Samuel L. Jackson

Snakes on a Plane

Year: 2006
Directed By: David R. Ellis
Written By: 3 credits for people I will spare the embarrassment of having penned this story/screenplay

RYAN’S REVIEW

Yeah, there is a copy of this gloriously ridiculous film sitting on the shelf of the collection I take such pride in. I would normally never give the time of day to such a film, but this one features Samuel L. Jackson. In 2006 I would have watched absolutely anything Jackson was in and this movie serves as evidence of such. This movie has sat on the shelf for ten years now and hasn’t gotten any better over time. I would look at its place on the shelf with shame if there wasn’t at least some humor to be taken out of this.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say I liked this movie but as a long time fan of Samuel L Jackson I just had to own the movie where he dropped that silly line. “I’ve had it with these motherfuckin snakes on this motherfuckin plane!!!” That’s right up there with that scene in Deep Blue Sea when he is eaten midway through a compelling speech about pulling together to survive. In truth Jackson is barely even acting in this movie and obviously just going through the motions and cashing an easy paycheck. Still, he always gets his moment.

I’m not going to go too deep into this one because it isn’t worth any more of my time than it is any of yours. It’s a glowing example at just how much I liked Jackson 10 years ago. Not to say I’m not still a fan but at this point I’m not going to sit through a snaky version of Sharknado simply because he is in it. I think I can honestly say having watched this movie to write this review that I have officially seen it for the last time, and I’m OK with that.

NEXT MOVIE: Sommersby (1993)

Advertisements

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Year: 2014
Directed By: Anthony and Joe Russo
Written By: Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely

RYAN’S REVIEW

To date, I think this is the best sequel made by Marvel Studios. Granted I haven’t seen the newest Avengers film yet but by comparison to the Thor and Iron Man sequels I’ve seen this one is way better. I think there are some minor problems with the story of this film but more importantly the action is awesome and nonstop. This movie has a certain distinction for me as it was the film Amber and I attended to get off the street one night while we were in Denver. We were in the city for my birthday and conveniently near a theater when a cool down was needed. It’s also a movie I watched while recovering from a significant concussion recently and I feel like I kind of bonded with it during that vulnerable time. Nevertheless, aside from having specific reasons for being biased towards it I will stand by it in any argument because I think it is an exciting film and it furthers the Marvel Cinematic Universe storyline in a significant way.

I’ll start with what I think is wrong about this movie that I enjoy. I think it is difficult do make solo films for the heroes of the Avengers because the threats that they face alone seem like something that they should all be involved in. Take this movie for example, how is it that SHIELD faces a threat of this magnitude without Iron Man showing up? That’s just a general problem I have but I’m willing to excuse it because I like it and the kid in me will settle for nothing less than loving these movies. The real problem I have with it is I just find it a bit too much that SHIELD is infiltrated to the top position. If the super secret almighty SHIELD can be infiltrated to such a degree isn’t the whole thing in general just silly?

There is one more thing too. Admittedly I hadn’t realized it myself until a friend pointed it out. Why do all the Marvel solo heroes have black sidekicks? How is it Marvel Studios and their parent company Disney could present such a foolish and obvious cliche that won’t sit well when publicly noticed? Iron Man has War Machine, Thor has Heimdal, and Cap has Falcon. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but it doesn’t seem like the kind of thing that is going to sit well given the racial climate within the country of late. I have faith Marvel will straighten it all out with the soon to be introduced Black Panther character.

Nevertheless my biggest hang up with this movie is the story but so what? It’s a comic book film right? Why criticize it when it is only made to be fun and enjoyable? Regardless who the bad guys are they are there to present a challenge to our hero and this film does that in spades. Captain America is faced with devastating odds and rises to the occasion as a badass. I think Chris Evans is perfect as Captain America and I like what he brings to the part. He can be both funny and stern which I think is necessary for the character. When the action starts it’s absolutely amazing how well they choreograph fight scenes to incorporate that shield. You wouldn’t think a guy could do so much with a shield but for the third time around in this film Cap defies any reasonable odds. It seems you can do just about any damn thing with a shield if you know how to wield it.

I really like the addition of Anthony Mackie as the Falcon. Something else that gets me about this film is his character. I am a regular quitter of smoking and often find myself wearing a nicotine patch in efforts to quit. Well patches can give you crazy dreams at night and for an extended period of time I had a recurring dream in which I had the wing pack thing the Falcon wears and I spent my nights flying through the air. Aside from that random tidbit I think Falcon is a really cool character and like what he brings to the film. However, his exceptional ability again brings to mind why wasn’t a call placed to Tony Stark when things got dire in this movie? Iron Man certainly wasn’t a member of SHIELD and would be in a better position to aid Cap and Black Widow. That’s just a frustrating aspect of these stories being put into film because now there are contracts and money to consider when doing them.

