Showing posts from August, 2011

Tim Allen: has he still got it?

Tim Allen has a new sitcom coming out this Fall called "Last Man Standing". The major networks must conduct focus groups to determine the most broadly appealing, yet semi-humorous / vaguely generic titles they can conjure up. But, I kinda like the new title. I don't know if the new show will be any good or not, but the ads look funny. It's about a man living in a world surrounded by women. Most sitcoms fail miserably, so I don't expect much. I was sort of a fan of "Home Improvement", though. Love it or hate it, that show provided the next step of evolution for mediocre sitcoms. It's hard to believe, though, that the final episode of "Home Improvement" was twelve years ago!
With that being said, Tim Allen has spent the last twelve years churning out hit-or-miss comedy movies. If you like him or not, he is a comedy force to be reckoned with. I decided to give you my favorite Tim Allen comedies. There are plenty of horrendously bad movies to…

Best Movies of the 80's

Ah, the 80's! A most beloved time from my childhood. I am a child of the 80's, and no other decade of cinema has impacted my life more than the Reagan era 1980's.
In my life experience, I have found that the 80's were a renaissance in American pop culture. Everything from movies, tv, and music were kicked into a new era of optimism and awesomeness. This list of 80's favorites is, by far, the most comprehensive and most loved list of favorites I have made. I have so many childhood memories that were shaped either directly or indirectly by some of these movies. Like, watching the Star Wars trilogy in my basement, on VHS, with childhood friends. Or, experiencing 88 mph in the Delorean with my family on our "movie night." Or, as a child, being obsessed and fascinated with werewolves because of Michael J. Fox and that cheeseball comedy Teen Wolf.
I have elminated all horror movies from this list because they fall into a different category. The 1980's was …

Limitless: Now on DVD

my rating: 4 out of 5

Bradley Cooper plays Eddie Morra, a struggling New York writer who's down on his luck. He runs into his ex-brother-in-law on the street, and things take a turn for the best. His brother-in-law gives him a "free sample" of a pill developed by the pharmaceutical company where he currently works. Eddie takes the pill, unsure of its effects, and his life takes off.
The pill unlocks the untapped potential of the human brain, allowing the taker to become mentally sharper, access volumes more information than normal, and basically exceed the boundaries of normal human intellect. It isn't long, however, until Eddie gets caught up in the twists and turns of the pharmaceutical company's problems as he struggles to get more of the drug. He also makes lots of money working for a hedge fund manager played awesomely by Robert Deniro. It's nice to see him in anything.
Limitless is visually energetic, using color and movement to suggest what is going on …

Best Movies of the 70s

When I first set out to compile the list of my fav 70s flicks, I thought it would be a short list. I assumed that I would have four, maybe five favorite movies from that decade. I wasn't around in the 70s, so I assumed many of the movies wouldn't mean much to me. I thought this would make the 70s a dry cinematic landscape to choose from. Boy, was I wrong.

I was in for a rude awakening when I began combing through the list of potential favorites. American Graffiti, Jaws, Star Wars, and lest we forget the first Aliens movie, Alien (came out in '79) were all potential candidates. Then, we've got Rocky and Rocky2, The Exorcist, Annie Hall, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind that were all 70s classics. I had my work cut out for me. Where to begin?

Well, since I wasn't around in that decade, I decided to simply pick movies from that decade that I liked the best. Many of the movies up for consideration had a huge cultural impact. Some are still household names today.…

The Help

my rating: 3.5 out of 5
Emma Stone is absolutely irresistible as "Skeeter", a recent college grad returning to her home town of Jackson, Mississippi in the early 60s. The plot of The Help involves Skeeter, an aspiring writer, setting out to write a tell-all book about the racist and unfair way that "the help" are treated in rich white society.

Along the way, we meet Aibileen (Viola Davis) and Minny (Octavia Spencer), two maids who have extrordinary character and rich personality. Skeeter attempts to recruit them to help her with her book. Through the process, they get past the societal expectations and boundaries to form real friendship.

