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December 25th, 2014 Movie – Fast Times At Ridgemont High

fast time at ridgemont high

Ahh, the 80’s. A decade where the teen comedies seemed to explode on the film. There were a multitude of these movies focused on the misadventures of high school and college kids. The all had their various moments in the pop culture, but this movie was probably one of the most famous. While there are several memorable lines and scenes, let’s face it, this movie is famous for the pool scene. So let’s get on with today’s movie, Fast Times At Ridgemont High.

The plot: Based on the real life adventures of Cameron Crowe, Fast Times At Ridgemont High focuses on several high school students throughout the school year. There is Brad, the popular senior that works a number of jobs in order to pay off his car. His sister Stacy, who worries about not being able to get in a relationship, begins to explore her own sexual awakenings. Mark works at the movie theater and wants to date Stacy but has no experience with girls. Mark is Mike’s best friend who makes his money placing bets and scalping tickets. Spicoli is a stoner surfer dude that is constantly clashing with his history teacher, Mr. Hand.

Although critics panned it during it’s initial release, Fast Times has an 80% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Though he praised the performances of some of the actors, Roger Ebert called it a “scuz-pit of a movie.” Initially, it was only given a limited release in theaters but after it earned over $2 million in it’s opening weekend, the studio expanded it’s release. It would wind up earning over $27 million and has become one of the most iconic high school comedies, a feat that surprised most of the cast.

It might not be the greatest comedy of all times, but I think it is very funny. One amazing thing about this movie is the number of people that were in this film that would go on to more famous roles. Sean Penn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Forest Whitaker, Eric Stoltz, and to a lesser degree you have Phoebe Cates and Judge Reinhold. The cast was great in this film. Sean Penn and Ray Walston (Mr. Hand) had some of the best interactions in the movie. And of course, let us not forget the pool scene, where probably every teenage boy that saw this in theaters got an instant crush on Phoebe Cates. It can be a little bit hard to follow at times as the movie jumps between all the different characters over the course of the school year, but aside from that, this is a fun movie to watch.

So if you are in the mood for an 80’s teenage comedy, then put this on and prepare to laugh.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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December 24th, 2014 Movie – Farce Of The Penguins

farce of the penguins

In 2005, a documentary called March Of The Penguins came out that had everyone talking about it. Narrated by Morgan Freeman, the documentary chronicled the mating habits of the emperor penguin and would wind up winning the Academy Award for Best Documentary for 2005. So when you have a critically acclaimed documentary about a bunch of birds that has everyone talking about it, you just know that someone out there is thinking of a way to parody it. Luckily for us, Bob Saget did just that when he brought us today’s movie, Farce Of The Penguins.

The plot: Carl and Jimmy are two best friends that are preparing for the yearly mating ritual. But while Jimmy just wants to go there to get laid, Carl is hoping for a more meaningful relationship. As they make the long trek, the run into all sorts of interesting characters including Steve, the snow owl that doubles as a therapist, a shifty fox that tries to sell them anything, a gang of threatening sea lions, as well as several other crazy penguins. When they finally make it to the mating grounds Carl is worried that he won’t be able to find anyone. But when he sees Melissa, he knows that this is the penguin he is destined for.

Folks, you may have heard this before but in case you haven’t, let me bring to light one important fact. There is a BIG difference between Bob Saget and Danny Tanner, the character he played on Full House. Danny Tanner was your typical, wholesome, normal, suburban father. Bob Saget is probably one of the dirtiest minded comics in entertainment. So if you were expecting a family friendly movie, boy are you in for a surprise. This is 80 minutes of foul language, sexual comments and innuendo, and animals having sex.

I love this movie partially because of how wrong it is and partially because Bob Saget, for all his dirty mindedness, is incredibly funny. There were so many funny lines during this movie, starting at the very beginning when the narrator, voiced by Samuel L Jackson, made a statement about missing big bushes. I remember watching this with some friends at my house and I thought my friend Chris was going to die from laughing so hard. This is just a great movie to put on and laugh at.

