Posts Tagged ‘movies’

Edge of Darkness

February 16, 2010

I saw Edge of Darkness yesterday, the latest movie starring Mel Gibson.  I really enjoyed it.  It was nice to see him just acting in a movie again.  No personal messages and no political or religious crap. 

In short, Boston police officer Thomas Craven’s daughter comes home for a visit and is murdered soon after arriving.  Being a cop it’s assumed that he was the intended target but it quickly becomes apparent that she was murdered for a reason. 

It’s a good solid movie and presented in a very engaging way.  It’s not an action flick.  It’s more like a mystery.  Not a “Who-Done-It” so much as a “Why-Done-It”.  The action, mostly in the form of short fights or shootouts, made sense within the plot and was never over the top.  As a good comparison, if you liked Taken with Liam Neeson you’ll probably enjoy this one too. 

Gibson’s still got amazing screen presence and despite his odd habit of occasionally screaming anti-semitic obscenities at police officers, he remains one of my favorite actors.

Welcome back, Mel.  We missed you.  And now that you’re back, let’s keep the crazy to a minimum this time around, shall we? 

– J


January 27, 2010

Save your nickels, folks.  Wow.  Don’t even waste a Netflix rental.

Ignoring (for a moment) the numerous religious fallacies, this movie was just bad.  Some of the worst acting I’ve seen in a while.  It tries so hard to be creepy and engaging that it actually comes across comical.  Not once did I find myself wondering 1) What’s going to happen or 2) Caring.

On the subject of religion, I am a firm believer in freedom to do whatever you want (as long as it doesn’t involve blowing up anyone).  This story is clearly fiction and so I don’t take it personally if they want to tell another version of things.  I have a particular grudge against self-righteous Christians that feel the need to protest anything and everything that says they’re wrong.  And I’m trying really hard not to sound like one here.

But.  These guys had a story they wanted to tell about God and his angels.  And that particular story went against just about everything the bible says about both.

“Hmm,” thought the writers.  “How can we get around the fact that our story is negated by everything the bible says and what most people believe?”

After a moment of silence someone says, “I’ve got it!  We’ll just say the bible wasn’t true!”

And thus, one plot hole of many was covered with scotch tape.

My problem is not that they skewered what I believe.  I’m strong enough in my faith that a movie is not going to challenge that or upset me.  It’s that they did it with such cheap plot devices.  If you’re going to have the balls to make a movie in which God breaks promises, lets angels outsmart him and then tell me the bible wasn’t true…  Then you better do it convincingly.

– J

Final Thoughts

December 31, 2009

What does one do for the last post of a decade?  List all the resolutions I have no intention of keeping?  A top 10 of 2009?  A photo gallery of the past 10 years?

Meh.  It’s all been done or is being done elsewhere.  Let’s talk about cartoons!

One of my favorite movies growing up (and to this day) is Transformers: The Movie circa 1986.  Eighties rock, Optimus Prime, Leonard Nimoy and Orson “This is Probably What God Sounds Like” Welles.  What more do you need in a movie?  I remember watching it a while back and laughing at the narrator’s opening line (in slow epic voice, Jon):


When I saw that somewhere around the age of 6 or 7, it didn’t even register as a valid date.  It entered my head as “crazy way off in the future”.  It would be like a movie today taking place in the year 3056 or something.  Now it’s not only past 2005 but we’re already onto 2010, an even more futuristic sounding year.  In that movie Daniel had a hoverboard and giant transforming robots for friends.  Five years late, I’m beginning to feel the eensiest bit gypped here.

Y’know what?  I don’t care what 2010 holds.  I won’t be satisfied till I get my very own transforming exosuit and giant robot dinosaur. 

Happy (non-hoverboarding) New Year.

– J

December Movies

December 28, 2009


Had a great vacation back in Texas.  Not much happened worth noting here.  Family, food, tornados.  You know, all the usual stuff you associate with Christmas.

