Halloween is almost here and I’ve certainly got into the mood. I’ve changed the look of this blog and have been watching some Halloweeny flicks. Here are some of my favorites (in order from most family friendly to least):
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)
This is the classic TV special from Charles Schulz. Completely family friendly and enjoyable for all ages.
Ghostbusters (1984)& Ghostbusters 2 (1989)
The first two Ghostbuster movies are goofy, cheesy funny ghost movies starring Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, and Sigourney Weaver. These films are fun and the ghosts make it relevant around Halloween. (Ghostbusters 2 is available on Hulu.com through Halloween.)
Van Helsing (2004)
This fun monster film is based loosely on Bram Stoker’s Dracula with other monsters from the classics (Frankenstein, Mr. Hyde…). The story is relatively intriguing but this movie primarily is fun. Hugh Jackman and Kate Beckinsale dealing with werewolves and Count Dracula in Transylvania is hugely entertaining.
This M. Night Shyamalan flick is about a family who are first hand witnesses to an alien invasion. It stars Mel Gibson, Joaquin Phoenix, Macaulay Culkin’s younger brother Rory,and Abigail Breslin. It has its creepy moments but mainly is a family film focusing on Gibson’s character’s loss of faith following his wife’s death. It is pretty cool how it ends and I’ve always enjoyed this one.
This Shia LaBeouf film is creepy and somewhat stupid at times, but your heart will pump hard if you get into it. I liked it even though the characters did some really stupid things at times.
This is a classic scary slasher movie starring Jamie Lee Curtis and seemingly based on Hitchcock’s Psycho. It is creepy and very well done. Aside from walking into a dark house and not turning on the lights, I could connect well with the characters. The music is AMAZING and this film would be nothing without it. The piano melody really sets yours nerves on edge. Have a listen: It is also available on Hulu through Halloween.
What movies do you like to watch on Halloween? Also, here is a clip from Community that gives great observation about scary movies:
Captain America: The First Avenger is all about the little guy. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) was a little guy before he was genetically altered into a super soldier. America was the little guy when it sent its Declaration of Independence to Britain in 1776. America wasn’t founded by the biggest and strongest, it was founded on ideals, intelligence, and the bravery to stand up to the bully. This is the same reason why Steve Rogers was chosen for the super soldier program. Captain America is mainly set in the 1940s during World War II. Steve Rogers has tried five times to get into the army, but he is rejected due to his tiny size and other health concerns. You really feel for the guy. Especially when he gets the crap beat out of him for standing up for his country and what he believes in. These qualities are why Rogers was picked for this procedure. The doctor said it “amplifies the qualities of the subject”. They needed a guy who wasn’t going to be out of control, someone who would appreciate the gift given him. That guy was Steve Rogers.
I won’t spoil the rest of the film for you, but I will say that the CG effects used are pretty cool. Pre-procedure Rogers is a really skinny tiny man. They had to use CG to shrink Chris Evans’ body for those scenes, because Evans was bulked up to play the Captain America role and because he is a bigger guy in the first place. I think it looks great. The other special effects all look great as well. I didn’t see it in 3D, but I saw no way that 3D would make the movie better.
The acting in this film is very convincing. Hugo Weaving’s Red Scull is very hate-able and well done, similar to his Agent Smith role in the Matrix series. Chris Evans is really genuine and his supporting cast was solid. The music was very patriotic and 40s-ish which was a nice treat. Another treat was the inclusion of Howard Stark, the father of Tony Stark (Iron Man). It added a nice connectedness to the Marvel universe.
Audiences outside of the US probably won’t get too into this film because of its nature and title, but it is one of the better comic book films I’ve seen lately.
Captain America: The First Avenger runs 124 minutes and is rated PG-13. I give it 8 ramheads out of 10.
Rudy (1993) is a good film about a kid with heart. It is rather inspiring, real, and a very well told story. The acting is solid. The soundtrack is good. You will like it if you haven’t seen it yet. It is hard not to like it.
It turns out that one of my most anticipated movies of the summer, next to Harry Potter 7.2, has to wait until the end of summer to be seen. I had to wait almost 3 months, but I finally saw it. Super 8 did not disappoint.
The story is set in 1979 small town Ohio and stars 14ish year old kids. And these kids are kids. They talk like kids, mess around like kids, and really do a great job. They don’t look like they are acting. This is important when the whole movie is based on kid character driven story.
The kid actors are all pretty much newcomers, Elle Fanning (Dakota’s younger sister) has been in some stuff, but not too much. The adult actors are mostly no-namers, aside from Kyle Chandler (TV’s Friday Night Lights and Early Edition). The absence of the “Star” quality actor really helps make this film work. (Unlike the similar situation in 10,000 BC.) No performance overshadows the other, yet all really work for the film.
