Category Archives: Adventure

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!

 

 

The Little Prince – Review

I was excited a few months back when I saw the preview of The Little Prince. Netflix is bringing great art to the world of entertainment and I thought that it was a Netflix original feature, perhaps one of their next big ideas. Imagine being able to watch the latest that Hollywood (and independent filmmakers everywhere) have to offer in the comfort of your living room (or home cinema) on the same day as their release in the theaters. Actually, Sean Parker of Napster fame is working on this right now with a project called Screening Room.

I honestly think that if they could figure out a way to partner with distributors to bring new films to the small screen that they could charge any amount they wished for a subscription and people would pay it, and they would have their own distribution platform for their own productions. I know they would have me hooked. I would even consider it if the movies didn’t hit Netflix until a week after they hit theaters. Unfortunately, that was not what happened with The Little Prince.

Apparently, back in March around a week before the film’s US theatrical release Paramount decided not to release the film after all. The film originally appeared premiered out of competition at Cannes in 2015 and it has been released in theaters around the globe and has made almost $100 million. It was even awarded France’s Cesar Award for best animated film. The Director Mark Osborne (Kung Fu Panda) seemed melancholy yet hopeful when he tweeted about Paramount’s decision back in March.

Many thanks to everyone for the outpouring of love and support in these strange times. …  As it turns out, the much anticipated U.S. release of this special and unique film will have to be anticipated just a little bit more. … All I can say is #thelittleprince will in fact be released by another distributor later this year. … Until then, head to Canada! The film opens there in wide release this weekend!

Then, about a week later, it was announced that Netflix had bought the rights to the film Pictures’ domestic rights to The Little Prince. This book of the same title, upon which the movie draws its inspiration, was published in 1943 by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. There have been several attempts to adapt it to the screen, but its brevity, childish whimsy, and intangible qualities have proven difficult for adaptation even for the likes of Orson Welles and Gene Wilder.

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I believe that Mark Osborne was successful here because he didn’t try to adapt the book alone. He has given us a story surrounding the creation of and inspiration for this nearly mythical text. Something so dear to millions of people is unable to be adapted without controversy, so he kept the images and text from the original as close as he could and framed the story to emphasize the same messages that have been treasured for these past 73 years and gave it a form that will allow it to be emblazoned on the mind of countless generations to come.

I’m sure that no changes were made to the final release of the film, but going back and watching the original theatrical trailer from last year and the new one released by Netflix a few months ago (above) you can see the difference in tone. The first felt like a more traditional animated film with its frenetic pace and quick cuts. But the new trailer takes its time and lingers quietly on iconic images and phrases from the book. In the end, I’m just happy that this film has found an American audience. It is mesmerizingly beautiful and so emotionally poignant yet funny. It really is brilliant and the voice cast is amazing.

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Think of the movie What Dreams May Come or The Fountain with their beautiful imagery and breathtaking visuals. The Little Prince has more in common with these films than your common animated fare like Secret Life of Pets or the latest Ice Age sequel. Animated films are generally associated with the comedy genre, especially when the main character is a child. However, even though this film has comedic elements, it is not a comedy. It is an amazingly deep and moving drama appropriate for all ages. Kids should see the importance of their childhood and hopefully some adults can remember what it is like to be a kid again.

Since I had next to no knowledge of the original story going into this film besides knowing that it is a beloved french children’s book, I have watched the movie again to soak it in and I have plans to read the book. However, I don’t think I will be able to read the book without hearing Jeff Bridges voice in my head. He functions here as the perfect narrator. I’m not sure how the 106 minute runtime can speed by as quickly as it seems to, because the film is not in a rush at all, even during the more action oriented 3rd act, it is still playfully artistic. It reminds me of a Roald Dahl or Dr. Seuss story.

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Like one of those tales, the story happens on what might be called an exaggerated Earth where we walk a tightrope between reality and fantasy. In this world, our protagonist and by extension all children are forced by their parents to focus all of their attention on studying to be essential functional members of society. This leads to an almost mechanical life where children don’t play or make up their own fictional worlds with their toys. Essentially, everyone is grown-up. That is everyone except the Aviator who teaches us that, “Growing up is not the problem. Forgetting is.’