Saw a couple of movies over the holiday.  The two big ones right now – Avatar and Sherlock Holmes. 

Avatar was truly amazing.  It was refreshingly original and brilliantly executed.  With a half-billion dollar price tag, it had better be, right?  I do recommend seeing it in 3-D if you have the opportunity.  It’s the first instance I can recall that the inclusion of 3-D genuinely added to the experience. 

It was a lot of movie, but never felt slow to me.  With regards to the plot, it was a little predictable but that was easily overpowered by the visuals moving it along.  In regard to some reviews you may have heard about certain biases, I saw very little in the way of forcing too much Earthy Crunchy down peoples throats.  If the main characters live in a tree, you can’t accuse a movie of pushing conservationism on an audience when they don’t want it blown up.  Politically, there was just enough blatant bias to take me out of the movie, but only once that I recall.

Sherlock Holmes was a lot of fun.  From the admittedly little I know about Sherlock Holmes, I think it did the series justice.  The differences between previous movies and books are best described over at LawDog.  Accuracy aside, this movie was also well executed and totally worth paying for a movie ticket.  At times it felt like a really violent episode of House M.D., but I’d wager it was House that first borrowed certain personality traits from Holmes instead of the other way around.

It’s nice to see two movies so close together and feel I got my money’s worth out of both of them.  There may be hope for Hollywood yet!!


– J

An Update

August 27, 2009

“So J, what are you up to?”

Well, at work we’ve entered a period in the legal billing profession our firm calls Countdown.   Our fiscal year end is October 31st and the months leading up to it are full of deadlines, meetings, overtime and profanity the likes of which Joe Pesci might shout if he stubbed his toe.  The goal of countdown is to get as many bills sent out and paid as possible before the year end.   This will be my third countdown and the craziest yet.  I’ve accumulated a lot more responsibility since last year, plus trying to squeeze money out of clients in the current economy is like trying to get a decent movie out of the Wayan’s Brothers.  Hope all you want, it’s just not likely to happen.

Also, life groups will be starting up at church again soon.  I’ve taken the summer off and it’s been wonderful having an open schedule, but I did find myself missing it.  I’m going back to a group in Astoria I was part of a while back and looking forward to reconnecting with some friends and hopefully making a few more.

In the more immediate future, I’m going to see Inglorious Basterds tonight.  If I enjoy it (or hate it) enough then I might subject y’all to a review.  And this weekend there’s rumor of a poker game Friday night and Saturday I’m going to a BBQ out in Long Island.  There will be grilled shrimp, at which point there will also be a happy J.

“So J, why are you sharing your schedule with us?”

Because you asked, silly.

– J

A Critical Critic Critique

June 30, 2009

Howdy gang,

Saturday morning I went to see Transformers, Revenge of the Fallen.  I was anxious to see if it was worthy of the verbal crucifixion it’s been receiving from the critics.

I’m glad to say it’s exactly what it was billed as:  Giant robots and explosions occasionally interrupted by close ups of Megan Fox.  I didn’t go in expecting Dead Poets Society, so I was thoroughly entertained.  Unlike most critics, I have a very hard time taking a movie based on a 1980’s toy line seriously.  When these pompous movie critics talk about how shallow of a movie Transformers is, it makes me wonder if they also sit on their couches with their kids griping about the slow moving plots on Dora the Explorer.

In five days this movie made 201 meellion dollars*.  Do you think this was because people wanted to see a powerful life changing movie full of heart and soul or do you think it was because they just wanted to see Optimus Prime beating the censored out of Megatron?  Exactly.  And what do you know, people got what they wanted.  I call that a success for a summer action flick.

Y’all be good,


Also, special thanks to Jon over at Xonikz for the shiny new header.  If you aren’t friends with any mad scientists creative geniuses yet, I highly recommend it.

Happy Tuesday!

* Sorry, I couldn’t think of  a better Dr. Evil joke.

