Sunday, September 24, 2017

Shameless Or Genius?

Went to the cineplex this weekend as I always do, and while I was walking through the lobby I spotted this poster for the upcoming movie The Snowman. It's a film about a serial killer (dubbed "The Snowman" of course) who leaves notes on his victims that taunt the police.

Obviously the poster's supposed to look like one of these notes, which I have to admit is kind of clever. On the other hand, it couldn't have taken the graphic designer more than five minutes to slap this thing together. He probably knocked it out around 9am and then took a four hour lunch before going home early.

I don't know whether to denounce the artist as a shiftless and brazen hack, or praise him as a bona fide genius.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Insert Your Own Joke Here

Saw this sign on the way home from work, advertising three recently released DVDs.

Hmm. I feel like there's a joke there somewhere...

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Boldly Going

Last week I wrote a lengthy (of course) post on Seth MacFarlane's new sci-fi series Star Trek: The Next Generation, er, I mean The Orville. In it I said it was frankly shocking just how much MacFarlane straight up stole not borrowed, but outright swiped from Star Trek: The Next Generation. The series goes far beyond "homage" and straight to "plagiarism."

I must be taking my crazy pills again, because I'm apparently the only one who noticed this or was bothered by it. The series premiere brought in 11.6 million viewers, the highest ratings Fox has had in years. Figures.

By the way, I saw this article a couple days ago:

Ouch!!! I just rolled my eyes so hard I think I permanently injured them! Yeah, The Orville goes where no TV show has gone before. Except for Star Trek, Star Trek The Animated Series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, Enterprise and all fourteen theatrical movies.

Once again, just in case you think I'm imagining how much this show lifts from ST:TNG, take a look at this scene from Episode 2, Command Performance. At one point Commander Grayson is traveling in a shuttle and decides she's hungry. She walks to the back of the ship and I'll be goddamned if she doesn't order some goddamned food from a genuine goddamned ST:TNG replicator! This replicator functions exactly like the ones in ST:TNG, right down to the sound it makes as the food materializes. I honest to god did a spit take when I saw it!

Again, there's no satire or parody here. There was no attempt at making a joke or clever statement about how ST:TNG's replicators or how they work. The Orville simply has them, because this series IS ST:TNG with just a few minor name changes.

Am I missing something here? Is MacFarlane making some sort of VERY subtle joke by perfectly recreating every aspect of a pre-existing series? If so, the point's sailing far over my head.

Oh, and this week we also got a title sequence (there wasn't one at the beginning of the pilot, for some reason), and wouldn't you know it, it borrows liberally from other Trek shows. There's a shot of The Orville flying through a cloud of space gas, just like in the title sequence of Voyager.

And at one point the ship flies past a comet, much like the one in the Deep Space Nine opening (!).

And in the final scene of the title sequence, the ship's three engines power up as it prepares to go to warp, exactly like Voyager does before it zips off. It's downright incredible. I am still amazed that CBS hasn't sued the wig off Seth MacFarlane (look it up!) and Fox.

One last thing before I stop bullying this show. In the pilot episode, Lt. Alara Kitan looked like this.

In Episode 2 she suddenly looked like this. What the hell? I guess Alara was jealous of Earth girls and their luxurious eyebrows, and decided to have a couple of furry caterpillars surgically implanted on her own forehead? 

R.I.P. Basil Gogos

I was saddened to hear of the death of painter/illustrator Basil Gogos last week, who died at the age of seventy eight.

His name may not be familiar to you, but if you're a fan of old school monsters like Frankenstein, Dracula and the Wolfman, you'll definitely recognize his work. His amazing and garishly colored illustrations graced many a cover of Famous Monsters Of Filmland magazine during the 1960s and 1970s.

Gogos was born in Egypt (even though he was Greek) in 1939. His family moved to America when he was sixteen, and he attended several New York City art schools.

In the early 1960s Gogos began illustrating lurid covers for various men's magazines, which usually featured scenes of WWII battles and Nazis menacing scantily-clad women.

