Saturday, October 29, 2011

In Time

In Time, starring Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried, certainly had potential and promise, yet failed to live up it.  The notion that society would take that next evolutionary leap is quite the interesting notion.  Why should anyone think that, in future societies, that man will not have created a system to prolong life for extended periods of time, if not institute a system where eternal life is possible?  We’ve already, through a better awareness for how the body works, regimented by proper diet and exercise, expanded our lifespans dramatically. 

But doesn’t this idea run counter to human biology?  I’m not that adept in this area, but from my limited knowledge I would certainly say so; that without some radical internal adjustments, it wouldn’t seem remotely possible.  But that’s why this is a movie, science fiction to be certain.  The concept in itself is an interesting one, as it provides the prompt for exploratory discussion.  This is the main reason I love when a philosophical construct is inserted into the basic premise of a book or movie.

Yet this film also, in raising a discussion on everlasting life, is also operating in a manner that goes completely against the teaching of the church.  With this system in place, God is now useless, to a certain degree.  To the best of my recall, I don’t remember seeing or hearing anything associative with religion.  Perhaps the people living in such a society are beyond prayer; perhaps they’ve simply given up altogether? 

While I’m not offended easily, I do find it interesting why any form of entertainment, would virtually throw down their gloves at religion.  Even when done under the radar, it boggles the mind.  Those building something that they intend to sell, hope to make profits from, and would be wise to avoid any such topic that could prove to be counterintuitive to their overall design.  Now, that all said, If the premise is intrinsically tied into edgy subjects than obviously there is both a case of purpose and not including such elements would be a bit of a loss, as it pertains to integrity.

Religion is a subtle attempt at ruffling feathers, whereas politics is a whole other ball of wax.  To be fair the criticism argued on talk-radio is both emblematic of what can and typically does take place when presenting “fringe” elements, as well as a bit overblown at the same time. 

The societies within this film are certainly a main part of the film.  Any attempt to water this down would certainly dampen the film.  However, those responsible for content, certainly have an agenda. 

The caste structure within In Time is broken down into zones.  It’s a system where the higher the zone, the more affluent the residents.  This is nothing shocking, in fact look around your own city and you’ll see this structure firmly in place already.  Where the film takes the extra step is by illustrating the tax structure in place in their fictional representative cities or zones.  The lower you are zone-wise, meaning the poor you are, the higher you are taxed.  The “ruling class” cite Darwin and thus equate money, in this case time, makes you more likely the fittest.  Yet in a society where everyone has the potential to live forever, that is if they can consistently buy, earn or steal enough time, then overcrowding would most definitely occur.  For this problem enter the timekeepers.

The timekeepers are simply policemen.  They ensure that time is allocated properly, that is ensuring that the higher zones contain the most time.  This idea, combined with the ever-present, almost daily, increase of the cost of living in the lower zones, means that a “natural” weeding out will take place.  It’s also extremely interesting how the “law” of this future time are not concerned with murder or any act we would most likely deem as criminal in this time.  Instead they say as such, only concerning themselves in keeping the status quo safeguarded.

While the philosophical and sociological elements in this film are pretty interesting to delve into, the film lacks in the majority of the other areas necessary for a good production.

First, the acting is commonplace.  There is nothing special by any of the actors in this film.  Olivia Wilde (House, Cowboys & Aliens etc…) and Matt Bomar (White Collar) do the best job in this regard, despite both of their characters being killed off within the first fifteen minutes of the film.

Next is a cinematography that offers nothing special outside a nice contrast between the highest and lowest population zones.  Other than that it’s a whole lot of continual repetition throughout.

Finally, the plot itself falls flat.  While the philosophical questions and socio-economic conditions are certainly the backbone of the piece, outside of motivation they’re second-seated throughout the entire showing.  What this film becomes then is a simple rehashing of Robin Hood, where the two main characters, travel around robbing banks and stealing time, all in an effort to level the playing field and assisting the poor.  While this is a noble premise, and I love the Robin Hood stories, it’s been done and putting the setting in the far off future doesn’t incite sparks as those previous “steal from the rich, give to the poor” tales have been providing for years.

