Category Archives: Film

Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

Holy crap have I been a lazy blogger or what?

Well this is the movie that gave me the kick in the pants to get back over here.  I am such a huge Marvel movie fan that I just HAD to see it opening night!  Rest assured, there are no real big spoilers, but if you want to see the movie for yourself without having any tinted glasses, then perhaps you should move along now…

GOTG

Still with me?  Ok, here’s my opinion of GOTG:  IT SUCKED AND I’M HORRIBLY DISAPPOINTED ABOUT IT.

Sadly, few other critics – professional and regular moviegoers – seem to agree with me, and I have to say I am really surprised by that.  For me, the negative aspects of the film were just so glaring, I could only overlook them for so long for the sake of trying to enjoy the film.  But let me list my problems and then you can decide for yourself…

1. The indestructible, self-charging Walkman… Film opens with the kid version of main character Peter Quill on earth, listening to a Walkman.  Stuff happens and you suddenly remember this is supposed to be a sci-fi movie when he is abducted by aliens (which should be a separate point, but I will just say now that the alien abduction was so jarring from the opening scene, I liken it to a Monty Python bit).  Fast forward 26 years and the kid is now an adult.  Amazingly he is still listening to the same cassette tape on the same Walkman, same headphones.  I immediately turned to my husband and asked where the hell he got replacement batteries for that thing.  And apparently he also obtained the only indestructible Walkman in existence, and this particular cassette tape NEVER wears out after being the ONLY one listened to for 26 years.  Ok, moving on from the Walkman issue.

2. The soundtrack… dear god the soundtrack.  So many more 70s/80s songs that had kickass vibes and they chose the exact opposite.  Of the songs they used, only Cherry Bomb by the Runaways seemed to fit the actual movie.

3. The dialogue is goddamn painful to listen to.  Most of the time it’s hammy, melodramatic, forced, or something equal to prompt an eye roll.  There are a few funny lines, which help, but more often than not I thought the dialogue was almost cringeworthy.  Also, I get that the kid was abducted from Earth in 1988, but the sheer volume of 80s references was irritating and clearly designed to wink at the 40 years olds in the audience.

4. The environment NEVER felt realistic.  The actors looked like they simply walked in front of a green screen to perform.  EVERYTHING looked and felt computer generated, and of course there is going to be a lot of that when you’re making a space movie, but there has to be enough to make it feel real.

5. The characters I barely cared anything about.  Of the 5 main characters, the CGI raccoon was probably the best, and – sadly – the most emotive.  Bradley Cooper did a great job voicing Rocket, applause to him.  I also liked Zoe Saldana’s character, but found her development lacking, would have liked to know even more than they revealed about her.  Groot, the tree guy, was also sweet and funny, but they wasted Vin Diesel’s talent there…  Groot says 4 words the entire movie, you couldn’t even recognize Diesel’s voice, nor his features to justify using him.  Peter Quill acts like a 23 year old frat boy playing Indiana Jones meets Han Solo (and not pulling it off), and I never grow to like him much.  I thought Drax was a completely unnecessary character, not even sure why he was there.

6. That little trinket… As another critic pointed out, the object of desire that the bad guys want and the good guys try and keep the bad guys from amounts to a stone inside a softball-sized metal orb, or The One Ring inside the Hellraiser box.  Been there, done that.

7. The bad guys never really felt all that BAD.  Karen Gillan’s character was great to watch, when she was on screen, but we saw far too little of her and I dearly would have loved to know more since she and Zoe Saldana were “sisters”.  Ronin… Thanos… meh, yawn.

8. The ocean is in jeopardy, so let’s make sure this puddle is safe! They are billed as the “Guardians of the GALAXY” – at best, they saved what looked like San Francisco from the Star Trek universe.  At least with Superman, Metropolis got wasted but it was clearly in the process of saving the rest of the Earth.  This doesn’t feel like such a grand scale save, but good job, guys!

9. Ummmm, wha…?  The hidden scene at the end left me with mix feelings.  No spoilers, but I was equally laughing and astounded by the ridiculousness of it since it seemed so WAY out of place.

Overall I really felt the movie was far from fitting in with the established Marvel movie universe.  These guys were a bumbling comedy troupe rather than serious heroes.  I don’t know why so many people think this is so awesome, I just thought it was a complete letdown.

1.5 out of 5.  And that’s being generous.

