Ofelia en el País de las Maravillas

Pan’s Labyrinth is the darkest version of Alice in Wonderland I’ve ever seen. It’s also considered by many to be Guillermo Del Toro’s magnum opus. Which I can definitely understand after watching it. Pan’s Labyrinth is a dark fantasy set in Spain after the Spanish Civil War. During which time, evil falange officers hunt down war rebels. Lead by the particularly despicable Captain Vidal. I know what you’re thinking, where’s the fantasy? Pan’s Labyrinth does a terrific job balancing both the real and the fantastical. Ofelia is a young girl forced to live with her sick expecting mother and her new stepfather (the evil captain). So Ofelia escapes inside her fairytales that exist in the real world. It’s a lot like Alice in Wonderland because Ofelia is a lot like Alice. A girl entering a strange world because she wants to escape her life. Where she encounters a helpful guide, enters a tree, and has a dinner party. Only instead there are fairies, an earthly faun, a giant toad, and a disturbing child-eating monster called the Pale Man. A pale creature with long nails and eyes on its hands. All of this can only be from the creative mind of Guillermo Del Toro. His creature designs are some of the best he’s ever done here. Pan’s Labyrinth is depressing, but it’s something we can all use to escape.

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Ofelia speaks with Faun

P.S. The entire movie is in Spanish. Something every trailer forgot to mention.

No Way

Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey is bogus and/or heinous. It’s also my personal favorite of the 2 Bill & Ted movies. As I’ve seen it way more times since my parents had it on VHS. Not that I don’t still love Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. I just don’t have the same kind of attachment to it. Plus Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey was what I saw first. It picks up 2 years after the first movie with Bill & Ted entering a music contest for WYLD STALLYNS! *air guitar* Bill is now dressed in a green plaid jacket and red cap, while Ted now wears a red and yellow jacket with a smiley face on the back of it. They also plan on proposing to their princess girlfriends. Meanwhile Bill’s hot stepmom is now married to Ted’s dad. Their problem this time is a maniac who wants to destroy their utopian future. So he sends evil robot doubles of Bill & Ted to kill the real Bill & Ted. Which they do. Leading to a series of hilariously crazy situations in the afterlife. First they run into Death, who offers them a challenge to get out of the afterlife. Luckily Death is an imbassible. Bill & Ted then wind up in Hell. Where it looks like a red factory of some sort with their own personal Hell in it. Then they go to Heaven after beating Death’s “challenge.” Which is all white with discs instead of clouds. They also receive help from a couple of intelligent martians named Station. Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey is total insanity from start to finish! *air guitar*

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Bill & Ted with Death

Preceded by: Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure & Followed by: Bill & Ted Face the Music

Be Excellent to Each Other

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure is most excellent! *air guitar* It answers the question, what if two slackers used a time machine to pass their history class? You heard me right. Bill S. Preston Esq. and Ted “Theodore” Logan are best buds who want nothing more then to rock out in their band WYLD STALLYNS! *air guitar* Bill is dressed in a crop top and purple jacket, while Ted wears a black vest and red jacket. Their only problem is if they fail history, Ted’s dad will send him to military school. Meanwhile Bill comes to terms with his hot new stepmom (“It’s your mom, dude”). So supreme beings from the year 2688 send Rufus in a phone booth time machine to help them pass. Why?, because apparently Bill & Ted’s music will one day bring about world peace. It’s ridiculous, but most bodacious. They travel in time to basically kidnap historical figures to help with their report. They kidnap Napoleon, Billy the Kid, Socrates, Sigmund Freud, Beethoven, Joan of Ark, Genghis Khan, and of course Abraham Lincoln. Then they bring them to the modern world where they experience the joys of a shopping mall. Or ice cream and water parks in Napoleon’s case. Bill & Ted are played by Alex Winter and some guy named Keanu Reeves respectively. Both of them make Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure a cult favorite. “Party on dudes!” *air guitar*

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Bill (left) & Ted (right) travel to the future