The film, in my opinion, should have stuck to what I believe they wanted to do, which is explore the philosophical constructs further.  I won’t criticize the writers for deviating their course though.  They simply did what they thought they had to do to sell a film.  With that said the film would’ve been better off exploring it’s initial dynamics more profoundly, with unknown actors, and a much smaller budget, which would afford them the luxury of low overhead, meaning “arthouses” would be the likely locale.  And if we’ve learned anything in the past twenty years, arthouse films can make a profit.  If the film is good people will go see it, regardless of what type of cinema it’s showing in.

Overall the film is about a C+ if I had to provide a grade.  It’s probably one you’d rather wait for on Blu-Ray, DVD or even pay-per-view though.  If you still choose to go see In Time on the big screen, just keep your expectations in check, especially if you were drawn to this film based on the premises hinted at through its trailers.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Fantasy Football League Week 7 Recap and Week 8 Predictions

Week 7 was yet another sloppy week of Fantasy Football.  The low scoring games continued and that leads to a situation where one player having a monster game could be the difference as you try to outlast the Bye Week Buzzkill.

I went 3-2-1 last week predicting, bringing my season record up to

The first game I lost last week was the unlikely Blood & Thunder over Iron Pigs 116 - 91.  It was unlikely as B & T was definitely hurt by poor match-ups and Bye week issues.  But like I mentioned in the intro, one big game out of a player gives you hope.  Arian Foster, and his 42 fantasy points were the only reason B & T didn't need to bite his nails on MNF.

The other loss came at my shoot-for-the-moon bet, where I took 7 QB's Deep to pull one out.

LGBW suffered yet another tie last week.  This time it was against 6 Wide.  This seems to have prompted a name change, the second in the league this year.  The teams unveiling ceremony comes this weekend as...drum roll... The Dreamkillers take on F Philly.  I think the name says it all.

WEEK 8 Predictions

Dreamkillers Vs. F Philly

By having sole possession of the entire NY Jets football team, F Philly is in Bye week hell this week.  As DK's "star" RB has the perfect opportunity to wreck Havok vs Indianapolis this week, so does the entire DK team.  This will even the Win to Tie Ratio.  Dreamkillers 105 F Philly 87

6 Wide Vs. Iron Pigs

Both teams suffering demoralizing losses last weekend.  I'd like to say that each team has great match-ups this week, but I can't.  Should be a real stinker of a game and open for which team wants it more.  I'll pick the Iron Pigs in this one.  Iron Pigs 101  6 wide 95

Manning Vs. Food Vs 7 QB's Deep

Not much to write about here.  I won't be picking 7 QB's again this year. Manning Vs. Food 111 7 QB's Deep 98

Clean Slate Vs. Thug Life

Might be the best matchup of the week.  I like match-ups for both teams and should be a shootout of sorts.  I'll go with Clean Slate as I think Fitz and the Bills will come up big this week.
Clean Slate 122  Thug Life 119

Blood & Thunder Vs. Cinderella Story

I really should pick B & T here, as his bye week situation this week is pretty much nil.  However, despite a few bye week issues, I can't bet against a Cinderella team that has racked up the points this year, outside of last week that is.
Cinderella Story 126  Blood & Thunder 125

Repeal Obama Vs. Mission:Repeat

Mission Repeat is having some issues right now and R:O seems to be the team to exploit them.  Without Aaron Rodgers, this M:R team is pedestrian.  R:O has his issues too, but they seem to minor, at least for this week.  R:O 99 M:R 89

NFL Week 8 Game Predictions

Week 7 of the NFL season was not my favorite week of the season so far.  Boy is that an understatement.  Every game I wound up watching was either miserable to watch, TB-CHI, CAR-WAS, MIA-DEN, or complete and utter blowouts, DAL-STL, NO-IND.  Then you have the games you check out, simply to see how a certain player does.  Well this week it was a game time decision on Carson Palmer, and after an abysmal first half by Kyle Boller, you knew the new raider signal caller would be under center in the second half.  Well, that was a disappointment as well, 3 picks-wow.

The best games were GB-Min, which, of course, I avoided thinking blow-out, and the MNF game, which turned out to be a pretty good game, a bit of a surprise, but a good game.

