Nazis as bad guys

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)

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Raiders of The Lost Ark

Year: 1981
Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Written By: Lawrence Kasdan (screenplay) George Lucas and Philip Kaufman (story)

RYAN’S REVIEW

When I was in college I wrote a fifteen page paper on this movie for one of my classes.  It was a very in depth critical analysis in which I praised Steven Spielberg as one of the greatest directors of all time and accused George Lucas of being a hack that only did one good thing and fooled millions of people into thinking he had talent.  I made an A on the paper and I still stand by those positions today.  Spielberg has continued to make incredible movies and George Lucas has continued to destroy his greatest creations and ruin their legacies.  Not even this franchise was safe from Lucas’ meddling but nevertheless he did play a large role in making this movie, and it is a legendary movie.  This movie is so iconic and so awesome that it remains relevant even after more than thirty years since its release and in time I think we will find it still relevant in yet another thirty year period.

I’m not going to spend too much time talking specifically about how good this movie is because everybody out there already knows that.  If you are young and managed not to see this movie growing up you should confront your parents and demand an explanation.  This movie is exciting, interesting, timeless, and action packed.  Indiana Jones is a total badass and true American hero. He made boys all over the world want whips they could combat anything with. I like Jones as the hero because he is a strong character.  He is educated, secular, practical, and brave.  He doesn’t give credence to superstition. He follows his mind and not his heart. He does what needs to be done, and he isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty.  The guy can fistfight with the best of them and still be in class the following day blowing off the doe eyed babes trying to hit on him.  He rocks the shit out of that hat too, and it makes his silhouette one of the most memorable ever.  Another thing that makes him a great American hero is his hate for Nazis.  Indy is great at beating up Nazis and how can any red blooded American out there not love him for that?

The character of Indiana Jones was in fact created by George Lucas, but he originally named the character Indiana Smith.  When he and Spielberg were discussing the film Spielberg told him he loved the story but he wasn’t crazy about the name Indiana Smith.  So Lucas came up with the oh so clever second attempt of Jones which was what stuck.  Lucas couldn’t use the most popular name in the nation so he went with the second most popular.  I think that, in a nutshell, sums up the capabilities of George Lucas as a creative writer.  I cannot explain Star Wars because he did create something exceptional there, in the beginning, but I maintain he is a hack despite Star Wars.  I think the success of this movie and franchise is 100% because Spielberg was behind the camera.  He is one of the greatest directors of all time and he is in his element making movies like this.  Spielberg has a great imagination for action sequences and nobody films them with such an exciting impact as he does.  

He has always made great use of composer John Williams as well to his great advantage.  Williams is an incredible composer and has created a number of memorable scores.  The score for this movie alone will live on forever and that’s only one next to several very successful films over the last 30+ years.  His music has played a significant role in setting the tone for Spielberg movies such as this one, E.T., Jawsand Jurassic ParkWilliams was also the key composer for all Star Wars films and The Harry Potter franchise as well.  He has had a career for the ages and will be remembered for all time.

Karen Allen was nothing short of awesome in this movie.  As Marion Ravenwood she plays such a badass woman who will drink you under the table and stab you if you underestimate her.  I was really hopeful for her return to the franchise in the fourth film because I thought it certified that the movie would be awesome and tie them all together.  I was really disappointed with the fourth movie though, which I still think had the potential to be everything all of us wanted it to be.  Naturally, I blame George Lucas for what was ultimately put on the screen but I am biased in that regard.  Paul Freeman played the part of the lead villain well enough but Ronald Lacey showed him up as a bad guy.  For the longest time this was the only movie I knew John Rhys-Davies from and was shocked when I realized he was the man who played Gimli in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Years ago I wrote so much about this movie that I found it difficult to do it this time because I hate to be redundant.  This is a movie and franchise really important to me though because as far back as I can remember I was watching Indiana Jones and loving every minute of it. These movies are timeless and I sincerely hope they are still being enjoyed by the rising generation today.  All three of the first three movies are worth your time but this one more than any other.  You have undoubtedly seen it already but if you haven’t I don’t know what you are waiting for.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This movie is a classic. It’s almost blasphemous to say anything derogatory about it. Here is the poster:

raiders

Spielberg was obsessed with this style back in the day. This takes me right back to my Goonies review. I think what they are going for is this “adventurous” style so they make it all sketched out. I really don’t like it all. He has a super cheesy look on his face, the font for Raiders looks like it is bad word art (of course all word art is bad) and on top of that it is filled with a gradient! This movie may be a classic and this poster probably stands out in the minds of those who love it, but I hate this poster. It is definitely one of my least favorite.

NEXT MOVIE: Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom (1984)