Month: July 2017

Super 8

Year:  2011
Directed By: J.J. Abrams
Written By: J. J. Abrams

RYAN’S REVIEW

Since making that miserable journey through Star Trek and coming to the invigorated reboot I have had my eye on this movie. Not for any particular reason that had to do with the film itself but as an opportunity to bash the film’s maker, J.J. Abrams. So before even popping in the DVD I sat down an wrote out my passionate opinions on Abrams. I have strong feelings because my time is so valuable to me and he personally wasted an awful lot of it that I’ll never get back. Well not literally him personally but I hold him accountable for it, among other things. Many are the grievances I have to J.J. Abrams but after sitting down to watch this movie I found that I wholeheartedly loved it. Damn J.J. Abrams and the conflicting feelings I have right now.

This is a wonderful film that takes us back to the days of Spielberg, who served as producer on the film, and makes us…member? I of course am a big South Park fan and can’t help but consider the man behind Member Berries in the show. This movie makes me member. Not what life was like in 1979 because I was not alive but of so many films that I grew up watching from that era. Member what is was like when movies about kids were real? Member when aliens came to Earth? Oh I member. This movie stands on its own but it does do an awful lot of pulling on our nostalgic strings.

I love the kids in this film who are out to make their own movie. How seriously they are taking it and how it draws them into this greater adventure. The way the big kid directing the movie runs out looking through his hands at the scene is awesome. I don’t know who most of these kids are but they get across a wide range of emotions from enthusiasm to fear and everything in between. They remind us of that confusing period of adolescence and really hit us in the heart.

In hindsight I can’t help but see this movie as a template for Stranger Things. There are so many similarities but they were partially going for the same thing. Both trying to emulate a specific time period and Spielberg feel. Kyle Chandler plays the David Harbour part in this movie and he is nothing short of fantastic. Of course this movie came first and its influence over such a beloved show to myself as well as everybody only frustrates me more because it draws the pendulum of J.J. Abrams back to the “he’s awesome” argument. My opinion on the matter can be read at great length below and despite how great this movie is I stand firm on the matter.

I’ll concede for the time being. In the face of this terrific movie I will temporarily draw back on my argument because the lovers of J.J. Abrams win this round. I absolutely love this movie and I pride myself on accepting when I am wrong about something. I’m not going to make excuses for why it is good and try to argue that it was a fluke for Abrams. He is a very talented filmmaker and deserves plenty of credit but I don’t have to like him. Let me explain why I don’t.

Section reserved for bashing J.J. Abrams:

I will be the first to admit J.J. Abrams has talent. If nothing else what he did with Star Trek as well as this movie alone prove that but nevertheless I maintain he is overrated. When I was in college Abrams made a name for himself with his hit television show Lost. I want to say unequivocally that I think Lost was specifically the most overrated show of all time. A gimmick that strung viewers along like hanging a carrot just out of a donkey’s reach.

When I was in college I would argue with people relentlessly about the show. Some had the audacity to call it the greatest show of all time and to those people I would bestow outrage. I am a big fan of television and dramatic series and I gave Lost an honest effort. It let me down time and time again. Never answering any of the several questions it would propose in nearly every episode.

I’ll never forget once I was coming home from college to stay with a friend one night. My friend called me and asked what time I would be in. I told him I had to watch Lost and I’d hit the road right after. He responds “all you do is talk shit about that show why are you watching it?” He didn’t understand though. All week the advertisements had been on television. FOUR things were going to happen on Lost that week. I had to see it, and as I told him I had invested too much time in the show not to see something actually happen. Wanna know what happened? Not a damn thing and I just ended up getting to my friend’s house late that night.

My point is that Lost was a show for suckers. I don’t think Abrams or the writers of the show had any idea what they were doing. It was like they would toss around ideas and just go with the coolest ones with no larger plan in place. They were freestyling the whole show and everybody, myself included, was eating it up. I was frustrated with the show and I talked negatively about it at great length but I was still tuning in when it aired. Another fool in the masses that gave that ridiculous show ratings.

I eventually quit watching the show at a point when I simply couldn’t take it anymore. When I reached a point where I didn’t care why there were polar bears on this tropical island, who “the others” were no longer made any difference to me, I didn’t even care about the bizarre smoke monster that made not a bit of sense. I do remember my breaking point. It was when “the others” leader led Locke to the guy who had all the answers. The guy who would finally solve some of the mystery I had been suckered into was coming. There was an entire episode of Locke and that guy travelling the island to get to this one guy and what happened when they got there? There was a room with an empty chair, an empty f-ing chair! I patiently watched every episode for I don’t even know how many seasons and what I got for my patience was an empty chair? Who the other guy motioned to and introduced as Jacob if I’m not mistaken.

Now I’m sure there are plenty of suckers out there that would want to argue with me about this but you know what? I think as a writer, when you don’t know what you’re going to do next you put all your eggs in one basket and then get even more vague than you were before. I was done at that point, time wasted and I still to this day haven’t binged the show and gone back to see what I missed.

That settles one issue with Abrams but it doesn’t stop there. My next beef is with Star Wars The Force Awakens. I’m not really a huge Star Wars fan (it’s no accident we haven’t reviewed the movies, I don’t own them) but I’ll easily admit The Force Awakens was a totally OK movie. That’s the whole problem though. It was just an OK movie. The great and powerful J.J. Abrams ditched a Star Trek franchise he had brought back to life to make an OK version of the space rival.

