Sunday, January 18, 2015

The St. George Half Marathon – Matthew Jacobson


This is the third time I've run The St. George Half Marathon, and the second time I've finished it. (Last year some medical issues got in the way, but hey – I did make it to mile 5 before I had to call it quits!) For those of you thinking about running it in 2016, here's what you should expect.

The Course

The course is relatively standard. It runs on the city streets for half the race, and on city trails the other half. After 2.5 mark, it starts going uphill. The Bloomington Hills area of St. George is very hilly, so there is a lot of up and down throughout that area. There's little-to-no level roads from 2.5 until the summit of the course at the halfway mark, where the course begins its downward slope. At about 7.5 miles, the course turns to city trails, which are more-or-less even. The race finishes where it starts.

The View

St. George is a very scenic city, surrounded by beautiful red rocks and desert. The forced landscape is beautiful, too. However, there's one time of the year when the city is ugly and barren, and that's in the middle of January.

This is what makes The St. George Half Marathon unappealing. It's cold and it's ugly. Everything is brown. In a way, it's disheartening. Instead of being able to enjoy the surroundings, you're just wishing the race would be over already so you can get away from this dead, disgusting place.

The Medal

The medal is an integral part to running these races. We runners like to display them proudly, so it's nice when there's a rad medal with an awesome design. I have to give props to St. George for changing up the design of the half marathon medal from years past (the St. George Marathon medal stays the same year after year...), but I don't particularly like the vomit green used for the ribbon.

I'm still hoping one of these races will feature an awesome black and white medal.

Overall Rating

The challenging first half makes this a race you feel good about completing. But the scenery leaves much to be desired.

Follow The Skewed Review on Twitter @TheSkewedReview; like The Skewed Review at

Thursday, January 8, 2015

How Is This Movie? - Matthew Jacobson


If you're not already aware, I write a Blu-ray column for Gannett. In it, I review not only the movies but also the bonus content. After all, many of us buy Blu-rays because we get extras in addition to the film.

Why else would we shell out close to $30 per film? We want more than just the movie we paid $15 to see in the theater.

By the way, you can read my Blu-ray reviews, plus my weekly geek column, by clicking this sentence.

I'm personally interested in everything that goes into making a movie. I eat up those behind-the-scenes mini documentaries found on most Blu-rays. It's fascinating to see what makes movies work or what makes them fail.

That's why I love the podcast, "How Is This Movie?"

Host Dana Buckler researches movies and movie stars and then gives us behind-the-scenes information on topics like Wes Craven films, Star Wars and Eddie Murphy, just to name a few. This podcast is basically an audio version of the Blu-ray behind-the-scenes bonus feature. It's a fascinating look at the process behind our favorite films.

This is one of about 10 podcasts that I listen to regularly. If you love movies, you should listen, too.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes here.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Big Eyes - Matthew Jacobson


It's almost as if Tim Burton woke up one day and said, "I'll prove I can make a movie without Johnny Depp," and the proceeded to make the most un-Burton Tim Burton film to date.

And you know what? It worked out great.

Sweetheart Amy Adams plays Margaret Keane, a woman whose artistic talent got her work known worldwide – under someone else's name, that is. Her husband, Walter, played by the ever-so-slimy and ever-so-genius Christoph Waltz, convinces Margaret that the world just won't accept a female artist, and takes the credit for her work instead.

Based on the true story of Margaret Keane, "Big Eyes" was fascinating and enthralling. I, along with millions of others, I assume, went directly to my computer following the movie. I immediately punched "Keane" into Google images to see the real life art.

And while I'm a huge Tim Burton fan – I laud each and every one of his films, even when they're critically panned – I have to admit it was a breath of fresh air to see him take on something new. "Big Eyes" is more akin to his 2003 film "Big Fish."

This begs the question, of course: will his next un-Burton film have "Big" in the title, as well?

Missing from the movie was the cast of usual Burton suspects; most notably absent were Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. Honestly, the three of them needed a bit of a break, anyway.

Actually, with Carter and Burton's recent split, something tells me that particular break is going to last a long time – if not forever. Remember Lisa Marie, who played the part of Vampira in Burton's other biopic, "Ed Wood"? Yeah, she appeared in his films while the two were dating. But she hasn't been heard from since the two broke up.

I hope she's still alive.

I can't wait to own this on Blu-ray. This is by far one of Burton's best films. And it's clear this man knows how to make a biopic. (Edward Scissorhands is a biopic, right?) Now, I think I'll go watch "Ed Wood" again.

Follow The Skewed Review on Twitter, @TheSkewedReview and at