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PETE'S DRAGON Movie Review by The Commander

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PETE'S DRAGON
CommanderAvatar-mosaic
 
BY THE COMMANDER
3-1/2 (out of 4 stars)
 

Pete’s Dragon is a beautiful, heartwarming remake of the wonderful children’s story. Told in a mixed format of using live actors and animated characters (the dragon) the director creates a wonderful story about Pete (Oakes Fegley), a 4-year-old, boy who lost his parents in a horrific car accident in the woods.  For 6 years he survived and grew up in under the protection of a dragon named Elliot.

 

The story takes place in the National Forest of the Midwest, where logging brothers Gavin (Karl Urban) and Jack (Wes Bentley) are cutting down trees deep into the forest and the park ranger, Grace (Bryce Dallas Howard), Jack’s wife, is monitoring their work, combing the area and checking on tourists.  Natalie (Oona Laurence), Grace’s daughter, runs off into the woods and accidentally stumbles upon Pete, who's been hiding in seclusion for many years.

 

Once discovered, Grace brings Pete back to her home to determine his identity.  Elliot, the dragon, goes searching for Pete to no avail and returns to his secret lair in the forest.  Elliot, lonely for Pete, tries to make his way back to the forest, but is stopped by Grace.  When she learns of his true history, they all return to the forest with Pete, to see Elliot for themselves.  Elliot is discovered not only by Grace, but by Gavin who sees him as a moneymaking opportunity, and eventually with his loggers, captures Elliot and returns him to his logging facilities.

 

As with all fairytales, this one ends with a happy ending, leading the audience to tissues and tears.

This is a great family movie with a heartfelt story of a beautiful fairytale.  Robert Redford does an excellent job as Grace’s father, Meacham, who tells the town’s children of the time he once saw a dragon, which everyone believes is just a fairytale.  Upon seeing Elliot, he is vindicated for the tall tales of yarn he weaved long ago.

 

I saw this movie in IMAX 3D and the merging of live action and animation was just wonderful.  I suggest this would be a movie to see whether you have children in your life or not, because as stated, fairytales are for everyone.

SAUSAGE PARTY Movie Review by The Commander

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SAUSAGE PARTY
CommanderAvatar-mosaic
 
BY THE COMMANDER
2 (out of 4 stars)
 
There are stupid movies and then there are really stupid movies.  It's difficult to figure out which movies that fall into this category get top billing since there are so many of them.  However, when it comes to animation or Supermarionation, the field becomes limited.
 
One of my favorites was the 2004 Team America: World Police.  It was loosely based on the 1960 British TV show, Thunderbirds, in which marionettes (puppet on strings) played all of the characters.
 
 
Team America, created by South Park writers, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, emulated the same format, using marionettes to create the same premise, but instead of disaster rescues, they policed the world from Terrorists and Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) while making fun of everything in society.  Nothing was off-limits.  One of the highlights of the show was a wild sex scene between heterosexual marionettes.  The film earned an R rating because of the scene.
 
Now, the writing team behind Superbad, This Is the End and The Interview, have written their own animated movie named Sausage Party.  Writers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg used the ability of cartoon animation to create a really stupid film.  Stealing ideas from other talented writers, the film is in the similar genre as Toy Story (1995), where food comes alive when the humans are out of sight.  Since they're ripping off ideas, there is a sex scene, but they upped their game and made it a wild food orgy.
 
The plot of this film is simple.  In the grocery store, all the food items are of the belief that when they leave the store they are going to heaven and beyond—but we all know different.  They're going to be eaten by monsters (humans), and that will be the end of their existence.  There's a romance between the lead character, Frank (Seth Rogen), a hotdog, and Brenda (Kristin Wiig), a bun (whatever happened to Furter?  It’s like Sears without Roebuck).  They can't wait until they can exit their packages and co-mingle with each other (hint hint)!  But as luck would have it, a returned mustard jar (Danny McBride) tells everyone about the dangers of the outside world, and the group is paralyzed in fear, leading to a zany escapade of survival, domination, retribution and sex.
 
Rogen & Goldberg try to emulate Team America by making fun of people, religion, countries etc., but it just doesn't work.  Edward Norton does a voice impression of Woody Allen as he plays Sammy the Bagel, which is cute, but there's not enough of these improvisations throughout the movie.
 
The only redeeming scene in this film was the sex orgy, heterosexual, homosexual, lesbian, you name it, they did it.  Other than that, I found myself bored watching the same shtick over and over and over again.
 
