Monday, April 21, 2014

Over the Top

What the hell? Why was this movie made? What the hell was this movie?

Did you know that the movie cost 25 million and only grossed 16 million? I guess there wasn't a market for arm wresting movies after all.

My Over the Top Top 12 List:
1. I had the smart sense to ignore this movie when I was 14. I knew better. I knew the movie seemed ridiculous and not worth my time.

2. Marc, Jim, and I watched 30 minutes of Only God Forgives before giving up. That put me in a bad mood. We decided to flip around their movie channels and find something else to watch. We landed on this after Jim raved about it. He had seen it somewhat recently - as in as an adult.

3. This movie really isn't good or that fun to watch. And I wanted to like it. I will say that I most likely enjoyed it more as a 41-year-old than I would have as a 14-year-old. The 80s silliness of it all made it watchable now.

4. Jim and Marc wanted to skip past some of the boring (and there were many) parts to get to the Vegas tourney scenes. I wouldn't let them. I felt like I was in too deep already - might as well go all the way.

5. There's way way way too much setup for not that much of a payoff.

6. I must admit that Lincoln Hawk is indeed a great name for a character.

7. This kind of makes me want to see Rhinestone - another Stallone movie that I blew off as a kid because it looked stupid. That one has to be better, right?

8. Look at that poster.

9. I found out a lot by reading the IMDB page about the director. Fascinating.

10. Bob "Bull" Harley had the line of the movie. The line? "I drive trucks, break arms, and arm wrestle. It's what I love to do, it's what I do best."

11. According to IMDB, Stallone disowned the film years later by saying that he only did it because they kept offering him money (13 million!) and decided, "What the hell - no one will see it!"

12. Also according to IMDB, the singer from Asia originally sang the song "Winner Takes it All" but his version was deemed not mean enough so it was rerecorded by Sammy Hagar. If the Hagar version was considered mean enough, I can't imagine how wimpy the Asia version was.

Directed by Menahem Golan
Epix on Demand

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Taken 2

Could this be even better than the first one? It is even more ridiculous so perhaps it is better. I will say this - these movies make me feel like I do the few times I've played Grand Theft Auto. They make me want to go out, pull people out of their cars on Atlantic Ave, and kick some ass. Either that or they make me afraid that I might get taken. Either one. Both.

Some thoughts:
- Holy crap. This came out the same year that The Grey came out. 2012 for Liam Neeson was like 1964 was for the Beatles.

- Matt pointed out at the beginning that the dialogue is so oddly written. "No one talks like the characters in this movie." I agree. And I love it. It is like Heathers - but in a Taken kind of way

- It is hard to beat the scene in the first film where Kim first gets taken. But the scene where Neeson gets taken in this one and then directs her over the phone, while handcuffed to a pipe, to throw grenades onto parking garages and run on rooftops towards him is pretty damn close. Not to mention the initial phone call he makes to her  is classic Neeson. "Kim, your mom and I are going to be taken."

- The whole car chase scene would be a good scene to turn into a drinking game. Everytime, Neeson yells out "Kim, move!" you take a shot.

- What the hell is going on at the end? Neeson doesn't even touch people in a violent way and he somehow kills them. Basically, he just puts his hand on someone's face and then they are dead. What is going on??????

- And then there's this --

Looks like I need to see Battleship now.

Directed by Olivier Megaton (What? Really? That can't be his real name.)

Monday, April 14, 2014


Completely implausible but completely awesome.

Let me get this straight. Defenseless women from third world countries are no longer easy enough prey so the bad guys decide to steal away young Western tourists for the sex trade? What? And the French gov't is complicit. Incredible.

Who cares about the plot though? The killing, the Liam Neeson-ess of it all, the happiness of a father not only being reunited with his daughter but even more importantly proving his ex-wife and her arrogant husband wrong. That had to be the most satisfying part of it all, right?

The best scene in the film has to be the one when the daughter gets taken. The phone call between Neeson and Daughter and then Neeson and Evil Kidnapper can't be beat. Classic Neeson.

There's no humor at all in Neeson's character. No John McClane quippy one liners. And who needs it when you have the Neeson?

My new life as a Liam Neeson obsessive continues on in a wonderful direction.

