For a Few Dollars More

Year: 1965
Directed By: Sergio Leone
Written By: Sergio Leone, Fulvio Morsella, and Luciano Vincenzoni

RYAN’S REVIEW

Coming out right off the heals of its predecessor, A Fistful of Dollars, this movie was everything a good sequel should be. More of the same but better. This movie has more gun slinging, more at stake, and more Eastwood. As I continue this effort in realizing what I have been missing in all the years I avoided these movies I see more and more how foolish I was to wait so long.

I was confused as first because the villain, El Indio, is played by the same actor who played the villain in the first film, Gian Maria Volonte. Although I can’t argue with the decision to cast him again because the guy made such a great bad guy the first time around. I thought the addition of another bounty hunter in Lee Van Cleef was a good one but he took too much screen time from Eastwood. Eastwood didn’t get to be the ultimate hero in this movie but he is the guy that rides off into the sunset, with all the bounties and he grabs the extra loot out of the tree on his way out.

In haste to finish out this trilogy I’m going to wrap up this review as a simple one. I may have liked A Fistful of Dollars a little bit more but I liked this one enough. In my opinion the best sequels are the ones that build on their story and get bigger.  This movie did a great job at that and I look forward to seeing the next one. I have never been a fan of westerns so take my word for it when I tell you that this one is worth your time and you won’t be disappointed by it.

Predator

Year: 1987
Directed By: John McTiernan
Written By: Jim and John Thomas

RYAN’S REVIEW

Here it is, the quintessential action film that my brothers and I must have watched a million times growing up. This movie, as much as Die Hard, is a perfect movie for the genre. Technically it qualifies as sci/fi but this first film is all action aside from the Predator. They took a group of badasses, gave them a nice array of firepower, and dropped them in the jungle to make a movie. That is just a formula for success and it worked so well that the Predator is still a successful franchise nearly thirty years later. They have been hit or miss with sequels and spin offs but the Predator has become an iconic character that people will always show up to see.  No matter how many times I see this movie myself I still get into it every time. It takes me back and I find myself wishing I could break out my G.I. Joes again and mimic the story line with my play.

The cool thing about this movie is that for the first half of the film it’s straight action while the real threat lurks in the background. There is the drop off scene in the beginning with the spaceship but afterwards the actual Predator isn’t seen for almost half of the film. The Predator himself is worth waiting for. A villain so badass the military has literally spent millions of dollars and years of research trying to replicate some of his technology. I remember reading an article in a magazine over ten years ago about how the military was trying to develop a predator style camouflage. I don’t know if that was ever achieved but I’m certain if they were doing that they were also trying to develop their own ideas after the Predator’s mask that allows heat seeking vision and voice synthesizing technology.

The cast of this movie is so interesting because not fifteen years later two of these men would have served in highest office of State Government. Jesse “The Body” Ventura, a man with an interesting history, is notable for being the highest elected third party politician when he was elected Governor of Minnesota in 1999. As a Reform Party candidate he held office from 1999 to 2003. Arnold Schwarzenegger also famously served two terms during his hiatus from being an action star from 2003 to 2011. Now I am much more familiar with Schwarzenegger as a politician than I am “The Body” because in 2003 I was a young politically minded college kid. I was a way left liberal back then but I loved the Governator. He had such an interesting approach to politics. During an election year when everybody was trying to hide all their dirty secrets and deny everything Arnold Schwarzenegger would run head long into his own controversies. With an attitude that was real he admitted to his past discretions and just called it the product of another time. Sure he sexually harrarrassed some women, sure he smoked pot once or twice, sure there was that sound clip of him explaining that he was “cumming all the time” (see below) but none of it could phase the would be Govenator. He had surprising charisma and I loved how casual he was when everyone else was so stiff. I found it incredibly interesting how he left office and immediately went back into acting to reclaim his mantle of greatest action star. He hasn’t really achieved that yet but this new Terminator film looks interesting. Both of these men, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jesse “The Body” Ventura (long time friends no less), have lived such interesting lives. If you have the opportunity they’re both “worth a Google.”

