Friday, April 20, 2018

TV Review - The Walking Dead Season 8 Episodes 9-16

   WARNING : THE WALKING DEAD SEASON #8 EPISODES 9-16 SPOILERS BELOW!!!

  AMC’s ‘The Walking Dead’ concluded its eighth season Sunday night with the end of the ‘All Out War’ saga that pitted Rick Grimes and his hardy band of zombie apocalypse survivors against Negan and his group of Saviors over the past two and a half seasons. The show has been in a rating decline for some time but after talking to a number of fellow viewers I believe the decline is not as severe as previously imagined since many of my fellow viewers don’t watch the show week to week like me but binge watch a half season at a time. I agree that the show is no longer the pop culture phenomenon of a couple of years ago and I also believe the show is way more popular than the ratings would suggest.

  I thought the show had become slow moving in seasons six and seven but started to pick back up in the first half of the current season with the war between the baseball bat wielding Negan and his Saviors against the combined communities of the Hilltop, Alexandria, and the Kingdom taking full flight. Part of this feeling may have been because I watch a show week to week that may well be intended to be binge-watched. This past half season saw the show return to the terror of trying to survive attacks of flesh eating zombies.

  If I want to see people fight and argue I can watch any police or lawyer show but The Walking Dead gave me three solid episodes featuring zombie terror in the half season. In the half season opener the late Simon from the Saviors gave the order to massacre the mysterious trash people from the garbage dump. Trash leader Jadis was the sole survivor but had to escape from the reanimated zombies of her trashy companions. The 4th episode showed the Saviors attacking the Hilltop and cutting many of the residents with weapons dipped in zombie guts. The wounded were all placed in the main house of the Hilltop where they died and reanimated, eating survivors and spreading terror in their wake. In the 6th episode, Rick and Morgan are captured by a group of renegade Saviors and brought to a dive bar headquarters but the bar is soon overrun by a zombie horde. In a great battle scene, Rick convinces the Saviors to cut them loose to help fight the zombies which they do until the zombie danger is clear whereupon Rick turns into Savior-killer and as a bonus we get to see Morgan trap Jared (the most sadistically vile of all the Saviors) in a room with zombies and hold him through a conveniently placed gate while Jared is eaten alive! Most of the zombie action in the show over the past few years have been battles against a few straggling zombies suddenly appearing in the woods or a swamp or a sewer but these three zombie attacks were superior in their sense of menace and the actual destruction involved.

  I spent the weeks leading up to the conclusion of this season by reading the comics from issue 1 to the end of all-out war in issue 126. I didn’t have to buy any of the comics since they can all be seen on YouTube under various channels. Except for the death of Rick’s son Carl (who is still alive in the comics 50 issues past the end of the war) the show was reasonably faithful to the comics although it seemed to lurch and stagger between iconic comic scenes as if the showrunners spent more time hitting the iconic moments without reasoning out how to logically get from one point to the next. This led to inanities like Aaron sleeping outside in the woods outside the all-female compound of Oceanside to solicit their help in the war, never mind that Rick’s group had previously stolen all their guns and Aaron’s traveling companion (Enid) just shot and killed their leader. The plot conveniences (the oceansiders arrive just in time to save the Hilltop community from the saviors with dozens of Molotov cocktail explosives) were a small price to pay for the iconic zombie action that makes this show must-see television for me.

  I thought the showrunners and writers did a great job in showing Negan in a human context as opposed to the buffoon-like character spouting one-liners in season seven. Negan repeatedly passes up opportunities to destroy the allied communities, instead opting to make examples in order to bring the communities into line to pay their protection ‘fees’. His second-in-command Simon massacres the trash people and leads an insurrection against Negan which he puts down with a mixture of smarts and savagery. The show conveyed the idea that Negan really thinks he is saving the world by taking it over.

  Meanwhile the show paints Rick as a beloved and respected leader by his people but he does plenty of shady stuff in the War. When held prisoner in the dive bar by the Saviors he tells them they will be welcome in his community and gives his word saying, “A man’s word gotta mean something”. And it does until he gets the chance to stick his hatchet into as many Saviors as he can once out of danger from the zombies. In the climactic scene of the war, Rick asks for ten seconds of Negan’s time to invoke the wishes of his dead son. This gives Negan pause – just enough pause for Rick to slit Negan’s throat with a shard of glass.