As far as predicting goes, well, I went 8-5.  This was definitely one of those weeks I wish I could have back.  In any case my season record is now 71-32.

The games I predicted incorrectly were:

The Jacksonville, KC games were just completely against conventional thinking I won't go into any detail.  I'd pick them the same way this week, even after knowing what happened last week.

The Houston game wasn't as much a surprise regarding the outcome, but the manner in which Tennessee was manhandled all day long, that was a shock.

I have to give Atlanta some credit, I didn't think they'd be able to beat the Lions last week.  Stafford wasn't his best and Turner had a good game.

I guess I should have included the Jets-Chargers game as a good game, if not the, game of the week.  But I hate the Jets so I wasn't happy about that comeback.  Rivers was terrible down the stretch there, typified by his last throw of the game.  Really left you scratching your head.

Anyhow, onto Week 8.

Indianapolis @ Tennessee

Both teams were the victims of blowouts last week.  Indy's been bad all year though.  I have to go with Tennessee here.  If Chris Johnson's going to get it going he'll have the best opportunity he'll have had all year this week.  Tennessee 31  Indianapolis 13

New Orleans @ St. Louis

NO just blew out Indy, and now they get the Rams.  Great schedule.  Well, for St. Louis fans sakes, I'm pulling for the cards tonight. A win there will keep them on cloud 9 and anything the Rams do, or don't do, on Sunday will be irrelevant.  NO 42  STL 10

Minnesota @ Carolina

Ponder looked pretty good in his first start by all accounts.  But Cam Newton's been phenomenal all year.  Have to go Panthers here.  Hopefully it'll be a good game though.  Carolina 28 Minnesota 17

Arizona @ Baltimore

Easy one.  Arizona can't defend the pass + Baltimore just being embarrassed on MNF= Baltimore 35 Arizona 14

Jacksonville @ Houston

The Jags did a great job stopping Ray Rice on MNF.  The question is can they stop Arian Foster?  I don't think they'll be able to enough of it to win the game.  Houston 21 Jacksonville 7

Detroit @ Denver

I'm a Tim Tebow Fan, but he was brutal for 55 minutes of that game against the Dolphins last week.  Detroit is too good to overcome such a performance this week.  I think Timmy will rebound but nowhere near enough the level he'll have to.  Detroit 35  Denver 21

New England @ Pittsburgh

Good thing Big Ben's been slinging the rock around lately.  He'll need to do the same this week against the Patriots.  Should be a close game decided by who can score more points.  Yes, I know that's the bottom line in any game, but it really holds true here.  Can the Steelers offense keep up with Brady & Co?  Not likely.  NE 37  Pitt 30

Cleveland @ San Francisco

No real signs of life out of the Browns last week.  The Niners have an elite defense and are at home.  Sit any of your Cleveland fantasy players this week.  SF 16  Cleveland 3

Cincinnati @ Seattle

Seattle plays tough at home, and has put some nice defensive efforts on their as well this year.  Cincinnati's defense has been great all year. Low scoring game with the Bengals on top.  Cincinnati 13  Seattle 6

Miami @ New York Giants

Miami is firmly entrenched in the Andrew Luck sweepstakes at this point.  The Giants look as if the NFC East is their's to lose.  I cannot see a possible scenario where Miami wins this win.  NYG 38 Miami 14

Washington @ Buffalo in Toronto

I think Fitz and the boys will have plenty enough firepower to outscore Beck and the Skins.  Buffalo 34 Washington 24

Sunday Night Football

Dallas @ Philadelphia

Tough divisional matter.  Starting off as poorly as the Eagles have, every games a must-win.  But that said I think the Cowboys are playing better football and despite a few poor decisions this year by their QB, they're the better team right now.  Dallas 20 Philadelphia 17

Monday Night Football

San Diego @ Kansas City

I'm actually seeing some people picking the Chiefs here.  I can't see it. I know how poorly Rivers has been playing lately but the Chiefs are not any good no matter how you slice it.  I think Phil and the Bolts get well in this game, despite the hostile Arrowhead crowd. SD 26 KC 23

Tampa Bay, Atlanta, Chicago, New York Jets, Green Bay and Oakland have Week 8 Byes

Enjoy a great weekend of Football

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Three Musketeers Movie Review (2011)

The Three Musketeers is just another film, in a long, long line of films portraying Alexander Dumas’ classic novel on the silver screen.  I think I’ve seen every one of these “adaptations,” which I use that word very lightly, and each of them are slightly different than the ones that came before, but in a sense, aren’t they all really the same. 