These particular kids are into movie making. They are making a Zombie film for an amateur film festival when they witness the derailment of an Air Force train. I won’t spoil the plot for you, but it was very well written. J.J. Abrams wrote and directed this film with Steven Spielberg as a producer. It was the best original screenplay I’ve seen since Inception. It was emotional, entertaining, funny, and sci-fi-y.
The cinematography in this film was also very good. Similar to the film’s marketing scheme, the way J.J. Abrams doesn’t let you see what is going on all the time really adds to the intrigue and awesomeness of this film. He and the actors really put their hearts into this film and it shows. It isn’t the throwaway, CGI-packed 3D hunk of crap a lot of movies are lately. Sure, they use CGI to create the awesome explosions and the stuff I won’t spoil for you, but the actors and the story really drive this film. Plus Simon from 7th Heaven plays a stoner, who is quite entertaining.
Super 8 runs 112 minutes and is rated PG-13. For the most part this film is pretty family oriented, though there is a little language (and drug references) at times. Kids under 9 probably don’t need to see it. I was thoroughly entertained and was not let down. I give it 10 ramheads out of 10.
July 14 was an anxious day. I was watching earlier Harry Potter films all day and doing what I could to look for a job. I was excited because that night I would get to see the final Harry Potter film at midnight with my wife. It all started in 6th grade (2000) when I read the first four Potter books in under two weeks. I never really got into reading until then. Then the films started that next year. I was there the day the first one came out. I was first in line with my friend. I was there for the first (or second) day or midnight showing for all 8 Harry Potter films. This is a big deal for me. Enough about me, what about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2 (say that 5 times fast)? Being the most talked about film this year, HP7.2 lived up and exceeded the hype. The acting was free from hiccups that has riddled the young actors for years. The older actors (Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, and more) were great. All the actors delivered the action and emotion that was necessary to make this film near-perfect.
One element of the film-making that really impressed me for the second time in a row was the pacing. Part 1 was meant to be a slower, anxious feeling film. Part 2 was almost the opposite: a fast-paced action film loaded with emotion, well-placed humor, and answers to questions building since the first installment.
This film stays true to the book and will please both fans of the just the films or both films and books. The film wasn’t perfect, but I’m not going to complain. How can you complain when [spoiler] Molly Weasley calls Bellatrix Lestrange a bitch and then kills her? It’s just awesome. Ron and Hermione’s kiss also did not disappoint. The years of built up emotion released in the amazing on screen kiss. I got shivers. The feeling I got when this film was finished is still lingering: joy.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is rated PG-13 and runs 130 minutes. This film is a lot of action, death, and scary scenes and a little language. Just know this before you show your kids or kid siblings this flick. I gave Part 1 ten ramheads out of 10. This one was better even than that. I give Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 10 ramheads out of 10.
Over a month ago I promised some reviews… I don’t like to break promises, so here it goes:
Year One (2009) stars Jack Black and Michael Cera playing their usual roles. The story is pretty dumb and messy and doesn’t really go anywhere. There are a few funny moments, a few insulting moments, and many dumb moments. If you don’t ever see this one, you aren’t missing much. It runs a long-feeling 97 minutes and is rated PG-13. I give it 3 ramheads out of 10.
The Princess and the Frog (2009) feels to me like a genuine Disney movie. It was great to see the comeback of cartoons. This film, though, felt to me like a 2nd tier Disney flick. It doesn’t meet the standards of The Lion King, Up, or Aladdin in my opinion. I enjoyed it, but it didn’t wow me like these other ones did. It runs 97 minutes and is rated G. I give it 7 ramheads out of 10.Kick-Ass (2010) is a somewhat humorous, overly violent, realistic comic-book film. If the stuff that happens in comics happen in real-life, this would probably be it. People would get killed, maimed, and it would be gory. It was an interesting film to watch, but not really my cup of tea. It was strange seeing such a young girl (Chloe Moretz) being so violent. It runs 117 minutes and is rated R. I give it a slightly above average 6 out of 10. NOT a family film. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (2010) is an entertaining, funny, ride based on the Mickey classic in Fantasia. It stars Jay Baruchel and Nicolas Cage. It is pure entertainment. To me it felt like Taken and National Treasure, you kind of just go with it. This is one of my new favorite Disney flicks and I hope you can have fun with it too. It runs 109 minutes and is rated PG. I give it 8 ramheads out of 10. Enjoy Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2 tonight at midnight (or this weekend if you aren’t a die hard fan). More reviews coming soon! Cheers!
No, this blog isn’t a review of the July 29 future movie Cowboys & Aliens, though it is about both of those types of films individually.