Followed by: Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey

Ultraviolence

A Clockwork Orange is one of the hardest movies I’ve ever had to get through. When I wrote this review, it was only minutes since I watched it, and I was still shaking. A Clockwork Orange is up there with other acclaimed movies I had to mentally prepare myself for. Since A Clockwork Orange was X rated, ultra-violent, and disturbing. While I do think it’s a little less tough to watch then I thought it would be, the effects are still the same. A Clockwork Orange can only be from director Stanley Kubrick. With its bleak depiction of the future as a dystopian cesspool. Where a gang of “droogs” lead by narrator Alex DeLarge commit unspeakable acts in Britain. Each one more disturbing than the last. The most unforgivable thing though would be there improvisational use of a happy song like “Singin’ in the Rain” or even Beethoven. When Alex goes too far, he’s sent to prison for 14 years. Until he leaves early to participate in an experimental procedure that may cure him. The opening shot in the milk bar, Alex being strapped in with his eyes clamped open, and Alex reaching for a woman’s bare naked breasts are the most iconic shots in the movie. It’s what leads to the movie’s biggest questions. Like, can a person really be cured of sexual and violent desires? Malcolm McDowell gives the most complex performance of his career. Making A Clockwork Orange a well crafted edgy picture that I sincerely hope wasn’t trying to be funny.

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Alex DeLarge

A Family Picture

Son of the Mask proves you should never make a sequel without Jim Carrey. They’d been talking about making a sequel almost immediately after The Mask came out. Carrey was attached for awhile until the failure of When Nature Calls. He swore off making sequels, but they decided to move forward anyway. Somehow ending up with the piece of crap known as Son of the Mask. I’m sorry to say I didn’t hate it when I first saw it in theaters. Then again I was still too young to know any better. Sitting at a 6% on Rotten Tomatoes, Son of the Mask is considered by some to be one of the worst movies ever made. It’s not hard to see why. The only connection it has to the first movie is Ben Stein and the opening that takes place in Edge City. As the Mask washes up in the overly colorful Fridge City. Where a dog named Otis (Milo and Otis, get it!) finds it. His owner wears it on at a costume party and thus becomes the new Mask. Jamie Kennedy is no substitute for Jim Carrey. He ends up having a baby with his wife while wearing the Mask and a disturbing, talking, badly animated baby is born. Meanwhile Otis becomes jealous, puts on the Mask, and tries to kill the baby. I wish I was making this up, but I haven’t even gotten to the worst part. Loki is in it (no, not that Loki). Alan Cumming hamming it up as goth reject Loki. Since the first movie said he’s the one who created it. Son of the Mask is awful for children and adults alike. It’s not funny and just plain creepy to look at.

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Alvey (baby) plays a trick on Otis (dog)

Preceded by: The Mask

Smokin’!

The Mask was made for Jim Carrey. If you thought he was a living cartoon before, you ain’t seen nothing yet. The Mask is Jim Carrey’s second movie in 1994, but it’s easily his funniest. I would even argue that it’s the best of his career. It’s what made Jim Carrey a main stay in the 90’s. Plus it’s the movie that gave us Cameron Diaz. When she entered the screen you knew she would be a star. Unlike Carrey’s other 1994 movies though, I’ve seen The Mask a lot. I used to watch it over and over again when I was a kid. Now I know every word, joke, dance number, and I can imitate the Mask perfectly. The Mask is about Stanley Ipkiss. A nice guy and hopeless romantic who discovers the titular Mask. A green wooden mask that brings the wearers inner most desires to life. When Stanley puts on the Mask he becomes a love crazy wild man. A living cartoon who does things like spin around like the Tasmanian Devil, pop out his eyes and tongue, quickly change outfits, and pull objects out of thin air. It was all modeled after Tex Avery cartoons. Instead of what The Mask is actually based on. Which is a very violent Dark Horse comic. It was also the first Dark Horse comic movie, but they’re so different that you can’t even compare the two. The movie is so much better and its use of cartoon logic makes it stand out. It’s filled with so many great moments. The first transformation, the Coco Bongo dance, the Oscar moment, “Cuban Pete,” Stanley’s dog Milo becoming the Mask, and even anything outside of the Mask. Making The Mask something I always look forward to watching. “Ssssmokin’!”

