Saturday, December 3, 2011

Hero of the Day- Indiana Jones

Nazi's. I hate these guys

If I did this list and did NOT include him, I think I would have lost all credibility. Again, this guy is just a classic hero. The movies that he stars in are some of the greatest adventure movies of all time (The first three that is). After seeing this and Star Wars, I think it was pretty much cemented that Harrison Ford was another of my child hood heroes, and continues to be to this day (For the record, I have three movie heroes that have stayed with me through the years, two have already been mentioned here, and the third is still to come). In each movie he's in, he goes through a routine of getting his ass kicked only to come back and kick theirs twice as hard. Sometimes, all he needed was the propeller of a plane, a rock, or the wrong cup and the job was done. And even though he wasn't a cowboy or anything, the image of him riding on a horse with his gun in hand is so iconic and just seems right. Heck, that was part of the reason that I was so psyched to see Cowboys and Aliens. I just wanted to see Harrison Ford wearing that kind of hat, riding a horse and toting a six shooter again. And I saw that. So for me, personally, that movie didn't disappoint. But I'm getting off base here. It also helps that it was revealed in the third movie that he was fathered by none other than Sean Connery. I should end this post right here, because whatever arguments you may have had about Dr. Jones being a wuss are rendered invalid. If Sean Connery's blood runs in your veins, then that means that you have nothing but testosterone and badassery coursing through your body like a river of manliness! He's killed Nazi's, he's killed blood thirsty cultists, he's killed communists, I wouldn't be surprised if it turned out he was the one that shot Osama!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Hero of the Day- Dirty Harry

You got to ask yourself a question: Do I feel lucky? Well do ya, Punk?

Since I started yesterday by sharing a childhood hero, I thought today, just to even things out, I'd share one of my more recent heroes. DIRTY HARRY. Why not? He's one of the most badass characters in all of film. His methods are unconventional, but they get the job done, so who can blame him? He didn't earn his nickname by playing by the rules! Screw the rules! He's so badass that the tagline for the movie says "He doesn't break murder cases, he smashes them!" I don't even know what that means and that sounds awesome. And who can forget that oh so awesome speech he gave not once but twice about his handgun (The last part of it is today's quote)? The character was played by Clint Eastwood and in my opinion, this is Eastwood's best character. I like Bill Munney, Josey Wales and Preacher, but this guy just kicks ass!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Top Five Guilty Pleasures

Okay, I know that I have made fun of a lot of well known and well loved films (and I’m nowhere close to being done), but like a lot of people, I have my list of movies that I like for some ungodly reason. In some cases, I can’t even explain why I like these movies, I almost hate myself for saying I enjoy them. So without more ado, these are my biggest guilty pleasure movies
1.    The Pirates of the Caribbean sequels- I make no apologies for liking the first one, but I can point out almost everything that is wrong with these movies. And for some reason, I still love them. Why? I don’t have a clue. Maybe it’s that I think the characters are awesome and the dialogue is fun and kind of witty.
2.     Van Helsing- This was a movie that I liked when I saw it in theaters (I was 12, give me a break), but the next time I watched it a few years later, I realized just how asinine it really was. However, Hugh Jackman and the comically over-the-top Dracula make it enjoyable
3.     Cat in the Hat- Hey shut up! The only scene that I actually like is the cupcake cooking show scene. It was like a homage to Mike Meyers’ days as a SNL cast member
4.     Hannibal- I love Silence of the Lambs (it’s in the top 5 for me), but this movie was just lame. So why do I like it? Well, I can’t say no to Gary Oldman, especially when playing a villain, and if I listed all the differences between the book and the movie, the movie would almost seem like a masterpiece. The book had so many unnecessary characters, gory scenes and just an overall weirdness factor that could (should) have just been totally left out. This is one of those moments where you say “Thank God they didn’t follow the book!”
5.    Anaconda- Good Lord is this movie bad. The writing is terrible, the snake looks extremely fake, as do all of the emotions the actors try to show. And don’t even get me started on Jon Voight’s indefinable accent. He sounds like he’s trying to do an Al Pacino Scarface impression! Yet for some reason, this is a movie that I find myself recording every time it’s on. This is one that I can’t justify. Maybe I love it for being so bad.

Hero of the Day- Luke Skywalker

I want to learn the ways of the Force and become a Jedi like my father.

