7 Focus Points on the ‘Justified’ Season 5 Finale

Season 5 of Justified is over, but there’s plenty to talk about last night’s season finale, “Retribution”. Here are seven Focus Points on the finale and their effect on the series final season next year.

raylan and kendal

1. Raylan and Kendal have a chat
With one of the themes of the season being separation (Kendal from Wendy, Raylan from Art, Ava from Boyd, and even Raylan from Winona and daughter) there’s a nice reinforcement of Raylan trying to reach out to troubled kids who come from rough upbringings. Loretta McCready actually bet on his heroic nature. Raylan tried to prevent Kendal from entrusting his future with Daryl with his radio winnings, but as Raylan knows, you can’t escape who you’re born with. Raylan knew how to break the kid down and get him to say what he needed to confirm that he didn’t do it–even if he didn’t give up Daryl. The solution still required Wendy’s help in the end, but there’s something about Raylan’s stories, even ones about Arlo that seduce you. Or maybe it’s just the way he says, “cocoa.” Kendal, as misguided as he was, tried to act tough but was no match when Raylan walked through the door. He may be an absent father, but his efforts with Kendal and Loretta show that he could be a good dad yet. It was a really strong scene (without guns involved) shared between Tim Olyphant and Jacob Lofland, who from his introduction felt genuine every time he was on camera.

EDITOR’S PICK: Read Our Exclusive Interview with GRAHAM YOST, Justified’s Showrunner

2. Good help is hard to find
Apart from Colt, Jimmy (Jesse Luken) was one of Boyd’s henchmen that didn’t try to go behind his back. He was loyal to a fault and may have complained at times but he had good reason because Boyd gave him some shit work. One couldn’t help but feel bad for Jimmy, considering he tried to save Boyd, even at the end. But three-against-one is bad odds, even for a tough guy like Raylan. Still, that was some serious pain on Walton Goggins’ face, and must have felt like another stab in the heart for Boyd. Johnny betrayed him, and Boyd took care of it. Jimmy did everything he could to help and his fate was out of his control. Consider all the people who have died –especially in Season 1– trusting Boyd or fighting for his causes. It may explain why he appears so defeated entering Wynn Duffy’s deluxe Winnebago. We’ll miss you, Jimmy.

EDITOR’S PICK: Read Our Exclusive Interview with NICK SEARCY, Justified’s Art Mullen

3. Raylan lets Wendy finish off Daryl
I can’t say that this was a surprise, but it was so satisfying watching Wendy blast off her brother’s nut sack and throat, leaving Daryl to die. Villains have a way of bleeding out on the floor in Justified. Remember Robert Quarles? Since this was a story about family –an ongoing theme of the series– Raylan left it for the family to do the work for him. Daryl certainly gave Wendy enough ammunition to do it, whether it’s for trying to put Art’s shooting on Kendal or beating her to a pulp. I find the more interesting facets of this family bond could be traced back to their history not shown. How bad of a mother was Wendy for Daryl to step in? How many times did Daryl beat his sister up? Was there ever a relationship between Wendy and Daryl?

I know, I know, that steps into cliché redneck material there, but the way they played it on camera, there appeared to be some deeper feelings of love and hate. Perhaps that’s why she pointed the gun where she did. Daryl “loved” Kendal (If hanging him up to attempted murder could be called love) like his own son, definitely more than his supposed biological dad. Viewers stepped into this family tree with the roots already dug in, so this confrontation could simply be resolving a long and tired sibling rivalry, anger about the past, or just Wendy coming to grips with the terrible person she is–we’ll never know; Raylan did nothing to stop it, and advised Wendy to stop from putting another bullet in Daryl before a self-defense case could be thrown out. So he didn’t get his hands dirty, and Wendy and Kendal try to repair their mother-son relationship. Alica Witt put on a great show this season and was the most pleasant surprise of Season 5.

wendy and darryl

4. The Drug Cartel vs. Boyd, Tim, & Rachel
The finale’s biggest action standoff was also one of the fastest. No long talk up or soliloquies. This was Tim and Rachel holding ground and taking out the cartel. It does say a lot about Boyd, using Tim and Rachel (and Raylan) to save his hide once again, and leading them into an ambush. He’s smart and resourceful but he only looks out for himself. I was pleased to see both Tim and Rachel used increasingly the last three episodes; hopefully this is a preview of things to come in Season 6. Will there be any revenge by Mr. Yeun and the cartel? Anything is possible, but as long as Boyd and Wynn leave the heroin trade, then they probably don’t have to look over their shoulders. And since the marshals got involved,  this appears to be the end of the cartel thread, especially with the new arrangement between our remaining criminals…

EDITOR’S PICK: Read Our Exclusive Interview with JERE BURNS, Justified’s Wynn Duffy

5. Boyd and Wynn are back in business with… Katharine Hale
After taking care of the cartel, Boyd squared up his debt with Wynn, but Justified’s new power couple made him an offer he couldn’t refuse, leaving us with that cheshire grin of approval we’ve come to love. What was interesting about this conversation was that it was Katharine Hale doing most of the talking; she’s the one who made the offer to Boyd to get back in the business of robbing banks and she led us to believe that she was the reason her husband’s criminal operation ran smoothly. ADA David Vasquez’s history with Katharine and his nervous body language also builds her reputation as a person of interest. As for Boyd, he needs new soldiers. He’s had more buffoons like Dewey than loyal help like Jimmy or Colt, but I doubt Katharine puts up with that kind of ineptitude in Season 6? If she’s smart, Katharine will play to Boyd’s strengths and get him to blow shit up.

ava and boyd s5

6. Ava’s uneasy alliance with Raylan and lack of relationship with Boyd
The finale ended with this awesome scene on the bridge and we now know that Ava’s release hinges on her cooperation to help bring in Boyd. But I don’t think the writers would make it that easy. We have to believe that the hard time in prison affected Ava, or at least influenced her to some degree. I see Limehouse coming into the fold in the final season and be there for Ava in some way because he’d be someone who isn’t looking to use her.

Will she get involved with Boyd’s bank heists? Will she break into her own crime on the side, while helping Raylan? Will there be a permanent divide between Boyd and Ava or will there be an attempt to salvage that, knowing Raylan’s plans for Boyd? Or will she try to win him back, only to save herself and stab Boyd in the back in the end, or perhaps stab Raylan? Ava is the pivotal character. There was also no love lost between Raylan and Ava, and maybe this squashes all of those shippers’ hopes looking for these two to rekindle the Season 1 chemistry. Either way, we’re extremely happy to see Ava get out of prison and back in the fold playing off of the main cast like a glove fitting a hand. Joelle Carter resumed her on-screen chemistry with Goggins and Olyphant, as seen in the last two scenes, thus solidifying the main crime story for next season.

 EDITOR’S PICK: Read Our Exclusive Season 5 Interview with Joelle Carter, Justified’s Ava Crowder

7. We have our end in sight
Raylan has his way out of Harlan and Kentucky for good. With Art submitting his transfer back to Florida, that gives a storybook ending to this six-year crime story with Raylan rocking his daughter to sleep. He just has to finish one last job and that’s to put Boyd Crowder behind bars. But this is Justified we’re talking about here, so just getting Boyd in jail doesn’t seem right. The grave is probably more like it. Could this really be the ending or a set up for tragedy?

Showrunner Graham Yost told us that the writers’ room has an ending in mind, and what they’d like to see, but they’re not sure who’s going to die and how they’ll get there. Everyone is fair game, and that includes Raylan. Let’s not assume the “good guy” wins; Raylan has had questionable judgment along the way and the ending of Season 5 could be foreboding. Remember, we are sure to hear “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive” in some way (we’ve heard three renditions already) but will it refer to Ava, Boyd, or Raylan? Maybe two of them, or all three? Of the three, Raylan is the only one trying to leave Harlan. The answer to that question is probably best answered with another question that’s guided the entire series: What would Elmore Leonard do?