True Grit (2010) is a Coen Brothers film starring Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon. It about a 14 year old girl (Hailee Steinfeld) using the resources she has (her money and her mouth) to convince Bridges’ character Rooster Cogburn to help her hunt down her father’s killer. It is really entertaining (shooting/humor/western-ness), heartwarming, and the characters are all extremely interesting and very well played. The music was great, the story was great, and it deserved all of its 11 Oscar nominations and should have won. To me it was a better film than The Social Network.True Grit runs 110 minutes and is rated PG-13. I give True Grit 9 ramheads out of 10.District 9 is was very low key film when it came out. I heard of it from a friend who loved it and it sparked my interest. All I knew was that it was about aliens. Set in Johannesburg, South Africa, a bunch of aliens showed up and then started leaching the land and the people dry. They were “worker bee” aliens who are clueless without a leader. They were rounded into shacks in “District 9”, the militarized ghetto camp with a big fence/wall around it. Wikus van der Merwe (Sharlto Copley) is appointed to lead the eviction from District 9 to newly constructed (far away from Johannesburg) District 10. He gets some stuff sprayed on him and interesting things happen.
District 9 is a highly entertaining film and filled with very interesting concepts. It holds an disturbing view of the military corporate world and really gets you thinking (if you have a critically thinking brain).District 9 runs 112 minutes and is rated R for violence. Definitely don’t show this to kids, there is plenty of language and violence. I give it 9 ramheads out of 10.
I haven’t reviewed any movies in a long time, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t watched any. About a month and a half ago I got to listen to–I mean watch–10,000 BC (2008). I watched it, having heard of it though knowing nothing about it. Almost two months later, I have very little recollection of the plot.
Essentially, the movie is about a prophesy that exists in every major religion and it comes true to the eventual death of the leper Egyptian Pharaoh. Also, more memorably than the plot, the soundtrack was AMAZING. (Composer Harold Kloser is pictured left.) The music actually overshadowed the rest of the film. There were no “star” actors, the performances were fine, but not good enough to liven the bland story and average-at-best effects.
The only memorable things besides the Pharaoh getting speared to his death and the music were the rapter-ostriches that pecked people to death. So essentially this movie boils down to two things: Pluralism (all religions essentially lead to the same thing) and amazing music.
10,000 BC runs 109 minutes and is rated PG-13 for the action violence. I give the film 4 ramheads out of 10. I would give the musical score 9 out of 10, but I have to judge the film as a whole. I’d recommend you just listen to the soundtrack.
Back in the year 2000, when Mel Gibson was considered a respectable actor, he made a film called The Patriot. This film was very well done, even with it’s similarities to Braveheart (which I will not be reviewing today). It actually gave me patriotic feelings after watching (and negative feelings for the British from the 1700s). It is loosely based upon Francis Marion (the “Swamp Fox”), though it only touched on Marion’s impact on the Revolution in South Carolina.
Mel Gibson plays Benjamin Martin, a widower father in South Carolina with a bunch of kids. Because of past actions in the French and Indian War and fear for his family he refuses to fight in the Revolutionary War. But when the jerk colonel (the guy who plays Lucius Malfoy from Harry Potter) in the British army burns down his house, takes his oldest son (Heath Ledger) to be hanged, and kills his 15 year old son (Ephram from Everwood) for almost no reason, Martin has the motivation to fight and save his son. Soon he is considered by the British to be “The Ghost” and he ends up leading a militia.
With amazing visuals and non-cliche storyline, this film is not Hollywoodized or cheesy. It shows watchers the cruelty and reality of the Revolutionary War. It is quite historically accurate, though not perfect and is an excellent historical film (not documentary). This film is really well made, with really great acting.
Thoroughly enjoyable, I definitely recommend this film. The Patriot runs 165 minutes and is rated R for violence. Definitely not a film to show your children. I give it solid 9 ramheads out of 10.
I liked him in Juno, but he plays almost the same person in Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (2008). You know, Michael Cera, the fat kid from Arrested Development, who stars in alot of almost indie/mainstream films (he’s not fat anymore).
Nick and Norah is kind of a stumbling film with minimal plot and likable characters. Nick is a nice guy, who recently broke up with a girl and is trying to get her back by burning CDs for her. She immediately throws them away, because she’s a bitch. [Excuse my French.] Norah (Kat Dennings) is the one who picks up the mixed CDs and loves them. She also happens to need him to pretend to be her boyfriend. That is where it starts.
Through a long night of trying to locate Norah’s drunken friend and searching for the legendary band “Where’s Fluffly” in New York, the 17 year olds end up together and, though they had only met a few hours before, end up having sex. Yup. Up until this point I was enjoying the film. Nick and Norah are both nice people, but I don’t like how our society requires sex for a relationship to be legitimate. Doesn’t anyone wait until marriage anymore? Movies and TV seem to tell us otherwise. I still have hope that people don’t all act like they see others in the media.
Another question I have is where are their parents? How can seven 17-year-olds wander NYC all night without even a call from parents? I’m sure it happens, but seriously? Oh well…
This film is entertaining, the characters are likeable, but the plot doesn’t go very far. The characters don’t develop too much either. Also, the sex, though not shown on screen, is annoying.
Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist runs 90 minutes and is rated PG-13. I give it a slightly above average 6 ramheads out of 10.