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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Category Archives: 1980s

Glory (1989)

Yes. People did go to war over the Confederate flag.

During the Civil War, the 54th Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry was one of the more infamous troupes, due to the fact that they were, for the most part, filled with black men. Some were freemen from the North, others were slaves, but all of them were under the command of Robert Gould Shaw (Matthew Broderick), a commander who is still reeling from the affects of the warfare he’s experienced in his lifetime. Already, before they even set out for battle, there was already plenty of trepidation towards the 54th, because some believed that blacks could not be controlled, or commanded in such a way that would have them prepped and ready for war. Despite this, Shaw, along with his second-in-command (Cary Elwes), try their hardest to not only discipline the soldiers, but even relate and connect with them, as hard as it may seem to do. Some soldiers, like John Rawlins (Morgan Freeman), are more than willing to go along with all of the problems they encounter fighting for a country that doesn’t accept them as human beings, whereas others, like Trip (Denzel Washington), aren’t and want the whole unit to know that they aren’t fighting for freedom at all – they’re just fighting to die. Obviously, this causes problems between each and everyone and all culminates in the disastrous attack on the Confederate fort in Charleston, S.C.

Goofy-looking 'stache.

Goofy-looking ‘stache.

Glory is, as most people say, a “classic war film”. Not to take any spit out of that statement, but that’s sort of true. It’s a very good movie, in fact, and one that shows both the humane, as well as harsh realities of the war. At the same time, however, it’s also a film about slavery, and how two races can simultaneously connect to one another, while also having to prepare for a war that they may not actually win and come away alive from. Edward Zwick clearly had a lot on his plate here and it’s one of the many things that makes Glory a solid war film that deserves to be seen by any person out there who either, loves film, history, or a combination of the two.

But, that doesn’t make it a perfect movie, as some may call it.

For one, its extremely dated in the way the story is told. What I mean by this is that rather than getting a story about black people trying to get by under extreme war-conditions, told by a black person, we are told the story through their white commander, as played by Matthew Broderick. It’s understandable that the reason for this is to show how the black soldiers are helping to make Shaw open his eyes a bit more to the realities that, well, believe it or not, African Americans are humans, too. Even though he lives in a world where slavery does exist (although, not for much longer), he knows that these black men are just as honest and humane as he is, which is why we see the tale told, in his own words, through his own eyes, and in his own way.

However, at the same time, it sort of feels like a disservice to the actual black folks in the story. Why are we being told that these fellas are all magical and lovely people, when we can clearly see that happening, right in front of our very own eyes? Did we really need to deal with Shaw’s voice-over to begin with? In all honesty, probably not, because it’s already understood that Shaw will start to warm up and grow closer to these black soldiers that are under his command. So, for anything else to be thrown on, makes it feel like stuffy and, well, a bit schmaltzy. Not saying that it didn’t happen in this way, but the way Shaw is used as our heart and soul of the story, makes Glory seem like it’s taking the easy road out – rather than letting the story be told by those who are most affected to begin with.

But, everything else about Glory, aside from that little nugget of anger, is great.

Like I stated before, Zwick clearly had a lot to work with here, and he does so seamlessly. He gives enough attention to the black soldiers that matter most and show how each and every personality can, at times, clash, while at other times, rub against one another to create a far more perfect and in-sync union. No character here is made out to be a perfect human being, and because as such, it’s easy to sympathize with these characters early-on – and makes it all the more tragic to realize that, in all honesty, they aren’t really fighting for much.

There’s one scene in which this is presented perfectly when Denzel Washington’s Trip goes on about the fact that even when the war is over and everybody goes home, he’ll go back to whatever slum he’s been forced to stay in, whereas Shaw and his white counterparts will be able to head back and relax in his big old mansion, and continue to live his life of total luxury. This scene, above all else, drives home the point that these soldiers may, yes, be fighting for their lives, but are doing so in a way because, quite frankly, they have nowhere else to go, or nothing else better to make up with their time. Most of the soldiers are slaves, so therefore, they have no freedom to begin with; however, even the ones that are free, don’t really have much to do except still be treated as minorities and non-equals, although not as harshly as slaves.

Mediocre 'stache.

Mediocre ‘stache.

So yes, it’s a very sad tale, if you really think about it. But Glory shows that there is some light to be found in the folds. There’s heart, there’s humor, and above all else, there’s humanity here that shows that each and everyone of these soldiers were, race notwithstanding, human beings. And because of this fact, the performances are all the more impressive by showing the depth to which these characters are portrayed.

Though Broderick’s Shaw didn’t really need to be the central figure of this huge story, he’s still solid enough in the role to make me forget about that fact. Ever since Ferris Bueller, it’s known that Broderick has always been trying to get past that image and, occasionally, he’ll strike gold. This is one of those times wherein we see Shaw as not only a clearly messed-up vet of the war, but also one that has enough pride and courage to still go back to the battle and ensure that each and everyone of his men are fit for the same battle he will partake in. Cary Elwes is also fine in showing that, even despite him being more sympathetic to the slavery cause, still has to push his men as far as he possibly can, without over-stepping his superior, obviously.

But, as expected, the best performances come from the three cast-members who get the most attention out of all the other black characters: Andre Baugher, Morgan Freeman, and of course, the star-marking turn from Denzel Washington. As an educated, smart and free black man, Baugher’s character faces a lot more tension from the rest of the black soldiers, and his transition from being a bit too soft for all the training, to becoming a far more rough, tough and gritty one, is incredibly believable. Freeman, too, stays as the heart and soul of the black soldiers and proves to be the one who steps up the most when push comes to shove and a leader is needed. Freeman, in just about everything he does, always seems to become a leader of sorts, so it’s no surprise that the role here fits him like a glove.

However, the one that shines above the rest is, obviously, Denzel Washington as the rebel of the group, Trip.

And the reason why I said “obviously”, is because it’s well-known by now that Denzel was given an Oscar for his work here and understandably so; not only does he steal every scene, but when you get down to the bottom of the story, you realize that he’s the heart and soul of the whole thing. Without him, this would have probably been a normal tale of blacks and whites coming together, to fight the obstacles set against them, and fight a war, but it’s Trip who’s the one that hits everybody’s head and wakes them up to the harsh realities that is the world they live in. Denzel is, at times, hilarious, but also brutally honest, and it’s his voice that keeps this movie’s humanity afloat.

Now, if only the movie had been about him to begin with and not the white dude.

Consensus: Heartfelt, emotional, and well-acted on practically all fronts, Glory is a solid war picture, that also happens to have a message about racial equality that doesn’t try too hard to hit you over the head.

8.5 / 10

No 'stache at all and guess what? He's the coolest one.

No ‘stache at all and guess what? He’s the coolest one.

Photos Courtesy of: Movpins

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Young Guns (1988)

Apparently, all you have to do to make the Brat Pack look tough, is give them guns.