The rest of the crew in this movie can’t go unmentioned. Carl Weathers and Bill Duke were both great in this movie. I have always been a big fan of Weathers, and Duke has such an intimidating look about him. Their last stand together is legendary and left an impression on me from an early age. I once saw a skit on SNL that featured Carl Weathers in which he kept referring to himself as “the black guy from Predator” over and over again. I don’t even remember what the skit was actually about but I still laugh at it randomly when it pops into my head occasionally. I don’t know much about Sonny Landham but I once watched a feature special on this movie and the way people talked about him was interesting. He was apparently quite the wild man and they had a guy shadow him during filming simply to keep him out of trouble. I love how he wounds himself before taking on the predator in his last stand, such a badass Native American warrior. The famous action writer/director Shane Black played the part of Hawkins, notable only for saying pussy multiple times in the film. Jean-Claude Van Damme was originally cast to play the part of the predator but couldn’t hack it and was replaced by the much taller 6’9” Kevin Peter Hall. Of course Van Damme couldn’t hack it, he may look cool at first with his fancy splits and strange accent but the more I hear about that guy the more I hear he isn’t for real.

Nobody really matters in this movie like the last man standing though. Schwarzenegger played many memorable and iconic roles over throughout his career but this movie is just such a spotlight for him. When he goes toe to toe with the Predator and it comes down to fisticuffs he set the bar incredibly high for other would be action stars. This guy, Arnold freaking Schwarzenegger, is exactly why I can’t abide by the standards of the 20teens, or whatever you want to call them, and accept Liam Neeson as an action star. I tried to watch the first Taken, all the while thinking “who does this guy think he is?” Action stars gotta have more, they have to measure up to the Terminator, Commando, Harry Tasker, Conan, Jack Slater, and of course Dutch. Dutch doesn’t stress about this big ass scary alien, no, he smears mud all over himself and sets traps for it. Low on ammo? Not a problem for Dutch, he’ll just manufacture himself a bow and arrow and take on the space alien Indian style. In the end it takes an ass whooping and a last minute trick but Dutch wins out, as Schwarzenegger always does. A nuclear explosion can’t even take him out, in true Schwarzenegger style he simply dives behind a sturdy plateau of ground and survives despite everything. A true American hero, lost his whole crew and had to single handedly defend Earth from this alien but he did it and he won. That’s just American, that’s the motherf****** Govenator.

This scenario, a group of soldiers trekking through the jungle as they are picked off one at a time by an unknown enemy was one I re-enacted many times with my toys as a little kid. I used to have the most epic games with my G.I. Joes when I was little and I would have them act out a variety of scenarios from my favorite action films. This one was always one of my favorites. I would go the whole nine yards often coloring red on my Joes with a washable marker to simulate blood. Some even had appendages that had gotten old and could easily be removed and put back into place. That Joe always turned out to be the one to lose a leg. When a Joe’s coolness finally wore out on me or he was simply getting too old he would be the victim of an explosion and the pieces of his body would become the debris scattered across the battlefield. Oh how I loved and miss that youthful age when I could have so much fun just using my imagination.

This is an awesome movie, a stalwart in the collection of any action fan who grew up through the golden years of the genre. This movie gets me every time and I never get bored of it. I love the testosterone driving masculinity behind it all. Some evenings when both of my daughters are asleep and my wife is busy in the kitchen this is the kind of movie that can get my blood pumping. When you live in a world of pink and princesses, Predator is like a lightening bolt that zaps some adrenaline into the world. If you haven’t seen this movie then you have missed out. It is a classic film that is not only worth your time but worth your money as well.

NEXT MOVIE: Predators

Despite this, he got elected Governor of California. Two times. America really is the land of opportunity. This is one of the most interesting men of the last century.

The Poseidon Adventure

Year: 1972
Directed By: Irwan Allen and Ronald Neame
Written By: Paul Gallico (novel), Stirling Silliphant and Wendell Mayes (screenplay)

RYAN’S REVIEW

This was a new addition to the blog from a couple of months ago. I had never seen it before sitting down to review it for the first time. I picked it up specifically because I was familiar with it as a classic and wanted to see a more youthful Gene Hackman. In that I succeeded but despite the notoriety the film has maintained over time I was not enamored with it.

I am a big Gene Hackman fan but haven’t seen enough of his career prior to what he has achieved in my own lifetime. For as long as I can remember Gene Hackman has been old. Much like other famous and prolific actors of advanced age like Anthony Hopkins or Sean Connery I had never known any other version than the one I grew up with. Having recently taken the time to start appreciating what the younger Clint Eastwood accomplished, Hackman was another actor I wanted to see earlier in his career. I bought this movie after being prompted by Amazon but there are others I need to see too. The French Connection is one that specifically comes to mind because I have never seen it. Outside of Bonnie and Clyde, the only movie I had seen from Hackman’s younger career was Superman.

I’ll be honest I didn’t really love this movie. It’s a good movie but it didn’t pull me in quite the way I expected having heard so much about it over the years. I thought Hackman’s performance made it worth seeing and I understand how the role advanced his career. He was quick thinking, in control, and in the end he got to be the martyred hero. The movie had very compelling scenes throughout but Hackman’s heroic death at the end was one of the best.

