Weekend Outlook – Pirates of the Baywatch: Guardians of the Covenant

Happy Memorial Day weekend everybody! So after you get done with your barbecue (which is really just burgers and hotdogs, or maybe brats if you’re fancy), then what are you going to do?

Maybe you’ll go shopping. I hear there are some good deals meant to lure you away from the simplicity of always paying less for things by shopping online. Perhaps you are thinking about visiting a theme park, but that’s expensive and you run the risk of dehydration. I guess you could watch any of the mediocre sporting events which will be on all weekend, you’ve got the Indy 500, the NBA conference finals, a whole bunch of baseball, or the carbonated poison water 600. But those all sound long, boring, and better watched in short clips on YouTube as a last resort of entertainment.

Why not hang out at the multiplex and catch up on those early Summer blockbusters that you have missed because you have been so busy catching up on your assignments from procrastination class or cramming for that test that you no longer remember because of sleep deprivation? It has been a relatively slow start to the summer movie season, but this long weekend should be the perfect time to catch that movie that has been calling you. We’ve got 3 sequels and an R-rated comedy TV adaptation to examine so buckle up!

If you haven’t already seen Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, you might be a Mennonite (Note to self: find Mennonite comedian and pitch the idea of stealing Jeff Foxworthy’s signature bit). It has only been out since Cinco de Mayo and it has already made close to 3 quarters of a billion dollars worldwide! Guardians is a ton of fun and it is fairly kid friendly, so as long as your kid can dress themselves and no longer needs a high chair, they should be up for this adventure.

The premise is simple. We rejoin our lovable gang of space anti-heroes a little while after the first film ends (If you haven’t first Guardians of the Galaxy, then you should probably buy it on iTunes and catch up with the rest of civilization). Star Lord has daddy issues that he needs to work out and they do it in hilarious fashion. This is has more laughs per minute than the first film with more of the same character driven drama and amazing 80’s soundtrack. (I’m serious about the soundtrack! I literally just Googled “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl) by Looking Glass. It will be stuck in your head for the rest of the week, just be prepared.) I’ll be honest, if you haven’t seen this one, and maybe even if you have, it is your best bet. The rest are likely going to be hit or miss.

I just saw Alien: Covenant last night and it was very good, but it kind of felt like it was struggling with what kind of movie it wanted to be. But what should we expect from the 3rd film from Ridley Scott in this franchise which he helped reboot back in 2012 with the prequel Prometheus. Covenant rides the line between the heady philosophical ramblings of Prometheus and the crap your pants scariness of Alien.

If Guardians was safe for kids that can ride a roller coaster then this one is only safe if you can drive a car (manual transmissions only, none of that wussy automatic garbage). I’m serious, there is blood everywhere in this, aliens bursting out of all kinds of cavities and orifices, not to mention the synthetic on synthetic porn that almost happens. I could hear the Fassboners rising in the theater. If you’re a fan of Ridley Scott and the franchise you won’t be disappointed, but it’s not his best work. I’m seriously hoping that Blade Runner 2049 is better.

I’ll be quite honest, the only thing that get’s me excited about Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (Longest movie name since Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood) is the inclusion of Javier Bardem as the baddie. If you’ve seen Skyfall or No Country for Old Men you know that he can be extremely creepy and intimidating, and that’s before he’s been all zombified. Even though it looks creepy, this is Disney we are talking about and I’m sure if your emo kids are into pirates then they would be okay going to this one too.

I know that this is a total cash grab on Disney’s part. They want to revive the franchise that has brought in $3.7 billion since 2003. I get it, but even Orlando Bloom and Kiera Knightley were smart enough to get out after three films and here Johnny Depp is riding into his fifth. He is simply the worst pirate that I’ve ever heard of, but I have heard of him so I’ll be checking this one out on Saturday, so stay tuned for my thoughts.

Finally, we have the R-rated 90’s TV adaptation that literally no one has ever been clamoring for. Baywatch hits theaters this weekend and I can only hope that they at least got Hasselhoff for a cameo, I mean he’s in Guardians so it’s not like he wasn’t available for filming. If they missed out on the Hoff, at least they have the ghost of Pam Anderson’s boobs, a.k.a. Alexandra Daddario. It looks like they are trying to go down the comedy parody road with this one and that would be great. But they have had me worried in a couple of trailers that they might try and take this straight, and if it takes itself too seriously it will be garbage.