In 1878, six rebellious young men are roaming around the West, kicking ass, taking names, all to avenge the death of their ranch owner. Their names? The Regulators. But most people know them by their leader, Billy the Kid (Emilio Estevez), the toughest gunslinger in all the land.

Westerns are cool, right? But what about Westerns from the 80’s, that feature stars from The Breakfast Club, St. Elmo’s Fire, and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off?

Uhm, never mind. Westerns aren’t so cool anymore.

Although, as much as I may crap on this movie in the next few minutes or so, there is no denying that this movie can sometimes actually be fun, if only when it’s paying attention to the actual action and nothing but. Director Christopher Cain obviously knows what he wants to do with this material, as cheesy as it may be, but takes chances here because he’s not all that afraid to be a little bloody, a dirty, and in-your-face at the same time. There’s a great amount of energy that’s brought to this flick every time the action pops up, which also gives more credit to the powers that be who were behind this not backing down and slapping it with the PG-13 rating. Westerns aren’t supposed to be pretty, or even lovely – they’re supposed to be ugly, dirty creations where even uglier, dirtier creations inhabit it and there’s something worth commending on the part of Cain for at least noticing this, even if it is for only when the guns are shooting, bullets are flying, and people are dropping like flies all over the place.

Eh. Take it easy, not-Martin Sheen.

Eh. Take it easy, not-Martin Sheen.

Problem is, once the action ceases, the movie’s true problems begin to show.

Right from the start of the flick, you know that it’s going to be corny (it’s an 80’s flick), but the movie really delivers on the cheese, and then some. The script is made out to where these guys think their all tough by waving around guns and talking like rough, ragged grown-ass men, when in reality, they look a little too pretty and handsome to even be considered a bunch of dirty gun-slingers, making them all unbelievable as protagonists. Let alone, ones that are supposed to be some of the most terrifying shooters in all the land. Even if they called up Clint Eastwood, it still would have been hard to see these guys as anything but stars of high school 80’s classics, as most of them were by this point.

What’s even worse about these characters though, is that we never ever really get the chance to care about them. Which is of course to say that the writing for them is terrible, but at a certain point, it doesn’t even seem like the movie’s even trying. Instead, it seems like the creators behind it thought that just by casting these well-known, likable stars in these roles was enough to make them at least somewhat sympathetic, but that’s not what happens here. In order for us to root for these characters, you have to give us more than just a pretty, recognizable face; they need to have something of personalities, and not just any kinds, but ones that are worth getting behind.

Because, for the most part, the scenes with them are just dedicated to constant talking about their lives, women, and shootin’ folks, but it’s written in such a goofy way, it’s hard to ever take any of it seriously, let alone even care. The movie deserves some credit for at least trying to hash these characters out into being more than just stereotypes, but because the script doesn’t work, they seem exactly like that – just a bunch of hammy, macho d-bags who have too much time on their hands.

Not even Jack Palance could save this. Shame.

Not even Jack Palance could save this. Shame.

Speaking of these a-holes, the cast tries and tries again with these poorly-written characters, but just can’t seem to overcome the inherent problems plaguing this movie at nearly every turn. Of course, Emilio Estevez probably has the best performance out of the bunch as Billy the Kid, but even he got on my nerves after awhile. In most folklore that you read about the Kid, we’re always told that he was a cocky, arrogant prick, which may or may not be true to begin with, but that doesn’t make for a compelling lead protagonist. It just leaves us with someone not worth caring about one bit. Though Esteves may have the most charisma out of the whole ensemble, but that’s not really saying much when you take a look at the rest of the buffoons backing him up.

As for the rest, nobody really does much. But then again, they aren’t given much to do, so I guess they could only do what they were told. Kiefer Sutherland spends the majority of this movie either moping, yelling, dreaming over some random Asian gal that he meets for three minutes and falls in love with, and it gets real old, real quick; Lou Diamond Phillips plays the stereotypical Native American character that instead of shooting, throws knives, and goes on and on about his heritage and what his people had to go through, which, yet again, gets real old, real quick; Charlie Sheen has some nice moments, because he’s Charlie Sheen for gosh sakes, but they are very few and far between and doesn’t take away from the fact that he doesn’t have much in him to make this movie a whole lot better; Dermot Mulroney barely does anything here other than look dirty and chew a lot of tobacco; and Casey Siemaszko is just here and doesn’t really do much, which is pretty much a perfect summation of his career as a whole.

Poor guy. I hope he still gets some cash from this to get him through the day.

Consensus: There’s a gritty, raw and sometimes incredibly violent Western tucked inside of Young Guns, but it hardly ever comes out in a full-on, effective form, mostly due to the fact that the ensemble aren’t given anything to do.

3 /10 

Come on, boys! Real men don't cry! You pansies!

Come on, boys! Real men don’t cry! You pansies!

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

Thief (1981)

That “one last job”, never quite is.

Frank (James Caan) is your typical crook in the early 80’s, who’s just trying to make right with his life. He owns a used-car shop, has a girl (Tuesday Weld) that he’s trying to settle down with, and on the side, does a little bit of jewel-thievery. However, he’s an honest guy and doesn’t hurt anybody, so there can’t be much of a problem with taking another job from a head honcho in the Chicago mob (Robert Prosky), right? Well, Frank doesn’t believe so but he’s about to find out that you don’t just take the mob’s money and expect to go on about your day and act as if it never happened. You have commitments and you’re practically “part of the gang”, something that Frank does not run too well with.

Michael Mann hasn’t made a flick quite in some time and it makes you wonder one thing, why? I mean, granted, Public Enemies was no work of art to end-off with and Miami Vice was even worse, but everything else before is what most of us call close to being “a masterpiece” or at least something along those lines. I’ve seen most of Mann’s flicks and each and every one has done something for me in a positive way, even if they don’t always work when you take into consideration the decades that they were made in, but still, the guy had a style, the guy had a feel, the guy had a look, and the guy sure as hell knew how to tell a story, especially if that story consisted of dudes pulling off crimes, shooting one another, and cursing a shit-ton.

That Michael Mann, man.

"Oh no! I ain't getting shot in a hail of gun-fire this time!"

“Oh no! I ain’t getting shot in a hail of gun-fire this time!”

To be honest though, as much as I’ve heard overly positive things about this flick, I’ve never really brought myself to even bother with it. It wasn’t because I wasn’t interested, it’s just because 80’s movies don’t usually work for me like they do with some peeps. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Miami Vice (the TV show), I’m not a huge fan of New Wave, and I’m sorry, but the synths have to go! Probably the closest I’ve ever gotten to liking the 80’s, was GTA: Miami Vice which will always go down as one of the crowning moments in my life where not only did I realize I was a geek, but a geek that knew who A Flock of Seagulls were. Aw yeah. Times were good for 11-year-old Dan the Pre-Man, and then I grew up and realized that the 80’s blew. Then again, the 21st Century that I’m growing up in ain’t much better, so what the hell do I know, right?