Samuel L. Jackson is awesome, per usual. He’s been so good as Nick Fury that his likeness made it’s way into the comic somewhere along the line. Having just written about Jackson in our recent Pulp Fiction review I won’t reiterate myself here again about how awesome I think he is. I do like that this movie gives him a really great action scene.

I remember reading the news that Robert Redford had signed on for a role in this film. For me that showed the power of Marvel. I thought it was a big deal when the first film cast Tommy Lee Jones but to get Robert Freakin Redford for the second film seemed huge to me. If you want legitimacy you can’t go wrong with the Sundance Kid as your wing man. I was really surprised in the way his role turned out in this film though. I figured he would opt for hero and not ultimate villain.

In the roles of other bad guys I really like how the Winter Soldier was done and how Brock Rumlow was set up to be a bigger villain in the future as Crossbones.  The next Captain America movie is going to be huge and as I understand it they will both be involved in the next installment. The next installment, Civil War, is primed to be the most awesome film Marvel Studios has made and I can’t wait to see it. When it’s all said and done this trilogy will be the best Marvel has to offer. Iron Man is cool but his movies weren’t all as cool as Cap’s.

I like this movie and I enjoy watching it now and again. It seems destined for significance for us because as we were watching it for this review we got a call with great news. That news and the good feelings it had will now be something else we can associate this film. Nevertheless, on that note I’m going to go ahead and scratch this off my to-do list. We’ve owned it for a while now and it’s been one of several we’ve been trying to find time to work in. Cool movie that is worth your time.

 

Pulp Fiction

Year: 1994
Directed By: Quentin Tarantino
Written By: Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary

RYAN’S REVIEW

There was a time when I thought Quentin Tarantino had played all his cards and this was the best one on the table. I began to believe that whatever made Tarantino so successful was simply his collaboration with Roger Avary. I have since learned the err of that belief but for nearly ten years I developed and held tight to that line of thinking. At a young and influential age I fell in love with Tarantino’s films and had to wait for an appallingly long time with nothing but what I found to be the incredibly disappointing Kill Bill films. Those films, after all, were simply a sub plot from this film. When all he could do in that time was make a film based on a line from his most popular film I took it as a sign. In this film Uma Thurman’s character was on a pilot TV show thats plot was basically the story of Kill Bill. However, in the years since Inglourious Basterds we have seen that I was wrong all along and just a bitter fan getting pissy about wanting something new and incredible to see.

Tarantino has always had a mind for writing snazzy dialogue and it is on full display in this film. From the opening scene in the restaurant this movie immediately grabs your attention and then takes advantage of it with a charming scene of two hit men casually carrying out their jobs on a group of targets. Tarantino is a perfect example of why writing matters. He has always been successful delivering us shock in awe but the base of what makes him great is his writing. From there it goes up to his work behind the camera and if there is one flaw in him it’s his determination to get in front of the camera himself. I thought he was good in Reservoir Dogs and good in this film but I think he stretches it too much. I think it’s obvious Tarantino is a cool guy to meet and people are drawn to him in the business. Every one of his films has been cast with not simply a big actor but a group of them with others clamoring for cameos. I remember hearing somewhere along the way that he would make friends easily with actors and offer them parts in his next movie. Regardless how it happens I have always loved directors who worked with larger casts and Tarantino is one of the reasons I have that preference.

I heard once that this was the film that revived John Travolta’s career and I know that’s true because he preceded it with a third Look Who’s Talking film. If that isn’t something you do only when your career is in the dumps I don’t know what is. I think that is interesting because this role wasn’t even originally intended for him. If I’m not mistaken I think the role was supposed to go to Michael Madsen but he had a scheduling conflict. I can say honestly that I think Travolta was great in this movie and it seems to fit with film history that he is dancing on screen again in such a comeback. Nevertheless, Michael Madsen would he been better. There is nobody in the business cooler or colder than Mr. Blonde. Had he actually played his counterpart to Vic Vega his whole career may have been different and for the better. Movies didn’t get enough of Michael Madsen; he should have had a better agent in the 90s. The only problem is that the character of Vincent Vega appears befuddled and confused now and again, he gets killed by leaving his gun in the kitchen and well….he shot Marvin in the face. I couldn’t see Michael Madsen being so foolish. Plus, junkies are never cool, I think Vincent Vega using heroin makes him a liability more than an asset to a criminal organization and that drops his cool factor significantly. Heroin users aren’t cool; they’re afflicted with a problem that will eventually drive them to desperation.