  I really liked the juxtaposition of Rick and Negan ‘trading places’. Just as in the comics, Negan is held prisoner, the Saviors head back to their sanctuary to rebuild, and the stage is set for the ‘time jump’ from the comics where our survivors have established a medieval civilization of sorts until the next major threats come along. Without Carl, I see no reason to have a lengthy time jump and hope Season 9 can continue in the current timeline with conflicts between the existing communities (already Maggie at the Hilltop is plotting to kill Negan) and one yet to be discovered (there ares still the mysteries of the pantsuited-Georgie who trades knowledge for vinyl records and the helicopter that does random flyovers). This season and specifically the last half season has given me a renewed thirst for the show and I hope it won’t change from its newfound terror orientation when season nine appears in the fall.

  To mark the end of a great season I am going to pass along some of my favorite snippets. These YouTube clips will probably be taken down before long so enjoy them while you can!

Best Mass Kill

This category was very strong with the massacre of the trash people and the Hilltopers dying and reanimating for a midnight snack but the winner is Jadis's zombie puree using what may be the only working trash grinder left in the world.

Most Devious Double-Cross

This season saw the double crosses of Simon, Dwight, and even Eugene against Negan but my favorite was Rick giving his word to the Saviors before flipping his kill switch.

Best Fight

  Rick and Negan had two epic battles but the winner is Negan and Simon going 'Fight Club' for the leadership of the Saviors.

Most Idiotic Moment

  The entire episode of blind Father Gabriel and Doc Carson on the run was ridiculous and Aaron camping out at Oceanside even more so but Eugene's escape by projectile vomiting his mac & chess & sardine dinner on Rosita may well be the most idiotic scene ever captured on film!

Friday, April 13, 2018

New Challenges for New Challengers

  American/Italian Fabiano Caruana won the FIDE candidates chess tournament last month which gives him a match for the world championship against Magnus Carlsen of Norway later this year. This will be the first championship between players from the Western Hemisphere since the 1937 match between Max Euwe of the Netherlands and Alexander Alekhine of France. If you consider Alekhine Russian since that is his country of birth and only left for France after the 1917 revolution than this is the first Western Hemisphere match since Jose Capablanca of Cuba and Emmanuel Lasker of Germany battled for the crown in 1921.

  Caruana was nearly the challenger two years ago when he entered the last round tied with Sergei Karjakin for the lead and playing Karjakin in the final round with an idiotic tiebreak system that was going to have another game decide the tournament winner if the players drew without a playoff. Caruana had the black pieces and as the events in the 'non-deciding' game unfolded needed to play for a win in order to become the challenger. Karjakin won the game and with it the right to challenge Carlsen for the world championship and even held a lead in the championship match with four games left before losing the match in tiebreaks.

  This year’s edition of the Candidates started as Carauana’s to lose as he took the lead in round 4 of the 14-round tournament and held it until round 12 when he lost to Karjakin. Karjakin had lost two of his first four games but with the round 12 win tied Caruana and held the tiebreak in case of a tie with two rounds to go. It looked as if the stage was set for a collapse but Caruana rebounded with two wins in the final two rounds to easily win the tournament. And if winning the candidates tournament wasn’t enough, the very next week Caruana played in the GRENKE Chess classic in Germany and won that tournament with four wins and five draws ahead of Carlsen who managed two wins and seven draws.

  Over the last month it seemed to me that Caruana’s opponents were in the habit of over pressing promising positions and falling prey to counterstrikes but that is just my impression and I am likely not qualified to judge. Winning the last two rounds of the candidates tournament following his losing the sole lead speaks volumes to Caruana’s fighting abilities and grace under pressure. It was certainly a far cry from January’s Tata Chess tournament where Caruana finished 10th out of 14 players with one win and four losses while Carlsen tied for first and won the tournament in a playoff.

  While Caruana has shown flashes of exceptional form and is playing in tournament after tournament, Carlsen has seemed to be enjoying himself. He has been playing in the increasingly popular online blitz tournaments on lichess.org and chess.com. Carlsen has not been beaten in his two classical tournaments this year but has not seemed able to pull out the same amount of victories using his normal strategy of outplaying his opponents after an innocuous opening. I wouldn’t say he seems bored but I don’t seem the same level of effort on his chess than the past.

  In the NBA, the Golden State Warriors do not have the NBA’s best regular season record for the first time in four years. The Warriors have seemed unmotivated all season long with enough talent to still win 70% of their games but the Houston Rockets with their 65 wins have captured the best record in the league and conference and the Toronto Raptors won 59 games to give both teams the home court advantage in a conference finals or NBA finals against the Warriors. In addition to their disinterest, Warriors' two-time MVP Stephen Curry has suffered a series of ankle sprains and will miss the first round of the playoffs with a ligament sprain in his knee. The Warriors have made the last three finals and won two championships which could have been three if they hadn’t had a meltdown for the ages in losing a 3-1 series lead to LeBron James' Cavaliers in the 2016 Finals and it seems the grind of 100+ games per season has gotten to them.