Anyway, personal problems aside, I decided to see what Mann was up to with one of his first theatrical-releases and needless to say, it lived up to all of the expectations I’ve gathered from all of the other reviews of this movie I’ve been seeing, and then some. I won’t go so far as to call this “a masterpiece” like some peeps have, but I will go so far as to say that if you love crime movies, this is the movie you need to see right away, especially if you like your crime movies with an extra-dosage of style, color, and Tangerine Dream. Don’t worry, they’re on my shit-list, too.

And yes, you could say that some parts of Mann’s flick is dated, considering that the 80’s were lame, despite them thinking they were cool-as-hell. The score does become a bit over-bearing at times; people say certain pieces of lingo that feels put-on, rather than actually genuine; and the violence could have been a little less used with the slo-mo, but overall, this flick still kicks ass after all of these years. That’s mostly because Mann knows the type of story he wants to make, which isn’t exactly what you’d expect from most crime films located in the same vein. Rather than going for convention and making this a story about one dude pulling-off his last job and the problems with the mobsters he has to deal with, it’s actually more about the problem he has with facing himself and what he has to do for a living. Frank is the type of character that knows he can do so much better with his life, whether it be by settling down, raising a family, and being a loyal husband, but knows that the only way for him to be successful and prosperous in America is to make money at what you do best, even if that does mean robbing and stealing jewelry from high-class vaults. Hey, do what you’re good at, and leave it at that!

It’s more of an inner-battle that Frank with his own set of skills and the human being he can be, rather than the outer-battle with these bastards from the mob. That later-conflict does come into the flick, but comes in later once all of Frank’s stones have been set and we’ve gotten a clearer picture of who this guy is and how he functions as a human specimen. Mann goes for the humane-aspect of this character, but the approach wouldn’t have worked as perfectly had it not been for Caan in the lead role, pulling off one of his best of all-time.

Yep, that’s saying something for the same dude who played Sonny and even Walter Hobbs, if you really want to get all “commercial” with it.

Caan’s always been that actor who’s been putting out great pieces of work across-the-board for decades now, but never really gets the time to shine like he used to. You could say that has something to do with age or the fact that he’s apparently been considered “difficult” to work with, but I just say it’s a damn shame because the man shows us that he can work with any role, whether it be an generally nice guy, or a sympathetic crook who knows what he is and is trying to make something good come out of it. Caan plays Frank perfectly because you always know that there’s more to this guy and that you can always count on him to do the right thing, even if it is just for himself and not for the others around him. Hey, I didn’t say the guy was perfect, just human; that’s all.

But I think people out there reading this will think it’s nothing more than a character-study, with some guns and bullets thrown into the mix. And if you do think that, then you’re not entirely wrong; just know that the flick is pretty damn tense and gets very bloody, very quick, especially once everything starts to hit the fan, big time. Mann is the type of director that can make any plot begin to sizzle and boil just by giving us enough time to let all of the details and feelings settle in, and once that happens here, it’s balls to the walls with him, these characters, this story, and Mann’s sense of style. It’s an 80’s-style, but Mann was the king at it, so watching the king do his work ain’t half-bad if you don’t mind me saying so.

He's straining so hard to actually act. Should have just done speedball'd it up.

He’s straining so hard to actually act. Should have just done speedball’d it up.

The rest of the cast all let Cann do his show and pull it off with flying colors, but they all get to show their skills as well and not get thrown in the background for too long. Tuesday Weld is great as Jessie, Frank’s gal, because she gives us an understandable reason as to why she would want to be with and stay with someone like Frank, and even makes us believe that she could stand up for herself if push came to shove as well. The final scene between her and Frank is a very emotional one, one that took me by surprise because it’s so unexpected, yet, so heartfelt in the sense that it connects two people that we know love each other and are together throughout the whole film, and still shows their dedication and love to one another. Hell, I’m tearing up now just typing it.

The late, great Robert Prosky is very good as Leo, the main mobster that gets Frank’s the jobs and everything and seems like he’s a bit too nice and modest to be such a powerful-figure in the crime world, but once you see his true colors, you begin to realize that the guy is a mean, sick son-of-a-bitch who’s toes you should not step on. Also, he’s a Philly boy and I always have to give out love for that! You’ll also have to be on the look-out from smaller, younger roles from the likes of Denis Farina, Jim Belushi, and William Petersen, who all do fine, but also let Caan do his show, as promised and deserved.

Consensus: Some of it may be dated, but overall, Thief still works as not just an exciting crime-thriller, but an interesting character-study of a person we don’t know if we should root for, all because of how greatly Caan portrays him.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

"You got the weed, or what?"

“You got the weed, or what?”

Manhunter (1986)

No eating of fava beans or Chianti’s here.

A sicko family-killer nicknamed “The Toothfairy” (Tom Noonan) is running wild and loose, and it’s up to retired-cop, Graham (William Petersen), to find out who this guy is exactly is, where he’s at, cuff him, and lock the son of a bitch away for good. The problem is that this killer is a lot smarter and trickier to find than he’s usually used to, which is saying a lot for the guy who locked away Hannibal Lecter (Brian Cox) for good.

Okay, here’s the thing: Everybody knows the story of Hannibal Lecter because of the 1991 flick, but, believe it or not, this one came before and actually let the world know of the flesh-eating intellectual that is Dr. Lecter. This movie is rarely ever mentioned in today’s day and age of thrillers, especially ones with the character of Lecter involved, but it was one of the first and best examples of how you can put a serial-killer and cop-procedural together, and make them mesh so well.

And it’s all thanks to Michael Mann, who practically ushered in a wave of thousands-upon-thousands of shows that remind us that, yes, DNA is everywhere.

If you know Michael Mann, or have at least ever seen a Michael Mann flick, then you definitely the guy ain’t one bit of shy when it comes to showing how stylish he can be and how much he doesn’t care what you think. For some (such as myself), the style can get a bit over-bearing at times, but for a flick like this that seemed like it needed it to spice things up, then I was all aboard and not a tad bit pissed-off. Okay, that’s a lie. Some parts had me instantly pissed because of the corny, 80’s-synth, over-dramatic line-delivery, and foreshadowing of colors in the background or somewhere in each shot, but that just comes with the package when you put Michael Mann and the 80’s together. You gotta get used to it after awhile, which is what I did, much against my initial taste test.

There's a metaphor in here somewhere.

There’s a metaphor in here somewhere. Just look for the color blue, if you can spot it.

Mann’s direction is one of the key aspects to making this movie so great because he continually builds up tension and suspense, yet, never makes it seem like the story/case is ever going to be fully solved. He puts the detectives in the running-spot for completion, but somehow, the killer always seems one step ahead no matter what. You also actually get to feel for these cops because they aren’t dirty a-holes that can’t help but screw things over for others because they’ve got nothing else better to do. Nope, instead, they are just regular, everyday people, who have a job to do, families back at home, and will stop at nothing to complete their tasks and make the world a whole lot nicer, safer place to be in. In today’s day and age where we get some sort of crooked cop in almost every crime movie we see, it’s quite refreshing to see what it was like when we loved our men with badges, and didn’t think of them as scum who love donuts and pulling you over after curfew. Doesn’t mean I still don’t have beef with some of them, but hey, at least my gratitude was with these guys for the longest time, in all hopes that they would get this killer.

