Saturday, January 18, 2014


First off I'd like to say I'm not a fan of amusement parks such as Sea World and zoos. Although I have been to zoos in my life I have always struggled with the idea of animals behind cages and not being able to fully live in their own natural habitat. So when I heard there was a documentary that exposed Sea World and their nasty little secrete about the Orcas and the number of incidents surrounding their aggressive behavior.

Blackfish tells the story of Tillikum the biggest Orca Whale in captivity weighing in at 12-thousand pounds. This guy is massive and his strength and girth is very visible from the moment you see him.

To truly understand Tillikum issues you have to go all the way back to the moment he was captured back in the 70's for a park called Sea Land in British Columbia. Tillikum was 2 years old when he was ripped from his mother and is family unit and taken into captivity at Sea Land. Sea Land had no business what so ever being in business. Sea Land trainers even referred to the habitat as a swimming pool with whales. Tillikum's issues started the moment he was dropped into this small pool with two female Orca's. Tillikum's first trainer decided the best way to train the new Orca was to pair him with one of the older females. The problem was when Tillikum didn't perform as instructed the trainer would withhold food from him and the female. This lead the female to get extremely aggressive with Tillikum raking her teeth across his body causing cuts and scratches all over. Tillikum was abused from day one and all three whales where forced into a small inclose with no light for hours and hours unless they were out performing.  It was at Sea Land the first attack by Tillikum happen. When a trainer's foot slipped into the pool and Tillikum grabbed on. The two other female whales followed suit and as the trainer screamed for help witnesses said she was heard screaming "I don't want to die." It was reported that no one knew for sure which whale actually took ahold of the trainer's foot and the blame fell on the two females. Shortly after the incident Sea Land closed and Sea World was more than happy to snatch Tillikum up.

Tillikum made his way to Sea World and trainers who worked with him and a number of other Orca's say they were never told the truth behind the first attack at Sea Land and were in fact told it was the females who instigated the attack.  This was the beginning of a new chapter for Tillikum and it wouldn't be the last time his aggression would come back and cause issue. But in truth Tillikum isn't the only Sea World Orca to attack someone. Other trainers have had their legs snatched and dragged down to the bottom of the pool. There is video of trainers being body slammed by the giant creatures. In fact one incident caught on tape show a trainer riding a whale as another whale comes out of nowhere and throws his body on top if the trainer. A former Sea World trainer said the only thing keeping that trainers body together was his wetsuit and today his body is put together by a ton of hardware. But that incident that video was never shown to new trainers. They were never warned something like this could happen.

This documentary is heart breaking. Tillikum was basically bought for breading purposes. There are two births highlighted in the film. When Orcas have calf's, mom and baby are inseparable. This behavior didn't work for Sea World and was in fact found to be a distraction. So the babies were taken from the mothers and given to other parks. Watching the mothers cry out for their young was unbearable to watch. Orca behavior is extremely similar to human behavior, in fact Orca whales live the same life span as human beings. The film points out Sea World trained their staff to tell visitors that these creatures lives for 25-30 years in the wild, but in captivity they live longer because they have access to veterinarians. This is not true and Orca researchers will tell you this is a bold face lie.

Like most kids I though swimming with the Dolphins and Whales would be the coolest job ever. But I was always under the impression he trainers had to have degrees in marine biology and understand the behavior or such animals. Turns out that's not so much the case at Sea World. I can not speak to other places since this file focused on Sea World. But apparently to be a trainer at Sea World all the skills you need is a great ability to swim, be physically fit and have a personality that can entertain the masses. So basically anyone can train these giant animals regardless of your background.

As I watched this film it struck me. This a great case for nature verses nurture. These animals are caged in spaces that are too small. They have no where to go. In the case of Tillikum, form the time he was introduced to humans he was beaten up and treated like he was just a tool to make money. It's no wonder there were several cases where he lashed out.