Eventually Gogos began working for Warren Publishing, and that's when his career really took off. Warren was the publisher of Famous Monsters magazine, and Gogos painted over fifty covers for them over the years.

Gogos' illustrations of classic monsters were quite striking, often utilizing bizarre and unnatural colors. The results were bizarre and gaudy, but somehow it worked!

Gogos left Warren in the late 1970s, devoting his time to fine art (yawn), photo retouching (bigger yawn) and advertising (huge yawn). 

In the meantime, his original iconic monster portraits became highly sought after, prompting him to return to the world of illustrating (yay!). In the 1990s he began painting new monster images for magazines, cards and CD covers.

In 2006 his work was collected in a highly recommended coffee table book called Famous Monster Movie Art Of Basil Gogos. I'd urge you to run over to Amazon and buy a copy, but it's apparently out of print and currently selling for hundreds of dollars. Hopefully with the advent of his death they'll put out another printing soon.

Enjoy this sampling of Basil Gogos monster art!

What Are You Trying To Say Here, Chick-Fil-A?

Went to Chick-Fil-A for lunch today, and saw this on my receipt.

What the heck's that supposed to mean? I don't think I appreciate the implication.

I don't think I'd be going around calling people "fruits" if my name was Sam Cathy (founder of Chick-Fil-A)!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

This Week In Graphic Design: Denny's

This week restaurant chain Denny's squeezed out a brand new mascot for their nationwide marketing campaign. Let's take a look at it, shall we?

Oh dear. Yup, that's a turd wearing a fedora. A turd that was apparently designed by Aardman Studios.

OK, I think it's supposed to be a breakfast sausage and not a hunk of walking, talking fecal matter. I guess that might be OK if that was the only thing on Denny's menu. Since they offer a variety of food, sausage isn't the first thing that springs to mind when I see this thing, and it ends up looking like a nice, healthy dump. Definitely not something you want to see when you're trying to eat in a restaurant.

Once again I have to ask— how the hell does something like this make it to print and into stores? If Denny's is anything like where I work, then this design had to go through dozens and dozens of people for approval. I cannot believe that not a single one of them looked at this thing and said, "Wait a minute... that's not a sausage, that's a turd!" Someone was definitely asleep at the wheel in the corporate headquarters.

Even if it didn't look like a sentient bowel movement, it's still a terrible design. Adding a cartoony face and limbs to a product is one of the most hackneyed and unoriginal graphic design concepts possible— one that was old and worn out back in the Speedy Alka-Seltzer days. No self respecting graphic designer would ever create such a thing, especially here in the 21st Century. 

In fact back when I was in art school, I had a professor who actually kicked a student out of his class for creating a mascot very similar to this one!

On the other hand, I supposed Saucy The Breakfast Sausage here was better than Denny's original mascot idea— Scuttles The Kitchen Cockroach.

The Orville

A while back I wrote a post on The Orville, Seth MacFarlane's new live-action scifi TV series. The show looked like it would be a laff-a-minute parody of Star Trek, in the style of 1999's Galaxy Quest. I said I was actually looking forward to it, as The Orville looked more like proper Star Trek than CBS' upcoming Star Trek: Discovery series did.

Welp, The Orville finally premiered on Fox this past Sunday and I managed to catch the first episode. So how was it? 

Um... I'm not really sure. I honestly don't know what to think of it.

The Orville is definitely not a comedy series, despite what Fox would like you to think. It appears the network took every single joke in the pilot episode and crammed them all in the trailer in a blatant effort to mislead the audience. Seriously, if you've seen the trailer, then you saw ninety percent of the jokes in the premiere episode. 

Instead The Orville's more like a pseudo-drama with some oddball humor thrown in now and then at the worst moments possible. Whether it's the writing or the timing, most of these "jokes" fail to land, thudding to the ground like sacks of wet cement. I get the feeling MacFarlane dearly wanted to write a straight up scifi drama, but knew his fans would be expecting jokes and so tossed in a handful of "funny" lines. The result is a tone that can only be described as bizarre.

