Jun 22, 2015

Regular Guy Review: True Detective S02E01

Well it’s here! The second season of the anthology series True Detective premiered tonight. I’m sure we were all anticipating the premiere and wondering if it would live up to the first season. I was excited to be introduced to the new bleak world of these characters, but my excitement turned a little sour. The first episode got off to a bit of a rough start with some sloppy exposition and some eh level acting. It’s certainly not bad, but it isn’t living up to its predecessor just yet. However, let’s open our investigation into the first episode of True Detective Season 2 Episode 1, “The Western Book of the Dead.”

What Worked?
Colin Farrell

Image result for colin farrell true detective

I don’t think anyone doubts Colin Farrell’s ability to act, but over the years he’s taken some questionable roles, in some questionable movies. He has always been a great actor, but I think some were worried that this would be another role he would phone in and not show off what he is made of. Well, it’s safe to officially say, he is all in. He is the shining light in this episode, granted that light burns nothing but pure darkness. He gives us the depth of a man who has been broken and torn apart from the inside out. Farrell gives us a multifaceted character with a full range of manic emotions. We see him go from loving father, to vengeful husband, to murdering psychopath, to crooked cop, to self-loathing drunk, to just another cop. In the first episode, Farrell has given a performance that is extremely pointed, precise, and descriptive. I feel like I know his character as well as I knew McConaughey's from the first season. I think Farrell’s character has the potential to be as interesting as McConaughey’s while still being different enough to stand alone.
In this episode, we see the two extremes of his story so far. We see a flashback to when he is looking for the man who raped his wife while also seeing him working for Vaughn later on in present day. His relationship with his son is thoroughly terrible. The episode starts with a nice little speech only to return to him calling his son a “fat pussy” when questioning him about who was bullying him. It’s easy to see why he’s not granted very many visitation hours. I’m looking forward to his relationship with Vaughn being explored a bit more. I’m curious as to how he started by just acquiring information from him, to full on killing someone for him now. There is certainly a lot of history to be explored between both characters.

Rachel McAdams

Image result for rachel mcadams true detective

What makes True Detective so great, is a combination of two things: characters and plot. Rachel McAdams is helping check off the character’s box for sure. She is very engaging and we get a good chunk of her story in this episode. She has a sister with questionable judgement/employment, a dead mother who committed suicide, and a spiritual leader as a father who revels in remaining uninvolved in his family’s life. Having such a rich background to pull from, McAdams really brings the audience into her conflicts in such a way that makes us feel as if we’ve been following them all along. She is also a very strong character who hides her vulnerability in plain sight. It’s nice to see such a strong female character amongst a cast of mostly males who are just as screwed up as she is. She definitely holds her own, and outshines most of them. I am really looking forward to seeing more of her.
In this episode, we get to be introduced to the family she does have, as well as how she feels about them. We also get to see how she operates. She’s a tough sheriff who is struggling with doing what’s right while also only being able to do so much. You can tell she cares about the cases she gets, but perhaps feels like enough isn’t always done. I think this is something that will help connect her with Taylor Kitsch’s character. Speaking of him…

Taylor Kitsch

Image result for taylor kitsch true detective

Many people doubt Taylor Kitsch due to his checkered background of work in film, however he has talent. He can act and do it well. I’m glad to see he’s bringing it in True Detective and is being given a sizable role. I think this can be something he really shines in. Although he’s playing a bit of a straight laced boyscout, there seems to be some layers that might get peeled off during the season to reveal a bit more about his character and his past. I’m interested for sure.
In this episode, we see him as a hardass CHP officer who, like McAdams, cares about doing the right thing, but get’s in trouble when doing so. He gets put on leave for trying to ticket a celebrity and doing his job. We see him then go to his girlfriend's house where he is greeted with a sexual invitation. Instead of accepting, he goes to the bathroom where he takes a pill and broods for a bit. It’s here where we see his vast collection of scars. Afterword, he comes out, and does the dirty. It’s revealed that some of his horrendous scars were from before his time in the army. After, he goes a bit crazy, speeding down the highway with his light off on his bike, and almost crashing. This is where he discovers the missing body of City Management official, and dirty criminal, Casper. This is ultimately what connects our three “heroes” together.

