Friday, December 30, 2011

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Hello, I am the Movie Prick... and I'm a Skyrim addict. It greaves me to say this, but I am. It has only been five days and I have now become a Skyrim junky. Barely a day goes by where I don't find myself going for hours on end playing this game. I feel as if this game has me on a chain and won't let me go, it's a ponderous chain. It is just so hard to quit. I don't know what it is that has me so hooked... The open world gameplay... The way you can interact with everyone and everything... The presence of voices like Christopher Plummer and Max Von Sydow... Maybe it's all of them... I'm sorry, I need a minute (sniff sniff, heavy exhale). I'm sorry, it's so hard for me to talk about this. We all have our baggage. For so long, I thought that it was so silly for people to get hooked on a game like World of Warcraft, and I laughed at them for being so weak. And now, I know their pain... It has been 45 minutes since I last played the game.... And lord knows how soon it will be before I play it again.

P.S- Long live Dovahkin!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Okay, I just got back from the theater where I saw Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. And to get to the point, I really liked this movie, I really did. I heard a lot of people complain that this was more action and not quite as much mystery, and while I do agree with them about that, I think it should be pointed out that this movie is not so much about solving a mystery as much as it is about trying to stop Professor Moriarty. The other movie was about finding out what Blackwood was doing and how he was doing it. This movie, we already know what the bad guy is trying to do, it's more about just stopping him. It's also mostly about the rivalry between these two eerily similar people. Both are geniuses and both don't mind showing it off. The idea of Moriarty is showing us what Sherlock Holmes would have been like in another life. And in that respect, the movie did a very good job. The scenes where the two of them are in the same room having a battle of wits are some of the best scenes in the movie.
Final Grade: B

It would be a B+, accept for one thing that hurt me deep inside. It's a bit of a spoiler, so those of you who don't want me to ruin it, stop reading this after the *
Also, I think Professor Moriarty deserves the "Villain of the Year" award, with Sebastian Shaw from X-Men: First Class in a close second. The other two contenders were Loki from Thor and Red Skull from Captain America

Yours truly,

*The thing that hurt me deep inside was the fact that a certain future wife of mine met her demise in the beginning of the movie.

Top 20 Favorite Movies of All Time

I've been working on this list for a while now. I've decided to give you a list of my top 20 favorite movies of all time. I know a lot of people like to do top 10 and top 5 lists, but I figured if I gave you a top 20 list, then you would be able to get a better sense of my taste in movies. And I will be working backwards starting at 20 and working to 1. So without more ado, let's get right into it...

20. Raiders of the Lost Ark- Some of these entrees might seem a little cliche, but like my heroes list, I make no apologies for mentioning some of these movies. This is no exception. The movie is one of the best action movies ever made and is probably the best adventure movie ever made. Few have been able to meet the bar set by this movie, and even fewer have passed it. Not even it's own sequels could pass it in terms of greatness. I love Harrison Ford and this has to be one of his best roles

19. Braveheart- There has often been a debate on which is better, Braveheart or Gladiator. For me, personally, Braveheart is the uncontested winner. I think the story is a bit more engaging and a bit deeper, even if it does stray from historical fact. Gladiator was good, but it was your basic revenge story. Braveheart started as revenge, but turned into something much bigger.

15. District 9- This is one of my favorite science fiction movies. I know a lot of people will make the argument that this has the same flaws as Avatar, but I felt more connected with the aliens in this movie, which is weird considering that they were essentially walking 6 foot cockroaches. But that really is an achievement if you ask me. Also, even though there was an obvious political message (like Avatar), I didn't feel like I was being slapped in the face with it (like I was with Avatar).

17. Scarface- I am a huge Al Pacino fan, especially when he does gangster pictures. So it would make sense that I include the crown jewel of his career in this countdown.

16. Hugo- I think it's kind of weird that one of my favorite Martin Scorsese movies is not a cops or gangster movie considering that is what he is best at. But this is by far one of his best, making one of the best family films I have ever seen. The movie is essentially a homage to the movies that inspired Scorsese himself, and you can tell he put his soul into this movie.