Remember Remember…

November 5, 2008

Remember remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot…

If you haven’t seen it yet, take a night and watch V for Vendetta.  It’s a great flick and I think it has a lot of powerful things to say about the nature of government and the people.  I find it to be a fun discussion piece as well.  From the Wiki link above, “…the filmmakers have said that the film is intended more to raise questions and add to a dialogue already present in society, rather than provide answers or tell viewers what to think.”

I could go on, but I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.  If you have seen it, please share your thoughts.  Spoiler free, if possible.

– J

Version -2.0

September 25, 2008

Time for a good ol’ rant. 

The entertainment industry’s lack of creativity has created a time when people in their twenties can say, “You know, back in my day…” and have merit in doing so.

As I type this, I am watching the new Knight Rider.  Words fail me to express my aggravation and disgust at this worthless piece of television.  But you know me, I’ll try anyway…

1) At least the original Knight Rider TRIED to acknowledge the existence of basic physics.  I just watched two grown adults jump into the bed of truck which then morphed into a Mustang (NOT a Trans Am), placing the two people comfortably in the front seats.  Huh?

2) That Mustang was then hit by a heat seeking missile filled with a form of napalm.  Fortunately, KITT “diverted just enough energy to deflect the blast” but the napalm covered the car turning it into a ball of flame on wheels.

Folks, this was before the opening credits.  The continued 30 minutes I’ve watched has been sexual references, impossible G.P.S. technology and the worst acting I’ve seen since the school play in seventh grade.

Oh wait!!  Somebody just stuck their wounded hand in KITT’s blankityblankin’ glove compartment and received stitches and local anesthetic.  I wouldn’t have bought that when I was 8!!  And now they are marketing this garbage to (presumably educated) adults?!

Yes, Knight Rider in the 80’s was campy and unbelievable.  Turbo Boost was laughable and KITT could supposedly open locked doors in buildings from across the street by remote.  I guess my problem is that all these awful remakes seem to take themselves seriously while their originals didn’t try so hard.  The 18 wheeler with 4 people in it from the original has been replaced by a top secret compound with a hundred people and plenty of pointless spinning blue and red mood lights. 

Special effects does not make everything better.  Neither does gratuitous sex.  I wish these producers would leave my childhood memories alone and quit ripping everything off.  God forbid someone do some creative work and come up with something new.

Ninja Turtles, Terminator, Knight Rider, Care Bears, Dukes of Hazzard, Beverley Hillbillies, Transformers, and Halloween come to mind just off the top of my head.  I know for a fact they are in works to make a new Robocop, GIJoe, Green Hornet and more.  And if remaking something isn’t enough, then they just turn everything that makes a little money into an unplanned trilogy (Pirates of the Caribbean) or add more sequels to already completed stories (Indiana Jones) thus sacrificing story and quality of film for profits because they know people will go see things regardless of whether or not they suck. 

Enough is enough already.

And you kids stay off my lawn!! *shakes fist*

Agree?  Disagree?  More examples to share?  Vent away!!

– J

Dark Knight

July 29, 2008

Maybe I’m still basing my judgement of this movie on the seemingly never ending hype.  Perhaps Heath Ledger’s death changed our perception of his already stellar performance.  Or maybe it seems so amazing because it’s the first quality film we’ve seen at the movies in a long time.  It might not be so great, the other movies in its category could just be that bad.  

What set this apart?  A combination of all the elements coming together and each pulling its weight.  Several movies rely on special effects to carry a film, while sacrificing plot.  Some movies have one strong actor that they build the movie around (i.e. anything with Will Smith) and then they usually sell them, not the story of the movie.  Dark Knight, as cliche as it is, has it all.  Every actor seems like the lead when they are on the screen.  They are supported by special effects that are top notch and a musical score that perfectly matches the tone and underlying morality tale within the masterfully deep script.  They pack so much into the 2 1/2 hour time, yet don’t wear you out in the process because it’s immersing, not overbearing.