I didn’t love this movie but I appreciate it. The movie ended on a very gripping note as the few survivors from the group found that they were the only survivors on the ship. As the camera pans out over the turned over cruise ship the reality sets in and it’s haunting. This much have been an incredibly shocking ending in 1972. Not only did the hero die but the tragedy proves be as dire as it could have been in the final moments. I think I would have liked this movie a lot more had I been around when it actually came out. Plenty of movies made long before I was born still captivate and marvel me in ways that nothing else can. This one didn’t do that though and I can’t put my finger on why. I’m gonna blame it on a generational thing having grown up overexposed to this type of tragedy and action.

I have never seen the remake of this film and don’t intend to. I have written many times about my distaste for remakes and I think the idea of remaking this movie was just as poor as all the other remake ideas. When there is nothing to improve on a film there is no reason to tarnish the original with a subpar version. If anybody reading this has seen the remake make your case for it if it actually was worth seeing. I cannot imagine such an argument will be presented, the remake has an incredibly low rank on IMDB. The original on the other hand is worth seeing and if you get an opportunity to see it your time won’t be wasted.

NEXT MOVIE: Predator (1987)

Draft Day

Year: 2014
Directed By: Ivan Reitman
Written By: Scott Rothman and Rajiv Joseph

RYAN’S REVIEW

I have plenty of passions, but not many that run as deep as my passion for the NFL. Like any NFL fan, one of my favorite days of the year is here. The NFL Draft, for many of us, offers some of the most exciting days of the year. An event all fans spend weeks and months anticipating and putting so much hope into. What makes it all so exciting it that despite what all the “experts” say in the days leading up to it, when the clock starts nobody knows what will happen. There are always surprises on draft day and it’s a day during the year when anything can happen. It just so happens to be a happy coincidence that this year there is a corresponding movie I can review in correlation with the magical day, which is actually a three day event. I liked this movie enough to add it to our collection and write about it so what better opportunity than on the day of?

This movie is a bit of a stretch for a football fan but I tend to overlook the exaggerated nature of how it portrays the draft because there is so much to like about it. Number one, it’s about the Browns. I’m not a Browns fan, but I specifically like Browns fans. I have been watching the NFL for over ten years now and only once have I ever seen that team have a good season. I am from the south, where by all obvious reasons I should never come across fans of such a pathetic franchise hundreds of miles away. Yet, despite this, I find that I run into them all the time. If I lived in a place like Cleveland, or even just in Ohio or the surrounding states it would make sense but I don’t. When I meet Browns fans I feel like it says something about the character of the person. Browns fans are loyal; they keep pulling for their team despite the lack of success. I once hired a guy with no qualifications and a piss poor track record simply because he was a Browns fan. Years later that man still works for me and despite everything he does a damn good job and I enjoy working with him. The Browns may suck, but their fans are the real deal. For anybody that doesn’t know, the Browns are legit, and despite their lack of success they are a significant franchise with passionate fans.

One of the things that make the draft so interesting is the desperate decisions some teams will make when they are on the clock and their options are limited. These teams will do the craziest things for unproven players with no idea how they will transition to the next level. Another news flash for people who don’t know, the analyst don’t know anything either. Despite all the footage they watch and the time they put into it they’re guessing, and when you bank on a guess you are making a critical mistake. See, that’s what makes football so much fun, because nobody really knows. It’s a never ending game of possibility, where nobody really knows what will happen and all the know-it-all’s can do nothing but sit there and watch while history unfolds. Sometimes they are right but it’s always just a guessing game and more often than not it’s just a surprise. Surprises can make life interesting. For me, the surprises in football make it so.

This movie showcases those surprises, and it grasps all the intensity involved. The draft is intense because the clock is ticking and nobody knows what will happen next. As this movie shows, we don’t know what to expect next even in a movie about the draft. As the GM of the Browns Kevin Costner is holding all the cards and nobody knows what he is laying down until all the chips are accounted for. I think the surprises in this movie do the draft justice; it’s not accurate because some of the trades are far too outlandish to ever happen. No NFL team would ever trade so many number one picks, or number two picks for that matter. It’s not that big of a deal when the movie continues to be fun despite the exaggeration though.