Movie Review: Man of Steel

mosLet me start by saying I was born in the 70s, which means – in terms of Doctor Who – Christopher Reeve was my Superman.  Other versions have been fine, I really have no quarrel with any of them, but Reeve is still near and dear to my heart.  I didn’t even mind Superman ReturnsBrandon Routh did a decent job and hey, Kevin Spacey was in it being awesome.

So I go into Man of Steel thinking I’ll be entertained for the 2+ hours, but that was about it. Holy crow was I wrong.  Mild spoilers ahead if you have lived under a rock and have absolutely no idea what the Superman story is at all.

rcroweYou almost immediately get the story of Krypton, which moves at a pretty fast pace towards destruction.  Russell Crowe as JorEl?  Kick.  ASS.  He’s not just an intellectual like the earlier movies suggest, he can hold his own in a fight too.

ShannonZodMichael Shannon plays General Zod, and his portrayal is fantastic.  Determined to save Kryptonians the only way he knows how (by killing Kryptonians?), he ends up banished to the Phantom Zone only to be reawakened when Kryton imploded (and then exploded.  It was a pretty epic destruction).  Rather than Terence Stamp’s evil, mustache twirling portrayal of Zod (don’t get me wrong, he was awesome), Shannon actually gets you to feel sympathy for him.  Just before you want Supes to kill him.

maandpaKevin Costner and Diane Lane play Jonathan and Martha Kent, both excellent casting choices.  I was wary of Costner, but I thought he did a great job doing his best to help his adopted son navigate his moral dilemmas, and both actors were more appropriate ages to play the roles.  Earlier versions always seems to be closer to grandparent ages to me.

Amy Adams was an interesting choice for Lois Lane.  Gone is the typical raven-haired Lois, but her grit and determination keep the character familiar.  Like Margot Kidder, she exudes confidence and gets the information she’s after, gets herself in trouble, but never acts the damsel in distress.

la_ca_0422_man_of_steelLaurence Fishburne rounds out the big names as Perry White.  His role is not groundbreaking, but Fishburne’s name brings it more respect and it’s always a pleasure to watch him on screen.

Of course Henry Cavill takes the title role of Clark Kent/Superman, along with a couple of younger actors for the younger versions of Clark.  Both kids pulled off their roles perfectly, conveying the internal struggles of a child who can’t fathom why he’s so different from others, and doing his best to calm his frustrations.  Cavill portrayed a rather zen Clark Kent, having over the years obviously perfected the act of turning the other cheek in the face of aggression.  It is not until General Zod threatens his adopted homeworld that he really focuses on what’s important to him.

cavillMost of the movie is a simple re-telling of the Superman origin, with a few differences.  The movie establishes that the atmosphere between Krypton and Earth are different enough to be physically demanding, requiring Lois to wear breathing apparatus on Zod’s ship, and causing Zod incredible pain when exposed on Earth.  Yes, JorEl still speaks to Clark Kent to teach him about Krypton, but he comes across as more sentient and interactive.  In fact, it is through JorEl that Lois Lane learns how Superman can defeat Zod and his group, and acts as a Kryptonian Jedi in helping her escape from Zod’s ship.  Lois also knows him as Clark Kent and Superman – she is a smart woman, a pair of glasses certainly would never fool her.

I miss my Christopher Reeve, but in all honesty, this movie was incredible to watch.  There is also one specific point in the movie where I could swear they worked a little CGI magic and made Cavill’s facial features to look like Reeve, so much so that I actually teared up.  The action was thrilling, the struggles felt real.  I can’t wait to own whatever special edition comes out so I can absorb more of the behind the scenes details.  Five bright yellow suns for this movie.  ENJOY!

 

EDIT:  My husband found this article which backs up my claim to have seen a CGI glimpse of Christopher Reeve – at the time I wrote this review, I could not find a screenshot of the part where I saw him, but this article shows some of it…

Movie Review: Fast & Furious 6

FF6mpIt’s all empty calories, but yeah, I find the Fast & Furious series to be very entertaining.  For a movie or two there it looked like they were just going to crank out vaguely similar movies based on overclocked cars and skinny, barely-clothed women, but over time they’ve woven a bit of an interlocking story together, which continues in Fast & Furious 6.

