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Take the Journey
The only way to review this movie fairly is to review the 3-D version of it. Not a remake or adaptation of Jules Vernes novel, it instead goes on the premise that Vernes novel was a true story, and that the book was more of a guide than a story. Brenden Fraser takes his nephew, and a local mountain guide on journey to find out what happened to his missing brother. Their trek takes them, of course, to the center of the Earth where they encounter underwater oceans, man eating plants, and a T-Rex, among other things. The story moves briskly, although there are many plot holes to dodge, and the actors are capable, likable, and don't grate on the nerves. But ultimately the enjoyment of this movie is based on its visual effects, and the 3-D experience, which I'm glad to say, is first rate. There are the typically redundant "comin' at ya" 3-D moments that serve no purpose other than to drive the effect home. But mostly the effects actually serve the story. They do what they are meant to do, which is put you in the moment. They make you feel like you are in this environment, and more than once I saw people in the theater ducking and dodging incoming objects. So, as a flat 2-D experience, the movie would be an enjoyable, if forgettable movie. As 3-D experience, however, it's a great time at the movies.
Day of the Dead (2008)
Not NEARLY as bad as you have heard.
First of all, let me state my position on zombie movies. I do NOT think that George Romero is a God. I think zombies that run are FAR scarier than the lumbering ones that you can easily escape from. I think the remake of Dawn Of The Dead is not only superior to the original, but the best zombie movie ever made. Finally I think that the remake of Day Of The Dead has been unfairly dumped on, but is so far superior to the boring-as-hell original (directed by Romero) that it's not even funny. Director Steve Miner has crafted a fast moving, atmospheric, gore filled zombie flick that has not gotten the support it deserves. Not a follow up to Zack Snyder's Dawn Of The Dead, it takes place in a tiny Colorado town where the Army is trying to quarantine the town's inhabitants. Mena Suvari is an army corporal, who just happens to have grown up in that very town. She's assigned a few new soldiers, including Nick Cannon, to secure help secure one of the towns checkpoints. There is a cold-like virus loose in the towns that, when it kicks in, rots human flesh, and turns the people infected into zombies. Zombies that, like in the Dawn remake, run like track athletes. The movie starts quickly and never slows down. There's no shortage of zombies, so trying to escape from the town proves to be every bit as difficult as you'd expect. The zombies are also different in the way that they retain some of the intelligence and personality they had when they were alive. So we get scenes like a platoon of dead soldiers coming at survivors, wildly (perhaps uncontrollably) firing their weapons. It's also the first time we get a bit of zombie cannibalism, as they turn on one another. Mena Suvari gives a good performance in your typical tough chick role. Plus she looks really good in Army green. Ving Rhames turns in a cameo as her superior, not a reprise of his Dawn Character. The biggest negative about the movie is Nick Cannon. Although I don't think it's necessarily his fault. The character is so stereotypical, it's borderline insulting. He plays the put upon black man that rants about all the things white people do, and has no shortage of attitude and street slang. Why does the black man's character have to be so degrading to the black man? We even get typical mispronunciation of words that must sound "street", even a few "aights" thrown in there. He almost singlehandedly brings the movie down. Fortunately there's a lot more going on. Like I said, the movie never stops moving. The survivors never get a chance to take a breath, as every place they think is safe, is quickly overrun. There are some great visuals here, topped off by several zombies leaping from the upper windows of a nearby building in an attempt to feed on our heroes. Director Steve (Halloween H20, Lake Placid, Friday the 13th 2 and 3) is horror veteran and knows how to keep things rolling. Lots of action, lots of gore, and good scares. I don't know what the problems were with this movie that kept the studio from releasing it theatrically, but it's a shame they didn't support it. Go ahead and rent it, you will be pleasantly surprised. I was.