What better way to start off a month of heroism than with one of the most iconic, noble heroes of all time? And what an even better way to start this off than with one of my personal childhood heroes? For those of you who don't know me outside of the realm of cyberspace, you should know that I am a huge Star Wars nut, and have been for the better part of my life. So I don't even have a choice, I have to put Luke Skywalker on here. Luke is a classic hero, and his image has become a staple of pop culture. Even those that aren't familiar with Star Wars at least know who this guy is. Luke's journey from the deserts of Tatooine to the swamps of Dagohbah to the throne room of the emperor is a classic one and deserves to be seen by all. He started out as a simple farm boy and grew up to become one of the most powerful figures in the galaxy, he went from killing rats with his T-16 to killing storm troopers with a laser sword. That is quite the transition if you ask me. It's also interesting to see the emotional journey that he embarked upon. He may have started out whining, but he learned from his mistakes, built off of them and used his experiences to better prepare himself for that inevitable confrontation with the Emperor. Luke is a great hero with a classic journey that we all wish we could jump into the screen and be apart of. At least I do. What isn't cool about flying an X-Wing?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Starting tomorrow...

As I mentioned in my review yesterday, I will be starting a new thing in December called "Hero of the Day" Where I feature a different hero from either film or literature, and talk about why they have been so revered in our culture. While I don't want to spoil who WILL be on the list, here is a list of people who WON'T appear:

Edward Cullen/ anybody in Twilight: Why? Because these are the people that we are supposed to relate to, and yet I end up hating everybody
Harry Potter: I don't really hate this character, but oddly enough, of all the things found in these books, the main character was the least interesting thing to me. All of the other characters were fascinating but Harry just fell a little flat in my opinion.
Rocky: No real reason, I just knew a number of Rocky fanboys growing up, and they were all douche bags, so this is my way of sticking it to them. Suck it!
Anakin Skywalker: There is no Anakin! There is only Darth Vader! I refuse to believe that the dark lord of the Sith was a prissy teen!
Anybody played by Nicholas Cage or Kevin Costner: Do I really need to explain?
Ethan Hunt: Two words: Tom Cruise

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Technically I already reviewed this movie in my Christmas Carol section. But I don't care, this one stands apart from all the others. In what way? 2 words: Bill Murray. How can you not be drawn in to this? He's one of the funniest people alive! Just hearing the name puts a slight smile on my face. Apart from that, this is also a much darker version and the things that made you sad in the other versions make you downright depressed in this version. But at the same time, those things that made you smile in the other versions also makes you smile even more in this one. This is a much more engaging version of the story. You know how in my Small One review, I said that Don Bluth had a knack for making people cry their eyes out but still made them feel satisfied with a happy ending? Same basic principle here. Though like I said, it's a bit more intense. In the other versions, Scrooge's father was distant from him because his mother died giving birth to him, and merely looking at him caused his father to feel sadness at the loss of his beloved wife. In this version, the mother is still alive, but the father is a downright ass. Apparently, he's a butcher who thinks that all kids should be working from day 1, as is shown when he gives his son a hard time for not having a job despite the fact that he's four. Getting a job at four! In other versions, Tiny Tim was a crippled and sickly child who might possibly die because he wasn't getting the care and treatment that was needed. In this version, he's scarred for life after the death of his father and even goes crazy in the future. When Murray is visited by the ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, it is shown that the character ends up in a mental institution with bandages on all four limbs. Damn! Somehow, seeing a child in a padded cell gets to me more than seeing his parents standing on his grave. I don't know why, my priorities must be messed up. But just like with Don Bluth movies, we are treated to a happy ending filled with laughs. I might need to go into therapy after experiencing this many emotions in so little time.

There are other examples of this version taking more of a creative license, especially when it comes to the way the ghosts are portrayed. Past and Present are almost polar opposites of what they were like in other versions, and Marley is a freaking zombie in this version. I think it was pretty clever and pretty brave at the same time for the filmakers to go that direction.

Also, I think it should be pointed out that this was directed by Richard Donner. Who is that you ask? Well, apart from directing The OmenSuperman, The Goonies as well as all of the Lethal Weapon movies (which is like a less-awesome but still pretty awesome buddy cop version of Die Hard), he's nobody. Wow, he goes from religious horror to comic book heroes to action-comedy to comedy and then kid-adventure movie. Talk about range. So yeah, that's a pretty big fact that deserves mentioning.

