About Damion Gross

Damion Gross was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, now residing in Port Deposit, Maryland, and currently employed as a Program Analyst in Washington, DC. Damion has over ten years of experience in the entertainment field as an actor in film, commercials and has done voiceover radio and co-hosted a podcast/internet radio show (www.snpradio.com). He has written entertainment reviews for podcasts and newsletters for his men's basketball organization. He is very active in his community and serves on various boards and employees advisory councils. Entertainment is his passion in life. Sports come a close second. To learn about him visit www.damiongross.com or follow him on Twitter @DamionGOGETEM

Movie Review: Lone Survivor

Lone_Survivor_posterThe term “War is Hell” could not describe this movie any better.  Lone Survivor stars Mark Wahlberg, Taylor Kitsch, Emile Hirsch, Ben Foster and Eric Bana and  and is the violent, painfully realistic, gut wrenching eyewitness account of an ill fated US Navy SEAL mission to capture a notorious Taliban leader.  The audience is taken on an exasperating ride as four US NAVY SEALS fight for their lives, for their country, and most of all for each other.  Based on the Based on the nonfiction book of the same name, Four SEALs are dropped into the mountains of Afghanistan in 2005 on a singular mission, the men prepare to engage their target but are discovered by goat herders.   An old man and two younger men.   The Seals are faced with a dilemma.  Do they kill the herders and live with the consequences as a casualty of war or consider the mission compromised.   They decide to release the herders, a fateful decision, scrap the mission and call for an evacuation, but communication is almost impossible to establish from their mountainous position. The SEALS move to higher ground and use a Satellite phone to reach base camp further exposing themselves.  Once communication is made the SEAL team hunker down and await pickup but it is not in time.  They are surrounded. They are soon set upon by a large group of Taliban fighters and realize that escape is no longer an option.  The SEALs are in a fight for their lives.  They literally have to fight their way off of the mountain by jumping OFF the mountain.  They men are riddled with bullets as they engage the Taliban in a hell raising firefight.  But they push on and fight their way off the mountain precipices.  Down the mountain they go tumbling, breaking bones on each impact, bullets flying by, Taliban warriors in hot pursuit.  The Seal team is picked off one by one until their is only a lone  survivor, Corpsman Marcus Luttrell (Mark Walhberg) .  Saved by a mortar explosion that has tossed him into a crevice into cover, out of sight and in very bad shape.  When Luttrel awakens he musters the strength to walk his battered and broken body, with a severely broken leg,  out of the mountain pass.  Luttrell pauses to drink from a stream and is discovered by Afghan villagers.  Thinking the end is near,  he is in disbelief as  the villagers offer to help Luttrell.  They take him to their village and send help and administer aid to Luttrel.   But Luttrels ordeal isn’t over just yet.  The Taliban has discovered him in the village.  His  life is in the hands of his Afghan protectors as they fight against the Taliban in one final battle for his life.  Go see Lone Survivor.

