Love and Spies

True Lies is one of the best action movies to be released in the 90’s. It also might surprise people to know that it’s a James Cameron film. Which by comparison to his other work, makes it almost underrated. Even though people are well aware of how great the movie is. As I’ve said before, Arnold Schwarzenegger was my favorite actor to watch growing up. So there’s the perfect amount of cheesy one liners and non-stop action. One liners like “you’re fired” and “yeah but they were all bad.” True Lies is about a spy named Harry Tasker who balances tracking down terrorists with maintaining his failing home life. The terrorists are treated like bumbling imbeciles and the humor is welcomed. The first act deals with Harry trying to nab the leader of the terrorist group the “Crimson Jihad.” One of the film’s best action scenes involves Harry chasing the motorcycle bound terrorist on horseback. Though a common complaint about True Lies would be the second act. Which is about Harry thinking his wife Helen is having an affair with another spy (of course played by Bill Paxton). When it all turns out to be a misunderstanding, he has Helen secretly perform an erotic striptease for him. The scene is incredibly sexy and Jamie Lee Curtis really pulls it off. The third act hits closest to home. As the terrorists kidnap Harry and Helen’s daughter (played by a young Eliza Dushku). Leading to an exhilarating airplane sequence. While I wasn’t paying complete attention during my first viewing, True Lies is a very rewatchable James Cameron action comedy that I love 100% of.

True Lies

Harry commandeers an airplane

People are Strange when you’re a Vampire

The Lost Boys is one of my personal favorites in the horror genre. It’s about a family who move to Santa Carla, California only to discover that things are a little strange there. Vampires inhabit this town. Teen vampires to be exact (and I ain’t talkin’ Twilight). The title, The Lost Boys is of course a reference to Peter Pan (that’s what I thought the movie was about originally). Like the lost boys in Peter Pan, these young vampires also never grow up. It would best be described as a starter horror movie. My mom recommended it to me when I was still kind of young. She said my brother and I would like the fact that kids are the ones who fight the vampires. Sam and his new friends Edgar and Allen (played by both Corey’s) attempt to take down the head vampire which includes Sam’s brother Michael. The violence isn’t too disturbing, nor is it too silly. It’s just the right balance of both. They manage to find the humor in contrast to some of their bloodier scenes. It’s also a good movie for vampire enthusiasts. As the group of kids who attempt to take down said vampires, use what they know from comic books. I know just about everything there is to know about vampires and their weaknesses. So I’d like to think I could take one down if I had to. The Lost Boys is just the right kind of vampire movie for me to sink my teeth into.

Vamp

David bares his fangs

L-O-V-E/H-A-T-E

The Night of the Hunter is a beautiful piece of classic cinema. Yes, even black and white movies can be beautiful. With its use of luminescent images and dark silhouettes. The Night of the Hunter is another movie my mother told my brother and I to watch. This whole review was actually her idea. I originally planned to just review movies of my generation, but I knew I couldn’t pass up a chance to review something older. There’s a good chance you’re unfamiliar with the story. The Night of the Hunter is about a man named Harry Powell who claims to be a preacher, but he’s actually a misogynistic serial killer. His most defining feature are the words tattooed on his fingers. On his right hand, the word love and on his left, the word hate. His evil plan is attempting to inherit a large sum of money, but the only ones who can stop him are a boy named John and his younger sister Pearl. Let’s just say Pearl is not the brightest bulb in the hardware store. The Night of the Hunter has the most unlikely heroes seen this decade. A young boy and an old lady with a shotgun that the kids run into. All of it has a tense atmosphere that makes you feel as though you’re right there with the kids. Something about Robert Mitchum really disturbs people. Which is why The Night of the Hunter is an underrated masterpiece.

