Month: April 2011

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective

Year: 1994
Directed By: Tom Shadyac
Written By: Jack Bernstein

RYAN’S REVIEW:

I remember going to see this movie in the theater when I was ten years old in 1994.  My dad was a huge Miami Dolphins and Dan Marino fan so naturally he took us to see the film.  While I may have been too young to understand certain scenes in this film I still thought it was hilarious and it has remained funny for the past 17 years.  This movie made Jim Carrey a superstar, he had a busy and successful year in 1994 also starring The Mask and Dumb and Dumber that year but it all started with Ace Ventura.  Jim Carrey owns this role, and the success of the film is his alone.  I am not a big fan of Tom Shadyac and I happen to think Steve Oedekerk made an even funnier movie the following year.  Courtney Cox does her job, she looks good in this movie and that is all that was really required of her.  When I was 10 years old I couldn’t really appreciate how cool it was for the Miami Dolphins to collaborate so well with a movie.  You don’t see that in mainstream films very often but I think it worked really well here. Ace Ventura still makes me laugh, and I think it will continue to do so for a very long time.  Excellent movie that is totally worth your time.

AMBER’S REVIEW

My parents didn’t watch a lot of television when I was growing up. They were very guarded about what they let us watch and because they never rented anything we only had choices of what was on the meager VHS rack. This movie was one of them. My dad didn’t watch a lot of movies, but he loved Jim Carey, and so did we. This movie is very nostalgic for me and takes me back to lying on the couch with my brother and sister and laughing so hard at Jim Carey. To this day I can recite most of the lines from both movies verbatim. The movie still continues to make me laugh, and I feel I can laugh harder knowing that Jim Carey went on to become an amazing actor, not just another comedian. I love that Courtney Cox played the love interest and she played the part great. This movie is hilarious, and I would be surprised if you haven’t seen it already, but in that rare instance…see this one and the sequel, I find the sequel even more funny.

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The Abyss

Year: 1989
Directed By: James Cameron
Written By: James Cameron


RYAN’S REVIEW:

What makes James Cameron such a fantastic filmmaker is his ability to show us something really mind blowing.  He has a great imagination and ability to film action scenes but he has consistently been able to go out there and do something that nobody else has ever done.  That’s something he did with The Abyss, something nobody else had done or even thought of.  The story is very imaginative, truly great science fiction, which was Cameron’s calling card throughout the 80s and early 90s. I have read that this film was really difficult to make, and that James Cameron is a major asshole.  I specifically read that during filming Ed Harris was on the way home from shooting one day and pulled his car to the side of the road because he broke down crying. The filming was that hard on him and getting to him. I have also read that Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio had a physical and emotional breakdown during filming. Cameron is notorious for being a hard ass on set and hard to work with.  As far as I am concerned though, he can be an asshole as much as he wants as long as he keeps delivering those hits.  He proved to us all that he still had it when Avatar came out, again doing something nobody else had done and showing us something new and exciting in 3D. Obviously I am a big fan and very proud of the fact that he owns the #1 and #2 spot on the highest grossing films of all time list.  With that kind of success, Cameron could literally decide to make a movie about toilet paper and every movie studio out there would beg him for the rights.

The Abyss is a very long movie, but it is more than worth the time.  The story is great and ambitious, it’s an idea so big that only a guy like James Cameron would have dared to do it.  The movie takes place underwater, I can only imagine how difficult it was to actually make, and how expensive.  James Cameron actually almost drown to death during filming, both lead actors were on the verge of losing it, it must have been insane.  They somehow put it all together and made it work though.  I am a fan of Ed Harris and I think he does well playing the lead role.  I am not a fan of Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, but she is also very good in this film.  It warmed my heart a few years back when I was watching South Park and saw the scene where Mastrantonio was being revived reenacted by Cartman and Kyle during one of the Imaginationland episodes.  That is a powerful and gripping scene, I can only hope that people realized what it was when they saw it on South Park.  Also in this film was James Cameron regular, Michael Beihn. I think Michael Beihn is an awesome actor, I don’t understand why he hasn’t had a more successful career.