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The Mask flashes his cash

Followed by: Son of the Mask

Brought to You by Head & Shoulders

Evolution is a lot like Ghostbusters. Both are about four people dressed in jumpsuits trying to bust otherworldly entities in a comedic way that somehow involves firefighters. This isn’t a coincidence since both movies are directed by Ivan Reitman. While I didn’t watch it as much as other childhood movies, I still had fond memories of Evolution. It was also one of the first movies I had shipped on Netflix. As it doesn’t come on TV much, because most people have forgotten about it. It’s not perfect, but I still enjoy Evolution today. Instead of ghosts, the threat is an alien organism that evolves into a variety of creatures. Whether it’s parasites, bugs, lizards, amphibians, dinosaurs, primates, or just a giant blob. The only ones who can stop it are a couple of college professors, a wannabe firefighter, and a scientist. Played by Fox Mulder, the other wide-eyed manic black comedian, Stifler, and the movie’s only A-lister Julianne Moore respectively. To this day, I still find Evolution hilarious. It may not be clever, but it makes up for it in dumb humor. Like the infamous “There’s a bug in my suit” scene. Evolution may not be fully evolved, but it’s a good time if you check your brain at the door.

Ira (far left) and his team look up at the final evolution

Old Hollywood

Hail, Caesar! is so far the last movie directed by the Coen Brothers. It’s far from their best effort, but it does still offer their eye for detail. Both in character and setting. It takes place in Hollywood during the early 50’s. After the war, but during the Cold War/Red Scare era. In other words Communism was an issue. Eddie Mannix was the guy you got to fix any celebrity scandal. He’s the only real life person in the movie. Every celebrity is a fictionalized version of a famous celebrity from that era. The big star of a major production, the singing cowboy who can’t act, America’s sweetheart with skeletons in the closet, the song and dance man, and the foreign actress who got her foot in the door. Each of them played by more A-list stars then I can name. With each of them getting extended screen time. Although my main reason for watching it was to see the new Han Solo actor in something, I’m glad I saw it. Hail, Caesar! captures the look of a bygone Hollywood era flawlessly.

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Eddie Mannix (right) slaps some sense into Baird Whitlock (left)

Isn’t it Delicious

The Seven Year Itch is the movie that features one of the most famous scenes in film history. When Marilyn Monroe’s dress blows in the subway grate. She wore an equally iconic white dress while saying the words “Isn’t it delicious.” Everybody who’s a movie buff knows this scene, though some might not know the title. The Seven Year Itch is a term that refers to married people with wandering eyes after 7 years of marriage. During hot summers (I also saw the movie in the heat), wives left their husbands at home to work while they vacationed with the kids. Giving the men plenty of opportunity to be unfaithful. Something that wasn’t exactly present in movies at the time. Even though most of the action is taking place in lead character Richard Sherman’s crazy imagination. Marilyn Monroe is the original “blonde bombshell” and sex symbol of her time. She’s truly a one of a kind beauty. I even have a personal connection with her since we share a birthday. The Seven Year Itch is her best remembered performance, because it sums up everything about her work. Her character doesn’t even have a name. Although this wasn’t the first movie I saw of her’s. I first saw her in another classic, Some Like it Hot (see that review here). This was just the first time I saw her in color. The Seven Year Itch is hot, hilarious, and a true classic.

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Marilyn Monroe’s dress blows in the subway grate

I’m a Rocket Man

The Rocketeer was Disney’s first crack at a classic comic book superhero. Long before acquiring the rights to Captain America, The Rocketeer was their World War II era nazi punching crimefighter. In fact, director Joe Johnston actually ended up directing Captain America: The First Avenger as well. Not to mention Jennifer Connelly playing her first of two superhero girlfriends. The Rocketeer comic is only as old as the 80’s, but since this was the 90’s, they felt he needed a movie. In the late 30’s stunt pilot Cliff and his engineer friend discover a rocket pack that gangsters are searching for. Unaware that the rocket pack is the invention of Howard Hughes. The genius billionaire playboy philanthropist who was the basis for Tony Stark. Cliff and his friend test out the pack, make a finned helmet, and eventually use the rocket to save someone. While parts of it might not be entirely historically accurate, it does bring the 30’s to life. They got the Hollywood actor’s being spies thing right. With Timothy Dalton playing an Errol Flynn type. Making the movie feel like a classic pulp serial à la Indiana Jones. Even if it is more focused on flying then fighting. This is still a Disney movie. The Rocketeer is just good old fashion fun.

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The Rocketeer takes flight