This movie is also good for being user friendly to non-football fans. I like the way it shows all the stadiums when teams are introduced and it puts the team name on the screen as well. Not only that but if you had never seen a football game in your life I think after seeing this movie you would at least understand how the NFL draft worked. It would give you unrealistic expectations about what kind of trades might happen on draft day but at least you would know what was going on. There is a lot of silly crap in this movie that I excuse in the scope of it being about football but it does bring the movie down. The mother’s determination to give her son a hard time on the day of the draft is ridiculous, especially for a woman who lived a football life. Not only that but of all days GM Costner also needs another issue to stress about with his girlfriend finding out she is pregnant. Those little unnecessary elements of drama typically annoy me but I overlook them in this case.

I really like the cast of this film. The feel good sports role has become a pinch hitter for Kevin Costner these days when he isn’t pulling a Liam Neeson move and making silly action movies. He’s great in this kind of part though, a believable guy who people like to like. I think he fits the bill for a NFL GM under the pressure of making his boss, coaches, and fans happy all at the same time. I love Denis Leary as the football coach. I am a big fan of Leary and specifically think the energy he brings to all of his roles is perfect for the part of a NFL coach. I’ve never been a big fan of Jennifer Garner but find her surprisingly good in this movie. She plays a no nonsense football woman who doesn’t sully the film with unnecessary drama over being pregnant. This is easily one of my favorite performances from an actress I’ve never been too high on. I mentioned in our review of Monster’s Ball that I thought Sean Combs/Puff Daddy/P. Diddy/Diddy/whatever he is calling himself these days, had a lot to offer an actor. I think this role is too easy for a guy like him but he is perfectly suited for the role of sports agent.  I think he is in fact an outstanding actor when given the opportunity and is probably capable of much more.

In the role of Vontae Mack they cast Chadwick Boseman who is an up and coming actor who will soon be a household name. I liked him in this movie but I am more interested in his future as an actor. Boseman will be seen on screen next summer in Captain America: Civil War when Marvel introduces a new character to their universe. Boseman is signed on to play Black Panther for Marvel. We will first see him in Cap 3 which will follow the Marvel Civil War storyline before he gets his own stand alone film in the years that follow. As a side note, another exciting character introduced in that same film will be a brand new Spiderman created by Marvel in conjunction with Sony.

No football movie is legit without a few cameos from real life football personalities and this movie doesn’t short change us in that regard. They have all the big time people on hand in this movie making cameos. Former players like Deion Sanders and Ray Lewis make cameos as themselves and current player Arian Foster actually plays a part in the movie as the running back and his father is played by former player turned actor Terry Crews. Last but not least, this movie about the Browns does feature a cameo from the franchise’s most famous player, Jim Brown.  “Draft specialists” like Mel Kiper and Mike Mayock make cameos to play their guessing games in the movie, like they do in real life. Other notable cameos from big time NFL people are Commissioner Rodger Goddell, Super Bowl winning coach turned analyst Jon Gruden, and one of my personal heroes, sport writer Mike Florio. I don’t actually recall seeing Florio in the movie but noticed his name in the credits and feel compelled to mention him. For football fans who don’t know, ProFootballTalk.com is Florio’s site and I have relied on it for the majority of my NFL info for years now. Great writer with an impressive knowledge of the game and interesting take on NFL news.

This film is rated R and I believe that to specifically be for a single use of the F word. There is some language throughout but hardly enough to garner an R rating, until that one particular universal obscenity near the end of the movie. This makes no matter to me but I find it a bit asinine. I would rather the film be rated R and stay true to the football world than be a watered down version of the real thing. This is still a watered down version of the real thing in many cases though but I still prefer it to have the edge that little bit of profanity gives it.

I overlook quite a bit in this movie simply because it centers on something I’m always excited about. That being said I’ll admit I did not expect to like it and found it to be a pleasant surprise. This is the kind of feel good movie that is perfect to kill time with and I would recommend it to anybody. If you are a football fan it’s right up your alley but even for people who don’t watch football I think there is a lot to like about this one. This movie is easily worth anybody’s time. Although, don’t let it give you false ideas about the Browns. I may love the people that pull for them but their team does them no favors and regularly blunders in the draft. This year they have two first round picks but they had two picks last year too and spent one of them on a QB everyone was steering clear of and ended up in rehab within the year. The problem with the Browns starts and stops with management. There is no consistency and too much impatience. Nevertheless that is a tangent better left alone. Check out this movie if you get a chance but, more importantly, make sure to tune in tonight for the real action.

Poolhall Junkies

Year: 2002
Directed By: Mars Callahan
Written By: Mars Callahan and Chris Corso

RYAN’S REVIEW

Movies about hustlers are always fun. It’s interesting to see what new and interesting ways that they will con people out of their money. The catalyst for the con in this movie just happens to be pool, a game that is always fun. Pool is awesome because it is played in bars, a game you play while you are drinking. For me I always hit that magical stride between 3 and 5 drinks. Catch me early or late you might kill me but if you hit me during that stride I’m going to beat you. Now I’m no hustler, never been good enough at anything to put my money on the line, but I enjoy the game because it’s fun. It’s all about angles and if you understand geometry you can make anything happen.