Video Game Gifts for Dad 2013

Now that you’ve finished picking up the typical clothes and power tools to gift that dad in your life, it’s time to give him a little pleasure through gaming this holiday season. Here are our picks.

Saints Row IV (PS3, Xbox 360)

What dad wouldn’t want to hear San Bush’s “The Touch” from Transformers: The Movie, while getting his game on? Saints Row IV was one of the surprise hits of the summer. This sandbox game mashed up Prototype, The Matrix and GTA into one ferocious, off-the-wall game. Realism in gaming may be cool, but playing as a superhero president who can bash an alien’s brains in is what makes playing video games great. Even if you don’t consider yourself a completionist, you may find yourself playing just about every mission so you can enjoy all the wacky M-rated humor and action.

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360)

Each new Assassin’s Creed release adds just a little more nuance to make it worthwhile game. While the land action and platforming will be familiar to most, life at sea in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag is a new-found joy. Play this game on one of the next gen consoles and you’re in for a visual treat. Lush environments feel alive and may just have you planning your next Caribbean getaway.

Tomb Raider (Xbox 360, PS3)

Everyone’s favorite treasure seeker, Lara Croft, went through a major reboot this year. We were introduced to a younger Lara, who had to do a lot of growing up in order to survive. Tomb Raider was one of the more mature adventures of the year and also gave us one of the best stories of 2013. The action and combat are always engaging and the character of Lara has never been brought to life in a more realistic way.

Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (3DS)

Any dad who remembers The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past on SNES will want to pick up Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds on 3DS. The game utilizes a similar visual style to the classic SNES game with a few added twists. Similar to the SNES game, this game features a parallel world to Hyrule. However, travel back-and-forth between the two worlds is done through a new mechanic that also deepens the intrigue of dungeon exploration. Link is now able to flatten himself out on a wall, like a painting, and work his way around the side of a cliff or the exterior of a castle. For lifelong Zelda fans, this game is reason enough to pick up a 3DS if you don’t have one yet.

NBA 2K14 (PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360)

NBA 2K13 was damn near perfect. With annual sports franchise games, you’re always left wondering – is it worth it to upgrade to the latest release merely to get a roster update? NBA 2K14 adds just enough polish to the defensive game and ball handling to make this title a worthy holiday pickup – especially at its current, marked-down price. And while the LeBron James Path to Greatness mode doesn’t offer more than a tacked on career mode, NBA 2K14 is just a down-right excellent basketball sim that any sports gamer should own.

Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (PS3)

Studio Ghibli made an RPG? Hell yeah, it did! Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is one of the best RPGs of 2013 and that’s even before you add in all the exquisite animation and compelling storytelling from Studio Ghibli. This is one of those truly memorable RPG experiences that will stick in your mind for years to come. The vast array of oddball characters, freaky monsters and unique locations warrants a franchise.

The Last of Us (PS3)

When people say that the line between movies and video games is getting blurred, they should reference The Last of Us in that conversation. The first ten minutes of the game, thrust you into the mind of one of the most compelling, and tragic heroes, of 2013 – video game or otherwise. The Last of Us gave us characters who you wanted to get to know on a personal level. While there were several AI issues, this game didn’t lack in personality and gamer engagement. I dare you to know five games that came out this year with a more intriguing – and conflicted – leading character.

FIFA Soccer 2014 (Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS4, PS3)

With the 2014 World Cup just over the horizon, adding a Fifa game to the collection is a necessity. Unlike EA Sports’ Madden franchise, the Fifa development team actually improves this game every year. While the tweaks may seem small to some, better ball control and shot handling makes this release the definitive Fifa game.

Bioshock Infinite (Xbox 360, PS3)

Bioshock Infinite was one of the edgier games of 2013. For many, it touched racial and religious nerves. However, this impactful story showed us how deep a video game story could get. The developers at Irrational Games reminded us that a great, nuanced story is essential in game development. Plus, the gameplay was just damn-good fun. Nuff said.

Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Blacklist (Xbox 360, PS3)

Splinter Cell Blacklist didn’t receive nearly as much attention as it deserved. Not only was the game a joy to play, but the multiplayer component gave many shooter fans just about as much fun as a Halo or Call of Duty game. The stealth mechanics and AI were some of the best of 2013. Plus, this is a shooter that was worth replaying the single player campaign just for the challenge. How often can you say that about a shooter these days?

Batman: Arkham Origins (PS3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii U)

Okay, so Batman Arkham Origins was just a buggy carbon copy of Batman Arkham City. I get it. But wasn’t it great to be Batman and fight Deathstroke? If a game is just fun to play, then I’ll play it. If you’ve got a Batman fan in the family – they’ll love to play it as well.

Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate (Wii U, 3DS)

While many will say that Super Mario 3D Land is the reason to own a Wii U, I’ll say that Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate was a great reason to pickup a Wii U or 3DS. This is one of the best multiplayer games around on either Nintendo system. If you’ve ever played Monster Hunter or just dig JRPGs, then this is a game that will give you countless hours of fun through 2014.

Grand Theft Auto V (Xbox 360, PS3)

If that dad in your life hasn’t had a chance to play this GTA game yet, then now is the time. While the story is short, there’s so much to do and see in this live-out-your-wildest-thrill-fantasy game.

Fire Emblem: Awakening (3DS)

I’ve met many DS and 3DS gamers who have been longing for the next Advance Wars game. Well, Fire Emblem: Awakening is the next best thing – if not an even better thing. This rich, turn-based strategy game sets a new benchmark of perfection on the 3DS. You don’t need to be a fan of the Fire Emblem franchise to get into this game. But if you are, you’ll delight in the depth of content. While some gamers may not consider Fire Emblem a staple Nintendo franchise – up there with Mario, Zelda, Kirby, Donkey Kong or Metroid – this game will have those naysayers singing a different tune.

Injustice: Gods Among Us Ultimate (PS3, Xbox 360, PS4, Xbox One)

With the Man of Steel sequel in the works and Arrow rocking the CW, picking up Injustice: Gods Among Us Ultimate should be a no brainer. Even if you’re not a fighting-game genre lover, you’ll dig the story, characters and special moves in Injustice. The game utilizes all the great mechanics of the revamped Mortal Kombat series to give fans one excellent fighting game.

DmC: Devil May Cry (Xbox 360, PS3)

Thanks to Capcom, the Devil May Cry franchise was relaunched and made ripe for next-gen. In DmC, Capcom relaunched a younger Dante. This new origin story may have changed up a few traits with regard to our hero, but DmC‘s nonstop action and wit got 2013 off on the right foot. This game is a great way to jump on the Dante bandwagon because you know that Capcom will be planning something big with this franchise for the PS4 and Xbox One.

