28 December 2006

Apocalypto

Well, I was expecting a life-changing film. A movie-going experience that I would remember for years to come. In my years of movie going, I have seen many movies that I know my kids will someday say, “Dad, you are old if you say that in theaters!” On a quick side note, I have no kids at this time. I really thought after all the buzz around this film, and all the publicity on it, that it was going to be the next movie to reach this high echelon. To make it short and sweet, it was not of this caliber. It was, however, still a good film. After the whole Mel Gibson incident, I laughed that they pushed the movie back for the Oscars. This is exactly why studios should not play that game. Apocalyto opened with a hunt of a wild boar. The hunters are successful in their hunt. While they are dividing the boar meat up, a creepy group of other Mayans walks by. They are bloody and tattered from what they say was a massacre at their village. This gets the main character Jaguar Paw scared. Keep in mind that the entire movie was spoken in the ancient lost Mayan language by a whole group of no-name actors. Back to the hunters. They go back to their village, and it is massacred the next morning. We got to see that Jaguar Paw has a little boy and a wife with child. He quickly hides them in a deep hole in the ground to save them before he himself is captured. Here, he makes enemies with one of the captors.

That ended of the first act of the film. The second act covered the traveling of the prisoners with their captors to their great city. They had a few adventures along the way. A small girl dying of some disease tells the captors that they are doomed to die. It was foreshadowing for the last part of the film. Once in the city, they are painted and made ready for a ritual sacrificing for the gods. As Jaguar Paw is getting ready to have his heart cut out and head chopped off, and eclipse happens, and the captors decide that the gods are happy. They then “release” the remaining prisoners.

Now that act two is done, we get to the final act, the chase. Here, Jaguar Paw runs back to his razed village to try and save his wife and child that are in the hole. Some of the captors are chasing him due to a folly on his part. This is where I started to get mad at the film. He is running, presumably in a straight line. Yet, despite many breaks by his pursuers, they always manage to be right on his heels. My only thought here is that he is running the old NES Tecmo Super Bowl method of zig-zag to keep them close but not let them catch him. Jaguar Paw begins to hunt his pursuers along the way as they are hunting him. So, each time one is picked off, they have to stop look, and discuss it. Meanwhile, he is running. Somehow, after they leave the body behind, they are right on his heels again. I am not going to give away the entire ending. It starts to rain which fills up the hole his family is in. The final bad guys are on this tail, and something odd occurs.

Verdict: I enjoyed this film a great deal. I will not be buying it on DVD. This is not a movie that I would watch again and again. I do not think that you need to go see this in theaters. I, personally, did not think that the violence was too graphic, but what do I know about that. Its worth the watch, but you can rent it and save the money.

Little Miss Sunshine

Little Miss Sunshine is a winner



I left work on time, as opposed to late, and drove like my hair was on fire to get home and get the wife for a special surprise. Her favorite Christmas movie is the 1947 Miracle on 34th Street. A local theater advertised in the paper and on the Internet that they were showing it. So, we drove across St. Louis to get to this theater in time for the showing. Turns out, it was a typo, a misprint. It was the remake that my wife refuses to watch. So, we decided to see Little Miss Sunshine instead. As soon as it started, I realized that it came out to DVD this same day, but oh well.



This movie is a depressingly hilarious feel-good movie. That does not make any sense, but it is true. Abigail Breslin plays young Olive. Steve Carell plays her suicidal gay uncle Frank. Toni Collette plays her hard working mother Sheryl. Greg Kinnear plays the pathetic father Richard that is bent on not being a loser because there are two types of people, Winners and Losers. Her drug using, sex-crazed grandfather is played by Alan Arkin. And finally, Paul Dano plays her older brother who does not talk because he has taken an oath to himself to not talk until he joins the Air Force and gets to fly planes.



This deranged family of misfits goes on a journey from Albuquerque to Los Angeles for a child’s beauty contest called “Little Miss Sunshine.” They all pack into a yellow VW Bus. It is a stick shift so only Richard can drive. Sheryl decides that she should learn to drive to help out. She ends up ruining the clutch and they have to push start the car to get it going and then they can stop. The whole movie follows them along their journey and misfortunes. The film focuses on it characters and their interaction with each other. Each character ends the movie with a slightly different outlook on life than they had when the trip started.



