Month: June 2011

Back to the Future

Year: 1985
Directed By: Robert Zemeckis
Written By: Robert Zemeckis

RYAN’S REVIEW

This film is the very definition of classic film.  It was a really cool idea and everybody loved it.  It was immensely popular when it came out, so much so that it was even quoted by Ronald Reagan in his 1986 State of the Union Address.  More recently it was actually used in a parody done by James Franco and Anne Hathaway during the 83rd Academy Awards show, so I would stay the film remains popular even until today.  I have also recently seen the film referenced in both NBC’s Community and The Office as well. The movie was well made, well performed, and will probably remain popular for another 25 years.  Let us all hope that nobody makes the mistake of trying to remake this film, too many classic 80s films are being remade lately.  When these classic movie are remade successfully the originals are ruined for the younger generations.  For example, what’s today’s 13 year old kid going to think of Ralph Macchio’s Karate Kid after seeing Jaden Smith’s version? I haven’t seen the remake and I’m not saying it’s a bad movie, in fact I heard great things about it. I think that the remake was made at a faster pace to suit today’s faster paced lifestyle, but it will inevitably make the original seem slow and boring. I think the remake’s success destroys the original movie to an extent, it makes it much harder to live on in the future.

Back to the Future was directed and written by Robert Zemeckis, with Steven Spielberg serving as Executive Producer.  Michael J Fox made his break through into movies with this role, and it was his best, more than anything else he is remembered for playing Marty McFly.  Crispin Glover and Lea Thompson play his parents who he runs into as teenagers in 1955.  Christopher Lloyd also gives the performance of his career in this movie, and he is fantastic as Doc Brown. When I was a kid I thought the skateboarding scene in 1955 was one of the coolest things I had ever seen. I loved this movie then as I do now, it’s such a simple story yet so original. Time Travel is an idea that always works well in movies and especially comedies.  People love seeing people out of place in different time periods, it is a popular comedy scenario.

While it may be disappointing that 25 years later we still have no time travelling DeLoreans, in fact almost nobody at all has DeLoreans and haven’t in as much time. In fact we have none of the ideas that this franchise proposed we would see in the future i.e. hover boards, flying car, flux capacitors.  Science has never been my strongest subject but occasionally I read some theories.  As I understand it the whole concept of time is merely an illusion, I can’t explain it, but it’s something I’ve picked up along the way. Long story short time travel isn’t possible because time doesn’t actually exist, but I could be really wrong about this.  Nevertheless time travel makes for a good story and Back to the Future is an awesome movie about it.  This movie is a classic all the way and it is worth your time to see it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This movie always takes me back to my dad. He is the one I first watched it with and it was his idea. Which is saying something since he doesn’t watch a lot of movies. I love this movie and it will always hold a special place in my heart. I love the actors in the film, I love the story and overall I just love this movie. I never get tired of watching it. It is sad to me that so many people younger than myself has never and will never see it. I think it is a tragedy. They probably wouldn’t get the humor anyway, but still this film is one that I think everyone should see. How else would you get “Great Scott!” and “McFlllllyyyyy.”

NEXT MOVIE: Back to the Future II (1989)

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Avatar

Year: 2009
Directed By: James Cameron
Written By: James Cameron

RYAN’S REVIEW

When this movie came out I saw it in the theater three times.  I thought it was one of the most awesome movies I had ever seen.  It was really something special, and the box office results reflect the fact that it was no ordinary movie.  I hailed James Cameron as a genius and still do because the fact is he might have saved the theater business from going under.  He created an experience that can’t be recreated at home.  His 3D, and I’m not talking about the crap being passed off as 3D now, but James Cameron 3D, Avatar 3D, will save the movie industry.  That is of course when people figure out what Cameron did different and learn to recreate it.  Until then let’s look forward to Avatar 2 because I have every hope that it will surpass it’s predecessor and blow us away all over again. For further opinions about James Cameron see our posts on The Abyss and Aliens. It’s difficult to describe watching Avatar in 3D because I didn’t write about the experience when it happened, but I remembered thinking I wish I could see every movie I loved just like that.  I felt like I was inside the movie, and it was amazing.

