Saturday, May 10, 2014

On hiatus

Dear Readers (if any),

I will be putting this blog on a short hiatus, due to many projects at the moment. It is my promise to provide some great movie reviews for you. For now, I shall fulfill what is in store for me, whatever that may be. I hope you enjoy the 100+ reviews I have written already. No, I am not giving up on this. I will be back soon, and I'll definitely have more reviews for all of you film lovers out there in Internetland!



Wednesday, May 7, 2014

05/07: The Happening

I was recommended this movie after a friend lent it to me a few years ago. He said it was a good way. I'm not sure how to agree with him.

The plot is basically about a high school science teacher Elliot Moore (Mark Wahlberg) and his wife (Zooey Deschanel), who live in Philadelphia. Once they get word that some poisonous toxin in the air has plagued the East Coast, they flee West, but not too far. The toxins, believed to be a terrorist attack at first, contain something that makes people commit suicide instantly. We do witness much of it throughout the movie, sometimes involving the main characters.

What I was very disappointed about in the movie was: What was the solution? What happened that got Philly back to normal? And the cliffhanger? Whatever. It's no wonder this movie got terrible reviews, despite coming from M. Night Shyamalan. It's just that whenever I see a movie with a huge problem, I expect it to be resolved. But I know not all movies are like that; when they're not, expect bad results from me.

I actually thought the part where the guy killed himself with the lawn mower was humorous, in a way. And the old lady when she kills herself on her country land? Yeah, I thought that was a bit weird myself and unrealistic. That's before the movie suddenly takes a 3-month leap and doesn't explain itself. I'm not sure to take this movie seriously or not. Shyamalan actually said before its release that it was a 'B' movie.

Watch it if you're only up for weirdness, and a plot that seemingly went nowhere. There are some freakish 'happenings' in this movie, so be prepared. 

My rating: 3 out of 10
Tomatometer: 17%

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

05/06: Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

If you asked me what my favorite Star Wars movie is, it would be this one. Why, you ask? I'm not sure why, maybe because I think all of the films in the original trilogy have been overly praised, especially Empire Strikes Back. Maybe if I watch all of them a few more times, my opinion may change. I believe its because this was really the one where Anakin got evil, or in Star Wars terms, 'the darrrrrrrkkkk sidddeee'.

And evil he became. Assuming that you, the reader, have seen the other five Star Wars films to date, you maybe already know what happens. We know something happens to Padme, formerly Queen Amidala. We know Luke and Leia are also born. We know Yoda and Obi-Wan go to exile. When the movie starts, Obi-Wan and his apprentice, Anakin Skywalker, are still buddies. But the marriage, which happened at the end of the last episode movie, between Anakin and Padme, is kept secret from all the Jedis. This is because of the rules in the Jedi Council, which is ill-fated.

I don't want to get too 'carried away' in explaining the plot as several things happen, and I'd just be telling the whole movie right there. After I saw it at the theater in 2005, I thought I saw the whole story. That is until 2012, when it was announced (the same day about Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm) that there will be another trilogy released. So, needless to say, I'm one of tens of millions of Star Wars fans who are more than thrilled. However, we're not sure how great it will be with George Lucas taking a minor role and having the golden boy J.J. Abrams having a huge part of it. I'll put it to you this way: it will either be really good or really bad. To disappoint or not to disappoint.

Rest assured, all the pieces of the puzzle are explained in this movie. This will be the last Star Wars review I do for a long time, so definitely stay tuned! And yes, I highly recommend watching all the movies. I'm still not sure what I'd recommend as far as what order to see them.

My rating: 8 out of 10
Tomatometer: 80%

Monday, May 5, 2014

05/05 (b): Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones

I'll never forget when it was first announced about the title back in, I believe, '01. In fact, I didn't take it seriously. That is, until I read all the complaints on message boards and such. But I'm sure Mr. Lucas had a good reason to call his 5th Star Wars film 'Attack of the Clones'. For me it was mostly about the journey of Anakin Skywalker and the continuation of his Jedi training.

That's the whole bulk of the movie right there, as we do see some great epic battles from start to finish. Even Yoda kicked ass! This is, up to that point, the best I've ever seen Yoda in a duel, against the film's antagonist, Count Dooku. To me, the clones were a bit boring, even though they were a big part of the story. And then there's the budding relationship between Anakin and Queen Amidala. Probably the climax comes with Anakin's personal loss.

I hope I didn't give away too much of the plot for those who still haven't seen this. But then again, some of it we see in the sequels, or confusingly, in the previous movies. Surprisingly, most of them consider this the 'worst' (with Episode I at a close second), but this one I didn't think was that bad. I believe it adds plenty of what we're supposed to know about the series and somehow Lucas put it all into one. We still don't have much of an idea of how Anakin becomes Darth Vader, which is supposed to be revealed in the next one. From what I know from hardcore fans that actually read the novels and such, it is revealed on what happens to the Queen and how Anakin turns to the Dark Side.

I'd say give this one the go, as well. If you're having a Star Wars marathon (I still have yet to do that, perhaps on 12/13/2015, two days before Episode 7 opens), this may seem to drag. Still a great movie though, and we are spared from Jar Jar Binks.

My rating: 7 out of 10
Tomatometer: 67%

05/05 (a): Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

Yesterday was May the 4th, aka Star Wars Day, and I wasn't going to put a Star Wars movie on here just yet. I was actually going to wait until the next Star Wars movie came out, but just recently I found out it's not going to open until December 2015 (that's 19 months from now!). So I figure, why wait? Why not do just a couple of them or maybe one of the trilogies?

I'm gonna start with the first in the trilogy, according to the timeline. To most people and Star Wars fans, the first film is 1977's A New Hope. Sure, it's true, but chronologically in the story, Episode I: The Phantom Menace is the first. This was the movie that was the most anticipated of all time; after all, it was 16 years since the previous Star Wars film. I'll never forget the people camping out and waiting in line hours before tickets were sold for this movie back in 1999.

Coming into this film (back in '99), I had only seen A New Hope, but I did know what mostly happened in the other two movies (Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi). I also knew this was the beginning of the rise of Darth Vader, but he went by his given name, Anakin Skywalker. He would be not only the main villain, but the father of Luke and Princess Leia as well as the husband of Queen Amidala. This was our first look at how he became the madman he was.

Of course, in the first one, he's a nice boy. He is a slave who lives with his mother, Shmi, on the planet Tatooine, the only planet on the galaxy where slavery still exists. Obi-Wan Kenobi (Ewan McGregor) and his mentor (Liam Neeson), both Jedi Knights, make a stop on the planet while en route to planet Coruscant from Naboo, to save the Queen. The queen's assistant (or, later the actual one, played by Natalie Portman) joins them. The trio befriend Anakin and try to get him out of his situation. Darth Maul is the main antagonist in the film.

I could go really deep in writing the plot; but as always, I like to keep it short and sweet. This is also not to 'give it away' to those who haven't seen it. So what do I think of it? I thought it was a fresh new beginning of a trilogy story at a time, but it also raised several questions for me. Like, why Jar Jar Binks, being one of them! I did give it a median score since I don't consider this friendly enough for 'the average movie watcher', which is something I fit into. But I do enjoy all the Star Wars movies, so it does get some from me in return. For those who haven't seen the original trilogy, you may feel a bit lost with the names, places and the characters. Still, an enjoyable film. And of course, the only time you'll ever see Darth Vader as innocent as he can be.

My rating: 6 out of 10
Tomatometer: 57%

Saturday, May 3, 2014

05/03: The Amazing Spider-Man

Just a year and a half ago this was the most I ever payed to see a movie at the theater. I saw it in 3-D and Imax. But it was cool to see it well-technified, I guess. Most people that the Spider-Man franchise was the fastest to ever get the 'starting over' treatment, especially 5 years after the disappointing Spider Man 3. Though it would have been great had the franchise continued on, who knows how it really would have ended. Rather than waste time, I guess mostly focus on the 'new' Spider-Man series. The second just opened yesterday. I do plan on seeing it real soon.

The movie starts from scratch, somewhat similar to the first Spider Man movie (2002) in how Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) gets bit by the 'spider' and develops into 'Spider-Man'. The big difference is his love interest; this time around its Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), whose father is the head of the big police department. Also, a different villain, the Lizard (Rhys Ifans), who mutated from Peter's mentor/hero Dr. Connors. It's basically a recycled but cool Superhero plot, with some variations here and there. Another subplot being used from the original series involves his uncle/guardian (Martin Sheen) being killed.

I've never read the original comic books, so I'm not sure if this is story was adapted from it. It wouldn't surprise me if it was though. I'd say this was put together real well. At the same time, I feel this was also missing something, but I don't know what. That's how I felt about Batman Begins. Some agreed with me on that. Great performances were put on by Sally Field (who plays Peter's aunt), Stone, and Garfield. It is easy to forget that Garfield is from England, and he always uses his British accent away from the camera.

I'd say this was a great reboot, and I expect bigger things to come with this new franchise. That way, this one will be remembered for generations. I trust that it will, given the fact that it got a jumpstart.

My rating: 7 out of 10

Friday, May 2, 2014

05/02: Annie

It's a film that I've watched a couple times in my 80s childhood, but I hadn't watched it for several years until last year! Needless to say, it brought back several memories and I even forgot how it ended. Apparently when you get old, after a long hiatus of watching a movie, you tend to forget about it! Annie is one of those that is seemingly timeless.

Based on the comic strip Little Orphan Annie, the title character is portrayed by Aileen Quinn. She, of course, is an orphan who is struggling at the orphanage with all the other girls vs. Ms. Hannigan (Carol Burnett). Set in the 1930s Depression-era, times were very tough for most, except for millionaire Oliver Warbucks (Albert Finney). Sure, he's got all the money in the world, except family. To give more quality and value to his image, he takes Annie in at his mansion for a week, and makes him see his softer side.

I'm not sure how to judge the acting in this one, but I thought everyone portrayed their characters and dance/singing parts very well. Apparently, some of the actors including Quinn got bad judgments about their performances. I'm not usually one to side with the critics, so I'll give them that. Great story though, and it'll put you in a time warp!

It's great for another '80s flashback' although there are not many culture references, but 1930s nostalgia. Still a fun family movie, and one that could get people to hope. Talk to your children about orphanages and what they are there for.

And yes, I've already seen the preview for the upcoming remake that's due this late Fall, starring Jamie Foxx as Warbucks. Not sure how this one will go, but we shall see....