In addition to retail games, there are also several digital games that you can gift that dad in your life through XBLA or PSN gift cards. These make for great Stocking Stuffers. Here are a few titles worth gifting:
Magic: Duels of the Planeswalkers 2014(PSN, XBLA)
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
Darkstalkers Resurrection
The Wolf Among Us: Episode 1 – Faith
Skulls of the Shogun

Five reasons why ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ does not suck

For those who saw The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in theaters a year ago might have found it, familiar, in that it followed so many of the beats found in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, all the way down to a scene with Gollum crammed in. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy more than a fantasy quest and a Peter Jackson adaptation of a J.R.R. Tolkien novel, and it was created in magnificent craftsmanship, but as a stand-alone film, it left a lot to be desired. That says a lot about a film that was nearly three hours long. Oh there were technical bells and whistles and many film fans and pundits found themselves talking more about the merits of 3D or 48 frames per second more passionately than the actual story itself. We don’t think that will be the problem this time around. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is out this weekend and is a vast improvement than the first Hobbit film; here are the reasons why:

hobbit_part_2_Dwarves

1. No drawn out introductions
The attempt to introduce viewers to dwarf culture didn’t go over too well with most movie audiences. I found the backlash a shame as I found it a throw back to when films would break into a song and dance. The lore of Tolkien allows for it. Jackson tried to make sure no leaf is unturned, especially in his extended editions. But there was purpose to it in An Unexpected Journey as it gave a deeper understanding of the dwarves since there is so little time spent trying to help us actually care for most of these little fellows, but I could also see why people want a much tighter film when they’re spending three hours on it.

Songs be damned, there’s a dragon to get to and a kingdom that needs to be reclaimed. This installment wastes little time getting Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), Thorin (Richard Armitage) and the rest of his merry band of dwarves to the Mirkwood Forest, which serves as a great portion of the adventure to reclaim Lonely Mountain and the riches it houses from Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch), the fire breathing dragon. There’s no extra contemplation by the characters. There’s no need to find inspiration or inch towards the end game. They’re all driven by the same goal and that helps keep the story moving along with only a handful of slow spots.

 

2. Legolas and Tauriel
It’s true, Jackson created Evangeline Lilly’s character Tauriel, who gave the screen a break from all of the grizzly dwarves and hobbit feet, as a departure from the novel. She reinforced the relentless parade of female archers in popular culture. For those keeping score, she’s infinitely better than Princess Merida and Young Justice’s Artemis but falls short of Katniss Everdeen and even Arya Stark. Still, for Lost fans, it’s been ages since we saw Lilly and there’s some fine action sets that she’s a part of, but her presence also introduces a love triangle element between Tauriel, Orlando Bloom’s Legolas, and one of the dwarves.

Speaking of Legolas, the arrogant and cocky warrior from the LOTR trilogy is in rare form here. Ever the brash one, he is the badass these films have been sorely needing. We had Aragorn in the first trilogy and try as he may, Armitage is no Viggo Mortensen. By design Thorin and Aragorn are not playing the same sports but this franchise needed a bit of ferociousness. Legolas provides that swash-buckling, slicing and spearing that was missing from the first Hobbit movie.

Hobbit_Part2_Elves

3. Less emphasis on Orcs
We get it, the Orcs are one bad bunch, but after seeing hordes of them in the entire LOTR trilogy, enough already. Look, they are cool, but they lose some of their punch when all you see is orc after orc after… well, you get the point. But there are other threats in this film that de-emphasize the Orc hierarchy and that’s a fresh breath of air. There are other moving parts, that build towards the confrontation between the dwarves and Smaug and that equates to a better, balanced film. It may still be two hours and 41 minutes but it doesn’t feel like it’s that long.

There is also a better effort to make Gandalf’s (Ian McKellen) solo asides feel like they’re a part of the story instead of extra padding for an already bloated story. Pulled from the appendices from Return of the King, Gandalf misadventures add to the sum of all the parts as well as adds to the legacy of the Lord of the Rings and the One Ring, which should make diehard fans of Tolkien more pleased at their integration in this film.

 

4. The introduction of Bard
Since the Hobbit films do little to advance the character of Bilbo or any of the Dwarves, we are given Bard (Luke Evans) and his back story.  Bard is family man from Laketown, once the trading port for all of Middle Earth until darkness fell upon it. Bard represents an interesting counterpoint to Thorin and his rushed decisions.

hobbit_part2_smaug

5. Smaug in all of his full Glory
An Unexpected Journey was such a bad tease to talk up a bad ass dragon for two hours and 40 minutes, only to leave us with an open eyeball at the end. Not to worry here as at least one third of the film is devoted to the fire-breathing giant – and it’s worth the wait. This enormous adversary gives purpose to the number of dwarves and provides another antagonist that’s not an orc or Gollum. So few of the bad guys in the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings have a full personality, so it’s a surprise that Smaug be able to show a full spectrum of emotions and desires instead of being another intimidating and imposing “big boss” villain. Like Gollum before, Weta knows how to breath life into digital characters and Smaug is not a letdown.

 

So those are the main things that largely make The Desolation of Smaug a more enjoyable experience than An Unexpected Journey. I could continue on about the beautifully orchestrated action sets, but those are a given benefit of Jackson’s monstrous films. The ones here hold up to many of those in the LOTR trilogy. However, there are still things that are annoying, like having too many Dwarves that don’t do anything except clutter up the screen. It also doesn’t help when viewers are trying desperately to connect to the Dwarves but are often upstaged by the heroics of Bilbo (he doesn’t have to be the hero of every moment). One wonders how the race of Dwarves rose to such heights.

There’s still an excruciating cliffhanger that will make you strangle those sitting beside you and no, there’s not more after the credits. For all of the craft and purity theater experience Jackson speaks of, he’s yet found a way to stick a clean landing. Instead, many of his films play to the home video capability of dropping a blu-ray to finish the story. These films come out 12 months apart, and end in manner that could be best described as a your college roommate barging in on a steamy one-night stand. Considering these few foibles, The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug not only salvages the Hobbit Trilogy, it will fuel the desire to see the final installment – and that’s a big improvement over how we felt a year ago.

Family Games to Take Home for the Holiday

The holiday rush is here. It’s a time for family, friends and great deals on video games. For parents, the key to a happy holiday is in finding great games that kids can play together or games that you can play with your kids. Here are our picks to bridge the gap between “gaming time” and family-together time.

Skylanders Swap Force (Wii U, 3DS, Xbox 360, PS3, Xbox One, PS4)

swap force

Skylanders has easily become the no-brainer gift for kids during the holiday season. Plus, I can’t tell you how many dads are thrilled to play games with their kids guilt free thanks to this game franchise.

If you don’t know what Skyladers are yet, your kids probably do. Skylanders is part game and part collectable toy franchise. By placing the toys on the magical portal, the toys pop right up on your children’s TV screen. This game continues to expand each year, with new toys to use in the game. Plus, you can always use older toys on new Skylanders game releases. This year’s Swap Force release adds in a new twist to the franchise. The new toys split into two-halves, which can be swapped with other Swap Force toys to create new in-game characters.

Just Dance 2014 (PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U, Xbox One, PS4)

Just Dance is another one of those staple family games. The dance franchise has supplanted instrument games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero for group gaming and laughs. Just Dance 2014‘s new “On Stage Mode” will allow families to rotate out their band leaders. So if you just want to dance back-up, while your kids take the stage, you can. While I’m sure many parents get enough of a workout playing the regular dance mode with their kids, fit parents setup a custom “sweat” playlist for workouts when the kids are at school.

NBA 2K14 (PS3, Xbox 360, PS4, Xbox One)

2K Sports delivered another solid basketball game this year with NBA 2K14. This game brings home some intense family sporting competition without any violence – just solid ball control and in-your-face dunks. LeBron James fans can also play through LeBron’s career through 2020 as he tries to beat Michael Jordan’s championship career. The fantasy mode allows you to play through LeBron’s career if he stays on Miami or if he is traded between teams – including the New York Knicks.

Rayman Legends (Wii U, PS3, Xbox 360, PS3)

Can you say 5-player Rayman? You can, if you’ve got the WiiPad. But don’t fret, you can still play 4-player co-op on the Xbox 360 and PS3. This is one of the most beautiful and engaging platformers of 2014. Regardless of your level of gaming experience, this game is an utter joy to play in a group. This is a great game to get casual gamers involved in a game that is not just fun, but also filled with intelligent challenges. So hop off of iOS for the holiday and have a Rayman party. You won’t be disappointed.