What more needs to be said? It's an unconventional take on a classic story with unconventional characters, unconventional humor and one of the most unconventional comedians of all time. At least the characters he plays are unconventional, I don't know about him personally.

Final Grade: A-, I loved it, but there were parts that got to me a lot more than a Christmas special should.
Yours truly,

So those are my choices of Christmas specials to review. There were others that I was going to review, like The Santa Clause or those Rankin-Bass stop-motion cartoons based off of classic songs. I was going to include these, but then people told me that they were expecting me to review those, so I decided to do the sensible thing and let them down.

Starting December 1st, I'm going to do a month of heroism, where each day, I pay tribute to the best and most iconic heroes from movies, literature, and history.

Home Alone

Wow, another John Hughes movie? Yeesh. I didn’t even realize that until I started writing this. Like a lot of other movies on this list, it’s funny, relatable and heart-warming. I would go on but I would essentially be saying the same thing that I said for all the other movies. The only difference is that this one has Macauly Culkin, who started as an adorable little kid who grew up into… You know what? That’s a tale for another time. Though I suppose that this movie could have worked just fine if they decided to do it without having it be Christmas themed. I’m guessing they just thought “What the heck? Let’s add some red and green”  And that is what really added to the heart element of this movie. This is also Culkin’s best performance. Sure he became prostituted for being a marketable little kid, but the emotions he shows in this movie are entirely genuine and believable. Also, I can’t deny a movie with Joe Pesci. He’s like a yappy Chihuahua that is NOT annoying. Maybe it’s the fact that while he’s short you still know that he can kick your ass. Don’t believe me? Watch Goodfellas and Casino, you’ll see what I mean.

Again, I would like to say more about this movie, but I would essentially be repeating what I had said about Christmas Vacation and Christmas Story. The only thing that sets this apart is that it can work both as a Christmas movie and as just a regular family comedy.

Final Grade: B
Yours truly,

Monday, November 28, 2011

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

I was just thinking the other day “Hey! I haven’t ripped a popular movie apart in a while!” That’s right, I begin all my thoughts with “Hey!” Don’t judge. And since I reviewed a movie yesterday that I really loved, I think the only plausible way to follow it up is with reviewing a movie that I really hated. So what recent movie have I hated that everybody else seemed to love? I’ll give you a hint: It involves a group of individuals squaring off against evil people in an attempt to make the world a better place.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt 2?
Nope! Rise of the Planet of the Apes! Notice I didn’t say people, I said individuals. Monkeys are not people, I don’t care what PETA, Tarzan, James Cameron or his armies of blue smurf monkeys say.

Yeah, for those of you who don’t know, I have a particular hatred for this movie. I like the original movie with Charlton Heston. Mainly because at the time, I can see why so many people liked this movie. It may have been campy, silly and had a ridiculous premise, but it didn’t try to be more than that. It was just your typical sci-fi adventure flick. And also it has freaking Charlton Heston in it! One of the coolest dudes to have ever walked the earth! Only Clint Eastwood and Sean Connery can trump his awesomeness! Who does this movie star? James Franco… Wow, what a fitting replacement. Even the last movie had Mark Wahlberg. Was it a great movie? I don’t know, I seem to have blocked it from my memory. But at least it had Mark Wahlberg! Is Franco a good actor? Yes, I’ll give him a point for that.

Let's be honest, please tell me that I’m not the only one who is a little pissed off by that title. Did nobody else feel like the title was a kick to their intelligence’s balls? Why couldn’t it just be called Rise of the Apes? Were they worried that nobody would connect it to the original movie? A movie about Apes becoming intelligent and starting to take over the earth is in no way related to a movie about apes that became intelligent and took over the earth. Nope! My feeble mind could not see that. Thank you for adding in the word PLANET into the title. For a while, I was hazy, but now I see, clear as day, that this is in fact, a prequel to Planet of the Apes. Even so, there are so many references to the original that if they trailer wasn’t enough of an indicator, you could see this movie and know full well that this is connected to the movie from the 60’s. First off, they use a quote taken directly from the original “Get your filthy hands off me you damn dirty apes!” so either this is a prequel or the director decided to rip off that line and call it “tribute”. Also, Tom Felton’s character, Dodge Landon, is a reference to not one, but TWO characters from the original movie. And then the biggest wink to the audience comes when we see a headline about an astronaut disappearing in space. Geez, I wonder who that could be! Let’s see, Charlton Heston’s character was an astronaut before he crash-landed… The article spoke of an astronaut… Could it be?... No, it can’t be… Could Charlton Heston’s character be the one the newspaper spoke of? Maybe. Right now, it’s just a theory. So yeah, there were enough obvious references and connections to the first movie that you don’t need to add the word PLANET into the title.

