Month: January 2012

Dazed and Confused

Year: 1993
Directed By: Richard Linklater
Written By: Richard Linklater

RYAN’S REVIEW

This was a movie I once immortalized, and I still enjoy quite a bit. Ten years ago it taught me something about the repetitive nature of generations in high school. We all go through this stage of life.  The style and sound changes with every generation but the activities and personalities are practically universal.  This was a movie I related to as a teen but as a parent I see the obvious problems.  This movie totally idolizes the kinds of things I loved but really don’t want my kids getting into.  I think the high school hazing is a bit much in this movie, there was a lot of emphasis put on it and I never understood that.  Maybe that was something that had phased out of the high school world by the time I was going through nearly twenty-five years later.  Hazing went on when I was in high school, but it was nothing like it is in this movie. I’ve always thought that what we see going on in this movie must be a Texas thing if it was ever like that at all.

This movie is more or less based off of the real life high school experiences of director Richard Linklater.  Universal Studios was actually sued by three of his high school classmates in 2004 because their real last names were used in the film.  It was Floyd, Slater, and Wooderson, still living in their hometown in Texas, who filed the suit.  The case was dismissed because more than 10 years had passed since the film’s release and certain statutes of limitations had passed. This was one of the high points of Linklater’s career though, so good for him for making the most of his high school glory days.  This isn’t so much a movie about high school as it is a movie about partying and having a good time. There is always that one giant party among many during any given high school year and many high school movies choose to center around this event.

There are several things that make this movie significant.  Number one being the soundtrack because it is one of a kind.  1/6th of the film’s budget was actually spent putting it together and it was worth it. This film also launched the career of Matthew McConaughey, who really made the Wooderson character memorable.  McConaughey is super cool and I like several of his films. This was one of the first roles for Milla Jovovich, who enjoys a huge fan base today.  I have never been a fan of her Resident Evil movies, but I think she was awesome as Leeloo in one of my favorite Sci-Fi movies ever, The Fifth Element. I think Ben Affleck is appropriately cast in this movie, as a douche bag. The part just seems to come so naturally to him, it’s like he isn’t even acting at all.

Bottom line, this movie is significant because it is cool and it captures an era that we all want to remember fondly.  Looking back I can see really clearly right now that this movie was a horrible influence on me as a teen and honestly, no teen has any business seeing this film.  Enjoy it yourself and keep it away from your kids! I had a hell of a time in high school but I did all these things we see in the film.  Everything from getting high to keg parties to bashing mailboxes to getting into fights and I can see now where I was lucky to relatively stay out of trouble when so many kids are not.  I don’t think it was because of this movie that I did those things, but it certainly didn’t help.

AMBER’S REVIEW 

Ah, Dazed and Confused. I remember really liking this movie in college; I can’t imagine why that was. I still really enjoy this movie even though those days are long gone. This movie is set during a time when I wasn’t even born. I didn’t come along until 1984 and this movie takes place in the mid-seventies. For me, it is interesting to see the dynamic of high school life in a time that I was not a part of. Even though everything happens in a different time, the things that take place are normal, everyday high school plot lines. We continue to have the same things happen in high school no matter what time period it is. This is pretty much how high school went for all of us whether we were in high school in the 60s, 70s, 80s or for me the 90s/00s. We can all relate to this movie because we all had to go through high school. It was a pain in the ass, but we did it and then we moved on. I think I can safely say that I think all high school students are Dazed and Confused. If you haven’t had the opportunity to watch this movie, it is one you should definitely see.