They’ve brought the majority of the cast from Fast 5 back, and began the story watching how the characters each were spending their share of a $100 million heist they pulled off.  Here’s where the story comes right out and begins with the ridiculous.  You assume that each character was given about $11 million, and yet, a couple characters are acting like they got all $100 million.  Spending as quickly as they were, they should have run out of money about a month and a half in.  BUT this is F&F, so let’s put a pin in that one and move on…

In walks Dwayne Johnson’s muscles, followed a week later by Dwayne Johnson, reprising his role of CIA Hulk imitator Luke Hobbs, who delivers the news that a former member of the group, Letty (Michelle Rodriguez) long though dead is actually still alive.  He tempts these former criminals into helping him take down a criminal mastermind (Owen Shaw, played by Luke Evans) who appears to have taken Letty under his wing.  Dom (Vin Diesel) is more than eager to get to Letty, and of course Brian (Paul Walker) and Mia (Jordana Brewster) are there to help him, provided they are all given full pardons for prior crimes.

My daughter thinks it's hilarious how Han always has to be eating something.

My daughter thinks it’s hilarious how Han always has to be eating something.

So they reassemble the team, bringing in Roman (Tyrese Gibson), Han (Sung Kang), Gisele (Gal Gadot), and Tej (Ludacris).  They left out a couple of previous players, but for this installment, we’ll just assume they are sipping drinks somewhere warm and sunny.  Gibson’s chemistry with Kang, Ludacris and Johnson all bring a perfect amount of humor to the film, while Gadot and Kang continue to drop hints as to the story behind F&F3: Tokyo Drift (which is supposed to take place sometime AFTER this movie… yes, a little confusing).  And the party starts.

flying

WHEEEEEE! And there’s no way I will be killed doing this! Seriously!

From completely unrealistic chases, crashes, mid air 90MPH catches, and fist-fights, this movie is full of all kinds of ridiculousness, but you really don’t care.  As long as you put your brain on MST3K mode and just accept the ridiculousness, it’s a bunch of fun.  The villain is so stereotypical that he even has a pencil-thin mustache I was waiting for him to try twirling.

The one thing, oddly enough, that I just COULD NOT get past…  The final action scene.  I had accepted people flying through the air and receiving naught but perhaps a scrape or bruise.  I had accepted a totally hellacious girlfight that should have resulted in several broken ribs as best, broken backs and death from blunt force trauma at worst but again resulted in perhaps a scrape and bruise.  I had totally accepted complete decimation of hundreds of vehicles, many of which our heroes were in when they were decimated and SHOULD have resulted in mangling them to bloody pulps, but again produced only a scrape or bruise.  But the end scene involved a very large cargo plane attempting to take off and of course our team is chasing it down with their awesome cars, using crazy weapons and whatnot.  FOREVER.  I said at one point… HOW LONG IS THIS FREAKIN RUNWAY???

Apparently someone else had the same question I did.  And created this:

runway

Yes, after everything I saw in those two hours.  THAT is what bothered me the most.

But it’s all in fun.  Can’t wait until #7!

Movie Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

star-trek-2OH.  MY.

Before I dive right into this review, let me promise that I will not reveal any spoilers – even though I know Yahoo and Entertainment already let the cat out of the bag (YOU GUYS SUCK).  I will assume that anyone who reads this has seen the previous Star Trek movie (if not, feel free to surf away now if you plan to see it and prefer to go in fresh).  That said, let’s roll…

Much like Indiana Jones being pursued by natives after having stolen the golden idol, Star Trek Into Darkness opens with Kirk (Chris Pine) and Bones (Carl Urban) running away from a group of indigenous people who are on their tails after having stolen a sacred item of theirs.  While this is happening, Spock (Zachary Quinto) is getting himself all hot and bothered inside the nearby volcano that is ready to blow and wipe out the inhabitants unless they do something about it.  This scene taps so many plot points for Star Trek in general, I was surprised how much they hit: Prime Directives, moral dilemmas, romance, bromance, dealing with impending doom.

Here's Benedict, just stealing the movie.  No big.

Here’s Benedict, just stealing the movie. No big.

Back in London, a Starfleet officer (played by Noel Clarke, aka Mickey from Doctor Who) and his wife visit a hospital where their daughter is clearly dying.  Seizing on their desperation, John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) convinces the officer he can save her life.  In exchange for a transfusion of Harrison’s blood, the officer must sabotage a Starfleet facility.  The officer does so, but sends a message to Admiral Marcus (Peter Weller) confessing what he has done just before carrying out Harrison’s plan.