Transformers..Exactly what meets the eye...and nothing more
Michael Bay has long been a target of detractors who say his movies are long on style, and short on substance. With that in mind, you'd think "Transformers" would be the perfect vehicle for him (No pun intended). After all, no one is going to attend this film for the actual humans that inhabit this world. They are going to see some giant robots blow stuff up real good. In that sense, you get your money's worth. The problem is, that only accounts for about 45 minutes of the movie. For the remaining 1 hour 45 minutes, we have to sit through one of the most poorly scripted summer movies of the year. That's really saying something considering the lackluster year it has been for summer movies. The people in this movie are just not interesting. Not even for a Michael Bay movie. Shia Labeouf (Sam) and Megan Fox (Mikaela) do their thing in relatively harmless fashion. Their characters are the definition of cookie cutter. He's the geek that is determined to win the heart of the hottest girl in school. She's the hottest girl in school. She dates the star athlete, but isn't into his mentality. She has the requisite heart of gold. Of course they'll be smooching by the end of the movie. They go through the motions as actors. Unfortunately, they are surrounded by way too many useless characters. Some are supposed to be their for tension, others for comic relief. None of them works. Rachael Taylor leads a group of high school students that crack the robot's code and discover what they are up to. (ID4 ripoff?) It's amazing that the smartest people in the world, using the most advance equipment in the world can't crack this code...but a hot blonde with great legs can. Only in a Michael Bay movie. When she can't figure it out? Who does she turn to? Anthony Anderson. Who divides his time between hacking the internet, and playing Dance Dance Revolution in his bedroom. John Turturro cashes a paycheck as a government spook is neither threatening or funny when he needs to be. The worst offenders are Kevin Dunn and Julie White as Labeouf's parents. Every scene they are in is cringe worthy. Their annoyance continues into the end credits where they continue to pop up as if we needed more of their inane blathering. But like I said, no one is paying to see them. You're paying to see giant robots throw down. That you get. You have 2 sides...the noble Autobots, and the evil Decepticons. Only a hardcore fan could keep these things straight. They are a sight to behold. However, the novelty of them "transforming" grows old after the first few times. It's one thing if they change quickly from robot to vehicle or vice versa. It's quite another to have long tracking shots of every little piece of these things reforming. We know ILM can do amazing CG work. We don't need it drilled into our heads. As characters, none of the Transformers is particularly interesting. They learned to speak English by watching TV. (Obviously they got the idea from watching Splash. At least they're as smart as mermaids) So they all have their own "personalities". The wise leader, the shoot first/ask questions later hothead, and the token urban Transformer. The villains...well...they growl a lot. They also like to say their names a lot. To be fair, there are couple of great action scenes. A chase between a Decepticon police car and the hero Camaro called Bumblebee is fun, and an aerial battle between an evil Decepticon called Starscream, and a pack of military fighters is quick and inventive. There's also a nice final throw down between the leader of the of the Autobots, Optimus Prime, and the Decepticon leader Megatron. However it is not enough to sustain this movie for it's run time. This is a good 90 minute movie, with 60 minutes of filler, useless characters, childish humor (did we really need TWO urination jokes?), and inane plot devices. If you grew up on Transformers, well then I guess your time is here. It's probably everything you want in a movie. For a movie lover, like myself, it's yet another in a long string of summer movies that are long on hype, and short on delivery. What's worse is, all the best parts are in the preview..and the worst part of all...it's something that I don't care if I ever see again. If non-Tranformers fan boy thinks as I do, and I suspect a lot will, that will not bode well for the movies box office after what I'm sure will be a HUGE opening weekend. But hey...par for the course this summer. Too bad Michael Bay, except for this and Pearl Harbor, I like your movies.
Live Free or Die Hard (2007)
John McClane Lives Hard With A Vengeance!!!!!!!!!