Directed by Pierre Morel

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

The Empire Strikes Back

Clearly this is the best film of the entire Star Wars universe. But does that mean that it is actually the best overall? Because I'm not sure at this point.

Yes, this movie is incredible. Yes, the dialogue and character development and cinematography are all better than Star Wars. But there are parts of this movie that kind of drag. I'm looking at you Yoda. And as Pete pointed out, it brings up a lot of dumb plot points  that need to be answered in the final film of the trilogy.

But I digress. I love this movie. 

I love how dark it is. I love Han being frozen in carbonite. I love Cloud City. I love the Hoth battles. I love Hoth Leia. So much hotter than bondage Leia. The list goes on and on. But what did Sam and Otis think?

Some questions while they were watching:

Otis: Why is Yoda always holding that stick? Does anyone else live on the planet?
Sam: Why is Yoda so small? How did Darth Vader get there?
Otis: Is Darth Vader really there?
Sam: Why doesn't Darth Vader get put in jail?

The beginning of the Darth vs. Luke lightsaber battle.
Otis: Which one is going to get dead?
Otis: Why did Obi-Wan Kenobi tell Luke that his father was dead but it was really Darth Vader?
Sam: When Darth Vader left his family, was it because he was a bad guy. Why did Luke's father want to be a bad guy? Why is Luke's dad wearing Darth Vader's clothes?

Other questions and comments:
Sam:  Why is it called the Mini Falcon when it is so big?

Later after being corrected:
Why doesn't the Millennium Falcon have any seatbelts?

Sam: He should be called Dark Vader.

Sam: I know that Chewbacca flew the Millennium Falcon to Cloud City but how did Darth Vader get to Cloud City?

Sam: If Luke became a bad guy, would he switch from an X Wing fighter to a Tie Fighter?

Directed by Irvin Kershner
Pete & Ella's Wall

Monday, April 07, 2014

Star Wars

I still remember the first time I saw this movie. I was four-years-old. We were later than my dad wanted because my mom was slow. We sat in the back of the theater at White Flint Mall. I fell asleep at one point and woke up during the trash compactor scene.

The next time I saw it, I didn't fall asleep. I became obsessed. I still remember the day that Juvenile Sales in Wheaton called my mom (we were on a waiting list) to tell us that a new shipment of Star Wars figures had arrived. By the time we got there, all that was left was R2-D2 and Princess Leia. It was no Luke but it was good enough.

Years of Star Wars love all led to this - introducing it to my boys. Their thoughts in a moment. But first mine --

- I don't really hate the added stuff from the 1997 version. A little busy yes but not terrible - other than the annoying Greedo shoots first thing. I kind of like Jabba making an appearance considering Lucas actually shot the scene with an actor as Jabba.

- The first time we watched this though was at Ella and Pete's apt. on some version Pete has that doesn't include the special edition stuff. The boys were impressed - we watched it on their wall from a projector.

- This was the first time I had seen the movie since taking up bocce. I enjoyed the "Do these droids speak bocce" line quite a bit.

- I was amused at how many WXJM show titles popped up in dialogue. Ok - perhaps the majority of them were show titles of mine.

- I remember seeing this movie at least ten times in the theaters. It got to the point where I'd be shaking with excitement the moment the music started.

- I can't believe how much of this I remembered. I hadn't seen it since 1997. Every line of dialogue. Every shot. Perfect.

And now the boys' thoughts and questions --
- In the trash compactor scene Sam asked, "Why isn't Chewbacca scaring the monster?" Otis wanted to know "What's going to happen to them if they get squished?"

- Otis, "What does Darth Vader look like when he takes off his mask?"

- During the Obi-Wan vs Darth Vader battle, Sam wondered, "What does a lightsaber do? Shoot you?"

- Sam: "Luke is very sad because his friend got dead."

- Otis. "What if everyone in Star Wars got hit by a lightsaber?"

- During the final battle, Sam pondered, "Why is Han Solo not helping?"

- During the medal scene, Sam asked, "Do they get toys?"
Otis asked, "How come R2D2 doesn't get a medal?"
Sam, "Is he saying 'I want a medal?'"

- At bedtime Otis asked me "Can you show me a picture from the Internet of the force?"
I answered, "It's invisible."
Otis responded, "Is it small like an ant?"