I came across this movie back in 2003 in the most unlikely of ways. I was on a cruise ship and it was one of the movies they played on the ship repeatedly. Had I not been on that ship I never would have seen this movie but I did, and I liked it enough to track it down years later. It’s a movie that went low on the radar for several reasons but there is still plenty to like about it.

Reason this movie flew under the radar number one: the Ben Affleck wanna be that stars in it. Yeah maybe the guy was never going to win an Academy Award but the movie made up for it with Christopher Walken in the cast. I’m a huge fan of Walken and think he fully compensates for the poser that stars in this movie. The Ben Affleck poser in this movie even has a brother that reminds me of Affleck’s real brother Casey. They don’t look anything alike, but this movie makes me think of Good Will Hunting because of the way these two guys look acting along side each other. Check that, just realized that the Affleck wanna be is actually Mars Callahan, director of the film, who simply put himself into his own movie as the star, never a good idea. At least now it makes sense why the performance of the lead actor in the movie is what it is.

Another thing I find interesting about this movie is that it has the distinction of starring Clint Eastwood’s daughter who so badly wanted to be an actress. When it didn’t work out she simply took her clothes off for Playboy and I remember that too. Now having recently come to the realization that Clint Eastwood was always as awesome as everyone said he was I don’t feel right about having looked at his daughter naked. Alison Eastwood never got her acting career off the ground and it’s easy to understand when you see this movie. Clint made his career on being a badass, his daughter tried to make hers simply on being a woman, no different than any other. When she couldn’t get traction on screen she simply showed her boobs. That’s so disappointing, but nothing is ever as simple as it looks on the surface.

When Christopher Walken shows up this movie instantly gets better because that’s what happens with Walken. He has that strangely quiet toned voice that he can raise the decimal on at his own discretion. Walken is still out there powering on but he has aged so much now. Back in 2002 when this movie was made he still had all the awesome that was within him. The type of awesome that could take a mediocre movie and make it worth watching. He hasn’t let age slow him down and that only makes him more of an awesome actor. Walken will live on forever and can never be replaced in the future.

Geez, it’s hard to watch this movie without getting hung up on Mars Callahan. What was this guy thinking plugging himself into his own movie? It could have been so much bigger had he just cast an actual actor in lead role. He thinks too much of himself and he was trying too hard. That giant hairdo and his northern accent, it’s all just so annoying. Yet I like this movie despite all that. More than likely I think he told the only story he had to tell with this movie but at least it was a story worth telling.

HOLY SHIT!!! Just realized that the Asian guy in this movie was none other than Keno from The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Secret of the Ooze. I gotta say, that knocks this movie up a notch, for me at least. Keno was like Ruffio, a childhood hero. F-ing Keno! Is there anything else to say? Ok, that’s a bit of a stretch, Ernie Reyes Jr. doesn’t make this movie any better despite the nostalgic nature it offers anybody that was lucky enough to be 7 in 1991 when then ninja turtles took the screen for a second time.

Chazz Palminiteri leaves a lot to be desired as a main antagonist but he serves well enough in this movie I’ll grant him that. Rod Steiger is a bit of a saving grace but nobody brings it like Christopher Walken. I can’t say enough how Walken makes this movie. He comes in like the hero so our Ben Affleck wanna be can one handedly school the bad guys. What makes it all so foolhardy is that the prize is simply to get bail money so the Casey Affleck wanna be can get out of jail and in reality that is only the beginning of a long journey to freedom. Silver Spoons is playing a game for nothing and our hero is obviously going to win it all.

OK, I’ve finished this movie and I honestly can’t say it was worth my time. Maybe I own this movie for my own nostalgic purposes and it isn’t worth the time of anybody else. Nevertheless I like it just enough to qualify it for our collection.

NEXT MOVIE: The Poseidon Adventure (1972)

Poltergeist

Year: 1982
Directed By: Tobe Hopper
Written By: Steven Spielberg, Michael Grais, and Mark Victor

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is a movie I would have normally waited until Halloween season to review but I just wanted to watch it too much to let it wait till October. I didn’t see this movie until sometime within the last year and it left quite an impression on me. I never watched it growing up and can’t figure out why. I was much too young for it throughout the 80s and in the later 90s my teenage self probably turned my nose up at a horror film with a PG rating. It was actually ABC’s The Goldbergs that got me interested in it when an episode featured the film. When I watched it for the first time I realized I had missed out on something because I found it interesting for so many reasons.