We see the original novel play out in deliciously beautiful stop-motion visuals. We aren’t given everything at once, instead we are told the story with our protagonist a little bit at a time. This framing device is animated in CG and hand drawing. Here we meet a young girl who is on a strict schedule in her studies, preparing for her first day at the prestigious and very seriously grown-up Werth Academy. This leaves her no room for free-time. However, after moving to a new house with her single business minded mother, she takes notice of her eccentric elderly neighbour who we learn to be the Aviator of the original novel. The two become secret friends as her mother insists that she won’t have time for friends until next summer. As they spend time together and she is freed to be a kid, the Aviator tells her the story and she begins to learn the timeless lessons of which we all need to be reminded.

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For a film that will not even touch your cineplex’s screen, this film is packed with superior talent. Mackenzie Foy and Jeff Bridges have the largest parts, but Rachel McAdams, James Franco, Paul Rudd, Paul Giamatti, Marion Cotillard, Benicio del Toro, Albert Brooks, Bud Cort and Ricky Gervais fill out the supporting cast. Even though some of them are only given a handful of lines, they are all superb, and bring a sense that this film was a passion project for a lot of people, the director included. In fact, it is his son Riley Osborne that voices the titular Little Prince.

The Little Prince is currently sitting in very rare company on top of my best of the year list so far. I am recommending it to everyone I can. I mentioned it to someone who told me that they did not have Netflix and I responded by saying, “It is worth the cost of a year’s subscription to Netflix to see this film.” Please don’t ignore it because you have read the book or bypass it because you haven’t. It is a totally different story which uses the enchantment of the source material to tell a new story infused with the same vigor and determination to dream, love, live, and explore.

Spielberg’s BFG (2016) Review

The BFG doesn’t waste any time getting us into the action. We are barely introduced to young Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) who is awake at 3am in her dilapidated London orphanage. After hearing a noise outside, she goes to the balcony and sees something amazing. She spots a giant around 30 feet tall shrouded with a cloak to keep himself hidden. As they meet eyes, she runs back inside to hide under her blanket, and we see a large hand come through the window. Less than 10 minutes into the movie, Sophie is already being whisked away to Giant Country where the giant tells her that he intends to keep her for the remainder of her life.

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Lucky for Sophie, the giant who snatched Sophie away is a Big Friendly Giant who sets off to Dream Country every night to collect dreams and spread them to households while bottling the nightmares away in his lab. He is indeed big, but as we soon learn, the other 9 giants are as much as twice as large as him and they aren’t so friendly. They eat humans, and children are some of their favorite snacks. With imaginative names like Meatdripper, Fleshlumpeater, Bloodbottler, and Gizzardgulper that could only be concocted by Dahl. I was disappointed that Mathison and Spielberg made these supposedly menacing creatures into giant ogres who pose dwarf-sized threats.

Continue reading Spielberg’s BFG (2016) Review

Swiss Army Man (2016) Review

How deeply should I think about a movie who’s star is a farting corpse? If that were really all it was, I wouldn’t be giving it a second thought, but any movie that leaves a theater of people alternatively cackling with raucous laughter and asking themselves what the hell they just watched is worth talking about. I did come away with one thought… From now on, I’m going to fart in front of my closest friends as an expression of love.

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I’m not even sure how a movie like Swiss Army Man is conceived. Though I guess I should expect it from the directing duo, “Daniels” who made the crazy video for the song, “Turn Down For What.” I don’t know how they came up with the idea, but I’m glad that they did. I’m glad that films like this are being made. As sophomoric as much of it was, it was strange and unique and beautiful.

Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe turned in a couple of funny and very moving performances. This film has so much ambition for a bleak, body oriented comedy. The focus is the absurdity of the human condition. We’re led along by our gross bodies, yet we spend all our lives denying and concealing their urges. The film frequently achieves a kind of weird poetry. A shot of a pallid, waxy Radcliffe laying in a bed of clover with a turd next to his head is especially beautiful. It sounds completely absurd and unappealing as I write it here, but that is what this film does so well. What sounds disgusting or juvenile actually plays out very differently on screen.

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Underneath all of the bodily function humor, we have a very familiar story about a fairly sad protagonist who overcomes his fears and issues with the help of an eccentric and fearless friend. Filled with great pop culture references, “If you don’t know Jurassic Park, you don’t know…” and catchy music that will have you humming along, this is an emotional film that left me with a huge smile beaming across my face. I’m not sure how long it will linger in my memory or how it will stand the test of time, but I had a great time watching it. I think the ending will leave you questioning what you just saw while you laugh uncontrollably. Be sure to see it with people. This is a film that like a fart should be shared with the ones you love.