However, it’s a pretty hard decision to make, especially when you have a villain that is this cool, this smart, this sinister, and this creepy.

That’s all thanks to Tom Noonan who is not only insanely freaky as the Red Dragon, but intimidating as well. The guy’s got that lanky-build to him where he’s a towering-figure, but skinny to the point of where he looks like a living, breathing, and walking straw. And his looks? Well, let’s just say that Tom Noonan is the sexiest person in the planet, but that’s not a bad thing at all, because it works in his favor by making us more scared by the dude. Not only does he seem like he knows what he’s doing, but also knows how to send a message that he’s not be screwed around with either. Need an example? Try that scene where finds the reporter and tells him a little bit about himself; a scene I’m not going to go on about anymore, because it’s tense, heavy, and shocking, all at once and perfect at declaring the kind of individual we’re working with here.

Also, a lot of the credit for such a bad-ass villain has to go back to Mann, because the guy never over-exposes our villain at all. It isn’t almost until the half-way mark that we get our first glimpse at the guy, and even that’s not saying much since it’s only five minutes of him being a creep-o and getting involved in weird shenanigans. It’s an effective five minutes though, and actually makes you feel like this guy is never going to be found, no matter how hard these cops may try. You actually start to give up hope at one point, depending on the type of person you are, and almost come to the reality that the Red Dragon is going to get away with it all, and evil laugh his way into more murderous-pleasures.

Does that count as wearing women's clothing?

Does that count as wearing women’s clothing?

However, when you stand in the way of William Petersen – not everything’s going to be so easy. Peterson is a nice fit as our main detective here, because the guy has a lot going for him to where we understand the problems that may occur in his personal life, as well as his work life when he has to do such a thing as get in the minds of the serial-killers he’s chasing after. But the guy never seems like he’s losing it to the point of where we question him, his skills, or his determination catch this killer and put all of the murders to rest. Petersen does over-act at times and it seems like just another case of bad writing, equals bad performance, but overall, the guy had me cheering for him in the end, even if it was a hard choice between him and Noonan. Both are great, even if they aren’t together on-screen for very long. Still, got to love when the film just builds up to the meeting between two, opposite forces, and absolutely delivers like this flick does.

The best of the rest is definitely Brian Cox as everybody’s favorite charmer, Hannibal Lecter. Cox isn’t playing the role we all know Anthony Hopkins for, but is giving us his own impression of him, with a few tinkers here and there. With just the short-amount of screen-time, we see how he operates, how he thinks, how smart he is, and how he’s not to be trusted no matter what he may say or do to you that could be considered nice or humane. Cox owns every scene he has and keeps this presence throughout the whole movie, even when he isn’t around. Having a double-threat like Noonan and Cox together was awesome, and just gave me more faith in the baddies, rather than the goodies.

Consensus: As with most films from the ultra-cool decade of the 80’s, Manhunter suffers from some cheese-tastic moments, but ultimately kicks some fine ass when it comes to building up an air of mystery, tension, suspense, and a feeling that you don’t know who’s going to come out of this alive, dead, or barely scratched.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

"I want to eat you."

“I’m building up an appetite already.”

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

Stand by Me (1986)

If there’s a dead body just lying around, why wouldn’t you want to find it right away?

A group of twelve-year-olds who are bored and tired with their home lives do what any twelve-year-old would do to have some fun and an adventure: Go see a dead body. Though they’re a little bit different in terms of their personalities and what each of their home lives are like, they are all pretty good friends with one another and enjoy each other’s company, which is exactly why they don’t hesitate to leave for a day or so and check out what all this dead body-business is about. While on the road, they run into the usual problems such as finding food, getting chased by dogs, getting yelled at by old heads, running from a train on the train-tracks, fighting with one another, etc. But they’re biggest problem may in fact be the local bully (Kiefer Sutherland) who already doesn’t like them and especially doesn’t want to see them at this infamous dead body. Leaving this adventure to be a race of sorts, although, to be honest, it isn’t quite fair when you have a bunch of kids walking and running on foot, against a pack of wild, angry and crazed teenagers that can actually drive. But that’s besides the point. There’s a dead body, after all.

I think I stand for just about every guy when I say that as soon as I saw this movie, my life was changed a small bit. Some others can probably say it impacted them a whole lot more than myself, but there’s something to be said about a movie that has an effect on you in general, regardless of how little or large that impact was. For me, this movie made me realize that not only are the friends around me now, the ones I should pay attention to the most, but that my friends in the future will never be as important as the ones I have in the present time. And since I was at least 13 or so when I first saw this, the emotions didn’t fully hit me until I made my way into high school.

It's like my parents always say, "Don't play around with guns. But if you do, make sure it's back behind a diner."

It’s like my parents always say, “Don’t play around with guns. But if you do, make sure it’s back behind a diner.”

Things were different there – my friends, the overall atmosphere, girls, etc. Everything changed for me as soon as I got to high school, and it mostly had to do with the fact that I myself was getting older and realizing what mattered in my life, and what didn’t. And to me, what mattered was my friends. Now, of course most of my friends from grade school had all but vanished from my life come high school, but the ones that were that important to me in the first place, I stayed with and have been in touch with on a regular basis to this day, but that’s not the point I’m trying to make here. Better yet, that’s not the point this movie is trying to make.

The point here is that while we all grow up, age, mature and do all of that lame, boring stuff that adults do, there’s still a special place in our hearts for the friends that were with us in our early years, when life and everything that came with it was a hell of a lot simpler then. That’s where I feel like Stand By Me gets being young so damn right: You don’t really think much, or at all when you’re a little kid and you’re with your friends, you’re just living, day by day, with whomever wants to spend it with you.

And honestly, we couldn’t have asked for a better group of kids than Gordie, Chris, Teddy and Vern.

Although each of these characters have their own different personalities and eccentrics that make them who they are, they’re still so easy to relate to. Heck, you may even be able identify yourself with one of them (for me, it was always Vern because, sadly, I was “the fat kid”, although lovingly so), and that’s what this movie is all about. They’re kids and the way they interact with one another and just act in general, are exactly how you would have acted when you were their age, regardless of where you lived or what decade you were born into. All that matters is that you were a kid once, because if you were ever that, then this movie will hit home for you on more than a few occasions.

But who really deserves a bunch of kudos from me is director Rob Reiner himself who took the hard task of adapting Stephen King’s material, and not sugar-coating it a single bit. Because what works so well for this movie, as well as for these kids, is that they don’t really hold anything back: They cuss, spit, smoke, talk about boobs, give each other “two for flinching”. You know, the usual stuff that all kids do, but you hardly ever see in movies because too many people in Hollywood are afraid of offending anyone that wants to think differently about what the kids out there are doing nowadays, or have ever been like. And although I know that most of the respect for this movie should also be given to the screen-writers here who were responsible for adapting this material in the first place (Raynold Gideon and Bruce A. Evans), I still have to tip my hat to Reiner for realizing that he was working with some troubling material and didn’t back down from showing in its most realistic, gritty-form possible.