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes (PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U, 3DS, PS4, Xbox One)

With Marvel superhero fever rampaging through the cinema, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes makes for an ideal game to live out your comic book, adventure fantasies. Over 100 characters means no arguing between siblings for who gets to play what hero. Let me correct that, there may still be arguing, but hey instead of who gets to play Spider-Man they can debate over who gets to play Spider-Man, Captain America, Iron Man, Wolverine and any number of other heroes. You know what that means? They’ll learn to compromise. I get Spidey, you get Wolvie, but next time I get to smash everyone as the Hulk. Now that’s a holiday debate worth having.

Grid 2 (Xbox 360, PS3)

Do you remember Grid? Well, it came back in 2013 with one of the best racing games of the year, thanks to those racing lovers over at Codemasters. This game offers a unique mix of arcade racing and simulation, which is ideal for gamers of all ages. You won’t have to worry about overly complex customization and controls, like in Grand Turismo, and hop right in a race and go. However, there is still a lot of technical realism in this game. The variety of tracks, cars, weather and audio mix just makes this one racing game you’ll get hours of holiday gaming out of.

MLB 13: The Show (PS3)

Sony owns baseball with its MLB 13: The Show franchise just as much as EA Sports owns football with Madden. The 2013 baseball season may be over, but that just means you can pick up this superb baseball sim for dirt cheap. The game is even better if you’ve got the Playstation Move. This is one of those select titles, like Tiger Woods Golf, which actually benefits from movement controls. Your family will have a blast taking turns and swinging for the bleachers with the Move in your hands.

FIFA 14 (PS3, Xbox 360)

FIFA reminds us that competition in sports game development is a good thing. With Konami’s PES Soccer still a rival for EA Sports’ FIFA franchise, the developers at EA Sports have continued to make strides improving this title ever year – unlike Madden, which has seen starkly less improvement over the past decade. FIFA 14 improves on ball and shot control, allowing gamers to score in new and more fluid ways. With the World Cup just around the corner, FIFA 14 is a great way to get the family excited for world competition. Which country will you choose?

Black Friday Warm-up: Target makes Wii U ‘Mario’ and ‘Zelda’ bundles attractive to Holiday Shoppers

While the Xbox One and Sony PS4 have been making waves with consumers this month, another “new” console is still vying for the wandering eye of holiday shoppers.

Nintendo’s latest console, the Wii U, has become an attractive buy this week with the release of Super Mario 3D World. If there is one thing that Nintendo has learned from consumers, it’s that a new Mario game around the holiday boosts console and handheld system sales. That’s why the console game maker has also released The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds just in time for the holiday, quickly turning its 3D handheld system into a must-own for long-time Zelda fans.

Target’s offering a sweet deal to entice buyers, who may be looking for something different from the Playstation 4 and Xbox One, over to Wii U.

In advance of Black Friday, you can pick up a Wii U Deluxe Set with New Super Mario Bros U and New Super Luigi U at Target and get a complementary $25 Target gift card. The discount retailer is offering the same deal on the The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker Wii U Deluxe Set.

We’re still on the lookout for a good 3DS deal, especially one that features Nintendo 3DS XL Gold/Black – Limited Edition Bundle with The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. These limited edition releases rarely go on sale, but we have our fingers crossed for a good Black Friday deal. Most of the web deals go live on Thursday night. So stay tuned.

The End of ‘Breaking Bad': Walter White & Jesse Pinkman get a Proper Send Off – Top Moments

felina walt volvo

We are at the end of an era. The very last episode of Breaking Bad played to the heartstrings of millions of fans Sunday night and gave many of true sense of satisfaction. Often times, the best TV series don’t run long enough before being cancelled and ones that do run past three seasons start to stink like a rotting corpse on Walking Dead. Whether you were a fan of Dexter, Seinfeld, Lost or The Sopranos, disappointment gets even the best of them–but not Breaking Bad. There was no ambiguity, no room for interpretation, no loose dangling threads twisting in the wind.

Thankfully creator Vince Gilligan, cast and crew gave us a worthwhile and memorable finale, proper closure to accompany all the mental scarring along the way. Regardless if you were in Team Walt, Team Jesse, Team Hank, or Team Gus, there was no way one could refuse to stand up and applaud the Walter White (Bryan Cranston). There was no hubris left, no arrogance present, but there was intimidation. Heisenberg was still alive. He did not surrender and he did not commit suicide. Walter White went out on his own terms. It was not the most spine-chilling episode or the most suspenseful; there are so many to choose to fit those and many other superlatives. But “Felina” could probably be best categorized as Walter’s most honest episode, and the send off that was needed to finish off the series.

Lucky Walter

To disregard Walter’s good fortune would be ignoring a huge element of his success. This season seemed to show that his luck was running out, that everything was coming to a head, but the forces of nature, science or whatever you believe was watching Walter’s back these five seasons intervened again. Needing a getaway car, Walter found the keys to a old white Volvo in the visor.

Walter: Just get me home,” and I’ll do the rest.

Walter sucks up his pride

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In an unexpected turn, the Schwartzs were spared and instead of the Charlie Rose appearance motivating Walt to act out all of his anger, he swallowed his pride and tricks Elliott (Adam Godley) and Gretchen (Jessica Hecht) to create an irrevocable trust for Flynn (R.J. Mitte) instead. He needed the assistance of Badger (Matt L. Jones) and Skinny Pete (Charles Baker) to make sure the job was done; he orchestrated a grand way to get them involved in his plan and showed at the same time that he was still a bad ass. I had completely discounted Jesse’s (Aaron Paul) friends to make a final appearance and assist; I couldn’t come up with a plausible string to connect Walter’s assault on the Schwartzs to Uncle Jack (Michael Bowen) but this was such a smart way to do it.

I was disappointed not learn more about their history as business partners. Why did he become the teacher and give up the chance to be a part of a business, and doing what he liked to do the most, working in chemistry? Was it just as simple as love? It could have provided us with just that extra bit of information to understand Walter’s motivations. The opportunity was certainly there, but for whatever reason it was not a part of the final tale.

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Walter’s Watch and Redemption

He was so proud to get the watch as a gift, but he realized that his friendship with Jesse was over. Perhaps he realized everything he had done to Jesse was evil, or how he spent more time with Jesse than his own son. Maybe he realized that his friendship with Jesse was meaningless as was the money, since it cost him his family and Hank’s life. There was no use looking at the clock when you know there’s no escaping death. He went after Jesse with the intent to kill him for continuing to use his formula to cook meth, but upon discovering him shackled and beaten, he knew he had to save him and do right.

The White Knight

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We know that Gilligan is a fan of Westerns, and he’s gone on record to say that he was inspired by John Wayne in “The Searchers” for the fate of Jesse and Walt. In Walter’s final run he hid and lurked in the shadows at the Schwartz’s home undetected and in his visit to Skyler. The remote control rig for the M60 was “McGuyver-esque” and the way he pretended to be David Linn of the New York Times surprised me. Let’s not forget jumping on Jesse and protecting him one more time and taking a bullet. He went out a hero, but he did take a long time to come around. Forget about Scarface, Walter turned into the goddamn Batman.

Walter Wins Again

No, he didn’t get the warm embrace from his family, and no, he and Jesse never got to race go-carts together. Walter never got his full $80 million, but he did get more than enough to set up his two children and wife with enough for college or whatever. He did it with drug money. Blood money. And ultimately did it living a lifestyle that was the antithesis to Hank. We don’t know what Flynn’s reaction is going to be, but given his loving nature towards his sister and mother, he’ll probably use it as Walter intended it. Providing his family with enough money to take away most worries wasn’t enough in the end to be considered a father or husband, but in Walt’s mind it was. He never did this for them, but knowing the medical bills of fighting cancer on top the cost of living ruins families everyday.