I mentioned during the review of Star Trek into Darkness that I thought the movie might have been better if Abrams didn’t spy a bigger fish in the pond. Granted it was an opportunity that no sane director anywhere would have turned down but still. Abrams had started something with the new franchise of Star Trek and I for one think he belonged at the helm for the series going forward. Not just as a Producer either with one foot in the ring but behind camera where he made the magic happen in that first film.

It doesn’t really matter what I think about Abrams though and my grievances mean nothing. He’s been immensely successful despite what I think and I’m knowingly on the losing side of the argument. Nevertheless this is my space and I’ve been sitting on these thoughts for years. Screw Abrams and the horse he rode in on.

In closing for Super 8

This is a great movie. A movie that seemingly heard what I was thinking and said “oh yeah? I dare you to hate on this.” I simply cannot do that because this movie inspires too much in me. It makes me member, and I sincerely love it. It’s going to be hard for anybody that hasn’t seen it to not think it’s just a rip off of Stranger Things but you have to keep in mind this came long before. This movie is worth your time to see and I would recommend it to anybody.

NEXT MOVIE: Superbad (2007)

The Sum of All Fears

Year: 2002
Directed By: Phil Alden Robinson
Written By: Daniel Pyne, Paul Attanasio (screenplay) Tom Clancy (novel)

RYAN’S REVIEW

I have never been a fan of the Jack Ryan movies, and I’ve never read any of Tom Clancy’s novels. I probably should though because they must be good. They sure won’t let the character die out of films as they’ve been trying to make him the American James bond for like thirty years including four different actors to play the part. This movie features the third Jack Ryan played by Ben Affleck who hadn’t yet seen his fall and rebirth in the industry back in 02. This movie made it into the collection much like Street Kings did, it reminded me of a TV show I loved. I am a huge 24 fan and this movie always reminded me of it.

It may have been a bit of a stretch to compare this movie to 24. While there are certain elements that do compare by and large it doesn’t. The Glossy haired Ben Affleck version of Jack Ryan is certainly no Jack Bauer, but nobody really measures up to Jack Bauer. He’s the greatest as far as I am concerned. It’s like the God of Action came down and had sex with a regular woman and made Jack Bauer, half God, half human, all action.  Ben Affleck isn’t an action guy at all in this movie. I never watch these Jack Ryan movies but I’ve been under the impression they were action films. I must have been wrong about this, Affleck’s Ryan just asked how to use a gun.

I thought Jack Ryan was an action hero but he turns out to be more of a political hero that gets lucky in moments of action. And here I was comparing him to Jack freakin Bauer, how embarrassing. It takes brains as well as brawn to fight the good fight and this Jack Ryan has the former if not the latter to go along with it.

Now I’m just confused, if this movie didn’t remind me of 24 then why do I own it? I think I saw this movie possibly 15 years and hundreds if not thousands of movies ago. Sometimes reaching them in the collection is like going on an adventure of rediscovery. I’m about halfway through the film now and haven’t yet discovered what it was that I had forgotten about it but it’s been an interesting if not slow film.

Ah there it is, what intrigued me most about this movie when I first saw it. Nazis turn out to be the bad guys and they pit Russia and the US against each other. A nuclear bomb going off in a Baltimore stadium so soon after the tragedy on 9/11 was a bold move. That must have been what reminded me of 24. Although the bomb would have never endangered so many innocent people on Jack Bauer’s watch.

It’s interesting in this movie how quickly the Cold War comes back to life. I have always found that conflict fascinating. One of my favorite movies is Dr. Strangelove and once upon a time when I was a student teacher I designed a whole lesson plan around the film. The Cold War was a conflict that never really got around to any action and so many on both sides were itching for that action. I think this movie shows an interesting scenario for how things would have unfolded under similar circumstances.

I think I have figured out why I added this movie to the collection. I think it was back when I was in college, studying history. Its portrayal of the Cold War roaring back to life was most likely what I liked about it. There, mystery solved and now I can sleep easier at night without a meaningless mystery needling the back of my mind.

This is a cool movie and it has only gotten more interesting as it has gone on. Despite Ben Affleck’s ridiculous hairdo he manages to hold up well in this excellent cast. James Cromwell is a great choice for President and Morgan Freeman has always made everything he was in just a little bit better. I like Liev Schreiber as the real spy. There is also a nice cast of background characters to support these bigger names.

So to sum up everything this movie was not at all what I thought it was but it’s been fun rediscovering what it was that I first found interesting about it. It’s vaguely like 24 if 24 was about the bureaucrats and not the action guys on the ground. I find it funny I that I was wrong about why I owned this movie but those are the little laughs I can only enjoy myself. If you come by this movie it’s worth your time. Not the best movie but interesting enough.

NEXT MOVIE: Super 8 (2011)

Suicide Kings

Year: 1997
Directed By: Peter O’Fallon
Written By: Josh McKinney, Gina Goldman, and Wayne Allan Rice (screenplay), Don Stanford (short story)

RYAN’S REVIEW

One of my favorite scenes of all time features Chistopher Walken playing a mob boss, so naturally this has always been a movie that appeals to me. This is a fascinating movie where these rich kids get it in there head to do about the craziest thing possible. In order to rescue a kidnapped sister they decide to perform their own kidnapping. They pick the most outrageous and insane person to kidnap and the scene is set.