15. Bladerunner- I have heard a lot of complaints that this movie is really bizarre and weird, and that is why a lot of people don't like it. Ironically, that is the very reason why I like it. This is probably my other favorite Harrison Ford role, playing a much darker and more depressing character than the adventure icons we are used to seeing him play. The story itself is great and I especially love the twist at the end of the director's cut. It's pretty easy to miss and you have to really be paying attention if you are going to catch it. This is one of the few movies where if you are going to see it, see the director's cut because it is much better than the theatrical version.

14. The Shining- I already mentioned that I love Kubrick, and this is my favorite movie of his. I read the book and at first I was a little upset with the amount of artistic license that he took from it, but the more I thought about it, I really didn't mind it and really began to love the subtlety of this movie. This is a horror movie that takes its audience seriously, which is not often seen in this genre. When it is seen however, it really does deserve recognition.

13. The Taxi Driver- Martin Scorsese makes another appearance here as we see another one of his best movies. This is a dark character study that is not for the weak-stomached towards the end. It's a dark, disturbing movie that is a combination of both De Niro's and Scorsese's best efforts. You also can't help but be intrigued by this movie when you hear all of the rumors and legends surrounding the production of the movie (Scorsese planning on shooting a man for making him edit it down).

12. Heat- I love a good old fashioned cops and robbers movie, and Heat set the bar for heist movies. Again, I don't think many heist movies have met it and none have surpassed it. Sure, I love movies like  The Italian Job, Ocean's Eleven and The Town, but this is by far the best. I really like this movie because there is a ten minute shootout scene involving no CGI and no green screen. It's just a bunch of guys running through the streets of Los Angeles with guns. And yet, it is ten times more engaging than most action movies I see these days. Michael Bay and George Lucas, take the hint.

11. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street- I really love Tim Burton, and this is my favorite movie of his. There was a time when Hollywood tried to resurrect musicals and make more movies out of them like they did years ago with West Side Story and Sound of Music. This movie is the only one that we remember because Tim Burton's visual style is perfect for this story and this music. It's a match made in cinema heaven. It was something that could have been really mediocre, but Burton really made something great out of it, as well as giving us some of Johnny Depp's best work and some other good performances from Helena Bonham Carter and Alan Rickman.

10. The Nightmare Before Christmas- I really don't have to talk about this anymore because I've already talked about it to death. Just know that I love the concept, the atmosphere, the animation, the story and the characters.

9. Pulp Fiction- I am a huge fan of nonlinear storytelling and this movie is a prime example of that. In fact, I think this influenced a lot of nonlinear movies that followed it. The characters are great and Quentin Tarantino is a master of writing dialogue. In fact, most of his fans will tell you that the most memorable things about his movies is the dialogue. Not the action or the gore, but the dialogue itself.

8. Fight Club- This is a classic movie that every guy needs to see at some point in his life. It really explores the idea of being a man filled with pent up rage stuck in a PC world with nothing to vent on.  There have been a lot of movies that are social commentaries, a number of which have been directed by Oliver Stone. This one however, is the best. And of course, there is arguably one of the best twist endings I have ever seen. I think The Sixth Sense should take its hat off to this movie.

7. The Lord of the Rings trilogy- which one? All of them! I love all of these movies and put them in the same spot here. I could go on for days as to why I love these movies so much. For now, I'll just tell you that I adore the story, characters and above all, the lore. I may do a day where I talk about what I like about each movie individually.

6. Mystic River- As much as I love Clint Eastwood as an actor, I love him even more as a director, and this movie is my favorite of his. The overall theme of the movie is how violence can affect somebody in the long run. Anybody can say 'Violence is bad', but this story really takes a look at how one act can affect a person's life forever. The other part of the story that I really love is the theme of trying to fight off one's demons and how right when we thought we got them beat, fate comes along to test us and (when human nature is factored into the equation) sometimes, the good part in us doesn't always triumph. It's a brilliant story with brilliant performances all around, especially from the three leads: Sean Penn, Tim Robbins and Kevin Bacon.

5. The Dark Knight- It's no secret that I am a huge Chris Nolan fan, as well as a huge Batman fan. This has to be my favorite movie of his, being the first superhero movie to tackle the issue of ethics and how far one is willing to go in order to achieve success, even if it means breaking their own code. It is also the first super hero movie that really adressed the question of whether or not the hero's presence has done more harm than good. To be honest, you could put any Chris Nolan movie in this spot and I would be happy. Whether it is Memento, Batman Begins or Inception, I love all of his movies. Going back to Pulp Fiction for a minute, Nolan actually confessed to being inspired by the nonlinear storytelling method employed by Quentin Tarantino when he was writing Memento.