Weekend Outlook – Independence Day, Shallows, Free State of Jones, Neon Demon

It is a very busy weekend at your local multiplex. It’s really one of those weekends that there is something for everyone. However, the battle for box office supremacy this weekend is not going to be much of a battle at all. It would be a huge upset if Finding Dory doesn’t handily take down the alien invaders.

Since its record-breaking, $135 million opening weekend, Finding Dory has continued to impress with its box office performance. Forget about comparing it to all other animated films which it has blown out of the water (no pun intended). Finding Dory‘s performance puts it in the company of films such as Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Jurassic World and The Dark Knight. I’m expecting Dory to bring in another $80 million this weekend. So let’s look at the four wide releases that will hit theaters today and find out what you should watch and what your should wait for.

Continue reading Weekend Outlook – Independence Day, Shallows, Free State of Jones, Neon Demon

Finding Dory – So What Did You Think?

It’s been out for a week now and I know that a lot of you have seen it, so tell me what you thought.

Disney has released the latest Pixar movie, Finding Dory, the long-awaited sequel to Finding Nemo. The animated adventure brings back the blue tang named Dory, and her two clownfish friends Nemo and Marlin, for another trip across the ocean. The voice cast features Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Ed O’Neill, Kaitlin Olson, Hayden Rolence, Ty Burrell, Diane Keaton, and Eugene Levy.

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So how is it? As good as Finding Nemo, or better? Did it make you cry? Once you’ve seen it, leave a comment with your own thoughts on Pixar’s Finding Dory.

Spoiler Warning: We strongly urge everyone to actually see the film before reading ahead, as there may be spoilers below. We also encourage all commenters to keep major spoilers from the film to a minimum, if possible. However, this is an open discussion from this point on! Beware of spoilers!

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To get the ball rolling… I loved Finding Dory. It’s entertaining, it’s inspiring, it’s emotional, and it has stunning animation. I totally loved Hank the Octopus, voiced by Ed O’Neill. His character was kind of amazing, at times the villain, others time the hero, and yet totally unique and such an integral part of the story. I could definitely see him getting his own septopod spinoff. I thought the final truck flip moment was the best in the movie. It all paid off perfectly and made me so happy because it was perfect. Another Pixar movie that I’m in love with.

Alright then… What did you think of Disney-Pixar’s Finding Dory movie? One of their best or not that good?

Who is Newt Scamander?

I’m getting more and more excited about Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them with each featurette that Warner Brothers releases. Eddie Redmayne stars as Newt Scamander, a magizoologist who winds up letting loose a suitcase full of magical creatures in New York City in the 20s. It looks like they’re still finishing the FX, so most of the footage involves characters interacting. There’s some brand new shots we haven’t seen before, and plenty of discussion from author J.K. Rowling, who was much more involved in the making of this than she was Harry Potter.

2015 – Best Movie Bracket

From start to finish, many of 2015’s biggest news stories were centered around violence and terror threats and they showed a general sense of fear. The year began with a targeted terror strike in Paris and closed out with another planned attack in San Bernandino, California, proving that threats around the globe remain an issue for all.

However, much of the world found a place of solace at the theater amidst the fear and violence. 2015 featured a variety of films that showed the triumph of the spirit in the face of adversity, bigotry, and evil. Movies like: Southpaw, The Good Dinosaur, Joy, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Room, Avengers: Age of Ultron, The Revenant, The Martian, Mad Max: Fury Road, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Inside Out.

As fun and epic as the continuations of Mad Max, Star Wars, and Avengers were, there was not enough to set them apart and leave a lasting legacy. Leonardo Dicaprio deserved an Oscar for what Innaritu put him through in The Revenant, but the movie itself though stark and piercing didn’t create the effect in viewers that you expect from the best. The Martian was alternatively hilarious and harrowing, and Room ripped my heart out and slowly put it back together again, but there were a lot of really good movies in 2015. I keep coming back to three films from the year that will have some staying power. Here are my top 3 films of the year. Continue reading 2015 – Best Movie Bracket

Not New Review – Jurassic Park (1993)

Back in 1993, this little movie called Jurassic Park roared into theaters. What Steven Spielberg did with a shark 20 years earlier, he did again here with dinosaurs. I can’t recall whether I saw this film in theaters or not. I was only 10, so I doubt it, but I definitely remember watching it at home on VHS. This movie was right up my alley, I’m not only a geek over movies. I also really love science and although the science here is a bit of a stretch, I was only 10 and didn’t know better yet, so I ate it up. I could just imagine this actually happening in a few years time like the filmmakers were revealing this new scientific technique to the world and the archaeologists and biologists were watching saying, “why didn’t we think of that?”