When the original Die Hard was released in 1988, it did not receive much fanfare. It was the 80's, and every semi-celebrity, singer, pro athlete, was getting a crack at being a movie star. Mostly men, starring in low rent action flicks (Hi, Brian Bosworth). Die Hard starred an actor known only for his comedic chops on a popular, chick-friendly TV show. No one had any kind of expectations. Yet, history was made with that movie. It introduced the "everyman" hero. The normal guy who gets scared, bleeds when he gets shot, and is easily identifiable with the audience. Plus it was the most fast paced, edge of your seat, in your face action movie ever made. To this day, it is the movie that all modern action films are measured against. It inspired endless clones and, of course, the inevitable sequels. Sequels are, of course, often inferior to the original. But a sequel doesn't have to be better than its predecessor to be a good movie. Die Hard 2 and Die Hard With A Vengeance, while not as good as the original, are still great action movies. Now, almost 20 years after the first film, Bruce Willis returns to the role that made him a movie star, and delivers once again. Live Free Or Die Hard is not only the most amazing action movie in years, but is the best in the series since the original. Timothy Olyphant leads a group of cyber terrorists bent on destroying the American infrastructure. They completely shut down traffic, crash the stock market, and plunge the entire eastern seaboard into a blackout. Willis' put upon character John McClane is thrown into the middle of the mess when he is told to pick up a young computer hacker who may be involved in a series of murders involving other hackers. Justing Long does a great job as the hacker, Martin, who had no idea what he was getting into. It could have been a cliché role. The helpless nerd that screams and cowers in fear when the you-know-what hits the fan. Instead Martin proves himself a capable young man that, though scared out his mind, rises to the occasion, and stands by McClane even though he knows it could cost him his life. The scenes between Willis and McClane are the heart of the movie. They form a bond much like an estranged father and son reconnecting. But Martin is every bit the sarcastic smart-ass that McClane is, and their banter creates some truly hilarious moments. Also noteworthy is Mary Elizabeth Winstead who plays McClanes daughter, Lucy. She too could have had a cliché role. She could have either been the typical damsel in distress, or the too tough for her own good chick, who generally comes across as laughable. Instead, she strikes a perfect balance between the two. She's is a vulnerable young woman, but she's also the daughter of an NYPD cop, and can take care of herself. At one point she flat out challenges Olyphant's character to a fight by saying "Let's step outside. We'll see who hurts who." And you believe that, given the chance, she might very well mop the floor with this guy. Of all the actors in the movie Timothy Olyphant has the biggest shoes to fill. Olyphant's villain, while not as flamboyant as the others, seems to be the most driven. He doesn't make time for fancy speeches like Alan Rickman's Hans, or give the good guy puzzles to figure out like Jeremy Irons' Simon. He's just totally straightforward. He knows what he wants done, and he wants it now. He's not an especially memorable villain, but he is an effective one. But when you talk Die Hard, you really are talking one thing in general...action. This movie delivers and then some. I must give director Len Wiseman a tremendous credit. There are several virtuoso action scenes in this movie. From a shootout in Martin's cramped apartment building, to a cat and mouse game between a helicopter and a police car that culminates in an absolutely thrilling tunnel sequence, the movie never lets go. Only at the end, when McClane squares off with a military F-35 while driving a semi truck, does the movie venture more into True Lies territory, than Die Hard. Still, it's an exciting sequence that's fun to watch. Finally, I must say THANK GOD for Bruce Willis. What has been missing in modern action movies, more than anything else, is a real TOUGH GUY. Thanks to cgi, we've grown accustomed to scrawny little actors like Keanu Reeves becoming action heroes, because visual effects can make them do anything. (To be fair to Keanu, I must acknowledge the fact that he did bulk up in another of the great action movies, Speed) We have been in need of guy that we believe can kick bad guy tail. Bruce still has the everyman thing going on, but he's also got the tough guy down cold. He is in perfect form in his signature roll. He's tough, cool, and works the "why me?" attitude better than anyone around. McClane isn't in this fight to prove anything. He's doing it because he has to. Because, as they say in the movie, he's "that guy". In a summer full over over budget, over-hyped sequels, this is the first one to deliver the goods. It gives you what you want, and adds more on top of it. In a sense, history is repeating itself. In 1988, no one expected anything from the original Die Hard. Now, 19 years later, in a summer full of overblown "epics" that rest on the laurels of their predecessors, Live Free Or Die Hard makes good on the promise made to us in 1988 with the first film...it blows us through the back wall of the theater. It may not be the biggest movie of the summer, but so far, it is BY FAR the best.
Spider-Man 3 (2007)
Spider-Man 3....the web snaps, and brings us down with it.