And because that’s the idea that Reiner is sort of going for, the kids themselves hardly ever feel sensationalized as kids that are as cute as buttons. Sure, the actors playing them may have been on the shiny and nice sides, but they never feel like they were picked up out of a casting-call either and just thrown in front of us regardless of if they have any acting ability or not. Nope, these four kids can act and although some of their later-careers may not be able to prove this fact, let it be known that during the filming of this, most of these kids were actually the ages they were playing.

Sort of makes you think what you were doing with your life when you were 12 years old. For me, it was staying up all night, hopped-up on Mountain Dew and playing PS2 until I couldn’t see straight. But hey, that was just me. Some people have had more eventful childhoods, but for me, I liked it simple: Just give me a game console and plenty of soda, and I’m good to go, mom and dad. Now leave!

Anyway, like I was saying about these kid actors, they’re all pretty great and map-out each character very well. Wil Wheaton is great as our main-focus, Gordie, and seems more like a reserved, quiet kid that isn’t afraid to get a bit wild every so often, rather than just a total dweeb who needs to be outside more; Corey Feldman plays Teddy the way you’d expect a younger Corey Feldman to play a loose cannon of sorts, absolutely bonkers but fun all the same; Jerry O’Connell reminds us that, yes, at one time, before he started having all sorts of lovely and attractive sex with one Rebecca Romijn, he was a chubby little kid, and a pretty lovable one at that; and then of course, we have River Phoenix as the bad boy of the group, Chris Chambers.

I wouldn't do it, but that's just because I was born in the 90's. We had a thing called "Nickelodeon".

I wouldn’t do it, but that’s just because I was born in the 90’s. We had a thing called “Nickelodeon”.

Every time I watch this movie, an undying sense of sadness just overcomes me. Not because I miss being 12 years old again and going out on weekend camping-trips with my buddies, but because it’s a true snapshot of the wonderful and amazing things River Phoenix was primed and ready for in his career. Sure, as he got older, the performances only got better, but seeing as he was so young here, and how natural he comes off most of the time, it makes you wonder what else could have came of him and his career. Just a shame indeed, but at least we’ll always have his body of work to go by and show the future generations to come just what kind of legend of the big screen he could have been.

And the very same could be said for this movie in general, one that will most likely live on forever. Although it does limit its scope in being a story a coming-of-ager that takes place in the late-50’s, it doesn’t really matter. This is a film for all people out there who have ever had a childhood and knew exactly what it was like to just take the days as they come, and never, not once, have to worry about what the future held out for them. Because after all, you’re just a kid, so why worry? Just have fun and be with your friends. Because one day, sometimes when you least expect it, they may not be around ever again.

So it’s up to you, to cherish the moments you have with them and never let them out of your mind, or your heart.

Consensus: Funny, nostalgic, heartfelt, and full of all sorts of life lessons without ever being preachy, Stand By Me is the rare film that only gets better with age and can be passed on from generation, to generation.

9.5 / 10 = Full Price!!

Amen.

Amen.

Photo’s Credit to: Goggle Images

The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985)

If any movie theater can allow for this to happen, then perverts are going to be knocking at the door.

Cecilia (Mia Farrow) lives one of the saddest lives you will ever witness a lady of her age living, and it only seems to get worse. Not only is she clinging on to a job that seems like she’s going to be fired from any second now, but her husband (Danny Aiello) is a philandering gambler that thinks every discussion must be solved by either a slap or a hit. Cecilia puts up with this all because, quite frankly, like everybody else during the Great Depression, she had nowhere else to go and was lucky enough to even have a house, a job and a husband. However, life isn’t all that bad for Cecilia once she steps into her local movie theater at least once, or twice, or maybe even three times a day, escaping the harsh reality of the world outside, and just setting her eyes on the fantastical world that these movies create, placing her into something entirely new and imaginative, even if it is only for an hour or so. One movie that Cecilia seems to really be addicted to is this new feature called The Purple Rose of Cairo, so much so that she sees it five times in-a-row. She’s so addicted that even one of the characters, Tom (Jeff Daniels), notices this, walks off the screen, takes her by the hand, exclaims his love for her and whist her away on a journey where they will most likely fall in love and be together, forever. Problem here being that not only is Tom not a real person, but the movie he left is now stopped, without any signs of moving forward, leaving all of the other characters in the movie without a single sense of direction. They just wait, wait and wait some more until Tom comes back to the dull, monotonous life of a movie-screen character, but it doesn’t look like he’ll be doing that anytime soon.

Have no clue why I went so balls to the walls with that synopsis, but once I started typing, I just couldn’t stop. Most of you will understand, and for that, I say thank you, For the ones who don’t understand, then whatever. On with the review!

Ah. The older, abusive, Italian-American husband cliche. Never gets old.

Ah. The older, abusive, Italian-American husband cliche. Never gets old.

This little gem is from the creative mind of Woody Allen who, if you don’t know by now, usually hits big, or misses terribly. Lately, it’s been more of the latter than the former, then again, that will most likely continue to be more common since he is getting up there in terms of age, and he still continues to make at least one movie a year, if not some other ones on the side. But back in the 80’s, Woody reigned as supreme as he could get with acclaimed hit, after acclaimed hit, and it only got better and better when the 90’s rained in. Here, with this movie, the man not only shows his love for the past, but for the present, and possibly, future of film, while also letting us know that it’s all bullshit in the end.

See, while you don’t expect Woody to throw in a frown here, despite all of the happiness, joy and romanticism on full-display, he somehow does and is able to make it work, feeling as if you are in fact watching a Woody Allen movie. There’s plenty of times where you can tell that his love for film transcends any generation, but more so here because he was born in the 30’s (when this story takes place), and it makes you feel even closer to the story, just as much as he probably does making it. Plenty of the signature Woody wit and charm is to be found in the writing, but the cute feelings of falling in love with someone completely out of the blue is what really resonated with me so well, and this is, might I remind you, coming from the same guy who made Annie Hall, Manhattan, Husbands and Wives and plenty other “love and life suck” movies.

And even though there is a romance at the centerpiece of this movie, you still get the idea that Woody’s using it as a tool to get across his feelings about the art of cinema itself; an art form that will be around forever because it has real human-beings escape the world they live in, but yet, is also filled with so many unrealistic hopes and dreams, that it can sometimes be detrimental to those said human-beings’ minds as they will most likely buy into these visions if they begin to take these lessons of these films to heart. While that does sound terribly bleak and unpleasant, it is, once again, a Woody Allen movie, so you have to sort of expect it nonetheless. But even though it seems like Woody may be against, in some small regards, the form of art that is film, in other larger regards, he embraces it wholeheartedly and fully, letting us know that he’s as happy as banshee to be a filmmaker in a day and age like today; and even more happier and thankful for the ones who have came before him, most likely throwing inspiration his way.