That being said, having just watched it I can see now that this movie doesn’t belong in our collection and I regret buying it when it came out.  We don’t own a 3D TV, and even if we did I don’t know how well the film actually transitions to the small screen in that format. The 3D effects made this movie truly amazing and an outstanding viewing experience, but without them it’s a different story.  It’s just a movie without those effects, and not a good one at that.  The story is practically a knock-off, the performances are weak, even by the A-list actors, and until the end the movie is more or less boring without the 3D.  Giovanni Ribisi is so cliché in this film he should be embarrassed, Stephen Lang is trying too hard to pass himself off as a badass, and Sigourney Weaver is just going through the motions.  The surprising actress is Michelle Rodriguez, who I usually hate but didn’t mind here.  Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana are both good,  but the effects that make their characters tend to overshadow their acting.

If you have watched this movie on a 3D TV then please let me know how it was, but if you don’t own one I’d advise you not to waste your time with this one.  If you saw it in the theater I trust you were pleased but that experience can’t be recreated at home with a normal TV.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I am really happy that I can say that I saw this film in 3D. It was an amazing experience and by far the coolest movie I have ever seen in the theater in 3D. It was the experience that was amazing. The movie itself was not. The story has been told before, and while I appreciate the effort put forth to make a statement about human kind, they story wasn’t original and I am not sure why Ryan bought this movie.

NEXT MOVIE: Back to the Future (1985)

Austin Powers in Goldmember

Year: 2002
Directed By: Jay Roach
Written By: Mike Myers

RYAN’S REVIEW

Anybody who forgets how big of a hit The Spy That Shagged Me was they need only to see the opening of this movie to remember.  You don’t get this many fantastic cameos in a second sequel unless you had a lot of success the last time around.  Steven Spielberg, Tom Cruise, Gwyneth Paltrow, Britney Spears (before she went crazy), Danny Devito, and Kevin Spacey (right after winning the academy award for American Beauty mind you) all making appearances in an excellent intro. However, despite the great opening I remember walking away from this movie very disappointed.  Looking back I don’t know if I had outgrown it, I was 18 when it came out, or if Austin Powers was a Twentieth century star that just couldn’t cut it in the Twenty First. I think there are certain parts of this film that work well, like the beginning, but overall I find it disappointing. The storyline where the main characters went to prep school as children is stupid, it’s kind of a funny scene because that kid playing Dr. Evil is great, but this is a stupid storyline nevertheless. Beyonce and Mike Myers don’t have great chemistry, not to mention Beyonce is awful, and her character went a little too heavy on the clichés.  She is a beautiful woman and I will not deny her talent as an entertainer, but she didn’t impress me with her first acting performance.  I also think making Austin Powers and Dr. Evil brothers was a horrible idea. In the last film Dr. Evil was claiming to be Austin’s father and Austin seemed to want to believe it, for them to be twins later is stupid.  Not even the great Michael Caine could save this film as the father of Austin and Dr. Evil.

We didn’t own this movie before starting this blog, I thought we should cover it though and I’m proud to admit buying a new copy for .79 cents on Amazon.com.  With shipping it ended up being 3 dollars and something but I still consider that a steal.  While I may not like this movie I can admit that it is funny. There are several things I like about it.  Dr. Evil is still an awesome character and for most of the movie he is very funny, Josh Zuckerman who plays the young Dr. Evil was great. While he couldn’t save the movie from disappointment Michael Caine was still very funny nonetheless. I liked that Fred Savage was in this movie but I don’t really get the mole thing.  Did Mike Myers just have a cache of mole jokes he needed a platform for? I wasn’t thrilled with Mini-Me switching sides and becoming a Mini-Austin but Verne Troyer is great in the role.  I’ve never been a big Seth Green fan but he does have his moment in this film.

This movie is worth your time for many reasons, but it is the weakest of the trilogy.  Despite that, at .79 cents a pop on Amazon I’d say it was worth your money as well but I’ll leave that up to you. It may have flaws but it’s still funny, and if you enjoyed the first two you should definitely see it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

“Moley, moley, moley, moley.”