This sets the movie into faster motion and boy does it MOVE.  I was never bored or wondering how long the movie was.  The movie found a great balance between the heavier, dramatic exchanges and action sequences.  Visual effects were stunning, but rarely seemed overdone.

The ORIGINAL bromance.

The ORIGINAL bromance.

The relationship between Kirk and Spock continued to grow significantly in this film, almost to the detriment of Bones.  Unlike the original series, there was little to none of Bones getting on Spock’s case about being an overly-logical Vulcan.  To be honest, if the reason for the animosity between them was made known in TOS, I overlooked it (I’m not a TOS expert), but I don’t think that element was missed much in this movie.  To be fair, Zachary Quinto was given a lot of room to flex Spock’s human side (rather than play the more stoic Vulcan) and I was in awe of it!  More than once, Spock got to kick some MAJOR ass, and more than once his emotions got the better of him.  But it still felt very much like “Spock”…  Zachary Quinto is amazing.

spockuhuraSpock’s relationship with Uhura (Zoe Saldana) continued through to this movie, which was refreshing.  So often, directors will toss out previous romantic attachments as though they had run their course so as to introduce new romances, but I was really pleased that this was not the case here.  I found their relationship very sweet and did not feel out of place in the first movie.  That’s not to say they didn’t have their bumps in the road, but their disagreements and tension felt real and understandable from both sides.

Of course Scotty (Simon Pegg), Sulu (John Cho) and Chekov (Anton Yelchin) were all back, and although they didn’t seem to get as much screen time as the others, they had their moments to shine.

But the real scene-stealer was Benedict Cumberbatch.  I don’t watch Sherlock (although I might have to start), and I knew he was voicing Smaug in the Hobbit films, but to be frank, I thought he was a little odd looking in his photographs.  And for pete’s sake who names their child “Benedict Cumberbatch”!  Sounds like you’re just setting the poor kid up for getting shoved into lockers and random wedgies.  But he totally blew me away watching him on screen.  His voice is undeniably sexy, his presence pushes well past the 2D screen, and his expressions are so emotive that you find yourself easily able to sympathize with a mass murderer.  Apparently he also does a spot-on Alan Rickman impersonation that I am dying to hear.

Was this a perfect movie?  Nope, there was a plot hole here or there, but really, that’s just getting too nitpicky.  It was a highly entertaining film, it was incredibly enjoyable to watch these talented actors do their jobs, and I can’t wait to see it again.

Movie Review: Oblivion (2013)

I’m not a fan of Tom Cruise.  Yes, he certainly got dealt the “good-looking for life” card, and he is a decent actor, but his personal antics tend to leave me rolling my eyes – or worse – creeping me out.  So I wasn’t completely on board with watching Oblivion, but Morgan Freeman trumped my distaste of Cruise.

Jack

Jack ponders the meaning of his existence very dramatically.

The first five minutes or so was Jack Harper (Cruise) explaining the history.  Bad guys came to Earth, we ended up using nukes, bad guys were defeated, but Earth was decimated.  Survivors headed to “Tet”, a way-station between Earth and Titan, the Saturn moon where humans re-settled.  Jack is teamed with Victoria to help secure the remaining machines that are draining the last of Earth’s resources (water) to be transported to Titan and they are about 2 weeks away from leaving Earth and joining everyone else.  The last of the invaders (“Skavs”) tend to put monkey-wrenches in their plans by sabotaging drones that help secure the water-suckers.

Victoria

Victoria gets the coolest computer ever. I want one!

His days are spent leaving the security of his home to patch up the drones while Victoria keeps an eye on things from the home office, assisted by mission control from the Tet.  While out on patrol or patching up drones, Jack finds remnants of the Earth that was, and has flashbacks to a life he’s not sure he actually lived.  In his reality, his mind was erased years before as a “security measure” so if Skavs ever captured him, he could not reveal vital information.  Of course, things begin to unravel, and Jack must figure out the truth while there’s still time.

ship

I’m not sure why it’s not windy as hell up there, but apparently Jack can stand there with no railings and feel perfectly safe.