I guess one can make that statement fairly accurately when talking about any remake, but in the case of The Three Musketeers, it’s never truly a direct remake, it’s always a bit of a plot variation here or there, yet they always feel the same.

Now I’ll say this, I love the legend of The Three Musketeers.  I love the films as well.  But just because someone really enjoys something doesn’t necessarily mean that thing is any good.  That’s the case here.  This newest version of the Musketeer lore is not very good.  The acting is a bit campy at times, which is expected, or just a bit flat.  The plot is pretty outrageous, but still predominantly light.  The costumes are pretty good, but not as good as some of those variations that came before.  But let’s be honest here, none of the Musketeer movies are very good, are they?

No, no they’re not.  But they’re fun, they definitely take you to a different time; they transport you to a different place.  They’re cheesy, they’re campy, and they’re, for the most part, poorly spun.  Yet none of this means they aren’t good.

I think by now you get where I’m going with this review.  The movie is not very good, yet it’s fun and well-worth seeing.  Hmm… isn’t that a bit contradictory?  Well, yes it is, and that’s probably a good thing in this case.  If the film were too serious, or they acting too crisp, well then it wouldn’t be those Musketeers we’ve come to enjoy over the years. 

What do you go to see a Three Musketeer film for then?  For me anyhow, it’s a mixture of most of what I already stated.  I go to see that campy comedic routine.  I go to watch the costume of history.  I love seeing these outlandish plots seemingly get resolved, but never quite the way you want them to.  But most of all, for me personally, you go see a Three Musketeer film for the swordsmanship.  The duels are always great and there really can never be enough of them.  On that note there are three really good duels here and a few other action sequences that, although while not predominantly entrenched in swordplay, they do display the agility often used in duels.  All in all this is fun film, if you expect what you should expect out of a film like this.  I guess though, that this only applies if you’ve never seen a Musketeer film before.  Now if this stands to be the case for you individually, I feel the above mentioned descriptions would be necessary.  But if you’ve seen, basically any, The Three Musketeer films before, well then this recommendation is easy.  If you liked any of the previous variations than you’ll enjoy this latest effort.  But if you didn’t like it, well, than you probably won’t like this one either. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fantasy Football League Week 7 Game Predictions

In week 6 of the Fantasy Football season we saw a sharp spike in point production.  The effects that went relatively unnoticed despite bye week influence in Week 5 reared its ugly head, dramatically tilting more than a handful of games.  Mission:Repeat, Repeal Obama, 7QB's deep all felt the impact of the bye week.  Yet Manning Vs. Food continued his impressive high scoring routine.  Thug Life joined the scoring frenzy as he dropped 144 on the then undefeated Repeal Obama, in what turned out to be the weeks Biggest Blowout.

Week 6 was also the rare occurrence of a tie, where LGBW made a late surge to tie the Iron Pigs, who, leaving sunday's games, must have felt fairly confident about where they sat.  F Philly also came back in a big way with his NYJ contingency striking pay dirt as they came from behind to defeat 7 QB's Deep, which marked back to back monday nights where he saw defeats snatched from the grasp of victory.

On the prediction front I finished a meager 3-2-1 this past week.  One of the two losses came to the depleted Mission Repeat team not getting that snot-factor production that typically is the bane of existence for Blood & Thunder, in a game much closer than the 31 point margin of victory would suggest. The second loss came from the "out of the blue" trouncing of the Undefeated Obama, as thug life brought out all he had to thoroughly destroy the last remaining undefeated team, thus narrowing the stranglehold on first place overall.

The 3-2-1 mark now brings my prediction record for the season to 24-11-1.

On to Week 7, which has all the makings for one monumentally brutal scoring drought, courtesy of BYE Week productions.