My rating: 7 out of 10
Tomatometer: 50%

Thursday, May 1, 2014

05/01: Paul Blart: Mall Cop

In a movie that when I remember, when it first came out, it got dozens of bad reviews. I didn't think very highly of Kevin James, as I saw him as just another wannabe comic actor despite of being on a long-running TV show. I listened to the critics, until one day a few months later I picked it out from Redbox (slow day) and I rented it. My opinion kind of changed from there.

James plays the title character, who's pretty much not just a cop, but a sad, lonely 30/40-something guy who lives with his daughter and mother. Although he tries to be hip and fun, he's seen as a fat slacker outcast who's an easy target to be made fun of. Even as a cop, he's laughed at. Through the way, he trains a new co-worker Veck (Kier O'Donnell), and is infatuated with a mall booth girl (Jayma Mays). But while things are going slow, suddenly on Black Friday, the mall is held up by a gang led by Veck. It's up to Paul to save not just the mall, but his love interest, daughter and friends (and enemy).

I actually didn't think this one was that bad. Maybe it was because it was something that I related to, being the outcast and all. Or something I wish could happen in real life, I don't know. But it was one that self-proclaimed losers could relate to, about trying to be a hero. It had great scenes, up in the end, for which I won't give away! It's always nice to go from zero to hero, after all. And there were a few funny scenes as well. I don't know if its a dying breed (although it seems to be), but it's always nice to have a film set in a mall, as well!

I'd watch this for a great movie night. You may or may not like it, who knows.

A sequel will be released a year from now. I'm not sure if this will be an unnecessary one or not, but we shall see...

My rating: 7 out of 10
Tomatometer: 33%

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

04/30 (b): Good Will Hunting

One of the most acclaimed movies by both critics and audiences came about in the late 90s, with newcomers Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. This was written by the two, and with that came a great success story. Both were obscure actors who went from Beantown to Hollywood, seemingly overnight. I'm sure the title had some people curious.

Matt Damon plays Will Hunting, a genius/streetwise tough lawbreaker/orphan and janitor at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). He analyzes a very tough mathematical equation that not even the students can figure out! However, he keeps to himself until a professor (Stellan Skarsgard) catches him and tries to bail Will out of going to jail. Will, who's sentenced for punching a police officer (along with a long rap sheet), is given emancipation as long as he does the math and sees a therapist. That therapist is Dr. Sean Maguire, who tries to get through to Will, but together they form a bond, teaching each other the facts of life, among many things.

I admit it took me a while to get into this movie. I saw it at the theater weeks after its release, but what really grabbed me at first was Robin Williams' powerful performance. He was the Robin Williams I have never seen in any of his movies: strong, honest and serious. The one thing I didn't really consume well was the ending, and how Will's relationship with his girlfriend panned out (SPOILER). I do believe that it's probably there to give us hope.

The argument between Maguire and Skarsgard's character Professor Lambeau is a moment I consider iconic in the film because it gives the viewer two very different perspectives that mirror our lives. How do we know what we want or what the person we're trying to help wants? Who is this really about? Have we grown up yet? What is growing up? On the movie's facebook page a few days ago it had a picture of the two men and the caption read, 'There are two sides to every argument'. I have to agree and its relevant.

Some of my friends consider this to be in their Top 10 of their favorite movies. I can understand why; as this would be in my Top 20. At first I found the movie very depressing, and while I don't really feel that way anymore, I consider it to be more motivating and inspirational at the same time. Maybe it's just one of those movies that gets better with time, or one that gets better everytime I watch it.

If you haven't seen this yet, please do so. Rated R for fighting violence and strong language.

My rating: 9 out of 10
Tomatometer: 97%

04/30 (a): Spaceballs

One of the funniest movies of all-time from one of the funniest writers/directors of all-time is Spaceballs, or Spaceballs The Movie! Definitely not one to be taken seriously, but one brilliantly put together. I'm just glad it didn't spawn off a trilogy. This is, by the way, a parody of Star Wars and science fiction movies as a whole.

A whole line of characters are introduced in the movie, most of them a knock-off from Star Wars. Lone Starr (Bill Pullman) and his sidekick Barf (John Candy), the unlikely slacker heroes who travel in a space Winnebago. You also have Princess Vespa (Daphne Zuniga) and her robot sidekick (very similar to C3PO), Dot Matrix (voiced by Joan Rivers). Then there's the bad guys, led by evil Dark Helmet (Rick Moranis) and President Skroob (Brooks, also acting in the film). Story goes like like this, as short as possible: Vespa escapes her pre-arranged wedding with Matrix and heads to space, only to be nearly captured by Helmet, and saved by Lone Starr. Helmet and his team are in pursuit of capturing the princess, going as far as the desert. In the desert, the good guys meet and become mentored by Yogurt (voiced by Brooks, similar to Yoda).

I always tell people this is one of my Top 5 Quotable movies of all-time. There's so many things I can repeat from this movie:
'What's the matter, Col. Sandurz? Chicken?'
'Ludicrous speed?'
'Say goodbye to your two best friends, and I don't mean the ones in the Winnebago'
'The schwartz is in you'

There's plenty of others, but I'm sure you get the idea! Also the sexual references that appear to be somewhat not that noticeable, but most people get it. I'm not sure why I consider this a perfect comedy, but as I mentioned before, a perfect comedy does have to have a happy ending. And this does, which I won't give away of course. But it's got some laughable scenes: Spaceballs the Movie on video already; the fight scene between Dark Helmet and Lone Starr; and Pizza the Hutt (another Star Wars knock-off). Perhaps the funniest thing is having nerdy, skinny good guy Rick Moranis playing the villain. Another great comic actor, the late John Candy, plays Barfolomew in such a classy way.

The one thing I don't get is the negative and mixed reviews from the so-called professional critics. Most of you know that I don't side with them most of the time. I go by my personal tastes, and also if there was a lot of effort put into the film I give it a deserving score. According to its Wikipedia page, critics did find it funny, but despite of that they thought it was extremely pointless to do a parody of the Star Wars trilogy at that time (1987). Since the Star Wars franchise is now considered timeless, it doesn't matter now.

Definitely a great movie for a great laugh. It's awesome that the movie is still carrying on to generations today as I recently read that Brooks said 'Spaceballs is what usually pays for my meals'. And its from the 80s, so look out for some retro-ness in the movie. It's hard to imagine a world or at least Hollywood without the genius of Mel Brooks.

My rating: 9 out of 10
Tomatometer: 54%

Monday, April 28, 2014

04/28 (b): The Wedding Singer

The other 'wedding' movie I wanted to review today is another one of my favorites that I make a priority to watch every year. Maybe I'm just a sucker for romantic comedy, who knows. This is the first pairing of Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. Barrymore, who was previously known at the time for her role on E.T. and her youth drug/alcohol problems, made a great comeback with this film and proved she can carry her legendary family's Hollywood tradition.

Sandler plays wanna-be rockstar Robbie Hart, who sings at weddings on the weekend (for $50 a pop) while people are eating prime rib. He's engaged to Linda, who then leaves him at the altar, thus shattering his hopes on women and his life. He meets Julia (Barrymore), who's the new waitress at the hall he plays at. She is also engaged, to a rich guy who works in bonds in the city. Robbie, still trying to get over Linda, helps Julia with the plans for her wedding. But things do change....

What makes this movie fun is the time setting: it's set in 1985! It's sure to bring any 80s lover like myself joy. The pop culture, and all. But sometimes I do wonder, without all that and if it were set in present day, would the movie be dull? I've still got to figure that out. The movie came out 16 years ago, so now there would have to be one focusing on any of the late 90s/early 00s year! Makes me feel old in such a way. I'll admit it, and I'm sure people would agree with me here: 80s nostalgia is more fun than anything, especially if you're bringing it back in a new picture.

Adam Sandler, who put out corny movies (and still does today) yet funny ones, puts on a great performance as the nice guy who wants more. Critics haven't been kind to his films throughout his career in the last 20 years. Sandler's role does go a little crazy, but he does do it very well and this was arguably the first where he proves he's a great actor. The movie can be taken seriously at times! Drew was great too. Steve Buscemi plays the drunk guy in the beginning, maintaining his creepy guy persona.

My rating: 8 out of 10

04/28 (a): Wedding Crashers

Since I was well-booked yesterday, I decided to post a dual blog today and both of them have 'weddings' in the title. Here's one of my favorite movies to come out within the last ten years. It's one of those romantic comedies that keeps you watching them over and over again.

Single marriage counselors John and Jeremy (Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn, respectively) crash weddings when in season on the weekends. Only the two of them have the confidence to know that they will find the one drunk girl and go to bed with them that same night. And of course, not seeing them again. And who can forget about the free food and drinks? Then the two later crash the wedding of the daughter of the US Secretary of the Treasury (Christopher Walken). The two end up falling for the other daughters, while Jeremy is successful with Gloria. But keeping their identities a secret is a challenge as they are invited to a weekend-long retreat at the Secretary's family's estate.

It's a sort-of classy movie with a great cast. It is easy to forget that Bradley Cooper is the 'villain' in this movie, as he is the guy who is competing with John for Claire (Rachel McAdams). I have not seen many movies with McAdams, but I thought it was a bit strange seeing her play the main 'girl in-pursuit', as she would play roles that would be the opposite years later. The crazy, creepy yet charming Christopher Walken playing a rich man holding a high office I thought was a bit weird. But of course, I found his fictional family to be that way too! It's what you only see in the movies, I guess. And don't forget Will Ferrell's minor uncredited character, Chazz, who publicly parties like a wedding crasher but is a sick, weird man.

Definitely one you should see if you haven't already. Maybe it'll have the same effect on me: it will keep you watching it over and over.

My rating: 7 out of 10

Tomatometer: 75%

(Please note: this is the first post to now feature the Tomatometer rating. This will be the percentage it was given at the time of the post.)

Saturday, April 26, 2014

04/26: Poseidon

A remake that I predicted back in the 90s would happen in 2006. Unfortunately, the timing for this wasn't great for Wolfgang Petersen, who directed a newer version of The Poseidon Adventure. America by that time had seen so many disasters on screen, in reality and in fiction. Hurricane Katrina and 9/11 had occurred just within the last few years at that time. Petersen did try to recreate the story and film, with an all-star cast and a somewhat more modernized version.