Overall I really liked the environment, the story idea, the acting.  I loved the technology they were using (I can absolutely see this coming), the vehicles and clothing styles were different enough without leaving me feeling bludgeoned by “HEY LOOK we’re in the FUTURRRRE!!!”  My biggest problem was how the story unfolded on screen.  For instance, the initial voice-over setup of the world as it is was repeated again for a character later in the film – I thought skipping the first voice-over and just allowing us to hear it when explained later would have saved us some time.  Some reveals meant to evoke shocking surprise from the viewers fell a bit flat, while other reveals that weren’t so obvious could have been treated with a better setup for a more effective jolt.  Often I felt like things were just being drawn out unnecessarily, and I thought the 126 minute film could have been tightened up to an hour and fifty minutes without losing the story.

Even something very basic to me seemed off…  it was clear that Sally was pushing Jack and Victoria to do their jobs effectively and constantly monitored progress from the Tet.  Victoria, feeling the pressure from Sally, was the middleman who sometimes shielded her sometimes-rogue partner’s antics from the boss (coddling his interest in old Earth relics, but never allowing herself to be sucked into it) and often pushed him to stay on task.  At one point, Jack tells her he’s going to patrol in an area where the reception is bad and he’ll be radio silent.  I expected him to get away with about 10-15 minutes before Victoria or Sally start getting antsy, but where he goes it is clear he’s been there before many times, and he has enough time to take a freakin’ nap without getting much flak for it.

The action scenes sometimes fall flat as well.  I never felt much anxiety during them, never felt completely drawn in.  Often I drew parallels to other movies.  Morgan Freeman was, of course, the effective Morpheus in this story, allowing Jack to unfold the truth at his own pace, but I felt some interactions should have been heavier, weightier where others were too dramatic.

Go the the theater if you enjoy sweeping landscapes, watch it at home if you just like a decent movie on a Saturday night.  In the meantime, enjoy the trailer:

Movie Review: Warm Bodies

I usually go for blockbusters if I am going to see something in the theater.  Let’s face it, going to the movies is expensive.  I usually go for the sure thing, something I am certain will entertain me.

But then I saw the trailer for Warm Bodies and I just couldn’t help myself.  My daughter and I went to see it opening weekend, and we both LOVED IT.

Warm Bodies is Romeo & Juliet of the zombie world.  So much so, that characters were created and named based off of Shakespeare’s play.

R (“Romeo”, Nicholas Hoult) is a very slacker zombie who can barely form a single word, but has an extensive internal dialogue.  He’s extremely self-aware, feels guilt and sadness, and clings to what he imagines his “alive” life was probably like.  He has an affection for music on vinyl, collects memorabilia, and tries desperately to be smooth in front of girls.  He even has a friend, M (“Mercutio”, Rob Corddry) he often exchanges moans and grunts with.  When he meets Julie (“Juliet”, Teresa Palmer), there is an obvious shift in his world.  Rather than wanting to eat her brain, he has the unusual urge to save and protect her.  Julie is terrified and confused by this turn of events, but by the time she is able to return to the area where unaffected humans are (and her friend Nora, “Juliet’s ‘Nurse’, Analeigh Tipton), she finds she has grown fond of R.

WBshotThe rules in this zombie apocalypse universe are slightly different than previous versions, but are still close enough to take the leap and be entertained.  This is not a heavy, dark movie, despite the theme, but rather a comedic story of hopeful redemption and love.  I found a few weak points in the film, and sadly John Malkovich was one of them.  His part was cliche and rather dull for an actor of his caliber.  But overall the movie was entertaining and worthy of at least a couple of more viewings.

Anyone else get a chance to see it yet?

Movie Review: Safety Not Guaranteed

I can’t recall the last time I watched a non-mainstream movie.  It’s not that I dislike them, I just don’t tend to watch a lot of movies in general, so when I do I tend to lean towards the blockbusters.

But we were there on Saturday night, having a few drinks, and decided to scroll through Amazon’s selection when we happened upon this trailer:

Something about just said “WATCH THIS!”

Darius: I have no funk. I’m totally funkless.

Darius (Aubrey Plaza) is an intern at a magazine who volunteers to help staff writer Jeff (Jake Johnson) investigate a bizarre classified ad looking for a partner to time travel with. Something about the ad breaks through her generally cloudy demeanor and off she road trips with Jeff and fellow intern Arnau (Karan Soni). They quickly discover that the classified ad writer is a 35-ish grocery store worker named Kenneth (Mark Duplass), and Jeff clumsily tries to buddy up to him. Kenneth pegs Jeff for the tool he is, so Jeff sends Darius in, hoping she’ll have better luck.