The liquid oxygen technology used in the film was and is apparently a real thing.  The scene where the rat is submerged was actually really happening on set and there were problems with animal rights activist because of it.  Ed Harris did not breathe liquid oxygen though, and during filming those scenes had to act with his helmet full of water while submerged in the tank.  It must have been unbearable, and you can see his strain on his face as he falls down the canyon. The film won an Oscar for Best Visual Effects and it was well earned.  The special effects in the film are incredible even by today’s standards, they must have been absolutely mind blowing upon release in 1989. If you have never seen this film then it is definitely a must see. If you have already seen it, it is always worth a revisit.  Excellent movie all the way.

AMBER’S REVIEW:

The Abyss is a good movie. It is entertaining and intriguing enough to keep you focused and into it the entire time, which is a while. They only downfall is how long the movie is, but the adventure it takes you on is well worth it. James Cameron is a pro at making us (the human race) feel like we are doing something wrong and that we should change our selves for the greater good. This is a common theme throughout his films. In this particular one, I love that he puts the characters in a position that we aren’t all familiar with. I don’t think I know one single person that actually works on a submarine. He captures the surreal life of people that live under water most of the time. We are interested because it isn’t something that we encounter on an everyday basis, or perhaps, ever. We get to see characters change, always important, and we also get to see how the human race is split into good and evil, and age-old, but ever important fact.

I definitely think this movie is a must see if you are a movie lover. It is an award winner, by an amazing writer/director and it has also been parodied by many television shows and cartoons.

A History of Violence

Year: 2005
Directed By: David Cronenberg
Written By: John Wagner and Vince Locke (Graphic Novel) and Josh Olsen (screenplay)

RYAN’S REVIEW:

First of all, I want to address this film’s position in the order of  the DVD arrangement.  I have seen this movie placed in the “H” section of friends collections who have a similar arrangement, and it has been suggested to me that the film is out of place on our DVD rack.  This is the only circumstance where the words “A” or “the” are taken into account when placing a DVD in the collection.  This is because the “A” seems too important to the title in this instance.  This is not a movie about the history of violence, or even directly about violence at all.  This movie is about one man who has A history of violence, it’s A history he suddenly has to face and can no longer hide from.

A History of Violence is an awesome movie, it’s not perfect but it is great nonetheless. The movie’s strengths are the story, direction, and the performances of the supporting actors.  Ed Harris is great as the scarred mobster from Philly, Aston Holmes is also very good, and William Hurt is unbelievable.  William Hurt was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in this film, which says a lot because comic book films generally don’t get nominated for the big categories.  His role as the mob boss brother can catch you by surprise, he is a great actor and should play this kind of role again.  It’s a good thing the supporting cast did such a good job because the leads are both awful.  I like Viggo Mortensen as an actor, but he is awful in this movie.  Maria Bello is equally awful and when the two of them are together they could sink the movie.  I know that the two sex scenes were intentionally drastically different to show the duality of the Tom Stall/Joey Cusack character but both of them were awful. The two sex scenes are very awkward and go on for far too long, Mortensen and Bello have absolutely no chemistry together.  David Cronenberg is known for being graphic, and he delivers violence and gore as one would expect.  I have heard this film criticized as being too graphic and gory but on the contrary I think that strengthens the film.  The title is A History of Violence after all, I think you have to have certain expectations about it going in and the movie does a great job of fulfilling those expectations.  The violence is sudden and it’s fierce, the ferocity of that violence sets this film apart, it’s what makes it memorable.  If the violence in this film had failed to make an impression then the movie in itself would have been a failure.

If you are uncomfortable seeing blood and violence then steer clear of this movie, but otherwise I recommend it all the way.  It’s not too long, around an hour and a half but it does drag for many slow minutes at the end.  If nothing else, see this film for William Hurt’s performance alone, it really was amazing.

AMBER’S REVIEW:

A History of Violence is a very slow, interesting film. I really and thoroughly enjoy it. It’s pace is amazing to me. Usually I hate slow moving movies, but this one is eerily quiet and moves by scene by scene leaving you wondering about each and every character. All of the actors in this movie deliver great roles and they are each believable. Ryan thinks the sex scenes are a little uncomfortable and while that may be true, I find them to be more believable. Sorry that I don’t have more to say on this film, but all in all it is a good flick that is worth watching.

