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Trouble Along the Way (1953)
Winning isn't everything, its the only thing - when properly defined.
"Winning isn't everything, it's the only the thing!" So says Steve Williams (John Wayne) who is doing his best to raise a daughter in the rough and tumble world of college football. Of course, like so many Wayne characters, Steve Williams talks roughly, but under his wise cracking tough guy exterior there is a basically decent man who when pushed a bit will try to do the right thing. Though not necessarily in the right way.
His daughter Carol Williams is very well played by child actress Sherry Jackson and there is a strong supporting cast of characters that combine to make this film both fun and heart warming.
Donna Reed provides the romantic element as social worker whose job has brought her in to contact with Steve and Carol.
Refreshingly, unlike most modern films, the Catholic Church is positively portrayed, i.e., the priests and the Cardinal are real people with common sense and real senses of humor doing their best to make good decisions while staying true to their faith.
So if you are looking for a fun, well-acted, well-directed movies with a strong performance by John Wayne and a great supporting cast you will not be disappointed in "Trouble Along the Way."
Man of Steel (2013)
Superman Redux good but not great
"Man of Steel" is a good movie. Not as good as the first two Superman movies in 1978 and 1980 and (Superman and Superman 2) starring Christopher Reeve, but certainly better than any of the sequels for Superman post Superman 2. Superman with Christopher Reeve was much more tongue and cheek than the current iteration and I thought stayed truer to the Superman ethos.
Further, despite the more tongue and cheek nature of the 1978 Superman I found the Lois Lane death scene much more impactful than anything in "Man of Steel." With that said "Man of Steel" is a good film, with some great action scenes that complement a solid performance from Henry Cavill as Superman. Amy Adams is okay as Lois, but frankly just okay. Russell Crow as Jor-el brings does a good job, but in spite of more screen time does not surpass that of Marlon Brando as Jor-el in the 1978 Superman.
In terms of the whole Daily Planet angle we will have to see how that works out in the sequel, but this first movie does very little to establish the Daily Planet as a the central player it has been in Superman lore.
The best thing about this Superman was that he actually did the right in killing General Zod. Yes, Superman's rule on not killing is a good one especially for someone as powerful as Superman. However,not killing General Zod would certainly have resulted in the deaths of further countless innocents as earth authorities would not have been able to contain GeneralZod. So actually in this case Superman made the very tough decision to protect innocent life by killing Zod. (note this is not in any way murdering Zod as he had already killed hundreds if not thousands and was poised to kill more innocents in a matter of seconds. Superman has not become just like Zod.)
So when dealing with humans Superman's rule is a good one, but when dealing with murderous, genocidal beings with powers far beyond those of mere earthlings such as Zod, the underlying spirit of the rule must be followed which is to protect innocent human life. Ultimately, Superman was morally obligated to kill Zod. Not doing so would have made him responsible for any further murders by Zod.
To whom much is given, much is required and Superman will have to bear the burden of intentionally killing the last Kryptonian of which he is aware.
Big Jake (1971)
A Big Rollicking Gritty Fun Movie
From its documentary style opening, Big Jake delivers big fun, big adventure, nasty villains, whippersnapper sons and classic John Wayne. This movie has something for everyone, but be warned it has plenty of violence and is definitely a PG/ PG13 type film.
The supporting cast is excellent with Patrick Wayne, Christopher Mitchum, Richard Boone,Bruce Cabot, Maureen O'Hara, Gregg Palmer and Dog turning in solid performances.
While there are the formulaic elements such as horrendous acts perpetuated by bad men that give license to the good guys to do whatever is necessary to right the wrong, Big Jake also has other elements that make this film not just another Western:
1) Takes place in transition period of the turn of the century which provides some interesting interaction between the old ways and new ways.
2) Fun relationships and interplay between an estranged father and his young adult sons.
3) Great mixture of fun and intense gritty action. (John Wayne movies are known for this)
If you like Westerns this is a classic that you will enjoy.
If you are a fan of John Wayne at all this is a must see film.
If you are just looking for a good gritty action film with a healthy dose of humor seamlessly woven in to the story you will not be disappointed.
Ultimately, this is one of my favorite John Wayne films.