4. The Silence of the Lambs- Where do I begin with this movie? I'm usually a guy who, when it comes to scary movies, likes to creeped out to the point that I am not merely just jumping, I want to be disturbed. I want a movie to really have a lasting impression on me if they claim that they can creep me out. And this movie was the first and one of the only movies to ever achieve that. Of course the best parts are Ted Levine and Anthony Hopkins's performances, becoming two of the most memorable villains without ever actually harming anybody on screen, with the exception of one time. The build up to both of these characters is just great. Okay, it wasn't really build up, but when we heard about Buffalo Bill and then saw him on screen, we already knew he was trouble. I had heard a story that this movie was released in the middle of February as a way of marketing it as this year's Valentine's Day date movie for couples to see. I would have loved to been in the theater when the hot young teens all saw some of these scenes just to see what their reactions would be.

3. Saving Private Ryan- Something you should know about me is that I am a history nut, more specifically, I am a World War II nut. I think it's an interesting and important part of human history and needs to be taught to everyone. This movie is the perfect war film, showing us the brutal parts of war and giving little to no romance or thrill to it, or to the deeds done by the men taking part in them. This is a movie where the characters ask the same questions that we would be asking if we were put into that situation. And of course, the whole dilemma can be summed up by Tom Hanks' dying words 'Earn this'. If you haven't seen it, you won't know what I'm talking about. That scene is one of many in this movie that actually get me teary-eyed.

2. The Godfather/ The Godfather pt. 2- They both belong on this spot because I honest to goodness, can't decide which one I like more. Each have their own perks and something that the other doesn't. I could go on about why the first one is better and then spend as much time saying why the second one is better and in the end, still be no closer to deciding which I like more. The second one has some of Al Pacino's finest work, as well as Robert De Niro, but the first one has the oh so memorable performance of Marlon Brando. Everything about these two movies is great.

1. Goodfellas- This is a movie that would easily belong here. It's a gangster film directed by Martin Scorsese and features the old school type of gangster. This was destined to be my favorite movie before I even saw it. This is a movie where the star of it may be Ray Liotta or Robert De Niro, but the real star is the criminal life style that is both glorified and condemned all in the same movie. Much like Scarface, this movie explores the idea of being careful what you wish for, because the characters in this movie DID have everything they wished for, and ended up paying for all of it in the end.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Some Really Underrated Movies

These are the movies that I think are really good and deserve ALOT more recognition than they got. In most cases, these are just movies that sort of came and went and didn't get the audience that I think it deserved. So without more ado...

  1. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford- This one just baffles me because it is so good, it is so well made and it has two really good actors giving some of their best work (Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck are great as their respective roles). The fact that there wasn't even a peep of Oscar Buzz surrounding this movie just astonishes me.
  2. Gone, Baby, Gone- Casey Affleck makes another appearance on this list in an adaptation of a novel written by one of my favorite authors Dennis Lehane, who also wrote Shutter Island and Mystic River, one of my all time favorite movies. You would think that with a book penned by such a good writer, it would have drawn more attention, but sadly, it didn't.
  3. Hollywoodland- I'm betting some of you have never even heard of this one. This is the fictionalized account of a PI looking into the death of actor George Reeves, who was the first person to play Superman on television. Now, I haven't seen this movie in a long time and I don't remember that much about it, but I do remember being really intrigued by the story and the twists, as well as trying to work it out in my head. Much like J. Edgar, I think people were turned off by how slowly it was paced.
  4. Eastern Promises- This movie came out around the same time as American Gangster, so I'm guessing it just got buried underneath the hype and praise for that movie. I don't know, what I do know is that this is a great movie that really deserves to be watched. Viggo Mortensen does some fine work as a Russian mobster in London and the rest of the cast (including Naomi Watts) is great too. It was directed by David Cronenberg, better known to the world for directing A History of Violence. Again, with that fact in mind, I'm a little surprised that this movie was so overlooked, especially when it is directed by somebody who made another really popular movie.
  5. Observe and Report- I'm not entirely sure if this is a cult hit or not, because those who have seen it have loved it, and quote it all the time. It was shown to me by a friend of mine a few years ago, and it has been on my list of favorite comedies ever since. I will say though, that it is a crazy ass movie and not for the weak stomached (I believe the director described it as "if Taxi Driver was a comedy")

Hero of the Day- Audie Murphy

There's a bit of a story on how I ended up putting this guy on here. But it's really long, involves a law suit, a maiming of a small child, and my house being burned to the ground, so I won't get into that. What I will say is that I have a friend who really likes this guy, and I added him here to shut him up. With that out of the way, let's proceed.

