The Princess Bride

Year: 1987
Directed By: Rob Reiner
Written By: William Goldman (book and screenplay)

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is a movie I had looked forward reaching in the blog forever. Amber and I have two young daughters and we had finally reached a movie that not only we could watch with them but also one they seemed perfectly suited for. Despite my best efforts, both of my girls are very girly and I live in a world dominated by pink and princesses. This was a classic movie that I and most in my generation grew up with. It was one I wholeheartedly looked forward to showing my own little princesses and passing on a classic to another generation. Sadly this experience was spoiled when we started watching it and come to find out they had already seen it with their grandmother. They loved it, of course, but that’s not surprising at all. This is an exciting and timeless movie that will always be fun and entertaining for children.

I find though that the generations from the mid-90s and up are by and large unfamiliar with this film. I got several strange looks from the young adult guys at work when I mentioned it. Even a few were brazen enough to suggest I was being silly by watching a princess movie. It became frustrating then trying to convey that this isn’t considered a girly movie at all by my generation and that the name was simply misleading. It sucks too anytime the boys have a chance to call me out. I live in a house full of women and take no crap about the princess band-aids I come into work wearing. I am a proud father of girls and wear those princess adorned band-aids with pride. When it comes to my taste in movies and the ones that I own I take no crap. Mentioning this movie seemed to give them the idea they had something to give me a hard time about and I was at a loss in explaining that isn’t the case.

Nothing suggests masculinity less than a film entitled The Princess Bride but it simply gives the wrong impression. The kids at work didn’t know any better and it wasn’t easy swaying their adolescent minds. It’s discouraging that these guys don’t know because I don’t think I convinced them to give it a chance and I doubt they’ll ever click on the title if they come across it on Netflix. It’s unfortunate because they are missing out. They’re missing out on the revenge of Inigo Montoya, the fire swamps and R.O.U.S.’s(Rodents of Unusual Size), most importantly they are missing out on Andre the freaking Giant! The young men at work thought they had something to give me a hard time about but they have no idea what they themselves have missed out on and that’s a shame. It’s ironic too because the movie starts with the young boy played by Fred Savage who doesn’t want to listen to his Grandfather’s boring book about a princess until he finds himself really interested. It’s sucks how life has changed for me personally in this regard. I’m no longer the kid that doesn’t listen because he knows everything already but the grandfather who can’t get the kid to listen even though at his age he actually does know.

I remember watching this movie at a very young age and becoming completely enamored with it. I have a passion for sword fighting in films and it very well may have started with this movie. With Inigo Montoya and the Dread Pirate Roberts on the edge of the Cliffs of Insanity. I learned so much from this film as a kid, lessons that would mold my imagination as I grew up. The quest for revenge and the perseverance that is necessary. The romance of Buttercup and Westley and how it affects the lives of all that get mixed up in it. The boldness of bravery and the excitement of action. The fun of the fairy tale medieval setting. So much of what I love about other stories I learned from this one as a beginner to the media of film. I have grown up watching movies in an age where putting your kids in front of the television was the easiest way to shut them up. It is from so many films that I have learned the lessons that have stayed with me in life. This movie is one of the oldest I remember watching and learning from when I was around 5 or 6 years old.

There is one question that comes to mind for me every time I watch this movie. Why didn’t the career of Cary Elwes do any better? Nearly 30 years after this film his costar Robin Wright is still a successful actress currently starring in the hit Netflix show House of Cards. Yet Elwes has done practically nothing of note aside from this movie. The only other thing that immediately jumps to mind is the very silly Robin Hood Men in Tights, which I loved as a child, but there is little else. You could make a case for Saw, or…..Twister, maybe, but I wouldn’t. I just don’t understand because this movie would seem to suggest he was on his way to being a regular leading man. Although maybe he just seems cooler with his company. It could be argued that even Wallace Shawn seemed much cooler flanked by Mandy Patinkin as Inigo Montoya and Andre the Giant (no matter who he played, he’s Andre the freakin Giant).

