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Savage Journey (1983)
Reasonably accurate, dealing with early days of Mormonism
I originally saw this while I was living in Norway. As such, it had Norwegian subtitles across the bottom of the screen. I was, at the time, serving as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormons).
The two main players in the early days of the church were Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. Joseph Smith was the founder of the church, and Brigham Young later took the reins after his death, leading the members of the church to modern-day Utah. This movie deals with these early days of the church.
Brigham Young was well portrayed. Everything I've read about the man says this portrayal was spot-on. At first, I thought Joseph Smith had been miscast. I mean, come on: Richard Moll (who plays Joseph Smith) is better known as "Bull" Shannon on "Night Court." In retrospect, it's not that far off. The real Joseph Smith was well over six feet tall, and was generally known for being a very gentle person.
The early persecution of the church, and the subject of polygamy are dealt with head-on, and accurately.
All-told, a decent movie, carried by the strength of the stories and the portrayals. The budget is pretty low, so don't expect too much flash.
The Longest Yard (2005)
An Adam Sandler movie I could watch
I really can't stand Adam Sandler. I don't quite know what it is, but every time someone pops one of his movies in the DVD player, I feel the overwhelming urge to leave the room. Go watch something else. Change the oil in my car. Do dishes. Anything but sit there and watch it.
I could actually sit through this one, which is saying something.
He spent more of his time playing a dramatic character than a comic one, and this movie demonstrates that he has the chops for it. I was very surprised.
The "recruiting" scene where he's playing one-on-one basketball stands out, in particular. I mean, you KNOW he's hurting; you feel sympathetic pain for what he's going through. You're wondering just what the hell he's proving. Then, at the end of the scene, you understand. Here's a character which has some depth, which actually thinks longer-term than most Adam Sandler characters.
I like that.
During the final showdown, you hate his guts, then you feel for him, then you cheer for him. I realize it's the formulaic good-vs-evil showdown, but I don't care. I care what happens to the character.
That's the difference between a good movie and a weak one; you give a damn what happens to the characters.
Chris Rock is his usual funny self. Burt Reynolds play an understated, but solid role. You can say that when it's hard to pick out any one scene where they really stood out, but at the same time, you can't quite figure out how the movie could've done without them. He just lent a little more depth and foundation to so many scenes.
I never would have gone to see this in the theater, simply because it had Adam Sandler in the lead role. After seeing this one, though, that could change.
Van Helsing (2004)
Eye candy and a** kicking
O.k., so it probably won't get an Oscar nomination, but it was good stuff.
Kate Beckinsdale looks hot, so guys will enjoy it. Hugh Jackman looks great with long hair, so the ladies will enjoy it. Plenty of special effects, stunts and major a** kicking mean that guys will REALLY enjoy it (and the ladies probably won't mind too much). Probably not suitable for kids (can get a little graphic; watching a vampire get skewered, then decompose before your eyes could be a little disconcerting to a kid).
Typical summer blockbuster: eye candy, special effects, stunts and a** kicking. Check your brain at the door; you'll enjoy it more.
Gutsy, smart, way ahead of the curve
It's been a while since I saw this movie, and I was already acquainted with they story when I realized they'd made a movie about it. The movie lives up to the reality.
No question, Preston Tucker was brilliant. When Uncle Sam requested designs for combat vehicles, he submitted, and demonstrated, a design which significantly blew away all competitors. He was turned down because his design significantly outperformed what Uncle Sam asked for. Small-minded individuals, mired in the relatively wimpy requirements, wouldn't take the more advanced design. It boggled his mind that they would turn down "steak with all the trimmings" in exchange for a "plain hamburger." I've been in the Military, so it doesn't surprise me.
When he wanted to make a point about safety, emphasizing the need for safety glass and seatbelts (which were NOT standard equipment at the time), he invited the appropriate people to lunch, served medium-rare roast beef, then showed pictures of people who'd died in car accidents. Lots of blood, lots of "raw meat." My driver's education teacher, trying to convince us to be safer drivers, did the same (minus the fancy lunch). Anyway, the similarities between what they saw on the screen, and what they'd just eaten, caused many of them to be "re-acquainted" with their lunch. I sincerely doubt they ever forgot the presentation, and his point was very well made.
I like this guy. He's whip-smart, practical, maybe a little too optimistic.
I identify with him.
And they broke him.
Welcome to reality. Bites, doesn't it?
In the end, he knows he's beaten, but he still gets the last word in. I hope I manage to do so well.