This movie sports many cameos but one of my favorite of all time is the one performed by Christopher Walken. I am a huge fan of Walken and this film may very well be the reason why. Nobody has a cadence like Walken; his voice is great for comedians doing impressions. He has a presence about him, and he makes every film he is a part of better. Speaking of guys who make every film better, Steve Buscemi also sports a cameo in this movie. I love seeing Buscemi in anything but when he makes such a brief appearance in this film I just feel cheated.  Another cameo that shouldn’t go unmentioned is that of Peter Greene, which in truth shouldn’t be called a cameo but a part. Greene, like Madsen, is an actor that never got enough screen time. He has a sinister look about him, perfect for the part of Zed.

As it’s time to speak of Jed, Bruce Willis needs be mentioned. I have grown up as a fan of one of the greatest action heroes of my time. John McClain, Korben Dallas, and Joe freakin Hallenbeck for cryin out loud. Who better to wield a samurai sword against sex criminals? Bruce Willis embodies what a badass is supposed to be through my eyes that grew up in the nineties. In truth, this has never really been my favorite role of his, but under most circumstances I have always felt like Willis could do no wrong. I tend to pull for the mobsters in these types of films and Willis is as close to a good guy as it gets in this movie. The mobsters are great though, Ving Rhames easily gave his finest performance as Marsellus Wallace. Never quite understood why the boss was picking up the coffee in the scene when he crosses paths with Butch but otherwise he brings it as a powerful and intimidating bad guy. The kind of guy you definitely don’t want to drag down into the basement of sodomy and do things to.

While I feel like Travolta’s Vega is a bit on the goofy side as a hitman I think Samuel L. Jackson is the complete opposite as Jules. Jules is such a cool and compelling character that it could be argued that Jackson has cashed in on it more than 20 times over. I am a huge fan of Jackson but it is very often when I feel like he is simply doing his Jules from Inglewood routine. He gets loud, uses some profanity, and then something crazy happens. I still love it though, in fact I own Snakes on a Plane for no other reason than I love Samuel L Jackson being himself. The role of Jules was specifically written for Samuel L. Jackson after he failed to land a role he auditioned for in Reservoir Dogs so I think there is a lot of him in this character. Jackson has over 160 credits as an actor and continues to work at a rate that barely anybody can keep up with. The majority of those roles started piling up after this film. With “great fury and powerful vengeance” he took the industry by storm after his Oscar nominated role as Jules and there is no end in sight to his success.

This is the type of movie that offers a lot of talking points but I don’t feel the need to rehash old conversations because it is all out there now. We know that Jules’ biblical speech was written for the film and not specifically taken out of the Bible. We know there was nothing specifically in the briefcase. To which the answer never seems good enough for people, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out Tarantino is still to this day badgered about that question. Theories include the soul Marsellus and even the diamonds stolen in Reservoir Dogs, but it has been said a dozen times by Tarantino and Avary both that the contents of the box were specifically left up to the viewer. We have an eye now for the Tarantino brands like Big Kahuna Burger and Apple cigarettes. I love the type of director Tarantino is and if he wasn’t such a genius people wouldn’t continue to talk about these things after over 20 years. He is making some great movies these days but this one will always be one of his greatest.

I love how he films these independent stories that are all random but tie together in the end. I love how it comes full circle with the robbery of the restaurant. Amanda Plummer is shocking with her sudden ferocity and so vulnerable in the end when the heat it turned up. I think it is such a compelling performance. Tim Roth is great too as the level headed stick up man. In limited screen time Pumpkin and Honey Bunny are able to convey such a powerful and interesting relationship. It’s great written dialogue and great acting all around. The “Bad Motherfucker” wallet that Pumpkin has to fish back for Jules actually belonged to Quentin Tarantino. I actually have one myself that Amber got me as a gift a few years ago. I keep it as a joke with a younger license inside with things from the past. The way I see it that younger version of myself may have been a “Bad Motherfucker” but these days I’m a domesticated husband and father so I keep it simply for the novelty of it and to joke about from time to time.

