Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey Review

7 Mar

A buddy of mine was able to preview the upcoming “epic” series “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey.” We here at Kibitzers love #datSpace so we asked him to review it for us to see if it’s worth watching. Check it out!

“The cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be.”

A refresh of the classic “personal voyage” that Carl Sagan took us on in the original 1980 Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey opens like it’s predecessor, with the familiar voice of the famed astronomer setting the scene for the series. Though Sagan has since passed, he has a worthy successor in astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. Tyson and co-creators Ann Druyan (Sagan’s widow and co-creator of the original) and Seth MacFarlane (yes, of “Family Guy” and “Ted” fame) managed to bring modern science back to primetime in an enjoyable and entertaining way. I attended a screening of the first episode of the 13-part series and was quite impressed with the show’s production value and educational value. Spoilers beyond (can you really spoil the science of the cosmos?).

“Cosmos” is about making the current scientific understanding of universe approachable by the general public. The opening episode parallels the format of the old show and covers the basics: the Big Bang, the immensity of the universe in space and time, and a small sliver of scientific history.

The narrative is framed by a holdover from Sagan’s series, the Ship of the Imagination. Modern special effects really start to shine through here as we join Tyson on this ship, hurtling through both space and time. The ship allows us to traverse the entire history of the universe, shrink to the atomic level, and even imagine and speculate on where our universe might fit into the multiverse. I appreciate this alternative take on the typical “science” show, because it puts the host and viewer on the same level.

Tyson isn’t the disembodied voice of a narrator, nor is he a talking head. He is very much a character in the story, without overshadowing the magnitude of what he is teaching. I have always admired Tyson for his charisma and enthusiasm, and he does a fine job here as cosmic tour guide. That said, there was something about Sagan’s gravitas and the poetry with which he spoke that instantly captured the attention. I’ve heard Tyson channel Sagan before, but this first episode seemed a bit more “to-the-script.” The two have different styles, of course, and I think that Tyson (and MacFarlane) will be better at bringing out more playfulness that perhaps modern audiences need. We will see.

Visually, “Cosmos” is what we have come to expect from big budget TV shows. The shots of the Ship of the Imagination flying through space and Tiktaalik crawling out of the ocean are impressive, but the crowning scene is the formation of Earth and the moon from the swirl of the early solar system. The music and sound effects were good (though almost painfully loud at the theater I was in), but not yet matching the iconic tones of the original.

Also brought back is the discussion of historical figures and events in science to provide context to the lessons of the week. The creators of the new “Cosmos” chose to use animation instead of live-action (maybe influenced by MacFarlane). Don’t expect Family Guy, though. These are quite artistic and a big improvement on dressing up actors in cheesy Renaissance costumes.

I imagine that any show that attempts to cover the entirety of the universe must be terribly difficult to keep within scope. This episode seemed rushed at times. I expect that since we just got the universal basics down, future episodes will be able to move a bit slower. At a couple of points, the discussion took sharp turns without graceful transitions. For example, we were introduced to basic evolution and common ancestry of species, then suddenly we jump to how ancient plants died and became coal and oh-by-the-way we are now burning this and it’s causing our climate to change. Absolutely this topic is very important, but we’ll get to that later…right? Hopefully, the rest of the series can focus on more specific topics instead of having to rush through the entire 13.8 billion year history of the universe.

Overall, the episode was a great starting point for the series. I think there is definitely space (no pun intended) in our entertainment world for a show like “Cosmos.” Instead of relegating yet another science show to less-watched cable channels, the producers are bringing “Cosmos” to Fox in primetime. Those who watch it will undoubtedly be entertained and learn something. I think Carl Sagan would approve.

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey airs on Sunday, March 9th

Right Proper Brewing Company Teaser

5 Mar

Hope you all are as excited as I am for the reveal of this piece. A short video on Right Proper, who recently opened here in DC, told by the founders Thor Cheston and Nathan Zeender. Look for the full piece here next week!

 

 

http://rightproperbrewery.com/

Movie Review: 300: Rise of an Empire

27 Feb

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Slow motion. Blood. Action. Nudity. Naval warfare. Accents. Little to no storytelling. Narration. If these things have peaked your attention, then boy do I have a movie for you. 300: Rise of an Empire is the accompanying movie/sequel to 300, which starred Gerard Butler and told the story of King Leonidas and 300 Spartan soldiers holding back a massive Persian army until they [spoiler alert] all died300: Rise of an Empire tells the tale of Themistocles, played by Sullivan Stapleton, an Athenian general who fights the same massive Persian army in hopes to repel invasion and to unite all Greeks – but this time, on water.