The_Night_of_the_Hunter_(1955)_Still_Key_Light

Rachel (foreground) lies in wait of Reverend Harry Powell (background)

I Dreamed a Dream

Les Misérables is a major feat for the cinema. The actors were actually singing live. Instead of singing first and rerecording after. Making the movie feel much more authentic. For those who don’t know, Les Misérables is based on a 1980 stage musical which in turn, is based on an 1862 story by French novelist Victor Hugo. Although Les Misérables has been adapted in film a grand total of 13 times, the 2012 version is the first to be a musical. As well as gain Oscar attention. It’s centered around the June Rebellion in Paris. As former prisoner Jean Valjean escapes parole in order to start a new life. Only to have the desperate police chief Inspector Javert hot on is tale. Leading to 20 years of forbidden love and a tragic conflict. If you’re not used to musicals, then this will be a difficult movie to sit through. Since it’s 2 hours and 40 minutes and they sing all the way through. Taking 1 or 2 minute breaks in between. The music can’t be beat and the performances are top-notch. Hugh Jackman is right in his element, but it’s actually Anne Hathaway who steals the movie. Despite only 15 minutes of screentime. Her rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” more than earns her the Oscar. The only real problem is Russell Crowe. A normally brilliant actor who was terribly miscast. He’s just not a classical singer. Other than that, Les Misérables definitely brought back movie musicals in a big way.

Jean Valjean carries a dying Fantine in his arms

As if!

Clueless is a unique high school movie. Much like other media in the 90’s, Clueless focuses on the lives of rich kids from Beverly Hills. Little do most people know, Clueless is loosely based on the 1815 novel Emma by Jane Austen. They simply set the story in modern day high school and change the names. Cher Horowitz and her best friend Dionne (played by a 28 year old Stacey Dash) are both named after singers who now do infomercials. The thing I liked most about Clueless is how it handles “the populars.” In any other movie Cher might come across as selfish or manipulative, but Alicia Silverstone makes her really likeable. Cher uses her popularity to help people like her teachers or the new kid Tai. Played by the late Brittany Murphy in one of her most memorable roles. There’s also Dionne’s hip hop influenced boyfriend, Cher’s not step-brother who helps her dad, and slacker Travis who’s a little like Spicoli from Amy Heckerling’s other teen movie. Like most high school movies it tends to veer off into multiple stories at once. Like Cher’s love life, driving lessons, or party going. With plenty of classic slang sprinkled in like “whatever,” “buggin’,” or my personal favorite “as if!” If not for its keen fashion sense, sophisticated dialogue, and Alicia Silverstone’s devoted performance Clueless wouldn’t work. So don’t be clueless, give it a watch.

Clueless

Cher (right) and Dionne (left) walk to class

More like a Slap in the Face

Sucker Punch is a truly eye catching movie. I remember when I first saw the trailer in the theaters. I was immediately interested. Can you blame me though. You got five hot girls (one of them in a schoolgirl outfit) fighting Giant Japanese Samurai, Zombie Nazis, Dragons, and Robots. The girls also have cutesy names like Babydoll, Sweet Pea, Rocket, Blondie, and Amber. How could I not be curious? That’s how I ended up going to see it by myself. If you haven’t heard of this movie then see the trailer. It makes the movie look much better than it actually is. Which is how I would describe any Zack Snyder movie. This was his first PG-13 movie he directed, I think to prove he could direct a movie that didn’t have a hard R rating. It’s also Snyder’s first completely original movie that isn’t based on a graphic novel, novel, or an older movie. That being said, Sucker Punch really does suck. Those fight scenes I mentioned only last roughly 28 minutes in a 1 hour and 50 minute movie. The rest of the movie is set in an insane asylum/brothel, but not all at once. The problem is that the plot is too overly complicated. They jump back and forth between reality in the asylum, stylized reality in the brothel, and dream sequences represented by four action scenes. The acting is awful, the message is bleak, and the characters aren’t compelling. Really the fight sequences and music are the only positive things I can say about it. Unless you’re a 14 year old boy (like I was) looking to get his fix of guns & girls, I wouldn’t recommend getting socked in the jaw by Sucker Punch.

sucker-punch-cast

Babydoll (center) and company fight in WWII

Love Grows

Shallow Hal has mixed messages. Don’t get me wrong, this is one of my favorite romantic comedies. It’s just something about the movie. From the Farrelly Brothers, Shallow Hal is the story of a man named Hal who is so fixated on looks that he can’t see the real beauty within people. Even though Jack Black isn’t a perfect 10. Until he unknowingly gains the ability to see unattractive people as attractive (and sometimes vice versa). This is achieved either with makeup, fat suits, or using a completely different actor. Hal’s main romance is with a woman named Rosemary. A funny, friendly, humanitarian Hal doesn’t realize is overweight. Even when all the signs are right in front of him. Gwyneth Paltrow plays her in and out of a fat suit. Shallow Hal is filled with plenty of misunderstanding based humor. The only problem I have is, like I said, the mixed messages. Now, I don’t have a problem with “fat humor” per se. It doesn’t really bother me. No, I’m talking about the fact that the movie claims all unattractive people are saints and all attractive people are mean. That’s not always true, but it’s a little thing. Shallow Hal is still clever and the message is clear. Plus my mom’s name is Rosemary and her song is in it. Shallow Hal is lovely inside and out.