Poster courtesy of Wikipedia.com, trailer courtesy of trailer addict

Movie Review: American Hustle

American_Hustle_2013_poster

American Hustle, directed by David O. Russell, who also directed last years critically acclaimed “Silver Linings Playbook,” has struck gold again in the director’s chair with another excellent cast of top notch actors. Hustle is a crime drama comedy loosely based on the Federal Bureau of Investigations(FBI) ABSCAM operation. ABSCAM was a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) sting operation run from the Bureau’s Hauppauge, Long Island, office in the late 1970s and early ’80s. The FBI, aided by a convicted con-man, videotaped politicians as they were offered bribes by a fictional Middle Eastern sheik in return for various political favors.The investigation ultimately led to the conviction of a United States Senator, six members of the United States House of Representatives, one member of the New Jersey State Senate, members of the Philadelphia City Council, the Mayor of Camden, New Jersey, and an inspector for the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service. Christian Bale plays Irving Rosenfeld. Irving is obsessed with “making a buck.” He gets into the Conman game early as a kid and enters adulthood busting windows of businesses and then offering window repair. Bale loves to get deep inside his characters. So much in this film that he puts on at least 30 pounds of weight and cuts his hair into a balding comb over. Amy Adams plays Sydney Prosser. Sydney is a good looking woman looking to come up in the world. Irving and Sydney meet at a party and become inseparable. Even though Irving is a married man who doesn’t want to leave his crazy wife (Jennifer Lawrence who shines in this role ) for fear of never seeing the adopted son whom he loves. Sydney goes on Irving’s ride so to speak, enhancing Irving’s cons. The ride is good until FBI Agent Richie Di Maso (Bradley Cooper) catches Irving and Sydney in a loan scam, but offers to release them if Irving can line up additional arrests. The two con artists are forced to set up a sting on corrupt politicians and the mayor of Camden, New Jersey (Jeremy Renner)by agent Di Maso. They bribe the mayor of Camden (Renner), local politicians and a Senator played by one of my favorite character actors Anthony Zerbe (The Omega Man 1971) into believing a rich Sheikh would like to invest in casinos in Atlantic City, NJ (Atlantic City, NJ is a major Casino hub on the East Coast of the United States today). As the con grows the Mafia becomes involved as a necessary part of business. Carmine (Renner) brings the Sheikh to a casino party. Irving is surprised to see that the violent Mobster leader Victor Tellegio (Robert De Niro), second-in-command to the infamous Meyer Lansky, is present. One of the most outrageous scenes in the movie unfolds when Irving sees Tellegio at the party. Irving wants no part of meeting with Tellegio. He stays standing on the other side of the room with Carmine, Sydney and the Sheikh. Irving’s wife Rosalyn (Jennifer Lawrence), who is already upset that Irving has brought his mistress asks, “Why are afraid of those guys?” (The MOB!) ”They don’t look scary to me.” And struts over to the meanest guys in the room and strikes conversation. She later starts an affair with one of the mobsters and almost gets Irving killed.. Wanting no part of the Mob Irving hatches a con where he hides millions in bribe money from the FBI and says an anonymous source will return the money in exchange for immunity for Irving and Sydney; and to keep them away from the mob. Agent Di Maso’s superiors accept the offer which dashes all Di Maso’s plans to become a famous FBI agent. In the end the mob lets Irving live out his life. Irving and Sydney open a legitimate Art business together and Rosalyn and Irving, divorced, share custody of their son.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.org, Trailer courtesy of youtube.com

Movie Preview: 12 Years A Slave

12 Years A Slave12 Years a Slave” is a powerful, sobering retelling of the 1853 autobiography by Solomon Northup, a New York free born negro who was kidnapped in Washington, D.C. in 1841 and sold into slavery given a slave name and whipped and beaten and made to toil in the cotton and sugar cane fields of Louisiana.

For 12 long years Solomon worked on plantations in Louisiana before his release. Chiwetel Ejiofor gives one of his absolute best performances as Solomon Northup. Solomon is shipped to New Orleans, Louisiana where he is given the name Platt. He’s beaten to force him to conceal his true identity. Platt is initially sold to plantation owner William Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch) who is a relatively kind master.

He helps Ford engineer a waterway for transporting logs swiftly downstream. After a racist carpenter resents and tries to kill Platt he is sold away for his protection to Edwin Epps (Michael Fassbender). Epps is a cruel master. Solomon spends the rest of his slavery under Epps cruel ownership. Whippings and threats become commonplace. While working on a building on the plantation Solomon meets a Canadian laborer by the name of Bass (Brad Pitt). Bass expresses his displeasure in the ownership of another human being. This convinces Northup to confide in Bass. Northup asks Bass to get a letter to his friends. He is freed thereafter.

The movie is driven by excellent acting. Fassbender is the essence of evil. The scenes of slavery are violent and emotional but you can’t turn away.

Image reproduced from Wikipedia.org

Movie Review: The Counselor

the-counselorThe Counselor is written by Cormac McCarthy (No Country for Old Men) and directed by Ridley Scott (the name speaks for itself).

The Counselor stars Michael Fassbender as a lawyer who seems to have everything, dabbling in a one time drug deal that goes bad.

