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Air America (1990)
I Love This Film!
Air America is over 25 years old and it's still on my list of movies I watch regularly. It's not that I disagree with those who acknowledge its faults, because I knowledge them too. The things that make me want to watch this film over and over are: The music, which is fabulous... The soundtrack is filled with great tunes, some of which are a little out of the period but it doesn't matter. It's great to hear Rick Derringer and Edgar Winter cover their own hit "Free Ride" and Bonnie Raitt & BB King do a great cover of Dr John's "Right Place, Wrong Time". And Charles Gross's score is a perfect fit for this film. The second thing that makes film so great is the cinematography. The flying stunts still hold up to today's CGI effects and they were all pulled off by real pilots. But cinematographer Roger Deakins makes it all so much better with some of the most beautiful shots I've seen. The way this film was photographed reminds me of the beautiful cinematography from David Lean and Jack Hildyard in "The Bridge on the River Kwai". Air American was filmed mostly on location in Thailand and the lush vegetation and rolling hills and mountains are stunning. Air America is the story of a couple of pilots who fly cargo (and heroin) for Air America, the CIA's wartime civilian airline during the war in Vietnam. Mel Gibson plays a seasoned veteran pilot and Robert Downy Jr. is the young, idealistic newcomer who stirs it all up. When it was released it drew harsh reviews from the big publications, mostly because (according to the reviews) it tried to poke fun at, and perhaps dishonor the real life pilots of Air America. Putting politics aside I never thought this film dishonored the Air America pilots. The film's main weakness is the thin plot (based on real events). The acting is great. Downey and Gibson have great chemistry, and the supporting actors/actresses are also spot on. It cost over $35 million to make this film and every penny is seen on the screen. Unfortunately it never caught on at the box office and only grossed $32 million (worldwide). The acting, stunt flying, music and cinematography make it worth multiple viewings, even if you don't understand the plot or find it hard to relate to the characters. If you can watch it in this context, you might love it too.
The Lone Ranger (2013)
Thye critics actually got it right!
Hammer, Depp, Verbinski, Bruckheimer, et al. complained that the critics wrote their reviews months before the film was released and they based their reviews on the production/budget, not the film's content. Perhaps that's right but I am writing this several years after the release and I still think they screwed up this movie. Others have written about this movie's faults so I won't rehash them other than to say that this is not a bad action movie but it is a bad Lone Ranger movie. It's a shame because after the 1981 film (which bombed) and this one (one of Disney's biggest money-pits), plus the overall decline of westerns I doubt if The Lone Ranger will ever be remade. Maybe that's not such a bad thing.
Red Dawn (2012)
Pathetic Remake of a Bad Movie
I saw the original Red Dawn in theaters in 1984 and it was one of the first movies on which I regretted having wasted time and money. So I didn't bother when this movie was making its rounds. I took heed to the critics (and the IMDb masses) and for once it paid off. Fast forward to today
. It's a snowy Sunday in the Midwest and I was bored. Scrolling through Netflix I stumbled onto Red Dawn (2012) and since I wasn't paying extra for the opportunity I decided to give it a go. Now, it's over and I was wrong. I DID pay for it by wasting 2 hours that could have been better spent watching Gigli or Disaster Movie. I have never universally rooted for bad guys in any motion picture until today. For 2 hours all I could think of was Ian McDiarmid's line from Star Wars EP-I, "wipe them out... all of them". The plot was weak (although the premise is still intriguing), the plot holes are too many to mention, the 'shaky-cam' made me seasick, Ramin Djawadi's soundtrack was bland, the acting mediocre, and CGI overload which normally covers a multitude of sins didn't help. If you want to see a bad movie, check out Red Dawn (1984). But it you want to see something really bad, watch Red Dawn (2012).
The Three Stooges (2012)
I missed this when it was in theaters last year (2012), and the user reviews here on IMDb haven't been all that glowing so The Three Stooges hasn't exactly been at the top of my list, but I picked up the Blu Ray last week, watched it tonight and found this picture charming and surprisingly funny. If you are a fan of the original Three Stooges shorts and are open minded you will enjoy this movie. The Farrley Brothers certainly captured the spirit and essence of the original Three Stooges shorts. And kudos to Chris Diamantopoulos (Moe), Sean Hayes (Larry) and Will Sasso (Curly), plus a great supporting cast for bringing the feel and spirit of the originals back. I didn't think it was possible to recreate the chemistry of the original Three Stooges, who were absolute comedic geniuses but Peter and Bobby Farrley have done exactly that. I set my sights a bit low on this, but from the very beginning when the Three Stooges, who began the picture as toddlers, were delivered... well actually thrown onto the porch of am orphanage in a large canvas tote bag, I laughed out loud and continued to do so for the next 92 minutes. This won't challenge your intellect but it certainly won't bore you. Too bad it didn't deliver as expected in the box office (it's domestic take was $44.3 million against a $30 million budget) so we most-likely won't see a sequel, although I would love one. I hope DVD/Blu Ray sales help Fox and the production companies recover their budget and distribution/marketing expenses. But again, if you loved Moe, Larry and Curly from the past you will enjoy this motion picture. I certainly did. A solid 7 out of 10 stars in my book!
A mess... start to finish...