Yet, don’t be fooled by how downbeat I may be selling this flick as, because while it does end on a rather grim note (one that I wasn’t expecting in the slightest bit), there is still a happy idea about movies and what they do to a person, for better and for worse. However, Woody knows that movies are supposed to make people happy, take them into a world, and all while informing them a bit as well, which is exactly what he does here, to ever so great effect, all before ending on a rather sad note. But like I said, it’s expected knowing Woody, the die hard cynic.

If that's Newsroom Jeff Daniels, he can stay the hell put.

If that’s Newsroom Jeff Daniels, he can stay the hell put.

Speaking of this being a Woody Allen film, since this was one made in the 80’s, it only made perfect sense that his gal-pal of that decade, Mia Farrow, would get a lead role in this movie as Cecilia. However, even though Woody did this plenty of times for his next couple movies, it still never felt unnecessary, as if she didn’t deserve all of the favoritism she was getting from his lovable, yet, soon-to-be wandering, eye. Because yes, even though they were going out at the time, Farrow still deserved to be in most of these roles because she’s a very talented actress, making it easy for us to believe that she can play all of these different roles, under the same direction of the same dude she goes to sleep with at night. All of that aside though, Farrow is great here in her role as Cecilia because she really is such a cute little darling, that you hate to see it when she’s sad and depressed about the life that she’s been living. Heck, the only time she ever gets anything remotely close to pleasure or happiness, is when she pays a dime to go see a movie, where she is ultimately thrown into a world unlike any other. This may have a negative effect on her mind, her innocence really makes you forget about all of that nonsense and just be there for her when she finally finds the love of her life, even despite him not being a real person; just a movie character.

Jeff Daniels also does a pretty effective job as this movie character, Tom, because while he’s so naive about his existence, it would be so easy for us to write him-off as “annoying” or “a joke done-to-death”. Like for instance, instead of handing the waiter actual money, he hands him the fake money he has in his pockets from the movie, and doesn’t know why the dude’s reaction is so negative. But Daniels somehow overcomes all of those problems and gives us a really likable guy that we would love to see walk off with Cecilia in his arms at the end, even if it does seem highly unlikely, or even illogical. He also is given another chance to show us another character of his in this same movie, except this time, he’s playing the actor of the character himself: Gil Shepherd. This is where Daniels really shines in showing us a guy that seems like a pretentious dick, but one that also may be a good guy underneath the whole facade of this Hollywood superstar. We never know what type of angle he’s playing though, and that’s when Woody himself comes in and gets all dark and sinister on our asses.

Once again, he’s a die-hard cynic. Don’t forget about that.

Consensus: The Purple Rose of Cairo works as a joyful, pleasant and sweet unabashed love letter to the art of movies, but also works as a symbol of love, showing us that the man still does believe in the feeling’s power, yet, also knows that, like movies, sometimes the reality is harder to chew on than the fictional ideas surrounding it.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

The calm before the storm, as they say.

The calm before the storm, as they say.

Photo’s Credit to: Thecia.Com.Au

Eight Men Out (1988)

Seriously Joe! What the hell?!?

Back in the 1919 World Series of baseball, 8 players from the Chicago White Sox were accused of throwing the series away, due to them being offered a butt-load of money. Did it really happen? Is it all true?

It’s a small synopsis, I know. Heck, it may even be one of my smallest ever. But that’s kind of the point: It’s so known and explanatory that I don’t really need to go on. All you need to know is that the 1919 World Series will live in infamy, and here’s why:

I’m not going to lie, but I am not the biggest baseball fan in the world. Do I like the sport? Yes. Do I enjoy watching a game from time-to-time? Most definitely! Who doesn’t? So yeah, of course I know the story behind the whole “Black Sox Scandal” – who was apart of it, what went down and what the outcome eventually was.

And to be honest, I didn’t really need to see it done all over again.

For somebody who comes from a long-line of making indie flicks in his spare-time, I have to give writer/director John Sayles for doing a nice job with a bigger-budget than he’s used to working with, and still not seeming like he goes overboard at all. Usually when little-known directors break out and get a big, paying gig, they get a bit carried away with what they want to do or say with their next feature. However, I don’t think Sayles does that at all.

Instead, where most of his money seems to go is right towards creating of the early 20th Century, where baseball, Apple Pie and swindlers was everywhere to be found. It couldn’t have been that hard considering all he had to do was get a bunch of retro-looking uniforms, find an old-stadium, and get some older-looking stuff to throw in there, but regardless, he does a nice job and proves that bigger, does mean better. That is, in most cases anyway.

Michael Rooker playing a d-bag? No! You don't say?!?!/

Michael Rooker playing a d-bag? No! You don’t say?!?!/

Even when it comes to writing this flick, Sayles never really seems to lose himself and sticks true to what the dude’s made a career out of: Fine attention to enough of his ensemble. There’s a lot of talk surrounding this whole conspiracy these guys have caused and it adds another depth of drama that’s almost unexpected considering we know all of the details as to what does and what doesn’t happen. Every character has a bit of witty dialogue/banter with another character and it feels real, especially when you get two teammates talking to each other and having it almost feel as if you are watching two teammates talk it all out about the game and what they’re going to do next time and make it all better. For baseball lovers, this film would probably the ultimate pleasure, but for me, I could at least appreciate what Sayles was doing and how he just kept it simple and sweet, focusing on these guys the most.

Where I think Sayles runs into a problem with is that his story goes a bit too all-over-the-place at times and never really sets its sights on one character. Maybe he can’t be blamed for that problem, considering this is a whole baseball team we’re talking about here, but there could have been a bit more development on all of them, rather than focusing on just two or three, and getting rid of the rest only to have them show-up in the last five minutes as if they were there the whole time. The characters they do give us to sympathize with, have our sympathy, but not much else. They never really seem to have much of a conflict despite being involved with one of the biggest scandals baseball has ever had to deal with. Should have definitely came off a bit more tense and upsetting if you ask me.

The other problem I think Sayles runs into with this flick is the fact that in reality, we all know this story. People who don’t love baseball, barely even watch it, and couldn’t give two hoots about it all know the story of what went down during the 1919 World Series. That’s why it comes as no surprise to anyone when certain characters in the film are all upset by how they’re losing on-purpose. It’s a bit hard to watch some of these guys put themselves through so much to lose a game, but after awhile, it just becomes repetitive and feels like Sayles doesn’t have much hope for his own material, so he just relied on the typical baseball scenes to cool everybody off and keep them distracted. It kept me distracted for a short amount of time, that was, until I realized that there was no real core to the story’s heart.

It was just one big and simple conspiracy theory that we all knew about beforehand and didn’t find a new life in shaking things up this time around.

