Archive | September, 2013

Random Saturday Movie

28 Sep

Have you ever turned on tv on a Saturday or Sunday and just randomly started to watch a movie or show that you never even wanted to see?  This happens to me from time to time.  It happened today.  I meant to watch football, and I kind of am watching the UCF game (on ABC if you want to watch too).  But I had TBS on when I turned on the tv and Life As We Know It was on.

I really dislike Katherine Heigl.  She annoys me for some reason.  And yet, I kept going back to this movie.  As if I had no idea how it would end.  I’m going to spoil the ending here, I’m sure it will not hurt anyone’s feelings as it is not a shocking ending.  Best friends of couple (K.H. and Josh Duhamel) are named godparents of new baby.  Said couple dies in a car accident leaving best friends as guardians of the baby.  The movie then follows your typical romantic comedy formula.  They fight and dislike each other, then slowly become friends and figure out this new life, then they sleep together and everything seems great.  Then something happens to tear them apart (in this case J.D. gets a dream job offer out of town).  Katherine’s character starts to date the gorgeous doctor.  Of course, Josh comes home for some event, there is one more epic fight, and things seem to be over.  The gorgeous doctor speaks words of wisdom and walks away gracefully.  How else would that happen, isn’t that how all relationships end?!  Katherine of course runs to the airport to chase Josh… and buys a random plane ticket to get through security, because again, isn’t that a common thing?  I guess if they made movies about real relationships it would be SUPER boring.  So I’ll forgive them.  And duh, after all that drama, Josh never got on his flight, he was waiting for them at home.  And of course everyone lives happily ever after… how else would it happen.

Just a side note here, Melissa McCarthy was in this and of course stole the show.  As usual for her, she did an amazing job.  Maybe that’s why I stayed tuned in.

So my thoughts on this ultimately, I’m still not sure why I watched it.  It wasn’t awful, I will say I’m very glad that I watched it on TBS and technically didn’t pay for it (aside from paying my cable bill).  It was moderately entertaining, even though it was super predictable.

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Fall/Winter 2013 Movies

17 Sep

As we enter Oscar and holiday season, there will be lots of great movies coming out!  Here are the movies that I’m most excited to see.  I’ve split the list, the ones up top are the ones I’ll most definitely make time for in the theater.  The rest of the list are movies I really want to see but may not make it to depending on time!

Hunger Games: Catching Fire (Nov 22)

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire begins as Katniss Everdeen has returned home safe after winning the 74th Annual Hunger Games along with fellow tribute Peeta Mellark. Winning means that they must turn around and leave their family and close friends, embarking on a “Victor’s Tour” of the districts. Along the way Katniss senses that a rebellion is simmering, but the Capitol is still very much in control as President Snow prepares the 75th Annual Hunger Games (The Quarter Quell) – a competition that could change Panem forever.

I’m excited to see this one.  Loved the books and loved the first movie, so I’m hoping I like this one as well.  I’m curious to see how the create the arena as I have a very specific picture in my head from the books.

Enders Game (Nov 1)

A brilliant young strategist rises to the top of his class in Battle School while training to defend Earth against hostile aliens intent on exterminating the entire human race in this sci-fi epic based on the celebrated novel by Orson Scott Card. In the not-too-distant future, our planet has come under attack from a malevolent race of aliens known as the Formics. Incredibly, fearless International Fleet Commander Mazer Rackham (Ben Kingsley) sent them fleeing back into the stars, becoming a living legend in the process. But decorated Colonel Hyrum Graff (Harrison Ford) knows that the Formics will soon return even stronger than they were before, and he’s determined to find a new hero who can meet them head on. Enter Ender Wiggin (Asa Butterfield), a modest young man with vast untapped potential. Upon being recruited into Battle School, Ender partakes in a grueling series of simulations, effortlessly mastering every challenge presented to him. Celebrated by his peers and respected by his superiors, Ender is quickly promoted to Command School, where the one and only Mazer Rackham provides him with the knowledge and tools needed to save mankind from certain extinction. As the final battle approaches, Ender prepares to embrace his destiny as one of the greatest heroes in the history of planet Earth.