Verdict: I loved this movie. It is totally worth the watch. My only regret is that I did not get to see it earlier and tell you all to see it in theaters. Rent this movie. It is not for little kids, though. My favorite scene involves a funny incident with the VW bus and its horn. I was crying I was laughing so hard. My wife was mad at me for laughing so hard. But it was totally worth the watch.

Rocky Balboa

Rocky does it again

When it comes to Stallone, I will watch anything that he is in. I especially make sure that I see movies that he writes. After seeing what Renny Harlin and the film editor did to Driven, I was pleased to see that Stallone himself would be behind the camera for the sixth and final installment of Rocky. I was a member on the blog when this film started shooting. I was waiting and waiting for pictures and videos from the set. Most people laughed at the thought of another Rocky movie after all these years. I did a little, too. I mean, Rocky was originally going to die in the street fight of the fifth movie. So, I thought, where is he going to go with this movie? I could not wait. My wife decided that she would go with me to see Rocky Balboa, but she had never seen any of the other films. So, we watched the original 1976 Academy Award winning film the night before, and then I filled her in on the other four movies. I recommend watching the original before seeing this new one. I was glad I did.

Throughout the three decades of Rocky, all the actors remained the same except for who played Rocky Jr. Each film has a different actor. Milo Ventimiglia portrays the role last played by Sly’s own son, Sage in Rocky V. Other than that, Duke, Paulie, and Rocky himself are back. Adrienne is not back, her character died of “lady’s disease” before the start of the film. Some characters from the past are brought back. Spider Rico, Mary, Cuff and Link. Though Mary is not the same little girl actress from the original. This is where watching the first one again helped out in knowing who they were.

We open on Rocky being a restaurant owner. He tells tales to customers about is illustrious boxing career. He then goes around Philadelphia to all the places tha meant something to him and Adrienne. He visits the pet shop and the ice rink that is now a vacant lot. He has trouble dealing with the loss of his wife.

In the meantime, the public hates the current heavyweight champion Mason “The Line” Dixon, played by real life boxer Antonio Tarver. He has not had a decent fight in a long time and nobody wants to box him. A computer simulated fight puts our beloved hero Rocky, in his prime, in the ring with Dixon. The computer says that Rocky would win by a knockout. This gets Rocky to thinking that he is not done. There is still a beast inside him that needs to be fed.

Rocky then has to fight the boxing commission to grant him a license. After winning that fight, he is confronted with the idea of an exhibition bout with Dixon. After some thought, he decides to do it. Of course, a training montage precedes the fight. His usual energy drink of raw eggs makes an appearance, too. What is cool is that they filmed the fight after a real HBO Pay-Per-View fight. They got all the commentators to do the color commentary on the fight. Michael Buffer even does the ring announcement for the fighters. I read a review that stated that Stallone directs with very little inspiration until the fight itself.

I want to take a moment here to say that Stallone directs this first part of the film in the same tone as the original. Because of his love for the character and the franchise as a whole, this movie works. Without Stallone behind the camera, this movie would have been warped into something else entirely.The fight goes on and I am not going to give away the ending. But this film, to me, was very inspirational. I only hope that when I am 60, I am in that good of shape. Along the way, Rocky and other characters deliver insight to life.

Verdict: My wife thought it was sappy, but I ate it up. I went into this movie expecting a great film, and I left very satisfied. Rocky Balboa was the finale that Rocky V could only dream of being. Verdict: Obviously, I highly recommend seeing this film in theaters…. at least once. It will have you chanting: ROCKY! ROCKY! ROCKY!

01 December 2006

Happy Feet

Well, I took my eight-year-old cousin to see Happy Feet at the local IMAX theater. It wasn't a bad film, but I don't think it was a great film either. I guess I was expecting a movie more about the dancing penguins. Not a movie about singing penguins that cast the dancing penguin out. I was also not expecting the environmental political ending. It ended a few too many times for me, making the end of the movie drag out.

