Alan Rickman

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

Year: 1991
Directed By: Kevin Reynolds
Written By: Pen Densham and John Watson

RYAN’S REVIEW

Now to a more serious Robin Hood film. One I am quite fond of despite how much fun Mel Brooks had with it in his comical rendition. I enjoy Men in Tights as much as anyone but I don’t think it bears any credence to the merit of this film. I was an imaginative seven year old when this movie came out and it was an instant hit with me. I loved the chivalry and swordplay. I was specifically taken with the forest village and the battle with flaming arrows. Maybe it’s the kid that still lingers in the back of my mind but I still love this movie.

This is such a fun and exciting chapter in the never ending Robin Hood saga. There are already countless films dedicated to the character and yet another due in the next year or so. This one is far and away my favorite though. I never saw the Russell Crowe version in 2010 despite how much of a fan I am of Crowe. I think the reason was I didn’t want anything threatening my opinion of this film, because this is the one I know. This one has Morgan Freeman wielding a scimitar, this one has exceptional battle scenes, and this one has a bad guy that doesn’t get enough credit.

I was deeply sadden to hear the recent news of Alan Rickman‘s passing. He was such a talented and incredible actor. My favorite of his roles is undoubtedly that of Dr. Lazarus from Galaxy Quest, a silly movie but one he gave me plenty of laughs with. Personally, I think his Sheriff of Nottingham is a close second to one of his best roles. He kills it as a bad guy and he carries this movie on his shoulders. Yes Hans Gruber and Professor Snape are the popular choices for naming his best work and I would never challenge those roles. Yet, I love him in some of the overlooked things. In this movie he plays a great bad guy. The type of bad guy that cuts your heart out with a spoon, because it would hurt more. The type of bad guy that kills his number one henchman and cousin, because he is tired of hearing him bitch. The type of bad guy that uses gory torture punishments as flirtatious small talk when trying to woo a Lady. He’s the type of bad guy that demands your respect because you never know what he might do next. That’s Alan Rickman and if you give this movie nothing else you should give his performance your respect because that man knew how to be pull off bad guy.

It’s worth mentioning that said number one henchman and cousin was played by none other than Michael Wincott. That guy was born to play bad guys and has an evil and sinister facial structure that makes him perfect for such parts. I’m not going to ramble on about Wincott I simply think it is worth mentioning he is perfectly cast in this film in the henchman role and his presence makes Rickman an even better bad guy.

I suppose I wouldn’t be doing my due diligence if I didn’t discuss Kevin Costner. He is Robin Hood after all but while Rickman is sinister and legit I think Costner comes off as kind of cheesy. I like Costner in this part but I think he is easily overshadowed by many of his costars. As Robin Hood in this film he didn’t speak with an English accent but he did teach guerrilla warfare to the homeless and outlawed. That’s pretty cool if nothing else, and it obviously worked out well because they built a magnificent tree village.

Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood is cooler in fact because his right hand man is Azeem, played by a much younger but still old Morgan Freeman. As the sage of wisdom and wielder of the intimidating scimitar Freeman is as badass as he ever was throughout his career. Azeem can fashion tools and weapons, deliver babies, and scare witches before dispatching them. Is there a better man to have at your side whose sworn an oath to you? Achoo may have been pretty cool with his backwards Robin hat but he could never hope to have any validity in mocking Azeem. The man was just too much of a badass.

My brother and I play golf rather often, though neither of us are really any good. When we slice into the wooded area the same line is screamed by one of the two of us regardless who is at fault. “Too the trees!!!” is said multiple times on every outing and it’s this film that inspires that line ringing in my mind on a regular basis. It is fitting though because I appreciate a regular reference to such an awesome scene. The battle at the tree village is so ahead of its time and it came before so many others you must understand. This movie preceded Braveheart, as well as plenty of other films that offer great medieval warfare.  If there is no other reason to get behind this movie it is this battle. The one that rushes a wave of fur clad warriors on foot and follows with a volley of flaming arrows into the tree village. The only thing I remember being half so cool as a kid was Madmardigan in Willow and He-Man.

The early 90s were a time when it was the cool move to cast Christian Slater in a supporting role. I get it because there is a time and a place for nearly everything. I tend to think his role has always been a bit too much though. This movie does a really good job actually of depicting life during feudalism, but Will Scarlett’s opinions just sully the whole thing. He’s the bastard of House Locksley and thinks this entitles him to something. Nobody likes a guy who doesn’t know his place in the world.

