Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Movies I like but Probably Shouldn't

Ask anyone, and they'll tell you that the manliness scale goes something like this:

1. Lance Armstrong - for obvious reasons: he got cancer, said "piss off" then went ahead and won the toughest bike race in the world 7 times in a row with only one testicle. Hear that citizens of the world? Lance is doing more with one ball than the rest of you are doing with two.

2. Rambo - have you seen his movies? He singlehandedly took on a corrupt sheriff, the Vietnamese army, the Russian army, and the Burmese military! It's crazy!

3. Me - for obvious reasons

However, even I love some movies that I probably shouldn't. I see these movies on television and can't turn the channel. There's no logical reason for this, just that they really entertain me.

1. She's All That - what's not to love? A nerdy girl who all of a sudden has the attention of the most popular boy in school, but why would he like her? POW! She gets a haircut and a new dress (getting out of her "nerdy" overalls) and all of a sudden she's a 9.5 on a scale of 1-10. What else? A crazy bet that of course backfires (the plot hinges on this point, but as my friend Nick says: lack of communication between main characters is essential to the movie industry), Usher DJ'ing the students high school, and a coordinated dance number at the prom (how does everyone know what dance they are doing? Did the whole school get together the night before and make this up? I need backstory!).

2. Enough - Jennifer Lopez vehicle that sees her strike back at the husband that abuses her. She thought she had the perfect life, she met Mr. Right in a diner while working her dead-end waitress job (she plays the practically homeless server with a heart of gold) but surprise surprise! He turns out to be an adulterer with an anger problem! Luckily, her absentee father is actually a wealthy financier who is working on an internet startup company. Turns out he helps her with a little bit of cash while she hides from her crazy husband in the upper peninsula of Michigan and trains for the day she can engage him in physical combat and vanquish him! What a great message, fight fire with fire J-Lo!!!!

3. A Walk to Remember - up to this point, I might have been able to be forgiven for my choices. This one is indefensible, however. There is no logical reason for me to like this poorly constructed sob-story (does Nicholas Sparks write any other kind of story? Holy cow, this guy has the market cornered on getting you to care about the characters and then springing a uncureable illness on the unsuspecting reader). All the familiar elements are there. He's the bad boy from a broken home, she's the pretty yet plain daughter of a the town pastor who lost her mother years ago. They fall in love performing a school play and then one day finds out about her cancer. This prompts him to reconcile with his father who happens to be a wealthy doctor and can help arrange and pay for her medical care. He also learns to build telescopes because that's her favorite thing in the world. They end up getting married and enjoying a summer together before she dies leaving her husband to go to med school...apparently to learn the secrets of reincarnation so he can bring his wife back from the grave (I added the last part, but I'm pretty sure it was in the original script and hollywood chickened out).

Come to think of it, except for the death, She's All That and A Walk to Remember are basically the same movie....weird.

Friday, July 25, 2008

I am voting Republican!

Hahahahaha, this struck me as funny

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Movie Montages or How I Learned to Stop Caring about Plot and Just Embrace Music Videos...

You might not know this about me, but I LOVE movie montages. To me, there really isn't anything better than a training or gratutious arming sequence in a movie. To that end, I present, from 5-1, the top movie montages of all time.

5. The 'Falling' montage from Real Genius - Real Genius is an underrated movie, it was one of Val Kilmer's first roles and it stars that one guy who was never really in anything again but looks vaguely familiar to the viewer. Really a great montage about a smart kid at college trying to make it in a class full of other smart kids. Little known fact: Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite fame is in this movie.

4. The preseason practice montage from The Program - I think a key element to a great montage is the music, with Guns and Roses Welcome to the Jungle blarring in the background, we get to see vicious hit after vicious hit as the ESU football team prepares for the upcoming season. This movie actually got pretty close to what college athletics is like...they made some characters a parody, but there are more similarities here than in something like Blue Chips(sorry, couldn't find a video of the scene).