First of all, this is a movie for adults. That seems like a lost cause in the horror movies of today made for teenagers and young dating couples. This movie catered to those of us in full adulthood with children and responsibilities. I love that about this movie because it makes it honest. These are normal and responsible parents who are drinking, getting high, and just trying to get their kids to go to sleep for crying out loud. Sometimes getting your kids to just finally go to sleep feels like a regular losing battle too and we see that in this movie. Despite great efforts, in the end the kids still sleep in their parent’s bed and it’s something most parents can relate to. For whatever reason I feel like I don’t see this honesty in movies today. Parents are either really good or really bad but never honest. In this movie the parents do so many things considered taboo today. At one point the mother watches her oldest daughter get heckled by construction men before the daughter gives them an obscene gesture in response.  The mother just smiles as she looks on without making a fuss herself and just lets her daughter deal with it and go about her day. Such a thing would never be seen on screen today, that mother is supposed to be angry, she is supposed to run out there and tell those dirty men to go straight to hell. Don’t pass go, don’t collect $200, just go straight into the fires of hell and burn. The PC world we live in today drives me crazy and it is all encouraged over time by the media. This movie shows us an example of how things were different before the media got into our heads with what we were supposed to think about things.

Another thing that gets me about this movie is simply that it doesn’t really try. So many horror movies that have come out since are trying to convince us that they’re scary. They are trying too hard and it’s obvious. This movie is scary enough without trying. It didn’t have to try, it didn’t need buckets of blood or even nudity to get our attention. It just told an interesting story that was scary and brought us along for the ride. This movie also didn’t need supermodels to fill in the cast. Aside from the stars we see in this movie we don’t see freakishly good looking children but simply children that you might see in any ordinary family. It all makes this movie strike home harder as it is just simply honest in a way that so many movies aren’t.

This movie is scary by being subtle. For me it’s all in that look on the face of Craig T. Nelson after everything gets started. As he sits behind the table smoking deeply on his cigarette and looking at these college people through very hollowed eyes you can see plainly they don’t believe him. They think he’s crazy but he doesn’t care, it continues as he leads them to his home. Beer in hand, he just has this look of exhaustion on his face that can’t go unnoticed, and he has tells them everything in this tired and nonchalant tone that conveys he doesn’t care if they are skeptical or not. I’m a big fan of Coach, and in this movie he is just the real deal. Not a fake dad like you might see in any typical film but the real life dad that you might see when you travel home. Mr. Incredible is as good as it gets for playing dads. I’ve never watched Parenthood but Amber has and I hear great things about it. I am actually excited at the news that Coach is coming back to TV and can’t wait to see it. The big time TV networks might be getting desperate these days in their efforts to combat Netflix and other channels that used to not matter but there has been a hit here and there. I think too much is being brought back but some of it has worked and if it is bringing Craig T. Nelson back to his keynote character I can’t complain.

This movie has been remade and the remake will be coming out soon. That makes me angry, as so many remakes do. There is no way this new movie will be able to scare or intrigue us like this one did. You can’t recreate Spielberg and it is foolish to try. This man was on a role in the early 80s, a mind exploding with all the creativity possible in his field. In this era he brought us Indiana freaking Jones, E.T. phone home, and in his spare time he wrote this, and The Goonies. Steven Spielberg was/is one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. One of the men who shaped the industry into what it is today. A man who opened our minds to the possibilities of cinema and even until today continues to blow us away with what he is able to make.

Another thing I find interesting about this movie, fresh off the heels of the Reese’s Pieces success of E.T., there is product placement everywhere in this movie. Budweiser, Cheetos, Holiday Inn, and it goes on and on. I find it interesting to look back on a time when this was all a fresh new thing. Today product placement in films is just part of the process and a key element in advertising. Something done in everything, and excessively in something expected to be really big. It was different back in the early 80s but big waves had happened when E.T.:The Extra Terrestrial set records in the box office and was hugely popular. M&M’s had famously turned down a chance to be E.T.’s candy of choice and Reese’s Pieces was happy to reap all the benefits of that bad decision. Obviously, with so much product placement here, you can see how companies were flocking to Steven Spielberg with his next en devour.

This is a really cool movie and if you haven’t seen it don’t waste your time by seeing the crap coming out later this year. It’s a travesty to remake classic films. There is nothing to be improved upon in this story and it’s just a lazy effort to make a few bucks. I have made this argument plenty of times and won’t dig any deeper here. The remake disappoints me, as they all do, because all they do is make their source material forgettable. Movies like this shouldn’t be forgotten because there is too much to appreciate about them. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and it is worth your time to see it.