Visually, Rise of an Empire is similar, if not the same, as 300. There is a graphic novel or video game feel to all the scenes in the movie, which actually helped hide some of the CGI that would be much more obvious in other movies. I did appreciate the fact that it went over the top with again with the costumes and character and set designs. You really got the sense that this was supposed to be a movie based on a comic. I also like to think that this embellishment of characters and how they looked and acted is how people would tell the story of these battles in ancient times. I’m not entirely sure that’s what their intention was, but hey, it’s a pretty good thought, ok?

In true Zack Synder fashion (even though he was just a writer in this movie), there was a lot of slow motion. It sometimes got to the point where there was so much slow motion in certain scenes that it felt like Noam Murro, the director, was just throwing them in there and going “Am I doing this right?” For those more familiar with video games, the slow motion events of the movie reminded me of quick-time events from God of War. I was half expecting a combination of buttons to flash on screen so that whichever character was fighting at that time would do a sweet slow motion move. So it kind of worked but there was just too much of it sometimes.

Do I dare talk about the acting? If you go and see this movie with the desire to be blown away by someone’s performance, then you’re going to have a bad time. The acting wasn’t horrible, but it was just what you would expect from this type of movie. The action is the important part of this movie, whereas the dialogue is just something that lets you know why the next scene is more fighting. As for storytelling, there isn’t much of that either. Lena Heady, who reprises her role as Queen Gorgo from the first 300 movie, narrates just about the first third of the movie to get you going. The rest is pretty much self-explanatory. Again, much like the acting, the over the top action takes precedent over the storytelling.

Overall, if you’re in middle school, into cosplay, or really into the first 300 movie, you’re going to love this second installment – and I recommend you go see it in theaters in IMAX 3D (the way we were able to last night). If you’re a regular ol’ person who just wants to be entertained and has realistic expectations for this movie, wait for it to come out on Redbox or HBO. But if you’re like the guy who sat next to me last night and was just in utter disbelief about the unrealism of this movie, know that nobody likes you and next time take your date out to a nice restaurant and not to a free screening.

300: Rise of an Empire comes out in theaters on Friday, March 7.

Kibitzers rating – 2.5/5

The Dark Knight Returns!

26 Feb

Dark KnightAnd so do we with another fan-made trailer! Forget Batman vs Superman, Justice League rumors and how you feel about Ben Affleck, check out our take on where the Dark Knight storyline could go after Christopher Nolan’s franchise. Merging the the world of video games and film, we let Joseph Gordon-Levitt‘s John Blake face some of Batman’s classic enemies; Joker, Riddler, PenguinHugo Strange and even Killer Croc. As Gotham moves beyond the days of Batman, Dr. Strange takes charge of dealing with the city’s public enemies. His solution? Arkham City- a no man’s land of crime and murder. Watching the streets return to violent chaos, Blake (or Robin as we come to learn from Nolan’s films) must suit up and save the day. So how does Alfred feel that The Dark Night Returns?

NFL Conference Championship Round, 2013

17 Jan

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This is absolutely the best set of games that could have happened. The narrative surrounding the first game is a classic chess match between some of the best players and coaches in the history of the game. It is a matchup for those who love the “art” of the game – the finesse and strategy run through the quarterback position. The second game is the epitome of the recent movement within the NFL; utilizing dual threat quarterbacks to bring the speed and options typically seen at the collegiate level. In addition to these dynamic quarterbacks, both of these teams play at a physical level reminiscent of some of the great old school defensive units. Regardless of this week’s results, the contrasting styles will make for a great Superbowl.  

Sunday, January 19th

New England Patriots AT Denver Broncos (3:00 PM ET CBS)

Andrew – Denver Broncos. I…. I don’t know…. This game could go either way, as evidence in the overtime game that was played earlier this year (not to mention the extreme swings that forced it into overtime in the first place). A Denver mishap on special teams was the only thing that prevented the game from ending in a tie. In addition to all the normal pressures of just trying to get to the Superbowl, there is also all the legacy talk – is BB the best coach ever (yes), is Peyton Manning the best quarterback of all time (technically – probably), however if Tom Brady goes to the Superbowl he would be the first QB to go 6 times, and how could you argue against that feat (and his playoff record)… and honestly, this was just off the top of my head, there are probably several other interesting nuggets that will come to light after this game – but no pressure! It’s actually kind of amazing, and for those of us without a dog in the fight, this could arguably be one of the best Conference Championship games that has been played in the past decade (or more). I realize there isn’t any analysis in this soliloquy, or even an argument for my pick but honestly, I imagine if the NFL scheduled a full season of just Broncos vs. Patriots games, they would end up 8-8, so flip a coin.