I am so excited to see this movie.  I was excited when it was announced and then SUPER excited when I saw the first trailer.  My friend Brian at work turned me on to this book when I was looking for a good gift for my god son for Christmas.  Asa Butterfield did an Ask Me Anything over on Reddit a few months ago and it sounded like he felt the movie stayed true to the book.  He also seemed like a very down to earth kid.  I hope that they stay as true to the book as possible, the most important element is the ending, it was just so very unexpected and awesome.


Thor: The Dark World (Nov 8) 

Marvel’s “Thor: The Dark World” continues the big-screen adventures of Thor, the Mighty Avenger, as he battles to save Earth and all the Nine Realms from a shadowy enemy that predates the universe itself. In the aftermath of Marvel’s “Thor” and “Marvel’s The Avengers,” Thor fights to restore order across the cosmos…but an ancient race led by the vengeful Malekith returns to plunge the universe back into darkness. Faced with an enemy that even Odin and Asgard cannot withstand, Thor must embark on his most perilous and personal journey yet, one that will reunite him with Jane Foster and force him to sacrifice everything to save us all.

I just like action movies.  Oh, and Chris Hemsworth.  I mean really, he’s just stunning as Thor.  I just expect to be entertained by this one!

The Wolf of Wall Street (Nov 15)

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) Poster

Martin Scorsese reteams with Leonardo DiCaprio for this adaptation of Jordan Belfort’s memoir about his exploits as a crooked banker. Terence Winter provides the screenplay.

Leo is in this, need I say more?  I do hope that this one earns Leo his much deserved Oscar, the word around town is that this one just may do it.  I’ll actually be shocked if this movie doesn’t turn out a few Oscar nominations.

12 Years a Slave (Oct 18)

Chiwetel Ejiofor stars in the true story of Solomon Northup, a free man in 1800s New York State, who was kidnapped and forced into slavery on a plantation near New Orleans, and his subsequent fight for freedom with the help of a Canadian abolitionist (Brad Pitt). Steve McQueen (Hunger) directed from a script he co-wrote with John Ridley, based in part on Northup‘s memoir.

I really want to see this one, it looks very interesting.  Yet another one that should turn out an Oscar nod or two based on what I’ve seen of it so far.  I tend to really like historical movies, so I have high hopes.

These next ones are movies that I’d really like to see, but based on time, I may not get to see all of them.  So these are a little further down my list than the ones above.

Rush (Sept 20)

The epic action-drama stars Chris Hemsworth as the charismatic Englishman James Hunt and Daniel Brühl (Inglourious Basterds) as the disciplined Austrian perfectionist Niki Lauda, whose clashes on the Grand Prix racetrack epitomized the contrast between these two extraordinary characters, a distinction reflected in their private lives. Set against the sexy and glamorous golden age of Formula 1 racing, Rush portrays the exhilarating true story of two of the greatest rivals the world has ever witnessed—handsome English playboy Hunt and his methodical, brilliant opponent, Lauda.

More Chris Hemsworth!  They are really pushing this one, I’ve seen the trailers in most of the movies I’ve seen lately and I feel like there are ad’s for it on tv constantly.  It looks pretty good, I have absolutely no Grand Prix knowledge, but I think I’d like this movie.

Out of the Furnace (Dec 6)

Poster art for "Out of the Furnace."

A Rust Belt ex-con must choose between escaping a life of poverty and rescuing his brother from a life of crime in this drama from Crazy Heart writer/director Scott Cooper. With the dream of a better life always just out of reach, Russell (Christian Bale) and his younger brother Rodney (Casey Affleck) find their futures taking a grim turn when Russell ends up in jail. Meanwhile, on the outside, Rodney falls in with a notorious group of criminals who threaten to destroy any hope for a better tomorrow. Later, when Russell is released from prison the temptation to cut his ties with the past clashes with his sense of duty to his brother, who is headed down the road to ruin.