The show's also not a good-natured parody of Star Trek, ala Galaxy Quest. A parody takes the structure, characters and conventions of a show and pokes fun at them. The Orville lifts numerous elements from the various Star Trek series and then does absolutely nothing with them. There's no ribbing or clever roasting whatsoever. Instead the show just points at Star Trek's trappings and says, "Hey, remember phasers? Remember warp drive? Eh? EH?"

OK, so it's not a wacky space comedy, nor is it a good-natured parody ala Galaxy Quest. So what the heck is it then?

It quite literally IS Star Trek. Specifically Star Trek: The Next Generation.

I'm not even sure you could properly call it an homage, as The Orville is a perfect recreation of ST:TNG in every measurable sense. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent. It's all there— the sweeping shots of the ship in flight, the wrinkly-foreheaded aliens and the clean, carpeted interiors. Heck, even the triumphant orchestral music and the editing are identical!

It's as if MacFarlane met with Fox executives, asked to do a new Star Trek series, was told it wasn't legally possible and then simply did it anyway. He made the television equivalent of a Louis Vuitton purse you buy in Chinatown, one that gives new meaning to the term "knockoff." 

I suppose this shouldn't come as a big surprise. MacFarlane has made no secret of the fact that he's a huge Trek fan, and even made a couple of guest appearances on Enterprise (!). Apparently he loved Trek so much he decided to remake it in his own image.

MacFarlane even hired some Trek alumni to work behind the scenes, as The Orville's produced by Brannon Braga and David A. Goodman. Braga was a writer and executive producer on (what else?) Star Trek: The Next Generation. He also also wrote and produced Star Trek: Voyager and Enterprise, as well as co-writing Star Trek Generations and Star Trek: First Contact. And Goodman was also a writer and producer on Enterprise. Apparently they were both OK with MacFarlane cloning their old shows.

It's honestly shocking how much of ST:TNG MacFarlane appropriated here, and I can't believe he's getting away with it. CBS (who now owns Star Trek) is notoriously protective of the property, and just last year they got all pissy and started stamping out fan films. Any day now I expect a cadre of their lawyers to show up at Fox with a cease and desist order.

I know, I know, you're probably thinking I'm overreacting and exaggerating just how much The Orville cribs from ST:TNG (and other Trek shows). So here's a few examples:

ST:TNG features the Federation, which is sort of like the United Nations in space.
The Orville features the Union, which is sort of like the United Nations in space.

ST:TNG features warp drive, shields, shuttles and transporters.
The Orville features quantum drive, deflectors and shuttles. They may well have transporters too, but I didn't spot any in the pilot.

ST:TNG characters wear two piece (for the men) uniforms, color-coded to their departments and rank.
The Orville characters wear two piece uniforms, color-coded to their departments and rank.

ST:TNG features a sleek, antiseptic circular bridge, with the captain sitting in a central chair surrounded by his officers.
The Orville features a sleek, antiseptic circular bridge, with the captain sitting in a central chair surrounded by his officers.

Seriously, this is just a slightly updated version of the Enterprise-D's bridge. It's even got the same goddamned railing behind the captain's chair!

ST:TNG features the holodeck, a high-tech room that can create perfect interactive replicas of any life form or environment.
The Orville features the holodeck, a high-tech room that can create perfect interactive replicas of any life form or environment.

Also in the pilot episode of ST:TNG, Commander Riker enters the holodeck, where he has a conversation with Lt. Data.
In the pilot episode of The Orville, Captain Mercer enters the holodeck, where he has a conversation with Gordon Malloy.

This was by far the most shocking part of the episode for me. They just straight up lifted the holodeck directly from ST:TNG. They don't actually call it the holodeck, but it operates EXACTLY the same, right down to the entrance incongruously appearing in the middle of the fake environment. The simulation even fades away as the characters exit, just like it did on ST:TNG! I really do not understand how they're able to get away with this.