It’s a harsh truth of living in this country, and it’s why Breaking Bad speaks to so many middle class Americans. The dream in America is no longer to live in a house with a white picket fence, get married and 2.5 kids. It’s living without debt. It’s living while exercising passion. And it’s living an entire life without experiencing cancer or some other tragic disease. Walter got an extension in life–two years– by doing the work that he loved; he left a legacy, no matter what you think of it morally, and he still set his family up. He lived out his version of the dream, no matter how twisted a path it was. Those who were looking for Walter to get his just desserts will have to deal with that ending.

Color at Work

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It’s always fun looking at the wardrobe of each character and finding out what other messages they say or reinforce. The white Volvo, covered in snow, provided him the temporary cover needed to avoid the police that he brought on with his desperate phone call into the lead investigator of his case. The color of the car along with the snow, kept Walter’s color theme of white in the last half of the season as his disguise in plain sight. Meanwhile he wore a black parka to symbolize the cancer taking over him, covered in death. He switched to a lighter green jacket as he drove west, to eat at Denny’s, to get the ricin from his destroyed home and to drop in on Lydia (who is wearing the “cornflower” blue blouse), Todd and the Schwartzs. In Lydia’s final scene, she is seen gripping an orange pillow–that color has always been the color of caution, murder, or death.

Walter changed into beige khakis and coat once he got back to Albuquerque; he put a buttoned green shirt for Skyler, symbolizing envy. No longer caring about money or power, his envy is for her and his son’s love, which he’ll never get again. He wants to be able to be with his family, but cannot. He is there to say his final goodbye.

And an interesting switch in color schemes, Marie’s prominent color was beige to match he sister, even though she did wear a dark purple skirt, it was almost black, still grieving for Hank. It was Jack though who wore the royal color of purple and didn’t see his demise coming.

Todd, Uncle Jack and Lydia’s; plus the Breaking Bad orphanage

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Jesse got the definitive “f*ck yeah!” moment of the finale – a gratifying death if there ever was one. If nothing more than to get justice for Drew Sharp. We can all agree that Andrea getting drawn into the body count was just crushing, but Sharp probably saw nothing outside of three men high-fiving each other. Uncle Jack was asking to be killed from the first moment we met him.

I don’t agree with how Jack took on the role of the series’ villain when it seemed too me that the greatest villain was Walter White. Todd and his uncle watered that down some and if there was a big problem with the final season that would have been it. Gilligan left room for redemption and it made for a great ending, but this series has taken darker turns and admittedly, it could have been a lot more grim.

Lydia’s fate did come down as many surmised, as the recipient of the ricin. I couldn’t connect Walt’s jump from the Schwartzs to the Arians, but that’s why Badger and Skinny Pete were such a pleasant surprise. Lydia died a slow and painful death, cursing her love for Stevia.

Lydia’s death though leaves an unsettling trail of orphans or parental figures taken away from young children, as her daughter will soon find her mother dead in a more graceful way than what Mike had planned for her. Going back to “Peekaboo” and the child of Spooge’s (David Ury) girlfriend (Dale Dickey) we’ve seen children be left to fend for themselves. There’s Brock (Ian Posada), then there’s Mike’s granddaughter Kaylee (Kaija Roze Bales) but we can assume she still has her mother, but Mike was a big part of her life. Not to mention there’s Holly White, who will undoubtedly need therapy some day when she finds out the truth about her father.

Lamberts’ Truce

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The phone conversation between Skyler and Marie did give hope for Skyler fans that they’ll be there to survive this. I knew that Marie couldn’t stay away and be angry forever, she loves her sister, nephew and niece too much. But it’s so bittersweet knowing that Hank is still on her mind, she’s still (understandably) harboring anger but still has no idea just how smart Walter was, which brings us to…

The last goodbyes

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Walter appearing right after Marie told Skyler he’ll never get to her was both funny and indicative of Walter’s ability to surprise. Gilligan was still able to make us laugh at Marie’s expense. But as much as we expected this to be a memorable scene, this one may have been one of the best scenes of the entire series. First, seeing Skyler’s reflection in the microwave was such a lovely way to enter that scene since her back was turned to the viewer; it was the result of a happy accident according to Gilligan on Talking Bad. Everything that happened right after the scene was phenomenal. From Walter’s reveal of the lotto ticket coordinates to the burial site, to Skyler’s reaction that Hank and Steve’s murder is a full reality. She held so much in for so long and there was such a range of emotions that came pouring out. Then came the admission we’ve all been waiting for:

Skyler: If I have to hear one more time that you did this for the family
Walter: I did it for myself. I liked it. I was good at it. And… I was… I was alive.

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Seeing him say goodbye to Holly and watch Flynn walk home through the windows of the laundry room added to the sadness, but it made sense. Nothing Walter would have said in person would have mattered to his son, who hasn’t experienced the grays of life yet. Walter didn’t deserve another opportunity to earn the trust of his son back, but as a parent, to watch Walt seeing his son for the last time, followed with an empty turn and walk away was hard. But there was a sense of pride in the choices his son made by himself.

I did take issue that no one wished Walter Happy Birthday. It’s understandable that Jesse wouldn’t remember since he was on and off drugs over the five seasons, but I expected a quick mention by Skyler, even after Walter offered it as a part of the story he wanted to tell the prosecutors.

Partners No More

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Walter went out in a blaze of glory but as we mentioned above, he redeemed himself by saving Jesse, which brings us to the final confrontation between former partners. I’m proud that Jesse asked him to say that he wanted to be shot, but upon seeing he took a bullet for him, he put the gun down and told him to do it himself. He was done taking orders from him (“Rabid Dog”) and outside of Todd, Jesse was never a killer. Shooting Gayle still haunts him. He fired guns at Don Eladio’s pad out of self-preservation. To take Walter White’s life, would have only multiplied his nightmares and take away what little humanity he had left in him.

There’s a moment though when he jumps in that car when you think he might run Walter over. Instead, a simple nod shared between them was a final acknowledgement of their journey, but it was time for the divorce to be finalized. There’s a great moment as Walter takes in what Todd and Jack did to Jesse, Jack mocks the idea that he’d partner up with a rat, but everything he said was the truth, seen through Walt’s eyes.

Jack: Sure, he’s my partner. Hard working, good partner. 50/50 partner.

Jesse had his difficulties. As a fan of the show I wanted to strangle him in Seasons 1 and 2, but he was loyal, and eventually was just as good as Walt making crystal blue. He was his best student. Jesse’s delusion of creating a wooden box was a call back to his 12-step program, something he needed to get through Todd’s torture, but there’s so much potential still left in him and with all of the pain he’s caused, I have no doubt he will remain sober.

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Certainly the British pop band Badfinger’s 1972 song, “Baby Blue” will undoubtedly get a surge downloads at iTunes, but Walter’s final walk through the lab that he created and designed with Jesse put him back in his element. A scientist died surrounded by his life’s greatest achievement, something he was proud to have created–despite its effect on the end users–and it shouldn’t have been any other way. He was with the one thing he loved the most, the one thing that renewed his life and made him feel alive when he was sentenced to death by cancer. He was already living a dead life, and the cancer woke him up. He probably would have performed one last cook if he could have mustered it. But as the cops arrived, all we can hope for is for Jesse to have escaped and find Brock. Walter lived life as he wanted but never planned for, not on the timetable of his sickness, but by his actions; he lost his family along the way, but “Felina” marks the final good deeds by a chemistry teacher who broke bad.