A word on Ledger…  Without a doubt one of the best character performances I’ve ever seen.  As a long time fan of Batman, I’m familiar with the many styles of Joker that have come and gone.  To compare Ledger’s performance to that of Jack Nicholson is essentially useless.  They are, in my opinion, not truly the same character.  The differences in the Joker’s are as different as the movies they appeared in.  In this instance, I have never seen a character more understood and conveyed in such an enchanting manner.  I’d also like to second the opinions of many others out there in blog land: we lost a great talent with the passing of Heath Ledger.  I didn’t know he had it in him and I am sad that I’ll never get to see another masterful work of art like this from him.  

You know you’re talking about a good movie when you have a hard time organizing your thoughts about it. I’m left with many impressions and the first is if you have access to it, please see this movie on Imax as it was intended.  Secondly, enjoy and appreciate this movie as something rare: a summer movie that was a huge success because it was worthy of being one, not because it was just the best movie of the weekend to choose from.  This movie will not come and go.  People will be using this movie as a yardstick for many movies in many genres for a long time.

Your thoughts??

– J

A Cute Robot and A Violent Faun

July 10, 2008

While on vacation I saw two movies.  Wall-E and Wanted.  Here’s a few (mostly) spoiler-free recaps.


Wall-E was a delightfully original movie by Pixar detailing the experiences of Wall-E, the last of a series of waste control robots left on earth to clean up the humans’ excessive trash while they take a (supposedly) 5 year vacation in space.  Genuinely funny and with a good (but not overpowering) message to take away.  Pixar never ceases to amaze me with their ability to generate true emotion from seemingly inanimate objects.  Their first major short was that of two swing-arm lamps and even in something so plain as a lamp they express joy, sadness, excitement, nurturing and lots of humor.  Wall-E is an even better example, given he has more moving parts to play with.  Even through his one facial expression you still run a gamut of emotions. 


Wanted is a high octane, action packed shoot ’em up staring Angelina Jolie, Morgan Freeman and Mr. Tumnus.  Mr. Tumnus is abruptly ripped from his mundane life in the Wardrobe by a gun slinging assassin in the form of Mrs. Pitt.  Joining her team, he then discovers he possesses certain inherited traits that allow him to ignore basic principles of physics.  With his newly acquired Matrix Spider Sense, Mr. Tumnus quickly becomes the best assassin on the market.  There are some really over the top car chases that are fun to watch and some nice plot twists along the way.  It’s not one for the kiddies, in my opinion.  The language and violence is pretty intense.

Hot wax can cure broken bones.  TRUE STORY.

– J

Sunburns & Cinema

May 27, 2008

Howdy gang,

I had a real nice Memorial Day holiday.  Hope you all did as well.  I spent yesterday on a rooftop in Manhattan soaking up the sun and other festivities with friends both new and not-so-new (can’t really say old, I’ve only known them 3 months or so). 

Saturday morning I saw the new Indiana Jones.  I spent part of my lunch break reading online reviews from different sites to see if they were similar to mine and I have found this movie has really polarized a lot of movie fans.  My room mate and myself included.  He felt it was the logical progression of the series and a decent addition.  I feel that if this is the logical progression, then this installment shouldn’t have been made.  My conclusion (to sum it up as short and spoiler-free as possible), is that I might have enjoyed this movie more had it not been made with Indiana Jones characters I have loved for so many years.  If you are going to attempt to add on to something as iconic as I.J., then you had best bring your A game.   It’s like a sculptor needing to know when his work is finished and to stop chipping away the stone.  Chip too much and you’ll disfigure your creation.  Unfortunately, it feels like Spielberg and Lucas needed a few bucks so they pulled out old reliable and milked the fans a little.   Has anybody else seen it yet that would be willing to share their thoughts?

