Archive for Movies

Welcome Back, 007!!!

I am PLEASED to say that Agent James Bond, 007 is BACK armed with his license to thrill!  After the rather lackluster performance of Quantum of SolaceSkyfall  was a much needed breath of vitality to the 50 year franchise.  YES, indeed in 1962, Dr. No  was released as the first Bond movie.  I will not detail the plot of the newest installment; however, I will touch on some of the things that made this a return to form.

  • Old Friends: Chief among them was Q.  Albeit a a very young Q but I see great things coming in future movies.  Hopefully, a return to the repartee between the Quartermaster and Bond from days of old.  A few other surprises along the way that I will save.
  • M: Dame Judi sure breathes life into what was always a cardboard cutout.  Instead of the stereotypical head of MI6 who presents 007 with his latest assignment,  she has become a much more dynamic and interesting character.  Skyfall is as much an M-centered movie as it is Bond.
  • BIG ACTION SEQUENCES: These seem to have been missing in the last two movies.  Trains, motorcycles, helicopters and other myriad pieces add to the FUN of the film.  I would really enjoy another good snow ski extravaganza.
  • Supporting Cast: I cannot remember a Bond film having such a cast of well-known performers.  Ralph Fiennes (without his make up as Voldemort … ok so he has been in other movies) and Javier Bardem (who plays ANOTHER memorable villain).
  • Daniel Craig: Maybe the third time was the charm.  Mr. Craig has finally lightened up a bit from the stoic, seriousness of Casino Royale and QoS.  You can almost see him winking at the camera.  Thank goodness, as he has signed on for at least two more turns.

I am hard-pressed to find anything I did not like about Skyfall.  Even Adele’s theme song was reminiscent of the best of them.  The previous theme was another less than memorable aspect.  Perhaps the gun barrel OPENING the show would be nice instead of closing it?

Blah-bla-blah!

Well…. the nephew, niece, and I have returned safely from the Hotel Transylvania.  Rather humorous tale how the trip was initiated.  I woke this morning to find a message from my eldest brother who is still down with SPOTTY(?) pneumonia…. honestly, has anyone ever heard of spotty pneumonia?  The message was sent at 3:43AM asking if I would take Noah since there was no way that Jeff would be able to.  While at work, my brother-in-law was in and somehow I volunteered to take his oldest along.  It was fine, one more would not hurt.

The show was actually really cute.  It centered around Dracula’s (Adam Sandler) efforts to protect his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) from the evil world of humans.  While still an infant, Mavis’ father build a hotel at which only the monster kind could check in.  On the eve of Miss Dracula’s 118th birthday, Jonathan,a young human male (Andy Samberg), happens across the hotel and the story takes off.   How long can a parent protect their child from the world outside?  Could monsters live amongst humans after 118+ years?  Just two of the themes presented in this entertaining little movie.

Some clever bits scattered throughout most notably the cavalcade of misunderstood creatures…. Frankenstein (Kevin James) and his bride Eunice (Fran Drescher); the Invisible Man  (who is a terrible charades player… David Spade); Big Bad, his wife Wanda, and their brood; Quasimodo; the Mummy; and countless others.  I found myself just attempting to recognize as many as I could.  Of course, Noah’s favorite part centered around Frankie’s all-powerful flatulence.

There was nothing too scary about the movie (I would say over the age of 5 would be acceptable).  Noah and Kyli both got a kick out of it as did their uncle.  At least, we all went to the facilities before the movie started and were able to sit through the entire thing.  Of course, that changed when we had to stop at Taco Smell to get a take out for a pregnant mother 😉

Next on the agenda, Skyfall with Alex…. did not know he was a James Bond fan.

A Different Super Power Movie

If you have had your fill of The Avengers and are looking to fill the gap before  The Amazing Spider-Man opens followed by the final film in the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy, there is a very intriguing, very different take on the genre.  Chronicle tells the story of three high school lads who discover a crater which they follow underground in which they discover a glowing object and pass out.  After inexplicably returning above ground, each of the teens discover that they have the power of telekinesis (the ability to move objects with their minds).