Blood & Thunder Vs. Iron Pigs

The Pigs get his lethal SD charger duo of V-Jax and Matthews back along with highly productive fantasy RB Daniel Thomas, from the Miami Dolphins.  They'll line up alongside newly acquired QB Carson Palmer, just signed on Tuesday by the Oakland Raiders.  B & T is riddled with Bye week blues, but his team has been staggering lately and last week proved that, as a relatively intact team put up a meager 99 points.  He also has a pair of new QB's on the team, in Charlie Whitehurst, most likely a one week addition and rookie Christian Ponder.  Nothing scary about that duo.  B & T is perusing the rosters of other teams, looking for a trading partner.  Iron Pigs 122  B & T 96

Repeal Obama Vs Manning Vs. Food

This should have been a marquis matchup.  Would the Buzzsaw of MVF continue?  How would RO's reaction to their first loss be revealed?  It doesn't matter, and while snot-factor is a nemesis of most, MVF's team is battered with bye week problems.  Probably much too great to hope to overcome.  Repeal Obama 110  MVF 90

7 QB's Deep Vs Thug Life

I don't know about this game one bit.  Thug Life clearly has a better roster, or a more productive roster I should say.  But there's a gut feeling I have about 7QB's team this week. I'm going to pick the underdog here, simply because I feel the loss of Shady McCoy may be too much too overcome for Thug Life.  7QB's Deep 100 Thug Life 94

Mission:Repeat Vs Cinderella Story

Cinderella's team is gone this week.  I see a zero chance scenario they pull this off.  And for Mission:Repeat, what a matchup to unveil your newest toy, QB Tim Tebow, one he paid a hefty price tag for, in the likes of Pettigrew and Larry Fitzgerald.  Mission:Repeat should have this settled early.  M:R 109 Cinderella Story 78

Clean Slate Vs F Philly

Bye week disaster for Clean Slate this week sees F Philly muddying that tablet up.  Nothing special about the F Philly Squad this week, but Clean Slate is hurting this week because of the Bye.  F Philly takes this one, but it still should be a game.  F Philly 82 Clean Slate 74

LeGarrettesblountwraps Vs 6 Wide

In the final game of Week 7 I see the LGBW actually gaining a big boost in confidence from coming back for the Week 6 tie.  Both teams look a bit shaky this week, but I like LGBW this week in what appears to be a game that can go either way.  LGBW 88 6 Wide 86

See you all in week 8

NFL Game Predictions Week 7

Week 6 of the NFL season was a pretty good week for me.  Well, as far as the predictions go.  Still a bit sore over the way my Bills lost that game to the Giants.  You have a tie ball game with 3 minutes left and you're on the other teams 26 yard line, RUN THE BALL.  But they threw a pass and Fitzpatrick was picked off.  Hardly can blame a team that's been a doormat for years to try and go for the jugular but, man oh man, what could've been.

Last week I wound up picking 10 of 13 games correctly, bringing my season prediction record up to 63-27.  Pretty good. But picking the exact score of the Oakland-Cleveland game, that's just plain awesome.  The 3 games I lost were:

The Bills-Giants game I touched upon in the intro.  Two key interceptions and not causing any turnovers of your own, which has been a huge key to the 4 victories this year, is a recipe for losing, and I could complain about a few pass interference calls that Webster was let off the hook for, but I won't, the Bills lost because of the 2 interceptions, Drayton Florence deciding to interfere on Nicks all day and the costly play-calling late.  Both Buffalo and NYG have bye weeks in week 7.

Detroit losing to San Francisco was a bit of a shocker.  I had the feeling that SF would play it close, they do have an above average defense, but Never did I think they'd actually pull it off.  The post game antics between Schwartz and Harbaugh was an added bonus to a really good game.

Tampa Bay, in another stunner, beat NO, and that's without all that much production from Mike Williams.  Anyhow, another fun game to watch, but a surprise nonetheless.  This was another game where an oddity surrounding a coach happened.  NO TE Jimmy Graham ran into HC Sean Payton on the sideline and I believe he fractured Payton's MCL.  He coached the remainder of the 1st half on the bench and then the 2nd half from the booth.

On to Week 7.

