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True Lies (1994)
A Thrill Ride of Action and Comedy!!
Not too many films have combined action and comedy as brilliantly as this excellent James Cameron thriller. True Lies excels at allowing the comedy to come directly from the situations without distracting the viewer from the exciting action story. Over the top action sequences alone can spell doom for any film, yet True Lies combines them with comic relief and still manages to stay riveting over a 2 hour and 20 minute run time. There's plenty of laughs here, yet none of them seem forced. All of the comedic moments come from the characters reactions to the events around them. In fact, there's not one moment where I as a viewer thought I might act differently had I been in the same situation.
The chemistry between all the actors is apparent throughout the film. The pairings of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis as husband and wife, as well as Schwarzenegger and Tom Arnold as federal officers, seem outlandish before first viewing the film. Yet the casting is perfect. Some of the best laughs in the film come from moments where two of the characters simply exchange looks. Apparently all the actors got along famously on the set, and that always translates into great chemistry on the screen.
Director James Cameron is well known for delivering exciting action sequences and he sets the bar very high here. Although over the top at times, you always buy it. Chase scenes seem to be Cameron's strongest set piece and he provides two especially thrilling sequences in True Lies. A chase through the streets of Washington DC and through a busy hotel is especially unique. Not just because of the locale, but because it involves a horse and a motorcycle. Also, the pursuit of the villains from the Florida Keys to the main land involving trucks, helicopters, and Harrier jets is the highlight of the film.
Much has been made of the depictions of the villains from True Lies. Perhaps even in 1994 it was unfairly stereotypical to use fanatical Arab terrorists as your primary villain. However, the fact is that there are bad people of every race, religion, sex, or any other category you can think of for human beings. Was it an indictment on all German people when Hans Gruber led a group of German terrorists into Nakatomi Towers in the film Die Hard? Are all American's evil because Mr. Joshua was such a cruel villain in Lethal Weapon? Are all women deplorable because Selina was portrayed as villainous in Supergirl. Would it really have made a difference (or have been more realistic) if the villains were Portuguese terrorists? You get my point. And let's be fair to True Lies here too. It was 1994. In this film you hear terms like "Jihad" and "Car bomb." Terms that weren't even part of the vernacular in '94, yet are well known today. It could even be fair to say that True Lies was slightly ahead of its time. Is it really all that different from TV's 24?
I would recommend True Lies to anyone who's looking for laughs and excitement. The two have never been combined as expertly as they are here. Both men and women can easily identify with the characters and should enjoy themselves equally. I can't believe it's been 15 years since True Lies was released. It still holds up wonderfully. Enjoy!
Rise of the Video Game (2007)
**Warning** Agenda Film
What a biased piece of garbage this turned out to be. I watched the first 2 episodes and found myself enjoying the history of so many great games that I have enjoyed in my life. I found myself agreeing with commentators who scoffed at criticisms levied at the video game industry. Rightfully denying that video games were the source of violence, bad language, and unsavory behavior in society. But I found myself questioning why they continued to relate everything to the military topics of the time. The 80's games were a product of the cold war, etc. It all seemed out of place until I settled down to watch the 3rd episode. Over half the episode was dedicated to the history of military games. These same commentators, who earlier were stating that video games did not have any psychological or brainwashing effects, were now contradicting themselves. Apparently having a video game that allows you to be a U.S. Soldier is damaging to society, but Grand Theft Auto which allows you to rape women, kill anyone, blow up police choppers, and anything else you want to do (ie; terrorist activity) has no damaging effect whatsoever. What a piece of crap. You can't have it both ways, people! Instead of focusing it's attention on the history of video gaming, the makers of this mini-series decided they were going to have an agenda. An agenda, unfortunately, that has nothing to do with video games. They may as well have just named this show, "We Hate America and it's Service Men and Women."
American History X (1998)
The Brother-Brother relationship
Every time I see this movie the one thing that jumps out at me is how real the relationship between the brothers is. Remove all the Nazi subtext and the relationship between Derek and Danny is exactly like the one I had with my older brother. I've never seen another film capture the essence of an older brother's influence over his younger brother. This film not only does that but makes it a major element to the story. I, myself also have an older brother. The difference in age is the same as it appears to be in American History X. Let me tell you, if my older brother HAD been a destructive neo nazi like Derek, I probably would have been too, just like Danny. I played the same sports my brother did. I watched the same movies. I listened to the same music. I tried to emulate him in every way possible. Even recently I started a job with a local utility company. The same job he started in when he was my age. American History X does an excellent job of showing the remarkable influence of an older brother, and how he accepts the responsibility that comes with it. When Sweeney visits Derek in jail, he tells him that his younger brother is headed down the same path as he is. Derek immediately shoots back that Danny is not his responsibility. Whether Derek wants the responsibility or not, he has great influence over Danny and must use it responsibly. Unfortunately, Derek realizes this too late. That's the essence of this story to me. The struggle of an older brother to save himself in order to save his younger brother. Ed Norton plays both the responsible and the irresponsible Derek magically. This film goes from being a good film to a great film because of his performance. The most realistic portrayal I've ever seen of someone dealing with family problems. 8 Stars out of 10.