Richard Donner

Maverick

Year: 1994
Directed By: Richard Donner
Written By: Roy Huggins (TV series the movie was based on) William Goldman (screenplay)

RYAN’S REVIEW

When I sat down to watch this movie for review I already had many thoughts about what I would write.  Things along the lines of “really fun movie but not to be taken seriously” or something like that.  However having finished it now I find myself wondering why we ever owned this movie to begin with.  Yes it’s a fun movie to a degree but more of a product of its time than anything else.  I don’t think this movie really has any lasting power and on top of that it is about 30-45 minutes way too long.  This movie is light-hearted and fun but jumps between something silly and something serious far too often.  I found the experience of watching it again to be painfully boring at times and I doubt I’ll watch the movie again for a long, long time, if ever at all.

It probably comes as a surprise to any younger person out there but there was a time when Mel Gibson was the darling actor of this country.  In the 1990s, and for a while after, the man could seemingly do no wrong. America has always loved Australian actors and before the days of Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, and the like Mel Gibson was that guy.  He had inspired us all with his “brave heart,” stole the heart of our famous Native American with his voice (despite how wrought with inaccuracy that Disney film was), and he….”knew what women wanted.” In truth, his popularity at the time is specifically why we own this movie and why I enjoyed it so much when it came out.  The mere fact that this movie was so successful is specifically because everyone loved Mel Gibson.  The movie brought in over 100 million in the US box office and that was nothing to sneeze at in 1994.  That’s crazy, trust me.  You might remember this movie fondly, just as I did, but this is no longer the era of “Mel Gibson is the greatest” and it really isn’t that good of a movie.  It’s cool to see Mel Gibson and Richard Donner reunite for something fun and the moment between Gibson and Danny Glover during the bank robbery is quite funny.  However that doesn’t make it a good film and as much as I liked this movie when it came out I still found it unbearable to watch this time around.

This film is specifically one of my favorite roles from Jodie Foster.  Foster has had a terrific career and has made many notable films but in this film I just thought she was smoking hot as the southern belle. I am not saying this is her best movie, it does not even come close.  Speaking in purely acting terms this movie isn’t even on the list of her best parts, but I just thought she was so good-looking in this movie.  To think that she made this film the same year she made Nell is crazy because the exact opposite can be said about how she looked in that film.  I am not really a Jodie Foster fan but she is such a fascinating person.  She recently officially came out as a lesbian and I think I may have been the only person surprised by that news because everybody else seemed to already know.  When I think of Jodie Foster I always instinctively think of John Hinckley Jr.  How insane it must have been to be her after that man shot the President.  For those who don’t know Hinckley was a crazy man who was in love with Jodie Foster and for some reason thought shooting Ronald Reagan would gain him the attention he wanted from her.  Seriously crazy guy that she had absolutely nothing to do with but still that realization must have affected her in some way or another.

The coolest thing about this movie, aside from the moment between Gibson and Glover, is that James Garner was cast in a significant part.  The film was based on the television show by the same name from the late 50s in which Garner starred as Bret Maverick.  I have never seen an episode of the show and don’t know how it correlates with the movie but having the original star involved gives it a certain level of credibility.  Beyond that I think there is little to say about this film.  It’s way too long at 2 hours and seven minutes.  After the big card game the film specifically drags out too far in an effort to set up a sequel that ultimately never happened.  As I said in my intro the tone of this film is all wrong as well.  It seems lighthearted and silly throughout most of the film but occasionally people are killed and it gets real.  It’s always confusing to “get real” during this type of film and I think it sullies the whole thing.  Granted it is only the bad guy and his associates that are killed but still, you can’t be silly when you are killing people even if they are the bad guys.