Denver @ Miami

Miami's been horrible.  Reggie Bush has been a major disappointment.  Matt Moore was abused on Revis Island last week and now Tim Tebow, Floridas golden boy returns.  I'm a big advocate of Tebow and believe he'll get it done at the NFL level.  Sure he has some wrinkles to iron out but I'm expecting him to do just that.  What a perfect game to start.  Miami's defense isn't terrible by any means though and while I think Denver will win, it should be a close game.  Denver 24 Miami 17

Houston @ Tennessee

Still without Andre Johnson Houston and Tennessee battle for first place in the AFC South.  I'm half tempted to pick the Texans, as they are an offensively potent team, but without Johnson to give the opposing secondary that extra threat to worry about, well, they've seen pedestrian.  Tennessee has had two weeks to prep for this game and they've been another of the surprises this year.  I'm going to hedge the odds here and take the home team.  Tennessee 30 Houston 28

San Diego @ New York Jets

NY isn't an easy place to play and traveling from coast to coast makes it that much harder.  Some are claiming they Jets got right on Monday Night.  I'm not ready to join in that conversation just yet, after all it was a pitiful Dolphins team they beat.  But sometimes the opponent doesn't matter and it's the quality of victory that matters.  I do think that win will inspire some confidence in the troops in Rex World but I still think Sanchez is terrible and will ultimately cost them this game.  San Diego's a pretty good team on both sides of the wall and should hang in there until Sanchez costs NY the game.  SD 21  NYJ 17

Atlanta @ Detroit

The big question here is how will these Lions respond from their first loss.  To make matters a bit murkier, they also will be without their star RB Best and will go with Mo Morris in the backfield.  That all said, it's also interesting to see if Atlanta can parlay a decent performance into two in a row.  In the end here I think Detroit will have enough firepower to get this done.  Detroit 35 Atlanta 28

Washington @ Carolina

I may actually watch this game.  I've yet to have the chance to watch a full game from Newton and am kind of looking forward to seeing him do what he does.  John Beck gets the reins for the skins offense this week, replacing a highly ineffective Rex Grossman.  I think he'll provide a bit of a spark, but he's just a seat warmer until they draft or trade for their QB next year, if he even lasts the rest of the year.  Washington has as good a chance to win this game as Carolina does, I truly feel it's a coin flip.  It'll be up to the Redskin defense to shut Newton down, they are good but in the end Cam will win out. Carolina 21 Washington 15

Chicago @ Tampa Bay in London

Not thrilled about either of these teams.  But that said both had impressive victories last week.  These games in London have been mightily sloppy and I'm not expecting anything fun about this matchup. To be fair I probably wouldn't have expected much if it was played on American soil either though.  I'll take Chicago 14 TB 10

Seattle @ Cleveland

Looks like Charlie Whitehurst will play QB for the Seahawks this week for an injured Tarvaris Jackson, which is yet another QB switch, albeit for injury here, this week.  This game will go one of two ways, it'll either be a case where neither team is very good and will struggle all game or because of ineptitude it could be a high scoring affair.  I'll take the safer bet and go with Cleveland 14 Seattle 13

Pittsburgh @ Arizona

This'll probably be that game that you never saw coming.  But in any case I can't see the Steelers losing against the Cardinals who have looked anything but special this year.  Pittsburgh 33 Arizona 18

Kansas City @ Oakland

Newly acquired Carson Palmer seems to be getting the start for Oakland.  There's no way he's completely ready yet, not a chance, which tells me what they think about KC.  And I agree with them. Palmer throws for about 190 yards with a TD to DHB, but Run DMC runs all over the yard. Oakland 28 KC 13

Green Bay @ Minnesota

It doesn't matter where this game is played, who starts at QB for Minnesota or any other factor outside of Aaron Rodgers coming down with a last minute case of the flu.  But that said even Matt Flynn could scorch the Vikings with Christian Ponder getting his first NFL start against Clay Matthews and the Pack.  GB 35 Minnesota 10

St. Louis @ Dallas

Another blowout.  Dallas has to be fuming over the Aaron Hernandez from Tom Brady TD with 27 seconds on the clock last week.  They had the Patriots and let it slip away.  Bradford's not 100% and they aren't the Patriots even when he is.  Dallas 38 St. Louis 20

Indianapolis @ New Orleans on Sunday Night Football

Another blowout.  I bet NBC wishes the flex games started up this week.  New Orleans 42 Indy 13