NEXT MOVIE: Poolhall Junkies (2002)

Point Break

Year: 1991
Directed By: Kathryn Bigelow
Written By: Rick King and W. Peter Iliff (story) Kathryn Bigelow and James Cameron (screenplay)

RYAN’S REVIEW

When it comes to adrenaline fueled action films there are few that are as fun as this one. As I have always said, the cool factor is important in any film, especially in a mindless exaggerated action flick. Being cool in an action movie is as important as being scary in a horror film. This movie not only has the cool factor but all along the way there is shooting, surfing, and skydiving. What more could you want? With a cast that screams the early 1990s and a great filmmaking duo this film never fails to entertain. Despite being a household favorite while I was growing up this was never a movie I intended to own because I always considered it a bit silly. Yet it found its way into the collection anyway when I bought it as a gift for my brother a year or so ago for Christmas and just decided to assimilate into the collective instead. I specifically remember wrapping the gift for him and reflecting on the film as I did so. I thought to myself “this is a cool movie, why do I have a stick up my ass about it?” and before I knew it I was fitting it onto the shelf in the “P” section.

It’s true that I do have a certain mentality about this type of movie today. I don’t even watch the mindless action flicks that are coming out anymore but I appreciate the ones that I grew up with. When our collection was smaller I had a smug attitude about the films that would be part of it and I felt it was too good to be sullied by silly action films like this. As the collection grew it absorbed plenty of movies that made that line of thinking moot and there was no reason to deny this movie. This movie is cool and it is fun. As entertaining as any cops and robbers film and plenty of films have since ripped off exactly what this movie did. As I started to wrap this movie up for my brother years ago I thought about all of this and decided there was no need to waste it on him. I had already bought the DVD, might as well just keep it for myself because I had a place for it. I had suddenly realized it belonged and I couldn’t send it away to collect dust on some other shelf as part of an insignificant collection of films that had no purpose. I am such an compulsive person when it comes to collecting things and would it not be for my wife I would most likely be the worst kind of packrat. I channel all that type of insanity into this movie collection and for me it embodies something that has taken on a life of it’s own.

This movie always reminds me of my stepdad. While we differ in this way, my stepdad and stepbrother have always been thrill seekers. I, as a naturally clumsy and accident prone person, steer clear of activities involving such obvious opportunity for risk and embarrassment. They on the other hand have always been fearless in the face of danger and when I was about 15 or 16 my stepdad went skydiving for the first time. This involved many nights both before and after where as a family we all sat down to films like Drop Zone, a few of the Roger Moore James Bond pics, and of course Point Break. It was much more fun before the actual skydiving because seeing these movies afterwards in round two consisted of nonstop talk about how unrealistic it was. First time around I had no idea that you didn’t have time for all kinds of acrobatics as you fell through the sky. I was completely innocent of how ridiculous the notion of jumping out of a plane without a parachute was. I knew deep down such a thing was ridiculous but it was still cool to see Johnny Utah jump out of the plane without a chute to chase down Bodhi through the air. After all, I had seen Roger Moore as James Bond do it several times when I was growing up. It was kind of a buzzkill to watch it in round two and hear all about how this wasn’t right and that wasn’t possible. Who cares what is and isn’t possible when watching a movie like this anyway? The skydiving scenes in this movie are about as cool as they get, and as a person who intends to always stay grounded I at least like to imagine such things could really be so cool.

The cast of this movie is like a snapshot of 1991. Looking at it today the young movie watcher might scratch his head and wonder but back in 1991 it all made so much sense. In 1991 Patrick Swayze still had his youthful good looks, Gary Busey wasn’t insane, and Lori Petty as a leading lady was something that happened. I have never been a fan of Patrick Swayze but I’ll give him credit where it is due. This was easily one of his best roles and he fit the part of Bodhi perfectly. I read somewhere that he was an actual accomplished skydiver prior to the making of this movie. If that’s true it’s not only pretty cool but made him an even better fit for the role. I wonder what young people today, who watch this movie for the first time, think about seeing Gary Busey play this part. The Gary Busey they know today is not the guy we had 24 years ago. I am told he didn’t become this crazy Gary Busey until some accident he had some time back when he sustained a head injury. I don’t know about that one way or another but I’d find it hard to believe Busey’s current persona isn’t just the result of having done copious amounts of drugs. I admire how well the man markets himself these days but I just don’t care for it. It seems fake and intentional to me. I much more preferred the Gary Busey of old like the one we see in this film. As for Lori Petty, well I have just never understood. She had a few significant roles in the early 90s but I have never really liked her. She has a really whiny tone to her voice and her persona always gets under my skin, especially in this movie.