Jeff: There’s something off about this guy, okay? So you gotta go slow, like you’re trapping a skiddish animal. You lure him. Play coy. Girls know how to do that shit.
Darius: You’re dangling my vagina out there like bait. What if this guy’s a murderer? What if he cuts me up to little pieces and eats me?
Jeff: Then the story is even better.

She’s got enough mystery to intrigue Kenneth, and he begins slowly involving her in the time travel event he’s planning. Unexpected truths, heartfelt discussions, witty dialogue and great chemistry pull this group of actors together in this low budget film billed as a romantic comedy. I don’t see this as anything like a standard RomCom, however. Yes, there’s romantic parts, and yes there’s comedy, but both are understated. I found myself drawn in to the story and the question as to whether Kenneth was insane or not.

Darius: [referring to Kenneth] What makes you think there’s something wrong with him?
Jeff: Because he thinks he can go back in time.
Darius: Was there something wrong with Einstein or David Bowie?

The side stories with Jeff and Arnau were more predictable and I wanted the film to return to Darius and Kenneth, but overall I found the film to contain enough surprises to feel like I hadn’t seen this before. All too often, even if I like a movie, I am left thinking how it borrowed from this or that other movie, and Safety Not Guaranteed kept me guessing about Kenneth’s mental state up until almost the last moments of the film, which was really refreshing.

It’s not a perfect movie, and there were some questions I was left with, but in the end I highly recommend this quirky flick!

Four and a half lasers!

Nostalgiathon 2012: Real Genius edition!

It’s getting close to the end of the year, so I thought I would toss one more Nostalgiathon 2012 review in!  There’s still time to get in on this action, so check out Misty’s post or Andy’s post for details.  In the meantime, sit back and bask in the memory of REAL GENIUS!

“Would you prepared if gravity reversed itself? The only thing I can’t figure out is how to keep the change in my pockets… I’ve got it! Nudity.”

RGposterReal Genius was one of a string of 80s movies where the theme is simple: geeks will rule.  Weird Science and Revenge of the Nerds could easily be called siblings of Real Genius, but while those two were hilarious in their own right, Real Genius stands above them for many reasons.

First, there’s the story…  Instead of going with the fantastical notion of creating a living doll or the cliche topic of jocks bullying the booksmart, RG tackles something a little more complex by focusing on the pressure placed on people of high intelligence, particularly to produce results.  With wit and silliness, this comedy actually gives the viewer a thorough understanding of just how difficult it can be to be so smart that people judge you by your measurable IQ number.

“Sir, let me take this moment to compliment you on your fashion sense, particularly your slippers.”

Let’s move on to the cast!

RG2Gabriel Jarret plays Mitch Taylor, a 15 year old wiz kid who is recruited to Pacific Tech, a fictional university that resembles Caltech.  His center-part hairstyle, underbite, and consistent “deer-in-headlights” look give us the sense of a former big fish in a small pond entering an ocean.  He seemed to have long ago accepted that other kids really didn’t like him, but now the bullies are the guys who suck up to the professor.

Val Kilmer plays Chris Knight, the top geek who decides to get a cool haircut and stop taking things so seriously, taking Mitch under his wing in an effort to avoid mental breakdowns.  This was Kilmer’s third movie, and to be honest, I think it was his absolute best out of his entire career.  His comedic timing was fantastic, and he got the vast majority of good lines.  His natural good looks and surfer muscles make him less believable as a nerd, but we’ll overlook that for the sake of fun.

William Atherton plays Prof. Jerry Hathaway, and as always, this talented character actor plays the guy you want to punch in the face.  Atherton also played the highly recognizable (and punchable) roles of Walter Peck from Ghostbusters and Richard Thornberg from Die Hard in the 80s.  He was highly believable at the egotistical professor, constantly pushing his students to complete the project he needs to sell to the government.

Jon Gries plays Lazlo Hollyfeld, the genius hermit rumored to have lost his mind; Michelle Meyrink as Jordan, the jittery girl who can’t sleep; Patti D’Arbanville as the Geek Groupie; and Robert Prescott as Kent, the insufferable kiss-ass.

“Moles and trolls, moles and trolls, work, work, work, work, work. We never see the light of day. We plan this thing for weeks and all they want to do is study. I’m disgusted. I’m sorry but it’s not like me, I’m depressed. There was what, no one at the mutant hamster races, we only had one entry into the Madame Curie look-alike contest and he was disqualified later. Why do I bother?”