The Cinematography
In this episode, there are quite a few establishing shots to help get the audience familiarized with their new surroundings. Each one is a great view of California. Also, the close-ups are phenomenal. They help really capture the emotion of each character. Each close-up is like a glimpse into the complicated psyche of each admittedly screwed up character. Also, I am enjoying the reddish color scheme juxtaposed with the dark shadows in almost every shot. Even if the show doesn’t deliver this season, it will at least look great.

What Didn’t Work?
Unfortunately, one of the two key ingredients to making True Detective work, failed to get me interested. The plot is more crucial in this series than it is in other shows. The first season raised our expectations so much, that I expected nothing short of thrilling. The plot I was introduced to was much more convoluted and uninteresting. It gave me a lot of horror in terms of events, but not enough clarity or involvement to make me care. There isn’t as much mystery either. Where the first season was layered and full of head scratchers, this season is much more direct and dark. Hopefully, this will change in later episodes, but for an introduction into the season, this episode’s plot did not deliver.
We are told that a corrupt city official is missing. We are told Farrell’s wife was raped and beaten by an assailant years ago. He had to go to Vaughn to get information. He now works for Vaughn years later. McAdams has family issues and doesn’t succeed too well at her job. Kitsch has some repressed feelings about something, and is also a good apple being tainted by a dirty system. Vaughn, with the absence of Casper, is unable to close a deal on a corrupt licensing agreement with an assumedly Russian mobster posing as a clean business man. All of these things seem to just be mushed together in no real fluid way. They just fit together like pieces to different puzzles. The only redeeming part was the last 2 minutes when our heroes are joined together, however the entire episode just feels sloppy, uneven, and messy. You can see the writers trying to do what the first season did without the same precision or expertise, which is very unfortunate. Hopefully it improves over the coming weeks.

Vince Vaughn

Man. I was hoping so much that he’d be an interesting fit for this character. Unfortunately, he’s the same old Vince Vaughn without the funny. He overacts and doesn’t hit his lines with the right set of emotion that I feel like they were trying to convey. He looks like he is constantly trying to remember to stay in character. He doesn’t sit well as a villain or a gangster. It’s as if he doesn’t actually belong there and in fact stumbled into this entire organization. He is not believable as this manipulative and cunning criminal. He doesn’t seem like someone who could demand Farrell’s character to do anything regardless of the information he had on him. Vaughn doesn’t bring the intensity and gravitas to the table that we expect from each actor in True Detective.

Heroes and Villains
True Detective has shown us that the lines can be blurred between both hero and villain, but at the end of the day each person is either one or the other. Right now, it seems a bit too convoluted in regards to Farrell’s character. His character seems to be a bit too erratic and seems to be shifting to from hero to hard villain back to hero. Hopefully they decide which he will be soon. I need to know if he’s a villain with a good side, or a hero with a bad side because it seems a bit too much on each.

Clunky Exposition
While I’m interested in parts of the plot, most of it didn’t capture me. I think this was due in part to the fact that a lot of it was spelled out for us in exposition that seemed to come out of nowhere. For instance, when we find out that Farrell’s wife was raped and beaten and that they’re divorced, it’s basically the first sentence in a new scene. Then, the conversation between McAdams and her father is basically a plot device to learn more of her backstory so that we may more quickly progress with her currently storyline. Next, the scene where Vaughn, his girlfriend, and his henchman discuss the casino and journalistic investigation into his business just seems to be there simply to add credibility to the fact that he is indeed the bad guy. The whole episode just seemed to come right out and say, “HEY! THIS IS WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THIS CHARACTER. YOU’RE WELCOME!” I don’t want to see a show where everything is handed to me, especially when that show is True Detective. The greatest part of the first season was the unravelling of each character’s backgrounds, motivations, grievances, and mysteries.