The critical consensus is already that it is garbage (18% on Rotten Tomatoes), but I’m hoping that this could at least be as good as Central Intelligence. I’ve never been much of a fan of Zac Ephron, but I’m willing to give him a shot. This one is for adults only, the red band trailers have been bad enough that I had to watch them after my kids went to bed. I’ll be seeing this one next Wednesday so you’ll have to wait a little bit longer for my full review.

The most important thing is for you to enjoy this weekend and remember those brave men and women who died so we can eat lots of expensive buttery popcorn and be entertained by the beautiful monkeys we pay to entertain us. Have a great weekend!

 

 

2003 Best Movie Bracket

Sorry it has been so long since I’ve posted. I want to get back on track with my Best Movie Bracket. 2003 was a bit of a weak year for film. There were some memorable gems which floated to the surface, but overall it left avoid that would be filled by a fantasy film. These films generally get very little credit, but 2003 was the perfect year for this film to take home far more awards than it normally would.

Before I can get to that film though, I need to let you know about my runners up.  Honorable mentions include Kill Bill: Volume 1, Oldboy (the good one in Korean), X2: X-Men United, Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, and Dogville. With that being said, here is my top 3 of 2003. You may have others that you adore from this year that I left off the list. But that’s why it’s my list. I’d love to hear your opinions, and then I will tell you to go make your own site where your opinions can reign supreme.

#3 – Mystic River

Mystic River is a sad movie. It is about three boys who grow up to be damaged people. Jimmy (Sean Penn), who is a former convict, Sean (Kevin Bacon) who’s wife recently left him and Dave (Tim Robbins) who… Have you seen the film? I better keep my mouth shut about the plot.

The acting in this movie is phenomenal, especially from Tim Robbins who very much deserved his supporting actor Oscar. Sean Penn is fantastic as well in his very best performance. Kevin Bacon is also very good, though he does get overshadowed by the other two leads. They are flanked by a very capable supporting cast including Laurence Fishburne, Laura Linney and even Eli Wallach also shine in this movie.

The story is very well told, tense, and dramatic. The writing is very good as well. Brian Helgeland, who penned L.A. Confidential and A Knight’s Tale, elevates the novel by Dennis Lehane who is no stranger to film adaptations (Gone Baby Gone, Shutter Island, and others). It also has great cinematography and excellent music. I haven’t even mentioned that it is directed by the inimitable Clint Eastwood. In fact, along with Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby, this may be Eastwood’s best directed movie.

If all of that is true, then why is this #3. It is my main problem with all of Dennis Lehane’s stories. I tend to figure out the ending before the big reveal. Maybe it is because I’ve seen so many movies, but I pretty much see it right away. Also, I like a little more ambiguity in my endings, so I wish the movie had ended about 10 minutes earlier. It’s not the ending is bad, it’s just if it had ended earlier, I just feel like it would have been more powerful.

#2 – Finding Nemo

Not since 1995 and Toy Story had Pixar done something so revolutionary. They tackled so much with the visual textures and light patterns that we only see underwater. This film was a visual feast, but it is also funny and emotionally rich. I also believe this film has the absolute best sound design of any Pixar film.

This film deserves acclaim for more than its audio visual achievements. Marlin (Albert Brooks) goes down in my book as one of the best fathers in cinematic history. I mean, they essentially stole the plot of this film to make the entire Taken series. Marlin traversed the oceans over thousands of miles filled with sharks, jellyfish, angler fish, and ravenous seagulls, battling all his own fears, just to rescue his son. His adventure is filled with some of the most memorable moments and quotable lines of any film I’ve seen, and I still love it to this day.

As a father myself with 2 sons, it teaches me the undying love a father will have for his son, and the distances he will go to ensure his utmost protection. It helps to understand just how much a father cares for his son, no matter how harsh he may seem to be. It just goes to show how universal Pixar films really are.

#1 – Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Extended Edition)

As far as I’m concerned, Return of the King can be as long, as indulgent and end as many times as it wants to. It deserves it. This 263 minute monster of a film manages to round out an epic trilogy by bringing all the characters and plot lines to a gripping and joyful conclusion. It takes the emotional resonance of the first film and marries it to the epic warfare of the second. When all is said and done, we get something as close to perfect as a film can possibly get.