One of the interesting things about Chronicle is that it is shot in “lost footage” style.  Andrew (the central character of the piece) has a penchant for filming everything from school to his family life.  What starts out as creating with Legos with no hands soon develops into increasingly dangerous pranks until a big battle in the skies of Seattle ensues.

For me, the most fascinating theme of the movie is the question of what having “Great Power” means to three young men.  It is fun to see Andrew (the outcast), Matt (the “normal, everyday” teenager), and Steve (the Big Man on Campus) experiment with their newly acquired skill; however, it delves into the darker side.  If Uncle Ben had not given his sage advice hours before his death, would Peter Parker have become a hero?  Would Clark Kent have battled for “Truth, Justice, and all that other stuff” if he had not been raised by his morally upstanding Earthly parents?  The timely nature vs. nurture scenario.

A fun little film that I was not aware of three months ago when it hit movie theaters.  There are no big name stars but still a different take on two (at the moment) popular genres.

Rowling Along

Yesterday, Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling announced the title and brief synopsis of her first foray into more adult fiction. The Casual Vacancy
will be a darkly comic novel set in the seemingly idyllic British town of Pagford in which everything is not as idyllic as it seems.  It opens with the sudden death of a popular man whose unexpected demise shocks the town. The battle for his seat on the local council sets off “the biggest war the town has yet seen,” with rich people fighting poor, parents battling their teenagers, and wives in conflict with their husbands.

Given the juggernaut success that is the Harry Potter brand, I believe the world will be moderately interested to see if magic can strike again with a tale aimed at a more grown-up demographic. We have until September 27 to find out.  Since the Potter books were accepted by a large amount of adult readers as well as the target adolescent audience, I think the book will have a moderate amount of success.

Speaking of Mr. Potter, once again Warner Bros. is going for the jugular when it releases the Harry Potter Wizard’s Collection (Blu-ray / DVD Combo + UltraViolet Digital Copy) this fall.

If you have the $400.00 to throw around you can perhaps be mesmerized by the 31 disc set full of the obligatory bells and whistles contained in an attractive display box.  I suppose that if true collectors are willing to pony up the money, then whoever is behind these merchandising schemes will continue.

A Muppetational Thanksgiving

What a fun-filled day full of loving (if a bit wacky) family with so many blessings given to us from above.  So thankful that He has led me through this one of the toughest years I have had to endure with not only my own physical hurdles but hopefully within a few weeks those of my Dad and Chad’s as well.  Chad is having his gall bladder removed on the 1st and Dad goes to a specialist on the 2nd.  I pray that both of them come out of these experiences better and stronger for the experience.

As tradition, I got up and helped set the table for the first of two feasts and then watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade getting a glimpse of some of the best of this year’s Broadway shows and a sneak at the coming Newsies!!!! that would be EXTREMELY fun to see on stage.

Before we sat down to two long tables in the dining room and Mom joined a few of the littles in the kitchen, Alex provided the blessing.  He is serving as chaplain in his Boy Scout troop.  He says he is also bugler but has yet to get a bugle.

After the noon day feast, I stretched out and tried to nap… NICE TRY!  Not sure what we did, just sat around enjoying each other’s company and viewed Elizabeth’s video she made for her honors English or Lit class (whichever it was) a faux trailer for a new version of H.G. Wells’ (not Orson, Jeff) The Time Machine.  And at 4, the annual Drug Cartel of Dallas football game.  And around 5, the Swary contingent arrived for the second feast.

FINALLY, a troop of us headed to the movies to watch The Muppets!  YAY!!!!!! Highly, HIGHLY recommended!  I would pay to see it again!  Everything that I love about the old series and the movies rolled into one and with nods to both.  The new character, Walter stole the show he was SOOOOOOO adorable.  Cameos, singing, dancing, fun for the ENTIRE family.  It could have done with a bit more Statler and Waldorf but still great fun!  Mahna Mahna!  In an interview, Jason Segel (who plays Walter’s human twin, Gary and served as a writer and producer) stated that every generation needs a Muppet movie.  No spoilers just plain, good, FAMILY fun!

Finally, Chad and Cynthia stayed to go to shop electronics at Wal-Mart for Black Friday while the rest of us drove home.