Keanu Reeves is still finding success as an actor today but I can’t imagine how he got the role in this movie back in 1991. It seems like an awfully progressive idea to take Ted and turn him into an action star but it worked. I wonder if his obvious practice at using surfer type lingo played into the decision at all. Had he not done so well in this role so many things might have been different in the future with movies like Speed and The Matrix. One of my favorite actors from the time was in this movie as the over the top asshole boss. John C. McGinley is one of those actors who can do just about anything and I have always liked him in these types of supporting roles. If I remember correctly he went on to play nearly the exact same role from this film in one of the many films that followed in the footsteps of Point BreakSet It Off. After Point Break nearly all heist movies looked for new cooler ways to mask their bank robbers, and Set It Off was no different. Correct me if I’m wrong about Set It Off, it’s been almost 20 years since I saw it in the theater and I’m surprised I remember it as much as I do.

James Cameron served as Executive Producer for this film and his wife at the time, eventual Academy Award winning Kathryn Bigelow, directed the film. I read somewhere that they also wrote the final version of the screenplay together although weren’t listed because of a dispute over the credit. I have grown up as a huge fan of anything James Cameron was involved with and still marvel at his film making abilities today. We will all have nearly forgotten about how awesome Avatar was by the time the next one comes out and that will be perfect timing for Cameron to remind us who he is. I think the whole point of Avatar is lost if you try to watch it at home but that’s only part of what makes it so incredible. In an era when movie theaters are suffering, James Cameron made something that was necessary to see in the movie theater to get the whole effect of it. I don’t get out to the theater anymore like I did when I was younger and the same was true in 2009. Yet I made it out to see Avatar  times because it was something to make exception for. I will certainly do the same when the sequels eventually come out too because I have faith that Cameron will blow our minds ago. This movie doesn’t involve the same type of special effects he is known for using but Cameron has a great mind for action sequences. His influence undoubtedly played a role in this movie as it offers several action packed scenes that are exceptional. Incidentally, James Cameron is a filmmaker who appreciates the value of the “cool factor.” Of course this movie is cool, James Cameron had a hand in it. Whether the guy is dressing Arnold Schwarzenegger in all black leather or putting Sigourney Weaver in a giant robot suit he knows how to make something better by making it look cool.

This movie has been remade and that is a travesty. I don’t think the movie has come out as of this post but I remember a few years ago when the idea was announced I was incredibly disappointed. I don’t know which asshole in the movie industry is pitching these awful ideas but I wish he/she would get fired. I specifically remember that this movie was referred to as a “timeless classic” in the announcement that it would be remade. Who thinks it is a good idea to remake a “timeless classic”? It’s timeless because it will always be entertaining. Why sully its name with some kind of knock off version that will never live up to what people have already enjoyed for over 20 years? It’s ridiculous and lazy. These executives are reaching when they can’t do anything better than remaking or rebooting something just to capitalize on the name recognition. They think we, as the audience, are stupid and they treat us as such. They are ruining movies in vain by making foolish efforts to sell more tickets. They want to sell tickets to kids so they pussify something to get the PG-13 rating. They’ll abandon new ideas because we are too stupid to be interested in something new and instead they simply remake something with a name we might recognize and turn out for. On one end I get it, home entertainment is killing the industry and these guys got to do what they can to make a buck. I think it is the wrong way to do it. Don’t ruin classics by remaking them but find new and inventive ways to get people in the theaters, like James Cameron did when he made Avatar. That kind of thing costs a lot more money though, so the studios cheap out and do what is easy. Ruin something to make more money or make a weak effort to format it into 3D so the ticket prices are higher. What a waste. Bottom line: don’t waste time watching the remake of this movie people, just watch the original because it’s a good movie and there’s nothing wrong with it.

I have seen this movie more times than I can count. Yet when I sat down to watch it for this review I found myself just as sucked in as I was the first time. That says everything about how good this movie is. It’s a fun movie that doesn’t get old, it’s a “timeclass classic.” After everything else that I have said it goes without saying that I think this movie is worth your time. I am even happier now than I was before that I decided to keep this movie for the collection. There is no reason to turn your nose up to something when it’s something you will enjoy. Some movies are made to make statements and teach lessons but others do only what movies were originally intended for, they just entertain and there is nothing wrong with that.

NEXT MOVIE: Poltergeist (1982)