Some movies you never outgrow, some of the films that really leave impressions on us stay with us forever. I often consider this film an afterthought but it without doubt is significant to me personally. It’s a movie that I find myself getting sucked into again each and every time I come across it. If nothing else I consider myself lucky to see the duel on the Cliffs of Insanity anytime because it is a scene that never gets old for me. Despite the know it all boys I work with I think each of them would agree with my opinion of this film if they pulled their heads out of their asses and actually watched it. It’s a timeless classic that has a place in each succeeding generation. I have never been a fan of Rob Reiner or any of his films but I make an exception for this movie. Credit should be given where it is due and in this case it is. The Princess Bride is a film that everybody should see regardless your age or sex and it is without doubt worth your time to see.

NEXT MOVIE: Prometheus (2012)

The Prestige

Year: 2006
Directed By: Christopher Nolan
Written By: Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Priest (novel)

RYAN’S REVIEW

After Christopher Nolan knocked our socks off with the start of a brand new Batman franchise in 2005 he immediately followed it up with this little nugget. A film with a spectacular cast, a story that kept us guessing the whole time, and an ending that blew us away. This movie, more than any other at a time when I was just learning who Nolan was, convinced me that this guy was for real and somebody to keep an eye on. I had yet to see Memento at that time, and while I had seen Insomnia I gave it little thought and made no connection. In 2006 I was young and eagerly looking for a new favorite filmmaker two years removed from both Oliver Stone and Quentin Tarantino disappointing me in the worst of ways. There were the Coen Brothers of course, and I liked several others as well but this movie officially ushered in a new player to the ball field.

Christopher Nolan is not my favorite director today but he is part of a handful of directors I am always excited to hear have something new coming out. Nolan is a smart director who keeps his filmmaking crew together for most of his films. That continuity, as much as his mind and capabilities, goes a long way in making his movies a head above the rest. I have recently been disappointed by Nolan as I thought Interstellar was painfully awful. However I still have faith in him despite that long and uneventful film I anticipated so much. There are people out there who have the audacity to call Interstellar great but they are only lying to themselves. That movie was garbage, but Nolan’s prior track record speaks for itself. This movie was awarded to Nolan over others because Christopher Priest, the author of the book, specifically wanted him. Nolan took it and hit the ground running to produce another good film in the downtime between the groundbreaking and moneymaking giant of his Batman franchise. Aside from his Batman films, Nolan’s movies are typically the type that make you think and will keep you guessing. What better story to do that with than one about magic and illusion? As we come to the actual prestige of the movie what we find is not only shocking and surprising but a haunting reality for both magicians.

This movie also played a big part in my becoming a fan of Christian Bale. Bale had been around for some time but I had never given him any credit until after I saw Batman Begins for the first time. I still wondered then if he was just good in that particular movie but this film proved he could do more. Bale has since gone on to achieve even greater success over the years but I will always remember this role as the one that officially caught my eye and made me realize his potential. In this film I couldn’t get over how awesome it was simply to see Batman and Wolverine on screen together. This movie came out the same year as the ultimately disappointing X-men Last Stand, but it wasn’t Hugh Jackman’s fault that movie sucked. Jackman is always great as Wolverine and I thought he was great as the charismatic side of the two feuding magicians in this film.

The rivalry between Jackman and Bale in this movie progresses into darkness early on. Their hatred and competitiveness drive the intrigue of the movie as much as the mystery of their magic does. As each man raises the stakes the audience edges closer to the edge of their seats. Ultimately the climax of this feud is satisfyingly dark and perverse with neither of the two winning but only destroying one another. Magicians and showmen who become what they practice are such interesting men. The pressure on the showmen like Jackman to continue to impress and keep the audience interested can drive them to dire straits. Then there are the true wizards, like Bale’s character, who have an early understanding in how to fool the entire world with an act that is always on. Magicians have to keep you guessing and a movie about them has to do the same.