Somebody just give him a hug already! And more chewing-tobacco if at all possible.

Somebody just give him a hug already! And more chewing-tobacco if at all possible.

Where the film really succeeds, is in it’s ensemble cast that all do their best with what they’re given. Out of all of the characters, John Cusack comes off as the most-developed and sympathetic player as Buck Weaver, the one teammate who never took money from anyone and still got the blame thrown on him. His character is probably the easiest to get behind and it’s one of the first instances where we actually got to see Cusack flesh-out of his high school, dream-boy phase and actually man-up for once. He’s good with that here and comes off as the best character. The other character I was interested in a lot too, was David Strathairn as pitcher Eddie Cicotte, one of the most complex characters of the bunch. The reason why Cicotte is interesting to watch is because his character really isn’t a bad dude that just wants to be an asshole cause he loves to (unlike some of the other people on his team), but instead, is left with a problem where he knows he may never, ever get another shot at playing big-time baseball again and tries whatever he can to keep it going on and on, until he just can’t play anymore. It’s nice to see that in a character here, and Strathairn was definitely the perfect choice for the role.

There are others in this cast that do great jobs with their roles, but the one I was mostly disappointed in was D.B. Sweeney as “Shoeless” Joe Jackson. Instead of giving Jackson his own movie, or even a big part in this one, he’s sort of reduced to the unsung hero that just sort of sits in the background role that we have seen so many times before in sports movies, and almost never works except if you want the crowd to cheer. What bummed me out about this was how it seemed like Jackson was the most interesting and complex out of the whole team and was never really given that chance to shine and show his side of the story. Granted, the guy was a bit of a dummy, but a dummy that we could have still, somehow, fallen-behind and cheered-on as his world started to close in around him.

Hey, at least the game of baseball has found new ways to make controversy for itself, right?

Consensus: If you’ve seen one sports movie, hell, let alone, a baseball movie, then you’ve seen Eight Men Out without really knowing it. Although Sayles’ writing and casting-decisions does find a way to separate itself from the rest of the bunch.

6.5 / 10 = Rental!!

It doesn't matter who did what, they're all dicks. Thanks for ruining sports forever, guys!

It doesn’t matter who did what, they’re all dicks. Thanks for ruining sports forever, guys!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBCollider

Commando (1985)

Why did we have a war going on in Afghanistan in the first place? One simple phone call to the Governor’s office in “Kellyfornia” and that would have been all. Stupid Americans.

Retired, Elite Commando John Matrix (Arnold Schwarzenegger) lives a small, quiet, and uneventful life with his daughter (Alyssa Milano). He has that for some time, that is, until a herd of baddies show up at his door, blow the place up to pieces, kidnap his daughter and order him to assassinate a major political figure in Cuba, in hopes that he’ll get his daughter back. All in one piece that is. However, John Matrix isn’t one for following the rules, especially when his family is thrown into the mix, and decides to get rid of that whole plan altogether, and go back and kill each and every one of those baddies – one-by-one, bullet-by-bullet.

I don’t think it takes a genius to know this, but the 80’s was the go-to decade for these types of corny, dumb, over-the-top action movies. Not because the decade itself was corny, dumb, and over-the-top (at least not the one in the middle), but because these movies were bad. However, they knew they were bad and asked you to just take them for what they were, and not expect too much. Nowadays, that’s a little easier said then done, especially in the world today where we have shaky-cam, Bourne movies, and PG-13 gore-fests, but back in those days? Man, it sure as hell helped to be an adrenaline-junkie and have an IQ of 48, and this was just the crown-jewel of them all.

Arnie's family days, pre-housing-maid incident.

Arnie’s loving, and caring family days, pre-housing-maid incident.

And who else better to be the ring-leader in it than The Governator himself, Ahnuld?!?! Here’s what’s interesting about this flick though, that not many people really care to think about: This was one of the first tastes that America really, really got to know and love Ahnuld for all that he was. Of course he had Conan the Barbarian and the Terminator to his name, but neither flick really gave him a chance to show what else he could do in front of the camera, rather than just show off his guns and be a bad-ass. This time, he would actually be given a little thing in the movie industry we like to call “dialogue”, and as terrible as it was, Arnie handled it like a champ and then some.

But then again, everybody knows to expect this from an Arnold movie, hence why so many people loved the hell out of the Last Stand (despite not bothering to actually pay much money and see it), but this was the early days of Arnie-Mania, and nobody knew what they were really getting themselves into. Sure, they saw an Austrian man who delivered his lines as if he was reading off of the cue-card he was handed, and sure, there’s not much to his ability as an emotional wrecking-force that could stretch his character anymore than he already needs to be; but does that even matter when he’s as charming and as lovable as Arnie is? Seriously, the guy’s jacked-up beyond belief, and scares the daylights out of me just by a simple glance. But you can tell that he knows what type of movie he’s in, and knows that they don’t depend on him to do much else other than just be goofy, have fun, and kick some ass.

All of which he does here, and to the sheer-splendor of our eyes.

But Arnie aside, the rest of the movie is what makes it so much fun, and considered the perfect example of what “so bad, it’s good” actually means. Everything that this character, John Matrix, does, is completely idiotic and could never actually happen in real life. Yet, at the same time, you don’t care because you’re having so much fun just watching this guy pick up telephone booths; dodge every bullet that comes by him; utter terrible lines like “I let him go”; and take out a whole army camp of fake-mustached men, that also happen to be out-ranking him about 100 to one. Yes, you can probably expect what’s going to happen next to these “fake-mustached men”, and what’s going to happen to Arnie, but you don’t care how silly or predictable it is. It’s fun and stupid, and downright knows it is. It’s not demeaning, it’s just the typical, 80’s action-fest that practically put the large, Austrian weightlifter, on the map. Thank the heavens for that!

Eh, I've seen bigger.

Eh, I’ve seen bigger.

However though, that said large, Austrian weightlifter, with the exception of the incredible amounts of explosions, gunned-down people, and corny one-liners thrown out all over the place; is sadly, the best thing the movie has going for itself. Dan Hedaya camps it up as the Cuban, wannabe-politician, and Alyssa Milano is nice and pleasant to watch in her younger-years (and I don’t mean in that way, you pervs!), but everything else about is so bland, that it actually brings the movie down, as if that was even possible in the first place. Who I’m basically referring to is Rae Dawn Chong, as the sidekick/supposed love-interest of sorts for John Matrix, who gets all wrapped up into this story out of sure luck and coincidence about 20 minutes in, and is fun and vapid for the time we watch her. That’s for a good couple of minutes we actually meet her, because after that, we realize that she’s going to be in the rest of the damn flick and that there’s no way of getting rid of her. Well, that is unless John Matrix himself turns into a uncontrollable sociopath and goes on a complete rampage, killing everybody and anybody who’s around him. I wouldn’t have wanted to see that, but considering how annoying and terrible Dawn Chong was here, I was praying for it more than a couple of times. But thankfully, no matter how bothersome this chick was, Arnie and his grenade-launchers were there to save the day.