Spider-Man 3 is not a bad movie. Just a mediocre one. Very much a been there, done that experience. The problems are many: 1. There is very little actual Spider-Man in the movie. For a movie that is almost 2 and a half hours long, do you realize that Spider-Man himself appears on screen for a mere 25 minutes total? How do I know? Well, I have a copy of it, timed all the various times he appears on screen, and added it up. 25 minutes. Sorry Tobey Maguire, but your Peter Parker is not a very interesting character. Three movies in, and you should have evolved beyond the whiny geek you were in the first movie. No change at all. In fact I think Peter cries more in this movie than in the first one. 2. Sam Raimi has said in public that he does not like the character of Venom. Among fans however, he's a favorite. Many, I'm sure, actually like him MORE than Spider-Man. Since Raimi doesn't, he does not do the character justice. On screen, he's never referred to as Venom, never refers to himself as "We", thus eliminating the whole purpose of the symbiote existence. The goo is attracted to rage and negative feelings? Great. They took the pink slime from Ghostbusters II and turned it black. Venom was what the majority of fans were looking forward to in this movie. But we're given the scrawny Topher Grace giving a performance almost as whiny as Tobey ("Do you remember how you hurt me?"). He's never shown as being as evil and as powerful as he is, even needing Sandman's help to defeat Spider-Man. Yeah. OK. Raimi obviously gave in to studio pressure to include Venom. His heart wasn't in it. 3. Sandman is not a very interesting villain. We're never given any reason for Spider-Man to root against him. The scene with his daughter establishes the fact that he's not a bad person. So when it's said that he really killed Uncle Ben, any person with a modicum of common sense will instantly realize that his death was an accident. They show Peter's nightmares about what happened, but the intelligent moviegoer knows that that's not how it happened. So Sandman's confession at the end is just another reason for Tobey to cry. Plus, he lets Sandman go! He just flies off. What? The death of Uncle Ben may have been an accident, but he's still a criminal. He hurt several people, including police officers, since his escape. So...Spidey will let a criminal go as long as he hasn't done anything to him personally? Sandman's storyline is never resolved, so in the end, there was no point of him being in the movie to begin with. 4. The absence of previous screenwriters Alfred Gough and Miles Millar. They are the creators of Smallville. Both with Smallville and in their Spidey 2 script, they showed that they have a real gift of knowing the characters, and developing them properly. Their absence on Smallville is felt in the current hit or miss season. It's also felt in Spidey 3 because Raimi and his brother are only slightly better screenwriters than George Lucas. They have no real grasp on character development. Tobey Maguire has not matured at all as Peter or Spider-Man. Mary Jane was at her most annoying in this movie. She says to Peter "Everything is not about you", but it's her that seems to have that attitude. "I got fired. Pity me." With Harry Osbourne, we get the cruelest injustice of all...amnesia. It is one of the oldest, and poorest excuses for conflict in a script. His friend-turned enemy-turned friend-turned enemy-turned friend routine in this movie is cheesy and manipulative, because we know it won't last. The resolution to the whole this is far to convenient, and a sell out. I've already said the problems with the handling of the villains, so there's no reason to go into that. 5. The visual effects. They were bad. There's no two ways about it. The backgrounds never fit in with characters in close up. This is especially evident in the fight between Peter and Harry. It SCREAMED blue screen. The CGI doubles for the actors always looked rubbery, and never looked convincing. 6. The movie ends on a down note. It's supposed to be a heroic movie. Even if you look at this as a trilogy, the second act (Spidey 2) is the one that is supposed to end a down note, to be redeemed by the end of the third movie. Here, we don't even get Spidey's triumphant swinging across the city, which in my opinion, is as necessary as Superman's flight over the earth at the end of his movies. Here we get yet ANOTHER sequence of Peter and Mary Jane staring silently at each other (which I had enough of even before the end of Spidey 2), before slow dancing into a fadeout of Peter's solemn face. HUH? Nothing like sending the audience out depressed. Now the movie has opened to $148 million in it's opening weekend. In all probability, it will gross more than $300 million. Problem is, it doesn't deserve it. It opened big because of the popularity of the first two, and some slick marketing by the studio. The product itself doesn't deliver on what was promised. Not by a long shot. Shame. Because it's success will show the studio that they don't even have to try anymore. They can turn out a mediocre product, and the American movie-going public, like the drones they are, will line up, and hand over their money without a thought. So if you, like me, were severely disappointed...be honest. Tell people it's not worth it. Wait for video, because you aren't missing anything. There's nothing here you haven't seen before. Let the second weekend grosses plummet. Show the studio we deserve better than this. Not that they'll listen. But it's worth a try.
Long live the drive-in movie.
Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino have teamed up once again to make Grindhouse, as close to the drive-in going experience that you can have in a theater. The results are mixed. First we get a phony preview for a movie called "Machete". It's a hilarious take on the 70's revenge/action movie. Our first is movie, "Planet Terror", directed by Robert Rodriguez. It's primarily the story of a stripper named Cherry Darling, and her fight to stay alive in the face of a horde of zombies. Cherry is played by Rose McGowan, and for this genre, it's a star making role. Cherry quits the stripper life, and sets off to realize her dream of becoming a stand-up comedian. She runs into her old boyfriend, El Ray, played by Freddy Rodriguez. Cherry and El Ray meet up at run down diner, and pick up their bickering where they left off. But the undead are loose in town, and their numbers are growing. This is where we get into classic zombie movie territory, as we meet individual survivors, who will all eventually meet up at the same place, and fight for their lives.Lurking in the background somewhere is Bruce Willis as the leader of a military unit that knows far more than they are revealing about the zombie outbreak. It's a complete throwback to the campy horror movies of the 70's, complete with a scratchy film print, dodgy audio, and even a missing real that causes the story to jump hours ahead. Of course the most recognized image from the movie is Rose McGowans machine gun for a leg. It's ridiculous and I loved it. This is a fun zombie flick that ranks right up there with the best of them. Let us not forget the gore. We have running gun battles, knifings, impalings, smashings, and of course, severed limbs flying everywhere. If the movie ended here, I'd feel I got my money's worth. However it doesn't, and it's all downhill from here. After "Planet Terror" ends we are shown three more previews for movies that don't exist. "Werewolf Women Of The S.S." is dumb, and the low point of the movie. Only slightly better is "Don't", a take on haunted house movies. Finally there's "Thanksgiving" a rip on holiday themed slasher movies. After that preview, we begin the second feature, Quentin Tarantino's "Death Proof". I'm sorry to say that, for the most part, it's a snoozer. It begins as the story of four very bitchy and uninteresting women setting out for a girl's night out. The cruise, drink, do drugs, and party at a local bar, while engaging in various man bashing conversations. All of this is done under the watchful eye of a mysterious stranger known as Stuntman Mike. Mike is played by Kurt "The MAN" Russell, and he owns every second that he is on the screen. Unfortunately, he's not up there long enough. Even though he is billed as the star of the movie, he's in the whole thing for MAYBE thirty minutes. In this story he gets acquainted with the girls, and sees if they are the caliber of women they think they are. They are not, Mike decides, and therefore they must be punished. To do this, he uses a specially reinforced Hollywood stunt car that he claims is "death proof". In one instant he uses this car to rid the world (and the audience) of this group of air headed women. From here, the story begins again with a NEW group of women, only slightly more interesting than the first group. These women are stunt women themselves, and they aren't the dope fiends that the first group of girls were, but they never shut their mouths. This group includes Rosario Dawson, Zoe (a real life stunt woman, playing herself), and the insanely cute Mary Elizabeth Winsted. Our group of ladies is looking for a rush, and they decide to get it by Zoe strapping herself to the hood of a 1970 Dodge Challenger, as the other ladies sit inside, pushing the car to speeds close to 200 mph. It's here that Mike re-enters the movie, and decides to up the ante on this joyride. He smashes into the car with Zoe still on the hood. It's here that the movie gives us it's money shot. Zoe clings, face first to the roof of the car, and we get a camera shot from behind her, getting a full view of the road as it whizzes under her. Things do not go Mike's way, as the ladies manage to turn the chase on him. It's an incredibly exciting chase scene.The problem is that it takes WAY too long to get there.Mike's attack on the first group of women is hardcore and brutal. It also lasts for about 10 seconds on film. We're shown the crash four times, so we can see (in detail) how every girl meets her fate. We then get another hour of the next group of women sitting around talking, before we get back into the action. Tarantino is famous for his dialog sequences. His characters always have something off the wall to say, and they say it using the most colorful words they can. But unlike "Death Proof", the conversations were usually something the audience could identify with. Here, what we get are two groups of women, that obviously don't like men at all, and they need to tell us that...over and over and over again. So for the price of admission we get one kick ass zombie movie, and so-so revenge/thriller/action movie with an incredibly boring set up, an amazing finale, and Kurt Russell at his coolest since Snake Plissken. Too bad he couldn't completely save the movie.
A true epic of courage and sacrifice.