The movie is visually sexy. That is all I liked about this movie. I have never seen such a waste of hot talent and cameos on a movie screen.

The Counselor also starred Brad Pitt, Reuben Blades, Cameron Diaz, Penelope Cruz, John Leguzamo, Javier Bardem, and Natalie Dormer to name quite a few without taking a breath.

As the Counselor’s drug deal goes bad so does the film. When he seeks the advice of his co-conspirators he gets philosophized dialogue and meaningless metaphors.

The characters never fully develop. The actors don’t act. The dialogue doesn’t allow it.

I have to give honorable mention to Cameron Diaz and Brad Pitt however. Diaz has a scene stealer when she makes out with a Ferrari (body double I’m sure) which was almost worth the movie ticket. We’ll not quite, but it was one interestingly funny and steamy scene. Brad is Brad.

I expected much more from this film with all the star power but it just never delivered. And the credits began to roll…

Image reproduced from collider.com
Trailer reproduced from YouTube / 20centuryfoxuk

Movie Review: Gravity

MV5BNjE5MzYwMzYxMF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTk4MTk0OQ@@__V1_SY317_CR0,0,214,317_Sandra Bullock and George Clooney headline this Sci-fi/thriller as astronauts fighting to survive after a catastrophic accident leaves them adrift in space.

Sandra Bullock plays medical engineer Ryan Stone and George Clooney plays Matt Kowalski, a veteran astronaut completing his final space mission.

The astronauts are a part of a team of 5 astronauts on a routine mission to make repairs the Hubble telescope when a Russian mission also in space goes very wrong.

Debris is sent thru space and hurling toward the astronauts.

Ryan (Bullock) is ordered to abandon repairs and get back to the shuttle as quickly as possible.

But before the astronauts can make a move the debris is upon them.

That’s when all hell breaks loose and the race to survive ensues.

The special effects are superb and great acting anchors this character driven movie of survival in the final frontier.

Image reproduced from imdb.com
Trailer reproduced from YouTube / WarnerBrosPictures

Film Review: The Conjuring

conjuring

I don’t know about my friends “across the pond” as we say, but Americans love a good ole fashioned down home Haunting. The Conjuring surely delivers. Based on a true story, this horrifying tale follows paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren (played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) who were called upon to help a family terrorized by a dark presence in a secluded farmhouse. Forced to confront a powerful demonic entity, the Warrens find themselves caught in the most terrifying case of their lives. The tension slowly builds right after the family moves in. They begin to sense an evil presence when the children get creepy visits in the early morning hours by something or someone pulling the children out of bed. There are mysterious bruises covering the Mothers body, photographs falling off the wall all at the same time and doors slamming on their own. The family is in utter crisis when they seek the help of the Warrens to end this nightmare they find themselves in only to find that they have been confronted by a non relenting malicious spirit that has literally attached itself to the members of the family. The conjuring harkens back to the days of the classic horror film that thrills and chills instead of slice and dice. Part Amityville Horror part Exorcist. Go see The Conjuring.

Image reproduced from MSN Entertainment
Trailer reproduced from YouTube / WarnerBrosPictures

Film Review: The Lone Ranger

DIGI-LR-60x50-SQUARE-BB-v1-0B-jpg_202507The Lone Ranger is the Walt Disney remake of the American television series of the same name from 1952. The setting is the Wild West and tells the tale of how a man of the law gets transformed into a legend known only as “The Lone Ranger”. The story follows The Lone Ranger (relative newcomer Armie Hammer, known for his dual role as the Winklevoss twins in “The Facebook”) and his trusted companion Tonto (played by Johnny Depp), on an adventure as they right the wrongs of evil doers and dish out their own unique brand of western justice.

Though very entertaining, the movie fails short when compared to the Series in my opinion. The movie misses its audience by being given the “Disney” treatment. For fans of the old series that ran in syndication for many years the movie misses this audience. The Lone Ranger movie appeals to a younger audience with its Disney humor placed throughout the film where there should have only been action, but with a PG-13 rating (for sequences of intense action and violence, and some suggestive material), misses this audience as well. There were only adults present at the viewing I attended. Even with that being said the movie still managed to be entertaining.