The RMS Poseidon is en route to New York on the Atlantic Ocean. Unbeknownst to most of the crew and passengers, an earthquake is about to happen and could affect the ship in such a way. We get to know the characters in the beginning: among them are Jennifer Ramsey (Emmy Rossum) and her NYC mayor father (Kurt Russell) as well as her fiance (Mike Vogel); Elena (Mia Maestro), a pretty, young stowaway; and Dylan, a compulsive gambler (Josh Lucas). Like the original one, this is a character-driven drama in the midst of a disaster. When the boat overturns, killing more than half on the ship, the lucky ones escape and try to find the top (or the bottom of the ship).

The movie does parallel the original 1972 disaster-genre film in many ways. You can definitely tell by the technology, as there are plenty of CGI to go around. Of course, the characters changed as well as their names. We do get to know them pretty well, and unfortunately we see some of them not survive throughout the movie. We also get to see new struggles for the survivors, as they try to connect to anyone in the outside world. The one thing I thought was missing were the performances of the survivors. I always thought Gene Hackman, who was the leader in the original film, put on a powerful performance. Here in the remake, there was no official leader, but the three men who do didn't match anything like Reverend Scott's.

What I mean by bad timing was, not just what was explained in the introductory paragraph, but for many other reasons. Today, and even ten years ago, Hollywood is being swamped with remakes, sequels, etc. I always bring it up all the time! Some may have seen it as a way to capitalize on the continuing popularity of Titanic, which was put out nearly a decade before. 2006 was also a year that was hard to compete in cinema, as there were several big blockbusters that year, such as The Da Vinci Code and several Disney and animated films.

I will warn you, you will witness several people die tragically, in a disaster sense. So, if it's nothing new to you, go ahead and check this out.

My rating: 5 out of 10

Friday, April 25, 2014

04/25: Mrs. Doubtfire

It was just recently announced that a sequel to Mrs. Doubtfire is in development, with Robin Williams returning. Then I thought it would be a good time for me to write about one of my favorite movies from my pre-teen years. The movie came out in late 1993, and I was in sixth grade. This was one of those movies that became a part of me for the longest time.

Williams, in one of his best comedic roles, plays Daniel Hillard, who gets a divorce from his wife, Miranda (Sally Field). To make matters worse, he loses custody of his three children because of his unstable lifestyle, as in his ability to keep a job, lack of disciplinary skills, etc. Daniel, a voice actor, takes up work at a TV studio, while trying to rebuild his life. He is also informed that his ex-wife is hiring a housekeeper to look after the kids, so he quickly enlists his brother (a makeup artist) to make him a woman! The result is Mrs. Doubtfire, who is hired on, and immediately becomes a family fixture. Daniel enjoys his double life, while at the same time unhappy with Miranda's new love interest (Pierce Brosnan). Keeping his alter ego a secret becomes nonetheless a challenge!

A great family fun movie, with a few dark humor bits mixed in here and there. But it totally fits the definition of a perfect comedy: one that keeps you laughing throughout the movie, and it all turns out with a lesson and a happy ending. The lesson is about the importance of family, and keeping your life in order. How important are your children? What will you do for them? How far will you go for them? The answer for Daniel Hillard is obviously painted here. Many men can relate to Daniel, and luckily I don't think a lot of women can relate to Miranda. Even though Sally Field does a great performance in that movie, unfortunately I don't think careers are better than kids. Sorry, but that's just how I feel. I do think the real lesson learned in this movie is that people do change, for the best.

And going back to the sequel....I can already say it's not a great idea. I do agree with Chris Columbus's comments on the Mrs. Doubtfire character, about her being wasted (no not in a drunken way!). He wants to use her for better measures, since she is ageless. The sequel is not a new idea as I remember reading about it on imdb probably a decade ago and so many negative user comments flooded the page. Luckily Robin Williams rejected it (or them), but apparently he is on board for the new movie. As if his hit TV show wasn't enough....

p.s. If you have the DVD or Blu-ray, check out the deleted scenes, which mostly feature Polly Holliday, who plays grumpy Gloria, the Hillard's neighbor. In different cut scenes, Daniel 'poisons' her flowers!

My rating: 9 out of 10

Thursday, April 24, 2014

04/24: The Truman Show

Television recently celebrated its 75th birthday, and a local newspaper gave a list of 10 movies about TV. One of them was Network, which I reviewed a few days ago, and another was The Truman Show. I remember seeing this in the Summer of '98 at the show, and I remember walking out very disappointed. This was because of the hype surrounding it at the time.

Jim Carrey supposedly put on his best serious performance as Truman Burbank, a 30-year old whose life has been a never-ending reality show. Since his birth, actors and actresses all surround him, as well as a dome of a fake community. Everything about Truman, be it where he goes and what he eats, is broadcast around the world on live television. He's married, but his wife is also fake too as she is mostly there for money (not Truman's, the studio's). Truman dwells on a girl who departed his life for Fiji as he seeks to go find her. The creator and man behind the show, Chrisof (Ed Harris), tries to make Truman afraid of the water because of his dad being killed off of the show (and Truman's life).

We, including myself, wondered how this pulled off brilliantly. I thought it was well-planned and the characters seemed to fit well with the story. But I still felt there was something missing. Maybe it was because I was so used to seeing Jim Carrey in a comedy performance. See, Carrey was on a hot streak in the mid-90s with several comedy films. Seeing him as a confused man who wanted answers was probably not suiting me well. I watched this the other day and my reaction had not changed. The film was not predictable, as there were several events that led to what was not supposed to happen with Truman.

Apparently many disagree with me as several so-called professional movie critics gave this one high praise, and this is currently on imdb's Top 250 list. Before I saw the movie nearly 16 years ago, I remember reading a review that said it was Carrey's chance for an Oscar. He didn't get it for this, but he proved himself and everyone else to be an all-around actor. I also consider this to be very creepy at times, as it has some uncomfortable closed settings. You'll know what I mean when you watch it.

Even though many believe this was a great movie, I'd still recommend it maybe for renting or Netflix purposes. Don't expect a lot of humor, though.

My rating: 5 out of 10

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

04/23: Angels In The Outfield (1994)

I was a pre-teen 20 years ago, getting ready to turn 13 in September of '94. 1994, for some odd reason looking back, was one of my most favorite years in pop culture. Music and movies, so many great ones came out. A movie that well-suited people my age back then was Angels In The Outfield.

It's about two boys, Roger and J.P. (Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Milton Davis Jr.), who see angels in action helping the hopeless California Angels MLB team. Roger prayed to help the team in order to get with his widowed father, who he saw on a limited basis. 'When the Angels win the pennant' was a reply from Roger's dad when his son asked when they'll spend more time together and be a family again. While the Angels continue to freakishly improve, the boys develop a relationship with the team's manager, George Knox (Danny Glover), who comes off as a grump at first but we eventually see the soft side of him.

It's a great summer baseball movie for kids, all the way. But it's also a lesson to be learned about the importance of family. Some know parents can be anti-family, and some are willing to give up their time for people. This is something that should be discussed with kids for those who don't get it.

Great performances by Christopher Lloyd (as AL the angel), and a minor role is made by Tony Danza (who plays a sad, drunken player who is on the highway to nowhere). Plenty of kudos goes to Danny Glover, who has been known to playing roles that depict him as the bad guy! While I think this is one of the most underrated movies of 1994, I was really hoping people in my generation would carry on with this movie like they do with Forrest Gump. But, I guess it is what it is.

This is a Disney remake.

My rating: 7 out of 10

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

04/22: Rock, Rock, Rock

The rock and roll revolution was in high gear in the mid-1950s, particularly in 1956. Elvis Presley broke out, and suddenly black and white music was mixed. As a result, Rock, Rock, Rock, was released, in perfect timing. Many early rock and roll stars appeared and performed in the movie.

The plot was very simple: Dori Graham (Tuesday Weld) is a boy-crazy 13-year old who wants to go to the dance, but she (nor her daddy) can't afford a strapless dress. So she starts her own loaning service, hoping to get a return-on-investment, only to find she is doing something illegal. Much of the film consists of full song performances by superstars of that day: Chuck Berry, Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers, LaVern Baker, among many others. Alan Freed, who first coined the term 'rock and roll' also appears as himself in the film.

Since music is my main interest, I do consider myself a rock historian. Unfortunately, a lot of young'uns today don't care much about the evolution of rock and roll anymore. That is, of course, if you're not talking about the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix or Led Zeppelin. No, before them, there was a time when rock and roll was breaking out into the mainstream and it was challenged among teens and parents. This film captures so much of the 1950s spirit and bliss. A definitely different America from what we are now.

Watch this for historic and nostalgic purposes. And you can possibly learn a lesson about money!

My rating: 7 out of 10

Monday, April 21, 2014

4/21: Network

'I'm mad as hell and I can't take it anymore!!!'

One of the most bizarro movies of all-time was also an Oscar-winner in the 1970s. Network, starring Peter Finch and Faye Dunaway, is one whose genre is difficult to determine. Comedy? Conspiracy theory? Drama? It is safe to say it is definitely a satire, which is a rare of its kind.

Finch (who passed away months later and won a posthumous Best Actor Oscar) plays Howard Beale who has been in the anchor's chair for a long time only to find out his employer, UBS, is suffering in ratings and he'll be unemployed. Then one night, he announces to his audience on-air he will be committing suicide. The network fires him without a doubt. But his boss/friend, Max (William Holden), decides to let him stay so he can go on a good note. Things soon get out of hand as it is an over-the-top ratings fight. Howard also gets his own show eventually.

Perhaps the most moving scene is 'the speech', where Howard tells the truth of what goes on behind closed doors. Maybe what he said wasn't true, but it somehow slipped between the cracks in Hollywood. It ends with the 'mad as hell' chant, which left me laughingly non-stop. But like most comedies, it's a happy ending, or so some may think.

I'd definitely keep the kids away from this one, as there are many adult scenes, and of course, depressing ones. It's a true film classic that helped redefine cinema, and television.

My rating: 8 out of 10

Sunday, April 20, 2014

04/20: Pineapple Express

Today is Easter, and of all rare things, it falls on 4/20. In case you didn't get the memo, 4/20 is a celebration for marijuana users. No, I do NOT use the drug. There are several people who do, and those people have their own movie genre: stoner movies. Judd Apatow's Pineapple Express is one of them. It can also be considered a 'buddy comedy', a term I wasn't familiar with until now.