I’ve been invited to a bachelor party a few weeks from now.  It will likely involve a swimming pool at some point.  If you need me, my mailing address and phone calls will be forwarded to the gym.  I’m helping the groom-to-be move into their new apartment this coming weekend.   Should be fun (in a male bonding, heavy lifting, chaotic sort of way).

Lots more going on I’ll hopefully get to tomorrow.  Y’all be good!


Some Summer Movie Summary

May 14, 2008

Howdy gang.

After a brief hiatus, I finally finished God of War II for Playstation 2 last night.  I got so frustrated with the game at one point I just put it down in search of better things.  Now I can’t wait for part 3.  The catch is that part 3 is coming out for Playstation 3 and I have neither that system nor the money to spend on it right now.

Tomorrow, for one night only, select movie theatres are showing First Blood.  Since this movie first came out in 1982, I’ve obviously never seen it on the big screen before so this will be a real treat.  I’m fairly certain the reason for this showing is to help push the new British comedy Son of Rambow, in which a sheltered child stumbles upon a copy of First Blood and proceeds to remake his own version.  I’ll probably check it out this weekend.  It’s made by the same guys that brought us The Hitchhikers Guide movie.  The more obscure a movie is, usually the more I’ll enjoy it. 

I just love the summer movie season.  It started with Iron Man, which was amazing.  The next Chronicles of Narnia installment comes out this weekend but I’ll probably wait a few weeks to see that one.  I actually wasn’t that enthused about it till I found out Peter Dinklage is in it.  I’m more focused on Indiana Jones at the moment.  After that, I’ll kill a few weeks with Incredible Hulk (out of sheer curiosity), Hellboy 2 and Wall-E to pass the time until July 18 which is, of course, Batman: Dark Knight on IMAX. 

And I’m REALLY excited about the new Sex and the City movie.  Cause the sooner it gets here, the sooner I’ll stop being bombarded by ads with Horse Face on them.

Have a good’n


The Reasonably Impressive Do-Gooder of Oz

July 9, 2007
Once there was a young girl named Dorothy. Dorothy lived on a farm with her dog Toto, her Aunt Em and three farmhands that would eventually become anthropomorphic personifications during a hallucinogenic episode following a bump on the head. During an attempt to run away from home a tornado arrives, grabs her house and sends it to Oz, dropping it on a witch who was terrorizing some midgets. In appreciation for this accidental rescue, the midgets and Mr. Bubble’s wife sing to her and then send her away alone to a green castle wherein she can catch a ride back home with the castles’ proprietor (since the odds of another tornado coming along and reversing the process was highly unlikely).  But before Dorothy can leave, the witch’s evil sister (who was terribly sea-sick) arrives and threatens to kill Dorothy because she is jealous of her shoes.  Mrs. Bubbles then points out she is outnumbered and then the witch leaves very over dramatically.
En route to a picture of the shiny green castle in the background, Dorothy meets a Scarecrow made completely of straw who has no brain yet shows amazing dexterity despite this deficiency.  He joins her and they continue on their way through a forest of demon possessed apple trees. They next happen upon a rusted man made of tin who has no heart (nor any need of one but wants one anyway). After Dorothy WD-40’s him, he too can sing and dance and apparently has phenomenal abs as he can lean very far to one side or the other without falling over. He too chooses to follow Dorothy and the Scarecrow, all assuming that whoever is giving her a ride home will most likely also have a spare heart and brain to give away. The awkward threesome continue on their way through the dark and scary (yet remarkably well paved) forest when suddenly a gay lion with anger management issues attacks them. After being struck on the hand, he cries and confesses he has no courage.  The other two of Dorothy’s companions are silently jealous that he has all his internal organs. They invite the poor distraught talking animal to join them, assuming the nice cab driver/surgeon will also be a hypnotherapist and will provide him with the courage he needs. 
The group then skipped in perfect unison all the way to green castle which is conveniently much larger and closer now.
To be continued….