This film would have been much better as a short, focusing solely on this food sex orgy instead of trying to expand it into a feature film, ripping off so many other original ideas from other writers.  The film is totally designed for Rogen's core of fans and deserves an 'i' rating for immature audiences.

CUPCAKE NATION

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CUPCAKE NATION
By Lincoln D. Conway

Are you a part of the millennial generation?  

By definition, roughly anyone born in the eighties up until current day is one. And that broad sweep of birthing seems to define a huge group of people all over the globe. It’s kind of like that Chinese zodiac. How can all the people born in the same year as myself all be Tigers? I remember my fellow high school graduates, and I can say with great confidence and happiness, that I am not at all like several of those people.  

The media is throwing around the term, “millennial generation” quite a bit because of the impending election.  

It seems that our society, as a nation, is at the peak of bitter altercations. Many occur on our college campuses, creating a heated civil debate. The term, microaggression, in a nutshell, is the problem that we are facing right now. Our forefathers fought for the free speech that we are privileged to have in our country. Yet, with terms like racist, narcissist, Nazi, and definitely the other “n” word, (unless of course, you happen to be an African-American), it’s like this generation has forgotten the simple notion of respect—acting like the world owes them something.  

On one occasion, students from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, claimed feeling “scared” by seeing “Trump 2016” scrawled with chalk on a sidewalk on the campus.  

If that scares the pampered students, then wait till they have to pay their own bills. That’s scary! Whining and complaining, while sometimes therapeutic, never gets you anywhere. 

Thanks to Obamacare and its government mandate that children can stay on their parents’ health care plan until the ripe old age of 26, there seems to have been a big shift in our culture. There are too many who have interpreted that mandate in a completely out of touch way. Combine that with all this politically correct nonsense, and you have a bunch of “cupcakes” sitting on the couch—simply waiting for others to work for them. Do for them.  

This nation will fall if our society accepts this disrespectful, far too sensitive behavior as normal behavior that is justified. Too much of this microaggression in our country and we set it up for failure. Maybe it’s because the younger, (sorry to use the term) “Millenials”, haven’t been paying attention, as our country has been losing good men to war year after year. The founding fathers and so many brave soldiers have fallen to protect their rights, and their freedom to walk around college campuses, mindlessly playing Pokemon Go.

SPORTS - Blood Will Spill - UFC 202: Diaz vs McGregor

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STRIPLVSPORTS

BLOOD WILL SPILL
By Jack Wellington

ANYTIME. ANY WEIGHT. ANYWHERE REMATCH

UFC 202: DIAZ vs MCGREGOR 2

Irish spitfire fighter, Conor McGregor, has spouted controversy, as one of the biggest shit-talkers in the MMA.

No matter what the subject—a firestorm follows the path of this feisty fighter from Dublin. Whether it’s his retirement, arguments with UFC President Dana White, or even brazenly posing nude for ESPN’s Body Issue 2016.  

THE IRISHMAN IS SILENCED—BUT FOR A MINUTE
With a series of 15 straight wins, an overzealously confident featherweight champion, McGregor, elected to move up to the welterweight division to fight against late replacement Nate Diaz at the UFC 196 main event this past March. McGregor amped up in weight, then heavily bloodied Diaz in what was initially an exciting back-and-forth battle. The Dubliner’s early lead was taken over in the second round, with Diaz finishing the bout in victory with a rear naked choke.  

Readying for his rematch against Nate Diaz, McGregor has remained a steady 170-lbs and prepared for a rematch that was scheduled for UFC 200—but McGregor didn’t play nicely when it came to doing his end of promo for the league. The fight was scratched when he refused to fly to Vegas from Iceland for promotional work. More spewing ensued, with McGregor’s enormous ego demanding respect when he spouted to White: “I feel I carried 2015 on my back. I feel like the reason there’s a $4.2 billion price tag on the company is because of me. I believe that’s what the Chinese estimate my net worth at: $4.2 billion.” Whether the price tag is accurate or not, McGregor was the top draw, along with Rhonda Rousey for 2015.

With McGregor hungry for redemption and Diaz ready to silence “The Notorious” one once and for all, the two fighters hammered out a deal with UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta and UFC President Dana White. It’s about the money, after all. And so a rematch was scheduled: UFC 220 on Aug. 20, 2016, to take place at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena.

Stockton, Californian, Diaz, has won three of his last four octagonal fights at the age of 31 and at 170 and 155 pounds. Dublin’s McGregor will be fighting at the age of 28.