Dale (Seth Rogen) and his drug dealer/friend Saul (James Franco) are wondering the identity of the man who is selling a rare pot species, the 'pineapple express'. It turns out to be a guy named Ted (Gary Cole), who murders a man in his house along with a cop. The two buddies witness it from far away just outside his house, and take off from the scene right away. Unfortunately, they leave behind their tracks, the 'pineapple express' joint which is familiar to Ted. Ted begins to track the two down since he knew who he sold the drug to, and it ends up being a dangerous pursuit throughout the movie.

Another film in the so-called 'frat pack' series, led by Judd Apatow. Stoner movies aren't for everyone, but non-cannabis users like me seemed to enjoy it. It was cool, but nothing like a Cheech and Chong movie. Seeing Gary Cole as the bad guy is a rare thing, and its usually kind of scary since he is mostly known as the 'good guy' character actor. Craig Robinson and Danny McBride also have small roles in the film as well.

If you do like silly, drug humor movies, this one is for you.

My rating: 6 out of 10

Saturday, April 19, 2014

04/19: Pretty In Pink

Well, this is my 100th movie I reviewed so far for this blog! This is awesome. I've got no time to stop now! I thought about celebrating in fashion, but instead I'm gonna write about a movie that continues to give me nightmares of high school on this lonely Saturday night. When this movie comes to mind, I think of one of the most overrated things of all-time, in my book - prom. And that OMD song, too....

Molly Ringwald, by that time in 1986, was one of the hottest young actresses on a roll, and this seemed to be the last of them all during that John Hughes era. This time she plays outcast Andie, or more, a girl who comes from a working-class family 'on the wrong side of the tracks'. She's got a crush on a preppy guy Blane (Andrew McCarthy), but lacks the confidence to let him know. Meanwhile, her dorky friend Duckie (Jon Cryer) gives her plenty of attention and would love to go with Andie, and they are continually harassed by Blane's rich friends at school. Prom is coming up, so who doesn't have a date? Andie. But who knows, things may change.

It's a great comedy that's supposed to give us hope of what happens in real life. And it also is a look at the clashing of social classes and cliques. That I can see as a mirror of reality. Still, what I really like (and apparently others agree) about John Hughes films is that they are very realistic in their own way. We all know everyone wants a fairy-tale teenage life, just like our parents supposedly had. Hughes was 'in' with the times, and gave us a view of his world.

The soundtrack, like most 80s movies, is one to remember as well. 'If You Leave' by OMD (Orchestral Manouevres of the Dark) is one of my favorite movie songs of all-time, despite having played during a prom scene. The new-wavyness of the soundtrack really gives the film plenty of character.

Like I say about most 80s movies, definitely check this one out, mostly for nostalgic purposes! Or you can also use this to convince your teen they are not alone.

My rating: 7 out of 10

Friday, April 18, 2014

04/18: Flashdance

One of the most, arguably, iconic films of the 1980s is actually one of so-called professional critics' most-hated films as well. The public and movie lovers, however, really dug it. Me? It's a mixture in-between. I already knew about the music, and Jennifer Beals' role in the movie as I've seen bits and pieces of it on TV in the past before watching it in its entirety.

Beals plays 'Alex', who is 18 and working at a steel mill (males everywhere) in Pittsburgh. I'm assuming that was usually the norm in that steel town. Alex's night job is being a dancer, at a popular bar. Not the kind of dancing she wants to make a career out of, but enough to get her by! She does have dreams to make it, dancing ballet for the city of Pittsburgh. Her confidence plummets when she is intimidated by the requirements of getting in the place. Meanwhile, Alex reluctantly gets into a relationship with Nick (Michael Nouri), who also signs her checks. Despite of the age and class difference, Nick tries in every way to make her happy. This includes pulling strings to get her an audition at the Conservatory.

A lot of times people may consider this one predictable, and that's easy to see it that way. It parallels Saturday Night Fever in so many ways, but still very differently. This is about a girl who doesn't have good education and probably not much dance experience. She still aims high, despite of the unrealistic clouds that stand in the way. Her family is not seen or mentioned in the movie, but Alex said she came from Altoona, also in Pennsylvania. Now that she was in the big city, she had to go where she came to do. Getting in with the right people just paved the way for her.

I do believe the film kind of dragged. Some critics called this 'nothing but a series of rock and dance videos', as there were some overly-extended musical numbers. Don't get me wrong, I love the soundtrack! There's a reason why it was one of the most remembered soundtracks of the 80s, and because it went to #1 on the Billboard album chart. But in some cases, without the music, the movie wouldn't be that great. Which is why I'm deducting some points. I'd still watch this for the nostalgic 80s purposes!

My rating: 5 out of 10

Thursday, April 17, 2014

04/17: Easy A

In an update (or modernized version) of The Scarlet Letter, Emma Stone gives one of her best performances in Easy A. It's always easy to be confused by her hair, be it blonde or brunette. She even said in an interview that one of them was her actual natural color. She leads a great cast in this film.

Good-girl/level-headed Olive (Stone) tells her friend Rhiannon (Aly Michalka) in the ladies room at school that she lost her virginity to a college guy. Listening in is the jealous religious girl Marianne (Amanda Bynes) which she later spreads around the school, leading to a chain reaction of things pinned on Olive. Living the lie, she enjoys the attention for a bit until it gets way out of hand. Her teachers even become involved.

It goes without saying its a great teen movie for this generation. And by modern, I mean by technological ways, like webcasts and such. Olive narrates most of the movie through her webcast. It's a great story, and despite of what I said in the opening statement above, it's not necessarily completely based on Scarlet Letter. There are some parts not related that are mixed in.

Paul Rudd gives a great serious performance as a teacher, and I believe this was the last Amanda Bynes film before she went weird....I mean really weird. Check this one out!

My rating: 8 out of 10

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

04/16 (b): Clue

Finally---I get to write about one of my favorite movies of all-time! I wouldn't really put this in my Top 10, but its close enough. This was one of the first movies my family rented when we got our first VCR back in 1987. The movie was only 2 years old at the time, as it was slowly but surely developing its cult audience through video release. Clue was panned at the time, mostly because it was just a movie based on a board game. But, it seems that people in my generation (or for those in their 30s) this turned out to be close to a classic.

If you have played the board game, and I'm assuming at least 65% of Americans have, then you'll definitely be familiar with the characters, weapons and rooms. The plot goes a little something like this: Six strangers, most from Washington, DC, are all brought together by invitation to a house for unknown reasons, in the not-so feelgood '50s. It is later revealed by the butler, Wadsworth (Tim Curry), that they are being blackmailed. We see (what differs from the board game) the true characters of such ones like Mrs. Peacock and Mr. Green. One easy thing to forget is that all of the characters' names are aliases. In addition, most of the guests have at least ties to the US government and have 'baggage' on them. They are blackmailed by Mr. Boddy (who gives each guest a murder weapon), who is then murdered. Throughout the movie, more things happen as someone right after another as we learn more details about connections within people. This movie has three different endings, which I won't reveal!

I have watched this movie many times in my lifetime, and I'm 32. I just watched it last night as a matter of fact. Sure, when I first watched it at 6, I only knew half of what was going on. As I got older, I understood it more.  It was probably the characters or the all-star cast that grabbed me everytime. One other observation is that I do have a thing for movies with just one setting. Clue is set in only a gothic mansion (with cool secret passages!). I guess its just the fun and fast-pacedness of the movie that grabs me. And I'm glad I'm not alone. Sure, some people didn't think very highly of it in 1985. And who would, with such competition as '85 was a great year in cinema. There apparently is talks of a remake, but according to Wikipedia, those plans have been scrapped. I'm always skeptical with remakes as some haven't worked out for the best.

Highly recommended. I hope I explained it well enough. Sure to take you back to 1985. Maybe this will inspire you to play Clue again (laughs).....

My rating: 9 out of 10

04/16 (a): United 93

As one of the movies about 9/11 during the mid-Millenial decade, I will go ahead and wasn't easy to watch. Of course any movie about that tragic day is, in a self-explanatory kind of way, depressing. But I always did wonder why directors have wanted to capture the moment on the big screen. We knew what we knew from the media and reports. Just saying, I've always questioned it.

This chronicles the whole story of Flight 93, which crashed just minutes after the attacks of the World Trade Center towers. The story seemed to have been recorded from phone and switchboard calls that were received shortly before its crash. It starts all the way at the airport that morning. And we do get to know some of the 'everyday' people. From there, there is only one way to go but down. However, we do see some courageous acts by people close to the end.

Yes, this movie is not easy to watch. Even more, it mirrors what nearly exactly happened in reality. But as the director probably wishes, he wants us to think of it as a tribute and/or just what it is like being on an ill-fated flight. In most of these death-related movies, sometimes I do get the message that life is too short.

Best thing I can say with an open mind. Scary and horror movies are one thing, and if you get freaked out bigtime by those, I say don't watch this. Only because the tragedy is realistic from start to finish.

My rating: 5 out of 10

Monday, April 14, 2014

04/14: Ramona and Beezus

Ramona and Beezus really took me back to my kid years. Growing up in the 80s and 90s (during halves of those decades, that is), I remember reading the Beverly Cleary-penned series. Of course, as a boy, some thought different of me since those books were mostly leaned toward girls. But my older sister had plenty to lend me as well as the school library. And they did help me enjoy great tales of the fictional child pest and her older sister.

Watching this movie didn't help me recall very much with the books although its subplots did borrow a lot from the books. Examples include Ramona saying 'guts' as a bad word, among many others. The characters are just like how they are in the books, although I couldn't picture Aunt Bea (Ginnifer Goodwin) as an attractive woman! She's single, and she eventually falls in love with Ramona's best friend Howie's uncle, Hobart, who she once dated back in the day. Many adventures take place throughout the movie, but mostly focusing on the Quimby's man of the house, who gets laid off and may have to move his family. It's definitely the simple subplots that deal with love and youth that piece this movie together. I could go on...

Played by this generation's fine actors, Goodwin, Selena Gomez, Jeff Corbett, etc., I'd say this movie was good. Of course, it's mostly leaned towards tweens and kids who enjoy these kind of cute stories. It also lets kids know its okay to be a kid and dream. Ramona is shown as not just 'the pestery kid', but the one with the creative, wild imagination. Which is too much for Beezus to handle. While this didn't get much attention and hype as the books did, it is encouraged that parents and schools should keep this in their libraries.