The scope of the film is staggering. Combining fantasy politics, multitudes of different species for our imaginations to go wild with and stunningly vast geography. This is an epic in every possible sense of the word. The assault on Minas Tirith and the ensuing Battle of Pelenor Fields is visceral action-cinema at its very pinnacle. It is very hard to find fault in this film because of my inability to criticize Tolkien’s phenomenal source material and because of the sheer spectacle of it all.

This is Jackson’s true labor of love, and you can tell that he’s poured his heart and soul into every second of it all. He has an evident adoration and respect for the story and characters. That is what marks Lord of the Rings out from the other blockbuster franchises as a true and heartfelt film that effortlessly elevates itself to legendary status.

You can tell that the actors are clearly in love with the material too. The relationship between Frodo and Sam, while undeniably sentimental, is always touching and pleasant without descending into obvious schmaltz. Elijah Wood and Sean Astin are remarkable here, with Wood in particular maneuvering nicely out of the tricky spot of becoming evil while under the influence of the Ring. There’s some scene-stealing from John Noble as the emotionally-imbalanced Steward of Gondor, Denethor, while Theoden (Bernard Hill) and Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) make the most of their meaty inspirational speeches.

And as I said before, I don’t have any problem with the endings. Why would you not want to stretch out your goodbyes with the dense and lovable characters you’ve just spent 11 hours of your life with? There is no problem with how the trilogy closes, as every character is given their little moment to savor. It’s touching and a good way to close this series.

Alien Franchise Quiz

With Alien: Covenant coming out this weekend, I thought it would be fun to look back at all of the adventures that we have had with the Xenomorphs. How’s your Alien franchise knowledge? Test yourself below!

Which one of these Directors did not direct an Aliens film?

The Dreamers of La La Land • Senses of Cinema

How do you make a happy movie in America without being jumped on? Either America has forgotten how to make uplifting films so deeply that a work like La La Land is, despite its uplifting façade, only a symptom of this malaise, or we have forgotten how to critically appraise such films without competing for the deepest and hardest cuts. Or maybe both.

Source: The Dreamers of La La Land • Senses of Cinema

2004 Best Movie Bracket

In 2004, we saw a number of successful sequels like Kill Bill: Volume 2, Before SunsetHarry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban, Spider-Man 2, The Bourne SupremacyShrek 2, and Oceans 12. We have been riding a sequel wave since then. I think, read hope, that this year the wave might have finally crashed. Any of the films that I mention in this write up are somewhere in the top 25 of the year, but there are only three on the top of that list.

Before I really get into it, I will note that I have not seen Before Sunset, Downfall, Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, or Million Dollar Baby (gasp). I know that those four get a lot of respect. I have seen Before Sunrise, and I thought it was a good Richard Linklater film, just like I’m sure that Million Dollar Baby is a good Clint Eastwood film and Life Aquatic is a good Wes Anderson film. Sadly, I can’t judge films that I have not seen. Now, let’s get down to business.

Win – Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Michel Gondry made his mark on Hollywood by directing this funny, quirky, touching film. He shaped a very malleable actor like Jim Carrey into a serious role that makes up for a half a dozen Ace Venturas. Kate Winslet in her multi-colored hair and perfect bi-polar personality. Mark Ruffalo, Elijah Wood, and Kirsten Dunst having their crazy “memory erasing party” on top of Jim Carrey’s sedated body. It is a movie about love, fate and memory and it is still one of the most unique science fiction love stories you will ever see.

Place – The Incredibles

That’s right… I picked a Pixar animated film over the sexy choices like The Aviator, Hotel Rwanda, Layer Cake, or Collateral. I did it because Brad Bird was able to pull off a better superhero movie than Spider-Man 2, which is the best Spider-Man we have seen to date. He created a completely original and fully realized world of colorful superheroes, political realities, and family dynamics and made it accessible to anyone from five to 95. I don’t simply consider this the best Pixar movie to date, even with Marvel’s success, I would say that this is one of the best superhero films ever made. I know that they have finally announced a sequel to this beloved film. I’m happy for that, but I would also love to see him take the reins of a struggling property like the Fantastic Four and breathe some new life into them.

Show – Mean Girls

I was really close to giving Shaun of the Dead this spot, but I honestly like Hot Fuzz more and I cannot deny the cultural impact of Mean Girls. it is incredibly rewatchable, crazy quotable, and really well done.