12 Ways ‘The Killing’ Has Our Attention Again

Maybe we like to torture ourselves or maybe we want to see The Killing live up to its potential, but we’re back watching AMC’s methodical investigation series with lots of interest. Time has passed and Detective Holder (Joel Kinnaman) has a new partner and newfound success at his job, solving seven out of seven cases since the Rosie Larsen case. Holder’s former partner, Sarah Linden (Mirelle Enos) has been separated from society, working at Vashon, one of Seattle’s nearby islands as a ferry stop worker until Holder brings her back into the fold. Underneath all of the cosmetic changes, Season 3 has showed plenty of other reasons why The Killing has our attention again.

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12. They turned “The Killing” from a noun to a verb
See what they did there? Instead of trying to circle around the death of one static crime scene, all of the possible leads, and its ripple effect on surrounding parties, Season 3 brings multiple plots together to prevent the acts of a serial killer from continuing. Rather than fill the series with red herrings and wondering if each episode was going to give the key evidence to catch the killer–which it usually didn’t–there are two clocks racing: 1) Catching the killer who has over 15 victims and counting, and 2) seeing if Holder’s new case would give evidence to reopen the Ray Seward (Peter Sarsgaard) case and find him innocent before he is put to death.

A new case means an entry point for new viewers too. The focus is split up equally on Holder, Linden, Seward, and profiling the killer on the loose as compared to Seasons 1 and 2 where Holder and Linden shouldered all of the weight, while the audience were forced to care about someone who may or may not be involved. The difference is that the first two seasons showed a more realistic portrayal of detective work, the third is a more practical production of a compelling television show.

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11. Ray Seward
Over four years ago, Seward was found guilty for murdering his wife, Trisha Ann by Linden and her then partner, (lover), and current boss James Skinner (Elias Koteas). He is 30 days from execution and that puts a clock on Linden to find a connection between Trisha and Holder’s new case. But Seward remains a mystery man; he clearly is full of evil and hate, but Linden’s confronted him with evidence that he’s probably innocent–at least of his wife’s murder. We watch him to see if he’ll snap or if he’ll take out prison guard Francis Becker (Hugh Dillon). Seward wants others to know that he’s a psychopath who is not seeking redemption, but he wants to see Adrian one last time (if he truly is his son). The third lead character in Season 1 and 2 was Billy Campbell’s Darren Richmond and sorry, dirty politicians are not as compelling as murderers.

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10. Detective Holder. Detective Holder. Detective Holder.
We have a man crush on Joel Kinnaman because he’s 80% of why we tune into this show. His dialogue, mannerisms, character’s randomness, Vegan-Lacto diet, lack of respect for a crime scene (drinking skim milk?) and how he smears his stank all over your face when he’s right. He’s different this season, and it’s not just the wardrobe from Men’s Warehouse. He’s hungry for the hard case, bored by the easy cases where gangbangers kill each other. Holder uses his street smarts from when he was in Narcotics to get further progress. Linden’s thoroughness wore off on him and there’s no sign of a relapse. He’s turned into a real detective, one that’s different than any other seen on TV.

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9. Holder’s new partner
Carl Reddick (Gregg Henry) is the lazy, scummy, sleazy detective Holder used to be. He argues with first officers on the scene, complains about the new case because it will mean more work, throws dirt on Linden whenever he can and the guy’s never in need of a snide remark, like this one: “I need to check my balls for lice after going in there.” He’s difficult to trust and that means he’s one to watch.

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8. Holder is STILL an equal opportunity hater.
He hates on Reddick. He hated on Bullet when he met her, calling her a “little, baby, butch, bitch ass,” just to put her in her place and then there Mama Dips at the roach motel. “Gimme a smile, Mama San.” We never know what’s going to come out of his mouth and who he’s going to piss off.

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7. Better storytelling
We’ve already mentioned the change in series structure, but there’s vast improvements in how each episode unfolds. This started in Season 2 when the writers weren’t trying so hard to give us the “red herring of the week,” only to reach a dead end at the beginning of the next episode. In Season 3, we’re five episodes in and the first “suspect” has appeared, but we don’t necessarily feel like we’re at the end of the rope (plus there is still over half a season to go). Linden has the Seward case to reconsider and we see how it’s playing out in prison. One of the killer’s victims escaped and was saved.  It wasn’t the one we all thought it was, but each episode has been a different experience and that keeps it fresh and unpredictable without being annoying.

Another enjoyable aspect is not being stuck having to tell one day’s events in one episode. That structure made earlier episodes maddening as some weeks were so dense while others were extremely sparse. The scope this season is much tighter to the case whereas the mayoral race and Indian reservation ballooned the first two seasons and gave viewers places to tune out or be more interested in tangents, instead of the Rosie Larsen investigation. It’s still a slow show, and it would be nice if we could get two episodes at a time so it feels like the story is actually driving towards its destination instead of crawling to it, but it is what it is, and we’ve grown accustomed to its deliberate pace. The overall writing has improved and that’s the a difference that ultimately keeps us around for the long haul.

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6. We care about transient youths living tragic and depressing lives – ok, at least through the television
Rosie Larsen didn’t fit in this category, but she was a youth and wanted to escape and be adventurous. She was tragically in the wrong place at the wrong time. The killer in season three is targeting homeless under-aged working girls that leave themselves open to a dangerous and nomadic lifestyle. No one is actively looking for them, so there was no reason to worry about the authorities cracking down. Geez, talk about depressing. On a social level, it’s uncomfortable to watch teenagers turning tricks with old men, but we must care them otherwise we would have tuned out by now.

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5. We also apparently enjoy watching child abuse
There’s a theme of children being squeezed through the foster system, starting with Linden being raised as a foster child, there was the outreach programs mayoral candidate Darren Richmond sponsored, Ray Seward’s son is in the system now, and the detectives are constantly circling through all of the places on the streets where kids hang out instead of being in school. Those who’ve watched Seasons 1 and 2 know how bad Linden was to her son, but this season Danette Lutz (Amy Seimetz) is sure to get a Mother of the Year award with her eye-widening displays of neglect to her daughter Kallie.

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4. Jack is out of the picture.
Linden is a bad mother. We got the idea after 26 episodes and the last thing we want to see is Linden trying to earn herself a mother’s day card. Jack (Liam James) is a fun character when he interacted with Holder; we just can’t bear to see him in awkward conversations with Linden. Like in the season premiere, Jack asks Linden why she’s still living in Seattle and she had no answer. When he asks her to move to Chicago and she replies that she would only know him and his father. That’s a way of saying, I don’t want to raise you or be near you. Word of advice, Jack, live with your father for the duration of the season because at least we’ll know you’ll be fed properly there.

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3. Holder has a girlfriend and she works for the District Attorney’s office
And she’s nothing what you’d expect. We get to see yet another side of the tough-talking Holder, you know the one that talks mushy and questions Caroline about his-and-hers Sonicare toothbrushes infiltrating his bathroom. Oh and since Jewel Staite played Kaylee Frye on the Joss Whedon’s cult series Firefly there was a nice little reference to it at the beginning of their scene referring to Holder’s tattoo on his chest. But this is the winning exchange so far in season three:

Caroline: I got a new “Untamed and Uncut” on the DVR.
Holder: Whaaaaaaat?!
Caroline: Whaaaaaa–Double white shark attacks.
Holder: Oh Snap!

Hope we see more of this Holder with Caroline, just please don’t let her be sucked into this investigation. This isn’t Se7en and we don’t want to see Jewel’s pretty little head in a box.

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2. The Rain
Yes, the amount of rain is exaggerated but it is often overcast in Seattle and the rain does more to set the tone for the dreary misery and the loneliness so many of these characters share in common. Besides, most television shows take place in sunny, pretty environments of Los Angeles or Miami, etc. so we respect one that’s willing to set the story in Seattle and not be afraid of the elements.