The Hobbit trys to be something it's not.
The Hobbit is a really good book, the Lord of the Rings is a much better book. LOTR is truly an Epic adventure having to do with the fate of all of Middle Earth. The Hobbit is an adventure about dwarfs trying to reclaim their home, their treasure and also kill a dragon. A nice big fun adventure, but not really Epic and not really on anywhere near the scale of LOTR.
Having read LOTR multiple times I felt that Peter Jackson truly captured the feeling and spirit of the book. Yes, there are some things I disagreed with in his movie adaption, but on the whole the movies were an amazing achievement.
Relatively speaking, Peter Jackson's adaptation of the Hobbit falls way short of what he was able to accomplish with LOTR. Jackson's efforts to make the Hobbit more epic are severely undercut by giving the action sequences a video game quality. In the Hobbit you are bombarded with too many scenes and actions sequences that strain credulity.
Sadly, the action sequences in the Hobbit film that take away from the experience were not even in the book. Further, the film's efforts to be "Epic" by making the Hobbit longer results in extended action sequences and extra plot elements that really take away from the story.
The result is a film adaptation that fails to capture the magic of the book that it is based on.
In the end the film adaptation of the Hobbit falls victim to a movie studio trying to recreate the financial success of LOTR by trying to artificially pump the Hobbit up into three really long films and it just doesn't really work.
Does this mean that the first of the three Hobbit films is is a bad film? No it is a pretty good film, but make no mistake that the Hobbit is not even in the same league as the Lord of the Rings.
I give the Hobbit a 7 because it is a fun film with good special effects. If I were grading it strictly on being a good film adaptation of the Hobbit I would drop it to a 5.
A Timeless, wonderful and thoughtful anime with baseball, romance and more.
Not every anime done in 1985 holds up well. TOUCH not only holds up well, but sets a standard for thoughtful drama that few animes meet or for that matter any series of any style.
What sets TOUCH apart is its thoughtful examination of the relationship between Tatsuya Uesugi and Kazuya Uesugi, who despite being identical twins are different as night and day. While this series has humor throughout, it seriously looks at a relationship that despite no intended malice has resulted in the serious diminishment of one of the main characters as a person.
The long-time childhood friend Minami plays a critical central role as she helps advance the story and plot in a way no other character could.
This is a thoughtful anime that has some sadness and poignancy interwoven throughout, yet still has enough fun and enough action to keep younger,less thoughtful audiences interested even if they are too young to understand the deeper issues being addressed.
Really geared for teenagers and above. Male characters do notice pretty female characters body and figure and do things real teenage boys do, i.e. look at girly magazines, etc.
Kurosu gêmu (2009)
A thoughtful, charming, romantic drama with nice sprinkling of comedy - and baseball too!.
I want to marry Wakaba. Okay I guess that won't work because I am already happily married and she is an anime character in fifth grade, but other than that the writers and animators do an amazing job of establishing Wakaba's character in such a way that is is clear that any guy would be pretty much putty in her hands.
With that said this anime explores a lot of questions with perhaps the key question being - what impact can a 5th grade girl have on the lives of her friends and family? Well if you invest the time to watch this series you will find out she can have an influence far beyond her years.
This is a charming, well-written series that has great characters, a strong plot and if you are so inclined gives you an opportunity to think about and discuss the dynamics of friendship,family and romance.
While liking baseball will be a plus in how much you enjoy this drama, even if baseball is not your thing you will still enjoy this series.
Because of a main plot development this might be a little intense for younger viewers, especially the first few episodes, but after that this is a family friendly drama that can can enjoyed by the whole family. (I think upper elementary and above would be fine.)
While this series is pretty much ecchi free, male characters do exhibit a normal, healthy, and non-exaggerated interest in the female form, but I would argue that the way it is done is tasteful and if it was not there would actually detract a bit from the story. (this aspect is a very small part of the series and I only mention it to point out that it is appropriately done and makes the characters more real.)
There are positive portrayals of both male and female characters and in particular "Cross Game" ends up giving a strong plug to the value of girls being involved in sports.
On a negative note, the stereotype of adult males only being able to have fun by drinking to excess and making fools of themselves is used in this story as a form of comic relief. This is a still pretty minor and should not stop you from enjoying the story.