The Help tackles some heavy racial issues, with mixed results. Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer are definitely Oscar worthy. Emma Stone is great. And, even though some people are criticizing this movie for not delving harder into the racial "nitty gritty" of the issues, it almost seems welcomed that they don't rub our n…

I finally saw Battle: Los Angeles on DVD

my rating: 3 out of 5

I have read a lot of negative reviews about Battle: Los Angeles. It is a big, loud, alien invasion movie with marines fighting to save Earth. So, there are better war movies with soldiers of a similar style (Saving Private Ryan). And, there are better alien movies with alien invasions. (War of the Worlds, District 9, Independence Day). However, Battle: Los Angeles is a great piece of throw-away entertainment. I thought the action scenes were very suspenseful and compelling. Yes, the characters are two dimensional. Yes, many of the "plot points" are somewhat silly. But, name one alien invasion movie that isn't completely silly. There's a reason why it's called "science FICTION." And yes, there is bad science fiction (Battlefield Earth...yuck, or Cloverfield) But, Battle: Los Angeles kept my interest the whole time, and by the end, I wanted the characters to win. That's all you can ask for. And that's more than I can say for T…

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

my rating: 4 out of 5

No movie deserves a prequel more than Planet of the Apes. I have never been a fan of the original POTA movies because I thought they were weird, and somehow incoherent. Then, we movie / sci-fi / lovers had to endure the horrendous Tim Burton disaster labeled Planet of theApes in 2001. I saw it opening night in the crowds at the cineplex. I still can't shake the mental image of that awful Paul Giamatti ape face, where the actors were trying to speak the dialogue through those awful looking ape masks and fake teeth.

Anyway, Rise of the Planet of the Apes is such a well-made and interesting story, it makes me re-think the entire series. Based on the strength of this prequel, it pretty much gives credibility to an otherwise confusing and bizarre mythology of the Apes legacy. I heard that Rise was good before I saw it. But, I was not prepared for how good it is.

James Franco is Will Rodman, a high-tech scientist working for a company called GYNY-SIS, or something li…

Source Code: Now on DVD

my rating: 3.5 out of 5

Source Code is a smart action-oriented thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a believable Captain in the military who is assigned a very strange mission. Due to a new technology, he can "teleport" into a man's brain and experience the last eight minutes before the brain "dies." His particular mission this time around is to stop a train bombing in Chicago.

Source Code grabs your attention from the opening scene, and holds it til the very end. What seems like a simple story in the beginning quickly gets more complex, but without overloading the audience. There is no messing around or sidetracking, which I liked. We get the core of this story, as answers are revealed to us one by one.

The sci-fi element of Source Code is unique and intriguing. Jeffrey Wright plays Dr. Rutledge, the scientist who discovered / created / used the technology to create the source code program. I've never seen a sci-fi element quite like this, so it gives the mo…

Overview of 2011 Oscar Pictures

Last year was a stellar year for the Academy Awards. When the Academy decided to expand the Best Picture category from five to ten nominees, I thought the field would get watered down. Well, last year's field was certainly NOT watered down! In my opinion, it was the best year for the Oscars out of the last several years. I can't remember the last time I was so passionate about a field of nominees. I decided to do a brief breakdown of the Best Pic nominees, in order from my least fav to my absolute most fav:

10. The Kids Are Alright
The weakest nominee by far. This soap opera piece of garbage is offensive, and not worthy of the acknowledgement of the Academy. I barely made it through the whole thing. BOOO!

9. Winter's Bone
What is going on in this movie? Family drama and meth labs? No thanks, Academy. I didn't understand all the praise, adulation, and attention on this movie. I didn't hate it, but I did think it was overrated.

8. Toy Story 3
Toy Story 3 in 8th place?…


my rating: 4 out of 5

Harvey Milk was extraordinary in so many ways. Of course, I had no idea who he was until this film came out. According to Milk, he always somehow intuitively knew he would die for his cause. He seemed to know that he would become a martyr, a quirky historic figure, and that's how he lived. He seemed brave, intelligent, funny, and admirable.

There was no one better than Sean Penn to play this role. Everyone knows that Mr. Penn is very outspoken about politics in his life. That's putting it nicely, too. I guess another way to say it is: the guy is pretty much a nut job. I've seen some interviews of Sean Penn that flat out frightened me. I know that his politics play a big part in his decision to play the part of Harvey Milk. But, it is such a stellar performance that you never once feel that you are watching "actor Sean Penn." Instead, you get totally invested in this "Harvey Milk" guy. It is a wonderful performance for which Penn de…

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

my rating: 2 out of 5
With the summer movie season winding down, it got me thinking about 2011 compared to summers past. There have been some great movies in the last several summers. And, some not-so-great ones. With Transformers: Dark of the Moon out this summer, it got me thinking about the second installment in the Transformers trilogy from 2009.