The Opening Sequence
This is a minor grievance, but that opening song is terrible.

Overall Assessment
This season of True Detective is off to a rocky start. As always, we should give it a chance since this is only the first episode. Unfortunately, they really need to get a handle on the plot and writing. Most of the cast seems ready to bring it and act their hearts out, but if the writing is clunky the acting will be clunky. Also, if the plot is boring, the characters will unfortunately become boring. So, there were some shining moments tonight, but overall it was a disappointment to me and the franchise. Let’s try to remain a bit optimistic though. Here’s to hoping next week will be better.

Score: 5/10

As always, let me know what you all thought. Did you like the season premiere of True Detective season 2? Was it all you hoped for? Any predictions? Who's your favorite character so far? Please be sure to follow me on Twitter @HaneyCasey, check me out on MoviePilot.com/HaneyCasey, and check out my website SlackerNerds.com. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for next week.

Jun 21, 2015

The 5 Best Pixar Theatrical Shorts

With the release of Inside Out this weekend we are graced with another Pixar short. Pixar has become at least partially known for the charming shorts they play in front of their films. Over the years the shorts have increased in length and in emotional impact. However, some of the older shorts are still just as touching as the newer ones. So, let’s take a quick seat and sit back as we prepare ourselves for a heartwarming and heartbreaking look back at the 5 best Pixar theatrical shorts so far.

5. Day and Night

Starting off our list is the short Day and Night. As every Pixar short does, this one tackles issues much greater than just two characters struggling to get along. Day and Night touches a lot on coexistence with those who are different than ourselves. However, once it shows us how to get along with others who are different, it shows us that we are all really one in the same. Day and Night has some really clever visuals that help depict the emotions and reactions of both characters. The facial animation on each character is very descriptive as well, which Pixar has become masters of. Most of their shorts have no dialogue, so they rely upon their ability to convey emotion with body language and the settings they create. With the message and imagery in this short, it deserves the number 5 spot no doubt.

4. Luxo Jr.

Being the second short that Pixar ever made and becoming the defining symbol of the company are just two reasons why Luxo Jr. deserve to be on this list. However, Pixar’s ability to make me care so much about two lamps speaks volumes about how much more impactful this short really is. The story is one about a father/mother and a son/daughter. The parent lamp is trying to play with its child, and is surprised by the ability the child has to bounce back (quite literally). Much like most parents, the lamp realizes how resilient their child is even when saddened. The short also catches the wonder and happiness that children have when they are doing something as simple as playing with a ball. Luxo Jr. reaches both parents and kids, and tells a story of appreciation on both accounts. It’s a great short that I’ve remembered since the first time I saw it.

3. Knick Knack

Knick Knack is one of the funniest shorts from Pixar, if not THE funniest. It’s a little hard to put my finger on exactly, but this short is much more about the comedy than it about the message when compared to other shorts. There’s something about the levity in this that just makes it so enjoyable to me. It’s a great story about being trapped and being left out and learning to accept your situation, but honestly it’s just really fun to watch.

2. Lava

Lava was by far the most heartbreaking short film I’ve ever seen from Pixar. It was beautiful through and through. From the visuals, to the music, to the story, to the characters. It was nice having actual voices in the short, which as we know almost never happens. I think it was a great move on their part because it helped break my heart (in a good way). It was so sad to see the loneliness felt by the volcano and his inability to communicate with the other volcano. His descent into the ocean made me tear up. However, Pixar being who they are, they took me to the saddest parts of my soul to bring me back up and give me the pay-off I was looking for. The volcano’s ascension back to the surface to meet the other volcano was a moment that nearly made me cheer in the theater. This was without a doubt a high point in Pixar’s short film career.