The Whole Nine Yards (2000)
Funny, goofy movie that works
This is nothing more than a comedy with loads of sight gags, funny lines and slapstick humor that at times devolves into being downright goofy.
And it works.
While I generally like Bruce Willis and think many people underestimate his range as an actor, I was pleasantly surprised by Matthew Perry's performance who more than held his own.
In fact it is Matthew Perry's performance and interaction with Bruce Willis, aka Jimmy "the Tulip" Tudeski, and the massive Michael Clarke Duncan, aka Franklin 'Frankie Figs' Figueroa that makes this into a truly funny movie.
Part of what makes the movie work is that while Willis and Duncan are involved in various silly and comedic situations you never get the feeling they are silly or any less dangerous. So even as hilarity is erupting you still are conscious of a sense of menace that makes the goofiness somehow even goofier.
Roseanna Arquette also deserves kudos as Perry's wife. She does a an excellent job of portraying someone you really do not like and really would not want to be married to.
I originally saw this in the theater at full price and felt I got my money's worth. So pretty confident if you rent this you will be reasonably happy with your investment.
Well worth watching more than once.
An epic? No
Academy award winning performances? No
Must see? Yes! That is if you want to watch a truly funny and sweet romantic comedy.
Kurt Russell's portrayal of a father with kids desperately needing a mom and a wife; and Goldie Hawn's portrayal of a vapid socialite leading a shallow, meaningless existence sets the stage for a very funny movie that both men and women will appreciate.
While this is a comedy with many funny scenes, the movie paces itself nicely by interspersing the funny scenes with some serious and even somewhat poignant scenes.
Bottom line, you will enjoy this film.
So on the basis of being enjoyable and fun to watch I give "Overboard" a 9.
Some real flaws, but still does good job of being creepy.
As a Highlander Series fan I watched this film hoping for good things, but was disappointed.
At a high-level the plot and premise have real potential, but this potential is never realized because the actual script and directing are mediocre at best. Further the story flow is disjointed and uneven. Character development is also weak and you really don't get to know the characters or care about them much.
Adrian Paul's performance was competent, but uninspiring, probably due to mediocre dialog. Likewise, the other actors performances are hard to critique because they really did not have much with which to work.
Somehow, in spite of the above, the ever present cameras and Eyeborgs do create a really creepy atmosphere and made me think I do not want anything even close to a society infested with Eyeborgs.
So in spite of its many flaws, good special effects and just enough of everything else still allows Eyeborgs to achieve its objective of making us question an ends justifies the means approach to fighting terrorism.
Star Trek (2009)
Star Trek meets Beverly Hills 90210
This might be a fun science fiction film, but it really is not a Star Trek film. Sure at a superficial level it has all the Star Trek characters and makes some references that only someone familiar with Star Trek would get, but this film was not done in the spirit of Star Trek.
While paying very thin lip service to the legacy of Star Trek, we are treated to beautiful hard bodies running around willy-nilly, firing their phasors and randomly citing Star Trek ism's.
Though it is pretty much impossible to go into detail without writing a spoiler suffice it to say:
The character development is contrived and uneven.
No real attempt is made to maintain the integrity of the relative character ages of key Star Trek Characters, i.e. Chekov is more than just a few year younger than Kirk, etc.
There is only a superficial relationship between the Star Trek Universe as fleshed out over the last 40 years to this new, hip, superficial, shoot from the hip universe.
It boggles the mind the way key tragic events are dismissed and treated so lightly,e.g. the destruction of...... More concern was paid to the death of a Red Shirt on TOS than this particular tragic event.
The Federation is portrayed as silly and incompetent by how they reward the immature and not ready for prime time Kirk at the end of the movie. Something no real serious organization would do.
If this was a movie without the name Star Trek in the title, it would have been a fun,very superficial scifi action flick, but despite its name this was not really a Star Trek Movie.
Is it a bad movie? Nah. Is it a bad Star Trek movie? Definitely!
However, if you thought that the Star Ship Troopers movie was was an accurate adaptation of Heinlein's book Star Ship Troopers, then you will probably really like this film.
Top 250 of all time - really??????????