I don't know if kids and tweens today read Beverly Cleary (who turned 98 two days ago!) books. It goes without saying, Cleary is a true literary icon among the children's genre. No matter what gender you are, you should definitely check this movie out. I don't know if a sequel will be in the works, especially if Selena Gomez is becoming a bigger star by the day. I'm sure they can get away with a 'same character, different actor' theme, but who knows. It is also set in present day, so its good to know that it is a true update of the 'Ramona' series.

My rating: 7 out of 10

Sunday, April 13, 2014

04/13: Tremors 2: Aftershock

I thought I'd watch and continue with the Tremors series franchise so I watched this one on Crackle last night. Coming into it, I knew this would be a somewhat cheap imitator of its first one. And who can blame me, since this was direct-to-video? After watching it, I decided it wasn't that bad :).

Michael Gross and Fred Ward are the only ones who reprise their roles as Burt and Earl, respectively. The movie takes place some years after the townspeople of Perfection, Nevada get rid of what they called 'graboids'. They apparently enjoyed fame and recognition for their heroism and all. However, Earl reveals to his biggest fan, Grady, that he didn't get compensated fairly for certain rights to the 'graboids' name. A wealthy man named Carlos gives him a second chance at defeating the 'graboids' because of them being the cause of deaths among his refinery workers. At first, he hesitates, but after being talked into a large amounts of money repeatedly, he surrenders and goes on his mission in Mexico with Grady. Earl recruits his redneck weapon-loving friend, Burt, when he gets there. At first, killing the graboids seems an easy task until they learn that the evil, smart eyeless creatures mutate into smaller and more deadlier life forms. It is up to the team to figure out the creatures' weaknesses and survive, again, in the middle of nowhere.

Despite of the loss of Kevin Bacon, Reba McEntire and some of its stars and characters from the first one, this sequel continues its legacy. I forgot to mention that yes, a loving relationship, occurs as well. One interesting part is close to the end when they collaborate on their scientific theories on the mini graboids. And it's always funny to see Michael Gross away from his straight dad role on 'Family Ties' to a seemingly dumb and carefree Southerner in this movie. I'm not sure what it was that got him to do this role.

Well, time for 'Tremors 3'!

My rating: 6 out of 10

Saturday, April 12, 2014

04/12: Wrongfully Accused

This silly parody of The Fugitive unfortunately was overdone. It parodied several other action and sci-fi films from past to present. While the movie wasn't to be taken seriously, for some reason it doesn't stand out on the funny meter. Same apparently goes for audiences and so-called professional movie critics.

Taking place in Minnesota, the late Leslie Nielsen (who was still actively making movies at the time) plays professional violinist Ryan Harrison who is 'wrongfully accused' of the murder of his friend Goodhue (British guy Michael York). Several 'Fugitive'-like scenes come up, as Ryan escapes and makes it funny to an extent.

Like I said, most bad movies aren't meant to be taken seriously. I don't want to rank this one up there with 'Sgt. Pepper's' or 'Santa Claus and the Martians', but I will admit this one was a bit weak. During Leslie Nielsen's career, he has had his share of serious and funny roles. Generations who remember him will likely link him to his 'Naked Gun' movies as well as some of the other ones he did, like Wrongfully. But its got its humor if you're in for a cute and easy laugh. Just keep a smile on your face.

My rating: 4 out of 10

Friday, April 11, 2014

04/11: Face/Off

In one of the most oddest of action films, Face/Off was one of the most successful among both so-called professional critics and fans. With two big-name stars, John Travolta and Nicolas Cage, one would have to wonder if its just going to be another action film with explosions and drama. That's what I thought when this movie came out and for the longest time, until I recently watched it. That's when I knew Face/Off was literal!

Nicolas Cage plays Castor Troy, an aggressive civil terrorist who accidentally kills top FBI agent Sean Archer's (Travolta) 5-year old son. Years later, Troy is still on the loose and finally Archer's team catches him at an airport as soon as his plane moves. Troy is captured, but he also reveals that a buried bomb is placed somewhere in Los Angeles, but fades into a coma shortly. While at the hospital, a co-worker of Archer's gets him to do a face transplant surgery since nothing is said as to where the bomb is. Archer then successfully completes surgery as he poses as Troy, by trying to get details from people Troy knew in prison. However, the real Troy wakes up and kills the doctor after he gets him to pose as Archer.

Needless to say, confusion ensues as at times during the movie it is easy to forget who is the real bad guy and good guy. But nevertheless, the movie is very entertaining while being fast-paced as the main subplot is Archer's family (wife and teenage rebel daughter). It's a struggle in a situation no one would understand for Cage's version of Archer. It's definitely quite an adventure for both as they pose as their nemesis. Come to think about it, it's quite a fantasy. So wouldn't that make this a fantasy film? lol

Great action film, and just one warning, if blood and knives (surgery way) freak you out, you may want to turn your head!

My rating: 7 out of 10

Thursday, April 10, 2014

04/10: It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

Early this week, Mickey Rooney, the legend, passed away at age 93. He left behind such a legacy. Unfortunately I haven't seen very much of his work, especially the ones with him and Judy Garland. But a few years back I did watch a comedy classic that starred him and several legends at the time. I was actually wondering recently, when Sid Caesar died, how many of the main cast are still with us? Well it turns out Rooney was the last one standing of them all. I'm talking about the main cast, who took part in the chase. Some of them died much years later like Buddy Hackett and Jonathan Winters. But then some passed away several years ago such as Ethel Merman, Spencer Tracy and Milton Berle. You also have a whole lot of cameos and smaller roles from popular celebrities at the time, and there is quite a few still living (Carl Reiner, Stan Freberg).

The near-3 hour long film (depending on which edited version you watch) revolves around groups, or teams, all after a large amount of money. At the beginning of the film, a con man (Jimmy Durante), released from prison, crashes his car down a mountain and literally kicks the bucket. Before he dies, five men from different cars come down to try to help him. He lets them know there is a hidden stash of 350 grand buried in Southern California. At first, the men decide to go down to the place and share the wealth together. But then the people (including mothers and spouses) who were with the men in their cars believe they should be part of it, too. When no agreement is reached, all parties pursue across the state of California for the money. The whole race for the dough becomes great to watch as everyone tries their own scheme to get closer to the 'Big W' tree (where the grand is stashed). But it is no picnic as they all experience setbacks. Meanwhile, there are a few more that participate in the chase, including cab drivers.

As I've said before in my blog, I'm not much of a fan of long movies. This one has a long intro as well as an intermission. I've only seen the near-3 hour long version, and there were several lengthy scenes, most notably the gas-station scene where they battle it out with tires. That was unnecessary unless it was for a director's cut. But since there were several characters, they all had to share, I guess! All in all, it was very entertaining and without question, one of the funniest slapstick comedies of all-time. It probably is the last 'real' funny movie in a long time as some movies haven't lived up to its credentials...and its all-star cast! As noted above, several comedic legends were all seen in this flick. If you look at today's standards of comedy, you can definitely tell how much the 'comedy' genre has changed over the years. And no, there are no swear words :)

Truly a classic. Just make sure you're aware how long it is. Fun for the whole family. Just don't do anything stupid like they do at the end....

My rating: 9 out of 10

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

04/09: The Karate Kid (2010)

I've never seen The Next Karate Kid, which came out in 1994. Maybe it was for the best, since it got bad reviews from both the audiences and so-called professional critics. But I still want to see it though, and had I seen it I would have reviewed it today. The Karate Kid franchise was resurrected, reboot-style. I wasn't sure what to think and I still don't, but I'll go ahead and give you a review.

Some would say a same script, different cast. But its not just that, which makes this reboot actually satisfying. There are some changes in things: like the settings: it is in Beijing, China. Also, karate is not used. In all honesty, I didn't know it until I read about it. To some, it may be a fatal error. In fact, Sony had considered changing the title because of its usage of 'kung fu' instead of karate. Jackie Chan, arguably the most popular Asian-American in American cinema the last 20 years, no doubt has the role of the mentor, Han (in place of Miyagi). And Will and Jada Pinkett Smith's son, Jaden, plays 'Dre' (in place of Daniel). The two form a friendship after Han saves him from bullies in his new school. And, as expected, platonic relationship occurs too. Always does a female get involved.

It is great to see an update/revival of an underdog story. It's always something to show to generations, especially if their parents were young when the first Karate Kid came out in 1984. Most reboots are not so bad, even though some can be a disappointing let-down to true fans. I feel that this is not the case for the Karate Kid as it stays true to its story and characters. Not so sure about the fighting techniques, though. It's not like I can tell the difference between most martial arts movements, anyway!

It was revealed yesterday that there will be indeed a sequel, with both Chan and Smith reprising their roles. Not much else has been said. We do know that Smith will be a few years older, so hopefully that won't hurt anything.

My rating: 7 out of 10

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

04/08: The Karate Kid Part III

Perhaps the most pointless of sequels, especially at that time, this is nothing compared to today. Sure, this one did get bad reviews for various reasons, but its nothing like any of the last 5 Resident Evil and Fast films. But it was a great update for any Karate Kid story for the franchise in 1989, during one of the greatest summers of movies. Of course, it was hard to compete with movies like Batman and Ghostbusters II.

The main plot of this movie is John Kreese (Martin Kove), whom we all remember as the leader of the Cobra Kai, plotting revenge for his loss that happened nearly a year ago from Daniel and Miyagi. We know how sick, unstable and bad-tempered Kreese is when he goes off on his student Johnny (William Zabka), which we see in the second movie, again shown in the third. Dwelling on it, he recruits his rich friend to help him get his man to beat Daniel in an upcoming match. Meanwhile, Daniel and his mentor move in together and open up a bonsai tree shop, while getting pricey ones.

I'll admit: it did lack a lot of edge. All we saw was a guy who held a grudge for Daniel and Miyagi, who he blamed for his business going down. Some say Daniel should have had another romantic situation but this near-romantic one was taken lightly in the story. It also didn't mention what Daniel would have wanted to do with his future, even if his college fund dough was used on the shop. I guess I would have to say it was a not-so-bad swan song to cap off the trilogy. (And no, I'm not counting The Next Karate Kid) Pat Morita passed away in 2005, ending all hopes for a reunion. Most of the cast reunited for a Youtube video: 'Sweep The Leg' by the band No More Kings. Despite of a few movies he was in (including My Cousin Vinny), it is safe to say Ralph Macchio is forever typecasted as The Karate Kid. I'm sure he don't mind, as explained a couple days ago, he's making the rounds now at Wizard World's Comic-Con.