3. Hoosiers "starting to come together" montage - Hoosiers is one of my alltime favorite movies, and if you're a sports fan, it better be one of yours too. Coach Dale was on the verge of being let go midseason, a move UNHEARD OF in high school athletics. That is, until the wunderkind Jimmy Chitwood saves the day. Once he joins the team, there's really no stopping the Hickory basketball team from winning the state title. This montage features the iconic song from that movie.

2. "Hearts on Fire" from Rocky IV - Let's face it, almost all modern movie montages take their cue from the ultimate montages in history: the Rocky montages. In fact, any "best of" list, could simply include montages from each Rocky movie. I felt this was a cop out, and a bit of disrespect to other great movie montages so I picked the best one: Rocky IV. It's almost like they took all of their knowledge from the previous Rocky movies and pooled it together to make the ultimate montage. Rocky training old school juxteposed with Ivan Drago training new school complete with steroids (of which Rocky would NEVER use) CHECK, concerned looks from Adrian CHECK, a shirtless Stalone CHECK, a bearded Stalone DOUBLE CHECK, Rocky reaching the top of the mountain while Drago gives out CHECK and CHECK, a broken down russian plow that Rocky has to drag out of the snow CHECK. I've said enough, I'll let the video speak for itself.

1. We've reached number one, it should be no doubt to some but barely edging Rocky IV, is The Karate Kid "You're the Best" montage. It starts off with Elizabeth Shue screaming 'you're the best' and it culminates with Daniel kicking Cobra Kai tail. No one who grew up in the 80's didn't want to be the karate kid after this classic. No one.

Well, that's the top 5, this list is complete and needs no editing, but I wanted to point out a couple of "honorable mention" montages. The montage from Team America: World Police that is making fun of movie montages is classic. Also, the Michael J. Fox movie Teen Wolf had not one but two montages, which I like to call the jackpot. The basketball was some of the worst ever put to film, but these montages are classic. One is in full on wolf mode and in one Scott is trying to prove he can be great without the wolf. Extra points to this movie for the constant background Nebraska Cornhusker references and the great coach Bobby Finstock. You can see both of them below.

Monday, July 21, 2008


I've always loved Batman. My favorite part is I've always imagined myself as a potential Batman (If only I had more money and more motivation). He's just a a regular guy who finally got fed up with all the shenanigans and decided to do something about it. There's the little matter of his parents being killed, but ....Anyway, I've loved some of the previous Batman movies and hated some of them. Let's take it movie by movie:

Batman - the first foray onto the big screen. This movie had a lot of build-up because people had been waiting decades for the chance to see the caped crusader come to life. On initial viewing (more on this later) this movie was fantastic. Keaton was a great Batman and, IMO, a very good Bruce Wayne. The Joker character was played with some "camp" and they took some liberties with Batman's history (Joker killed Bruce Wayne's parents? come on) but it was solid at the time. I hate to say it, but on recent viewings for me I haven't liked it very much. B

Batman Returns - sequel to the first movie and Tim Burton's final fore' in the series. They added Catwoman and The Penguin as villians. I particularly liked Danny DeVito's portrayal of Penguin, he was creepy, vile, and interesting. I also liked the use of real penguins in his penguin army. This movie had the same feel as the first Batman (no surprise because it's the same director) but expanded on the Bruce Wayne as Batman character, I didn't like that people found out who Batman was. It was a little too neat and tidy, but all in all, I actually enjoyed this movie better than the first. I also feel it held up well over the last 15 years. B+

Batman Forever - Joel Schumacher steps in to the directors shoes and Val Kilmer takes over the batsuit in this 2nd sequel. Schumacher decided he wanted to make viewers vomit with his use of psychadelic colors and ridiculous settings. We also see the development of a movie-making theory I've spend the better part of two decades formulating. It is simply called "character creep". What this means, is that in successive sequels the film creators continually try to top themselves by stuffing more and more in to the script. By more, I mean more characters. This movie saw Batman, the introduction of Robin, Two Face, the Riddler, an Italian crime boss (Moroni), yet another new love interest for Bruce, along with various assorted female characters. It's too much, but I guess the director was trying to take our minds off the horrible script and terrible criminal plot to steal peoples thoughts. C-