I haven’t mentioned two of the most important people in this film but let me explain why. I am not and have never been a fan of Uma Thurman. While I’ll admit she is great in this movie I haven’t thought Mia’s character was anything exceptional. I detest the use of heroin and her character’s OD scene doesn’t impress me as it might others. She looks really cool with the short black hair but I’m just not into it. Tarantino obviously likes her a lot though as he used her in Kill Bill and continues to allude to a third film as well. The Kill Bill movies are absent from our collection and normally I would buy such a film specifically to write about it here but I simply won’t have them in my collection. With the ease of Amazon Prime many unlikely titles have made it into the collection in recent years but at Kill Bill I draw a line. Those movies are garbage and I will not give in simply for the sake of how awesome Tarantino was and is again with new success.

The other I’ve failed to mention was that of Harvey Keitel. Nothing against him but I have always felt like the Wolf was a little overdone. I think the character is really cool, but much like Uma, I’m just not into it. Keitel is as much the reason for the success of Tarantino as anybody though so he is due plenty of respect. If I’m not mistaken he was the first actor to get behind Tarantino and had a lot to do with getting the wheels rolling on Reservoir Dogs. The role of the Wolf was specifically written for him and it’s a really cool role. I just never felt so impressed about this freaky fast Mr. Fix Anything guy. I do want to believe that guy is out there utilized by criminal organizations because it’s such a cool idea but I feel like a guy who shows up in the AM wearing a tuxedo is just too much. Are to believe this totally efficient guy is also pulling all nighters with the sophisticated crowd that parties in formal wear? I may love this movie, but even as an easily influenced adolescent obsessed with this movie I found it a bit silly back in the day.

This is a movie that has survived in popularity for an awfully long time and anybody that watches it understands why. I have a memory that has never left in which my future step mother talked about this film and the things she had heard about it swearing to never watch it. It was the syringe scene she mentioned specifically. That memory always makes me laugh a little because this movie is not for the faint of heart. There are people like my step mother out there that simply cannot handle a movie like this and I find it comical in a strange way. For the rest of us though, this is really something to enjoy. You can’t call yourself a movie buff without a healthy dose of viewings on this one. It’s a classic that will continue to be popular for years to come and influence countless more rebellious youths as it once did to me. This movie is without doubt worth your time over and over again.

NEXT MOVIE: Punch-Drunk Love (2002)

The Long Kiss Goodnight

Year: 1996
Directed By: Renny Harlin
Written By: Shane Black

RYAN’S REVIEW

Such an interesting time it was when the pairing of Renny Harlin and Shane Black was a formula for success.  This movie came out at the end of an era when mindless action movies could have an R-rating and still have the potential to turn a significant profit.  I miss those days because even though most of these movies were really stupid I still enjoyed most of them.  I was 12 when this movie came out, and at that age the bigger the explosions and the bigger the lead female’s breast the better. This movie has all that but gets a boost from the fact that Samuel L Motherfucking Jackson is in it. Any movie, no matter the premise or context, is better when Samuel L Jackson is in it, period.  The film has a lot of over the top action and unlikely scenarios but those are to be expected from movies by both Harlin and Black. This film, being a collaboration between the two, may exaggerate that quality a bit. While everything might all be a bit too much in this film there is still plenty to like about it.  In fact, Harlin and Jackson both are on record mentioning it as one of their favorite movies that they worked on.

I watched this movie recently when I was on vacation with my brother.  It was interesting because we both grew up with it being a household favorite.  The two of us watching it together found little else in the film but things to make fun of. There is plenty to laugh off as ridiculous in this movie. For example, the scene in which Samantha starts cutting vegetables. The music alone makes it goofy as hell when the tone goes from suspenseful to lighthearted back to suspenseful in a matter of minutes. As a viewer it’s hard to tell if the scene is supposed to be horrifying or humorous. In good company there can be different perspectives on the table though and now that I am watching the movie on my own I’m seeing it differently.  Don’t get me wrong, this is not a film to be taken seriously, but still there can be plenty to like here if you are in the right mood for it.

Samuel L Jackson is a gem who has made many roles his own.  I am generally under the theory that by and large he is and always will be Jules from Inglewood.  That’s OK though, because Jules was one of the greatest characters of all time.  He has played the character time and time again with different names and situations but he will always be Jules. There is a little bit of Jules in Mitch from this movie, and if nothing else it is Mitch who makes this movie worth wild.  He has so many great scenes in this film.  Here is a good example of what he brought to the film:

That’s just a taste of the comedic quality Jackson brought to the movie.  He is hands down one of my favorite actors of all time and while I don’t watch everything he does I do love him in everything I see him in.  I’ll be honest; this film collection may have Snakes on a Plane lurking in the “S” section specifically because Samuel L Jackson is awesome. I think the fact that he has mentioned this movie as one of his favorites when he has made almost 150 movies says something important and if nothing else it makes this movie worth your time to see it.