NEXT MOVIE: Avatar (2009)

Austin Powers: The Spy That Shagged Me

Year: 1999
Directed By: Jay Roach
Written By: Mike Myers

RYAN’S REVIEW

I was 15 when this Austin Powers hit the theaters and to this day I don’t know if I have ever laughed so hard at the theater.  At the time this was the funniest movie I had ever seen and I still rank it fairly high on the list today.  From beginning to end the laughter is non-stop.  One of my favorite comedy scenes of all time is  Dr. Evil and Scott Evil on the Jerry Springer Show, one of the funniest things I have ever seen.  Mini-Me…need I say more?  Dr. Evil was already such a funny character to begin with, adding a tiny nearly identical version made him an icon. Mini-Me was one of the best ideas Mike Myers ever came up with and Verne Troyer really was a find. It’s unfortunate that he really wasn’t suited well for success.  He has shamed himself many times over the past several years, and when that guy dies they will write Mini-Me on his tombstone. It’s been a while since I have heard anything about him but the last thing I heard involved a sex video made public. Before that it was the footage of him completely wasted riding a little bike around the Playboy Mansion fully nude while people laughed at him.

I think this film far outshines its predecessor, much like Terminator 2 or The Dark Knight.  That’s not to say that those predecessors are bad movies, they are great movies, but their sequels were better.  This movie does follow several of the stereotypical comedy sequel aspects that I mentioned in my American Pie 2 post, but it brought enough fresh and new material to make it a funnier movie. I think Heather Graham is fantastic in this movie, she is super hot and not in enough movies really.  Rob Lowe was well cast as a young Number 2.  Verne Troyer was hilarious, and Seth Green was funny as Scott Evil.

This movie came out during the same summer as the much-anticipated and incredibly disappointing Star Wars prequel The Phantom Menace.  Despite the amount of money it made, the general consensus was that Star Wars Episode I sucked, and it did.  In many ways I think Austin Powers saved us from the disappointment Star Wars left with us, it reminded us that great movies and great sequels were still being made. There is a point when you wonder if this movie can get any funnier and then Dr. Evil starts singing “Just the Two of Us.” This was one of the best movies at the end of a century, if you haven’t seen it you need to check it out.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This one is my favorite. I saw this in the theater when it came out and I thought it was one of the funniest movies that I had ever seen. I also continued to watch it for years. I am sure that you all know how great this movie is because you too have watched it a million times…right?

I am just going to go over a few of my favorite lines…what are yours?

“Get in my belly!”
“You’re semi-evil. You’re quasi-evil. You’re the margarine of evil. You’re the Diet Coke of evil. Just one calorie, not evil enough.”
“Riiiiiiiight.”
“I will never love another man.” “That’s true.”
“You know what’s remarkable? Is how much England looks in no way like Southern California.”
“Ow! You shot me, you A-Hole.”

NEXT MOVIE: Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002)

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery

Year: 1997
Directed By: Jay Roach
Written By: Mike Myers

RYAN’S REVIEW

I was 13 when this movie came out, needless to say I thought it was hilarious.  The movie has a certain immature quality that really speaks to the young teenager.  I still think this movie is funny today though, it gives me a real nostalgic feeling and it makes me laugh.  Dr. Evil is one of the greatest characters of all time, Mike Myers at his best.  I think Mike Myers was great in his time, but I think he has a style of comedy that hasn’t really changed and adapted with the times. I may love the Austin Powers movies but I’m not even certain that they would be considered great if they were released today. This movie is so centered on time as being in the 90s that I’m afraid its style and spirit will stay there at the end of the century.  I think this was a great movie but it was overshadowed by its sequel.

It took time for Austin Powers to develop into a cult phenomenon, but once it did it left its mark on society. It all started with this one, which looking back now seems smaller than the sequels. Mike Myers is at his best, Elizabeth Hurley is super hot, and the laughs just keep on coming.  Austin Powers with his over confidence and sex drive and Dr. Evil with his outdated ideas and struggles with sudden fatherhood are both hilarious.  If you haven’t seen this movie make a special point to see it, it’s the beginning of a great franchise.

AMBER’S REVIEW

My father and my brother still use this movie for the basis of a lot of their jokes. If you were a fan of Michael Myers way back when this came out, then you loved this movie. And the following one as well. He is really funny as this character and I remember repeating the lines at school after having watching it. If you haven’t seen this movie, where have you been all this time?