My rating: 5 out of 10

In closing, here's a list I compiled years ago:


1. No matter what, Miyagi is always right.
2. Sweep the leg.
3. No matter what, Daniel has no trouble with getting the girl.
4. Always help your enemy in the case of a bad situation.
5. Don't give in a fight unless necessary.

Monday, April 7, 2014

04/07: The Karate Kid Part II

Thought I may as well continue on with the trilogy of The Karate Kid. Part II came out 2 years after. It made more money in the box office; however, its reviews weren't as great as the first. I do side with the mixed ones.

The 1986 sequel opens right where the last one left off, as Daniel (Ralph Macchio) and Miyagi (Pat Morita) are leaving the karate competition. Six months passes and after the prom, Daniel's world crashes down just like that. From his girlfriend Allie to possibly moving to another part of California, he turns to Miyagi for help. They soon go to Okinawa, Japan after Miyagi finds out his dad is on deathbed. But Miyagi's past comes back to haunt him as memories as to why he fled the island in the first place come back. This is where we see a more personal side to the mentor: his past love of his life, Yukie, and the man who he was fighting over her with, Sato. Sato, the richest man in Okinawa, threatens to turn the island village upside down while challenging a fight with Miyagi. Meanwhile, Daniel makes an enemy of Chozen, Sato's nephew, and again, challenges him to a fight. Daniel also falls in love with Yukie's niece, Kamiko.

Pretty much almost the same story, different place and culture. It is nice to see it set where the origins of martial arts are. And also, the fact it is set in a more ancient culturistic place, even though it was shot in Hawaii not Japan. But there were some things that got my head scratchin'. What did Chozen really have against Daniel? The ice block scene I thought was a bit over-exaggerated. Did Daniel really get over Allie? Just the personal stuff, I guess. And that final fighting scene, among many others.

The movie didn't get hardly any accolades, or the opposite. It got the typical sequel treatment: could have been better, could have been worse, I guess. It did score an Academy Award nomination and a #1 hit with its love theme, 'Glory of Love', by former Chicago frontman Peter Cetera. I would recommend it if you really did like the first movie. Not bad for kids, as it sort of repeats the story.

My rating: 6 out of 10

Sunday, April 6, 2014

04/06: The Karate Kid (1984)

As I write this, Wizard World's Comic Con in St. Louis is wrapping up for the weekend. Unfortunately I didn't go this year for different reasons, but of course I would have loved to have been there. I had a blast last year during its inaugural weekend in St. Louis. This year had a vast array of people as well as celebrities. William Shatner, Adam West, Burt Ward and Ralph Macchio were there to collect your hard-earned dough for autographs and photo ops. My biggest priority would have been Ralph Macchio, as I looked to him as a hero throughout my childhood. I sorta related to him, I thought....

I first watched The Karate Kid when I was little when my parents rented this back in the late 80s. I was so taken with it as I still am today. It's often looked at as a typical 'underdog-goes-over' movie, but somehow this film became an iconic 80s flick. And for a good reason. Maybe its the quotes ('Sweep the leg' 'Wax on, wax off'), or the chemistry between Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) and Daniel (Macchio), but it inspired a generation of wimpy, lack of self confidence guys to fend for themselves. Daniel uncomfortably relocates with his mother from New Jersey to Southern California, not fitting in at first. Sure, he makes a new friend and quickly hooks up with a girl (Elizabeth Shue). However, he is being harassed by bullies and it takes a moment to convince Daniel to take up karate lessons. He seeks mentorship from Miyagi, his apartment complex's maintenance guy. He learns little by little the moves, and he eventually learns to stand up to the bullies, led by Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka).

We see Daniel build to become a better person, as he slowly gains confidence in himself. But he has his girl to cheer him on, and only something like that can happen in the movies. The soundtrack is awesome, especially the fight song 'You're The Best' (by Joe Esposito). We also learn a bit about Japanese culture (more in the sequels), especially with Miyagi's background. It's pretty surreal I guess.

Definitely rent this one for the kids and teens. Or simply re-live your 80s experience with this one.

My rating: 9 out of 10

Saturday, April 5, 2014

04/05: How to Marry a Millionaire

One of the 1950's 'classics' stars three of the biggest leading female actresses (and bombshells) of that era - Lauren Bacall, Betty Grable and some gal named Marilyn Monroe. A movie with three different stories, although they are pretty much the same, made history as the first to use the Cinemascope widescreen format, though not first released as that. This was one of the biggest hits of 1953.

The three women realize that the best way to be happy is to simply 'marry a millionaire'. So they rent a ritzy penthouse, hoping to attract wealthy men. The scheme seems to work a bit, as each woman finds who they believe is 'the one' that will make them happy because of their money. The ladies learn a lesson about being happy and what's inside that counts. Short and sweet version of the story.

Going through the movie, you can just tell how dated this is. The 1950s always seemed like a simple time for anyone just by watching TV shows and movies from that innocent decade. But my have times changed. Throughout the movie I was fascinated about the styles and norms. Remember, back then being a millionaire was extremely a bigger deal than it is now. Also, back then, as mentioned by Monroe's character Pola, men did not go for women who wore glasses. That's so not true in today's age. It's also good to look at how New York was back then. That was about 20 years before the twin towers were constructed.

Probably the most annoying thing is the beginning, without question. Sometimes it's easy to forget those damn orchestra intros, as if they're part of the movie. Watch this for historical purposes, or if you are one of the tens of millions of Marilyn Monroe fans who want to keep her legacy alive.

My rating: 7 out of 10

Friday, April 4, 2014

04/04: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

When this movie came out, my question to all was: 'Who is Scott Pilgrim, and am I supposed to know about him?'. Well, it turns out I wasn't a comic person, and if you were, you knew who he was. I also thought this was going to be a series of some sort, but who knows.

Basically, its about Scott (Michael Cera) who is hoping to win the heart of a girl named Ramona (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). But he must defeat her seven exes, in order. In return, he gets a gold coin, Mario-style (laughs). Scott plays for a band called Sex Bob-omb, and is based in Canada (Ramona is American). Simply put, he goes out of his way to not let them stand in his way of getting Ramona.

I'd say the movie was different, in terms of comic-book movies. In a good way, that is. Let it be known I am not much of a fan of Michael Cera. I don't have any vendetta on him, I just don't think he's that great of an actor, nor do I think he shows personality in his roles. But, he plays Scott pretty well. This movie is also known for its envelope pushing. How often do we see a real battle of the sexes? I also like that this movie was fast-paced, and who can forget the Nintendo old-school stuff brought into the film?

Great college/teen comedy. May want to keep your kids out for this one. All ages.

My rating: 7 out of 10

Thursday, April 3, 2014

04/03: Purple Rain

In general I think Purple Rain is one of those movies that if not for the music, the show is nothing. But who knows. Prince does try to tell the story about his trip to superstardom. There's only a way to the top from his early days in Minneapolis.

Throughout the movie we hear a nice soundtrack. Not just the songs that were from the soundtrack album (which was #1 for 24 weeks on Billboard's Pop Album chart), but songs from Morris Day and Apollonia. With every movie comes a story. Prince is known as 'The Kid' who spends most of his time away from home (mostly because of his abusive father), rehearsing during the day and performing at night with his backing band, The Revolution. But he is also competing with another top draw at the club (First Avenue in Minneapolis, which still exists): Morris Day (playing himself).

Some coolness intertwined here and there, such as Prince's motorcycle ride scene as he takes Apollonia to 'Lake Minnetonka', or so she thinks! I recommend this for any Prince fan, and definitely buy the soundtrack. It's always great to see someone work his way through everything, no matter what. Some may find the story too dark, or too soft, depending on whatever way to look at it.

My rating: 6 out of 10

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

04/02: Heaven Can Wait (1978)

Normally I don't like films about ghosts (okay, maybe the Ghostbusters movies). But, as in people living the afterlife as a ghost. It just gets depressing as I've had nightmares of seeing people but they wouldn't see ME. That's the whole idea of what being a ghost is about, according to Hollywood, as it is used in TV shows and movies. Heaven Can Wait is a remake of a Harry Segall stageplay.

Warren Beatty plays Joe Pendleton, an all-star football player of the Los Angeles Rams, who is ready to lead his team to the Super Bowl. Unfortunately, he gets killed while being struck by a car in a tunnel while riding his bike. He arrives in heaven, and he is told that he wasn't supposed to die. Joe could have re-lived, but his body was already cremated! So, Joe's spirit arrives in a millionaire Leo Farnworth's body as several confusions happen (to the characters, not the viewer).

Comedic-wise, I'd say it isn't bad. But again, I find ghostly movies depressing, especially those that deal with death, no matter how they make it. This should be great for anyone who loves football, and who is a Warren Beatty fan.

My rating: 6 out of 10

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

04/01: Team America: World Police

When people think of this movie, the ending theme song 'Team America: Fart Yeah' may come to mind. At least that's what happens every time this movie comes up in a conversation. I even know people who have the song in their phones. And no, they don't say fart, I know. I'm just trying to leave out the profanity in these reviews. So you're probably wondering why I'm writing about such an offensive, profanity-laden movie.

Why, because it's funny! Sure, I've never been a fan of South Park (even though I've seen a few episodes) but I was aware of Matt Stone and Trey Parker's humor. They pick on EVERYBODY. This time around, they took a stab at their own country. I'm sure a lot of people took it the wrong way, but the South Park creators and their fans couldn't care less. I know their style has always been about satire. The focus was on America's way of changing countries and their regimes as well as their policies and stuff. Throughout the world, they stop terrorists (well, sure they missed the Panama Canal...).

The team of five world police, led by Sportswoode, loses one of their own, Carson, who is shot by a terrorist in the beginning of the movie. Carson is also linked to Lisa. Replacing him is Broadway actor Gary, who is reluctant most of the time but feels that its his duty to join in defending freedom and loyalty to his country. He eventually becomes Lisa's love interest. There appears to be a civil war during the film's climax, meaning all of the team members are at odds with each other, and are all captured by then-North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il. They must save the world and destroy Jong-il's plan to blow up the world.

Several people, on both sides of the political spectrum, are made fun of. Also, countless Hollywood celebrities. I'm sure most of them didn't mind at all; even though it was reported that Sean Penn wasn't amused. Michael Moore is definitely portrayed as a fat slob traitor and I guess, a terrorist, when he blows up Team America's Intelligence station at Mount Rushmore.