  Will Caruana be the man to take the championship from Carlsen? He is certainly the only one with a chance this year. Caruana has beaten Carlsen in the past and outpaced him in tournaments like the 2014 Sinquefeld Cup and this year’s GRENKE Chess Classic. Caruana has shown the ability to string wins together so the possibility exists that he could just take two or three early games against Carlsen and draw his way to the championships in the current era of 12 game championship matches. Two years ago I felt that the only person that could beat Carlsen was Carlsen himself. This year I think Caruana has a chance of taking the title if he plays at his top level no matter how Carlsen is playing with the big question being whether Caruana will be able to retain the tremendous form he has shown over the past two months.

  Can the Rockets win the NBA title? They seem like a hungry team to me, scapping for wins long after clinching the best record in the league. They also carry a lot of baggage. Superstar James Harden disappeared in last years playof loss to the Spurs with what was purported to be ‘a mysterious illness’ while celebrated new addition Chris Paul has never been to the conference finals as his Clippers teams seemed unable to maintain their poise for more than one playoff series per year. Head coach Mike D’Antoni went to the conference finals twice with the ‘7 seconds or less’ Suns and was seen as being outcoached twice. The team reminds me a lot of the 2011 Dallas Mavericks team that had a crew of hungry experienced players that came together to win a championship but they also remind me of the Maverick teams from the mid 2000’s that consistently underperformed in the playoffs. I tend to think these Rockets are for real and the Warriors will have trouble flipping the switch but the Rockets' collective past failures makes them far from a sure thing although still the favorite.

  The Rockets have much more to prove than Caruana. While Caruana has only one (large) step before claiming the championship, the Rockets have to win four playoff series. The only thing their regular season record has earned them is the right to open each series at home and play a deciding game seven at home is a series comes down to a single game. Caruana has earned a level of immortality by becoming the challenger while the Rockets are only an asterisk at this point.

Friday, April 6, 2018

21st Century NBA Basketball Prediction Program - Stuck In Neutral

  I had high hopes for my basketball prediction program heading into the 2017-2018 NBA season. My program had better than the magic 52.4% percentage in each of the last 5 seasons, 4 in retrograde analysis and the 2016-217 season which was the first one in which I took donations for advance predictions and put my money where my mouth was by placing bets on the gambling site Bovada. The only sour taste was that my Bovada account was suspended (you can read about it here) during a hot streak which made my season bets $4.06 in the red. This sting was offset by $70 in donations for advance picks and anther $126 in a Bovada welcome bonus so all told I ended the season over $190 on the plus side.

  My gambling problem from last year wasn’t my program – it was psychological. I started off with $10 bets but then switched to $5 bets and then varied my bets from $2.50 to $20 dollars depending on how I felt about the computer picks. In retrospect this seemed panicky and I resolved to place bets designed to win $5 on a successful outcome on each computer prediction and attempt to remain detached from the bets. In large part I kept to this resolution and only broke it a handful of times by adding three of my own predictions and leaving three computer bets unacted upon (the reasons of which I will get to later).

  The way I had this season planned was that my program would break off to a good start which would allow me to advertise my success online and pick up lots of donations to fund even more advertising which would lead to even more donations which would allow me to increase my bets from $5 to $7.50 with the extra capital I would be accumulating. Unfortunately my program started off by going 1-3 and only got close to .500 three 3 weeks into the season at 19-20 which didn’t give me anything to advertise about since in the gambling world an even record is losing money since you have to have 11 wins for every 10 losses to make up for the 10% penalty on losses (otherwise known as the vig or juice) which is why the break even winning percentage is 52.4% and not 50%.

  From there the pattern was maddenly consistent. My picks went from 19-20 to 22-29 on November 27th to 31-31 on December 3rd to 36-44 on December 13th and bottomed out at 54-65 on January 3rd with losses of $86.25. At this point the program started doing better and on February 27th the record stood at 87-84 with losses of $25.25. Since then the program and I have treaded water and heading into April 3rd the record stands at 110-110 with $52 in losses and only a week to go in the regular season at which point the computer doesn’t pick playoff series and I am on my own.