As good as Jackman and Bale were in this movie their performances are made even better by a stellar supporting cast. In the sunset years of his career Michael Caine only seems to shimmer brighter. An obvious favorite of Christopher Nolan, Caine has been able to stay in the spotlight with great parts in most of his films. I am a huge fan of Caine and love every opportunity to see him on screen. He has an aged dignity and air of respect to him that often reminds me of my own grandfather who is very endeared to me. They are the exact same age and while they don’t look or sound anything alike it’s about the way they carry themselves and the presence that they hold that make me connect the two.

Andy Serkis plays an important part in the film and for once we actually see him, as opposed to simply his movements and voice via motion capture suit. Serkis is one of the most talented actors out there that nobody ever actually sees. He has an extraordinary talent for acting in the advanced technologies of the modern movie era. Among his resume are roles like Gollum from the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit series, King Kong in the 2005 remake, Caesar in the new Planet of the Apes franchise, and he will be adding a new one at the end of this year with a role in J.J. Abrams new Star Wars film. I once saw a behind the scenes look at Serkis performing in the motion caption suit as Gollem on the set of the second Lord of the Rings film. It was like more than ten years ago when I saw it but to this day I still marvel over watching him perform that scene. An incredibly talented actor who has such unique skills. It’s nice to see him in the flesh now and again though. In this movie he brings an eerily creepy character to the film that adds to the intrigue of it all.

The part Serkis plays is the main assistant to a real life man of mystery, Nikola Tesla, played by a man who himself is oddly mysterious, David Bowie. As an undertone to the movie is the battle of minds that went on at the time between the electrical pioneers of Thomas Edison and Tesla. I know little about both of these men in truth but this movie does motivate me to look into the real history. Seems like there is a really interesting story there that I missed out on along the way.

I suppose it shouldn’t go unnoticed that Scarlett Johansson plays a significant role in the film. She is a very beautiful actress but I have never really felt there was anything that set her apart from say Piper Perabo who plays a smaller yet equally as important part in the movie. Johansson has found much more success than Perabo but I tend to think this is the work of agents more than it is talent. In the movie industry pretty faces are a dime a dozen and at the mercy of whatever popularity they can mustard in the years given to them. The window is short when time is the enemy of what keeps you in the spotlight. I find most people consider me crazy when I mention not being a big fan of Johansson. I don’t really know what it is but I just don’t see it. I tolerate her in the Marvel films as Black Widow but I can’t even get behind her in a role like that. There is nothing wrong with her performance in this movie, but I just don’t see her as anything more than a pretty face. However, that being said, this film can only be considered a success for her.

This is a really cool movie but I don’t love it with multiple viewings like I do most of my favorite movies. I don’t think that has anything to do with the film though and everything to do with its content. Magic and illusion is an art that is only really effective the first time. The more you see it the more you figure it all out and the excitement is gone. This movie is a terrific film to watch for the first time. The intrigue will draw you in and the climax will knock you back a few steps. This movie is important to me because it got my attention and encouraged me to see more from Christopher Nolan. It’s not his best but at par with what he is capable of and the par for Nolan is a step above the norm for the rest. This is an interesting movie with terrific performances and great all around effects. It is more than worth your time to see and I think it’s one anybody will enjoy.

NEXT MOVIE: The Princess Bride (1987)

 

 

 

Predators

Year: 2010
Directed By: Nimrod Antal
Written By: Robert Rodriguez, Alex Litvak, and Michael Finch

RYAN’S REVIEW

I remember when it was first announced that there would be a new Predator movie penned by Robert Rodriguez. As a Rodriguez fan I was instantly stoked at the idea of what he might do with it. Somewhere along the line I lost track of it and the movie seemed to fly under the radar during development. A year or two came and went seemingly before Predators was finally made and I don’t remember reading much about it before it was suddenly ready to hit the screens. I could have just forgotten but I remember nothing about the development of this movie beyond my initial excitement at its announcement. I consider that odd because when I’m interested in something I follow its development fervently. Despite my interest in the film I didn’t make it out to the theater to see it on the big screen, such luxuries perish with parenthood, but I bought it as soon as it was available. Trusting, that without having seen it, I was making a sound investment in a movie I would undoubtedly love.