Here's the thing— this would be acceptable if they were actually spoofing the holodeck, or cleverly skewering the many "Holodeck Gone Wrong" episodes in the series. But there's no parody or satire going on here. The characters just have a normal plot-advancing conversation inside a perfect copy of a ST:TNG holodeck. The entire scene apparently just exists so they can say, "Hey, remember the holodeck?"

ST:TNG and Star Trek: The Motion Picture both featured scenes in which the captain addresses the entire crew prior to a mission.
The Orville features a scene in which the captain addresses the entire crew prior to a mission.

In Star Trek: The Motion Picture (and others), the Enterprise pulls out of space dock as tiny figures watch and wave goodbye.
In The Orville, the ship pulls out of space dock as tiny figures watch and wave goodbye.

In the original Star Trek pilot The Cage, there's a shot in which the ship flies by, and the camera zooms in to reveal the crew through a window in the top of the bridge.

In The Orville, there's a shot in which the ship flies by, and the camera zooms in to reveal the crew through a window in the top of the bridge.

ST:TNG features the Enterprise seemingly stretching as it breaks the light speed barrier and goes to warp.
The Orville 
features the ship seemingly stretching as it breaks the light speed barrier and goes to warp, er, I mean activates its quantum drive.

ST:TNG features Worf, a Klingon bridge officer who's played by black actor Michael Dorn.
The Orville features Bortus, a Klingon-like alien bridge officer who's played by black actor Peter Macon (they even copied Dorn's race!).

This one's a jaw dropper too! Bortus IS Worf. They don't even make any attempt to hide it. Worf was a large, powerfully-built alien who was very disciplined and spoke in a very formal manner. Bortus is exactly the same, at least in this first episode.

Again, there's no joke or spoof of Worf here. They just completely xeroxed the character and used him on their own show!

ST: TNG features a female doctor whose uniform is a slight variation of everyone else's
The Orville features a female doctor whose uniform is a slight variation of everyone else's.

And just to deepen the connection even further, Dr. Finn here is played by Penny Johnson, who occasionally guest starred on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as Cassidy Yates, Captain Sisko's love interest!

ST:TNG features Lt. Commander Data, an android bridge officer.
The Orville features Isaac, an android (I guess?) from a planet of artificial lifeforms.

By the way, despite his obvious superiority, Data constantly strived to become "more human." In a radical burst of creativity, Isaac (who I assume is named after noted scifi author Isaac Asimov) sees humans as an inferior species.

Lastly, the cinematography, editing and even the fade-to-black commercial breaks are identical to ST:TNG as well. 

Just take a look at the above comparison of the "Ship Fly-By Shots." The camera angles, lighting and light speed effects are EXACTLY THE SAME. Now granted, maybe there are only so many ways to film a ship traveling at warp, but Jesus Christ! When I saw this scene in The Orville, for a second I honestly thought I was watching ST:TNG instead.

Like I said before, how the holy hell are they getting away with this?

One more thing: MacFarlane is good friends with Patrick Stewart, who's been on all of his TV shows. How long do you think it'll be before Stewart shows up on The Orville, either as an admiral or the voice of an alien?

I've decided not to do any weekly reviews of The Orville, as my schedule's already full and I honestly don't particularly like the show at this point. You really need to care about a series in order to type fifty thousand words about it every week, and so far this show's just not doing anything for me. If I need a Star Trek fix I'll just go watch reruns of ST:TNG instead.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Only Feature You Need

The new iPhone 8 came out today.

No doubt it contains a host of slightly tweaked functions and features that no one actually needs, but the teeming masses will line up to buy it anyway. I have absolutely zero interest in buying one, as I'm perfectly happy with my four year old Galaxy 4 and plan to keep it until it stops working.

There's only one thing Apple could add to the iPhone 8 to get me to buy it— a feature that makes it impossible to film vertical videos!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Fast And Furry-ous

Went to my local Target last night to check out their Halloween decorations, and saw these.