1. Geri’s Game

Geri’s Game holds a very special place in my heart. It was the first short I had ever seen, and I was blown away. I didn’t know you could even tell a story this quickly, nor did I think one could be as engaging as this was. Another reason it holds a special place in my heart is the fact that it introduced me to jazz. I always loved watching this short just to hear the music in the background. However, Geri’s Game isn’t only the best short because it means so much to me, but it is the true embodiment of what Pixar is. Pixar is all about the child inside of us and allowing that to come out. Geri’s Game is all about a single elderly man playing chess against himself. He is conniving and cheats and laughs and does all the things we would do as children when playing with one another. A Pixar short has always needed to remind me of this aspect of life, and Geri’s Game not only delivered on this message, but will always remind me of where I come from as well as where I’m headed. It tells you to remember to have fun, no matter where, when, how, or with whom. I can’t think of a more memorable, enjoyable, or pure message.

So that’s it folks. As always, let me know what you all think. What’s your favorite short? Do you remember seeing any of these for the first time? Did any impact you in a special way? Please be sure to follow me on Twitter @HaneyCasey and check out my website SlackerNerds.com where we talk all things nerdy! Thanks for reading everyone!

Jun 19, 2015

Regular Guy Review: Inside Out

Inside Out? More like tear my heart out from the inside out. Pixar does what it does best here. It pulls on your heart strings and plays sweet sweet music with them. Inside Out makes you cry, laugh, and cheer just like most Pixar movies do. However, I will say that perhaps expectations were too high and this movie felt like a bit of a let down due to some of the press surrounding it. So, let’s hop on the control panel, and decide what emotion describes how I felt about the movie.

What Worked?


Image result for riley inside out

Let’s face it. Pixar’s ability to feel a spectrum of emotions during their movies wouldn’t be possible without their creation of such memorable and relatable characters. Riley, the little girl in the film, was much like any of us were as children especially at her age of 11. I remember acting out, feeling sad, wanting to run away, the overwhelming nervousness of a new school, and trying to face each obstacle with a smile on my face. She really reminded me of myself, and I feel like most people could relate to her as well. The real finesse on Pixar’s part comes in the form of their embodiments of emotions. Each major emotion is a living being who helps take control of Riley’s body and decisions. These characters could have fallen flat and seemed one dimensional especially since they are inherently one dimensional being that they are the physical embodiment of one emotion. Each one interacts and works so well off of the other though that you really get to see the full spectrum of human emotion. Even the side characters are ones who play an integral part in helping our heroes much like most side characters in Pixar movies. They ensemble reminded me of Finding Nemo, where each new side character was vastly different than the last, but each one helped fit a role that needed to be filled.


Image result for Joy with the memories inside out

It was very interesting and unique to see an adventure within Riley’s mind, as well as the consequences of that adventure in her real life. It was a great dynamic. Joy and Sadness’ journey to save Riley’s long-term memories in order to maintain her personality was one that you grow to care about very much. It made me even reflect on some aspects of my former self that I may have lost or let go. Also, Riley’s subsequent reactions to each decision made in her brain by the emotions, whether it be running away, quitting hockey, crying in class, or yelling at her parents, all made for a trip that played out like a rerun of my own life. I think most people probably felt similarly. Joy’s journey to understand that each emotion must live in tandem was also a great lesson learned that played out very lovely. Each piece of progression in the plot, although thickening the main plot, had a great message of its own. Most movies can’t do that as smoothly as Pixar managed to do in this film.


As usual, Pixar just crushes it when it comes to visuals. Every aspect of their animation is just so unique and flawless. They delivered on their definite style while also feeling different enough from previous movies that it wasn’t distracting.

What Didn’t Work?