I have always liked Geena Davis, but in truth that is probably only because she was in her prime while I was going through puberty. Still, despite movies like this, she turned in a few impressive performances in her time. I think it was a bit of a stretch for Renny Harlin to try to make an action star out of his wife but she made a better effort than Angelina Jolie ever did. Despite how much of an apocalyptic failure Cutthroat Island was I always liked it but I think this collaboration between Harlin and Davis was much better. She looked pretty good in the pirate get-up but she had the right attitude for Samantha Caine and Charlie Baltimore both despite being such an exaggerated character.  

Some films have a timeless quality that enables them to live on forever and relate to every generation that comes along.  This is not one of those movies.  The Long Kiss Goodnight is the kind of movie that you just had to be there to really enjoy.  It’s hard to look back now and appreciate this movie but if you were there, living life in the mid 90s and loving these kinds of actions movies, then you get it.  This movie was a product of its time, just as I am, and having that in common I like this movie even though it may be pretty silly when that wasn’t at all what it was going for.  If you remember the good old days when bad guys and good guys alike both used the fuck word with an aggressive frequency and enjoyed them as I did then this one is worth your time.  If nothing else it is worth seeing just because Samuel L Jackson was awesome in it.

NEXT MOVIE: Look Who’s Talking (1989) This is an embarrassment I know, read our next review to see easy it is to get caught up in the moment and make stupid decisions. 

Jurassic Park

Year: 1993
Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Written By: Michael Crichton and David Koepp

RYAN’S REVIEW

I was nine years old when this movie came out in 1993.  At the time my father was the manager at the Uptown Theater in downtown Washington D.C. and I was there when this movie premiered there. The theater only had one huge screen with a large auditorium and a balcony. I sat on the first row of the balcony to watch the movie and for two hours and seven minutes my mind was blown.  It is still to this day the largest screen I ever watched a movie on and I don’t know that anything I had ever seen as a nine year old was more exciting than this movie about dinosaurs. I’ll never forget how I felt after seeing it for the first time, it was probably pivotal at my age in my development as a movie fan.  I was so exhilarated; I remember immediately thinking about how awesome the inevitable sequel would be.  I had suddenly discovered the coolest thing that had ever existed, the velociraptor, and here I had spent nine whole years thinking it was the T-Rex.

As I grew up I only came to love this movie more as I was able to understand more with my growing maturity.  Eventually I read the book and was at first disappointed by how different it was but by the end came to love it as well.  Michael Crichton is a good writer but he tends to wear me out as a reader sometimes.  His books are fascinating and always have exciting stories but they are just so nonstop with danger around every corner.  Things never cool down and the danger around every corner can sometimes be exhausting.  Crichton of course was already a very successful writer long before he conceived the idea for this story. So successful that when he approached movie studios with nothing more than the idea for the book he was immediately offered tons of money for film rights.  Four studios fought over the right to make the film, each with a director in mind to attach to the project. So Crichton had his pick of who would make his book into a film even before he wrote it.  He ultimately chose Universal Studios who had Steven Spielberg penciled in to direct and I think we can all agree he made the right choice.

Nobody captures excitement and adventure quite like Steven Spielberg and his people.  He brought along David Koepp to work on the script, John Williams to work up the musical score, and Kathleen Kennedy to produce.  This group of people can almost be likened to a mathematical equation that equals success because they have created it time and time again.  They know how to make great and long lasting movies and did that again when they got together for this one.  Spielberg even tapped one of his other resources for this film by bringing on George Lucas to finish direction when it came time for Spielberg to work on his next film, Schindler’s List. I mentioned in a previous post that Spielberg had a great knack for growing as a filmmaker and adapting to the times and new techniques.  He did that with this movie as the technology used to bring all the dinosaurs to life was very new at the time.

I have always liked the cast of this movie although none of the actors used were really big names.  Sam Neill has never been much of a leading man but I thought he was great in the part.  Most of the other films I have seen Neill in have been horror films and he is awesome in those. The number one that comes to mind is In the Mouth of Madness which I remember being particularly scary. Laura Dern was the female lead and she is another I would not call a leading actress.  Although she has starred in the lead of her own television show on HBO, EnlightenedAlthough the show has been cancelled after two seasons.  I haven’t seen much of it but Amber seemed really interested at one time.  Jeff Goldblum has a large enough role to almost be considered a lead and he probably had the most recognizable name among the cast. I have never been a fan of Goldblum but I think he fit the role of Ian Malcolm really well.  The only problem with him in the role was it required him to be the lead actor in the sequel. I think they could have been more prudent in choosing, but they didn’t know that at the time because the sequel hadn’t been written yet.  Of his two rounds playing the part I think we saw him do better in this film.