So if you want a laugh, and you are not easily offended, then you should definitely watch this movie.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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December 23rd, 2014 Movie – Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer

fantastic four rise of the silver surfer

“Not that. Dear God, anything but that. WHY????” That was pretty much my thought process when I found out that not only was a sequel going to be made for the Fantastic Four, but what the plot was going to involve. Never had I been more afraid of how much a movie was going to suck than with this movie. Of course, that does beg the question; if I was so worried about how bad this movie was going to be, why do I own it. I am not even going to try and explain that one so let’s just get on with today’s movie, Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer.

The plot: As Reed and Sue handle the preparations for their upcoming wedding, a mysterious silver object has appeared in the Earth’s atmosphere, causing strange phenomenon to occur. When it passes over New York during the wedding, Reed sends Johnny to chase after it, only to discover that the object is a silver alien riding on a surfboard. After his encounter with the Silver Surfer, Johnny’s cells become unstable, causing him to be able to temporarily switch powers with his teammates. Meanwhile a revived Dr. Doom has partnered with the army in an attempt to stop the Surfer from causing more damage to the Earth. Sue manages to talk to the Surfer and find out why he has come to Earth, but before she can convince him to stop, he is attacked by the army and winds up captured. While Sue gets more information from the Surfer and tries to free him, Doom manages to steal the Surfer’s power and use it for his own conquest of the Earth. As the Fantastic Four try to stop a super powered Dr. Doom, an even bigger threat looms on the horizon in the form of the Silver Surfer’s master, the planet devouring Galactus.

While it did get a slightly higher score than it’s predecessor, 37% on Rotten Tomatoes, the critics were still pretty negative about this movie. Just about all of them agreed that while it had good special effects, the movie itself was juvenile and simplistic with little benefit beyond the special effects. Jessica Alba was actually nominated for two Razzies in this movie, one for worst actress and one for worst couple with Ioan Gruffudd, but lost once again, this time to Lindsay Lohan. Still, the movie was a commercial success by earning $289 million worldwide, although this was less than what the previous film made.

Ok, this isn’t Catwoman bad but this is still a terrible movie. In fact, aside from the special effects, there were very few things I liked about this movie. As a comic fan, I hated the plot. The silver Surfer and Galactus were one of the biggest impacts on Marvel Comics because it introduced the cosmic entities into the Marvel Universe. In the comics, Galactus was the survivor of the universe that existed before the current one, and as such became a being of unlimited cosmic power. So how is he portrayed in the movie, a giant gas cloud. That just annoyed the hell out of me. I get that they didn’t want to show an actual figure in the movie but they could have simply shown his worldship or even just him as a shadowy visage and it would have been better than a giant cloud. As for the rest of the movie, the acting was bad. The dialogue was bad. About the only thing in the movie that made me laugh was Stan Lee’s cameo. But that hardly made sitting through this worth it.

As bad as the first movie was, this one was worse. Seriously, don’t waste your time.

Rating: 1 out of 5

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December 22nd, 2014 Movie – Fantastic Four (2005)

fantastic four 2005

After working a 14 hour day yesterday, my brain was pretty much dead, thus no blog. Anyways, Sunday I watched a low budget movie that was never released. Yesterday, I watched the big budget movie that did get released. Even though I like comic books and enjoy most of the movies that are based on comic books, I was hesitant about seeing this in theaters. Still, I had caught bits and pieces of it on TV so when I saw a used copy for sale cheap, I decided to pick it up. So on to today’s movie, Fantastic Four (2005).

The plot: Reed Richards, a brilliant scientist who has fallen on hard times, and his friend Ben Grimm have gone to see Victor Von Doom, a former classmate, to fund a mission to study a cosmic storm that will be occurring near the earth. Doom, enjoying being able to show up and humiliate Reed, agrees and introduces his chief genetic researcher, Reed’s ex-girlfriend Sue Storm. With Sue’s brother Johnny piloting the shuttle, the 5 people head up to Dooms orbital station to begin the experiments. However the cosmic storm approaches the station far sooner than Reed calculated and bombards everyone with cosmic radiation. After arriving back on Earth, Reed, Sue, Johnny, and Ben realize that their bodies were altered by the storm and that they now have fantastic abilities. Reed begins building a machine to help turn them back to normal, especially Ben who has been turned into an orange rock-skinned creature. But Doom was also changed by the storm and decides to use his new powers to take out his frustration at losing his company on Reed and the others. The four friends must put aside their differences and team up in order to survive this threat.