  I haven’t started a deep dive into the individual games that made up this year’s medicore result but a cursory glance showed that my record picking teams playing the second half of back to back games has been far worse than last year. I think the reason for this is paradoxically that the NBA schedule has been altered this season to reduce the number of back to back games which likely makes each set of back to back games more of a burden than something a team gets used to. I will research whether teams are faring worse on back to back games than in years past and try to adjust my formula for it. The problem is now that the scheduling has been so drastically changed I can’t just change a formula and test it on prior years.

  Another and far more serious reason for this year’s decline is that teams are resting players far more often than in years past. I have never made an adjustment for injured players because there is generally a short-term bounce in results that the formula has been able to take advantage while the betting line over-reacts to the injury as role players tend to have a few good games in increased roles before showing why in fact they are role players. Resting players is a bigger issue for me. I lost several games where Marc Gasol of the Grizzlies and Joel Embiid of the 76ers were rested on the front end of back to back games after I made the pick. There may have been some ‘insider trading’ in these games although the main culprit is my making the bets earlier in the day instead of trying to wait until the last minute to determine late scratches. Teams have been sitting uninjured players out for ‘rest’ in ever increasing numbers this year or at least it seems to me. I even stopped picking Warrior games since they stopped playing their All-Stars to get them ready for the playoffs that coach Steve Kerr insisted they would be available for if they had started last week. There was a flip side to the Warriors situation since they were still undervalued as all-stars Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green returned and I lifted my ban in time for a few winning bets.

  Having lost $50 in the season is no big deal - the playoffs haven’t started yet and I have always done pretty good in the playoffs and have every expectation of getting back in black by the time a champion is crowned. A bigger concern is that since I didn’t have a good year I didn’t get any donations for my picks in advance of when I post them on my blog after the last game of the night finishes. I started the season blogging my picks and results and am driven to finish what I start even though I haven’t been able to turn my program into a revenue stream as I hoped. Once this season is over I will be done with my predictions blog and the true question is going to be whether I want to continue entering in schedules, lines, and results and placing bets. That is what I have the summer to think about.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Beagles on the Bright Side

It's once again time for America's favorite beagles – Baxter and Daisy,
to guest write a post in the Broken Pawn. It seems these most literate of beagles are in a surprisingly optimistic mood.

Hi Everyone! It Daisy… … and Baxter here with another blog for our readers. It sure has been a while since Hank let us take a turn at his blog, Daisy! I know Baxter. It's a shame because this was one of the most eventful winters ever. That right! And a lot of stuff happened too! Sigh…I suppose that’s one way of putting it. The big news was Hank spent two of months home with us. His last job ended in December and he took a whole month off spending time with Kathy and us before he even started looking for a job. He was doing some part-time programming but that was only a few hours a week and he spent the rest of his time walking us and eating at home. I like it when Hank is home with us. Me too! We love Kathy and she is home with us a lot but Hank does one thing that Kathy never does. Eat Meat! YUM!!! I love Meat! Kathy is a vegetarian and doesn’t eat any meat. But Hank eats lots of meat. When Hank works he makes a bologna sandwich to take to work and share with us but when he was home he ate lots of soup. That’s because in the winter all the grocery stores had sales on Progresso and Campbell’s Chunky Soup for 99 cents a can or less. Hank got lots of soup with beef and chicken in them. YUM!! I love beef and chicken. Every day Hank would heat up a can of soup and share it with is. My favorite was the Campbell Chunky Sirloin Burger soup, Baxter. It had lots of Sirloin Burger pieces for Hank to share with us. You certainly can’t go wrong with Chunky Sirloin Burger soup but my favorite was the Progresso Beef Barley Soup. It had lots of cubed beef chunks for Hank to share with us and there was so much barley in the soup Hank would get filled up and give us almost all the Beef! YUM!! That was wonderful to have soup every day but now that Hank is back working all was get is part of his bologna sandwich. It’s so sad. Cheer up Daisy! Maybe Hank will get laid off and then we can get back to eating soup every day! That’s right Baxter! There’s a bright side to almost everything if you know where to look.

Here's some of our favorite soups! Campbell;s Chunky Sirloin Burger is my favorite!! I like Progresso Beef Barley! YUM!!