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1. Linden is still… Linden.
When this series started, who ever thought Linden would be the one who breaks the rules, ruffles feathers, and goes off the deep end? There’s so much to learn about Linden, whenever she lets the audience in. Habits are hard to break and she persists on investigating crime scenes dark, seedy places all by her lonesome. On a run, she stumbles on a scary cattle barn and shoot one cow dead to put it out of its misery. It’s symbolic of what she discovers when she finds the pond filled with dead bodies. She had an affair with her former partner James Skinner (Elias Koteas) and rocks the cradle with another tryst to start the season. There’s no hiding her faults this season, Linden admitted it when explaining to Cody she has to end their fling, “I break things.”

Are you watching the third season of The Killing? If so, what’s keeping you watching?

Casting Lex Luthor in Superman: Man of Steel 2

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One essential story that should spin out of Man of Steel is the formal introduction of Lex Luthor to this world. Imagine Luthor using Kal-El’s lack of experience against him to show the world that Superman does more harm than good (a classic Luthorism) – especially after the destruction and mayhem Superman “caused” in his battle with General Zod (Michael Shannon). Luthor doesn’t have to be the main villain; he can pull the strings, use technology or simply instigate Superman’s next big conflict in tandem with another villain. In no particular order, here is our list of actors who we think could pull off the Lex Luthor role, along with their pros and cons.

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Michael Rosenbaum
Pros: In this case, familiarity breeds comfort instead of contempt since we know his interpretation of Luthor on Smallville well, and he could further develop that on the big screen. He’s the perfect age (late 30’s to mid 40’s range) that Hollywood is probably looking for to be able to grow into a role that will possibly live on for 10 years (if Warner Bros. is able to get their DC Universe up and running). We think he’s available to be locked into a long contract to do multiple films and he understands the main motivations of the character. Rosenbaum could also draw back in all the Smallville fans who were pissed he wasn’t around for most of the last three seasons.

EDITOR’S PICK: Read our review of Man of Steel

Cons: Been there, done that. Hollywood rarely casts people again for the same role unless we’re talking about animation. Rosenbaum represents a revisit to Smallville, a show that lost its steam after season five or six. As much as he would please audiences, he could turn them off too. Sometimes we want a separation of what’s on film from television, while at other times we just want a clean break. For producers and movie studios, making movies is akin to running a sports team: each regime wants to bring in its own roster and live or die by their decision.

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John Glover
Pros: We’re taking one last swipe at Smallville, but only because Glover was so good at being so evil. If there were ever a sinister shadow of Lex Luthor on Smallville, it was definitely his father Lionel. He was the hand in the puppet before Lex could stand on his own feet. Between the Smallville versions of the Luthors, other villains on the television show paled in comparison.

Cons: Glover will turn 70 soon and while we think he’s still got it with recent turns on The Good Wife and Tron: Uprising, he won’t be on Hollywood’s radar to be the antagonist to square off with the 30-year old Cavill.

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Bryan Cranston
Pros: As one of the best actors working today, who better to play the manipulative, scheming mastermind than Cranston? Plus, he possesses the gravitas to deliver a show-stopping performance. Cranston does all of that and more already as Walter White on Breaking Bad. He looks the part with the head shaved, and looks sharp in suits on the red carpet, which could be his entire wardrobe for Luthor. Cranston is probably one of the more obvious choices, but certainly one that has us dreaming of a Man of Steel sequel.

Cons: Again, age is a bit of a factor as he might not be able to play that friend-turned-foe angle, but Hollywood has done the big age difference before with Kevin Spacey and Brandon Routh in Superman Returns. Scheduling might also be a problem since Cranston is one of the busiest actors today. Even though he might be wrestled down for one film, there’s no guarantee he could be available for two or three films should Luthor ever become part of a DC Universe series of films. Still, we’d almost be willing to see Luthor one-and-done just to see Cranston fulfill the role of the iconic Superman villain.

Jon Hamm
Pros: There’s no denying his acting ability and there’s also an underrated comedic side (30 Rock), which might breathe some levity into the seriousness of Man of Steel. In fact, he’s done a short Funny or Die skit playing Luthor (see the video above). Should Warner Bros. retain Snyder, he’s worked with Hamm on Sucker Punch already and would probably be an easy score to work with since Mad Men has to be winding down at some point. Hamm is in that sweet spot as far as age and ability to give us multiple sides of a man, plus he could get physical if it’s required. He acts well without speaking and on the flip side has done some memorable voice work on commercials and Archer. Scoring him for Luthor would be a big time boost for team Superman.

Cons:  There’s not much we see that would be bad, other than he doesn’t possess that classic look we think of when Luthor comes to mind. He has such great hair too, so to shave it off might be a daring move for him (clearly the skin cap doesn’t work). Then again, who says that Luthor has to be bald. John Shea played Luthor with hair on Lois & Clark with the exception of a single episode. So while hair isn’t a deal breaker, Hamm must be at least willing to cut that pretty hair of his.

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Dean Norris
Pros: If we’re considering Cranston, we have to give Norris a shot too. Norris currently plays Hank Schrader on Breaking Bad and will be on the new CBS Stephen King show, Under the Dome. While Cranston has perfected the art of speaking out of both sides of his mouth, the thought of Norris as Luthor makes us imagine another side of the character, one that says, “never trust me.” We’ve seen his character on BB turn from the one-note wiseguy to the smartest guy in the room. Norris can quickly get under your skin with a performance, give off slimy charisma and he’s got a great “deep thought” look (even while sitting on the toilet with his pants down). He has a terrific evil laugh and gives off the Luthor-look without much effort.

Cons: Like Cranston, Norris is starting to exit the ideal age range that could live with the role for several years if the Justice League franchise should ever get off the ground. Also, he is starring in a new series that could potentially make his availability more difficult.

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Michael Chiklis
Pros: Has very similar physical qualities to Norris but also has the resume to lay out an intense performance if the design of Luthor is to get his hands dirty–like we’ve seen him do on The Shield and Vegas. We think Chiklis has a splendid evil streak in him and can blur that line of cutthroat executive and misunderstood vigilante (again from Luthor’s point of view). Luthor sees himself as the good guy doing bad things and Chiklis could do that very well.

Cons: Chiklis has been around the superhero wagon already as Ben Grimm AKA The Thing on Fantastic Four, plus on No Ordinary Family, which was hit or miss for comic book fans. Lots of actors have been able to work on both Marvel and DC films, but there is that stink some believe that you shouldn’t do both (let’s not bring up Ryan Reynolds who made the jump from Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine to Hal Jordan in Green Lantern). Like many of our choices here, he’s just eclipsed that age range to make a long run, but no one can deny his skill as an actor. It really depends on what Warner Bros wants to accomplish with a Luthor character since it would be a waste to merely use Chiklis as the puppet master.

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Peter Dinklage
Pros: Nobody has taught the world the power of words and negotiation better than Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones. Perhaps he doesn’t have the look, and the comic book world can’t wrap its collective brain around the height difference. However, when casting and channeling Lex Luthor any actor would do well to take a lesson on cunning and shrewdness from Dinklage’s performance as Tyrion on GoT. Sure he’d make a great Mr. Mxyzptlk, but doing a successful Luthor is well within his talent as well.