Alright, I’ll stop trying to make fetch happen. I’m going to go shopping with Glen Coco, get in loser! No? Boo, you whore. It’s not my fault you’re like in love with me or something! It’s been fun looking back at 2004 with you. Don’t forget to wear your pink shirts on Wednesdays.

What do you think? Did I totally miss the mark somewhere? Is butter a carb? sound off in the comments below.

Kubo and the Two Strings is Out on DVD

The stop-motion geniuses from LAIKA have delivered some of their most beautiful work yet, and you’ll be amazed at some of sequences they pulled off. If you haven’t heard of it yet, Kubo and the Two Strings is another gorgeous animated adventure from the studio who brought us Coraline, ParaNorman and The Boxtrolls. Unfortunately, you missed out on seeing it on the big screen, but it is out on BluRay and DVD now so you can take in all of the amazing visuals over and over again.

Check out the time-lapse video below that shows you how they pull it off. Watch the animators moving the characters, creatures and set pieces frame by frame. Believe me, there will be parts of this movie that you won’t believe are stop-motion animation, and there are some digital enhancements here and there, but this will reassure you of all the hard work that goes into these films.

The fact that there are still animators who want to make movies in this time-consuming fashion is astounding. They churn out just 4.3 seconds of animation per week. It’s such a laborious process, but when you see the final product in action, it’s clearly worth their trouble, and definitely worth the $20 for a great Bluray or DVD.

 

2005 Best Movie Bracket

If you forgot about my Best Movie Bracket, I’m looking at each year individually and picking the best movie. Each of those winners will face off against another years winner in a bracket style tournament. But before I get to the tournament, I have to complete the seeding. I try to look objectively at the films, which means I need to study them from a couple of different angles. For 2005, let’s see which films come out on top financially, critically, and popularity.

Financial (Box Office Mojo)

1 Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith Fox $380,270,577
2 The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe BV $291,710,957
3 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire WB $290,013,036
4 War of the Worlds Par. $234,280,354
5 King Kong Uni. $218,080,025
6 Wedding Crashers NL $209,255,921
7 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory WB $206,459,076
8 Batman Begins WB $205,343,774
9 Madagascar DW $193,595,521
10 Mr. & Mrs. Smith Fox $186,336,279

Critical (Oscar Nominations)

Nominations Film
8
Brokeback Mountain
6 Crash (Best Picture)
Good Night, and Good Luck.
Memoirs of a Geisha
5 Capote
Munich
Walk the Line
4 King Kong
Pride & Prejudice
The Constant Gardener

Popularity (IMDb)

Movie Rating
1. My Father and My Son (2005) 8.7
2. Batman Begins (2005) 8.3
3. V for Vendetta (2005) 8.2
4. Sin City (2005) 8
5. Serenity (2005) 8
6. Walk the Line (2005) 7.9
7. Pride & Prejudice (2005) 7.8
8. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005) 7.7
9. Brokeback Mountain (2005) 7.7
10. Match Point (2005) 7.7

Ultimately, however, this is my list and the final vote comes down to me. Here are my top 3 from 2005.

walktheline

3. Walk the Line

I have a soft spot in my heart for Johnny Cash. Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon did a fantastic job of becoming Johnny and June Carter Cash. The music is infectious and the man in black’s story is worth telling well. I almost put Crash in this 3rd spot, but I think it has had enough press with its unearned Best Picture win over…

Poster for the movie "Brokeback Mountain"
© 2005 River Road Entertainment − All right reserved.

2. Brokeback Mountain

Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger pour out a lot of emotion in this very moving drama from director Ang Lee. Michelle Williams and Anne Hathaway put in remarkable supporting roles as the pained wives of the men who are inflamed for each other. I just watched this for the first time a few months ago and it took me a while to process.

vforvendetta

1. V for Vendetta

I can’t say enough about this film. It is infinitely rewatchable and quotable. Natalie Portman is my favorite actress and she is stunning as she peeks behind the fascist curtain. Just a few weeks ago I celebrated the 5th of November as one should. I didn’t blow anything up, but I’ll put that on my calendar for next year. It is stylized and poetic. Despite it not topping the stats anywhere, it is my favorite of the year.

Everything I learned, I learned from the movies