Also, what really annoys me is the fact that this movie even has to exist. What made the first one so unique and great was the twist ending. You see the whole movie Charlton Heston thinks he is in an alternate reality or another planet, only to realize that he’s in the future after seeing a toppled Statue of Liberty. This was one of those twists that knocked everybody on their ass and continues to be one of the most iconic movie endings to date. By making a prequel to it, it kind of ruins what was so special about it. It would be like they made a prequel about Keyser Soze’s life and everything leading up to the events of The Usual Suspects. Or better yet, making crappy prequels explaining how characters like Hannibal Lecter or Darth Vader came into being. Oh crap, those already exist. What is it with Hollywood and ruining cool movie characters? What’s interesting about stories like Planet of the Apes is not how they got there, it’s the fact that they already are there. That fact is interesting enough, you don’t need to explain it to us, we don’t need to know!

While I can appreciate the fact that the filmmakers tried to Nolanize* the idea and make it believable, there are still areas that I had trouble buying. I still can’t buy the idea of apes overthrowing humans, especially if it takes place in a time when humans have flamethrowers, dynamite, Gatling guns, RPG’s, grenades, napalm, nukes, helicopters, ninjas, heat-seeking missiles, shotguns, and Chuck Norris. If this took place in the 60’s, maybe I could believe it. What’s that? We had most of that in the sixties as well? F&$# it then, this movie should have never been made. Sure, you see them take down one of the helicopters, but that was because it had a dumbass controlling it. No other explanation. Now if it had somebody like Rambo, Howlin’ Mad Murdock or Boba Fett piloting it, those apes would have made some handsome fur coats.

What did save this movie for me was Andy Serkis. Don’t know who that is? Shame on you. Mr. Serkis is known for playing a character in a little movie, not a big deal, you may have heard about it, it’s called 13 Going On 30. But he is also known for playing Gollum in The Lord of the Rings movies. He provided the movements and facial expressions for the main monkey, Ceasar. And he really did do a good job of it. For a while, I forgot that it was a CGI ape and actually thought that it was a real ape. That alone saved this movie from utter failure in my book.

Final Grade: C+
Yours truly,

*Nolanize- adj. To take something from a movie that normally isn’t very believable and put it into a situation where it looks like it could happen. The term comes from the name of director Christopher Nolan, whose crowning achievement is taking the characters from the Batman universe, putting it into ours, and making two of the coolest movies of all time, while making situations like these look perfectly plausible

A Christmas Story

This is another one that I have to watch every year. You know how I said that if Christmas comes and goes, and I haven't seen Christmas Vacation at least once, then the whole season feels wasted and empty? Same goes for this one, only probably more so. The whole movie is about nostalgia. The narrator is telling us what is going on, but it's not like he is reading it off of a paper, he's saying it more as if he was sitting and talking to somebody about it, remembering the good old days when we still had that child-like innocence. The whole movie is relatable to everybody because we can all think of those special Christmas memories. The kind that are always fun to tell our friends about even years after they happened. Here, we have a guy relating a tale to us when he was a kid and he sounds like a middle-aged man. And he is talking about it like it happened only a month ago. That's another reason why Christmas is the best time of the year. The memories that we create at Christmas time stick with us more than the ones that we create at any other time of the year. And since Christmas also happens to be at the end of the year, we are also tempted to look back at the previous year, see who we were then, compare it to who we are now and hope to be the next time Christmas rolls around.

And on top of being very touching and relatable, I also think this is the funniest of the Christmas movies. I may love Christmas Vacation, but this is the one that makes me howl with laughter every time I see it. Whether it's the feud over the lamp, the demonic mall Santas or the first time a kid uses a curse word in front of their parents (we all remember that moment in our lives, especially if you grew up in a Protestant household), every scene is just as funny as the last time I watched it. I don't even need to mention the tongue on pole scene because we all know it so well. Touching, enjoyable and just so damn funny, A Christmas Story is by far my favorite Christmas movie.