It's hard to get a sense of scale from the photo, but those are adult-sized animal masks. They're also creepy as hell, especially the unicorn one with its unsettling, penetrating blue eyes.

Ah, Target. Serving the Furry community since 1962!

So far I only saw the heads. I dunno if they're gonna be carrying the rest of the costume or not.

It Came From The Cineplex: Logan Lucky

Welp, Summer Movie Dumpster Fire 2017 has officially sputtered to a limp and disappointing close. In the past few weeks it's become increasingly difficult to find anything worth paying to see at the cineplex. Fortunately there are a one or two bright spots if you know where to look, such as this film.

Logan Lucky was written by Rebecca Blunt and directed by Steven Soderbergh.

Blunt has exactly one theatrical writing credit to her name— this one.

Soderbergh is a prolific writer, producer and director. He previously directed many critically acclaimed films such as Sex, Lies And Videotape, The Limey, Erin Brockovich, Traffic, Ocean's Eleven, Solaris, Ocean's Twelve, The Good German, Ocean's Thirteen, The Informant!, Contagion and Magic Mike, among many others.

Soderbergh claimed he'd retired from filmmaking after directing the 2013 TV movie Behind The Candelabra. According to him, he was given the Logan Lucky script by a friend and asked to recommend a director. Fortunately for us, Soderbergh read the script and liked it so much he decided to come out of retirement and direct it himself.

Overall I enjoyed Logan Lucky, but I'm not as in love with it as most critics seem to be. I'm kind of wondering if part of the reason it's receiving so much praise is that the utter dreck filling the rest of the cineplex makes the film look epic by comparison?

The movie's been described as a "Red Neck Ocean's 11," which seems pretty apt. All of Soderbergh's familiar Ocean's elements are here— the gang full of quirky personalities, the meticulously planned heist and even the twist at the end. In fact in the movie, a news anchor even describes the robbery as "Ocean's Seven-Eleven."

Despite this similarity to the Ocean's trilogy, Logan Lucky somehow feels fresh, and has its own distinct personality. 

It's a much smarter and better executed version of last year's Masterminds (which I inexplicably liked and graded much, MUCH too high).

Although Rebecca Blunt is credited as the sole writer of the film, Hollywood insiders claim there's no such person. Rumor has it the movie was actually written by Jules Asner, the wife of Steven Soderbergh. This would makes sense, as Asner hails from West Virginia, where the film takes place.

So far the film is a financial flop, grossing just $31 million worldwide against its slim $29 million budget. Ouch! And yes, it's still a flop, since due to marketing costs, movies generally have to gross twice their production budget before they turn a profit. Logan Lucky probably didn't spend a fortune on promotion, but it's still unlikely to ever break even. That's too bad, as it's one of the very few decent movies out there this month. Maybe it'll do better on home video.

The Plot:
Jimmy Logan is a construction worker in rural West Virginia, whose promising high school football career was cut short by an injury that left him with a permanent limp. His wife Bobbie Jo (played by Katie Holmes) left him for a wealthy used car salesman named Moody (played by David Denman). Jimmy and Bobbie Jo have a daughter Sadie, who's heavily into the creepy child beauty pageant scene.

As the film opens, Jimmy works on his truck while Sadie looks on. He tells his favorite song is John Denver's Take Me Home, Country Roads, and suggests she sing it in her upcoming Junior Miss beauty pageant. Unfortunately she insists on singing Umbrella by Rihanna instead.

Jimmy heads to his construction job in the tunnels beneath the Charlotte Motor Speedway, where he's suddenly fired for not disclosing his limp. Shortly afterward, Bobbie Jo tells him she and her new family are moving to Lynchburg, which will make it harder for him to visit Sadie.

Jimmy drowns his sorrows in a bar run by his brother Clyde (played by Adam Driver), an Iraq War veteran who whose jeep was bombed just as he was heading for his flight home. The incident cost Clyde his most of his left arm, forcing him to wear a crude prosthetic. Clyde says that Jimmy's misfortune is just the latest in the infamous "Logan Family Curse," which has plagued them their entire lives. 