Ever since Gladiator, we have been subjected to many lesser movies like Troy and Alexander. But now with 300, the bar has been raised even higher. A visual masterpiece, 300 tells the story of King Leonidis and 300 of his Spartan warriors that defend their land from 250,000 invading Persian warriors. Their courage rallied an entire nation to fight against a foe previously thought invincible. I can't say enough about the amazing visuals in this movie. What surprised me the most is the film's use of slow motion. Normally I am wholeheartedly opposed to extensive use of it in action movies. What you usually see in slow motion action movies is things like a character leaping through the air firing 2 guns at the same time, or bullet casing hitting the floor, or people making impossible leaps in carefully choreographed martial arts fights. You guessed it, I'm not a fan of The Matrix, or any movie directed by John Woo. Not that I hate them, but give the slow motion a rest. But here, it actually serves the story and the characters. The Spartans were the best combatants of their time. They weren't simple countrymen who served in battle when they were needed. They were born and bred soldiers. They could easily handle themselves when faced with odds of 3 to 1...or more. The slow motion shows the ease with which they could dispatch multiple enemies without even breaking a sweat. The slow motion also gives an epic sense to the battle scenes that, if played in real time, would simply be a mind boggling jumble. It brings the brutality home. But the slow motion is just part of the visual style. From the great use of CG, to the color schemes, to the camera angles, the movie is a feast for the eyes. It truly NEEDS to be seen on the big screen to be appreciated. There is a sequence that shows the Spartans watching from the cliffs during a torrential storm while the Persian fleet is consumed by the sea that is a particular favorite of mine. Is there a ton of character development? No. But then, you don't need it. This is a simple story of men doing what they were trained to do, fighting for what they believed in against an enemy they knew they had no chance of defeating. Even in the face of certain death, their courage never wavers. They knew going in that they were fighting for something greater than themselves. Zack Snyder is quickly becoming one of my favorite directors. His remake of Dawn Of The Dead is not only the best zombie movie ever made, but one of my favorite horror movies of all time. He turned the genre on it's ear by changing the lumbering zombies of George Romero, and turning them into fast running, meat seeking missiles. Now with 300 he has taken the gladiator genre, shaken it, and given it a life like never before. It's truly unlike anything ever seen before. Hopefully a sign of things to come, 300 is the first must see movie of 2007.
Rocky Balboa (2006)
Rocky Balboa....A Worthy Final Round
There are very few characters in American movie history that are more iconic than Rocky Balboa. Ever since 1977 he has been THE symbol of the underdog. He has been the personification of the never-say-die American spirit. No matter what anybody else tells you, the most important thing you can do is believe in yourself. The film series is a phenomenon almost unequaled in popularity. The first four films in the series all finished among the top 5 box office grossers of their respective years. The fifth film met with a substantially smaller reception. What was supposed to be Rocky's swan song, instead came across as a lame duck. From the stories I've heard over the years, I would put the blame more on the studio than on Sylvester Stallone, and those associated with the film's production. But regardless of where the finger gets pointed, Rocky V left moviegoers with a bad taste in their mouths, and it cast a shadow over what the series had achieved up to that point. But now, both Rocky and Stallone have both come full circle. When the movie was pitched to theaters, Stallone was nearly laughed out of the building. When the news came that there would be another Rocky film, audiences either groaned or laughed. Did the world need another Rocky film? No...but Stallone did. Rocky is the reason the man ever had a career to begin with. He shared people's disappointment with Rocky V, and wanted to make it right. Like Rocky himself, Stallone believed in himself, in his talent, and in his creation, and knew there was a deeply human chapter of Rocky's life that was yet to be told. In spite of all those that laughed at him, Stallone now has the last laugh. This is an amazing movie, and a fitting final chapter in Rocky's saga. The film opens with Rocky in a perpetual state of mourning. His beloved Adrian has died, his son is almost a stranger, and the throngs that once chanted his name seem to have forgotten him. He lives a simple life running a restaurant named after his late wife. He poses for pictures, and recalls his old boxing stories to his diners. His grief over Adrian, and peoples' insistence on hearing his stories keep Rocky living in the past. He feels there is nothing left but memories of the glory days. Then ESPN hold a computer simulated bout between Rocky (in his prime), and the current heavyweight champion Mason "The Line" Dixon. Dixon is a put upon champion who doesn't get much respect because his fights end too quickly, and the world doesn't think much of him as a champion because he doesn't fight anyone that possesses any real skill. When the simulated fight predicts that Rocky would be the winner, Dixon's people come up with a plan. An exhibition fight between Balboa and Dixon would not only provide a financial windfall, but might raise the opinion that people have for Dixon by fighting a legendary champion. Like the original film, this is where Rocky's story and Stallone's story seem to merge into one. When it is announced that Rocky is coming out of retirement, there is laughter and ridicule. No one thinks Rocky stands a chance, and more than a few jokes are made at his expense. But the doesn't dampen his spirit or his drive. He knows what he has inside, or as Rocky puts it "in the basement". When he shows up to fight, he shows that anything is possible if you just believe in what you know you can do. This is undoubtedly the same thing Stallone went through to get the movie made, and he pours that experience and those feelings into his movie. When the final fight gets into full swing, I dare you to try and sit still in your seat. One of the biggest surprises of this film is that it does not make Mason Dixon a monster. He is not out to destroy Rocky. In fact Rocky and Dixon aren't that different. Dixon knows what he is capable of, and has had it with people telling him he can't compete with a skilled opponent. He believes in himself, and only wants the respect he knows he deserves. Dixon is closer to Apollo Creed than Clubber Lang. But the movie is not about defeating the bad guy. It's about the power of the human spirit, and not ever giving up on the things that are important to you, even if the rest of the world tells you to. At an early part of the movie Rocky pleads his case to the boxing commission that refuses to grant him a license. He says that the older he gets, the more he loses. But that's life. But what he has not lost is his heart. He has not lost his passion. It was always there, but just needed the chance to be shown again. He only needed to make everyone else believe. My hat is off to Sylvester Stallone for taking such a huge risk on a project that he KNEW was going to get him laughed at from the start. Stallone is not the box office powerhouse that he was in the 80's. If this film failed, he would've been lucky to get direct-to-video movies made for the rest of his career. But like his creation, he believed in himself, and let nothing stand in his way. Rocky walks out of the ring with his head and his hands held high. Sylvester Stallone can do the same. Bravo Mr. Stallone!