The critics were pretty negative about this film, claiming it to be a goofy and mediocre entry into the comic genre of film. This was shown by the 27% rating it received on Rotten Tomatoes, a score that is actually lower than what the unreleased film earned a decade before. Jessica Alba was actually nominated for two Razzies for worst Actress, one for this movie and the other for Into The Blue, but would lose to Jenny McCarthy. However, the audiences still went to see it as it would earn $330 million worldwide, making it a commercial success.

I was hesitant to see this in theaters because the trailers did not make it look good, and I was right. This had some good moments but overall, this is a bad movie. The effects were pretty good for the most part but the acting was terrible. Chris Evans and Michael Chiklis were the best parts of this movie, especially their interactions with each other. That was one aspect that stayed pretty true to the comics. Jessica Alba was terrible and Ioan Gruffudd and Julian McMahon were mediocre at best. For the “first family” of Marvel Comics to be reduced to this was simply tragic.

So if you want to watch a comic book movie, watch something else because this really isn’t worth watching.

Rating: 1 1/2 out of 5

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Flashback Review: January 25th, 2014 Movie – Never Say Never Again

never say never again

In 1983, there was a war like no other on the big screen as James Bond took on James Bond. I mentioned before the circumstances but in case you forgot, or are too lazy to reread, here is what happened. After a long legal battle between Kevin McClory and Eon Studios over the rights to Thunderball and the SPECTRE organization, McClory won the battle. He decided to remake Thunderball and got Sean Connery to reprise the role of James Bond.They then released their film to compete with the Eon Studios movie that came out earlier that year. Since I already reviewed Octopussy, so now it’s time to review today’s movie, Never Say Never Again.

The plot: After failing a training exercise, M orders Bond to health clinic to get back in shape. While there, Bond notices some strange happenings between a nurse and a patient and after being spotted, is attacked by an assassin. The patient happened to be an Air Force Pilot, who was working with SPECTRE to steal a pair of nuclear missiles in order to blackmail the world governments. Bond suspects Maximillian Largo to be involved and along with CIA operative Felix Leiter, begins to investigate his involvement. As the investigation continues and with the fate of the world at stake, Bond must find a way to stop Largo’s plans before he winds up dead himself.

Although it only earned a 60% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the critics were pretty positive about this movie. Many critics felt that this was one of the better Bond films and that Connery, while appearing older, had not lost a step in his portrayal of the British spy. However, in spite of having the more favorable reviews, Never Say Never Again failed to outperform Eon Studio’s Octopussy, earning only $160 million worldwide compared to Octopussy’s $187 million. While Warner Brothers was the studio that released the movie in theaters and early rental releases, MGM studios (who now owned Eon Studios) bought the rights in 1997 and handled all future video releases.

I have to say, I actually like this movie more than Thunderball, but that might be due to the fact that I remember seeing this movie first. Sean Connery was very good and showed why he has long been considered the best to play the role. Klaus Maria Brandauer was a decent villain although the whole jealousy angle did get a little old after a while and while she fit the role of the stereotypical Bond girl, Kim Basinger really didn’t add anything to the movie. The action scenes were played out very well and there was actually a bit more espionage in this film that had been lacking in some of the last few movies. The dialogue was pretty good with quite a few quips and references to the fact that Connery was returning to the role. While not considered an official film, it is definitely a great film to be included in the series.

So if you want to see Sean Connery make a return as the character he made famous, then you should definitely watch this movie.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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December 21st, 2014 Movie – The Fantastic Four (1994)

fantastic four 1994

I know what you are thinking. You are thinking that I screwed up the date for the movie because this movie came out in 2005. Well, you are right in the fact that the Fantastic Four movie did come out in 2005, but that was not the first time a Fantastic Four movie was made. Roger Corman produced a low budget version of the famous quartet in 1994, however the movie was never released. Luckily for me, bootleg versions of the movie are available if you know where to look (aka, Bootleg Guy at DragonCon). So let’s get on with today’s movie, The Fantastic Four (1994)

The plot: While student’s in college, Reed Richards and Victor Von Doom engage in an experiment to harness the power of the Colossus Comet but the experiment backfires and Victor is horribly burned and supposedly dies due to his injuries. Years later, Reed , and his friends Ben Grimm, Johnny and Sue Storm, go up in an experimental rocket in order to study the Colossus Comet, but their experiment fails when the diamond needed for their experiments was replaced with a fake without their knowledge. When their shuttle crashes, they find out that they have acquired fantastic abilities, but are captured by a strange group pretending to be the military. When they try to escape, the four friends are confronted by an armor-clad menace called Dr. Doom, who plans to destroy New York City. Using their powers, the Fantastic Four must stop Doom and save the city before it is too late.