NEXT MOVIE: Austin Powers: The Spy That Shagged Me (1999)

A.I. Artificial Intelligence

Year: 2001
Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Written By: Stanley Kubrick

RYAN’S REVIEW

I’ve read that Stanley Kubrick began working on this film in the 70s, always waiting for the necessary technology to develop before getting into actual production.  It seems Kubrick actually wanted a real robot to play the part of David.  Kubrick may have been a little nuts and unrealistic but he did make great movies.  Unfortunately he did not live to actually make this one and his friend Steven Spielberg took up the helm after his death.  Spielberg is a terrific filmmaker and you can see his talent throughout this film as with all his others.  I don’t think this is his best movie however.  It is long and can be painfully boring at times.  Haley Joel Osment delivers a fantastic performance, but the kid creeps me out.  At times I still find myself feeling like I’m watching a horror movie.

A.I. does deliver an interesting view of the future that at times is reminiscent of Blade Runner.  This is a powerful film and the performances are great.  Not just Osment, who really is phenomenal, but William Hurt is great, Francis O’Connor is at her best, and Jude Law isn’t that bad.  If you have some time to kill and the patience to stick with a slow movie then check this one out, it’s a great science fiction film.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I have always loved this movie. It is really long and tiresome, but the theme and story are really original and different. I think the acting done by Haley Joel Osment is great. I think he really understand this robot’s character and fully embraced it. He is eerily creepy in some scenes, which I think he is supposed to be and he completely succeeds. This is a film to watch if you like the sorts of futuristic “what if” storylines.

NEXT MOVIE: Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997)

Apt Pupil

Year: 1998
Directed By: Bryan Singer
Written By: Stephen King

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie is based on the novella by the same name written by Stephen King.  It’s part of a collection of four novellas in the book titled “Different Seasons.” The other novellas were “Shawshank Redemption,” “The Body” (made into the movie Stand By Me), and “The Breathing Method.” I have read them all and they are all good, but this one is far and away the best.  It’s an incredible story, such a fantastic idea, and this is what Stephen King does in his free time after finishing a bigger novel. I can’t remember specifically but in the afterword I think King says he wrote this story in merely a few weeks and it was maybe after “The Shining.” One of these stories at least was written after “The Shining”, which short of “The Breathing Method” were all made into very successful films.  “Apt Pupil” is an amazing story, its about madness, obsession, manipulation, and murder.  I love the story, and I have read it several times.

Since reading it the movie doesn’t quite pack the same punch, which is typically what happens but I still enjoy the movie.  I am a big fan of Bryan Singer, despite his post X2 career.  Ian Mckellan is perfect in this film, as would be expected.  Ian McKellan is one of those actors that makes any movie better, much like Michael Caine.  He has had a lot of success teaming with Singer as they also collaborated on the X-Men movies with Mckellan playing a great Magneto. I think the part of Todd Bowden could have been cast better, nobody specific comes to mind but I am not impressed by Brad Renfro’s performance.  A major difference in the book is that the story takes place over a period of several years so Todd is much younger in the beginning.  I tend to see Renfro as too old when I watch the movie now, and I don’t think he has the range to play such a complex character.

This movie is great but if you want more madness from this story then definitely get yourself a copy of “Different Seasons.” I actually have “Apt Pupil” on audio book and listen to it as I work sometimes, it’s recorded by Frank Mueller who does a great job voice acting. The book goes much deeper and it takes you much farther, but this is typical when movies are based off of books.  This movie is worth your time and you should check it out if you have a chance to see it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I thoroughly enjoy this film. I am a sucker for Ian McKellan, excuse me…Sir Ian McKellan. This film is interesting and isn’t like other movies that tend to follow similar past stories. This is really original. I know that it is based on a Stephen King novel, but it is still such an original movie and book. The parts that the two guys play are so perfect and to the tee. You could totally believe that Ian McKellan is actually German.

If you can’t find anything else to watch this is worth it. You have to be interested in a movie like this, I don’t think that it is really meant for everyone.

NEXT MOVIE:  A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001)