NEXT MOVIE: Dead Poets Society (1989)

Movies Not To Watch

THE HANGOVER 2

It has taken us this long but we are finally watching this movie.  It wasn’t by chance that we have waited this long, we might have never watched it at all if not for a sudden impulse today. This past summer before the movie was released I posted some thoughts about it when reviewing American Pie 2. I think my thoughts were pretty accurate about the movie except for the fact that I thought this movie would actually be funny. Not only is it not funny but it is worse than I could have ever imagined. This movie is awful, really really awful.  It’s a much dirtier version of an already dirty movie, and I just don’t think that was necessary. It’s funny because in the opening credits there are three people credited with “written by”, but it should have been “recycled by.” This movie is barely even a sequel, it’s simply the same thing on the other side of the world. I am so sick of hearing them tell everyone they don’t know anything, it’s so redundant.  The Ed Helms character even sings a song again, despite having gotten a tattoo on his face and been fucked in the ass by a tranny prostitute (they really went too far with that, it was a bit much and not funny).
This is what happens when the movie studio rushes something out just to make the money.  They are trying to do something similar with Bridesmaids but Kristen Wiig has resisted the idea and obviously for good reason.  This movie was very successful just like it’s predecessor and I know several people who have said it is hilarious. I warn you to take their advice with caution! This movie is a waste of your time and money!  They could have remade this movie and had everything the same yet been different, they could have invested some creativity into the story.  The first film was really funny and there was plenty to build on, it’s pathetic how lazy filmmakers can be sometimes.
I’m sure plenty of people out there will disagree with me, but I think this is one of the worst movies I have seen in a long time.  There is already talk of a third film but I shudder to think what they might do a third time around and I loathe the thought of these idiots having a third blackout.  This movie is stupid and I am disappointed to have wasted an evening with it.

UPDATE: One statement from this post has kind of needled at me all week since posting this review.  I usually try to avoid getting too profane in any post, for the obvious reason being I have no clue who might be reading these posts. I don’t think this is really an appropriate setting for profanity and I don’t feel right about publishing a post with such a vulgar statement in it.  I know that I could remove it now but instead would like to apologize to anyone who might be offended and leave it as a testament to how bad this movie was.  It was more than bad, it was beyond horrible. It was such a waste of time I found myself angry enough to use language I would otherwise reserve for more appropriate situations.
Also, more specifically, if my statement bothered you then for the love of all things sacred in the world do not ever see this film.

The Day The Earth Stood Still (2008)

Year: 2008
Directed By: Scott Derrickson
Written By: David Scarpa (who adapted Edmund H. North’s 1951 screenplay)

RYAN’S REVIEW

I have never seen the original movie this film is based on, but I imagine it was really cool and ahead of its time. I have no way of knowing how it compares to the original but I do think this version of the film is pretty cool.  I can’t imagine the right technology was at hand to make a film like this in 1951 but that hasn’t stopped visionary filmmakers of any generation before.  This movie looked good, it was well stocked with popular actors, and it was exciting for the most part.

Watching it now I am really reminded a lot of the last remake we watched, Dawn of the Dead. The people are just a bit too stupid and too many dumb decisions are made in dealing with the situation at hand. Albeit I could see these exact decisions being made in real life by the government but it is still annoying to see.  This movie makes a strong effort to say something about our humanity but I think it is a message that is overdone and people were tired of hearing it when this movie came out. This movie was not successful at the box office despite relentless advertising and I think it is because the theme has been played out and people weren’t interested in seeing it again in a remake.  Yeah we are a species destroying our own planet. Yes the people we put in charge do not care or do anything to make things better. Yes we multiply and bleed the planet dry of resources relentlessly.  We get it, as long as movies have been made this message has been sent to us in every angle imaginable, from Planet of the Apes to Pixar’s Wall-E.  The fact that this is a remake from a movie made sixty years ago proves that by itself.

This is a visually compelling movie with great special effects, that’s the main reason to watch it.  Beyond that I think that Keanu Reeves performance makes this movie worth wild.  Reeve’s hasn’t really had many hits in his post-Matrix career and this movie definitely wasn’t a hit, but I think he was great as Klaatu.  He was cold and chilling as the alien envoy with really cool abilities.  Jennifer Connelly plays the female lead and she isn’t bad, but I am not a fan of hers. Kathy Bates is also in the movie and while I am a fan of hers I don’t think this was her finest role. There are many television stars in the film including Jon Hamm, Kyle Chandler, and Robert Knepper.  I think Will Smith’s kid was really miscast for this movie but the industry seems determined to make both of his kids superstars.