Max Chilblain (played by miscast Seth MacFarlane), a snooty British sports drink entrepreneur, enters the bar and makes fun of Clyde's disability. Jimmy gets into a fight with Max and his goons. In the confusion, Clyde sneaks out and tosses a Molotov cocktail into Max's truck.

The next day, Jimmy, sick of being poor and destitute, pitches an idea to Clyde— robbing the Charlotte Motor Speedway the week after Memorial Day. Due to his recent construction job, Jimmy has intimate knowledge of the system of pneumatic tubes under the track that funnel concession money to an underground vault. Clyde says he's in, and they talk their hairdresser sister Mellie into going along with the plan as well.

Jimmy and Clyde then visit the local prison to meet with Joe Bang (played by a bleached-blonde Daniel Craig), an old acquaintance who's a convicted demolitions expert with just five months to go on his sentence. They explain their plan to Joe, who points out one tiny flaw— HE'S CURRENTLY IN PRISON. The brothers assure Joe they can sneak him out and back in before the authorities know he's gone. Amazingly, Joe agrees to the plan, but insists they bring his younger brothers Fish and Sam in on the deal.

Clyde deliberately commits a petty crime in order to be sent to Joe's prison for ninety days. Jimmy buys supplies for the heist, and runs into Sylvia Harrison (played by Katherine Waterston), a former classmate who's now a nurse with a mobile clinic. Sylvia gives Jimmy a booster shot, and mentions her clinic is low on funds. Jimmy asks Sylvia if they ever kissed in high school, which upsets her. Jimmy then runs into his former boss, who says the construction job is ahead of schedule and will be finished by Memorial Day, meaning the heist will have to be moved up a week.

In the prison, Clyde and Joe talk the other prisoners into staging a fake riot so they can slip out unnoticed. They sneak out under a delivery truck and are met by Mellie, who takes them to the Speedway. Meanwhile the befuddled Warden Burns (played by Dwight Yoakam!) tries to diffuse the imaginary riot.

At the Speedway, Fish and Sam cut the power so the concession stands can only accept cash. Joe mixes up a homemade bomb to blast into the vault. He, Jimmy and Clyde use a vacuum to suck up the money and funnel it into plastic bags. Jimmy accidentally reverses the vacuum, causing it to suck Clyde's prosthetic arm into the tubes. Clyde freaks out, convinced the authorities will find his arm and convict him (Logan Family Curse!). Jimmy assures him he'll find the arm, and tells him and Joe to hurry back to the prison before they're missed.

On their way out, Clyde and Joe encounter Max Chilblain. He recognizes Clyde and attacks him
 (Logan Family Curse!). Clyde breaks Max's nose, and he and Joe run off. The two manage to slip back into prison unnoticed. Meanwhile Fish and Sam, dressed as janitors, drive out with the trash bags full of money.

Mellie makes it to the beauty pageant just in time to do Sadie's hair. Sadie goes onstage, ready to perform her Umbrella song as planned. Suddenly Jimmy enters the auditorium, just in time to see his daughter perform. Sadie spots him in the audience and decides to sing Take Me Home, Country Roads after all. The audience is so moved they begin singing along, and Sadie wins first place.

Later that day a news report states that all the Speedway's stolen money was recovered inside a truck parked at a convenience store. Apparently Jimmy left the truck in the lot and called in an anonymous tip to the police. The rest of the gang is livid with Jimmy for betraying them after all the trouble they went through
. Mellie refuses to speak to him, while Joe Bang vows to kill him once he's released from prison.

FBI Agent Sarah Grayson (played by Hilary Swank) arrives to investigate the robbery. She questions several people, including Warden Burns and Max Chilblain. Burns is no help, but Chilblain claims he saw Clyde at the Speedway while he was supposed to be in prison. Grayson questions the Speedway officials, but since almost of the money was returned, they're satisfied with the outcome. With no concrete evidence, Grayson is forced to close the case.