Hope all of you my friends AND family had a blessed Thanksgiving  filled with love.  Do DOO de Do Do! Mahna Mahna! I think that will be stuck in my head for a few days.

Another Pointless Reboot

Well… with our free Cinemax preview for as long as it lasts, I have been able to DVR a few movies I have been interested in seeing.  I always liked the original A-Team tv series but somehow missed the big screen adaptation so that is one movie on my list.

Another is the reboot of the 1984 classic A Nightmare on Elm Street.  I am sooooo glad that I did not shell out the money to see this senseless remake in the theaters.  I thought it would be good for a tv screening, if that.  I admit that these movies are about the furthest thing from high art as one can get but I for one expect to go in and be a little entertained and (Heaven forbid) scared.  Except for a few bits, this was an almost exact copy of the original.  Several of the few killings made me believe that I was watching the original.  The names of the characters (save for our heroine… “Nancy”) were changed from the old movie.

I did not like the new Freddy, at all.  He sounded quite reminiscent of Christian Bale’s Batman growling.  The finger-knives did not screech giving the nails across the blackboard effect.  Instead, they produced sparks as they glided over the steel pipes of the boiler room.  I also did not like the addition of Mr. Krugger’s complete backstory.  It painted him to be nothing more than a pedophile who was hunted down by a group of “justice seeking” parents and incinerated.  OK… so he was in the old movie as well but to actually see it played out?  Not sure of the intent of the backstory but it did nothing to endear itself.

All in all, this masterpiece only almost PUT me to sleep without any fear of the boogyman slicing me to bits.  Should have stuck with The A-Team.

All Is Well

It is OVER!  The phenomenon that began in 1997 with the British publication of a little book entitled Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and continued through 7 books and now 8 big screen adventures has reached its climax.  All I ask is that it ends here.  To go back or to move forward would cheapen what has come before.  I cannot recall a pop culture phenomenon that has endured, captivated, and caught the world’s (for better or for worse) attention.  Millions of children (and adults as well) began reading the novels of “the boy who lived.”  These same children grew up with each page turn, every movie frame as the core cast of the films remained the same throughout the octology.  I found it enthralling to follow Daniel, Rupert, Emma, Matthew, Tom, and the other young actors progress from naive 10-11 year olds into 20-something year old seasoned performers aided by a cadre of many of the finest British thespians.

I dare say that never before (and very likely never will again) has the world experienced the likes of such a series.  Midnight book/movie releases; a game invented from the pages; a theme park; college classes; and I’m sure a myriad of other items devoted to the world have appeared.

I was (as I’m sure millions of other fans were) a bit nervous about what to expect from the printed pages being transferred to movie screens.  Apparently,  the worry was for naught as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 has vanquished several box office records in its path in the first 5 days of release.  This afternoon, I spent the extra money to attend my first IMAX 3D experience.  I was blown away by the pre-movie graphics and announcement to say nothing of the main feature itself.  There were moments that I could tell that were filmed traditionally and transferred but the total experience was breathtakingly immersive.  I would have enjoyed the film itself on a regular screen but after investing the last decade plus in the characters, I felt that the farewell needed to be experienced on a grand scale.  Thrilling, wondrous, emotional (any fan who isn’t moved… well…) action packed.  The best of the series?  Definitely… YES!  However, I like to think of the movies as a whole.  Things that were left out in the transfer to the movies… most notable in the Half-Blood Prince.

Goodbye, friend of Hagrid!  It has been a magical adventure.

Potter Fever

While watching a documentary on the making of the Harry Potter movies, I felt the anticipation and excitement of the approaching climactic cinematic experience building.  What is it that has made this series of first books and now  motion pictures so phenomenal cannot be answered simply.  There are layers and layers of brilliant creative aspects created by J.K. Rowling that you can not name one.  But I do have a favorite aspect of the series.  Character development is so integral to the world.  Not only MUST the big three of Harry, Ron, and Hermione develop and grow but it is so amazing how even secondary characters are almost as important as the core trio.  How many other series contain so many wonderful characters that even the actors profess to being surprised at their growth and the challenge that growth created.