Baltimore @ Jacksonville on Monday Night Football

Jacksonville's defense has been pretty good so far.  Joe Flacco, for the most part hasn't looked all that great.  But he doesn't have to, Ray Rice is a beast, week in and week out.  Baltimore ends week 7 with a nice win in Florida.  Baltimore 24 Jacksonville 12

Have an enjoyable weekend of football.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Big Year

The Big Year, starring Owen Wilson, Jack Black and Steve Martin opened up yesterday, in most theaters nationwide.  Most of the time, when I go to see a movie, I have a pretty good idea what I’m getting myself into well before I arrive at the cinema.  I thought The Big Year would be a comedy in the mold of your typical Steve Martin film.  Well, as it turned out, I had no clue as to what this film was even about, not even remotely.  This movie turned out to be for the birds.  No, literally. 

Before seeing this movie I never even heard the term Birding before.  I had no idea that there is this culture out there were people would flock to locations all over the continent, all for the opportunity to watch birds.  Sure, I heard about bird-watching before, who hasn’t, but to the extent that people would travel all over the place, in a semi-organized, competition, well that was well beyond the scope of any knowledge I had about bird-watching.

But as it turns out there is such a competition and it’s called The Big Year.  Birders from all over dedicate a year of their lives to travel all across North America, all to see as many different species of bird they’re able to.  It really was quite interesting to watch, as rarely does a film come across where I’m actually learning about something new the entire time. 

The film has a documentary type feel to it at times, which really aids in the experience of realizing all the various “hotspots” birders travel to, and of course all the names and habits of many of the birds as well.  You also get an excellent look into what sacrifices and choices that many of these Big Year contestants go through in order to partake in the competition.  You see the high points, that exciting moment of physically viewing a rare species.  You get to see friendships that can form from meeting other like-minded people.  You get to see the negative aspects as well, from those who try to get a leg up on their completion, the negative light non-birders cast upon them, the loneliness of being away from your life for an entire year, and many of the harsh conditions these birders go through, just to hopefully get a glimpse of some special birds.

Aside from the birding environment, which is really the reason to go see this film, this film is about three men who enter the completion, and the things that go on in their lives, and how these external influences either assist or inhibit their birding efforts.  Each of the men come from different backgrounds, which is interesting in that, regardless of background, this activity becomes a symbol of unity and equality. 

There are a few major points in regards to the messages scripted.  The main one is that the most important thing about competition, is to enjoy yourself while you’re doing it, but also to savor all the extras that an activity, or life for that matter, can, and often does provide. 

It illustrates this point by showing a seemingly life-long friendship formed between Martin’s character with Blacks.  We see Black’s character grow closer to his previously disinterested and disappointed father, and we see a love-relationship that never would have happened if it weren’t for his passion for this activity. 

Martin’s character watches his life move from overworked CEO of a major company to a life where things are much slower paced, one that he can, and it does take him time to realize this, savor the important parts of his life, one of which is family. 

Conversely we see Wilson’s character, the reigning “Best Birder in the world,” and how his success basically consumed who he was.  He is constantly afraid that someone will overtake his record and because of this possession he winds up losing out on what was most important to him, life. 

There’s a lot to like about The Big Year.  You have three pretty decently drawn stories revolving around the three leads and how Birding has changed their lives.  You have some brilliantly shot footage, of course of birds, but also the environments of all the various locations these characters travel to.  The cinematography truly is outstanding, as is the great detail provided about the nature of Birding itself.  From the various species and their habits, they show how people can actually learn from the behaviors and instincts of birds, to the competition itself, which granted I came into this completely ignorant of it’s existence, but even so, it did a great job of teaching, where even those experienced in birding should learn a few new things about the activity.

The film may not be for everyone though.  If you’re the type of person that instantly changes channels when scrolling past NatGeo or Discovery or the type that isn’t into watching splices of individuals lives, and how different people react and are changed by various stimuli, then you probably wouldn’t care too much for this film.  But if your like me, and love learning, and enjoy the brilliance and beauty that nature has to offer than you should enjoy the film.  And the dramatic parts of the film are fine, which for me, was nothing more than a bonus in this case.