Finally, the QUOTES…

“I was thinking of the immortal words of Socrates, who said, “… I drank what?””

Let me start by saying the reason I am doing this Nostalgiathon review at all is because several days ago I came across someone whose name is “Kent” and this led to a Facebook post where I mention this and that I then had difficulty refraining from quoting the movie.  For hours after I posted, my friends and I were trading our favorite lines.

“Would you qualify that as a launch problem or a design problem?”

The lines in this movie are awesome!  Sure, maybe you have a few good ones from Weird Science (I can think of one or two), maybe a couple from Revenge of the Nerds (I can’t think of any), but if you watched this more than twice I guarantee that you’ll have some of them take residence in your brain.

Mitch, there’s something you need to know. Compared to you, most people have the IQ of a carrot.”

If you saw this movie more that 5 times, I also guarantee that you not only recognize all the quotes I’ve posted, but know the characters who said them, the inflection in their voices, and possibly the next few lines!

“Kent: You’re all a bunch of degenerates.
Chris Knight: *We* are? What about that time I found you naked with that bowl of Jell-O?”

I can’t say for sure how many times I watched this movie, but suffice it to say that it was enough to be able to run through Jordan’s introduction on the fly…

“Mitch: [as he helps a hallway sledder up from a crash] Are you okay?
Jordan: [Removing helmet and talking rapidly] No, not emotionally, no I’m not. I’m disappointed, not terribly, but still. It should have gone much further much faster. It’s okay, though, I know what the problem is. It’s obviously the drag coefficient. I’ll just have to redesign the blades. I can do that no problem. I can do that here. But after they’re designed I got to cut them and that takes tools and time. Do you know how long this stuff is supposed to last?”

I give this movie 5 out of 5 liquid nitrogen/dry ice coins!

Movie Review: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005)

Before I begin, I must ask each and every die-hard Douglas Adams enthusiast to please take a deep breath and let go of all that you know about The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books, TV show, radio program, and even computer game.

When this was released 7 years ago, I was aware of Douglas Adams, I had read the book and I was a fan – but not rabidly so.  I’m not going to compare, contrast or reference the book in this review.  For the sake of argument, I am going to pretend the previous incarnations do not exist and imagine this film as a complete entity in and of itself. Ready? Excellent.

If I go to the movies now, I find that maybe one trailer out of the 5 or 6 they show before a feature interests me at all. My reactions are usually “That looks ridiculous.”, “Still no original movies in Hollywood, eh?”, “I’d watch it…on Netflix.” or “Ooh, the explosions look good!” The trailer for this movie caught my attention, though…

So with great anticipation, I go to the theater with friends, and cross my fingers hoping for entertainment.

At 2 minutes and 20 seconds into the opening sequence, I turn to the friend on my right and declare that this is the best movie I have ever seen and already make plans to own it when it’s released on disc.  What ELSE could the reaction be to dolphins singing a happy little ditty about the destruction of Earth?

The Story

Arthur Dent lives a quiet life in the English countryside when his best friend Ford Prefect saves his life by stowing away a nearby starship just before the world explodes.  Arthur spends the rest of the movie trying to get his brain to process the bizarre things he sees.

The Main Cast

Martin Freeman (Arthur Dent) will likely be best known for playing Bilbo Baggins in the upcoming Hobbit series, but has an impressive resume beyond that as well.  He plays Arthur as the confused and baffled bloke who just stumbles through every situation completely confused and baffled as to how he survived the last one.  It’s easy to connect with him, especially if you are not familiar with the universe Douglas Adams has created. Best single line: “OK. Leave this to me. I’m British. I know how to queue.”

Mos Def (Ford Prefect) is a delightful surprise as the galaxy-trotting alien who ended up stranded on Earth and befriends Arthur.  He’s Arthur’s personal guide through the film, teaching him about life beyond planet Earth without being condescending, but also showing himself to have his own vices and faults that can trip him up.  His comedic timing and delivery is fantastic, and I could not imagine anyone else in that role. Best single line: “If you want to survive out here, you’ve got to know where your towel is.” tied with “Time is an illusion. Lunchtime, doubly so.”