Clyde and Joe are released from prison. Joe plans to murder Jimmy, but when he returns to his old house he finds a large sum of the money buried in his backyard. We then see that this was all part of Jimmy's Master Plan. During the heist, he secretly stashed several bags of money in a secure location, turning in the rest of it to throw off any suspicion or investigations. He distributes the money among the gang, and even gives a bit to Sylvia for her clinic.

Later we see Jimmy working at Lowes. He goes to Clyde's bar with Sylvia, where we see the rest of the gang (including Joe) celebrating. Clyde, who now has a new high-tech bionic arm that he bought with his share of the loot, spots a woman at the bar. He buys her a drink and asks her where she's from. We then see the woman is Agent Grayson, who's continuing the investigation on her own (Logan Family Curse!).

• Despite the fact that I enjoyed Logan Lucky, I really don't have a lot to say about it, so this'll be quick.

• The highlight of the film is definitely its top notch cast (with the exception of the very out of place Seth MacFarlane and his Dick Van Dyke level British accent). 

Channing Tatum even turned in a decent performance. I used to think he was little more than a sack of potatoes that could talk, but he's won me over in recent years, and my opinion of him has risen quite a bit.

Daniel Craig steals the show as Joe Bang, an insane, bleached-blonde convict. He honestly surprised me here with his versatility, as the role allows him to uncharacteristically cut loose in a way James Bond never could. Who knew Craig could be legitimately funny?

• The idea of beefcake Channing Tatum and the owlish Adam Driver appearing onscreen as brothers strains suspension of disbelief to its breaking point. Maybe they had different moms or something?

• Speaking of Adam Driver, he plays a wounded Iraqi War veteran here. In reality, Driver was a Marine before he became an actor. He was scheduled to be deployed to Iraq, but broke his sternum and was medically discharged.

• I'm betting a huge part of the film's $29 million budget went toward digitally erasing Adam Driver's left forearm to simulate his war injury. Kudos to the effects team, as it honestly looks like Driver's really missing an arm!

• Jimmy and Clyde's sister Mellie is played by actress Riley Keough, who's the daughter of Lisa Marie Presley, and granddaughter of Elvis (!).

• In the film, Jimmy lives in West Virginia and had a promising football career before an injury sidelined him. Supposedly the character was based on actor Channing Tatum, who grew up poor in Alabama, Mississippi and Florida. Tatum had a college football scholarship until an accident damaged his knee, and he turned to stripping and modeling to make ends meet

• My favorite scene in the film was the prison riot, in which an inmate gives a list of demands to Warden Burns. All they want is for the prison library to stock the final two books of George R.R. Martin's Game Of Thrones series.

Burns then has to patiently explain to the prisoners that Martin was still working on The Winds Of Winter (Book 6)and hasn't even started on A Dream Of Spring (Book 7). The prisoners refuse to believe him, since the TV show is detailing events that happen after Book 5. The Warden and the prisoners then get in a discussion about TV schedules and the details of book-to-film adaptations.

It's a funny scene because it's all too true, and the inmates' frustration with Martin's writing speed very much echoes my own.
• According to Clyde, the Logan Family Curse strikes whenever things seem to be going well for the clan. Jimmy blew out his knee after becoming a high school football star. Clyde lost his arm in Iraq on the way to the airport to catch his flight home. 

At the end of the film, it's hinted that the curse may be about to strike again. The gang got away with the robbery and are all celebrating their good fortune in Clyde's bar. The final shot of the movie shows Clyde innocently chatting up an undercover Agent Grayson, implying she'll eventually dig up the evidence she needs to convict the gang, and proving the Curse true once again.

Logan Lucky is one of the few worthwhile films currently playing this month. It's a good, but not great variation on the Ocean's 11 plot, filled with memorable performances and a surprising twist. I give it a solid B.

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