For a great laugh, definitely watch this one. But yes, definitely leave the kids out of the room. Be prepared for some raunchiness and offensiveness, especially the marionette sex scene!

My rating: 7 out of 10

Monday, March 31, 2014

03/31: White Nights (1985)

I wasn't really familiar with the movie until over a year ago. One thing I DID know was that Phil Collins had a #1 hit single (with Marilyn Martin) from that movie. Then one day on our free Encore trial, I was flipping through the Encore channels and this movie came on. The scene that got my attention was the 'dance scene'. I'll explain, read on.

This artful dance film was set in Russia (or at the time, the Soviet Union) and stars Gregory Hines and Mikhail Baryshnikov. Rodchenko (Baryshnikov) plays a popular dancer and actor who defected from the Soviet Union whose plane suddenly lands back home from Japan. A member of the KGB recognizes him and arrests him, but later puts him in the same place as Greenwood (Hines) and his wife (who both left the US for the Soviet Union). Greenwood is put in charge of keeping his eye on Rodchenko, who are at odds because of their racial differences. Despite of this, they bond slowly but surely and together they devise a plan to escape the Communist country.

One of the most famous dance scenes of all-time, if not the best happens about 3/4s into the film, as Greenwood and Rodchenko test out each other's moves in the studio. And in case you're wondering, the song they dance to is 'Prove Me Wrong' by former Ambrosia lead singer David Pack. Besides that song, it's got a great soundtrack as well that adds spice to the seriousness of the movie.

Some may see this is as boring, while some may like it because of Gregory Hines. Hines was one of the most iconic double threat actors who could also dance very well. This was during the peak of his career.

My rating: 6 out of 10

Sunday, March 30, 2014

3/30 (b): Shallow Hal

Most people who know me well know Jack Black is one of my least favorite people in Hollywood. But, as a movie critic I can't be biased. So I'll just review one of my favorites of his. Shallow Hal is about the teachings of being not-so-shallow.

Jack Black plays Hal, a 30-something partyman who likes to boogie down at the clubs with his best friend (played by Jason Alexander). They both love hot women with the best bodies. But at the same time Hal realizes he is not that lucky with women. Then Hal gets stuck in an elevator with self-help guru Tony Robbins (appearing as himself) and explains his situation and gets 'hypnotized' by him. Soonafter, Hal meets several beautiful women in his eyes, and eventually Rosemary (Gwyneth Paltrow) catches his eye. Rosemary, who is his boss's daughter (unbeknownst to Hal) is actually extremely obese, but in Hal's eyes she is a slim, slender athletic woman with a dynamic personality. Hal starts to gain respect and turn a few heads, except for his best friend, who is wondering what is going on.

The film was criticized for putting overweight/fat/(whatever politically correct term you find) people in a negative light. A lot did get the message about shallowness and hypocrisy. In other words, if you want a girl with a great body, go get one of your own! But we see Hal learn a lot about himself, and what's inside that counts. Tony Robbins even puts on a great performance, as does Gwyneth in her fatsuit.

My rating: 7 out of 10

3/30 (a): Sabotage (2014)

About three days ago I was laughing out loud upon reading the headlines of the reviews of Arnold Schwarzenegger's latest movie, Sabotage. I don't know offhand who the syndicated columnist was, but in big letters it read something like, 'BAD MOVIE, SCHWARZENEGGER NEEDS TO HANG IT UP'. After seeing the movie last night, I partly agreed.

WARNING: SPOILERS........before I saw the movie, I wasn't familiar with the plot, but I got the idea that it was going to be just another action movie. Sure, it was, but sprinkle in a lot of blood and guts (for real) and some unnecessary toilet jokes, and you got yourself two hours waste of time. The start of the story involves Breach's (Schwarzenegger) team of 'police officers' (actually, an elite DEA task force) stealing at least ten million while taking down a Mexican drug cartel. I already knew this was something stupid when, while stacks of money in front of you would be a thrill, why risk stealing it? They stick it down a sewer pipe and its already gone by the time they get to the other end of it. Next, members of the team get killed-one by one-as suspected homicides, even though this is months after the theft. It's up to the gang to figure out what is going on and who is the bad guy/girl. We also forget what they did wrong in the beginning, as well as what happened to Breach's family before the movie started.

Don't get me's great to see Arnold back in the movies, especially after he's still fresh from a long political hiatus. But it seems his days are nothing like 'Terminator', 'Last Action Hero', among others. He's still got his masculinity, and his cigars, but that's about it. I'd check this one out anyway, just to see what all the bad reviews are about. Of course, leave the kids at home, unless you don't want to be a good role model for them...

My rating: 4 out of 10

Friday, March 28, 2014

03/28: I Love You, Man

At first I thought there would be some Budweiser reference in this movie, since it is probably named after one of its past lines in their commercials. Or it could be a brotherly, or friendly, movie, who knows. I was recommended this movie a few years back when a friend of mine said the band Rush was in it. I wasn't familiar with the main cast members at the time, but so I won't be let out in conversations, I watched it anyway.

Since then, this has been one of my (so called) 'Frat Pack' favorites. It stars Jason Segel, Rashida Jones and Paul Rudd in one of the best comedies of last decade. Jones and Rudd portray Zooey and Peter, who become engaged at the beginning of the film. Zooey has a lot of close girl friends, but Peter has some 'not-so-close' friends to announce his good news to. After trying to reconnect with acquaintances and friend's husbands, Peter gives up. That is until he throws an open house for bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno. He meets Sydney (Segel) and they eventually hit it off quick. Sydney is a very laid-back, fun, rock and rollin' kind of guy who lets Peter see his other side, as opposed to his tense and squeaky-clean lifestyle. Zooey is proud of Peter for finally finding a good friend, but she soon feels left out! Many hilarious things pursue from there.

All in all, a great fun movie. And for a Rush fan like myself, what's there not to like?! Several pop-culture references and jokes complete this film. You also gotta respect Lou Ferrigno for not taking himself too seriously in this one, either. The only damnation this film gets is popularizing the term 'bromance' (a word I definitely cannot stand!).

My rating: 8 out of 10

Thursday, March 27, 2014

03/27: Muppets Most Wanted

The movie was everything I expected it would be...which is great by the way. In this one, they continue to pull off all the laughter, gags and the story. Even in the beginning, where it seems that they left off from the 2011 'Muppets' movie, they start going into a song-and-dance segment about how bad or good sequels are. It's a great song with many things to poke fun about it.

The story, in case you didn't get the memo: A well-known Kermit lookalike, the thick accent black moled Constantine Frog is on the loose. He's the most dangerous of all the Muppets, if not the world. We see him escape from the Gulag in Russia, and his partner-in-crime Dominick Badguy (it's French) talks (and cons) the Muppets into doing a world tour of their show. Constantine intentionally runs into Kermit and leaves him framed for crime. The Muppets are all excited about their international tour, throwing all kinds of outrageous ideas that Kermit is skeptical of. That all changes when Kermit is replaced by his lookalike, who hides his mole but not his accent. Somehow he fools all the other Muppets, except Walter, even when he is acting strange. Kermit on the other hand, who is left behind by his pals, is convinced to do a Broadway-type show, by the warden (or guard? played by Tina Fey).

Lots of fun as said above, as the Muppets take on another feature film. I'll be honest, I wasn't sure about this one since we all pretty much knew the plot. But luckily it was the curiosity in me to see how it all panned out; plus my lifelong love for the Muppets. I knew who Ricky Gervais (Badguy) was, but I never watched any of his work coming into this. He did great. Lots of celebrity cameos from Tony Bennett to Celine Dion to Usher. And some gags here and there, too. But there's also the soft touch as the 'wedding', plus Tina Fey's memorable line, 'In prison, nobody ever talks about family'. This definitely proves the people behind the Muppets have not lost their creative touch and their roots.

Nice job, puppeteers! I can't wait to find out what the next installment will be like.

My rating: 7 out of 10

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

03/26: The Muppet Movie

The first big-screen feature starring the Muppets came out in 1979, at one of the heights of the famous puppets' popularity. I guess you can say it was during their 'first era', and by that I mean with their original creators and puppeteers, Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson, etc. (Tonight I'm planning on seeing their latest feature which I hope to review tomorrow)

At the beginning, we see it as a 'movie-within-a-movie', as they are ready to watch themselves on the big screen. It starts with Kermit in the swamp home, and being persuaded to make a career in show business. As he heads on the road, he is also being persuaded to become entrepreneur Doc Hopper's spokesman for his frog legs restaurant franchise. Kermit repeatedly rejects him while making the trek to Hollywood. Along the way, he comes across the Muppets we are all familiar with: Gonzo, Fonzie the Bear, and of course, Miss Piggy.

Definitely a fun movie, as there are several celebrity cameos. Sadly though, most of them are now deceased, but you gotta remember: this was 1979. But its a great way to remember showbiz legends, like Bob Hope and Richard Pryor. Radio ventriloquist Edgar Bergen (who also makes a cameo) passed away during production, as the movie is dedicated to him. Several jokes and off-the-wall clean humor make this movie what it is as well. And let's not forget the songs: remember 'Moving Right Along', which was actually released as a single at the time?

Great family movie, and if it hasn't been certified a classic yet, its way overdue.

My rating: 8 out of 10

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

03/25: The Perks Of Being a Wallflower

One critic called this movie 'this generation's Breakfast Club'. I'm gonna have to disagree with that person right away. I see no connection to those movies except for the fact they are high school movies. This sleeper hit seemed to have been more popular in book form (it was a best-selling novel starting in 1999), and while it may have underperformed in theaters (actually it was a limited release to four theaters), it was very popular on DVD and Blu-ray.

It's about a boy named Charlie (Logan Lerman) who attends high school as a freshman. His best friend had recently committed suicide, so he is always willing to meet new friends. He open-mindedly explores people and different things. At a football game, he starts hanging around step-sibling seniors, Patrick and Sam (Ezra Miller and Emma Watson). They become best friends as Charlie becomes more attached to their clique, even performing in their weekend 'Rocky Horror Picture Show' plays. The clique is pretty much known to be outcasts, as Charlie comes off as very shy and not sociable. He also ends up dating one of the fellow outcasts.

The part(s) where the movie lost me are in the second half. All the emotional moments; some not having to do with any of the story. But I'm sure its there to confuse the viewer, as most of them probably read the book. Or maybe I was the only one who was confused, or dissatisfied with its overdramatic scenes. I know, I critized the Breakfast Club in the same way, but here I'm talking about more serious scenes. And I'm assuming the part about finding 'their special song to speed in the tunnel' is not meant to be taken seriously. But it ends okay, I guess. Which I won't give away.