Happy Feet opens with penguins singing and falling in love. Then, the female penguins went off for the hunt, while the male penguins sat on the eggs. Poor little Mumbles (Elijah Wood), the unborn main star, rolls out away from papa penguin, Memphis (Hugh Jackman). When he hatches, he starts tap dancing. Memphis tells Mumbles to stop it, that it isn’t penguin, and to walk normal. When the females come back to the group, mothers get to meet their new babies. Norma Jean (Nicole Kidman) is the mom of Mumbles. She notices the funny dancing, but Memphis doesn’t mention the slip-up. So, to quicken this up, the rest of the penguins blame Mumbles for the fish leaving, and he is sent into exile. Along the way to solve the mystery of the fish leaving, he makes new friends, battles the weather, killer whales, and a fishing boat. Finally, he saves the day with his dancing. Ironic. Only not. It wasn’t that bad. I enjoyed the voices, the singing, the animation, and the start of the story.

So what worked against it? All the sexual innuendos started to bug me. This was a children’s movie. They exiled him for being different. Again, this was a children’s film and they are saying that being different is bad. Memphis, Mumbles own father, agrees to exile him. These are not good messages to send our youth.

In closing, I enjoyed myself. My cousin enjoyed herself. It was better than Cars, but not as good as Over the Hedge. It boasted a huge voice cast, but I barely recognized most of them. Apparently, the late Steve Irwin was a voice in it. I don’t remember his character or hearing his voice. I am just disappointed that Casino Royale was defeated two weeks in a row by Happy Feet.

Verdict: See it if you have the IMAX available to you. Otherwise, a DVD viewing would not hurt.

John Tucker Must Die

John Tucker's death is humorous

Well, I am sad to say, that when my wife suggested that we rent John Tucker Must Die, I was not opposed. I look a good revenge tale. So, we rented it. Well, I was kind of let down, but it deserves to be in the fresh category.



I could write this review full of funny castings and what the actors and actresses involved were in before this, but I don’t want to waste your time, and I don’t like to write long reviews for movies I see on DVD. Look them up on IMDB for yourself.



The story is simple. Three girls find out that John Tucker has played them for fools. He is the star basketball player and super cool guy. When new girl, Kate, enters the scene, she exposes their stupidity. This simple act leads from one thing to another and finally, we are given the plot. They are going to make this new girl irresistible to John, and then crush him.



As the story unfolds, tricks are played on poor Mr. Tucker. Yet, he seems to constantly spin them into his favor. When the time comes, John has changed, and Kate has fallen in love. What will happen? I am not going to tell you. But I will say that the ending was kind of a let down. The film is flawed. It has a bad underlying message of, “If you aren’t a cheerleader and cool, you are nothing.” Other than that, it is not too bad.



Verdict: It is worth the rent. I am glad that I did not pay to see it in theaters.

The Lake House

Plot holes don't sink The Lake House

So, two rents in a row, I have lost to my wife. This time around, we rented The Lake House. I was not as happy about this one as I was about the previous one. Yet, again, I must sadly admit that I was fairly entertained by this movie.

We start out the film with Kate, Sandra Bullock, moving out of the lake house in question. Then, Alex, Keanu Reeves, moves into said lake house. But we quickly discover that they are living in two different years. They are both pathetic single people that use one another to help themselves feel better about their lives. I quickly put the ending twist together in the beginning. My wife, I don’t think she did. Through out the movie, we see them fall in love. We even see them have a fight through time. It has interesting shots. This is one of the few times that I will mention the director in my review, but Alejandro Agresti did a fantastic job with the shooting and direction of this film.

There is not a lot to say about this movie. I enjoyed it, but do not look too deep into it, or you will find many plot-holes. MANY. Another thing that I found interesting about this movie was the DVD cover. It had a quote about being unique. I found that funny. It is a remake of a Korean movie Siworea. Apparently, it focuses a bit more on the sci-fi aspect of the plot. I am going to track this movie down and rent it. It is under the title, il Mare.

Verdict: Rent it. Give it a watch. Just remember, do not look too much into it.