Greg – New England. I have been battling this pick all week — and changing it every day. I really don’t know how this game will go. If the Patriots can run the ball like the past few weeks, I think they will take this one. But that depends on how their defense plays against Manning, who could put up a quick 21 points and force the Pats to pass. I’m not sure how this game will go, but I’m taking the Pats coming in as underdogs to steal one. As a fan — sit back and enjoy seeing these quarterback greats play against each other, someday you’ll tell your kids you saw these two play.

Genesis – Broncos – NEEEIIIGGGHHHH

San Francisco 49ers AT Seattle Seahawks  (6:30 PM ET FOX)

Andrew – Seattle Seahawks. I don’t know what to say. I picked the 49ers, starting to write out why, and thought “ah this sucks, the Seahawks are going to win.” So I switched my pick to the Seahawks and started to write something out and thought “ah shit, the 49ers are going to win.” So. again, here is my non analysis…. I am not going to enjoy this game. It’s going to chippy until the refs get overly involved, and then it’s just going to be frustrating and annoying. The thing is, I know people love this type of football too, so another ideal matchup for the NFL.

Greg – San Francisco. Wow, picking both road teams in a Championship game — not smart Greg. Yeah I know. But something about this San Francisco team has me hooked. Their offense and defense are clicking at the right time and seem to be unstoppable. Add into that mix that Seattle’s offense has looked pretty awful recently — mainly Russell Wilson not being able to do anything and making the wrong reads — and you have a recipe for a 49ers win. It’s key they get points on their first 2 or 3 possessions to quiet the crowd a bit and get their confidence. This game is going to be very interesting from the get go. While the AFC game will be interesting in the second half, the first half will be very telling in this one.

Genesis – Seahwaks – cawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww

 

NFL Divisional Playoff Round Predictions

11 Jan

Divisional Round

January 11th – Saturday Playoff Games

New Orleans Saints at Seattle Seahawks (4:35 PM ET Fox)

Andrew – Seattle Seahawks. I imagine that when it’s all said and done, the final score will suggest the game was closer than it actually will be (that was a terrible mix of past and future tense). I don’t doubt that New Orleans will put up a fight at one point, but I think Seattle will be in control throughout the game.

Greg – Seattle. It is so difficult to not pick the Seahawks in this game. Even though the saints proved last week they can win outdoors, I just cannot pick them. I think New Orleans will come out with some trick plays here and there to throw off Seattle’s defense, but it won’t be enough in the end.

Genesis – Saints faint as the Seahawks walk – to victory!

Indianapolis Colts at New England Patriots (8:15 PM ET CBS)

Andrew – New England. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady’s abilities have covered up the ugly underbelly of New England’s season. Aaron Hernandez, major injuries to key players on both sides of the ball, and lack of depth have plagued this team all season. Despite all that, I think these two teams come in pretty evenly matched. If New England can get out of its own way (meaning, not have a bunch of dropped balls, fumbles, penalties and other mental errors) than this is their game to lose.

Greg – New England. This game makes me nervous. The Pats are not a good team, but then again, the Colts aren’t very good either. Look for the Pats to try and establish the run early on.

Genesis – Colts bolt after New England wins. Give yourself a PATS on the backs

January 12th – Sunday Playoff Games

San Francisco 49ers at Carolina Panthers (1:05 PM ET Fox)

Andrew – Carolina Panthers. I can see this game going either way. The popular pick is 49ers because they should have more offensive weapons than what they had the last time these teams played (and the Panthers won on the road). This time around, the Panthers are dealing with injuries despite coming off a week of rest. All that said, (and this is why I keep going back and forth) I think this is will be a tough game for 49ers to go across the country and beat the top ranked defense in their own house.

Greg – Carolina. This should be a very fun game to watch. I don’t expect too much offense in it, much like their first meeting, but each possession will be crucial. The 49ers have the experience here so this game is certainly a toss up, but I’m going with Cam in the big situation to come through.

