two out-of-place people who have nothing to rely on but each other.

- Sylvia Miles received a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her work in the film, even though she may have been in the movie for three minutes. She plays a rich lady who Buck tries to hustle for a few bucks in exchange for a good time, but Buck's attempt backfires to the extent that he consuls her for daring to ask money for his services and ends up giving her twenty bucks for cab fare.  While the scene shows that's it is not going to be as easy as Buck thinks it will be to become a hustler, there's so much going on later in the movie that you somewhat forget about the scene, so it's a mystery why a person in what amounted to a secondary scene was nominated for an Academy Award.

- This was an X rated movie by 1969 standards, although if it came out today it would hardly be shocking to today's audience. Sure, there is nudity, graphic violence and strong language, but those things can be found in nearly every movie out these days. What made it particularly shocking to audiences of this time period was the subject matter being explored, from male prostitution to homosexuality to rape and other controversial subjects that have been in movies for many years since then, but by 1969 standards was highly shocking to see in a film.

- Jon Voight actually wasn't the first choice to play Joe Buck, as other actors such as Lee Majors and Michael Sarrizan were offered the role first, but turned it down. An actor that wanted to play Joe Buck was none other than Elvis Presely, although if he had been in it the film would have to be completely changed and Joe would probably end up singing a few songs. Instead, Elvis did a film called Change of Habit, which bombed, and Midnight Cowboy ended up being an Oscar winning film. I guarantee that doesn't happen if Elvis plays Joe Buck, no disrespect to Elvis.

Overall, Midnight Cowboy is just a great movie. There are a couple of weak spots, the whole party scene and the idea that a cowboy like Buck would actually be invited to an Andy Warhol-style party is a little weak, and the scene just goes on forever before finally something of significance happens. Other than that and a few minor hiccups, I have no complaints about this film. The soundtrack is great, the director did a fantastic job, and Voight and Hoffman turned in performances that few actors and actresses will ever be able to match. I'll give the film an 8.75 out of 10. Well, thanks for reading, and if you have any thoughts about this post or other previous posts, or ideas for future posts, than share them either by leaving a comment or by sending me an e-mail at kthec2001@gmail.com.