Questions over the next few days: 
- Sam, "What do the sand people do? Do they collect sand? How did they build the Death Star? Why doesn't it move? Did they build it while they were in tie fighters or tie interceptors?"

Otis: "Why doesn't anyone know why Obi-Wan disappears when he gets hit by the lightsaber?"

Directed by George Lucas
Pete and Ella's Wall

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Only God Forgives

Follow Drive with this crap?
Boring Lynchian gore
Could not watch whole thing

Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn

Monday, March 31, 2014


This movie has it all. Neeson. Terror on a plane. And lots and lots of texting.

Ok, to be fair - texting in movies is usually lame. But the auteur Jaume Collet-Serra found a solution to that crap. After the first initial texts of filming Neeson's actual phone, we simply see him looking at his phone and then we see the text on the movie screen. Brilliant. With that problem solved, the viewer can simply sit back and enjoy the mayhem.

And what mayhem! There's a hijacker on board. Right? Or is there? And why? Is it simply to mess with our hero? Why, dammit! Why?

Who cares? The body count starts adding up. The absurdities add up. And it all ends up being bloody fun. Never mind the ultimate absurdity of the reason behind the hijacking, this movie is a good time. Strike that. A non-stop good time. That's right. I said it.

Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra
Court St.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Lego Movie

All hail Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, right? Right? They followed up the fun times of 21 Jump Street with this rollercoaster ride that Otis and Sam have dubbed "better than Star Wars!"

I think not but this movie is still a good time even if you don't have kids. It is clever and it didn't give me a headache - two major positives for a jam packed kids movie like this.

I liked the anti corporate and anti being a sheep stuff. For awhile, I thought this was going to be a kids version of Idiocracy. I liked how the bad guy was seemingly modeled on Mitt Romney. I liked Will Arnett as Batman. I liked the Star Wars part - it is always good to see Billy Dee Williams getting some work. I liked the Twilight Zone feel to the end. Heck, I just liked the Legoness of it all.

And an added bonus, the boys got free posters for their bedroom - proudly displayed above their beds. This was the first movie they asked to see as opposed to me suggesting it.

And adding to the fun - their teacher in the after school class Lego City came with us. How amazing is that?

The second time we saw it was for the boys' 5th birthday party. Good times.  I think this might be the first movie I saw in the theaters twice in its initial run since City of God. Very similar movies.

Only 3 years and two months until the sequel comes out!

Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller

1st viewing
AMC East Village 7

2nd viewing
34th St

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Grey

I had wanted to see this in the theaters but missed it. Then for some inexplicable reason, I waited a long time to watch it once it arrived on Netflix. Perhaps I was just waiting for the right time. One cold January night in 2014, I found the right time.

This movie is incredible.

Reminiscent of the classic Anthony Hopkins/Alec Baldwin killer bear movie The Edge, this movie makes me want to go out to the wilderness and kick some wild animal's ass. And while there's nothing as rousing as the whole "What one man can do another can do" scene, there is a whole lot of Liam Neeson being a true badass.

Why do I love this movie?
1. It is dark, man. Dark dark dark.
2. The digital wolves are scary. I love the scene in the dark with the eyes all appearing out of the darkness.
3. There's a plane crash. I love plane crashes in movies!
4. Every minute had me on the edge of my seat. I loved it.
5. This movie is the one that started it all regarding my new found obsession with all things Liam Neeson.

Directed by Joe Carnahan

Friday, March 21, 2014

Charlie Victor Romeo

Ten years after the play (based on actual blackbox recordings of aircraft "emergencies") hit Manhattan, the day we were all waiting for finally arrived - the 3D film version of Charlie Victor Romeo. The film is simply a filmed version of a performance of the play. Which was fine with me. I loved the play. And the 3D makes everything incredibly claustrophobic.

I was surprised by how much I remembered from the play. It was fun to see it again. For those who have not seen the play, the film is highly recommended. It is fascinatingly intense but not too intense. There are no screaming passengers, no special effects, no sound effects. Just professionals trying to right the ship so to speak.

I'm still scared as hell every time I get on an airplane but something about seeing what actually is going on in the cockpit of a doomed flight actually soothes me a little. Just a little.

Directed by Robert Berger, Patrick Daniels, and Karlyn Michelson
Film Forum