I think the strength of this cast lies in all the supporting roles because they had many good people filling in the smaller roles.  Samuel L. Jackson was relatively unknown when he was in this movie.  It wouldn’t be till the following year when he was in Pulp Fiction that his star really began to rise.  I thought he was great as the chain smoking park technician in this movie.  I also particularly like Wayne Knight’s role in the film.  This was probably the highest point in Knight’s career as he was starting to get plenty of face time on Seinfeld as Newman.  Long after Seinfeld Knight saw a dip in his career and as far as I know it is all but over now.  I read an article a few years back that he had lost A LOT of weight. So much so that he was barely recognizable as all his time in the public eye was as such a heavy man.  I read that he was having a hard time getting roles because of his weight loss but he was happier to be in shape and living a healthier life.  I think that is great for him and I hope Wayne Knight is still keeping it up and doing well, but I miss him in parts like this.  Richard Attenborough also brought a lot to the film in his role as the park’s creator.  Although his portrayal in the film is much different than it was in the book.  In the book John Hammond was a real ass and I think all readers were really pleased when he is eaten by some of the smaller dinosaurs in the park.  Of course in the film he lives and not only that but he has that great grandfatherly quality that Attenborough has himself so he is very likable. Joseph Mazzello also played a great part but he has had a hard time transitioning his success as a child into anything else.  He is still out there popping up here and there but hasn’t done much of any significance.

This movie will always be important to me for more reasons than how awesome it might have been.  I will never forget the premier of the film when I was there at the Uptown in 1993.  I don’t remember seeing them all specifically but Jeff Goldblum was there, both of the two child actors, Laura Dern maybe, and I did see Muhammad Ali who attended.  Although I didn’t see him I know that Vice President Al Gore was there as well because I met a Secret Service agent that was there to guard him.  While waiting for the movie to start the VP had taken over my father’s office and when I went there looking for my dad I found my father wasn’t in there but there was a man in a suit standing guard outside.  He was a really cool guy who humored my fascination in what he did with plenty of conversation.  I will never forget it for as long as I live because at nine years he was quite possibly the coolest guy I had ever met in my entire life.  He showed me his gun and even took the clip out to show me the bullets he used.  I doubt this was something he was supposed to or even allowed to do but he left such an impression on me.  I was quite lucky to meet one who was nice to me instead of being a hardass, as I imagine most Secret Service members are and should be.

I don’t have to tell you anything more about this movie because you most likely already have plenty of your own ideas about it.  This is one of those films that simply everybody saw at the time because it was that popular.  Both the film and the book are worth your time and I would suggest investing some in both of them.  Universal Studios is still trying to harness the bank-ability of this film franchise and there is always talk of a fourth film in the works.  Over the year I have heard all kind of ideas thrown out there, even one as wild as velociraptors equipped with laser technology that allows them to fight humans in battle.  I doubt a film like that will ever be made but I am sure we will eventually see a fourth film in the franchise.  Will it match up to this one? Of course not but that doesn’t mean that somebody else won’t pick up the torch and do something significant with it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This classic movie is a movie that everyone should have seen by now. Who doesn’t love a good story about dinosaurs? I really like this movie. I still don’t mind watching it when it comes on television. It’s a fun ride and a classic flick.

jurassicpark

I really think this is a successful poster. Who needs to show a poster filled with dinosaurs? I love that they decided to simply use the park logo as the focus for this poster. It tells you everything that you need to know. This logo is still iconic today, just as I said about the Ghostbusters logo. People automatically know what this is when they see it. Overall, I think this poster deserves a big kudos. It took a risk being so simplistic, but this works on so many levels. Love it.

NEXT MOVIE: The Lost World (1997)

Jackie Brown

Year: 1997
Directed By: Quentin Tarantino
Written By: Quentin Tarantino (screenplay) Elmore Leonard (book)

RYAN’S REVIEW

This was actually the first Tarantino film I ever saw when I watched it in the theater at 13 years old. It would actually be years before I would know either Tarantino or Samuel L Jackson by name but I swear that they spoke to me with this film.  Even to this day I can’t pinpoint what it was that drew me to this movie or what it was that I liked so much about it but something here fascinated me.  I thought Jackson was so smooth and devious as the main criminal and it may have been the role that initially made me fall in love with him as an actor.  It wasn’t just Jackson though, the whole movie seemed to draw me in and I saw it a couple times in the theater.  I was too young to understand the art behind film making when I was 13. Looking back now I find it interesting that this movie, made by a true artist, took hold of my premature imagination and managed to absorb my full attention even though plenty of the film went over my head.