Sure! Like when our neighbors Gary and Linda’s car got stuck in their driveway. It looked like they were going to be stuck in the driveway until spring but we were walking by with Hank and Kathy. Another neighbor was also walking by and Hank helped push the car out of the driveway. We helped too! That’s right! We barked and howled and were so loud that Hank and the other neighbor pushed extra hard so we would get back to our walk and stop being so noisy. The next day Gary gave Hank FIVE DOLLARS for helping him. And because we were such good helpers Hank decided to get us a treat with the five dollars! Hank got us a bag of Jack Link’s AM Dried Breakfast Sausage made with applesauce. I don’t care much about applesauce but like the Jack Link’s website says “Sausage is delicious and amazing!” The website also talks about the “magic of portable sausage” and I agree 100%. The sausage tasted even better than our beef stick treats and I didn’t taste any applesauce. We didn’t get the sausages every day so they lasted over a month! Now every time it snows we head over to Gary and Linda’s driveway to help if they get stuck but it hasn’t happened yet. It just snowed last weekend. Maybe we’ll get another blizzard before spring so we can get more of Jack Link’s AM Dried Breakfast Sausages! YUM!!

Jack Link's breakfast sausage treats are the BEST!! I wish our neighbors car would get stuck more often!

Most things have a bright lining, but there was nothing good about what happened at the pond by the cemetery this winter. That’s right Daisy. First Mr. Goose died. It was very cold and when we went there for our Sunday morning walk so Hank could take pictures he was curled up in a ball. He didn’t even move to get any of the bread Kathy brought to give all the ducks and geese. Kathy threw some over to him so he got something to eat but he barely moved. Hank thought he was sick and then on Tuesday the paper said he died. I guess everybody dies but I’d hate to die on a frozen pond outside in the winter. Me neither! I’m glad Kathy and Hank have a nice warm house for when we get old. Not that that’s going to happen anytime soon. A few weeks after Mr. Goose died, a loose dog attacked Bob the Swan at the cemetery. He went to the vet but he died a few days later. It was so sad. I was afraid the cemetery would ban dogs but it’s still Ok for us to go there if we are on leashes. We’re always on leashes when we are outside so we don’t run away or get hit by cars. Sometimes we go to our backyard and then there’s no leashes so we can run around a little. I miss seeing Bob and Mr. Goose at the pond. I miss them too, Baxter. There are still plenty of ducks and geese at the cemetery though. Lately there is the funniest duck – he is all black except for some red on his face. He’s funny looking but pretty cool also. I hope he sticks around for a while. I like seeing the different animals at the duck pond but it is very dangerous living outside all the time.

Rest In Peace Mr. Goose and Bob the Swan...Welcome to the neighborhood red-faced duck!

A big thing happened just last week, Daisy. Last Saturday it snowed but then Kathy left and didn’t come back until Sunday. She had to go to a bridal shower for her niece, Lauren. We were lucky that Hank stayed home with us. Hank walked us a lot but he left for the entire afternoon to help the Boy Scouts with some chess stuff. We were so lonely. I was lonely too but I just took a nap and Hank came home while I was still sleeping. You are always sleeping, Baxter! It’s what I do best! I stayed alert for intruders. Of course no one would dare intrude when I was on duty. We didn’t like Kathy being away for a whole night but there was a bright side, Daisy! There sure was! Kathy made us a slab of corned beef for us to share with Hank! No one can make corned beef like Kathy!! YUM!! It was moist and tender. And it had a layer of juicy fat around the edge of each slice! It was the best corned beef ever. I thought Kathy was going to be gone a whole week to give us time to eat all the corned beef. But Kathy came home the very next day. It was the best of both worlds! We didn’t have to stay home alone while Hank went to work on Monday… …and we got a whole corned beef! Not only was there a bright side to Kathy leaving, there was a side of corned beef! YUM!!

It's always good to see the bright side... and no side is brighter than a side of corned beef!

Friday, March 23, 2018

Movie Review - Death Wish

The remake of Death Wish is out!

  I was looking forward to seeing the remake of ‘Death Wish’ as soon as I saw the previews and would have seen it on its opening March 2nd weekend except that it did not make it to the local Marshalltown movie theatre until this past weekend so Kathy and I went to the Saturday matinee with 11 other movie goers. 45 years later the original ‘Death Wish’ is dated but at the time it was a controversial film. There was an unprecedentedly graphic and violent rape/murder scene that was completely omitted years later for the movie's network television debut. But what caused the majority of the controversy was the correctness or incorrectness of the concept of vigilante justice. In the original film architect Paul Kersey’s wife is murdered and daughter raped in a home break-in. Kersey deals with his grief and the inability of the police to bring the perps to justice by arming himself and heading out to the streets of New York. Armed first with a roll of quarters in a sock and quickly graduating to handguns, Kersey makes himself a seemingly easy target who switches from victim to hunter and metes out justice as the judge, jury, and executioner.