We only own this movie because I bought it used for four dollars or something, I thought it was worth that.  This isn’t the greatest movie we own and it isn’t one of my favorites but it’s not a bad film.  I think that you would enjoy it if you gave it a shot.  Again, I have not seen the original so I could eventually see myself taking back everything I said about this movie.  When I saw the remake of Dawn of the Dead in 2004 I didn’t think there was anyway the original could be better because it was so scary and the effects were so good, but I was wrong about that.  I could easily be making a mistake about this film as well simply because it looks good and stars people I recognize.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I really enjoy this movie. I wasn’t sure about it when we watched it the first time, or even when I saw the trailer for the first time, but overall this is a movie that can get into your head and make you think about the human race and the way that we treat the planet. I am not a fan of a Keanu Reeves; I think he is a horrible actor that somehow continues to get jobs. Having said that, it is roles like this one and The Matrix that make it okay for him. Especially this one, where he doesn’t even play a human. Those are the best roles for Reeves in my opinion.

In any case, this movie is moving in the sense that we are treating our planet and each other like shit. We dispose of so much waste that it literally makes me anxious. I have anxiety about the fact that all of this waste we have just goes and sits in a landfill. Eventually those areas are going to run out, and when they do we are going to be overwhelmed with trash and human waste. We also even treat each other like crap. Occasionally, we come together as a race and help others during times of troubles like natural disasters, but that never lasts very long and as soon as the news is old we are out and they are on their own again (Haiti).

This is a moving movie, and although out there with the aliens and all, it provides a good message that we should all treat each other better and also treat this planet better.

NEXT MOVIE: Dazed and Confused (1993)

The Day Reagan Was Shot

Year: 2001
Directed By: Cyrus Nowrasteh
Written By: Cyrus Nowrasteh

No Trailer Available

RYAN’S REVIEW

What I have never really understood about this movie is why it is a made for TV movie.  This is a fascinating story that deserved to be broadcast on a larger scale.  Everything from the totally psychotic killer to the behind the scenes problems to the fact that the president survived at all make this story more than interesting. I am a student of history so naturally I really enjoy this movie but I think it is a story we can all relate to.  This film was made on a limited budget with limited resources but made the most with what it had.  Oliver Stone served as an Executive Producer on the film. It was his role in the film that was what initially got my attention.  I think I saw it for five dollars at Wal-Mart and I bought without even having seen it.  I take chances like that occasionally and I am happy to say this time it worked out well.

John Hinckley Jr. shot the president in an attempt to get the attention of actress Jodie Foster.  Writers can’t even come up with things that crazy because no one would believe it. It’s crazy enough that this kind of nut job was even allowed close enough to the president to shoot him, but that he was successful was just pure insanity.  Hinckley is a good example of why the insane are not to be fooled with but to be taken seriously. He is also a good example of how our government’s inability to communicate efficiently has led to problems in the past, before 9/11. I don’t know specifically whether or not this film stays true to history, but I do know many of these things did in fact happen on the day that Ronald Reagan was shot. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if this “Dr. Strangelove scenario did in fact take place in a command center at the behest of Alexander Haig and other high-ranking military men.

I said it was surprising and interesting that Reagan survived the shooting for a number or reasons.  His age being the number one reason, and the actual wound being another.  The bullet narrowly missed his heart.  Another reason being the long-standing presidential death curse. There is an alleged ancient indian curse that has correlated with the deaths of U.S. presidents elected on years ending in 0. It began with William Henry Harrison, who was elected in 1840 at the age of 68.  Years earlier Harrison led a troop of soldiers that killed some indians, and it has been suggested that one of them cursed him.  Harrison is the 68-year-old president who wouldn’t wear a jacket during a downpour when giving a particularly long inauguration speech.  He died of pneumonia a month after taking office.  Abraham Lincoln, elected in 1860, was assassinated in 1865. James A. Garfield, elected in 1880, was shot in the back and died during surgery in 1881.  William McKinley was re-elected in 1900 and assassinated in 1901.  Warren G. Harding, elected in 1920 suddenly died in 1923. He was a notorious philanderer and it was rumored that his wife poisoned him. FDR, who was elected to his third term in 1940 died shortly after winning election for his fourth term in 1945.  JFK was elected in 1960 and then assassinated in 1963. I do not actually believe in curses but nevertheless it is an interesting coincidence found in history.  It stopped with Reagan though, who managed at his age to survive the assassination attempt by Hinckley. These kinds of coincidences can be found all throughout history, we live in a world where unusual things happen naturally all the time.