So Audie Murphy was apparently a soldier who fought in World War II and enlisted at a very young age. While serving his country, he did some really awesome stuff, killed a shitzillion germans and won the congressional medal of honor (among other awards), all while looking like a 13 year old. Look at that picture! He looks like a 7th grader! Part of me thinks he may have had a hard time walking around with all of those medals. The story is a bit more complicated than that, but I hate people dictating what I should write, so I'm going to make this as short as possible. Years later, there was going to be a movie made about him, and he expressed interest in possibly playing himself. Unfortunately, the studio didn't think that he looked the part... of himself... Yeah, it doesn't make a lot of sense to me either.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Hero of the Day- Robin Hood

Rise, and rise again until lambs become lions
When I talk about Robin Hood, I'm not talking about any specific adaptation, but rather in general. Throughout history, Robin Hood has been one of those icons who has had a rather large impact on people. We admire the cause that he stood for, and just about every movie that he is in, for some reason, the actual character of Robin Hood has this swagger about him. He's almost like a heroic prince or a male lead from a Disney film. In fact, in the Disney film, he had the same sort of swagger that he did in the Errol Flynn version, the Kevin Costner version and in even the parody with Cary Elwes Men in Tights. The only film that didn't have him with that sort of swagger was the Ridley Scott version with Russell Crowe. But that was because they were going for a darker and more intense version of the story. And to be fair, it worked in some areas well and not as much in others. However the Russell Crowe one had the only memorable quote from a Robin Hood film, and that was the one that I used.

Hero of the Day- The Dude

The Dude abides
Today's hero is The Dude, man. Why? Because he's The Dude! He's laid back, he's cool. And he will not stand for somebody peeing on his rug. That aggression will not stand, man. Seriously, that rug really tied the room together, man.

Okay, maybe the Dude is a bit of an odd choice for this list considering who I have included here and who I will include, but the fact of the matter is that he is a classic cult icon. Everybody who has seen The Big Lebowski knows his image, as well as his signature catchphrase "The Dude abides" to which The Stranger says that those are words we can all take comfort in. It remains as one of my favorite quotes of all time, and The Big Lebowski is one of my favorite comedies. Kind of something odd that I have noticed is that when it comes to cult movies, The Big Lebowski has one of the most devoted groups of fans. I think only Bladerunner rivals it.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Hero of the Day- Batman

I am vengeance. I am the night! I am Batman!
Earlier this month, I had said that there would be one more childhood hero of mine on this list, and here it is: Batman, the caped crusader, the world's greatest detective, one of the greatest superheroes of all time. A lot of people thought that Superman was supposed to represent the everyman, but I think Batman is a better representative considering that he has no powers, just some really awesome and expensive crap. Along with having a cool arsenal of gadgets, Batman also has some of the greatest villains of all time, and over the years they have all become more 3 dimensional. Some of them have become more of a shakespearean tragedy than an actual villain which makes the stories more engaging and even a bit darker. That is another thing that sets Batman apart from other superheroes is that Batman is one of the only heroes whose movies involve a dark story with complex characters. I never read any of the comics, but I watched the animated series when I was a kid, and I freaking loved it. I still would love it if I found a channel that showed it. Something else that Batman has going for him is that in the last few years, he has proven to be a gold mine in terms of entertainment. The recent movies with Christian Bale have grossed a butt load of money, the animated series is known as being one of the best superhero shows of all time, and even the video games Arkham Asylum and Arkham City have made a lot of money and gotten a lot of popularity. What do I specifically like about this hero? Just about everything. I love what he stands for, I love his approach, I love that he has had to deal with crap that a lot of heroes don't always have to deal with (do the people really need him? Is he doing more harm than good?)