Genesis – Panthers claw their way to victory! Meow this should be interesting!

San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos (4:40 PM ET CBS)

Andrew – Denver Broncos. If you combine the two games these teams played during the regular season, the Broncos have outscored the Chargers by a combined total of 1 point. Each team lost at home / won on the road. However, despite these close games, I would be really surprised to see the Broncos struggle in this game. They should be coming back healthy, with offensive weapons that they didn’t have in the previous games.

Greg – Denver. I really like San Diego in this situation, but I can’t pull the trigger. I’ve been saying for weeks that the AFC is Peyton’s to lose. He is set up perfectly here. That said, he’ll have a few mistakes that will be covered up by Denver’s running game. Broncos win a close one.

Genesis – Chargers will SHOCK the world and cause the Broncos to BOLT out of the area. Zzzt

NFL Wild Card Weekend 2013 Picks

4 Jan

We are in the playoffs folks. This is where the big boys come to play, amiright?!

WILD-CARD ROUND

Saturday January 4th

Kansas City Chiefs at Indianapolis Colts (4:35 p.m. ET on NBC)

Andrew – Indianapolis Colts. I don’t know how to feel about either of these teams. I do think the Chiefs have been over rated all year, but it’s not like the Colts are the most dominant team either, they barely got out of their own way towards the end of the season. I guess I just have to go with the home team here (that already won a few weeks ago too).

Greg – Kansas City. This is a tough game to pick, but I am going with the rested Chiefs here. Although the Colts are quite good at home and beat the Chiefs earlier in the year, I’m going with the 10th best rushing offense vs the 20th best rushing defense. If the Chiefs can maintain ball control with no turnovers, I think they win a close game.

Genesis – Da colts be boltin – da chiefs be beefin

New Orleans Saints at Philadelphia Eagles (8:10 p.m. ET on NBC)

Andrew – New Orleans Saints. I know that the Saints aren’t the same on the road, (although you could argue that the Eagles aren’t the same at home), and I know that dome teams don’t do well in the cold… that being said… I think this is the type of game the Saints like to play, high speed shootout, finesse, if you will. I think Sean Peyton is more experienced in these situations and will get his team right, not that Chip Kelly won’t be able to handle his own down the road.

Greg – Philadelphia. I’ve been saying for a few weeks now that whoever wins the horrible NFC East, will win their first playoff game just to sum up this year in the NFL. In playoff history, dome teams traveling outdoors for games are a combined 0-7. Combine that with temperatures around 20 at kickoff, and the Saints being a completely different team on the road, I’m going with the Eagles for semi “upset.” Plus, this guy might be there.

Genesis – Prayin’ for the SAINTS. HAIL MARY!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, January 5th

San Diego Chargers at Cincinnati Bengals at 1:05 p.m. ET on CBS

Andrew – Cincinnati Bengals. This team should win, at home. I am going to get super angry if they don’t since the Bengals probably have the best team top to bottom. Andy Dalton, don’t screw this up.

Greg – Cincinnati. Man — I could easily see the Chargers taking this game. There is almost too much going for the Bengals right now that you think something bad would happen. This team hasn’t won a playoff game in forever — but were undefeated at home this season. I’m going to go with their ground game though, seeing as the weather will be almost zero and snowing. Fun game to watch and see which teams come out to play.

Genesis – The Bengals are gonna get CHARGED UP!!!!!!! (To lose)

San Francisco 49ers at Green Bay Packers at 4:40 p.m. ET on FOX

Andrew – San Francisco 49ers. San Francisco has had Green Bay’s number the past couple times that they have played (one of those being the playoff blowout from last year). I know that it may be a struggle for them to play in the cold, but it’s not like they can’t play defense and run the ball well, so I’m not too worried about that. Yes, Green Bay is getting healthy at the right time + increased confidence from Aaron Rodgers being back, but I don’t see this one going so well for them (I think their fans feel the same since they’re not even going to the game).

Greg – San Francisco. So I am pretty confident the 49ers will be able to come in and win this game in Lambeau. Yes, it will be frigid, and as Andrew points out, the 49ers have a strong defense and run game they can fall back on. The Packers struggled all year through injuries, and even with Rodgers back at QB, I’ll take the 49ers who are on a 6 game winning streak going into this one.

Genesis – Maybe if they were called the 50s, they’d have a chance. Can I get an AMEN?

 

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