I was a history student in college but admittedly never studied much of medieval history. I have always found it fascinating and the era has made for some of my favorite movies both as a kid and as an adult. I am a huge fan of Game of Thrones, the books not the butchering show, and I have read them multiple times in anticipation of the next installment, The Winds of Winter. Having read these stories so much I have become very acquainted with the customs of the time period. Even though the series is fiction it is so historical in itself that I trust plenty of it when it comes to the customs and style of the time period. In this movie without going into explanation it accurately depicts many of the same customs and practices that can be found in Game of Thrones. With the exception of Will Scarlet and his whining. The audacity this illegitimate son has to consider himself a rival of the true born heir would make the Lords of the Seven Kingdoms shudder.

This movie has a special place in my heart, as all movies that influenced my fledgling imagination as a child do. This one is way up there because in my mind I would recreate that battle in the tree village over and over again in different scenarios. As a kid my imagination was the only escape I had from the family that was dramatically breaking apart around me. Movies were what got me through those troubling times because they inspired the world I created to hide away in. That makes this movie especially more important to me but I think it is good enough for anyone regardless. If you haven’t seen this movie then it is easily worth your time. Audiences love the Robin Hood story and this one was as good as any of the adaptations have been.

NEXT MOVIE: Robocop (1987)

 

 

 

Love Actually

Year: 2003
Directed By: Richard Curtis
Written By: Richard Curtis

RYAN’S REVIEW

It’s Christmas time and we have the happy coincidence to start the month with a Christmas themed film.  We aren’t going to do a themed month for the holiday like we did in October but this just happened to be our next film and it couldn’t have come at a better time.  This is a movie I have no qualms about admitting to how much I like.  It’s a chick flick if I have ever seen one and it took Amber quite a while to twist my arm into seeing it.  Once she did I was thoroughly surprised with how much I enjoyed the film and it’s provides me with a rare opportunity to recommend a film I normally wouldn’t.  This movie may fit every possible requirement to qualify as a chick flick but the movie is both funny and heartfelt.  It’s a touching film that even the most stone hearted man might find himself both laughing and crying over.

There could be plenty to cover in this film but I’m inclined to keep it simple on this one.  While I did like the film, it is what it is and I am not going to over analyze a chick flick.  I specifically like Bill Nighy in this movie.  He is a really funny actor that I have liked in many movies but in this one he is just over the top funny.  “Kids, don’t buy drugs….become a rock star and they give them to you for free!” I love the guy that randomly buys a plane ticket to America to marvel the women here with his British accent.  The fact that it works so well for him is hilarious because it is probably true.  While exaggerated in this movie there is still plenty of truth to the idea that American women will fall all over any English guy just because of his voice.  I love the stand-in actors played by Martin Freeman and Joanna Page. The way they keep having small talk while simulating sex scenes is hilarious.  It’s really funny that this guy is building up the courage to ask a woman out while he is going through the motions of sex with her.  The casual way he responds to the director’s suggestion that he massage her breasts is so funny.  It’s a bit sappy, but I would be lying if I didn’t admit to really liking the Colin Firth story line too.  That part of the story is in full blown chick flick mode but it’s clever and touching all the same. I normally wouldn’t admit to it but the story line got me on a deep down lovey dovey level that doesn’t surface very often.

There is one part of this film that I absolutely hate and it’s the Andrew Lincoln/Keira Knightley/Chiwetel Ejiofor story. The film starts with Knightley and Ejiofor getting married and Andrew Lincoln is Ejiofor’s best man and best friend.  Lincoln is secretly in love with Knightley though and the story culminates at the end with Lincoln secretly professing the love he knows he can never act on for Knightley to her. I think that Ejiofor would be justified in beating his best friend into the dirt after that scene and always regret that it doesn’t happen when I watch the film. What kind of man has feelings like that for his best friend’s wife and then has the nerve to tell her such after she is already married? It’s bad enough that he simply feels that way but it’s the kind of feeling you take to your grave.  His little moment in the end when he lets her read his feelings while his best friend sits unknowingly upstairs is shameful.  It’s cool to look back at this movie now that Andrew Lincoln has reached stardom as Rick Grimes on The Walking Deadbut it’s disappointing to see him play such a douche bag.  Yeah you can look at this movie and say things like “he didn’t actually do anything wrong” or “he never acted on his feelings” but he did.  His actions would only lead to an inevitable affair later down the road one way or another.  They could pick up this story line for a sequel and call it “Divorce Actually.”