This group of rich kids really bite off more than they can chew when they chose a mafia don as a person to extort. The stakes raise dramatically when not only have they kidnapped a powerful and dangerous man, but they’ve cut one of his fingers off to boot. They have an outrageous justification for what they’re doing but truthfully it makes little sense. These guys think that the sister of one of them has been kidnapped and in order to rescue her they kidnap a man who has both the money for the ransom and the resources to get her home safely. It’s a crazy idea to begin with but they really go too far when they decide that any harm that befalls the girl will also befall the Don.

This movie pulls you in with a cool and interesting story but it keeps you with a really rich cast. Christopher Walken is the Don and he thrives in that role. He has that classy quality that works well for him when he is the dignified Don being shown to his usual table. He also has that cool quality that starts to make all the boys like him a little bit when they are holding him hostage. Making him an even cooler mob boss is his number one henchman played by Denis Leary. I’m a big fan of Leary and this movie is a great example of his talent as he improvised most of his own dialogue.

Of these rich kids you have Thomas Henry, better known as E LI OTtrying desperately to continue acting as a grown up. Jay Mohr is the muscle of the group, going against his typical comedy and playing the wanna be tough guy that insist on keeping the Don at gunpoint. Jeremy Sisto is the smarter guy of the group trying to keep the Don alive with his premed skills. Sean Patrick Flanery, the Boondock Saint himself, is the cool guy with all the secrets. Then rounding up this group of youngsters is Johnny Galecki performing in such a typical Johnny Galecki fashion. I used to like Galecki but he is such a whiney actor and no different here.

The scene was set, things are crazy enough with a kidnapped and slightly dismembered mafia Don, but the movie cleverly ups the stakes. Turns out once the Don starts exercising his resources he finds out this whole thing is an inside job. One of the rich kids has turned on and set up his buddies but you don’t know who. The entry of mystery into the story makes a film that has already sucked you in maintain your attention.

I think this is an interesting movie and I have always liked it. It doesn’t really inspire much to say in me but some movies are just cool to kick back and enjoy. This movie kept me on the edge of my seat the first time I saw it and I still find myself edging forward upon multiple viewings. I think it is easily worth your time to see.

NEXT MOVIE: The Sum of All Fears (2002)

Since I mentioned it earlier here is a clip of one of my favorite scenes of all time. Clever dialogue from a man who has made a career of writing clever dialogue. Written by Quentin Tarantino, Directed by Tony Scott, and performed by Christopher Walken, Dennis Hopper, and  with a young Tony Soprano looming in the background:

Stripes

Year: 1981
Directed By: Ivan Reitman
Written By: Len Blum, Daniel Goldberg, and Harold Ramis

RYAN’S REVIEW

When you got this core of Ivan Reitman, Bill Murray, and Harold Ramis together in the 80s they were going to make some magic. The men behind Ghostbusters had a specific quality that transitioned onto the screen and you can see it in this movie. Originally written to be Cheech and Chong join the army this movie worked far better than it ever had any business doing so. These guys took a bombed idea and turned it into a comedy classic.

This is one of my favorite examples of how funny Bill Murray is. I think the thing for Bill Murray is that he has to be paired with a director who will just let him do his thing. Bill Murray is notoriously weird and can be hard for some to work with. Harold Ramis had a great ability to work with Bill Murray that lasted for a long time. Up until their last collaboration, Groundhog Day, they had a fruitful relationship. Don’t know what happened to dissolve that relationship but it’s really unfortunate.

I think this movie runs a bit too long. I think if they had stretched out boot camp a little bit more and not been deployed into their protection detail it would have been better. There are plenty of scenes in this movie that look like hold overs from the Cheech and Chong intended script. With a deep cast of funny people including John Candy and Judge Reinhold they managed to make it there own.

This is a movie that speaks for itself. It’s a classic comedy like Caddyshack and it simply doesn’t need my stamp of approval. For me it takes me back to middle school when I was first introduced to it. I thought it was a really funny movie then and I still enjoy watching it today. It’s easily worth your time but like most people you have long since discovered that on your own.

NEXT MOVIE: Suicide Kings (1997)

 

Street Kings

Year: 2008
Directed By: David Ayers
Written By: James Ellroy, Kurt Wimmer, and Jamie Moss

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie came out at just the right time to get my attention. My favorite TV show of all time, The Shield, aired its final season in the fall of 2008. When this movie came out in the spring of 08 I was eagerly waiting to see how it all finished up. This movie was very similar and gave me a dirty cop fix when I was itching for some corrupt action.

Keanu Reeves played the Vic Mackey part in this movie and the movie starts right off trying to establish him as this anti hero we see so often in television. The guy has issues. He gets out of bed fully clothed, pukes a little bit, and then cleans his gun before hitting the liquor store. Then it’s straight to the streets to do the job. He’s only a little boozed up but good to go with his street talk as he enters the dirty deals that go on late in the streets. He has no problem taking an ass whooping in order to set up the bad guys. When he goes to take care of business the action doesn’t disappoint as he Vic Mackey’s the bad guys and the crime scene. Maybe this guy has unorthodox methods, maybe he drinks too many of those tiny booze bottles, but when women are trapped in closets he’s the one whose going to save them.