As far as ticket prices go, fights have always been sky-high, but this figure really prompted publication: Starting prices begin at $58 (sounds reasonable), and a top ticket price of $18,884?! (Yep, you read that right!) That one-and-only ticket offered, as we go to print, will get you a front row seat in Suite 3.  

Think I’ll make me some popcorn and enjoy my view from the comfort of my couch and order it up on Pay-Per-View.

RAIDING THE ROCK VAULT - The Rock 'n Roll Gods Unplug, But For a Moment

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RAIDING THE ROCK VAULT

THE ROCK ‘N ROLL GODS UNPLUG, BUT FOR A MOMENT
By Marla Santos

“Are you ready to rock?” It is a sad day when we can’t rock to simply the best rock show in Vegas! The hit two-hour classic rock concert experience, Raiding The Rock Vault, ended its residency at the Tropicana Theater on July 31st. After opening in March 2013 at the then Las Vegas Hilton, the popular show moved to the Tropicana in 2014. The one-of-a-kind rock ‘n roll show consistently ranked the “No. 1 Performance in Las Vegas” on TripAdvisor for over 12 months, and was voted “Best of Las Vegas” in 2014 and 2015 by readers of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The show brought the history of rock ‘n’ roll from the ‘60s through 1990 to our ears, minds and hearts in a live rock concert of classic rock anthems performed by the ‘real deal’ veteran rockers from highly-esteemed rock bands. 

Since Raiding The Rock Vault hit the stage, words of praise and enthusiasm in the press and on the street were full-on ‘exceptional.’ Lead vocalist Paul Shortino, who is now a Las Vegas resident, has said how much the whole group enjoyed performing in the show and what a thrill it was to be on stage playing and singing these rock anthems. Much of the appeal was witnessing these talented performers who all seemed to genuinely be having a great time, which brought in calls from other musical greats wanting to sit-in and perform as guest appearances. This indeed was a unique idea, having real rock stars from a variety of bands come together to perform in one show.

Raiding the Rock Vault was comprised of members of some of the greatest rock bands in history. The show has featured Howard Leese [Lead Guitar] (Heart), Robin McAuley [Lead Vocals] (MSG, Survivor), Paul Shortino [Lead Vocals] (Rough Cutt, Quiet Riot), Jay Schellen [Drums] (Badfinger, Asia), Tracii Guns (L.A. Guns), Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake), Andrew Freeman [Lead Vocals and Guitars] (Lynch Mob, The Offspring), Rowan Robertson [Guitar] (Dio), Michael T. Ross [Keyboards] (Lita Ford, Hardline), Hugh McDonald [Bass] (Bon Jovi), Mark Boals [Lead Vocals] (Dokken, Ted Nugent), and vocalists Stephanie Calvert (Starship) and Cian Coey (Meat Loaf).

It’s no wonder the show had been an all-time Vegas favorite. The unique high energy, full-on rock concert, with state of the art sound and lighting, and two video screens that showed photos of the original bands, as well as rock and roll trivia, brought old and new facts to light, filled a niche. The rockers performed the classic anthems from legendary bands like: The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, The Eagles, Queen, AC/DC, Deep Purple, Van Halen, Journey, Heart, Free, Aerosmith and more, boasting they had “The Greatest Set List Ever.”

Fans range in age from very young to the 40-and-over headbangers. The original classic rockers who grew up on this very music saw the show and then couldn’t wait to come back and bring their friends, children, and even grandchildren, to enjoy the fabulous show that was ever-changing, bringing in new musicians and singers to sit in and jam live. It was the first time that many young people could actually hear, see and experience what a rock concert was actually like. Everyone, no matter what age, sang along, danced, and left with a feeling of happy euphoria.  

Many diehard fans did more than one return visit to the show. One fan, Ernie from Big Bear Lake, California, claims to have seen the show 48 times. Recently, I took some friends visiting from Michigan to see the show. And since every song in the show is like a rock anthem, they were instantly recognizable, creating a theater full of fans singing along all night to mega-hits like: “Juke Box Hero”, “Hotel California”, “Smoke On The Water”, as well as Robin McAuley performing Queen’s “We Are the Champions”, Paul Shortino’s version of Jim Morrison’s “Light My Fire” and Andrew Freeman closing the show with Van Halen’s “Jump”, which were hits with my guests. There wasn’t one song they didn’t know! This mesmerizing production had it all. The songs, the band, the screaming guitar solos, powerful vocal performances, incredible sound system, lighting, video, dancers, and best of all, it was a whopping case of happiness and nostalgia. Let’s hope Raiding The Rock Vault finds a new spot to rock-the-house-out here in Vegas really soon!

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