Sam Rockwell (Zaphod Beeblebrox) tackles the grand job of playing the President of the Galaxy, who decides to “kidnap himself” and steal the state-of-the-art spaceship Heart of Gold in order to go on a treasure hunt, taking the rest of the group along for the ride.  He has cited Elvis Presley, Bill Clinton and over-the-top rockstars as influences for his take on the role, and brings an adventurous, daffy, charming, energetic chaos to the group. Best single line: “If there’s anything around here more important than my ego, I want it caught and shot right now!”

Zooey Deschanel (Trillian/Tricia McMillan) takes the role of the free-spirited girl looking for fun and excitement when she meets Arthur at a party, only to be whisked off by Zaphod when Arthur’s nervous reservations fall flat with her.  She is intelligent, and intrigued by the universe as a whole, while constantly having to watch that Zaphod doesn’t accidentally kill everyone. Best single line: “Buttons aren’t toys!”

The movie also boasts Bill Nighy as Slartibartfast, the designer of planets who is particularly proud of his fjords, Helen Mirren as the voice of Deep Thought, the supercomputer that calculated the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything as “42”, Alan Rickman as the voice of Marvin the pathetic robot, and Stephen Fry who narrates (and does the audiobook – I WANT!).

Everyone comes together for a wacky adventure where “Belgium” is a curse word, poetry can be deadly, and there’s nothing harder to remove from your front lawn than a pile of depressed Vogons.  I LOVED this film… it’s funny, witty, surprising, entertaining, quirky, and just plain fun!

Of course I snatched up a copy as soon as it was released, and one of my favorite bits was the “Making of…” in the extras. Thankfully, YouTube has it (but if you’d rather watch the whole movie first, SCROLL DOWN!):

THE WHOLE MOVIE!:

ENJOY!

Movie Review: Auntie Mame

“Life is a banquet!  And most poor suckers are starving to death!”

After reviewing The Goonies the other day, I thought about another of my all time favorite movies, Auntie Mame.  Growing up, my mother loved watching “classics” – I had no time for those old-timey movies!  I had Back to the Future to watch!

But Auntie Mame stood out in the mix.  While I could appreciate The Wizard of Oz or Gone with the Wind, they didn’t give me the same thing Auntie Mame did.

First, it stars Rosalind Russell (also known for His Girl Friday and Gypsy) , who absorbed the character of Mame Dennis so well on Broadway that she had no trouble transitioning her to the big screen.  She WAS Mame Dennis.  Every moment you see her on screen, you are totally entranced with her.  The costumes, the flamboyance, the fun that she is – you just can’t look away!

“That’s a B. It’s the first letter of a seven-letter word that means your late father.”

 

Then there’s the story.  In September of 1929, Mame Dennis is an eccentric socialite known for her vast array of friends and wild parties, but is thrown a curveball when she has to raise her nephew after the death of her brother.  Refusing to compromise on her lust for life and the variety it holds, her lifestyle clashes with the conservative executor of her nephew’s inheritance.  The movie is filled with awkward yet hilarious moments, true-to-life struggles, and life lessons that are meaningful even today.

Patrick Dennis: Is the English lady sick, Auntie Mame?
Auntie Mame: She’s not English, darling… she’s from Pittsburgh.
Patrick Dennis: She sounded English.
Auntie Mame: Well, when you’re from Pittsburgh, you have to do something.

Of course, we cannot forget the supporting cast – Forrest Tucker as the southern gentleman Beauregard Jackson Pickett Burnside, Coral Browne as Mame’s best friend Vera Charles, Fred Clark as the trustee Dwight Babcock, Roger Smith as the elder version of Patrick Dennis (and also still living and with famed actress/wife Ann-Margaret), Patric Knowles as Mame’s long-time friend Lindsey Woolsey, Peggy Cass as Mame’s transcriptionist Agnes Gooch and Yuki Shimodo as Mame’s butler Ito along with other wonderful character actors.

Auntie Mame: Run along to Ito and tell him to bring me a light breakfast – black coffee and a side car. Oh, oh. And a cold towel for your Auntie Vera.
Patrick Dennis: Is she in the guest room again?
Auntie Mame: Since Sunday, dear. Now run along to Ito and hurry my tray, darling. Your Auntie needs fuel.

I tried to find some good clips from the movie that would really highlight some of the best parts, but honestly, I found this video put together with a Hannah Montana song and (oddly enough) I think it does the job!  Enjoy!

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