Final Grade: A+++
Yours truly,

Sunday, November 27, 2011


I'm writing this review having just gotten back from the theater after seeing this movie, that is how excited I am about this movie. First off, let me explain to you how I felt going into this movie, that way you get a better idea as to why I say the things that I say about this movie. When I first heard about this movie, all I knew was that it was directed by Martin Scorsese, who is hands down my favorite director of all time. Goodfellas, Casino, Taxi Driver, The Departed, all great movies, two of them are two of my favorite movies of all time. When I saw the trailer for this movie, my thoughts were "Martin Scorsese is making a PG film? And one that looks like it's meant for kids? AND IT'S IN 3D?" Given Scorsese's reputation, I was not expecting the best from him on this movie, especially after Shutter Island. Don't get me wrong, I loved that movie, but to me, it signaled the point in his career where Scorsese had stopped making award-winning pictures and was now just coasting. So when I texted my friend today saying I wanted to see The Muppets, he told me he would rather see either Happy Feet 2 or Hugo. Hesitantly, I said I was willing to sit through Hugo if that is what he wanted.

Alright I'm going to stop delaying and get right to it, Hugo is a fantastic, wonderful, beautifully made film! I may go so far as to say that it is one of Scorsese's best movies, and is my new favorite movie for this year. This is Martin Scorsese's love-letter to movies. A big part of it has to do with the early days of film and how one of the characters was one of the first people to use special effects in motion pictures. And while this is a PG movie, I don't think that it's really a kids movie because I can see kids getting bored really easily while watching this. The real people that will enjoy this movie are the film buffs. If you are as passionate about movies as I am, go see this movie right now. The CGI is well used, I've read some reviews that say the 3D is spectacular (I might go see it again and pay the extra cash to see it in 3D), and the performances are great as well, which is pretty common in a Martin Scorsese movie. Who would have thought that you could get dramatic actors like Christopher Lee, Ben Kingsley and also have comedic ones like Sacha Baron Cohen in a movie together and have it work so well. Jude Law is also great as Hugo's deceased father, and even the two leading kids are great in this movie. Somebody is getting a nomination in this movie, that much I can guarantee. Scorsese might get another nomination as well and it will be well-deserved.

What can you say really? This is a movie that is a salute to movies that is for movie buffs and made by the master of movies himself. Not only is this one of the best movies of the year, it might worm its way onto my list of all time favorite movies. I seriously can not wait to pick this one up on DVD. As we were leaving the theater, my friend asked me "Has Scorsese ever let you down?" To which I replied "Not yet, and I don't think he ever will"

Final Grade: A+
Yours truly,

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

This is another one that is very dear to me. Not only is it one of the first Christmas movies that I saw as a kid, it was also the first book that I read, memorized and recited out loud. This is a great special for a lot of reasons. One of them being that while the grinch is a total a-hole, he is still a very likable character. I didn't know this until recently, but apparently the grinch was voiced by Boris Karloff. If you don't know who that is, I can't help you. Probably my favorite part of this special was the song "You're a Mean One", which is just ungodly catchy and nearly impossible to get out of your head. Unlike a lot of songs that get stuck in your head, this one actually isn't all that bad or annoying. And the fact that voice of Tony the Tiger is singing it just makes it all that more enjoyable (I don't know if Tony the Tiger really does sing it, I'm only saying that because when I hear that voice, I think of Tony the Tiger). Much like The Small One or Mickey's Christmas Carol, it isn't all that long but it's still enjoyable, and the old school animation adds some charm and nostalgia to it as well.

And before anybody asks, I actually liked the Ron Howard movie, How the Grinch Stole Christmas... When I was 9! Now I look at it and wonder why people even show it on TV anymore. Why did anybody sign on to it? Come on Ron! You directed Apollo 13 (with Kevin Bacon) and Cinderella Man! There is no excuse for this! The only person who I can forgive for this is Anthony Hopkins and he was the narrator! He probably only spent two days on this movie. And whose decision was it to practically blind Jim Carrey with make-up? How long did it take to apply all that? Imagine going through that every day! Yikes! Do you think it was worth it? I hope you got dropped on your head hard enough to think that it was worth it because nobody else does! You guys even ruined that oh so catchy song that I just praised for being easy to get stuck in your head but likable at the same time! What is wrong with you people?! Explain yourselves! Answer me you apparatus of misery!

So you can probably guess that I am not a huge fan of the movie that came out back in 2000. The animated version, however is a treasure, and I can't help but watch it every time it's on around this time of year.

Final Grades:
Animated: A+
Live-Action: Dude, don't even ask
Yours truly,