I’ve seen the trailer for this a few times now and it looks really good.  As usual Christian Bale goes full on in character.  I’ve rarely seen an actor get so into whatever role he’s playing.  Here’s another one that I’m guessing will turn out a few Oscar nominations.  I really want to see this, I’m hoping I can get to see this in December.

Captain Phillips (Oct 11)

Captain Phillips is director Paul Greengrass’s multi-layered examination of the 2009 hijacking of the U.S. container ship Maersk Alabama by a crew of Somali pirates. It is – through Greengrass’s distinctive lens – simultaneously a pulse-pounding thriller and a complex portrait of the myriad effects of globalization. The film focuses on the relationship between the Alabama’s commanding officer, Captain Richard Phillips (two time Academy Award® winner Tom Hanks), and his Somali counterpart, Muse (Barkhad Abdi). Set on an incontrovertible collision course off the coast of Somalia, both men will find themselves paying the human toll for economic forces outside of their control.

Yet another movie that is being heavily pushed.  I generally like Tom Hanks, and this looks like a very good movie.  I’m curious as to how true to life it will actually be.

Runner Runner (Oct 4)

Believing that he has been swindled, Princeton grad student Richie (Justin Timberlake) goes to Costa Rica to confront online-gambling tycoon Ivan Block (Ben Affleck). Block’s promises of immense wealth and power have a seductive effect on Richie, until he learns the shocking truth about his new mentor. When Richie is coerced by the FBI to help bring Block to justice, he faces the biggest gamble of his life: outmaneuvering the two forces closing in on him.

Mostly, I want to see this because of JT.  It’s definitely a serious role and I do think he is a decent actor.  I have high hopes for this movie and I hope it turns out to be good.  As we know, Ben Affleck movies tend to be hit or miss, so this will likely be either awesome, or really bad.

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (Nov 27)

Nelson Mandela’s life story is told in this adaptation of the South African leader’s autobiography that details his early life, education, 27-year imprisonment, and eventual presidency and rebuilding of the previously segregated country.

Another historical movie.  I have a great deal of respect for Mandela and what he did and went through.  The trailers for this movie have made me want to see this movie.

The Book Thief (Nov 15)

The Book Thief (2013) Poster

A young girl (Sophie Nelisse) living with foster parents (Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson) in Nazi Germany begins collecting forbidden books and sharing them with the Jewish refugee hiding in her home in this war drama adapted from Markus Zusak’s book.

Shockingly, I have not read this book.  I’m going to try to squeeze it in before I see it though.  I love books and movies like this.  While not a true story, it is still historical in that it is set during WW2.

Don Jon (Sept 27)

Jon Martello (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a strong, handsome, good old fashioned guy. His buddies call him Don Jon due to his ability to “pull” a different woman every weekend, but even the finest fling doesn’t compare to the bliss he finds alone in front of the computer watching pornography. Barbara Sugarman (Scarlett Johansson) is a bright, beautiful, good old fashioned girl. Raised on romantic Hollywood movies, she’s determined to find her Prince Charming and ride off into the sunset. Wrestling with good old fashioned expectations of the opposite sex, Jon and Barbara struggle against a media culture full of false fantasies to try and find true intimacy in this unexpected comedy written and directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

This was a last minute addition, but honestly may end up toward the top of the list.  It looks so funny and I’m guessing has some aspects that all of us who have had to date in the past 15 years have experienced.  I mean I’ll be honest, when I went to Ireland I looked at my friend Sara and said “the movies lied to me.  Ireland was supposed to be full of pubs with cute, charming bartenders and old drunk Irishmen who wanted to tell us stories.”  Most pubs were actually full of middle aged paunchy guys who just wanted to watch their football.  I’ll admit to being slightly disappointed.  I think this movie explores that kind of “fantasy” which I developed.  Damn movies, ruining my life obviously 🙂

Those are the movies I want to see, are you excited to see any of these?!

NOTE: All Synopsis were copied from Fandango

The Family Review

15 Sep

My mom and I decided to go see The Family today just for something to do (since the Steelers play tomorrow).  We went in spite of the relatively bad reviews that it received.