This movie is based off a book by Elmore Leonard called Rum Punch that Tarantino acquired the rights to back in the 90’s. Tarantino wrote the screenplay and did a great job with it but from what I understand he more or less stayed true to the story and followed the book closely. I think it is a great movie and have since it first caught my eye over fifteen years ago. It’s not Tarantino’s best film but only because the competition is so steep.  I think Tarantino experienced a significant slump in his career following this movie.  Until 2005 when he blew me away with Inglourious Basterds I had considered this the last good movie he had made.  To the best of my knowledge this was Tarantino’s last collaboration with Roger Avary and until Basterds and then Django Unchained turned out to be so incredible I had given up hope on him as a director.  Tarantino’s greatest work for a long time came while he was working with Avary.  Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fictionand this movie were all done in collaboration with Avary and they were all incredible films.  During the seven years between this movie and Inglourious Basterds I began to think that he wouldn’t succeed without Avary.  I will admit now that he can and will.  His last two films, Basterds and Django Unchained, were incredible films and prove Tarantino can do it all on his own.

Like most Tarantino movies this one sports an incredible cast.  It revived the career of Pam Grier who took on the lead role.  Tarantino had long been a fan of Pam Grier movies and specifically changed the lead role of the story so he could cast Grier in the part.  I think she did a terrific job and looked incredible doing it.  As great as she did though, I happen to think the greatest role was played by Jackson.  He thrives in the roles he gets from Tarantino and he did great with the largest he has had in any of his films.  As Ordell he was so calm, cool, and collected that he entranced me as a new teenager figuring out what it was that really made movies great.  Jackson has played many great characters over the years. Literally doing everything from Star Wars to Snakes on a Plane. He is a tireless actor who has left his mark on the industry by making more movies than any other actor out there and being really good at it. I like that Robert De Niro was part of this film but I don’t really think that he fit his role all that well.  De Niro was still a headliner at this time and I don’t think this side role was right for him; it didn’t suit him very well.  Michael Keaton on the other hand did a great job in a supporting role and I was happy to see him playing a part.  I have always been a fan of Keaton and liked his collaboration with Tarantino.  There has always been a big fuss over the role Robert Forster played but I have never seen what he did that was so significant.  He was nominated for the Academy Award for the part and I don’t think he did a bad job, I liked his role I just don’t think it was anything special.  Bridget Fonda does well enough in the role that she had but all she had to do was look good and tanned.  Truth be told I think the part could have been cast better despite that but Fonda sufficed.  Last but not least Chris Tucker can’t go without mention.  His part was small but he still played a significant part.  Also worth mentioning is Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister who has a small part.  My wife and I actually met him in Las Vegas this past October.  She had her picture taken with him and I shook his hand.  He is an incredibly intimidating man both on screen and in real life but he was really courteous to my wife. 

The biggest problem with this movie is that it really runs far too long.  Somehow is seems to be a great movie without really being any good.  That’s a strange thing to say but it is the best way I can think to describe the movie. There are too many long scenes simply honoring the soundtrack of the movie. Tarantino has said this movie wasn’t a play on blaxploitation but it seems like that kind of throw back to me. He is obviously a fan of that genre as he specifically cast Pam Grier in the lead role.  I read that when she came to his office to read for the part he actually had posters from her films hanging on the wall in his office.  She assumed he had done this for her but said that they always hung on his walls in there.  Between that and the music choices for the film I do feel he was referencing the old blaxploitation films but I am no one to argue with what the director specifically said it wasn’t.

One thing I did notice while watching the movie and would like to point out was something Samuel L Jackson said during the film.  In one scene he is sitting across from Robert Forster in his office when he points to a picture of Tiny Lister and asks, “Whose that Mandingo motherfucker right there?” I found the phrase to be interesting specifically because Tarantino’s most recent film Django features and practically focuses on Mandingo fighting during slave times.

In closing I will simply say that this is not my favorite Tarantino movie but it is one that I like and will always have a special sentiment for.  I like the cast, I like the story, and I like the direction.  Given how incredibly successful Tarantino has become in the last few years I look forward what else he has to offer in the future. This may not be his best movie but it isn’t one of his bad ones and that makes it absolutely worth your time.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I don’t mind this movie. I don’t love it, but I don’t hate it either.

jackiebrown

This poster follows in the true Tarantino style. He has a very unique look to each and every poster for his films. I can always tell immediately who they belong to. I love this poster. It is simple and to the point. The fact that she is holding a gun alludes to the genre of the movie. The font of Jackie Brown is a little decorative for my taste, but I think it works here. Especially for the era.