I love these dirty cop stories but they are all too similar more often than not. Bad cop sets up the bad guys, kills them all, plants evidence, and saves the innocence. In the aftermath there are investigations and eventually some larger conspiracy going on. The irony is that bad cop isn’t bad enough to consider joining the conspiracy and he becomes determined to bring the whole thing down. I’m always pulling for the bad cop. What they do is wrong, but who among us wouldn’t do the same thing? It’s easy to say you would always do the right thing but at one point bad cop was probably a good guy too. He started out as a good guy and got hardened by the realities of the job. After so many years on the job he’s just out to cut through all the red tape and do what needs to be done.

Terry Crews plays the inevitable Serpico good cop who still cares, or is out for revenge. It hardly matters which when he’s snitching on our anti-hero. He seems to be doing pretty good for a cop given he’s driving a Cadillac SUV, but he doesn’t make it long. As Ice Cube once said “snitches get stitches,” or in this case about a thousand bullets to the chest. Nevertheless this murder doesn’t fly with bad cop Keanu, and there’s your larger conspiracy. I think it’s a bit strange that Keanu, as the best bad cop, wouldn’t have been involved in this larger conspiracy of bad cops.

Forest Whitaker is fantastic in this movie. I specifically like it because he plays a role that is the complete opposite of the role he played on The Shield. He was a real badass on The Shield, an Internal Affairs detective out to get Vic Mackey and he had us all scared for a while. It was season 5 and Vic was really going down, no way he could get out from under Forest Whitaker. As bad ass as he was though, he couldn’t catch Vic. He got to play the bad cop in this movie and that’s one of the things I really liked about it. I’ve never been a fan of Forest Whitaker but I loved him on The Shield and have been more of a fan since then.

The cast in this movie is really deep and that’s another thing I like about it. Not a fan of Hugh Laurie because I never watched House but he brought some cool charisma to the cast. Chris Evans is always great and I like him partnering up with bad cop Keanu as he investigates whose really bad. Jay Mohr is great in the background as the mustache cop whose is quietly more of a bad cop than bad cop Keanu. This guy is always around, he was named Ronnie on The Shield. Cedric the Entertainer makes a cool appearance and so does Common. I have always been a fan of Common and I think he makes for a cool gangster.

As far as bad cop movies go this one isn’t really exceptional but there are a lot of things I still like about it. It makes for a cool action movie with plenty of exciting scenes. Holy shit the heat really rises quickly when Chris Evans takes one in the throat. Great shoot out scene that ends with Keanu using a refrigerator as a shield and shooting Common in the face.

Uh oh, he’s been set up, classic. Common and his associate were undercover cops? His friends are suddenly arresting him and probably taking him to his execution. They of course explain everything before killing him but of course bad cop Keanu has a cuff key. Bad cop Keanu has transitioned from bad cop into badass rogue out for justice. Ready to die in a blaze of glory in order to do whats right because doing what’s right is all he has left. Even tied at the hands and ankles he can overcome certain death. All the badass rogue needs is a shovel and a real bad guy’s gun to fall right into his hands.

I’m really impressed with Forest Whitaker going toe to toe with Neo in a fight scene. Of course badass rogue’s fight to the top leads to his mentor and boss. Oh how typical these stories go but it’s a cool fight scene and this has been a cool action movie. Even when Forest Whitaker is caught the sad reality is he is too powerful to tear down. He’s the man behind the curtain pulling the strings of Oz. Badass rogue can’t let such a man get away, he’ll never be brought to justice because justice is corrupt. Gotta kill the bad guy and I like that about this movie too. Although the movie should end with his arrest I like that Hugh Laurie is able to save him in the end.

This is the exact movie that gets lost in the library of time. Nothing really stands out about it and not many people watched it. It’s a cool movie though and I stand by it. It may be typical but sometimes you just need to sit back and watch a little action. This is a good movie for that. I think it is worth your time to see it.

NEXT MOVIE: Stripes (1981)

Stranger Than Fiction

Year: 2006
Directed By: Marc Forster
Written By: Zach Helm

RYAN’S REVIEW

I don’t really know what to expect from this one. Sometimes I see a movie that leaves an impression on me and I add it to the collection immediately. Occasionally those movies go unwatched after hitting the shelf and that’s the case with this one. I saw it once at my brothers house because it was part of his collection. I think I was really caught off guard by the performance of Will Ferrell. I was not a fan and thought most of what he did was stupid. Seeing him in a serious movie for the first time left the impression that got it added to the collective. Now, I’m sitting down to watch it for the first time in maybe six or seven years, let’s see if that impression was correct or not.

I’m immediately sucked in with this story about Harold and his watch. It’s interesting and gets more so when Harold begins to hear the narration of his life. I was caught off guard by the idea of taking Will Ferrell seriously. I don’t dislike him, on the contrary I think he is quite talented, but some people don’t belong on the center stage. Some people are better as an addition but suffer when they’re the star. I think Ferrell was hilarious in films like Old School and Zoolander but when given the lead in movies like Talladega Nights or Step Brothers he resorts to a weak and ridiculous type of comedy. Here on the other hand he is playing a role where he isn’t trying too hard to be funny because he’s not supposed to be funny at all.

Emma Thompson has such a great reading voice. I can’t say I really see a lot of her work as she specializes in a different type of film but she really does have a great voice. She recently was the voice of Mrs. Potts in Disney’s live action Beauty and the Beast. Don’t know if it was actually her singing the big numbers but if it was it only proves my point. Regardless, her voice makes her a perfect narrator for this film. Her imagination’s efforts to figure out death make for some scenes that really catch you off guard and keep the movie interesting.