Cons: Like we said, no one is thinking of Dinklage as Luthor until you think about what he brings as an actor.  When it comes to casting Dinklage, he is the out-of-the-box choice, but despite his mad skills, there is the dilemma of fitting an expected image. Comic book nerds might have a conniption fit since they freak out when the race of one their beloved characters is changed. We don’t believe in it, but know how Hollywood operates; studios often execute many decisions solely based on looks over talent, fair or unfair. Game of Thrones and other film roles (such as X-Men: Days of Future Past) are currently keeping him busy and not knowing when a sequel would begin production makes his availability a guessing game. George R.R. Martin still writing the books doesn’t help.

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Joaquin Phoenix
Pros: Speaking of unconventional and wild, Phoenix could take Luthor to all sorts of strange places. He fits the right age and possesses a range of emotions in his acting to play a master villain who “means well.” Each of Luthor’s moves is calculated and whoever plays Luthor has to believe he is doing the right thing for mankind. Once one accepts that, then Phoenix becomes a likely candidate to pull that off. Phoenix has also starred in two films with Amy Adams, The Master and Spike Jonze’s new sci-fi romantic comedy Her to be released in November. Knowing he would be acting with Adams again could help in wooing him to a commercial role.

Cons: Phoenix can be wildly unpredictable with his career choices (I’m Still Here), but the ones he does accept are always rich with material. He rarely takes on roles in mainstream films so this could be a difficult score. This would be his biggest commercial movie since Gladiator so it would be a shock to hear his name in the running.

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Mark Strong
Pros: We’ve chosen a lot of TV actors to portray Luthor but that’s partly because of the strength of television right now; we can see what actors can do with their characters over multiple seasons of a show. Strong is one actor who makes an impact on film no matter if it’s a leading role or in support of another, and he’s made a career playing memorable villains.

Cons: He’s been in the playground of superheroes before when he played Sinestro in Green Lantern and Frank D’Amico in Kick-Ass. Strong was actually one of the bright spots of Green Lantern, John Carter too, but who knows what flops like that could do to shape one’s view of this genre when weighing jobs. Would he give superheroes another shot if it came knocking? Strong’s availability could be another variable based on the success of his new AMC show, Low Winter Sun.

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Aidan Gillen
Pros: A veteran of film, television and theatre, Gillen could play Luthor in a way that would excite fans about the new direction in which the Superman franchise is going. His Peytr Baelish on GoT and Tommy Carcetti on The Wire, stand atop a very accomplished resume. That’s enough to show us that he could play all of the sides in Luthor we are looking for.

Cons: As we mentioned for Dinklage, openings in Gillen’s schedule could be tricky to coordinate. He is on the wiry side. So if Luthor were to get physical, Gillen would probably be forced to don the green and purple Super Powers battle armor to fight Superman (see top photo). That isn’t too bad of an issue, but it’s not that good either.

Did you like any of our picks for Lex Luthor in a potential sequel to Man of Steel or recurring villain in a DC film universe? Maybe you’ve got a choice that’s better than ours. Share your thoughts below.

The Walking Dead’s Top 20 Moments of Season 3

The Walking Dead is done until the fall and we’re looking back at our Top 20 Best Moments of Season 3. Some of these are vicious kills, others are big emotional moments. Either way, they’re some of the most talked about scenes that remind us what it is we love about this series. Over the next four pages, we’ve ranked them in order of greatness, so hopefully you’ll agree, and if not, let us know what your most memorable scenes were this season in the comments section.

EDITOR’S PICK: Vote for The Walking Dead in the Spring Madness Tournament

walking dead dixon bros

20. Dixon Bros. Reunion
Whether or not you’re playing The Walking Dead video game featuring the Dixon brothers, it was a big moment to see them reunite in the arena pits of Woodbury. It didn’t take long for them to team up and show what two Georgia rednecks can do. But Daryl (Norman Reedus) is a different guy than the one Merle (Michael Rooker) left behind, and Merle showed again and again why he was the character we loved to hate.

walking dead axel

19. Carol uses Axel as a shield
Carol (Melissa McBride) may have been rejecting Axel’s (Lew Temple) advances like Dikembe Mutombo blocks jump shots, but it was just his luck that the only shots fired by the Governor (David Morrissey) that hit anything were aimed Axel’s body. Carol found a tight hiding spot behind his corpse to shield her from bullets raining down.

walking dead amputee

18. Hershel becomes Stumpy in “Seed”
Poor Hershel (Scott Wilson) must lie on his back and writhe in pain, but seeing Rick (Andrew Lincoln) take multiple swings of the axe to his infected leg made viewers wince during the whole ordeal, and the sounds of the tearing flesh and bones crunching turned our ears inside out. Good thing he didn’t have a saw.

walking dead tyreese arrives

17. The Arrival of Tyreese
We weren’t exactly pleased at how Tyreese’s (Chad Coleman) story unfolded but it made sense in being able to compare and contrast Rick and the Governor. But it’s nice to know he’s in the mix for next season and will hopefully influence the group in a positive way. This show has a way of snuffing that type of thinking out.

walking dead glenn maggie love

16. Maggie and Glenn get engaged
Throughout the season there are these tender moments between our lovebirds that remind us why the living haven’t given up. Their engagement was as unceremonious as they come, and Glenn (Steve Yeun) taking a wedding ring off the hand of a walker was ghetto, but it fit in this world where you could be zombie food if you turn around the wrong corner. These two are living in the moment and we couldn’t be happier for them.

For our most memorable Walking Dead Moments of Season 3 #15-11 CLICK HERE

Wondercon 2013: 10 Focus Points on ‘Superman: Unbound’

Superman: Man of Steel isn’t the only Superman movie fans are eagerly waiting for, Warner Animated has a new film, Superman: Unbound which is based on a Superman Braniac comic story by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, that will be released on May 7, 2013 on DVD/blu-ray and digital download. The film is directed by James Tucker and stars the voice talents of Matt Bomer (White Collar) John Noble (Fringe) Stana Katic (Castle) and Molly Quinn (Castle). We screened the new animated original film and wanted to share 10 things to look for when you bring it home.

1. Cool opening credits – We’re suckers for any clever credit sequences and the ones used in Superman: Unbound are definitely unique.

2. Aggressive sound mix – This is a home release that we promise will be a joy to watch in surround sound at home. The opening sequence alone has multiple helicopters swooping in and around, automatic machine guns are spraying bullets, and explosions are going off. You gotta love flying sequences and hearing this in an arena did not do it justice. Superman: Unbound was meant to be heard in a bombastic home theater.

3. Lois is in trouble from the start but it isn’t Superman that’s the first to arrive on the scene to help her.

4. There’s a funny and modern take on Clark Kent’s bachelorhood and cover at the Daily Planet.

5. There’s a different but subtle change in Matt Bomer’s voice when he plays Superman vs. Clark Kent. When he’s Superman, he plays him with power and authority, whereas his voice for Clark is more of the happy-go-lucky Bomer that you’re used to hearing when you watching White Collar.

6. The women of this Superman story are extremely strong. Lois is as confident as ever, and Supergirl is a layered performance and nice duality played by Molly Quinn. In fact, some of the most memorable scenes of the story have either one or both ladies in them. One of the best fights in the film is a Lois and Clark clash about the fear of their relationship becoming public and Lane easily has the biggest moment in the film.

7. John Noble is a frightening Braniac and gives a splendid performance! Braniac’s ship is the stuff of nightmares and so are his fleet of blood thirsty robots. The interior of Braniac’s is also a cool color design with all of these pink pods of different alien species trapped inside, several bottle cities hanging from the rafters. Braniac is part of the ship and the ship is an extension of Braniac

8. Rather than be a straight brawler of an action film, there’s a whole level of psychology/emotions that Superman works in battle and with his relationships. We won’t say if it’s successful, but we love seeing Superman do something different and not be filled with one endless super-powered bar fight after another.

9. Batman has the Bat Signal, Superman has… something else.

10. Watch the end credits for a bonus scene.