Plot Layout
Although I enjoyed the journey very much, and I like each lesson that was learned, it was a little too predictable. The film literally has Joy and Sadness run from each personality island in order just to have each one crumble before they get there. It just seemed unnecessary to have each one go down in order. Also, the visual representations of these islands, long-term memories, and thought train, made it too obvious that they were going to take a very specific route out of the control center, and back there again. This isn’t a huge grievance, but usually Pixar is a bit less on the nose about where they are going with a plot whether it be visual cues or even verbal ones.

They started out much like they do in every movie, with a little 5 minute introduction scene to get you invested in the characters before they jump into the main story. However, once we jump into the regular story, things just didn’t seem to slow down enough for me, and it made everything feel rushed. It didn’t help that the plot itself dealt with a time constraint, but perhaps the pace was set fast on purpose in order for the audience to feel rushed to have Joy and Sadness return to the control room. I just didn’t think it worked to well. I felt literally exhausted at the end of the film because there was just so much emotion, and so little down time to process it.

Overall Assessment

Of course this movie is great. It’s really good. However, I wouldn’t agree with a lot of hype asking or stating that this could be Pixar’s best movie yet. I highly disagree with that. It comes in softly as my 5 on my top 5 Pixar films of all-time. To be fair though, Pixar is like a guy who only shoots and hits net. Every once in a while though, they hit the backboard or the ball circles the rim and still goes in. Pixar rarely misses, but sometimes their shots look a little better than others. This was definitely a make, but it just wasn’t quite as great as their phenomenal films. You should really go see it, but don’t feel too distressed if you can’t make it to the theaters. You can wait for this one to come to Redbox or something else. Just be sure to see it.

Score: 8/10

As always, be sure to tell me what you think? Have you seen the film? Will you being seeing it in theaters? Do you think it's Pixar’s best so far? Please make sure to follow me on Twitter @HaneyCasey, check out my website SlackerNerds.com, and check me out on MoviePilot.com/HaneyCasey.

Jun 17, 2015

My Best E3 2015 Games

E3 is gaming Christmas for all who love gaming. It’s when we get shown everything that we’ve been speculating about for months or in some cases years. This year was a very big year for gaming and technology and it was really one of the best E3’s we’ve had in a long time. So, as we all do, let’s break down the top ten games from E3 2015. Put on your VR headset and let’s jump in.

10. Rainbow Six Siege

I must admit, I was never a big fan of Rainbow Six games. They were fun but never too engaging. However, this new one has me on the bandwagon. It looks fantastic and different from most shooters out today. The tactical elements are very ornate and complex which adds a great new layer to the classic shooter. I love how the game is really trying to refocus the player’s intentions by making teamwork an essential part of winning. It will be interesting to see how people react and play differently when posed with a team objective.

9. The Last Guardian

Let’s start off with a game that we’ve all been waiting to see for years. We were all captured years ago when The Last Guardian was announced and tid bits of the game were showed. It’s a game that many people have been asking about every year with no information until now. The game looks very charming and fun. I like the problem solving and puzzles involved and it looks alright. Unfortunately, I think some of the hype has died down and the game looks a bit dated. Regardless, I think everyone was just happy to finally see this game that we’ve been yearning for for years.

8. Rise of the Tomb Raider

I, like most people I think, was surprised by the first Tomb Raider game. I had a lot of fun with it and enjoyed the story as well as the game mechanics. It made me very excited to see where else they could go with Lara Croft’s character as well as the supernatural aspects introduced towards the end of the game. This is all showcased in the trailer and the demo for Rise of The Tomb Raider. I’m very excited to see the new locations as well as explore and react as Lara Croft who is now more experienced and damaged. I really think this game is going to surpass the level of satisfaction the first installment set.

7. For Honor

We all love a good melee based game. Especially when it has all different kinds of unique melee characters. The game itself looks beautiful and paced well. I really like the idea of having knights vs. samurai vs. vikings. Although I’m not a huge Ubisoft fan, their games always look amazing and their melee combat is always fun. Combining their strengths to a cool concept like this will likely make a great game. I am interested in the story missions, although none of those were shown at E3. However, I can definitely get behind a game where I get to cut and stab as a fucking samurai.