I can say that I made a good investment. I consider this to be a perfect sequel to the original film, if you were to just forget about all the others. The original sequel and the offspring of the franchise are all hit or miss but this movie mirrors the original with an interesting idea that makes too much sense. In the first movie the Predator comes to Earth to hunt, in this one he simply grabs his prey up and drops them, literally, on to the hunting grounds. Perfect idea, and they obviously had a lot of fun with the story. The group chosen by the Predators is as interesting as the men who played the parts. You have military badasses from America, Russia, Israel, and Africa, but you also have criminals. There is the Yakuza enforcer, the Mexican cartel lieutenant, and the prisoner about to be executed on Death Row. Then there is a doctor thrown in the mix for good measure, a medic that can make the hunt more interesting, or so it seems at first. Like the first movie, they took a group of badasses, gave them really cool weapons, and dropped them in the jungle. Although in this one they kick it up a knotch by actually dropping them into that jungle.

I wasn’t sold on the idea of Adrien Brody being the hero in this film. I specifically remember seeing this in the beginning and thnking “really?” However, I think Brody pulled off badass soldier fairly well and I was quite surprised. Adrien Brody often surprises me in this way, aside from that awful thing he did in Splice, I am usually impressed with him. Not only did I like what Brody brought to the film but I felt the cast as a whole was terrific. I am a big fan of Walton Goggins and though he plays the character easiest to despise in this movie he plays the character well. It wouldn’t be a Rodriguez movie without an appearance by Danny Trejo, and who better to play the part of the Cartel man? Laurence Fishburne has a nice part as the survivor that has outlived his sanity. Fishburne can never be Morpheus again, but I still think he brings a great presence to the movies he is in today. I have never been a fan of Topher Grace, and frankly I find his continuing career so perplexing. There’s nothing wrong with him in this movie though. His whinny voice actually enhances his performance as the weakest yet secretive character of the out of place doctor.

This movie really brings it with an exciting and action packed story but more importantly it adds depth to the Predator lore. Through Laurence Fishburne’s unbalanced survivor we learn things about the Predators that have never been revealed before. The Predators use the planet as a hunting ground to enhance and utilize new hunting tactics. They only come to the planet in groups of three and there are two different types of the Predators. He explains that there is a blood feud between the larger and smaller Predators which explains the captive Predator the group comes upon earlier. Later Brody uses this knowledge to his advantage. Freeing the captive Predator to battle the only remaining hunter of the three while he tries to escape on the Predator spacecraft. Sensing a trap he doesn’t board and shows up just in time to help his last comrade after Topher Grace reveals himself to actually be a murderer who wasn’t simply a doctor thrown in for good measure. Adrien Brody’s battle with the Predator can never match up to the original ass whooping Schwarzenegger took but he holds his own well with interesting tactics that make for a great climax.

I started this review weeks ago and had to do a little research in order to finish it. Found out some interesting things though. This movie was actually written way back in 1995 when Rodriguez was working on DesperadoIt was considered too expensive at the time and laid dormant for almost 25 years before the studio decided it might have potential to relaunch the franchise. The movie was re-written to specifically distance itself from some of the other installments such as the AVP films. It doesn’t discount the underwhelming Predator 2 but doesn’t acknowledge it either. This movie was meant to serve specifically as a sequel to the first one and in that it was tremendously successful as far as I am concerned. As an effort to relaunch the franchise I at least hope it succeeds. There has been talk of another Predators film but talk means nothing until something is in production and that hasn’t happened yet.

If you are a fan of Predator then this is a must see. A sequel that does everything right. A cool group of characters in a fun and exciting scenario with plenty of action to keep our attention. According to Rodriguez the studio does want to do a sequel and this film was made smaller in scale simply to be built upon in the future. Five years have passed with no activity though so it’s hard to say what might happen. It took ten years for him to give us the long awaited follow up to Sin City. Yet only a year or so before we saw another Machete. That makes it hard to say what will happen but in the event we don’t get more at least this movie gave us something to enjoy. This movie is worth your time and it’s a must see for fans of the franchise.

NEXT MOVIE: The Prestige (2006)

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.