Maggie Gyllenhaal is specifically cute in this movie. She plays the sassy tattooed girl that gets the attention and admiration of the uptight IRS agent. You kind of feel sorry for him because she is so mean to him but then you remember he’s an IRS auditor. Nobody is thrilled to see those guys, gotta be hard to find love on the job. I like when she finally comes around because it’s a sweet thing between her and Harold.

“Don’t move the plot and see if the plot moves you.” Dustin Hoffman’s words can serve as good advice to all of us now and again. We are all part of a story after all, the story of life. Sometimes in life you move the plot and sometimes the plot moves you. As Harold finds out to his apartment’s woe. He isn’t exactly sure it’s plot, but everything in life is isn’t it? This movie is about life, in a nutshell. I find that life is easier when you try to avoid the plot, but inevitably it will find you.

Harold tries to cling to life while the narrator tries to figure out how to kill  him. Such an interesting dynamic. He has found love and has a whole new reason to live. I love these scenes of Will Ferrell running as he tries desperately to reach the author of his life. He should run more often, he could give Tom Cruise a run for his money. It’s so wild and out of the box for them to speak on the phone. It only gets better when they meet in person.

I can’t say enough about the acting of Will Ferrell in this movie. This movie was over ten years ago and I don’t understand why he hasn’t exercised this talent more. In this movie he goes toe to toe with the acting legend Dustin Hoffman and he holds his own. When Hoffman tells him to accept his fate it’s a magnificent scene. He understands and he gets it. The fact that his character is willing to make the sacrifice makes him all the more lovable.

This is an amazing movie. I feel like I’d need to watch it five times at least to really write about it. It says so much about life and fate and creativity. I love so much about this movie and I love that Harold survives in the end.

The watch is what keeps him alive, that’s beautiful. That’s a fantastic ending and on par with the author’s usual death ending. This is a wonderful movie and I just love it. The love story that lives on with Harold’s life brings tears to my eyes. Didn’t see that coming but it makes me appreciate this movie that much more.

This is a wonderful movie that can hit you in the heart and make you appreciate the creativity of writers. It’s a thoughtfully crafted story that leaves an impression. Will Ferrell should do more movie like this because he really has a talent for it. I think this movie is not only worth your time but worth plenty of your time. This movie is worth multiple views.

NEXT MOVIE: Street Kings (2008)

The Stepford Wives

Year: 2004
Directed By: Frank Oz
Written By: Ira Levin (book), Paul Rudnick (screenplay)

RYAN’S REVIEW

This film has sat on our shelf for over ten years and I don’t think I have watched it since we were in college. The film made it into the collection as a gift for Amber on some anniversary or holiday along the way. We’re only minutes into the movie now and I’m already wondering what I was thinking. We own so many movies that there’s bound to be a dud here and there and we’ve stumbled across one it seems. I’m sure there is a perfectly good explanation for why it’s part of our collection but that memory has been lost along the way.

In one of the very first scenes the dialogue was clearly changed because it doesn’t match up with the lips of the actors. That’s frustrating but it was the plight of this movie. It’s one that’s been disowned by everybody involved including several actors and even the director. Not only did things not go well during filming but it suffered greatly in post production as several things were changed and some even re shot altogether. I have never seen the original film but perhaps I should seek it out now because I do like the idea behind this movie. It won’t be the first mistake I have made watching a remake of something that was much better before.

I’m thinking specifically of The Manchurian Candidate. Coincidentally that very film was advertised on this DVD. I learned a lesson when I watched the original and the very same thing could happen here. I’d really like to test that out but I don’t think it’s going to happen. A quick search shows the original film must be out of print because the DVD cost almost $70. That’s outrageous and I don’t want to see it that bad just to test out a theory. I can settle for the book but I’d have to invest too much time and I’m not really that interested.

Glenn Close is a gem and it’s sad to see her talent wasted in a movie like this. She so exaggerated in the scene where they are “working out” that you can’t help but laugh. She’s just so deftly delightful and her hand motions are fantastic. She shines in this film where everyone else is cloudy.

I have never been a big fan of Nicole Kidman but I do respect her talent. I can’t say that it’s on display in this movie though, her heart clearly wasn’t in it. I like Ferris Bueller as much as everyone else but there is rarely ever a role when I think ‘Matthew Broderick would have been great for this.’ On the other hand I can’t imagine a performance given by Christopher Walken that isn’t awesome but he’s just going through the motions in this movie and that’s a shame.

This movie was directed by Frank Oz and he has never really been a favorite of mine. He hasn’t gotten behind camera in ten years but still serves as the voice of Yoda when called upon. I don’t generally like his movies, however his final film Death at a Funeral was hilarious and needs to be added to the collection now that I think about it. Amber and I watched both the white and the black version of it years ago and enjoyed both.

Aside from Glenn Close, and that one awesome joke about Connecticut, there really isn’t much going on with this movie. It’s a really cool story but it wasn’t delivered properly at all. I wish I could watch the original to see how it measures up and maybe I’ll get that chance at some point. If anybody who has read the book is reading this let me know if it’s worth it and I’ll probably check it out. I can’t say this movie is actually worth your time to see though. It’s short and that’s a plus but even with a short running time it’s just not worth it.