Time for a history lesson. In 1983, producer Bernd Eichinger met with Stan Lee in order to obtain the rights to make a movie about the Fantastic Four but it would be 1986 before he was actually able to get them. While some studios did have an interest in the movie, budget problems kept causing problems for any production to begin. With his option set to expire, Eichinger teamed up with Roger Corman to produce a low budget movie for one million dollars in order to retain his option for the film. However, though there were some trailers released that promoted the film, Eichinger said that he never intended to release the film ( a claim backed up by Stan Lee) and only made the movie so he could keep his options for it. Still, the movie does have a rating of 33% on Rotten Tomatoes, based on the 6 critics that have seen the film, which isn’t bad all things considered.

Ok, I know this isn’t going to be a good movie, you know it isn’t going to be a movie, but unlike the 2005 movie, this movie is actually entertaining to watch because it is so bad. It is incredibly campy and the effects were ridiculous, especially the ones involving Johnny Storm. The suit they made for The Thing looked every bit like the rubber suit that it was and I honestly thought that Dr. Doom was wearing a blanket around his shoulders for a cape. The actors were ok although I was disappointed in Dr. Doom’s portrayal in this movie. All he did was stand around and look menacing throughout most of the movie. There was a scene where a firefight was taking place between Doom’s men and the Jeweller’s men, and Doom was standing around, getting hit with bullets, and all he was doing was flexing his arms over and over. It was so ridiculous. Still, I wonder what they could have done if they actually were able to get a bigger budget for the film.

So if you ever want a superhero movie to laugh at, and you can get your hands on a copy of it, give this film a try.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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December 20th, 2014 Movie – Face/Off

faceoff

1997 was Nicolas Cage’s year for action movies as he was in two of the summer’s biggest action movies that year. I already reviewed the first movie so now it’s time for the second one. I remember going to see this in theaters and thinking two thoughts while watching it; the science was complete bullshit and that John Woo can direct some entertaining gun fights. So let’s get on with today’s movie, Face/Off.

The plot: FBI agent Sean Archer has a long standing grudge against international terrorist Castor Troy over the death of his son. After years of effort, Archer finally manages to capture Castor and his brother Pollux, although Castor is left in a coma after the encounter. When Archer learns that Castor had placed a bomb somewhere in L.A., he undergoes a radical surgery where he is given Castor’s face in order to get the information from Pollux. However, the procedure caused Castor to wake up from his come and after getting the procedure done so that he has Archer’s face, he kills the only people that know the truth about which person is which. Now wearing the face of his worst enemy, Archer must somehow escape from the prison he is in, find a way to stop Castor, and reverse the process so that he can get his life back.

Critics were very positive about this movie, giving it a rating of 91% on Rotten Tomatoes. Some praised John Woo’s action sequences and story telling ability, while others tended to criticize the excessive violence. The general consensus is that :Travolta and Cage Audiences were eager to see it as it earning over $245 million worldwide. Face/Off was nominated for an academy award at the 70th Academy Awards, but it wound up losing to another big budget Paramount movie about some boat that sunk.

Of the two Nicolas Cage movies that came out in 97, this was my favorite. It doesn’t hurt that this was a pretty entertaining movie. I thought the whole concept of the two stars going back and forth from playing the good guys and bad guys was very interesting. Travolta was great in this movie but I honestly liked him better as the bad guy. Cage was ok but I didn’t think he put as much difference into his characters as Travolta did. The action sequences were very well done, as you would expect from a John Woo film, filled with plenty of “gun-fu” fights and lots of doves (seriously, does this guy have some sort of bird fetish). A nice action movie that does not fail to deliver.

So if you are in the mood for a decent action flick, then feel free to give this a shot.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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