There are plenty of other great story lines and performances in this movie as well.  I typically despise Hugh Grant but must admit he delivered a good performance in this movie as the British Prime Minister.  I also specifically like the casting of Billy Bob Thorton as the American President.  He seems to be a bit of a combination President merging qualities from both George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.  A blasphemous thing to do politically from an American point of view but they can get away with it in a film set in Britain.  I have always been a big fan of Alan Rickman but his role in this movie isn’t the best.  It’s not because of his performance just because of how the role was written.  I feel bad for this guy really because any of us can fall victim to what he went through.  He doesn’t go out looking to start an affair but when a really attractive woman relentlessly pursues him he is powerless to stop it.  He is in the wrong to pursue at all, clearly, but like the previously mentioned American President he was just couldn’t stop himself in the face of a woman throwing herself at him.

Now that I have already mentioned doing this review briefly it didn’t take long for my thoughts to quickly add up.  The last thing I want to mention is the role of Liam Neeson.  A very nice story that he performs well in.  I have joked many times since seeing this movie that my wife is in love with Liam Neeson because of how she reacted to the part.  I’ll set the record straight now. Amber isn’t really in love with Liam Neeson, but this is the movie that started the joke I use to annoy her so.  I like Neeson but don’t understand why he has lowered himself to some of the silly type of film roles he takes now.  I’m specifically talking about Taken and its sequel.  I have heard so many people talk about how good those movies were and I want to look at all of them and ask “why???” Liam Neeson isn’t Jack Bauer or John Rambo and that’s all aside from the point that I think the time for movies like Taken was in the 90s.  Liam Neeson can do better. We see that he is capable of more in this movie specifically, and I literally think he is doing himself a disservice with his action roles.

This is a good movie and a perfect one to see during this holiday season.  There is no shortage of good Christmas films out there and this one belongs in the rotation of such.  When it comes to a chick flick, a guy could sit through a lot worse because not only does this movie not suck but it is quite funny.  So, gentlemen, if you want to please your spouses this holiday season with a film geared more toward her taste than yours then check this film out.  I know it is probably a really appetizing idea to see Christmas Vacation for the 100th time because it never gets old but this one will make her really happy and you will probably find yourself laughing much more than you would have expected.  This movie is without doubt worth your time to see.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I never wanted to watch this movie, let alone love it as much as I do. This is one of my absolute favorites. I really love how it takes different love stories all going on in the same area and ties the people together. The ultimate message of the story is that “love actually is all around us.”

loveactuallyLet’s montage another poster you guys! They managed to fit 10 different people on this poster. And on top of that they gift wrapped the poster. Ugh I hate it. I think it would have been prettier and more effective if it didn’t look like such a cheesy holiday movie poster. The home screen for the DVD is beautiful. It shows a sliced up heart moving in pieces. It is really a strong graphic. I think it would have suited here too. And these people have all already made such a name for themselves that their faces aren’t even needed. I think they could have listed them and it would have been just as effective as their faces.

I am sorry to have to say I hate this poster when I love the movie so much. It’s unfortunate, but true. The typography of the title is okay, not amazing, so at least it has that.

NEXT MOVIE: Machete (2010)

Galaxy Quest

Year: 1999
Directed By: Dean Parisot
Written By: David Howard and Robert Gordon

RYAN’S REVIEW

When I was working at Action Video twelve years ago this was one of the family friendly movies I played frequently in the store.  I thought the movie was funny and it provided me many hours of both background noise and entertainment during the work hours when I was sixteen.  I have always loved this movie and still find it funny when watching it now. The cast is made up of great actors who in some cases are so surprisingly funny.  I’m also married to a big time Star Trek fan so I especially like a movie like this that is more or less a parody of that series.

I grew up watching Home Improvement so I have always been a Tim Allen fan and specifically like him in this movie. He is really natural in this leadership role and does a great job heading this fantastic ensemble.  Sigourney Weaver is great in this movie, she can be so funny and so attractive sometimes.  She has such a funny role as the hot woman from the show who didn’t actually do anything but speak to the voice activated computer. What surprises me is how funny she actually is though, I usually associate her with more serious roles so it was a pleasant surprise. Alan Rickman is awesome, I have always liked him in anything he was part of and this is no different.  Rickman is hilarious in the role of the Spock-like Dr. Lazarus. I like seeing the diversity from him as an actor when he can be so funny with a role like this.  I think two of the best roles in the movie go to Tony Shalhoub and Sam Rockwell.  Shalhoub is just so casual and nonchalant no matter what is going on in the movie and it’s really funny.  My favorite scene is when everyone is freaking out while they are trying to land on the alien planet but Shalhoub is just sitting there with a goofy smile on his face eating candy.  Sam Rockwell playing the part of the no name guy from the show that gets killed on landing parties is great.  When he realizes that he is the character that gets killed on the alien planet and starts freaking out it’s so funny.  There is one scene where he looks at everybody and demands to know if anyone there knows his last name, and nobody can answer.  These characters are not only all funny individually but they had great on screen chemistry that made the movie work really well.  Enrico Colantoni plays one of the main aliens and he is very funny in his role as well.  There is also a much younger Justin Long in this film playing the part of a big fan that struggles to get the attention of his idol Captain Nesmith.