The Family (2013) Poster

I wasn’t sure if it was a comedy, action movie or family drama.  There were bits that were comical, and if they had stuck with that, I’d say it could have been funny.  There was violence, and if they had stuck with that, I’d say, hey it’s another mafia movie.  But really what I came away with was the family drama.

All we ever know is that Robert DeNiro turned state on the mafia and is in witness security.  The mafia is of course still after him.  His family has had to move around every few months since he informed on his former “family”.  You don’t immediately see the impact on the kids, but it becomes very obvious after a while.  I’m going to spoil a bit here for you, but their daughter was so unstable it was awful to watch.  In the end the kids essentially save their parents and it is so very sad when you think about it.  Both parents kept saying that the kids adapt so much better than they do.  Are they delusional?  Both kids have so many issues and both parents are too self-involved to notice.

So in the end, I guess this was a dark family comedy.  Did I like it?   Eh, it was okay.  I wouldn’t watch it again nor would I tell you to run out to see it.  But if it’s on TBS one afternoon in 2 years, just give it a watch.

Scallops and Orzo

11 Sep

I made one of my favorite meals tonight for dinner.  It’s super simple and only takes about 20 minutes to come together.  I can’t for the life of me remember where I first saw this recipe, but I’ve been making it for about 4 years now.  It’s a very light meal but satisfying.

What you’ll need:

8-12 oz Sea Scallops (this recipe is for 2 servings only, so you’re call on how much protein you want, I usually opt for 12 because 2 scallops just seems like too little)

Olive oil

1/4 cup finely diced onion

1/2 cup Orzo Pasta

1/2 cup chicken broth

2 oz white wine

Dry thyme (about 1/2 tsp I think)

Lemon

Chives (about 1 tsp or so)

Pat dry the scallops and season with salt and pepper, set aside for a minute.

in a small saucepan, put a little olive oil and saute the onion until translucent.  (Also I turn on the pan for the scallops at this point, just medium heat.)

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Add the chicken broth, wine, orzo and thyme to the onion in the saucepan.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and cover.  Simmer until the pasta is done.  I do check it from time to time because the orzo has a tendency to stick.  Add water if it’s absorbing the broth too fast.

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While that is cooking, add a little olive oil to a the frying pan for the scallops.  Just cook it for about 3-5 minutes per side depending on how well done you like your scallops and also how thick they are.  Just make sure you get a good sear on them!

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Once the Orzo is done al dente, squeeze in the lemon juice and add in the chives.  IMG_0817

And I forgot to take a picture of my plate, so here are the leftovers 🙂

IMG_0818I’ll freely admit that I really need to start taking pictures with my camera and not my iPhone.  It’s just the iPhone is always there and the camera is usually hiding from me somewhere.  I will TRY to do better!

I usually serve this with a small side salad, but any veggie would be a good addition.  I think that the next time I make this I’m going to sub quinoa for the orzo.  This comes in at about 450 calories and 7 grams of fat.

That is all for today!

Ft. Lauderdale Vacation

8 Sep

I went to Ft. Lauderdale for the first time this past weekend to celebrate my friend Jen’s birthday!  I flew in and Jen and another friend Tracy drove down from Orlando.  I wasn’t sure what to expect from Ft. Lauderdale, I was expecting a little more pretentiousness than I got (and I was happily surprised).  Either way, I knew that I’d have a great time with these two ladies.

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We got there on Thursday afternoon and after checking into our beautiful hotel (the Westin Beach Resort) we headed out the door in search of a very late lunch.  Just out the door to the left, we kind of went in the first place that we found.  It was called the Deck Restaurant and Lounge.  Knowing nothing, we just went there because they had outdoor seating looking at the beach and there were more than 4 people eating there.  It was basically beach bar food.  Fish sandwiches and such.  I got a lobster burger that was really good and Tracy and Jen shared a grilled fish sandwich and a salad.  It was fine, nothing to write home about but someplace that provided what I needed at the time, food and a frosty drink!

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We decided to go to a movie on Thursday night since neither Jen or Tracy had been to see one in a while.  We saw Blue Jasmine.  I’ll do a separate post on it later this week.