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Adapted from a Michael Crichton novel of the same name, Jurassic Park was a great success both critically and commercially. It was the highest grossing film of 1993 bringing in nearly $1 billion dollars worldwide. That number was unheard of in 1993. Not until Titanic floated along in 1997 did anyone even come close to that number. It won 3 Oscars for its visual and sound effects and is currently sitting at an 8.1 of 10 on IMDb which places it as the 203rd best film of all time according to their top 250. Continue reading Not New Review – Jurassic Park (1993)

Top 3 – Road Trip Movies

It is Summer! Well not officially, but it is hot outside and the kids are out of school, so that means that lots of families will be embarking on a classic staple of my childhood… the road trip. I have so many memories sitting in the back of my aunt’s suburban as we traveled all over the Southeastern United States visiting campgrounds, state parks, beaches, springs, and caverns. I hope to instill plenty of these memories in my kids as well.

But perhaps you are like me and you have to work most of the summer and don’t get to participate in a lot of the fun. That’s okay, you can live vicariously through some movie characters in some great road trip movies. I will say that these are probably not the best movies to watch while you are on a road trip, that is a list for another day. There are so many that I will share a couple of honorable mentions, but these are my top 3. Please share your favorites in the comments below.

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Honorable mentions (in no particular order):

The Blues Brothers (1980) – a quotable cult classic, they were on a mission from God.

National Lampoon’s Vacation (1983) – Come rain, shine, dead relatives, or dragged dogs, the Griswolds were determined to get to Walley World. Skip the sequels and watch the original.

Thelma & Louise (1991) – They just wanted a girls’ weekend away. And instead they got a modern landmark of feminism on film.

Dumb and Dumber (1994) – Clearly not the smartest film on the list, but just try to keep a straight face as Lloyd and Harry rumble through America in their dog-shaped “shaggin’ wagon.”

Zombieland (2009) – Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) emerges from a World of Warcraft marathon to find zombies have taken over America. When Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) shows up, Columbus joins his quest for Twinkies and zombie annihilation.

3. Rain Man (1988)

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When car dealer Charlie Babbitt (Tom Cruise) learns that his estranged father has died, he returns home to Cincinnati, where he discovers that he has an autistic older brother named Raymond (Dustin Hoffman) and that his father’s $3 million fortune is being left to the mental institution in which Raymond lives. Motivated by his father’s money, Charlie checks Raymond out of the facility in order to return with him to Los Angeles. The brothers’ cross-country trip ends up changing both their lives.

This was the highest-grossing film of 1988 and won four Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actor for Hoffman, Best Director for Barry Levinson, and Best Original Screenplay. IMDb users rated it 8.0 out of 10. It is so much more than a road-trip movie, it is just good cinema.

2. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

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Years after the collapse of civilization, the tyrannical Immortan Joe enslaves apocalypse survivors inside the desert fortress the Citadel. When the warrior Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) leads the despot’s five wives in a daring escape, she forges an alliance with Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy), a loner and former captive. Fortified in the massive, armored truck the War Rig, they try to outrun the ruthless warlord and his henchmen in a deadly high-speed chase through the Wasteland.

You might say that it is more of a chase movie than a road trip movie (especially since there are no actual roads just desert wasteland) but I think it should get a pass for such a large vision from George Miller being pulled off in nearly flawless fashion. It is a technical masterpiece and a great piece of storytelling. It is sitting at an 8.1 on IMDb.

1. Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

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The Hoover family — a man (Greg Kinnear), his wife (Toni Collette), an uncle (Steve Carell), a brother (Paul Dano) and a grandfather (Alan Arkin) — piles into a VW bus and heads to California to support a daughter (Abigail Breslin) in her bid to win the Little Miss Sunshine Contest. The sanity of everyone involved is stretched to the limit as the group’s quirks cause epic problems as they travel along their interstate route.

I can’t even think of another movie that I would consider at #1. When I think of a road trip story this is what comes into my head now. The comedy and tragedy are so intertwined. This is one seriously messed up family, but the close quarters of the van and the superb storytelling makes it feel like its your messed up family.

So what do you think? Sound off in the comments below! We’ll argue about it until dad threatens to turn the car around.