This is a fun and funny movie that I really have always enjoyed.  Not only is this one that I enjoy myself but I look forward to watching it with my kids one day as it is a film you can watch with your children and still enjoy.  The humor in this movie can resonate with both fans of Star Trek as well as the people out there who never saw the show.  This movie didn’t make any serious waves when it came out and it didn’t win any awards but I think it is worth your time.  For a fun and simple movie that you can just sit back and enjoy this is one you need to check out.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I don’t care who you are, this movie is funny. I guess technically, if you have never seen Star Trek, then maybe you won’t get all of the humor, but nevertheless this movie is funny. Ryan introduced me to this movie before he made (yes, MADE) me wach all of the Star Trek movies. I didn’t really understand all of the humor at the time, but I really like Tim Allen and you can never go wrong putting Sigourney Weaver in anything sci-fi, spoof or not.

Is this movie a little bit cheezy? You bet it is. Is it still worth the time? Absolutely. What are you waiting for?

NEXT MOVIE: The Game (1997)

Die Hard

Year: 1988
Directed By: John McTiernan
Written By: Roderick Thorp and Jeb Stuart

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is one of the greatest action movies of all time.  It set the bar for action films for a generation to come.  I wrote to some length about what I call the “Die Hard genre” in our Cliffhanger review, if you would like my thoughts on the subject click on the link.  This movie spawned both a franchise and a career for Bruce Willis that are both still going strong today.  Willis is still making action films and there is apparently a fifth addition to the franchise currently in the works.  I don’t particularly like what was done with the fourth film; it was just a pathetic effort to make money. This one is a classic though, and while the second was just a simple sequel I did think the third film was exceptional. This one, as well as the third was made by a good solid action director with one of America’s favorite action stars in the lead role.

This is probably John McTiernan’s most famous film and also his best.  He has made several action films of notoriety such as  Predator, The Hunt for Red October, Last Action Hero, and the third Die Hard film among others.  When this movie came out action films were dominated by these ultra-ripped muscle bound men like Schwarzenegger and Stallone. I think the casting of Bruce Willis made the character of John McClane easier for the audience to relate to. I’m talking about the cop we see in this Die Hard, not the one driving motorcycles into helicopters the fourth time around. Willis has made many great movies throughout his career and played many memorable characters. In this role of John McClane he proved to be believable, to be a reasonable down to Earth hero that the audience liked. He was able to parlay his success with this film into many opportunities. He has had a long and active career to say the least.  I have always been a fan of Bruce Willis, he is a badass.

Alan Rickman is terrific as the main antagonist Hans Gruber.  He has such a sinister sounding voice; he is always a good choice for the bad guy.  I am not a huge Harry Potter fan but I did like the films and he did a great job playing Professor Snape.  I watched a lot of Family Matters when I was a kid, and I have always liked the part Reginald VelJohnson plays in this movie. An interesting name RVJ has, I have always liked to think of him as “Reginald VelvettaJohnson” during my years killing time with Erkel.   Go figure the role Carl Winslow manages to snag in a film is that of a police officer.  Paul Gleason is also on board as an annoying authority figure, a role he has experience playing.

I have likened this movie to the male version of Pretty Woman before, as having a theme that was redone over in over again with a different cast.  I have spoken at length before about the many action movies made in the aftermath of this movie that have been just like it.  I think the fact that so many others emulated this film stands as a testament to how good the film actually is.  This movie is actually based on a book believe it or not.  The book was titled “Nothing Lasts Forever” and it was originally picked up as a sequel to Commando, but when Schwarzenegger turned it down Willis was cast and the story was rewritten a little bit.

I have heard before that this movie is called into question on whether it is or isn’t a Christmas film.  I do not know how anybody can deny that it is in fact a Christmas film.  It has Christmas music, a Christmas party, Christmas references, and I do believe Santa Claus is seen in multiple scenes. What more do you need for it to qualify? And who doesn’t find themselves feeling all Christmasy after seeing a classic American hero kill a bunch of greedy terrorist? When John McClane sends a dead terrorist down to the bad guys he doesn’t just say “hey thanks for the machine gun.” He follows his little quip with “HO HO HO”, to spread the Christmas cheer.