I am a thirty two year old man. I rarely get giddy about movies opening on the big screen anymore. When I do get excited about something, I know what I'm getting into and what to expect. (The new Star Wars movies, for example. Or, the Dark Knight.) I love summer blockbuster type movies, and my expectations are appropriately set. That being said, everything about Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was supposed to be incredible. It was supposed to be funny, thrilling, big, action-packed, cutting edge. Quite frankly, it was supposed to be Star Wars of 2009. Now that I have explained what the movie WASN'T, let me tell you what it WAS

Rango: Now On DVD

my rating: 3 out of 5

Rango is a fun, offbeat children's movie about a chameleon (voiced my Johnny Depp) who gets lost in the desert. He discovers a small town named "Dirt", and they are in some trouble. He convinces everyone that his name is Rango and his reputation spreads quickly.

There are some hilarious and creative moments. For example, near the beginning, we enter Rango's rich imagination, and it is a trippy journey through his stream-of-consciousness mind. The lush and colorful visuals are great, and the characters are rich. Kids should love this funny and engaging animated movie. Although, Rango earns a PG rating with a surprising number of expletives. This seemed to have been an aim toward a more adult or teenage audience. It is one of the most quirky animated films out there, and that can be perceived as plus or minus. It certainly is interesting. There were some moments that I genuinely laughed out loud, as this movie touts its very unique sense of humor.

Cowboys & Aliens

my rating: 3 out of 5
Cowboys and Aliens is the latest movie directed by Iron Man director John Favreau. I mistakenly stated that Favreau directed Daredevil. I don't know why I thought that.
Cowboys & Aliens is a big, high-budget popcorn movie starring Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford. Daniel Craig plays Jake Lonergan, a bewildered and lost outlaw in the 1800s who finds himself alone in the desert. He has an alien space gun strapped to his left wrist, as shown on the poster. He doesn't know how it got there or where it came from. He embarks on a quest to discover some things about who he is and where he came from. Along the way, he meets some interesting folks, including cattle owner Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford).
I won't give anything else up, but let's just say it's no surprise that the aliens begin to attack.
Cowboys & Aliens is a modern Saturday matinee, or drive-in type of movie. It's tough to speak of "performance" or "editing" o…

best comic book movies...PART 2

Now, my top 2 favorite comic book movies of all time!
2. Iron Man (2008)

Director John Favreau struck out with his 2003 comic book movie flop Daredevil. I didn't hate this movie, but critics and fans sure did. So, when I heard he was directing Iron Man, I had low expectations. All I remember from the Iron Man comics as a kid was that Iron Man was always desperate, and getting beat up. He never seemed like a very strong hero. He was always surrounded by more superior superheroes and always seemed to play second fiddle.
Well, the new Iron Man movie changed that whole perception. Robert Downey Jr was born to play Tony Stark, the sarcastic and cocky billionaire and owner of Stark Industries. The special effects are fantastic. The action is fun, flows nicely, and all the characters are great. It has an almost innocent comic book soul that makes it fun for families. But, it also has the hardcore action that comic fanboys love. (like me!) And, it has enough lighthearted humor to be conside…

best comic book movies

2011 has been quite a summer of blockbusters. With new additions like The Green Lantern, Captain America, and X-Men: First Class, comic book movie buzz is at an all-time high. Hollywood has finally figured out that mass audiences love a good comic book movie. Comic-Con is a testament to this. Marvel comics have owned the rights to their own movies for several years now, and the results are fantastic. Special effects tecnology now allows for movies to fully realize the sometimes extravagant and fantastic sci-fi landscapes and characters necessary to tell the story. (Just think Hal in the Green Lantern, travelling across the universe, meeting aliens).
Since I grew up on comic books (and comic book movies, for that matter!) I decided to throw together my list of favs. Counting down to number 1, here we go:

8. Batman (1989)

Tim Burton and the movie studio achieved a miracle. The fans were nervous when Michael Keaton was chosen to play Bruce / Bats. They were afraid Hollywood was going to chu…