After the incident in 2010 where Tillikum attacked and killed his trainer, Tillikum is kept in isolation. You can see video of him alone and depressed. It's almost as if he don't have the will to live. According to Sea World, Tillikum is still performing and gets to interact with the other Orcas. Who know much of that is true.  It seems that when ever there's an incident in which a Sea World Orca is involved the problem is never the animal, but the fault of the trainer. The truth is both are to blame. You have people who love these animals and have deep connections with them, but they have no business getting into the water with them. They know nothing of the species and how the function and how the respond to issues. And you have the corporation who only sees dollar signs and doesn't seem to really care who gets hurt in the pursuit of money.

Places like Sea World have no business being in business. It makes me wonder how safe are the whales and dolphins at the Shedd in Chicago or the other nationally recognized aquariums around the world.  I can only hope this move opens the eyes of world and we stop using these animals as entertainment. I'm all for rescue and sanctuaries but this is a clear example of exploitation.

So do yourself a favor and check it out. It's really and eye opening experience.      

Friday, January 10, 2014

Comic Television

It seems with the increasing popularity of superhero (not that they weren't always cool and popular) and the major success of the Batman and Avengers movies it was only a matter of time before comic books would find their way onto the small screen. This of course makes me rather happy and when the CW last season announced they'd be showing a show called "Arrow" based on the Green Arrow comic book I was very very happy. Couple this is ABC's announcement of Marvel's Agent's of S-H-I-E-L-D this girl was one happy camper.

Now let me be clear I am not going to compare and contrast the shows, because frankly they're two different beast and it's hard to compare D.C to Marvel they're two way different styles, but I will tell you this, I honestly find "Arrow" to be the better show. I am a big Joss Whedon fan, but maybe I was hoping for the wittyness and darkness of the "Buffy" and "Angel" series or even the sarcasm of "Firefly" but I find the show is missing some major Joss flare, and it honestly could by my inability to connect with the characters or even actors playing said characters. Although the two British/Scottish science geeks do have some redeeming qualities.

So at this point some of you may have stopped reading because you think I'm crazy and S-H-I-L-E-D is the best T-V show since the invention of the sitcom, but for the rest who are still with me thanks and lets move on. "Arrow," now I will be the first to admit my knowledge of the Green Arrow origin and story was limited. I'm a Dark Night girl so besides his help with the Justice League I really wasn't sure what I was getting into. Clearly the tv show is based on the characters, and is not word for word or scene for scene right out of the comic and that's okay because it gives the show it's own identity hence calling it "Arrow" and not Green Arrow.

This show really has come into its own in the second season. The first season was a great introduction to characters and plot twist and turns, but as Oliver Queen/Arrow played by the rather impressive Stephen Amell started to grow and change and figure out who he wanted to be as a superhero so did the show.

For anyone who's never see "Arrow" the story takes place in Star City and like most comic book cities this one has major issues. We meet Billionaire Oliver Queen, but since he's been stranded on a island in the middle of nowhere for 5 years you really don't know it's him. So long story short, Queen makes his way off the island and back to Stat City and adopts his alter ego who with the help of his fathers secret notebook takes out who he believes are some of the most corrupt people in Star City. This such as life don't exactly go to plan and people closes to Oliver revile their true purpose and those actions lead to a major shift in character and plot for the vigilante.

Okay that's just a quick overview frankly there's way too much to get into it all. But it's the way the story is told. You find yourself feeling for these characters and almost falling in love with them. The cast of "Arrow" was cast beautifully and as you watch these fictional characters on tv you get this feeling that the people playing them are as close in real life as they are in the realm of fiction.

Stephen Amell, I'd never heard of him prior to Arrow and in my opinion I couldn't see anyone else in that role. Outside of Amell's ability to make a one dimensional comic book character come to life almost as seamlessly as Christian Bale's ability to bring Batman to life. Amell's ability to bring Oliver Queen/Arrow to life is not an easy task, he's asking die hard Green Arrow fans to trust his interpretation and set away from what they know. He has done this so well that I truly don't think I could see him as anything but the Arrow and Oliver Queen. On a side not if your not a fan of his on Facebook you should because he is one of the most down to earth guys ever who truly seems humbled by the fans that make his job possible, so check him out!!