Having said all of that I don’t think this movie is worth your time and I wouldn’t bother seeing it if I were you.  It can be fun with all the card playing and the parts that are humorous but it’s not worth the time it takes to watch it.  This movie could have been cut by at least 45 minutes and been better.  It was all good in the Mel Gibson hey day but that day is over and now it has little to offer.  It does not even belong in our collection and I only took the time to actually review it because otherwise the time I spent watching it again would have been a complete waste.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I was not interested in this movie. I didn’t even know we owned it. Mel Gibson is not my favorite nor Ryan’s so I still don’t really get why we own this movie. I paid attention, somewhat to the movie, but I didn’t really like the plot, or the actors roles in the movie. Having said that, I really didn’t pay that close attention to it, so what I say isn’t really fair. It had a hard time capturing and keeping my attention.

maverick

There is just so much going on this poster. It has no focal point whatsoever. There is a background that fades into the skyline of the mountains? The are posed like they are in a photo featured on awkward family photos. They too are faded at the bottom into a mountain scene. There is nothing really good about the typography of the title. I don’t even want to give this one any more time. The poster does for me about what the movie does and that’s not much.

NEXT MOVIE: Meet Joe Black (1998)

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Lethal Weapon

Year: 1987
Directed By: Richard Donner
Written By: Shane Black

RYAN’S REVIEW

I think this is an action movie equally as significant as Die Hard was for the genre; the buddy cop action comedy film that would influence so many that followed. It was a very successful film that would lead to three sequels and countless knockoffs.  Were Mel Gibson still even vaguely marketable today we might still be seeing Lethal Weapon movies just as we are still seeing Die Hard movies being made.  I’m not really a fan of these franchises continuing past their time but studios will do anything these days to cash in on name recognition.  There has actually been talk of rebooting this franchise all together with new cast members and a new story.  I think it’s a shameful and pathetic idea.  Luckily this was an idea announced back in 2011 and nothing has ever come of it.  It would be a waste to do it now; not only would it probably come with  PG-13 rating today but there is no reason to think it would be successful at all.  It’s one thing to reboot superhero films but quite another to reboot an action franchise that’s formula has been copied time and time again.  There is no value other than name recognition and the market out there today isn’t going to turn out for a name that hasn’t really been popular in over twenty years.

I don’t think this was a franchise that had a lot of staying power in the industry but I do think it had its day in the sun.  The first two films are great.  They are action packed with witty dialogue and a cast that was spectacular at the time.  I’ll admit I had a difficult time trying to get into this movie watching it again last night because it is so hard to look at Mel Gibson and take him seriously again.  What a far fall from grace that man has had, to the point that I can’t even watch his older movies and enjoy them like I used to.  I used to think he was great in this movie and in truth he was but watching it now I’m thinking he didn’t do a whole lot of acting in it.  He plays a cop that might be a little crazy and this no longer seems like a convincing performance from an actor who might be seriously crazy.  Still, I can remember a time when I really liked the Riggs character. I liked that he was this cop who was sort of crazy and just really skilled when came to killing people.  The franchise lost me when they got away from that though.  Not only was it a bad decision to make the third movie PG-13 but in the fourth movie they went way out there.  Making the third film PG-13 was crazy and really limited the effectiveness of Joe Pesci.  Let’s face it, the guy just isn’t himself when he isn’t saying the “fuck” word over and over again.  In the fourth film Riggs was just any other cop.  What happened to the killing machine that knew Ju-Jit-Su and could snap necks with his ankles?  Every time he crosses paths with Jet Li he gets his ass handed to him in that movie.  I thought it really strayed from the character that chooses to close out this first film by fist fighting with the bad guy just because he can. Riggs was cool because he was a crazy killer, when they tried to make him family friendly they destroyed the character. Incidentally, Bruce Willis was first considered for the role of Riggs, oh how different the movie and action genre might have been had that happened.