NEXT MOVIE: Stir of Echoes (1999)

 

Stay Tuned

Year: 1992
Directed By: Peter Hyams
Written By: Tom S. Parker, Jim Jennewein, and Richard Siegal

RYAN’S REVIEW

I don’t remember much from the year 1992 but I do remember seeing this movie in the theater. I was eight years old and the idea of regular people going into the television programming as part of it was such a terrific fantasy for me. 1992 was one of the years leading up to my parents divorce and TV was my great escape. If I wasn’t playing outside with my action figures I was sitting in front of the tube with one in hand watching whatever served as an easy distraction. When I saw this movie I loved it because the idea of being able to go into the world of television was just awesome. The fact that it served as some sort of hell in this movie was beside the point, I was eight, it was the idea that appealed to me. As our collection grew the memory of this film bubbled to the surface one day and I went out of my way to add it to the collective.

The Humphrey Bogart movie seen on the television early in this movie was The Maltese Falcon. Bogart plays badass private eye Sam Spade and in the scene on screen he is confronting the damsel in distress who is actually the perpetrator behind the murders.  Really cool movie that is actually part of our collection. We reviewed it a few years ago. I like this movie a little bit more now for featuring it.

Not really sure what Jeffrey Jones’ character is all about in this movie. Is Mr. Spike the devil? It certainly seems so with the evil laughing as he drives down into Hell presumably. As the boss of Hell Vision he is out to steal your soul and kill you, for some reason. I do like this evil organization who kills and possibly sends people to hell but also trains interns. Interns that can rise quite dramatically it seems. There’s a great reference to Dr. Strangelove at one point down in the depths of Hell Vision. As the movie goes on you still don’t really know what Spike is all about. He’s evil enough though, he’ll choke you out if you talk back to him and kiss you if you give him good news.

I love how this movie mocked the current TV programming of the early 90s. One of my favorites is the Sadistic Hidden Videos. The officer brings the woman to tears with news of her husbands death and two seconds later she’s laughing when she realizes she is on hidden camera. I remember the commercial the Max Hell segment is making fun of with that guy sitting back in that chair and the sound of his stereo blowing his hair or something. I can’t remember what the product actually was but that’s pretty funny. What parent doesn’t want a Silencer of the Lambs now and again on a long ride to keep the kids quiet?

“This is one clever pussy.” That’s hilarious because they found a way to drop the P word into a PG rated film. Followed shortly by “My Three Sons of Bitches” and then the spoof of Wayne’s World. I never got into the Wayne’s World skit, or the movies. Ah there it is, The Maltese Falcon is mentioned by named in the segment that is obviously inspired by it.

Sometimes this movie borders on trying to be a horror film with so much themed around hell and death. Segments like Duane’s World and the Exorcisist can really make it a bit confusing about what the film is going for. There are an awful lot of references to Hell and 666 in this movie for it to be rated PG. I’m not a stickler for such things but in this movie the hell references just seem so random.

John Ritter is so well cast as the typical guy. He had a special quality as an actor and was so likable. I think the scene when he shows up on the Three’s Company set it’s really funny.  He’s the kind of actor who can drop pussy into the dialogue and still come off as innocent. He died before his time, may he rest in peace. Long before he was Jim’s dad on American Pie Eugene Levy was proving he had the potential to make anything he was in funnier. Maybe it wasn’t in this movie because nobody really saw it but he does make this movie funnier.

AAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It seems I cannot escape Star Trek, as it has followed me beyond the 12 prior films and into this one. John Ritter as Captain Picard is good for a laugh even with the horrible reminder. “Holy Shatner,” he does it right and gives respect to both crews. The Star Trek fan I have purged from myself would be proud.

Crash Test Dummies! That’s awesome, and it’s followed shortly by Driving Over Miss Daisy. This is a funny movie. It’s silly and I’m probably putting more thought into it than it’s worth but I’ve enjoyed watching it again. The whole message is as John Ritter says in the end “Too much TV can get you in trouble.” This really isn’t the kind of movie to put too much thought into though. I think it’s worth your time simply because it’ll take you back to the early 90s.

NEXT MOVIE: The Stepford Wives (2004)

Star Trek Into Darkness

Year: 2013
Directed By: J.J. Abrams
Written By: Robert Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and David Lindelof. Gene Roddenberry (Star Trek)

RYAN’S REVIEW

Finally, I’ve made it. This is the twelfth and final Star Trek film I will be reviewing. We don’t own Beyond and I have no intention of getting it. This movie never seemed good enough to be part of the collection but I was curious. I ordered a copy when I got Star Trek Insurrection as a closing to this journey through Star Trek. I’ve seen this movie before but only once. I remember I was left a little befuddled and unsure of what to make of it. Now, in order to complete this journey let’s see if my initial reaction was justified.

They start teasing this as a rebooted Wrath of Khan early in the film with Spock putting his life in jeopardy. He even drops his famous line about the needs of the many outweighing the needs of the few. It was cooler when Spock sacrificed himself in the original. That Spock was sacrificing his life to save his friends, not giving up hope for the sake of “protocol.” It’s not worth dying just to follow the rules, a decidedly unbadass Spock move.