This will probably be the most negative review of this movie, but I'll be fair in some ways.

My rating: 5 out of 10

Monday, March 24, 2014

03/24 (b): The Breakfast Club

Today is a great day, timing-wise, to do a review for the classic teen movie. Why, because today, in the fictional town of Sherman, Illinois, 5 Sherman High students gathered for Saturday detention on March 24, 1984. Hard to believe that was 3 decades ago, even though the movie was released a year later. Most of you are aware of the accolades and praises of this iconic 80s movie. No words can explain it, but I can tell you from the first time I watched it (over 15 years ago), it has been a movie that has stayed with me for the longest time and still does every time I watch it. Millions, I believe, feel the same way.

I've mentioned before that I'm the type of movie-lover who loves stories with personal rather than escapist stories. This one can't hit you any harder. It's nothing like the good ol' days when your grandparents probably told you (mine did) when high school is supposed to be 'the greatest days of your life'. That all changed over time, when more suburban cities developed bigger high schools and most believed they separated students by class and rank. Cliques formed, and outkasts and more stereotypes were created. In The Breakfast Club, we meet 5 students who each belong in different stereotypical categories. They're all in detention for different, if not bizarre, reasons.

Let's analyze the five:

Claire (Molly Ringwald)- the pretty, prissy prom princess who eats sushi, and embarrassingly, a virgin.

Bender (Judd Nelson) - the criminal. Comes from a loser family, knows how to fight (with weapons and words), among other things.

Brian (Anthony Michael Hall) - the brain. The total geek who seems to have been raised by Mr. Rogers.

Andy (Emilio Estevez)- the jock. The tough-as-balls wrestler, or so we're led to believe.

Allison (Ally Sheedy)- the basket case. The seemingly pretty, yet crazy one.

After being settled in detention, the students sort of bond, but not in a good way as several differences (mostly with Bender and Andy) are explained. Slowly but surely, they all find out they have one thing in common: they hate authority, they hate their parents, and they just want to have some fun and not be looked at as another stereotype. It's all explained in the essay they are asked to do for the principal. 

This is a character-driven script, in case you haven't noticed. The only complaint I have sometimes about this film is sometimes overdramatic, like the emotional scenes when they are all spilling their secrets. But I get over it throughout the movie. Some of them may not seem realistic, I suppose. Would we ever see the principal try to threaten the bully in private? Can anyone get away with smoking pot in the library? Who knows. Probably the only thing that tramples on it is the birth of the 'brat pack' theme. Another thing that got me was that three of the five actors (Estevez, Sheedy, Nelson) went on to play college graduates later in 1985's St. Elmo's Fire. Molly Ringwald began to play roles that were nothing like her Claire character. I remember at one time a long time ago there was a crazy rumor about the cast reuniting in a new updated story of this film. I'm glad it didn't happen (laughs).

But to the late, great John Hughes: outstanding, excellent work. This masterpiece still lives on today and I believe it will for generations to come.

My rating: 10 out of 10

03/24 (a): The Muppets

Sorry guys, another busy one yesterday; as I said, Sundays are busy for me. Usually I do have the time to write a review on those days, but I was doing double duty. But I got two great reviews today for YOU. That's right. In honor of the new Muppets movie in theatres now, I thought now was the perfect time to write one about the first one of the new Muppets wave of revival movies.

Most of us know we live in an era where anything that was cool in our childhood (70s, 80s, early 90s) will likely be made into a movie, and for better or worse, a sequel and/or a prequel. I can't even think of anything that hasn't been made into a movie yet, except for maybe GoBots and Lazertag. Anyway, if you were a child of the 70s and 80s, you definitely grew up with the Muppets. You started with Sesame Street, probably watched the primetime TV show, and/or saw all the movies. They weren't even a guilty pleasure; in fact, they were loved by both kids and adults. I remember what I was doing when Jim Henson died in May 1990, and I remember looking at his creation Muppets differently for a while. (Recently his son, John, who helped keep the empire running, passed away at age 48) In Henson's post-life, we've seen the Muppets in several incarnations, including being bought by Walt Disney Company. But it wasn't until a member of the so-called 'Frat Pack' took interest and convinced Disney to revive the famous puppets back to the big screen.

Jason Segel, who was mostly known for his roles in R-rated comedy films, lived his dream of being in a movie with the Muppets. In the lead role, with Amy Adams and new Muppet, Walter, they set to go out on a road trip to L.A., where their main priority is to visit the old Muppet Studios. While there, they find out they must raise $10 million to keep the contract to the theater. However, the Muppets have mostly disbanded, with Miss Piggy living in Paris, Kermit the Frog enjoying retirement, and Fonzie playing in a Muppet tribute band, the Moopets(!). It is up to the trio to get them all back together and help raise money before their legacy is forgotten, and to keep from being bought out by an oil baron.

As expected (from previous Muppet films), many celebrity cameos are in store, including Neil Patrick Harris and Jack Black. Definitely a fun film, and one of the greatest 'revival' movies of this generation. More importantly, it hasn't forgotten its roots and the past movies, as it is set in present day. I have yet to see the next one, but while it may look sillier and predictable, who knows.

My rating: 9 out of 10

Saturday, March 22, 2014

03/22: George of the Jungle

1997 was a big year for movies, even before Titanic came out. Hit after hit, there was Men in Black, Air Force One, etc. I remember having a conversation with my siblings at the time this movie came out and they were like, 'Who would actually go see this movie?'. I began to wonder the same thing. Because quirky Brendan Fraser is in it? Did people actually like the cartoon? A good excuse to take the kids out?

Whatever the reason, I did get down to watching this several years later. That's not to say I missed very much. But it was an enjoyable film. The plot may seem a bit self-explanatory. We all probably know that George was raised in the jungle by apes, just like Tarzan. It closely resembles a Tarzan/Jane story: a woman who is part of a tourist group (Ursula, played by Leslie Mann) is saved by George when she is about to be attacked by a lion. She wakes up and finds George living in an all-animal/non-human environment and she gets to teach him human skills. Meanwhile, Ursula's fiance tries searching for her, and when he does, they take George back to the United States. There, George explores a new life, while Ursula is having second thoughts about marrying her fiance.

A fun, silly comedy. Some may just take it seriously, and I believe its partly not meant to be that way. Just experience the talking ape (voiced by John Cleese) and you'll know not to! Perfect for a family movie night.

My rating: 6 out of 10

Friday, March 21, 2014

03/21: Tremors

The first year of the 90s brought us this Southwestern horror film, set in a desert hick town. Underground big and little monsters threaten to kill and take over the town as the town's residents crawl to the highest ground whenever available. A little campy here and there, but a nice monster flick.

The cast seemed a bit weird, with Kevin Bacon as the frontman (in a hillbilly role). Also you have Finn Carter (the young female lead), country singer Reba McEntire and Michael Gross. Nonetheless, they pulled it together. Valentine (Bacon) and his best friend Earl set out to leave the town when they discover dead people on the road and they figure out what's going on until its proven some sort of 'snake' killed them. With help from the seismologist (Carter) they discover its strengths and weaknesses. It all comes down to everyone trying to find ways to survive, while being cut off from the rest of the world.

As mentioned above, a bit campy and Bacon trying to be a redneck is a little funny. Part of the movie should be taken seriously, though, as we see people get killed. Sure, this can be classified as a 'horror' movie, but it also can be difficult what kind of genre to put this in. The only real bad thing about this movie is the sequels, which I haven't seen yet. I'm assuming they were the typical direct-to-video ones, where they recycle the plot, but who knows.

My rating: 7 out of 10

Thursday, March 20, 2014

03/20: The Bad News Bears (1976)

Today is the first day of Spring, or so the calendar says. That means Spring Fever is in the air! And what better way to celebrate warmer by the day weather than reviewing a kids baseball movie. The Bad News Bears was one of the top hits of the mid-70s, with Walter Matthau playing one of his greatest roles.

Buttermaker (Matthau) is pretty much a washed-up, former Minor League ball player who cleans pools. He's also an alcoholic, and he smokes cigars. He's recruited by a city councilman to form and coach a Little League team (sponsored by Chico's Bail Bonds), a team made up of losers. Buttermaker then recruits the daughter of an ex-lover (Tatum O'Neal, in another great performance) as well as the motorcycle rebel Kelly, who definitely has an arm. They face serious teams, especially the Yankees, as their confidence grows.

A fun, summer, kid and teen movie that would take anyone back in time. Its definitely one that would be inspiring, if you're in a hopeless situation.You may want to lecture your kids about the rude humor as well as the racial and ethnic slurs, as well as alcohol and tobacco use (which was fine back then). But its also one that tells an honest and cynical look at life, which can resemble our own. It's more than just another 'underdog' movie.

My rating: 8 out of 10

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

03/19: The Three Stooges (2012)

In one of the most, perhaps, longest and well-publicized developmented movie so far this century, The Three Stooges was able to be released. That's not to say it was satisfactory for some people and well-received. I'm sure though lifelong and new Three Stooges fans were happy to see this happen.

A little about the story: Larry, Curly and Moe were left at an orphanage when they were babies. They have been at the same orphanage all this time, and just about everyone who was looking to adopt wasn't interested. The boys are all grown up now, working as janitors at the orphanage, still doing their hijinks and accidental goofs (like injuring people and poking eyes out). Now the orphanage is about to close, unless someone comes up with $830,000 in a month. The boys, refusing to give up and lose their home, go out in their ridiculous ways to raise the money (including doing a reality show!) while getting involved with a woman and her lover who wants to kill her husband.

Very funny, although some may find it stupid and recycled. Hellooo? It's the Three Stooges for crying out loud! It's got a decent cast as well, not just the main three, but you also have Jane Lynch as the head nun and Sofia Vergara's show-stopping performance. I still wonder why Larry David agreed to portray a nun. And cast members of 'Jersey Shore', though I don't think very highly of them, also make an appearance, of course, poking fun of themselves. Perhaps the most surprising is because of the state of people's level of humor (rude, slapstick, Three Stooges-type) for kids, this is rated PG. Maybe it's because there's too many PG-13 and R-rated movies out there? I think so. Which is good because all of my nephews (who are all 14 and under) really enjoyed this movie.

And watch out: there is a sequel in the works. Nyuk nyuk nyuk!

My rating: 7 out of 10