I have always been a fan of Danny Glover and I like him as the “old school” cop in these movies.  Yeah his chronic complaining about how he has gotten too old for this shit got annoying from time to time but I still liked him.  Glover is 66 years old now and still very active as an actor but he hasn’t had any really significant parts in a long time.  In truth he never really had many significant parts outside of this franchise and The Color Purple but I still liked him all the same. Gary Busey got top billing as the villain and I thought he showed quite a knack for the role as Mr. Joshua.  Like Gibson, Busey is a bit of a crazy guy but the difference is that people never fell in love with Busey like they did Gibson.  I don’t know that Busey is really as crazy as he comes off either or if it’s all just a front to maintain some relevance in today’s media world.  Nevertheless he was great in this movie; cold and capable of killing anybody whenever he was on screen.  His career was on a downward spiral before he landed this part and credits it with reviving his career. Busey has developed into a more popular reality TV character than he ever was as an actor but I have liked many of his roles in cheesy action movies.  My favorite probably being his role as Commander Krill in “Die Hard on a Boat.”

This movie is as cool now as it was when it first came out.  It has everything you want out of a mindless action movie and actually set the tone for all action movies to come. It is a significant film that is worth your time and if you like action movies then this is a must see.

NEXT MOVIE: Lethal Weapon 2 (1989)

The Goonies

Year: 1985
Directed By: Richard Donner
Written By: Steven Spielberg (story) and Chris Columbus (screenplay)

RYAN’S REVIEW

What’s funny is that Amber and I didn’t plan on watching this movie tonight.  We both had bad days at work though and this movie seemed like just the thing to salvage the day. This is a feel good movie if there ever was one and it is beloved by our generation as well as others.  It’s funny and exciting with a story that can hold the interest of anyone. It’s one of those movies where a lot of talented people came together to make something great, and it will probably live on forever.

Spielberg is a kid at heart and has an incredible ability to relate to children and get the most out of them as actors.   He has been renowned for his work with children for his entire career and movies like this give him the reputation he enjoys today.  He served as Producer for this movie after writing the story for it.  He gave the directing job and screenwriting job to Richard Donner and Chris Columbus respectively. The cast was made up of mostly children but they all brought great personalities to the story.  Sean Astin was great taking on the most responsibility he had ever had acting.  He has gone on to have a fantastic career as an adult actor appearing in many memorable films including the Lord of the Rings trilogy. This was the film debut for Josh Brolin and he was great as the older brother.  I have always thought it was weird how his career remained practically dormant for the next twenty years and then he suddenly blew up and is in seemingly everything now. This movie also sports one of the many memorable roles Corey Feldman turned in as a young child actor.  I liked many of the movies he was in throughout the 80s.

I also love all three of the Fratellis and the actors that played the parts.  Joe Pantoliano is typically great in everything he does but he specifically thrives in this kind of role.  He has a villainous quality to him but can also be really light-hearted and humorous when he needs to be.  In my mind though, no matter how many memorable characters he plays, he will always be “Guido the killer pimp.” Robert Davi has a real nasty look to him that makes him great for roles playing bad guys or cops.  Anne Ramsey as Mama Fratelli was great.  She looks the part playing a wicked and intimidating woman.  She really put on a memorable performance in this movie and instilled in me a fear of older rough looking women.

This movie takes me back because it was one I fell in love with at a really young age of 5 or 6.  It’s a movie that makes us all wish we were young again.  It fills us with unrealistic desires for what our childhoods could have been and warms our hearts by inspiring our own memories from that age.  This is a great movie that is timeless and can be enjoyed by all generations.  If you have not seen it I would suggest you check it out, it is worth your time to see.

AMBER’S REVIEW

The Goonies is one of the best movies and one of those movies that almost everyone I know has seen and can quote. I can’t say a bad thing about it.

The movie poster is to the left. It isn’t one of my favorites, yet it sticks to the style of the times. I think it is very much like Steven Spieldberg to do an illustration like cover and it reminds me a lot of Indiana Jones in some ways. Check out that sweet gradient in the typography.

NEXT MOVIE: Gran Torino (2008)