Batman and Robin - Whew doggies, yet another new Batman and tons more crap flung on the silver screen in hopes it would stick. This movie is simply in the top 5 worst movies ever made. It takes character creep to a whole new stratosphere. We have Batman, Robin, Batgirl, Mr. Freeze (one of the worst roles I've ever seen onscreen, memorable lines include 'everybody chill'), Poison Ivy, Bane (who they completely ruined by making him a walking automaton instead of the prison-raised genius he was in the comics), yet another new love interest, and more assorted girl characters that have no place. They also put nipples on the batsuit. And since when can diamonds power machines that save peoples lives? The whole story is terrible, and I wonder at what point did George Clooney realize he was in a giant turd of a movie? I remember when I realized it was going to be a long day in the theater, about 5 minutes in Batman and Robin clicked there heals and ice skates came out....just terrible in every way. F-

At this point, since Batman and his reputation was obviously destroyed by the Schumacher-bomb that managed to ruin a very profitable franchise, they shut down and retooled. They had to wait for a talented director to come along with just the right motif. Luckily, a kick-butt filmmaker named Christopher Nolan showed up to save the day. His body of work in such a young career is already impressive: Momento, Batman Begins and the Dark Knight, the Prestige, and the smaller films he started out with. Let's start back up:

Batman Begins - the filmmakers decided to restart the franchise, which was a wise decision given that it would have been impossible to continue after the mess left behind by Schumacher. This movie stays much more true to the comics (BTW, why are comic book movie script writers even bothering with new stories? There are literally thousands of great story lines from the last century of comic books that could be turned in to films...but I digress) and features Christian Bale (one of my favorite actors) as Batman and the villain that trained him Ra's Al Ghul. Great origin movie, great training montage, great atmosphere of the film. The only weak points are the Rachel Dawson played by the anti-charismatic Katie Holmes and the stupid scheme planned by the films main bad guy (in fact, it's almost a repeat of the first Batman movie where Joker tried to poison Gotham by sabotaging their consumer products. In this one, they try to poison Gotham with an evaporated water supply and hallucinogens). Great performances by Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman are also a huge plus. Batman Begins almost feels "real" as opposed to a comic book movie, a real tribute to the cast and crew. As a whole, this movie is a great restart to the once proud franchise. A

The Dark Knight - what a fantastic sequel. Everyone is back, with the exception of a recasted Rachel Dawes who is now played by Maggie Gyllenhaal (which is actually my biggest complaint of the movie. Rachel is supposed to be torn between two men: the new AD Harvey Dent and Bruce Wayne/Batman. She isn't nearly pretty enough for these two guys to both want her. I'm not sure who you'd put here instead, but Rachel Dawes continues to be a scar on this set of movies). What can be said that hasn't already been said? This movie hits on all cylinders, it is probably as close to perfection as you can get for such a complicated script. The performance by Heath Ledger is nothing short of extraordinary and ranks, for me, up there with Daniel Day Lewis in Gangs of New York as the best onscreen performance of the last 20 years. It's too bad that we won't get to see more from Ledger given his untimely passing. This movie provides an interesting look at Batman because Wayne Manor burned down at the end of the Batman Begins. Due to that, Batman looks like he is renting an apartment, so we get to see a different take on the home life of Bruce Wayne. If you get the chance, I'd recommend seeing this in Imax, a film this good deserves the big screen treatment. A

So those are my thoughts on Batman, stay tuned to 'I am right...." for more of my thoughts on a wide range of topics. College football season is almost upon us, and so are the Olympics, so there should be plenty of sports columns in the coming weeks and months.