Even Gene Hackman and Christopher Reeve couldn't salvage this disaster. And the sad part it, it didn't have to be this bad. If they could have portrayed Nuclear Man differently, including their use of Gene Hackman to voice him, if the plot holes were sufficiently plugged up, if the flying effects (at times) were not worse than the 50's television show and if the stupidity of having such things as Lacy Warfield (Mariel Hemingway) exist in outer-space without a space suit (and other such nonsense), it might not have been that bad. There were parts that I actually thought were decent. And there were good flying effects at times (although they were few and far between). I actually enjoyed seeing Gene Hackman portray lex Luthor again and he seemed like he was enjoying himself in spite of things. You know the story: Golan-Globus Productions were nearly bankrupt and had too many irons in the fire (at the time Golan and Globus had over 30 films in production, were cash-strapped and they gave Superman IV received no special consideration). They slashed the budget for this movie from $50 million (US) to $17 million, and it managed to gross a meager $15 million at the box office. It killed the franchise for nearly 20 years. On second thought... It did have to be this bad. There was nothing that could salvage this mess.
The Help (2011)
Not A Chick Flick- 2 Hours and 26 minutes of pure entertainment
This movie was the buzz of the summer last year (2011) and a dozen people told me I "had to see it". I never got the chance to catch it in theaters but when the Blu Ray came out in February I snatched it up and watched it. I was captivated from the beginning to the end. One of the best ensemble casts ever assembled and Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer both deserve Oscars, as does Emma Stone who brought tears to my eyes when she found out what really happened to her childhood maid Constantine Jefferson, played by Cicely Tyson. This film has everything, tremendous acting, a great script, drama, heartbreak and some of the funniest moments on film. Best Picture of 2011!
It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963)
This is the ultimate comedy. All other comedies are judged by this one. Every comedian in Hollywood wanted to be in this picture. Don Rickles still rails about how he didn't appear in the "greatest comedy of all time". He appears in one of the featurettes. Sid Ceaser's facial expressions alone are worth the price of admission. And seeing Ethyl Merman get it in the end (slipping on a banana peel, which is the ultimate joke). Milton Berle rules as does all of the cast. I've been saying for nearly 50 years that this is the best comedy ever made and I stand firm on that statement. This movie and Star Wars (1977) are the only two movies (out of hundreds) that I've given a 10 out of 10 score.
Nine to Five (1980)
I've killed the boss, you think they won't fire me for that!
When I first saw this in theaters in 1980, I never imagined I'd be sitting here in 2011 (November) writing about it. Probably because there was no Internet/World Wide Web in 1980, but I digress. This picture is now 31 years old and it has aged gracefully. Lilly, Dolly and Jane in arguably their best roles ever really shine. You can tell they were having fun filming this movie. Dabney Coleman is true to form as the evil boss and the supporting characters are equally funny ("... atta girl"). When they manage to remove the boss from the office, everything changes. Better pay, redecorating of the entire floor, relaxed atmosphere, flowers, job-sharing (2 employees split a full time shift so they can spend the other half of the day with their kids), in-house day care and lots more. When F-ART (Franklin Hart) returns, will Dora, Violet and Judy be able to keep the changes or get fired? This picture holds up well... my favorite part is Violet's "fantasy" with Bambi, Thumper and the other animals and birds. Very, very, very funny. 8 out of 10, even 31 years later.
Planet Earth (2006)
The IMDb trivia states that it took 40 camera teams 5 years to film this series. The results are amazing. I missed it when it originally aired in the US on the Discovery Channel, but I snatched up the HD DVD version when it became available, and recently purchased the Blu Ray version just to make sure that when my HD DVD dies I'll still have a suitable copy. When I want to showcase my home theater, Planet Earth is what I show. I love David Attenborough's narration but I wish they would have included Sigourney Weaver's Discovery Channel narration as an audio option. Otherwise, this is the most stunning video of any kind I have ever seen outside of a theater. Virtually every region of the earth is captured in this series and we are able to see things most of mankind didn't even know existed 20 years ago
¡Three Amigos! (1986)
A good rainy day movie
The Three Amigos was not a great movie. It was a good movie with moments of greatness. One of the areas in which John Landis and crew excelled was the cinematography. The locations shooting as well as the stuff filmed on the soundstage are colorful, perfectly lit and framed and are basically eye candy. Elmer Bernstein's soundtrack is perfect in every way. Randy Newman's songs are fabulous (and his singing as the 'singing bush' is hilarious). The absolute best part of the movie is the "Blue Shadows" sequence, featuring Chevy Chase, Steve Martin and Martin Short, singing a western ballad written by Randy Newman while surrounded by a campfire, singing horses (with mouth movements hand-animated that are better than much of today's CGI), lots of animatronics critters listening in and probably the most beautiful sunset ever filmed (indoors, on a soundstage I might add). I could never tire of that song or the segment. Otherwise, there are much better movies with Chase, Short and Martin (although not together). Either you love this film or you don't. I fall in the 'love' category, but it's still not a great movie. The predictable plot and sometimes repetitive slapstick can be grating on the nerves at times. Still, the good parts far outweigh the not-so-good, and it actually gets better with multiple viewings. Maybe it's just taking me longer to finally "get it".