  Aside from the monotonal all-time tough guy Charles Bronson as Kersey, the movie features solid character actor Vincent Gardenia as Detective Frank Ochoa who finds out that Kersey is the vigilante but allows him to escape charges if he moves into another city. This offer is due to the falling crime rates ever since Kersey has started his activities and the desire of the city authorities to use the vigilante threat to keep the crime rates down. The movie became part of the national consciousness and was propelled into franchise-hood after the Bernie Goetz ‘subway gunman’ shootings in 1984 brought the vigilante question back into the headlines.

  Bruce Willis was cast as Paul Kersey and given a new job as a Chicago doctor instead of a New York architect. I thought Willis was a good choice to give Kersey a lighter touch and was excited to see how the vigilante question would be treated 45 years after the original Death Wish with the debates over gun rights and ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws at a fever pitch and this was even before the firestorm caused by the latest school shooting in Florida.

  The movie starts out much like the original. Kersey is a law-abiding citizen livingh an ideal family life with his wife and daughter on Lakeshore Drive. There is even a bonus as his deadbeat brother is played by the exceptional Vincent D’Onofrio (Kingpin in Daredevil and Detective Goren in Law and Order : Criminal Intent). The story continues with the brutal murder of his wife in a home burglary but without the rape. Although the daughter still survives she is in a coma in Kersey’s hospital.

  The movie continues to track the original as Kersey sinks into despair at the loss of his wife and the ineffectiveness of the police to catch the perpetrators. One 21st century twist is that Kersey has a therapist to talk to so we know what is on his mind. Kersey tries to thwart a mugging but gets beat up for his trouble. He then flirts with the idea of buying a gun but ends up getting an untraceable one that improbably drops out of a shooting victim’s waistband while in the emergency room that he learns to clean, load, and fire from watching You Tube videos. While riding the trains to keep his mind off his troubles, Kersey uses his gun to thwart a carjacking and shoots a helpless and disarmed carjacker dead. In another 21st century twist the act is caught on a video that is uploaded and gone viral which leads the same detective that haven’t found Kersey’s burglars to look for the vigilante.

  At this point the movie stops following the ‘Death Wish’ plot and turns more into a revenge\morality play. At the hospital, Kersey looks at the gunshot wound of a child whose transgression was to go home from school through the territory of the drug dealer known as the ‘Ice Cream Man’. Using an address gleaned from the youth’s medical records, Kersey heads to the Ice Cream Man’s block in broad daylight and empties two clips in him. This premeditated act is not the kind seen in Death Wish. The only public controversy is from Chicago radio hosts debating vigilante justice and a chief of detectives demanding the same detectives that have a wall of unsolved crimes (including Kersey’s) catch the vigilante.

  The plot goes further astray when Kersey attends to the wounds of a gunshot victim that is wearing Kersey’s watch that was stolen in the burglary. The movie morphs from ‘Death Wish’ to ‘Revenge Wish’ as Kersey is no longer looking to rain death on criminals but just to avenge his wife. The rest of the movie is entertaining enough as Kersey tortures one of his wife’s murderers, dispatches another thanks to a well-timed bowling ball, and finishes off the third in a finale worthy of any action movie. It just isn’t Death Wish anymore. The movie ends with some similarities to the original in that Kersey and his daughter move to another city but instead of a tacit agreement on the part of the police Kersey is let off scott-free by the detectives that have gleaned his identity.

  ‘Death Wish’ is a well-made film. I like the idea of Kersey being featured in a viral video and getting firearm basic training from YouTube videos. Willis and D’onofrio give fine performances. To me the film’s glaring flaw is that it seemingly wanted as little as possible to do with the original except to draw an audience. This movie is a cut above Willis’s recent forays into the Direct-to-DVD market but has a lot in common with them as soon as it drops the transformation of Paul Kersey from citizen to vigilante. I’m sure the remake aspect was necessary to allow for a bigger budget but after three weeks has barely grossed its' 30 million production budget. I consider this a Red Box special which is a shame because by being truer to the original film I believe the movie would have capitalized on the growing discussion over gun ownership and violence instead of being a revenge vehicle for an aging action hero.

Ultimately the Death Wish remake misses out on the central theme of the original - the transformation of Paul Kersey...

For good or bad I must say they don't make gunfights (or hair) like they used to. The scenes from Death Wish III (my personal favorite of the series) from the 3:00 to 7:50 marks are classics!