Like many of the movies we own you don’t need me to tell you why you should see this film, it’s freaking Die Hard. This is a great action movie that is always fun to watch.  I would suggest you see it at any and every opportunity and definitely around Christmas time.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I am really sorry guys, but I just had a baby and with the lack of sleep I couldn’t make it through this movie. And as sad as it is [apparently], I have never seen this move. GASP! I will re-watch this movie and post an updated review later.

NEXT MOVIE: Die Hard 2

Alice in Wonderland (2010)

Year: 2010
Directed By: Tim Burton
Written By: Lewis Carrol (story), Linda Woolverton (screenplay)

RYAN’S REVIEW:

This movie surprised me, possibly more than any other.  I don’t know that I have ever sat down to watch a film so whole heartedly determined to hate it end up loving it.  Why would I be so determined to hate anything right? Well let me explain, by 2010 I had long since given up on both Tim Burton and Johnny Depp.  By that time it had been more than 10 years since Tim Burton had made a film I enjoyed (since Sleepy Hollow 1999) and nearly 10 years since Johnny Depp had played a part I thought was any good (since Blow 2001).  When Tim Burton butchered a classic with his remake of Planet of the Apes in 2001 I was disappointed, and I wasn’t really all that impressed with Big Fish in 2003. I personally feel Johnny Depp’s career has been on a downward spiral since he became the eccentric, ridiculous, feminine, and pathetic Captain Jack Sparrow. I feel like every time he makes a new movie now he is wearing MORE make-up, and while he is great in this film this one is no different. Nevertheless my opinion about him hardly matters because while my disappointment has mounted his fame has sored.  I thought Depp ruined Charlie in the Chocolate Factory and I hated their next collaboration inSweeney Todd, though this movie really just wasn’t for me, I’m sure many people thought it was great. In 10 years of disappointment I grew angry with these two men who I used to think were the best, and I just really didn’t want them to give me a reason to like them again.  Nevertheless they did because my best efforts to hate this film were foiled by a great story, great performance, and great direction.

We didn’t go see this movie in the theater, sure it would be awful. I regret this decision as I do think this film may have challenged Avatar in visual effects in 3D.  This movie is visually appealing in a way that only Tim Burton can provide.  I actually think this may have been one of his greatest films of all time, if nothing else it is the best movie he has made since Edward Sissorhands (1990). It’s possible that technology has finally caught up to the imagination of Tim Burton, finally allowed to fully bring it to life.  While the effects are top notch in the movie they only make an already great film that much better.  The story is very clever, and the script is well written.  Those who haven’t seen this film may not know it but this is actually a sequel to Disney’s original Alice in Wonderland. That makes it a better movie because it is a completely new story, not a remake, and there was no telling where it might go when watching it for the first time.  The performances are fantastic as well.  I hate what Tim Burton did to his beautiful wife Helena Bonham Carter with computer imaging but she is so great nonetheless.  Helena Bohnam Carter is one of the greatest actresses out there, I have always been a big fan of hers. She is fearless as an actress, and very talented. I hate to admit it too but Johnny Depp is great in this film, he isn’t over-acting and I think his level of weirdness was appropriate for the role. The rest of the cast is worth mentioning as well, newcomer Mia Wasikowska is good, Alan Rickman, Anne Hathaway,  and Crispin Glover all bring their talent to the cast.

I literally could not say enough good things about this movie, I simply thought it was awesome.  One of the best movies I have seen in a while.  It was definitely worth the time.  I hope that you take a chance on it and it surprises you too.

AMBER’S REVIEW:

TIm Burton is not just a filmmaker. He is an artist. I have a Fine Arts degree, and I see all of my studies about art in his films. The asymmetrical and colorful sceneries are so intriguing and sometimes I feel like I am looking at works of art instead of a movie. When I first heard that Tim Burton was making this film, I was worried because it is such a well known story. It was the similar feeling I had about Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. After watching the film and realizing the movie is actually a sequel, I was intrigued.

The costumes and makeup in this film are so extraordinary, in true Tim Burton fashion. The dresses at the dance in the beginning are so regal. Each character has such an original look. Mad Hatter, Knave of Hearts and Alice are adorned with crazy awesome face makeup. It looks like the artist just painted it on like their faces were canvases. This brings me to the Queen, played by the great Helena Bonham Carter. She is one of my favorite actresses. She brings something so original and special to every film that she is in. She also happens to be married to Tim Burton.

If you haven’t seen this film, you need to. It is a great follow-up to the original Alice in Wonderland and is truly an artistically beautiful film.

NEXT MOVIE: Alien (1979)