This movie does tell a very interesting story and tells it well.  The movie sports a good cast for its limited budget including Richard Dreyfuss, Richard Crenna, Colm Feore, and Michael Murphy. I think this movie is more than worth your time.  This will probably be a lost movie in the years to come, a made for tv film that everyone forgets about.  I couldn’t even find a trailer to post on YouTube.  That’s unfortunate, because it is a good movie.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I love Ryan; I love everything about him. Even his extreme nerdiness. When we started watching this movie, he told me to please pay attention because this movie was actually, incredibly interesting. I think I made it 20 minutes into the movie before I fell asleep. Then I woke up and tried to watch the rest and although I didn’t fall asleep again, I really wanted to. Ryan finds films like these interesting because he has a degree in history. And although I find historical events interesting, I have a hard time paying attention and thoroughly enjoying boring films about history. Ryan thinks all history is like a story, and while I think it’s amazing that he likes stuff like that and can look at it like that, I just want to know about it and move on.

If you find you are like Ryan and usually like movies about history, then go for and watch this movie. It is a made for tv movie by the way. But, if you are like me and just don’t see the interest, then skip this one over.

NEXT MOVIE: The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)

Dawn of the Dead (2004)

Year: 2004
Directed By: Zack Snyder
Written By: George A. Romero

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is a different Dawn of the Dead, an upgraded version so to speak.  I don’t mean “upgraded” in the sense that the movie was improved upon, simply rewritten to correlate with the twenty-first century. We live in faster times now and each succeeding generation is looking for more action, more excitement, and more thrills. In 1978 the idea of slow-moving dead people coming in masses fused with great writing was enough to scare people, but in 2004 they felt the need to turn up the volume. This movie lacks the substance of the original, but it makes up for it with pure adrenaline. That isn’t a bad thing though.  This movie by far fails in comparison to the original but I don’t think it is really fair to compare the two.  They are two completely different movies, and this one is good in its own way.

It’s been a while since I have seen this movie and I am remembering now how much I liked it.  This movie is scary, these zombies aren’t like the ones we are used to.  These zombies aren’t slowly coming toward you to attack they are sprinting at full speed and moving with full force at all times.  They instantly come back from the dead and they immediately come after you, that is terrifying.  There is also the fact that there have been significant advances in the fields of Hollywood make-up and special effects since 1978.  The zombies in this film do look very real because of that, and that advantage works in favor for The Walking Dead as well. See our last post for my thoughts on the AMC series.

Zack Snyder directed this film and while I like what he did with it, it is like most of his other movies. Lots of excitement, little substance. He has great vision and I really like his style but his movies are usually only good and not great.  He has the big responsibility of getting the Superman franchise back on track for Warner Brothers. There is a lot of hype surrounding the film and Christopher Nolan is involved so there is hope and Snyder might become much more renowned.  With this film he took very few elements from the original and made his own movie. The characters are overly irrational and ignorant for most of the film and that annoys the hell out of me but the thrills make up for those flaws. I think Sarah Polley is great in the lead role.  Ving Rhames   does little to impress in this role but I am a fan of his. Like most of the rest of the cast I think Ty Burrell does a good job of playing a douche bag.  Ken Foree and Tom Savini from the original both pop up in the film in cameo roles.

