Friday, November 27, 2009

2012: The Prediction and Review

I have decided to feature a new way of reviewing a movie. I am going to see 2012 in half an hour. I don't know much about the movie, but I have seen the trailer and know it's about the end of the world. I thought it would be fun to make some predictions about the movie prior to seeing it and then see how close I was. Here are my 4 predictions.

1. The special effects will be good, but will go too far. I will say "yeah right" at least 10 times.
2. John Cusack will give his best performance since Better Off Dead.
3. I predict that I will somehow be blamed for the end of the world because of my environmental habits or I will come away with a guilt trip just for being an American.
4. I'm guessing I will give it 6.0 stars or less.

Later that night

1. The special effects were amazing! I have never seen so much large scale destruction before. If you love seeing famous world landmarks destroyed, then this movie is for you. However, as predicted they were taken too far. The main character had earthquakes, volcanoes, and floods on his heels the entire movie and each escape was made in the nick of time.

2. John Cusack, Oliver Platt, and Amanda Peet were okay. Woody Haroldsen was almost unrecognizable as the crazy dude, and I prefer Morgan Freeman to Danny Glover as the President in a disaster movie.

3. I was surprisingly pleased with the cause of the destruction. It was the result of solar flares that heated the earth's core, which in turn weakened the earth's crust. There were no man made global warming implications or guilt trips about using plastic bags at the grocery store checkout line. I appreciated that.

4. Although it was not Academy Award material, it was better than I thought it would be. I give it 6.4 stars. Mostly due to the special effects.

My wife decided not to go and she should be glad she didn't. It is non stop destruction for 2 and a half hours. This movie has to have the highest body count of any movie ever made. If my calculations are correct it was around the 6 Billion mark, which is slightly higher than Robocop.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Witness Protection Movies

I think one of the coolest themes for a movie is the witness protection program. The only thing better than that is when you take it a step further to the witness relocation where a change of identity is involved. I think it would be exciting to start life over with a new identity. It would also be stressful in case some day you came across someone in the mafia who you had testified against. Some of the movies dealing with this subject matter have not been very good but I will continue to think the witness relocation concept is cool and a great plus for a movie. It is a close cousin to the prison movie genre.

Here are some of the movies that use this theme:

Bird on a Wire
Mobsters and Mormons
The Incredibles
Sister Act
The Godfather 2
Charlies Angels: Full Throttle
The Client
The Whole 9 Yards

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Actor Chain Game

Years ago I came up with a fun association game that I call "The Actor Chain Game". This game is similar to 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon , but I have been playing my version longer than that game has been around. I guess that's just another case of me not taking advantage of my ideas in a timely manner. You play by taking two different actors and then trying to create a link of actors who have worked with each other until you can make a connection to the second one. Let me show you how it's done. Let's try to link Julie Andrews and Arnold Schwarzennegar. I don't believe they have been in any movies together despite working in such similar genres. (Yes that was sarcasm)

Julie Andrews is in The Sound of Music with Christopher Plummer
Christopher Plummer is in A Beautiful Mind with Russell Crowe
Russell Crowe is in Gladiator with Joaquin Phoenix
Joaquin Phoenix is in Signs with Mel Gibson
Mel Gibson is in What Women Want with Helen Hunt
Helen Hunt is in Twister with Bill Paxton
Bill Paxton is in True Lies with Arnold Schwarzennegar

This particular combination took 8 steps but there are a ton of different directions it can go. Doing this is kind of like my Rain Man talent. The other day someone asked me to do this and I ended up doing a chain of about 30 people to make the connection and was later embarrassed after when I realized I could have done it in 3 steps.

If you do this as a game with teams, the object is to do it as fast as you can and in as few steps as possible. If you ever get in a bind try to link someone to Michael Caine, James Earl Jones, or Christopher Lee since they are such prolific actors and have connections to almost every other actor. Try this game at your next party. It can be a blast if you are a movie buff and know a lot of actors, but if your guests don't, it can be awkward and difficult for them. Kind of like me at a physics convention at MIT.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Nacho Libre

I watched Nacho Libre again this weekend and was surprised at how funny it was. It was kind of funny the first time I saw it and just keeps getting better with time. I experienced the same thing with Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Mystery Men. Some movies just aren't that good on your first viewing and you have to give them another shot.

I was shocked when I learned that Nacho Libre only got 5.7 Stars on IMDB. Sure, it's a stupid movie, but there are at least 7-10 scenes in that movie where Jack Black makes me laugh so hard that he should get an Oscar. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the movie.

They might have the appearance of riches, but beneath the clothes, we find a man... and beneath the man we find... his... nucleus.

Get that stinkin corn outa my face!

For God has blessed us with a new teacher. She hails from the Oaxaca Parish Convent of the Immaculate Hearts Sisters Ladies Mountains of Guadalupe. Sister Encarnacion.

I know the wrestlers get all the fancy ladies, and the clothes, and the fancy creams and lotions. But my life is good! Really good!

Those eggs were a lie, Esqueleto. A LIE! They give me no eagle powers! The give me no nutrients!

Do you remember when everyone was shouting my name, and I used my strength to rip my blouse?

Then there are Jack Black's improvised Encarnacion and Ramses songs. I think it is an under appreciated classic. I know that I am committing movie critic credibility suicide, but I have to give it 7.3 stars.

Friday, November 6, 2009

GI Joe

I watched this movie late last night and was drifting in and out of consciousness for much of it, which as you know from a prior post is a death nail to getting a good review. I didn't grow up reading comic books, so I am not familiar with all the GI Joe characters. I thought GI Joe was a World War 2 doll. There may have been some cool special effects in this movie, but it didn't appeal to me at all. The best part was watching the Baroness make her dramatic entrances, but after a while I even grew tired of that.

When the movie ended, I woke up and rewound it in order to watch the middle parts I missed and I have to admit that learning that Duke's friend Rex was not dead, but had actually survived and was now the evil doctor was quite a surprise. Oops! I'm sorry. I could cut my tongue out. I can't believe I let that slip.

So if you have an attachment to the comic book series then you will either be entertained by this movie or hate it like many comic enthusiasts do when a movie based on their childhood entertainment doesn't meet their expectations. Speaking of comic book fans, I hate it when I hear that the actors in a movie were big fans of a particular character that they play when they were kids. Forgive my incredulity, but I'll bet maybe 10% really were and the rest are just saying that to brown nose and get the part. I give GI Joe 5.9 stars.
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