On Friday it was beautiful so we got up and after a very nice buffet breakfast at Shula’s (in our hotel) we headed for the beach.  Around 1 or so we decided to head up to the pool for a drink and a snack to tide us over until dinner.  The pool bar/restaurant, Waves, had fun drinks and a bar menu.  We opted to share a quesadilla and I got myself a Miami Vice (part Pina Colada and part strawberry daquiri).

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After the sun hid behind the building, we went upstairs to get ready for our night out.  After an adventure with a new taxi driver and trying to go to a place that our breakfast server had told us about that turned out to be less than great, we found Los Olas Blvd and lots of restaurants.  We really wanted sushi and after the recommended place was a bust we had to search one out.  Luckily, Tracy stopped some locals to ask where to go and they pointed us to Wildeast Asian Bistro.

We had their tempura fried dragon, Korean Tuna, Pineapple Tropic, Volcano and Salmon Cali rolls.  They were all amazing.  I wasn’t sure I’d be all that into the Pineapple one, it had grilled pineapple chunks on top.  It was fantastic.  Of course I forgot to take a picture until we’d already dug in!

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So that is truly, the aftermath.  We really liked everything, it was all super fresh and the service was really good.

After dinner, we went searching for a place to have a drink or two.  The first place we tried had good music, but was so crowded we couldn’t even find a place to stand at the bar (what I refer to as too hot).  The next place had a blues singer and was in this cute little hotel, but we were the youngest people in the bar by about 30 years and there weren’t many people at all.  So after one glass of wine, we left that place (what I’ll refer to as too cold).  We didn’t want to walk too far, and happened upon this lounge/restaurant Voodka.

I’ll call this place just right (after too hot and too cold).  It wasn’t very busy yet (it was still kinda early, before 10 pm).  The decor was very nice, they had candelabra’s at the dinner tables and comfy huge leather couches around tables in the bar area in addition to high tops and bar seats.  We opted for the comfy leather couches!  Our server ended up being one of the bartenders.  He was really fun and recommended some awesome drinks.  We each choose drinks from the cocktail menu for the first round.  They were all really good, I got an Acai berry cocktail (that isn’t on their new menu, they literally changed it today I think).  It was fruity but not too sweet and very refreshing.  Since our server was kinda looking at us funny when I took this picture:

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Tracy told him that I had a food blog.  So he told us that for our next round he’d make us something from the new menu!

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So for the second round he gave me what I think is the Cucumber Ginger Chill.  It was very well done and again was very refreshing.  The cucumber flavor is subtle and goes really well with the lemon and ginger flavors.  I’m not sure which one he gave to Tracy, but it had some great fall flavors.  It just had some warmer flavors in it and was also excellent.

Saturday was our last full day there and it was overcast (boooo).  After another great breakfast at Shula’s, we went shopping then headed home to get ready for dinner at YOLO.  Yet another great meal in a very nice restaurant.  We started with their szechual calamari, which our server said was a house specialty.  It was sweet and spicy and cooked perfectly.  I often find calamari way too chewy, but this was done perfectly.  I remembered to take a picture before we killed the whole plate this time.

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Tracy ordered the salmon and it had this shallot fennel mixture on top that was just amazing with the salmon.  I think it was basically caramelized fennel and shallot.

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Jen ordered the nightly fish special, swordfish with a great tomato sauce and orzo.  It was very light and flavorful.

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I opted for Coriander-Seaweed crusted Tuna.  It was cooked perfectly and served with noodles, kimchi, bok choy in a shitake miso broth.  It was really well done and I loved the presentation.

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The whole meal was just fabulous.  Since this was Jen’s birthday dinner, we debated getting desert there, but we remembered seeing an Italian bakery/gelato place down the road so went in search of that instead.

I unfortunately can’t remember the name of it, but it was about 3-4 blocks down the street (toward the ocean) from YOLO.  I got a caramel gelato to eat there and got this yummy goodness to take back to the room to share.