This movie starts off great but starts to lose a little steam in the middle and then a series of ridiculous decisions lead to the inevitable. That’s what really makes it fail in comparison to the original, these people are idiots for the most part.  Shaun of the Dead figured things out quicker than these people did.  I do like this film but I find some parts of it really annoying.  Why does Mekhi Phifer go crazy and kill to protect his obviously dead wife and child? Why do they willfully wheel an obvious zombie into their base and try to treat her? Things like that get on my nerves, but I suppose there are bound to be plenty of idiots who survive the apocalypse by accident. This movie isn’t bad and I would say that it is worth your time to see it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

If I thought you should see the original Dawn of the Dead, this one is an absolute must. It is set in modern day and we can easily relate to it. I love this film so much. In this one, compared to the previous one and others in its genre, the zombies in this film dart after you. They are like zombies on crack and will come after you with a vengeance. In my opinion, it sets the stage for a much scarier zombie flick compared to the clumsy, lifeless zombies that are found in most films. I love the whole premise of this movie and we regularly watch it at halloween, although, really it can be a good movie to watch any time of the year.

If you haven’t seen this movie, see it now.

NEXT MOVIE: The Day Reagan Was Shot (2001)

Dawn of the Dead (1978)

Year: 1978
Directed By: George A. Romero
Written By: George A. Romero

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is easily my favorite horror film of all time.  It is a film that really was ahead of its time and even in the zombie fanatic society we live in now it still ranks among the best. There were certain things I liked about the attempt to remake this film but everything that made this film so remarkable was gone.  This wasn’t a movie made simply to scare people and make money. This movie tells a story, it sends a strong message about human nature, and above all it both scared and entertained us.  George A. Romero started something with his zombie films that I personally can’t even begin to understand.  I don’t know why, but zombies are everywhere these days and it all began with Romero. If anybody out there could explain to me our society’s fascination and obsession with zombies I would really appreciate it.

Romero does a fantastic job of capturing the fear and chaos that has over taken society with this film.  It begins amid the chaos and you can see how all types of people deal with the situation at hand.  The apocalypse has already started, some people run, some just keep on working, some arm themselves to fight, and many fall prey to the undead killers that come by the tens and hundreds.  If you let yourself get sucked into this one you can really feel the weight of what is going on.  When Peter shoots the room full of zombies one at a time in the beginning of the movie you can almost feel what he is going through. When the four main characters sit in the helicopter and all tell the cop they don’t have any cigarettes and then immediately light up after take off you can feel the desperation of the dog-eat-dog world society has turned into.  It’s each man for himself and life has become too dangerous to risk helping others.  So much of the film is more about what it does to the living to go on living in this world.  It isn’t easy to keep surviving and you can feel how hopeless their existence has become.  In the end Peter doesn’t even know if he wants to get away at all and ponders ending his life right then and there.  This movie is intense and effective throughout, that’s what makes it such a great film.

What I especially like about this film is that it was so bold and honest. This movie isn’t overly dramatic becuase these people don’t have time to deal with drama.  The movie is always intense because they are always in danger, from zombies and other survivors alike.  What I really hate about AMC’s The Walking Dead is that there is so much pointless drama in the show.  I like to call it “The Walking Cry Babies Who Sometimes See Zombies” because all the people do is bitch and moan like they don’t realize death is around every corner. The Laurie Holden character is the worse, always bitching about needing a gun.  Why the hell would they want guns when guns draw the zombies? It’s stupid, they literally find a stockpile of melee weapons at one point but continue to be preoccupied with guns.  Laurie Holden actually shoots another character at one point but not only is she allowed to continue carrying a gun she gets defensive about it all the time. In the final moments of the last episode in December the show literally switches roles and you actually find yourself feeling sorry for the zombies. This is a stupid show people and I implore you to put it aside and watch this film. See a good zombie movie and compare it, and if you would like a seasonal tv show I would suggest American Horror Story on FX.  It was both scary and very creative, and Jessica Lange was incredible.

You shouldn’t see this movie because I am telling you to watch it, you should see this movie because it is a classic. I would not call myself a zombie fan but it just so happens a lot of great media involves zombies.  I may not like The Walking Dead but I can see the merits of the show and understand why people like it.  Shaun of the Dead is one of my favorite comedies of all time, I can literally watch it over and over again and still love it.  I really enjoyed Stephen King’s Cell, that was actually dedicated to George A. Romero.  I don’t understand what makes zombies so marketable, but I can tell you one thing…I’ve learned a things or two.  Should the dead rise from the grave I know exactly what to do.