I don’t like the idea of trying to redo something that was already done great. Yeah, the first of this rebooted series was awesome because it so drastically improved on the The Motion PictureStar Trek reinvented this franchise but they should have left The Wrath of Khan alone. The Wrath of Khan is a damn near perfect Star Trek film and no matter how good this new version was it would have been better off continuing in its own direction and staying away from Khan altogether. They could have come up with a new villain like they did in the first one and I would have liked this movie better.

Kirk goes full John McClain when Khan attacks HQ. When blasters don’t work he turns to the fire hose and ties his rifle to the end of it to use it as a weapon. Granted he’s not using the hose to bungee down the side of the building but using it at all reminds me of Die Hard. For a second time around Chris Pine makes a great Captain Kirk, dare I say even outshining Shatner himself. His reaction to Pike’s death made an impression on Amber and she’s right, he performed the emotional scene well.

Wasn’t it the ultimate bullet to the head of Star Trek when J J Abrams ditched this franchise to be the man behind the new Star Wars? Not only was he leaving for a different film but to leave in favor of the space rival to the franchise he reinvented was just a slap in the face. No, worse than that, it was a kick to the balls. If the Force Awakens had been the greatest thing of all time then maybe I could get over it, but it wasn’t. He abandoned Star Trek to play with light sabers. It’s all very unfortunate but I wonder if this movie wasn’t as good as its predecessor because he had his eye on a galaxy far far away. Despite how fantastic J J Abrams was with his first Star Trek I have always had a problem with him, but I’ll discuss that when we review Super 8.

The scenes on Kronos are awesome. They have yet to have visited the Klingon home world in the films and it’s really cool that they did so here. Everything from the chase scene to the gunfight is exciting. Khan’s entry into the fray is everything that current special effects and style would have it be. The original Khan was great but this one is jumping around and assassin killing a bunch of Klingons.

I wouldn’t presume to compare Ricardo Montalban and Benedich Cumberbach because they are playing different versions of the character. I wish Cumberbach was playing a different character and not Khan. He steps on the toes of an incredible performance by carrying the same name. I do love how powerful the character is and  how he takes that attempted beating from Kirk. Maybe this is what the character was like in the episode from the original series, I haven’t seen it.

I like Peter Weller but I can’t say I was thrilled when he turned out to be the bad guy. Don’t get me wrong, Robocop makes for a great bad guy, but I don’t care for this role. His whole shtick in this movie is over the top. There’s a war coming and whose gonna lead it blah blah blah. It’s a waste of Peter Weller because I’ve seen him play a good bad guy before, but here he’s not a cool bad guy.

Simon Pegg shines as usual. The whole cast does really. Karl Urban is great, as is Anton Yelchin, with more to do this time around. I was a fan of Anton Yelchin during his Charlie Bartlett days and I was really sad when he died in such a freak accident. He was a talented young actor that died before his time. I have read that they do intend to keep this franchise going but will not recast the role of Chekov.

Leonard Nimoy makes an appearance! I didn’t remember that but it’s pretty cool in this universe that Spock can just call up himself and ask for advice now and again. He passed two years after this film in 2015 and may he rest in peace. Even though it was short it was cool to see him on screen one more time as Spock.

I remember wondering if this movie was brilliant or lazy after watching it for the first time. After making this journey through all the films I don’t think it is either. In fact I think it was awful to flip and recreate the sacrifice that made the original film so compelling. Spock and Kirk don’t have the same relationship in this movie that they had in Wrath of Khan. The characters had a long history of friendship which made the scene hit so much harder. These two guys were fighting one another in the last movie and suddenly their best friends trying to sell this blasphemous story retelling? This Spock crying is no good, the characters just aren’t that close and these guys can’t sell the scene. I think Pine and Quinto are great but they had no business doing this.

I’ve enjoyed this movie but not like I did its predecessor. It’s another cool Star Trek movie but something is missing this time around. I think it’s the story and I have a big problem with how they tried to recreate what was already done before. So much lost potential and with no factual info I blame Star Wars for taking J J Abrams’ eye off the ball. For giving him something bigger to play with and making Star Trek the toy left behind. It reminds me of when Bryan Singer bailed on the X-Men franchise in favor of Superman only to make something that sucked. Star Wars wasn’t terrible but it was more or less the exact same thing as The New Hope. That’s beside the point. This movie is worth your time but I don’t know how I feel about it.

NEXT MOVIE: Stay Tuned (1992)

 

 

 

Star Trek

Year: 2009
Directed By: J.J. Abrams
Written By: Robert Orci and Alex Kurtzman. Gene Roddenberry(Star Trek)

RYAN’S REVIEW

Everything has to get a reboot these days, and typically I spend a lot of time hating on them but I consider this an exception. This is just such a cool movie. Believe me, I’ve watched all ten movies that came before it and while two of them were really good none of them were cool. J.J. Abrams really turned up the volume.

In his debut film Chris Hemsworth gets me every time. The intro to this movie is absolutely incredible. It starts with a bang and then hits you right in the heart. Thrust into action, the future Thor is inspiring with his bravery. Hemsworth delivers on this scene when he’s naming his son as he is sacrificing his life to save everyone. The sparks are flying in the background of this emotional scene and it’s just beautiful. Star Trek doesn’t usually start like this, and it makes a difference.

The following scenes featuring young Kirk and Spock are awesome and deepen characters we already know and love. Despite how crappy most of the movies have been they are still legendary. Captain Kirk and Spock are icons. It’s no easy task to recreate them but J. J. Abrams made it look easy, this time around anyway. He took two characters that people know, and not just know but know really well and taught us something new about both of them.