2001: A Space Odyssey

Year: 1968
Directed by: Stanley Kubrick
Written by: Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C Clarke

RYAN’S REVIEW

I have been told that when this film was released in 1968 that it was billed as “the ultimate pothead movie,” and I suppose I’m just glad they warned them.  I can only imagine what the first few minutes must have been like for the stoned or stupid when they sat down to watch the movie.  For those of you who haven’t seen it, the movie begins with only a sound and blackness on the screen.  Not even so much of a sound as it is simply a tone that gradually gets louder over a period of minutes.  For the pothead viewers in the late 60s, I also hope that they went in high enough to make it through the film.  It can be painfully long for the sober minded viewer, and I mean PAINFULLY long.  There is a scene that feels like it lasts over ten minutes and all you hear throughout its duration is the sound of a man breathing.  However, it probably just feels that way to my generation. I can only imagine what it must have been like to see this film in the pre-Star Wars world, viewers had more patience then, they hadn’t grown up in the special effects world.

As you can see early on in the Dawn of Man section of the film, this movie remains influential even until today.  I don’t know the name of the song, but I have seen it in countless films, I have also seen many references to HAL.  I love this film, it is visually exciting, it has a great musical score, and I find the journey from the dawn of man until the birth of artificial intelligence fascinating.  I am a big Stanley Kubrick fan, we will eventually cover most of his films as we make our way through the collection.  This isn’t my favorite Kubrick film but I think its a masterful work of art.  I never recommend this film to anyone because it’s not for the average viewer, especially the people of my generation.  For the serious viewer like myself though, for the person who loves movies enough to study them, …for the person out there with a bag of really potent pot: check this movie out for yourself, and I hope you enjoy it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This film was one that we watched in film critique because it is one of those influential films that is still prevalent today. If you have seen this film, then you know the music that it uses in the beginning has been used over and over and over in spoofs and movies of all kinds and it originated here in this film. I can’t say that I love it, it is very long and very boring for the most part, but I definitely appreciate it for what it is. If you call yourself a movie fan and you haven’t seen this film, then you need to watch it. It is an important one in movie history.

Movies Not To Watch

Time gets funny the older you get, the joke is that is doesn’t last as long.  Time is special, once you’ve had it long enough it starts to elude you quicker.  Suddenly great chunks of it have passed and you have barely noticed.  Personally, I try to make the most of my time. I recognize the fact that it has started moving faster and I want to squeeze every drop of life and excitement out of it as I go along.  Movies, Television, Entertainment, they take up a large amount of our time.  I decided to create this section purely to discourage you, to try to help you avoid wasting your time on something not worth it.  When I finish a long movie that sucks now I’m no longer disappointed, I’m angry! I can’t get those hours back and I could have used them for something that was worth it.  If I can discourage you from wasting your time on the crap I wasted mine on, then I feel I am helping society, I am helping you, recognizing that your time is valuable.

Caddyshack II

For movie buffs this one is typically a given, it’s a well known awful movie and I’ve regularly heard it mentioned as one of the worst ever.  I mention this first because I actually wasted about 40 minutes on it today, and I knew that it was bad, I knew its reputation but I tried it out anyway. A series of events led to a situation where I had the opportunity to acquire it for free, and given I had never seen it I figured “what the hell.” I tried it to see if it was as bad as everyone said it was, I can report now honestly that it is, I couldn’t even stand to finish it.

I don’t really know what the producers were thinking and I’m surprised Harold Ramis allowed his name to be connected to the film. Chevy Chase I can understand, dumb decision but I get it.  Dan Akroyd never really made great decisions about what to be involved in either.  Randy Quaid Jesus Christ don’t get me started.  I can see how they thought it could work but once Rodney Dangerfield said no they should have moved on.  They decided to go ahead anyway and this became a piece of crap, a waste of anyone’s time.

1941

Year: 1979
Directed by: Stephen Spielberg
Written by: Robert Zemeckis & Bob Gale

RYAN’S REVIEW

A truly fantastic film that is far too often forgotten about.  Stephen Spielberg has had such a successful career that a film like 1941 tends to get lost in the mix. This film is fast, funny, and star studded.  The only problem is that this day in age the typical viewer would probably need a history lesson to really appreciate most of the humor in the film.  The film plays off the fear and pandemonium that struck California following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  In reality this wasn’t something that was very funny, but over 30 years later it was something everyone was ready to laugh at.  This film has great roles performed by John Belushi, Dan Akroyd, Slim Pickens, Christopher Lee, John Candy, and Tim Matheson.  My personal favorite scene in the movie is when the Japanese force, made up of descendants of “ninja assassins,” invades the mainland and encounter the Slim Pickens character Hollis Wood.  The Japanese look so goofy dressed as Christmas trees and Slim Pickens steals the scene.