One of my favorite characters, Neville Longbottom, has grown tremendously since his introduction.  In the first 3-4 movies, poor Neville had trouble with even the most elementary of spells.  Who can forget the scene in The Chamber of Secrets in which he is suspended from a chandelier by two cornish pixies (“Why is it always me?”)? By the end of The Order of the Phoenix, Neville has nearly come into his own by joining Dumbledore’s Army and proving his worth.  Hopefully, we will see him grow even more in the final film.

The youngest red-headed Weasley child, Ginevra, has developed from the bashful 10 year old who watched Harry, Ron, and Hermione being carried away on the Hogwart’s Express.  During her first year at the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Ginny was possessed by the 16 year old  Tom Riddle… not a good way to begin one’s education.  As Neville has, Miss Weasley has become more vocal, more active, even so far as to come to the defense of her hero, Harry, on the quidditch pitch.

What would a post from me on Harry be without a mention of my favorite character, one of the most mysterious creations I have ever encountered, Professor Severus Snape.  At the start of term festivities in The Sorcerer’s Stone, the glance that Harry and the teacher share is filled with so much meaning that its implications will progress through the entire series.  The loathing seen in Snape’s eyes will not fully come to light until the final film.  Not only did Harry feel a burning in his scar, it made me tingle.

So… three characters… three SUPPORTING characters who are as instrumental in the World of  Harry Potter as the title character himself.  Just the tip of the wand in the marvelous creation of J.K. Rowling. 37 days and counting!  A Potter movie fest (non ABC Family fest with commercials) will be a fun way to build up to July 15!  Yes… Even The Half-Blood Prince.

 

Yo, Adrian! NO, ADRIAN!

I KNOW that there have been VERY few musicals that have not been based on other source material.  Even in the Golden Age of Broadway, creators such as Rodgers and Hammerstein, Lerner and Loewe, and their contemporaries found inspiration from other works in order to bring “the classics” to the stage. The King and I, South Pacific, My Fair Lady, and Camelot were all based on well established works that came before. Although I was not around when these masterpieces were first produced, it seems to me that they all made some sense and were meant to transcend artistic genres.

That being said, there are times when (it seems to me) that things are better left alone.  While it is only in the developmental stages, Rocky: The Musical is well on its way to becoming a full-blown reality.  The collaborators of such shows as Annie, Seussical, and Hairspray along with Sylvester Stallone himself have already tabled a reading of the work (8 years in the making at Sly’s request) with plans of mounting a production in Germany next year and a possible NYC debut as early as Spring 2013.

While the original series of movies do contain some musical elements (the brilliant original theme, “Eye of the Tiger,” and the seemingly endless montages of Rocky IV), most of the music seems to have been placed in them for nothing more than selling a few albums and doing nothing to advance the plot.  I suppose that the streetcorner crooners in the slums of Philadelphia could have a place in a musicalfied version.  However, I cannot see two men in a boxing ring beating the tar out of each other while singing and being taken relatively seriously.  Suspension of disbelief MUST have its limits although a musical of Rocky Balboa would seem to ask you to do just that.

Goodbye Childhood Classics

FIRST, it was the recent Red Riding Hood which looked totally asinine.  Now, I hear of not one but two updates of Snow White.  Finally today no less, I learn that “the boy who never grew up” is getting a new adult makeover.  Pan is going to revolve around Captain Hook and his partner Smee  who are on the lookout for the title character, a serial killer who preys upon young children… .  DEPLORABLE!  I mean, this story could just as easily been named something else, the names changed to protect memories of childhood gone by.  No… I do not intend to watch any of these masterpieces but when I hear that classic tales which millions of children have grown up on are skewed into such utter trash, then I think it is worth a post!

I just have to wonder who the intended audience is for this rubbish.  Certainly not the toddler set who have been read these tales for years.  I would think that the wise (?) adult movie-goer would be turned off.  Maybe it is the Twilight-obsessed teenage female set?  I just have to shake my head at the very thought of such travesties.  I thought the Jim Carrey Grinch movie was a disaster… at least that presented some resemblance of the classic Dr. Seuss tale.

Is this Hollywood’s attempt to bring originality to the big screen?

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