NEXT MOVIE: Jaws (1975)

Iron Man

Year: 2008
Directed By: Jon Favreau
Written By: Many for screenplay and character creation both, most notably Stan Lee and Jack Kirby

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is where The Avengers started, it’s where is all began and it got things kick started with a bang.  The Avengers was such an incredible movie because it was the culmination of something many films had already built over many years.  This was the first one, the first movie about one of the characters, and the first one to feature Samuel L Jackson in role of Nick Fury. This one was the right one to get things started.  Plenty of superhero films crash and burn but this one is rock and roll. It was incredibly successful because it was the real deal. It’s a cool movie and it tells an interesting and exciting introductory story.

Robert Downey Jr.’s career certainly has had its ups and downs but I think he got his game back with this role. He has always been a great actor but when he became Tony Stark he became Tony Stark.  Today’s Robert Downey Jr. isn’t the guy we saw back in the early 90s. He is an altogether entertainer that has blossomed into this really likeable guy much like Alec Baldwin or well Samuel L Jackson for that matter.  These guys are just super cool and suddenly have more charisma than anyone would have ever imagined.  Alec Baldwin once starred in Thomas and the Magic Railroad for crying out loud.  Robert Downey Jr. is now one of those guys.  He has played this character so many times now and so well that he is that guy.  Just as Jon Hamm will always be Don Draper and James Gandolfini will always be Tony Soprano.  I think it’s a good thing because I think he is great as Tony Stark and I couldn’t imagine anybody else doing it now. He may have done some great things in his career before but I think it’s obvious that this was the role he was made for.

As for the rest of the cast I don’t know that anyone was really stellar by any means.  I am a big Jeff Bridges fan but come on, The Dude does no harm.  Whose idea was it to cast him as a bad guy? He did well with it but I don’t think it was an exceptional performance or anything. I think Gwyneth Paltrow is great but this doesn’t seem like the right role for her.  It seems like a strange thing to say given how much I like the movie but I think the role of Pepper Potts is beneath her.  I think she is too good to play this kind of part in a movie like this. I am a big fan of Paul Bettany as well but I would never know he was the voice of Jarvis if it wasn’t listed in the credits.  However, I will say that the computer he personifies is really badass and I wish I had one. Terrance Howard did OK with his role as well but given he was replaced in the sequel his role means very little now.  If I remember correctly I read somewhere that he was really difficult to work with on this film and was not asked back the second time around.  I do not know enough about what happened though to be honest. Samuel L Jackson is awesome per usual but his role is so small and after the credits; it hardly matters when speaking about the cast.

I had really high hopes for Iron Man 2 but walked away feeling really disappointed.  It was too much of set up for The Avengers and I thought the Iron Man part of the storyline was really lame.  I know the character of Tony Stark has problems with consumption and that in the comics it sometimes gets out of hand. I think the writers probably had plenty of storylines to pick from though and one along those lines is lame.  I thought they could have created a more powerful Tony Stark instead of one that was dying and desperate. When he peed in the Iron Man suit I had given up on the film.  We do not own the sequel to this film because I really didn’t like it but the third film is set to be released this summer and I have high hopes. It looks really good and I am looking forward to it.  You can see a trailer here.

I don’t think this movie rivals the original Spiderman in the genre but it is high up on the list of Marvel Comics best movies.  I mean of course the films based on their characters and not simply films produced by the studio. We muct not forget about the greats aside from Spiderman was must keep X2, and Blade in mind.  This was a good movie and that is what is most important to keep in mind.  I would find it weird if you hadn’t seen this movie given its immense popularity but if you haven’t then it’s time you’ve seen it.  This movie is worth your time and I would give it my stamp of approval.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I was really surprised by this movie. I went into it thinking that I probably wouldn’t like it, and it proved me completely wrong. I don’t really know anything about the comics of Iron Man so it was fun to go into without any preconceptions.

ironman

Oh look, another one! They tried to pack in every single person in the movie. I have to say though, I don’t really think the designer is at fault. This had to be like a contract thing or a “client demands” situation. I think this poster would have been a lot cooler if it was a straight-on shot of Downey and then Downy in the suit. Split it down the middle and show half of each, but the center glows out of both. It would look a lot cooler than this one.

NEXT MOVIE: The Island (2005)