I would rate the Lone Ranger a 7 out of 10 stars. The ending clearly leaves the option for a sequel but the box office numbers will ultimately dictate the need.

Photo reproduced from movies.yahoo.com

Film Review: World War Z

37521369331320-wwz-payoff-1sht-crop-jpg_172412What can I say about World War Z? The movie opens to $66 billion in its first week. Beats Man of Steel. Second only to Monsters University (kids movies always top the box office).

If you are looking for a thrill ride of a movie from beginning to end, World War Z delivers. I was only able to take three deep breaths during the tension filled 115 minutes of this movie.

First breath – at the beginning of what seemed to be an ordinary day for Brad Pitts’ character Gary Lane and his family as they find themselves sitting in gridlock in the middle of downtown Philadelphia (all hell breaks loose soon thereafter).

Second breath – halfway through the movie when Gary quietly awakens after his Zombie infested plane crashes in Ireland.

Third breath - at the end of the movie as the credits start to roll.

In between these breaths the world erupts in chaos as a lethal virus seemingly turns humans into feral zombies who overwhelm civilization. There is not more I can say except go see World War Z.

Image reproduced from movies.yahoo.com
Trailer reproduced from YouTube / paramountintl

Movie Review: 42

42-1SHT--ADV-DOM-jpg_20405342 is the story of Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Bozeman) and his history-making signing with the Brooklyn Dodgers under the guidance of team executive Branch Rickey (Harrison Ford). A deal or let’s say decision that put both Robinson and Rickey in the firing line of public opinion, the press, and fellow players during an era of racial segregation.

The movie begins with Rickey trying to find the “right” player to challenge the Major Leagues long standing color barrier. A player that’s “not too old and full of talent.”  Jackie Robinson was Rickey’s choice. Gaining notoriety as a young up and coming talented Negro League shortstop, Robinson would become a part of history by being handpicked by Branch Rickey to join the Dodgers.  And so begins his heroic journey of strength.  As Harrison Ford’s character put it, “the strength not to fight back,” and courage; the courage not to act or respond to extreme intolerance.  The movie does not hesitate to delve into America’s dark past of hatred and bigotry. But there were heartwarming moments, as in the scene when a stranger walks up to Robinson on the street to say “a man should be judged by his ability alone,” or the scene in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where Pittsburgh’s team manager is berating Robinson at every at bat and his teammate rushes to his defense, or a scene near the end of the film where a teammate who asks not to play in his hometown because of one threat he receives. When the teammate is told about the hundreds of threats Robinson receives, he changes his mind and goes as a far as embracing Robinson on the baseball field in front of thousands of angry fans.  42 is a moving tribute to two American Heroes.  Number 42 let his talent do the talking on the field ultimately winning over fans and his teammates, silencing his critics, and paving the way for others to follow.

In addition to his impact on the cultural times, Robinson had an exceptional baseball career.  Over ten seasons, Robinson played in six World Series and contributed to the Dodgers’ 1955 Championship.  He was selected for six consecutive All Star Games, selected MLB Rookie of the Year in 1947, won the National League MVP in 1949—the first black player so honored.  Jackie Robinson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.  In 1997, Major League Baseball “universally” retired his uniform number, 42, across all major league teams; he was the first pro athlete in any sport to be so honored. And for the first time on April 15, 2004, Major League Baseball has adopted a new annual tradition, “Jackie Robinson Day,” on which every player on every team wears #42.

Wesley Branch Rickey was an innovative executive elected to the Baseball hall of Fame in 1967.  He was known for signing Jackie Robinson and also for drafting the first Afro-Hispanic superstar, Roberto Clemente.  Rickey created the framework for the modern minor league baseball farm system and for introducing the batting helmet.

The Brooklyn Dodgers were an American baseball team that was active from 1884 until 1957, after which it moved to Los Angeles, California, where it continued the Los Angeles Dodgers.  The team’s name derived from the reputed skill of Brooklyn residents at evading the city’s trolley street cars.

Image reproduced from www.movies.yahoo.com
Trailer reproduced from YouTube / WarnerBrosPictures