Stephen Spielberg has been making hits for over 30 years now, he is still one of the greatest filmmakers in Hollywood.  1941 is a great movie and it’s really funny, but honestly it is low on the totem pole of many great Spielberg films.  When you are great at what you do it isn’t hard to amass a career full of fantastic films.  When your resume lists titles like Jaws, Indiana Jones, E.T., Jurassic Park, and Saving Private Ryan a comedy about a time period people are starting to forget just doesn’t measure up in the eyes of some.  I still love the film and encourage anybody who has the opportunity to see it.

AMBER’S REVIEW:

I had a tough and long week you guys. I’ll be honest, I fell asleep during this flick. However, this is what I will say about this film. It has all of the elements for a great comedy, Dan Akroyd, John Candy (I miss you), John Belushi, however this film’s comedy is outdated. By 2011 all of it has been seen before. It has it’s moments like the scene where the Japanese dress up like trees and try to blend into the scenery while Hollis Wood is trying to cut them down. I laugh every time at that scene. However, this movie goes on and on and on. I know this post is short, but like I said I fell asleep, that may say something about the movie, or my week…you decide. It is still worth seeing if you haven’t ever watched it before.

1408

Year: 2007
Directed By: Mikael Håfström
Written By:Matt Greenberg and Scott Alexander
Based on the Steven King story

RYAN’S REVIEW

I bought this movie on a whim when I was actually staying in a hotel room alone one time, it served me well.  It isn’t a great movie but it’s creepy, it’s effective, and it has Samuel L. Jackson.  1408 is based off a short story I didn’t read by Stephen King.  I am a big Stephen King fan but I didn’t really like his first novel about an evil hotel and I think a short story about an evil hotel room means he was running out of good ideas.  I’d have to check to say this with any accuracy but I would bet this is only loosely based on a Stephen King story and his name was added to increase interest in the film.  I think this was effective because I bought this movie spontaneously, I bought it new.  Typically I only buy a movie new if I really loved it or I absolutely knew it would be awesome even though I hadn’t seen it.  This was neither but I took a chance, and if I was on the fence at all it was Stephen King’s name that won me over.

Now, since this is the first opportunity I have to talk about him, let’s cover the great Samuel L. Motherfuckin Jackson.  He may always be the same character, Jules from Inglewood, in the majority of his roles, but what movie isn’t enhanced by that character? I think we all know that while the wallet may have belonged to Tarantino, Samuel L. Jackson was, is, and always will be the “Bad Motherfucker.” If he had said nothing else in this movie other than “it’s an evil fucking room man” the movie still would have been that much better.  He plays this role so well that you start to wonder if his character is supernatural and not just a hotel manager.  He really read all the books by the author John Cusack was playing? If it was anybody else you would be asking yourself “what are the chances of that?” but when it’s the Bad Motherfucker you just think “whoa, maybe he isn’t just a hotel manager, maybe he just…knows things, maybe he has…powers.”

I see this being a forgotten film in the end, but I enjoyed it.  I took a chance on it and wasn’t disappointed, it may have played into my circumstances and had an unfair advantage, but the movie is worth your time and I would recommend it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This film has all of the elements of a successful horror film. I thoroughly enjoy it. I am not the biggest John Cusack fan, but I do think that he realistically portrays his character in this film. A writer that used to smoke but doesn’t anymore yet carries the cigarette behind his ear for superstition’s sake. I also love the line he uses when Samuel L. Jackson asks if he drinks, “I said I was writer.” Speaking of the great Samuel L. Jackson, I think he was the best part of the movie. They even stuck in some “fucks” here and there, and the movie wouldn’t have been the same if Jackson didn’t say his signature word. I love him. I won’t go into too much detail here about him though, as we have a plethora of movies that will feature his awesomeness.

All in all this a great movie where you don’t have to think too much into and you can just sit back and watch it for what it is. It will make you jump here and there and it will make you feel for the main character and his pain of losing his daughter. Check this one out if you are in the mood for a scary flick.