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It’s tiramisu and a mini canoli.  It’s hard to tell in the picture, but that canoli is about 3 bites, just enough for one bite each.  The tiramisu was really good.  The cake was very light.  As Tracy and Jen pointed out, often tiramisu can feel heavy if the lady fingers have absorbed too much espresso.  I loved the canoli.  I’m not usually a huge canoli fan, but the filling in this was very light, I really enjoyed my one bite!

We had to say goodbye Sunday morning unfortunately.  I saw about 20 other places that I really wanted to try while I was there.  Ft. Lauderdale is definitely a place I’d like to visit again!

The Butler Review

2 Sep

It was a movie weekend here.  There were just so many that I wanted to see out right now and I only made a small dent.  So today I went to see The Butler.

Lee Daniels' The Butler (2013) Poster

It was fantastic.  The acting was amazing and the story was so compelling.  This movie is both a family and a civil rights movie at it’s core.  We witness history through the eyes of a White House Butler.  It would have been so amazing to see history happen and policy shaped before your eyes.  But not be allowed to interject or tell anyone.  HA!  So not the job for me, I find it nearly impossible to keep my opinion to myself.  Just watching what the family and friends of the main character Cecil Gaines (played amazingly well by Forest Whitaker) was difficult to comprehend.  I just have such a difficult time imagining a life like the one they endured.  It does make me thankful for the life that I was born into.  I mean, I have it had it easy and I always have.  I’m sure that I take it for granted more often than not.

The other awesome acting job in this movie came from Oprah!  She played the wife of Cecil Gaines.  The chain smoking alcoholic wife of Cecil Gaines to boot.  And she did not phone it in, I was very impressed.  She played a loving wife and mother and an angry wife and mother equally well.

Watching the evolution of the relationship between Cecil and his oldest son was also difficult.  His son played a man fighting for civil rights.  He picked different routes than his father approved of and that caused a long separation.  However, the two were finally able to come together, finally seeing the perspective of the other.  This is easier said than done, they were both so sure of the “rightness” of their position.  And in a way, they were both right, they just needed to find the middle.

Overall, I would highly recommend seeing this movie.  Go out and see it now.  It’s part history lesson, a part that is usually overlooked or brushed over in school.  It’s an important part of our history as Americans and one that a lot of people would like to not discuss, but we can and should learn from our past.

The Mortal Instruments – City of Bones Review

1 Sep

I dragged my poor mother to see this movie tonight.

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (2013) Poster

I can’t believe how bad this was.  I read this whole series of books and LOVED them.  They were good stories that were relatively well written.  I liked the characters, they were well developed and somewhat understandable.  At least in the original trilogy.  I was really excited to see this movie because I had a hope (albeit a small one) that it would be okay.

The movie version deviated from the book a good bit, didn’t explain enough of what was going on and relied on mediocre acting to get the point across.  The only bright spot was the acting of Robert Sheehan who played the part of Simon.  He was really the only one with decent acting chops among the young cast.  I will say that Lena Headey and Jonathan Rhys Meyers were also in it and did an okay job with the small bits they played in.

On a side note there, when did I get old enough to have people about my age playing the parents of teenagers.  I do not feel that I’m old enough for that to be happening.  I don’t expect my contemporaries to be playing college students or anything, but parents of teenagers???

I just wish movie studios would learn from their mistakes.  Taking well loved books and then making horrible versions of them for the big screen isn’t going to work.  Golden Compass and Beautiful Creatures being other examples of this type of massacre.  You can’t just take a huge book series and turn it into a huge movie.  It takes a little effort, put someone who knows what they are doing behind the script, someone who will keep the original intent of the story in tact and won’t just go for the quick, cheesy scenes.  This movie could have been done well if it had a decent script and someone who didn’t just try to put the movie out there for a quick buck.  The studio could have actually made a lot of money if they had put in some effort.

So my note to movie studios, take a little pride in your output.  I get it, you are out to make money, but what good is it to make a crappy movie from a well liked book series.  You won’t get your money back on it and you won’t make any money off of the rest of the series because you so royally screwed up the first one.  So instead of investing in this first movie for the sake of the trilogy, you made a crappy movie that tanked.  I mean, one girl in the theater actually stood up at the end and said, “well that sucked”.  I agree.

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