Abrams did so many things right early on. Showing the conflict Spock has being half Human and half Vulcan. The first meeting of Kirk and Dr. McCoy, with Karl Urban doing a terrific Deforrest Kelley impression. He shows us Kirk cheating the freaking Kobiyashi Maru test! These things were all really well done. I think it’s blasphemous to say it because it’s a reboot, but having just watched all the Star Trek movies I have to admit that this is better. It’s more engaging, it’s more entertaining.

The cast is fantastic. Chris Pine was a relative nobody when this movie came out and he became an instant star with his portrayal of a young Captain Kirk. He has swagger and he looks the part of a young William Shatner but still manages to make his own stamp on the part. Zachery Quinto too looks the part yet manages to make it his own. Quintos Spock won’t just Vulcan death grip you, he’ll karate chop you and outsmart you because he’s been doing so his whole life. I don’t usually like Karl Urban, but he is fantastic in this part. I like that Harold (John Cho) from Harold and Kumar is playing Sulu. Anton Yelchin, may he rest in peace, is a cool Chekov. Zoe Saldana continued making her rounds in Sci-Fi franchises and looks great as usual. Simon Pegg is awesome in everything he is a part of and he is no different as Scotty, frankly his presence just makes this movie that much better.

The movie already had us with great action in the intro but the space jump is just amazing. Ha ha the thrill seeking “other guy” eats it on the dive. In true Star Trek fashion that no name along for the ride with Kirk and Sulu is expendable and dies. Oh damn, Sulu has a future sword and starts flipping around like a ninja. Again another character is redefined and cooler than he was before. Who knew Harold had it in him. Kirk Point Break’s Sulu when he’s falling without a shute, and Chekov gets a moment to shine. This scene is hands down a step ahead of the rest of Star Trek, it’s so cool.

I had a big problem when I saw this for the first time because they destroyed Vulcan. I just felt like this was a blasphemous thing to do. It was like killing Cyclops in that awful third X-Men movie. You can’t destroy Vulcan, it’s too important. However, it is a defining moment in the story that drives the rest of the film. I have come along since that first viewing, especially after watching all the Star Trek movies in a row. This one is just better, I’ll forgive it its misgivings.

I don’t think there is anything about Eric Bana as the villain, or the whole Nero story line, that’s really significant. Although he does break out those bugs that make you susceptible to suggestion from The Wrath of Khan. That is cool, but beyond that, and destroying Vulcan, he is just a guy for the good guys to fight. This movie is all about the good guys and they needed a villain when they weren’t fighting each other.

Ha! Kirk is climbing again! It’s been established before, the man likes to climb. Spock maroons him on a desolate planet because he’s too brash. Kirk has to climb out of his landing spot deep in the ice. Then Leonard Nimoy shows up, somewhere William Shatner was outraged, and he’s just a sight for sore eyes. In this long and monotonous journey that included two movies I couldn’t even finish the original Spock is just great to see again.

By establishing a new timeline they establish a new universe for themselves. It was a brilliant idea that should have been great going forward. I’ve only seen the sequel once and we never owned it until I started watching all the Star Trek movies, oh the hours I’ll never get back. After this movie I’m actually looking forward to seeing the next one again but I won’t be reviewing the third film because I have had enough of Star Trek. We watch Star Trek Beyond recently and weren’t impressed.

This movie has a great climax following the awesome fight, or ass kicking I should say, between Kirk and Spock. Spock beats the shit out of Kirk, but Kirk gets what he wants so it’s all good. Kirk has no qualms with taking an ass whooping in this movie, but he keeps fighting anyway. Spock and Kirk of course come to an understanding and then ride into battle together. Beaming aboard the enemy vessel, phasers in hand. They save the day and fly off into the starset as a couple of joes that might still become the friends in this new time line.

I haven’t mentioned it but the score for this film was terrific. I love that weird sound they chime all throughout the movie. It just sounds like Star Trek and really sets the tone.

I can’t believe I’m saying this but this movie nearly saves the name of Star Trek for me. I have made it plain how this journey through Star Trek has been for me. It’s all in print now and I was ready to swear off the whole thing for good. All of it, Kirk, Spock, Data, Worf, my personal favorite Captain Picard, every single person who ever wore one of those stupid uniforms. Nevertheless, this movie has me wanting more and I didn’t think that was possible at this point. I think I’m going to watch the sequel tomorrow night and see where it takes me. I didn’t like the sequel as much but hopefully that changes this time around. Or maybe it won’t. Star Trek has had just enough good movies to keep me going so by the laws of probability there won’t be another good one till this version hits its fifth or sixth movie, if we’re being optimistic.

This is the coolest of the cool, a complete retelling of something that at least had the potential to be cool at times. If you haven’t seen this movie you should check it out. Just don’t go calling yourself a Trekkie until you’ve paid your dues. You don’t have to wear Vulcan ears or anything but you have to know. You have to understand what came before and have some appreciation for it. It’s questionable if any of the movies that came before are actually worth your time but this one definitely is.

Disclaimer: Please excuse me real Star Trek fans. I don’t claim to be one of you but I am like a close outsider. I know things, but I would never beat you in a trivia match up. If I’m way off base here then by all means present your arguments and I would love to discuss it.

NEXT MOVIE: Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)