The rest of the cast is wonderful and as this second season continues more and more characters start to develop into something you'd never expect and for anyone who knows the comics you'll appreciate the way the way the know characters are tied into the current adaption. Also there are several tie in relating to the D.C world that won't disappoint.

The second season starts again next Wednesday January 15 on the CW. You'll want to check out local listings for times. If you've never seen the show do yourself a favor and start watching!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

American Hustle

Okay I know it's been forever and a day since I've blogged, but I'm back or at least I hope I can post more in 2014 than in the past year or so.

With that being said, lets jump right in with those Oscar buzzing movies that everyone is talking about and anticipating to take the golden statue in March. Since I've move to Galesburg my pool of movies is limited unless I go to Peoria and that's about 45 min to an hour away so my Oscar list maybe lighter than usual.

I did, however, take the time Christmas Eve to see American Hustle directed by David O. Russel, staring Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradly Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Jeremy Renner.
I went into this moving understanding if was a grifter movie and it looked like it would be fun to watch.
This movie is way more than a grifter movie, but as the same time it's a wonderful and clever grifter movie. (For anyone who doesn't know what I mean when I say grifter...its a con-artist.) The movie follows the lives of Irving Rosenfeld (Bale) who after seeing his father getting taken by every crooked businessman in the City decided he'd be doing the taking from now on. That leads Irving to a life of cons and when he meets Sydney Prosser(Adams) his con business takes off, that is until he tries to take Richi Dimaso for a ride.

Dimaso, played by Cooper turns out of be working for the feds and that's when the whole movie really starts to take off with an ending you'll never see coming. Jennifer Lawrence is a scene steelier as Rosalyn Rosenfeld, Irving's wife. Lawrence is a wonder to watch as a dysfunctional mother and wife, but what comes out of her mouth will make you laugh every time.

The move also features Jeremy Renner who plays New Jersey Mayor, Carmine Polito a name working to bring his City back to life. But Polito mistakenly gets involved in Irving's con. As Irving and Carmine's relationship becomes one of friendship Irving struggles with his plan to expose Carmine as a crooked politician, seeing that the work he was doing was truly in the best interest of his constituents.

I'd like to tell you it all works out in the end and there's a happy ending for everyone, but the reality is this is a grifter movie and the only ones who walk away with a happy ending are the ones controlling the game.

Christian Bale once again give an award winning performance and in typical Bales fashion he transformed himself into Irving Rosenfeld. From the moment he hits the screen he's almost unrecognizable, and I found myself rooting for his character. Bale is up for a Golden Globe and there could be a good chance he'll walk away with the Globe and find himself in the race for another Oscar come this spring.

Amy Adam in my opinion grows with every film she makes. With American Hustle she was giving a task to play not one but two people and create two different lives for both allowing the view to understand the different and motivation behind both characters. She is truly a wonder to watch and in a movie where she finds herself on screen with Bale and Cooper she truly held her own.  Adam too finds herself up for a Golden Globe.

Bradly Cooper also finds himself nominated for a Globe, a nomination that in my opinion is totally deserved. Cooper proved in this performance that he is a force to be reckoned with and he's more than silly rolls like the A-Team and the Hang Over. Cooper who gained praise for his role in Silver linings Playbook, proved that he's in fact not a one trick pony and can take on the serious and semi-funny rolls and can be successful.

Also nominated for a Golden Globe is Jennifer Lawrence and David O. Russel for Best Director.

There's no telling if anyone of these actors will walk away with a Globe on Sunday January 12, but there's a good chance at least one will. Even if they don't win for anything their nominated for, the movie American Hustle is a great film. It's funny and smart and has a great soundtrack to boot. So if you have time check out American Hustle you won't be disappointed.

Until our next movie date!
Alexis Cory