Shallow-Hal-LB-2

Rosemary (left) and Hal (right) take a boat ride

Everything is Awesome

The LEGO Movie is about as perfect as a movie can be. Growing up, LEGO was always my favorite toy to play with. I still love it even to this day. When I first heard they were making a LEGO movie I was like, YES!!! I couldn’t wait to see it. Although I did have a thought that it might not be good. That thought was quickly proven wrong after I watched it. The LEGO Movie is the story of an average minifigure named Emmet, who’s thrust into the colorful and imaginative world of LEGO. His entire life is lived by the instructions. Until he accidentally becomes “the chosen one.” On his adventure, Emmet meets a punk themed Master Builder named Wyldstyle. A blind Morgan Freeman wizard named Vitruvius. As well as a unicorn cat named Unikitty, a classic astronaut named Benny, a robotic pirate named MetalBeard, and Batman. Together they all try to defeat the evil Lord Business and his henchmen Bad Cop. The best thing about the movie is how they stick to their brand’s core values without resorting to commercialization. LEGO is all about creativity not preservation. Another positive is the voice cast. Casting Chris Pratt as the lead LEGO made him an even bigger A lister than he already was. The LEGO Movie is also beautifully rendered and really does trick you into thinking it’s stop-motion. And let’s not forget that extremely catchy Oscar nominated song you probably can’t get out of your head. You couldn’t ask for a better movie about LEGO’s. The LEGO Movie proves everything is awesome!

Emmet (center) prepares a plan for his team

Followed by: The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part

Never Give Up! Never Surrender!

I would not consider myself a “Trekkie,” but I love Galaxy Quest. At this present date, I have actually never watched any of the Star Trek shows or movies. With the exception of the three reboot films. Not that I don’t plan to watch them someday. Galaxy Quest on the other hand, I’ve seen at least 20 times since I was a kid. Honestly, you don’t have to be a Trekkie to appreciate the humor. Galaxy Quest plays with the concept of “what if William Shatner was the captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise?” The idea is about as hilarious as it sounds. Galaxy Quest follows a group of actors dealing with the fact that their show is the only thing they’ll ever be known for. Until a race of real aliens come to recruit them for a very real mission to defeat an evil race of aliens. Playing the equivalent to Captain Kirk is Tim Allen. While Alan Rickman plays the Spock like alien and Sigourney Weaver fills in as the ship’s only woman à la Uhura. This is also one of Sam Rockwell’s most hilarious performances (he plays the “redshirt”). Non-stop hilarity and a surprising amount of heart ensues as the crew faces rock monsters, ship failure, and a diehard fanbase. There really should have been a sequel, but after Alan Rickman’s passing, that’s probably off the table. “By Grabthar’s Hammer, by the Sons of Warvan, you shall be avenged.” Galaxy Quest is a must watch for all Trekkies and Non-Trekkies alike.

galaxy-quest-tv-show

The NSEA Protector crew pose for a group photo

Background Check Please!

Single White Female is the kind of thriller that really makes you think. About “who is my roommate?” and “how do I get rid of them?” I never liked the idea of a roommate. Living with someone you barely know and expecting them to pay rent every month. That’s just crazy. As far as Single White Female is concerned, I thought it was very effective. I’d describe it as a subtle (often erotic) thriller. One that starts out fine, then starts to show its true colors by the end. Several nude scenes give it the erotic status. Allie is an engaged software designer whose recently called off her engagement. In order to fill the void, she advertises herself as a “single white female” seeking a roommate. Whom she finds in the seemingly innocent Hedy. One of the movie’s most unsettling scenes involves Hedy getting an identical short red haircut to Allie’s. Bridget Fonda and Jennifer Jason Leigh have excellent chemistry. Especially Jennifer Jason Leigh who plays the crazy roommate fairly well. It’s not perfect, but if you have a suspicious roommate, Single White Female might be the movie to watch.

Still_SingleWhiteFemale_758_427_81_s

Allie’s (left) new roommate Hedy (right) begins to obsess over her