Superman II (2006)
Superman Returns Again!
First I must say the the original version of Superman II is one of my favorite movies of all time. Like all other Superman fans I was anxious to see the movie as it was originally intended. The result is very different film from what has existed for the last 25 years. It is darker, more dramatic, and far more emotional. The restored scenes between Marlon Brando and Christopher Reeve are nothing short of AMAZING! When Superman steps into the crystal chamber to relinquish his powers, the image of Jor-El turns and looks at Lois Lane, and you can almost hear him saying to her..."What have you done?" A lot of the cartoonish humor has been removed from the movie, especially when it comes to the three supervillians. Zod is much more menacing, Ursa is colder (if that's at all possible), and Non is no longer the muscle headed dunce he was before. The Battle Over Metropolis is also improved. We get Superman being kicked into the Statue Of Liberty, and Non receiving an uppercut that sends him cartwheeling into the Empire State Building. The hide-and-seek rematch at the Fortress Of Solitude has been removed, and the ending of the film has been changed. I'm glad Richard Donner has finally gotten to have his vision put out there for the public to see. It flows seamlessly with the first movie. HOWEVER....not everything works. Some of the dialog has been altered, and it doesn't always work. When Superman arrives in Metropolis to challenge the villains, his new line "General, haven't you ever heard of freedom of the press?" is nowhere as good as the original "General, would you care to step outside?" The biggest question mark is the new ending. Which isn't really "new", but is essentially the end from the first movie. Superman spinning the Earth backward was originally intended to be the end of the second movie, and that's why it is here. While it is superior to the memory erasing kiss that Clark lays on Lois, it creates some major continuity problems. Especially when Clark returns to the diner where he got beaten up. Why go back? Who will remember him? The fight never occurred now! Doesn't make sense. But all in all this is a very exciting look into the film that could have been. It's a worth addition to the Superman history. But I'll have to watch it a few more times to really decide if I'd rate it better than the original. But it's great this version has seen the light of day. It may not be the exact version that Donner intended, but it's close enough, and the world of Superman is all the better for it.
This is what Scary Movie WANTED to be!
Like everyone else here, I discovered this movie way back when on cable. When VCR's were the size of suitcases, records and cassettes were the only way to buy music, and the internet had yet to be invented. This is either a love it or hate it movie. There is no middle ground. You either get it or you don't. There really is no plot to describe. It's enough to say that this movie spoofs every single horror movie and genre made up to that point in time. There are endless quotes from the movie: "The library is closed. All white people must leave." "You're doomed!" "What difference does it make?" "Of course we're serious! Why do you think we're dressed like this?" "Great, a town with two village idiots." "I'm a ghost writer. My name's Casper." "Hi. That's some skinny home you got there!" "No we're not zombies, we're loonies." "Awwwww NO!" Those quotes are just a few, and they won't mean anything if you haven't seen the movie. But for those who have, just reading those quotes puts a smile on your face. Admit it! I love this movie, and consider it the very definition of a cult classic. I say we fans of the movie must rally together and form a REAL fan club for it!!!! Who's with me? How much do my friends and I love the movie? Let me put it this way...to this day, they still call me Fritz.