6. Halo 5

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I must admit, I’m not nearly as excited for Halo as I was nearly 10 years ago. I used to live and breath Halo, but I think the series has been on a definite decline. Halo 4 was especially disappointing in the multiplayer for me. However, the new multiplayer looks much more engaging and fast paced like Halo 3. It has a much more competitive feel to it than Halo 4 did. Also, the story has me intrigued. The one redeeming piece of Halo 4 was the implications of events that transpired in the story such as the Forerunner’s return and Cortana’s death. Halo 5 seems to really be expanding on the Chief’s emotional well-being due to these events. Also, the idea of another Spartan hunting Chief is interesting because I feel like, if anyone could best Chief, now would be the best time since he’s emotionally unstable.

5. Kingdom Hearts 3

Many people were ecstatic to hear the announcement for the final Kingdom Hearts game. Most of us who are in our 20s now remember growing up with the Kingdom Hearts franchise. They were charming and heartfelt games that really captured the child inside of us, while delivering good combat, pretty environments, and engaging NPCs. Kingdom Hearts 3 is everything that we have come to love about the Kingdom Hearts franchise, now culminating in this final installment. I think we are all eager to finish the final adventure with Sora.

4. Mass Effect Andromeda

Mass Effect is a truly beloved series that has broken our hearts but also captured our imaginations. Andromeda, while not being totally interconnected with the original trilogy, looks like it will be yet another complex adventure through the galaxy. As always, I loved the cinematic trailer they showed because like the trailer, the games have always felt like movies and this is no exception. I can’t wait to see more, but for now I’m just happy to hear that it’s happening.

3. Final Fantasy VII Remake

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Well holy shit balls. One of the greatest games of all time is getting an HD remake that looks beautiful to the highest degree. Many fans are now dying of excitement now that this has been announced. No Final Fantasy game or movie has ever come close to Final Fantasy VII. It is hands down the best game in the series and everyone has wanted a remake basically ever since it came out. Everyone has fond memories of this game and having a remake will undoubtedly satisfy everyone. This one made a lot of buzz at E3 this year and for all the right reasons.

2. Star Wars Battlefront

Star Wars Star Wars Star Wars. We are all super high on Star Wars right now with the new movies coming out and the reinvigoration in its game studios. We have been awaiting Battlefront for years, and have been nervous that it would never reach the light of day. With the scrapping of Star Wars 1313 many have been scared that Battlefront would reach the same fate. Fortunately, Battlefront has made it, and it looks fucking amazing. The movies are immersive and beautiful, but actually playing in the wars leading up to the new movie is comparable to few things. It is a new level of immersiveness and has everyone losing their minds. The gameplay was not only smooth, intense, and canon-driven, but it was beautiful. It showed us the landscapes that we love, and will come to love, in a way we haven't’ experienced them before. I, and everyone else, cannot wait for this game. It is going to smash along with its movie counterpart The Force Awakens.

1. Fallout 4

Image result for Fallout 4 e3

Of course. What else would mine or anyone else’s number 1 be? All of these other games are great, but they pale in comparison to Fallout 4. The internet has been teeming with excitement and hoaxes surrounding this game for years. It is now officially happening and we are all drooling with pure excitement. I know I was ecstatic when I heard it was official. Then I lost my shit when I saw the amazing trailer. Even further into E3, they showed gameplay and it looks like everything I’ve ever wanted. Bethesda has listened to all of our complaints about the other games, and have delivered on all of them. I couldn’t ask for anything more from a game and a studio. They are the clear winners of E3 2015.

As always, please follow me Twitter @HaneyCasey and check me out on www.slackernerds.com and moviepilot.com/HaneyCasey. Thanks again for reading and let me know what you think in the comments below.