UPDATE: I’d just like to note that since writing this review I have been won over by The Walking Dead and will take back some of the things I have said.  I stand by what I said in regards to season 2 but changed my tune after seeing this.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Who can say that they don’t like this movie? Unless, of course, you don’t like zombies and WHO doesn’t like zombie movies? This movie is a classic in every way. If you think The Walking Dead is great, then you definitely need to see this film that helped pave the way for all other movies in its genre. I am in no way endorsing The Walking Dead. I think it is drama-filled bullshit by, you know just by the way.

I don’t really have anything else to say about this movie except that you should see it. Ryan lays out all of the details for you, so I pretty much get to tell you whether or not I think it’s worth watching or not. Well this one is, it’s a classic and is well worth your time.

NEXT MOVIE: Dawn of the Dead (2004)

The Da Vinci Code

Year: 2006
Directed By: Ron Howard
Written By: Dan Brown

RYAN’S REVIEW

When I sit down and give it some serious thought, I can’t really figure out why we own this movie.  I think part of me felt compelled to see it when it came out because of its controversial nature.  I think I later bought it because I found a good deal but in truth I do not really care for this film.  I think it is a great movie made about a dull book.  I have read the book and found it boring.  I am interested in all the things here.  Christian history and the conspiracies that revolve around it, a scary albino bad guy, and in the movie they cast Sir Ian McKellan.  For all practical purposes this book and movie should be right up my alley but I just don’t think it is really good.

This movie is made by a great filmmaker in Ron Howard and it sports a great cast.  Tom Hanks is the headliner here but I am actually talking about nearly everybody else when I say great cast.  Tom Hanks has been on a downward spiral since losing the Academy Award for Cast Away.  He has failed to make a difference for most of the past ten years and this movie is no exception to that.  He has virtually no chemistry with Audrey Tautou, who is equally as bad in the film.  Paul Bettany however is unbelievable as the albino Silas.  He is scary in a way I did not know he was capable of.  His performance actually gave me hope that he would be cast as the Joker in The Dark Knight before Ledger was cast.  Jean Reno is great and appropriately cast as the French commanding police officer.  Alfred Molina was a good choice to play the Archbishop.  I think that Sir Ian McKellan makes every movie he is in better and we have to cheerish everything he continues to gives us at this point in his career, he is 72.

I think the information in this film and story is very interesting but I don’t find the story itself to be up to par.  I don’t really like the character of Robert Langdon and I think it is ridiculous to treat this Harvard professor as a murder suspect when you can easily verify his alibi.  People argued about this film to no end too and for what?  Yeah all the info in the book and movie wasn’t completely accurate. Go figure, you picked it up off a shelf labeled fiction.  I think what bothers Christians the most is that it brought up enough that was true and in the end of the day they really don’t know enough about the history of their own religion.  I am no person to speak on such things though, and my opinion should be of little significance here.

This is a good movie, Ron Howard is worth his weight in gold, but I don’t really think it is worth your time.  By now no matter who you are you have heard of this film or book and know what it is about.  You either saw it or you didn’t for reasons that were your own.  I am telling you it isn’t worth your time not for any personal motive but only because I actually don’t think the movie was that great and I’m questioning why I own it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I am not a fan of this movie. I know that its popularity reigns from the popularity of the book that it is based on, but I find it boring for the most part. I think that I used to like it when we first bought the movie, but after watching it again for this post, I don’t even know why it is in our collection. In theory, it should be a great film. Ron Howard is extremely talented and I usually like the majority of the projects that he is a part of. Tom Hanks is also one of my favorite actors, but in this film I find him boring, That would be my review for this film. Boring. It isn’t really worth your time. If you happen to be religious, it just might piss you off. I don’t have that problem, but nevertheless this movie is not worth the time.

NEXT MOVIE: Dawn of the Dead (1978)