Oh, Arnie. What would the movie world be without your mispronunciation of names and knack for kicking ass?

Consensus: While it is ungodly stupid, nonsensical, ridiculous, and campy, Commando is also a flick that deserves to not be taken seriously, and enjoyed solely as an action movie that knows no limits, or laws of physics for that matter, either. It’s the old-school Arnie we love to see and it’s made even better knowing that this is where he got his real start from.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

"I'm back." That's literally what he says.

“I’m back.” That’s literally what he says.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBCollider

The Last Temptation of Christ (1988)

All that I take away is that Jesus, plain and simply, knew how to charm the ladies. That is all.

I don’t think that I’m jumping too far by assuming that just about all of us know the story of Jesus Christ, the son of God, right? Well, if you need some reminding because you skipped CCD or were like me, and just cheated your way through Theology class in high school, then here’s a short synopsis for ya: Here is the story of Jesus Christ (Willem Dafoe). He’s the son of the almighty God that only he, and few other loyal and dedicated followers believe in, however, daddy’s been on his nerves a bit as of late. Not only does God keep pushing his son to do things he doesn’t really want to do, like going out in the world, saving people’s lives and preaching the gospel, but he’s ruining practically any bit of social, or personal life the guy could, or would want to have. But, being that Jesus’ daddy is in fact, the almighty Lord himself, he decides that it’s best he listen, get out there in the world, start speaking his mind, letting people know what’s up and ruffle a few feathers, if at all possible. Jesus does in fact, do that, and pays the ultimate price for doing so. However, there’s a small twist here that dodges away from what the Gospel would have you believe as “truth”.

Because see: When you’re working with Marty Scorsese, you’re working with a guy who doesn’t play by the rules, no matter how set-in-stone or followed those rules may be.

You can't tell me you wouldn't want to hang with that guy!?!?

You can’t tell me you wouldn’t want to hang with that guy!?!?

But you got to chalk it up to Marty’s willingness to take something like this head-on, as controversial as it may have been. Sure, Marty was, is, and never will be a stranger to controversy, but taking on the story of Jesus, our savior, and making a movie about him where he not only is painted as a human, but even has “temptations”, is just downright blasphemous. Of course, not in my eyes though. Many heavy-duty Christians would have you believe that anything that differs from their script of Christ’s life is not only false, but downright evil and should be broken in two, before it causes any more damage to the fragile, God-worshiping minds of our youth.

As you can probably tell, I’m clearly not a huge believer in my faith, despite going to Catholic school for all 12 years of my general-education, but that’s not what matters here. What does matter here is that Marty Scorsese, a guy we all know and love for painting some harsh, violent and brutal pics about the rusty, ragged streets of New York City, for one reason or another, decided it was his time to go in full-on “Christ mode” and start giving us the story of the Bible. Although, as he notes early-on, Marty does not adapt this story from the Gospel so many Christians hold so near and dear to their hearts; rather, Marty adapts the novel that this is based-off of and gives us what some might definitely say is a “humane-approach” to the story of Jesus Christ, and what we may have known him as.

Sure, this is downright despicable in the eyes of the Christians to paint Jesus, our lord and savior as anything else as a man who was more than willing to do and listen to whatever his powerful daddy told him to do, but when you take into context what Scorsese is really doing with this well-known story and “character”, then you wonder why they bitched and complained at all. Surely they couldn’t have not watched a film and got pissed-off about it because the words “temptation” and “Christ” were featured in the same sentence, right?

I mean, they definitely had to have seen this movie, therefore justifying their angry thoughts and complaints about its material, right?

They wouldn’t just jump to conclusions and automatically think that the said “temptations” that the title was referring to was those of the known-prostitute Mary Magdalene, now would they?

Anyway, I think you all know what I’m doing here, and I promise you, I’ll stop my snarky ways sooner than later, but think about it: Had most of those Christians who were originally upset with this movie being made and released to the general-public, actually decided to shell-out some gold and give this movie a watch, they would have probably been happy, since it doesn’t do much to either offend them, nor tell them that they are wrong in their thought-process of believing that Jesus Christ, God and all of that stuff is real and did in fact happen (snarkiness hasn’t ended yet, sorry). Because what Scorsese does here, is that he shows us that Jesus, despite being pushed and pulled this way and that by his daddy and everybody else in his life, really just wanted to break free, live a life, get a job, have a family, tap some fine ladies’ behinds and be like everybody else around him, while also still maintaining his title as “The Son of Christ”. In all honesty, I don’t find anything wrong or even “sacrilegious” about that, do you?

And that’s exactly why Scorsese’s movie works as well as it does; it goes through the tale as old as time that we know of Jesus Christ, and gives us a chance to see just exactly who he was a person, rather than what he was, as a symbol for religion. And though it may have been extremely odd that somebody who is so attuned to gangsters getting their heads popped-off as Scorsese is, to do a movie about Jesus Christ, when looking into the subject-matter, it actually isn’t. Like most of Scorsese’s characters, Christ goes through problems like guilt, repression, evil confusion, temptation and coming to terms with his own identity, and just figuring out who the hell he is. It’s exactly what all of us feel as humans, on a day-to-day basis, and it’s what makes Jesus Christ, in here, seem like such a real person that we could have cracked a few cold ones and shot the shit with, and even dare to ask that girl at the end of the bar’s number.

Okay, maybe he’s not that cool, but he’s pretty damn human, dammit!

"You remind me of a man I once knew. His name was Ziggy, and he played guitar."

“You remind me of a man I once knew. His name was Ziggy, and he played guitar.”

But while the whole “humane-element” surrounding Jesus Christ and practically everybody else around him works for them in believing them as people, the performances don’t do much to help out. Which, yes, is a total surprise considering the amount of talent on-display here, however, I feel like it’s not entirely all their faults. What separates this flick from most of the same skin, is the use of its anachronistic dialogue, where just about everybody here, speaks and acts like you or I would today in the present-day. Yeah, it makes it easier for those to understand just who is saying what, for what reason and to whom, but it makes everybody here seem like they just showed-up for dress-rehearsal, went over some of their lines and had no idea that Marty would be rolling the camera as they spoke in their natural, modern-dialect. At first, it’s a bit weird, but after awhile, it becomes totally distracting.

Instead, what ultimately happens is that we mostly just see Willem Dafoe playing and dressing-up as a Jesus-like figure, although doing a very good job at doing so; Harvey Keitel who isn’t even hiding his New York accent as the ultimate betrayer of the big JC, Judas, who has more homoerotic undertones added to him than I ever caught notice of in Vacation Bible School; Harry Dean Stanton gets to be, as usual, lovely to see show-up as Saul, even though his character is barely given much, or any time to develop at all; and randomly, David Bowie shows up as Pontius Pilate, making Jesus feel like a huge, steaming pile of shit, while walking-off and, more than likely, continuing his large, extravagant party of sex, grapes and togas.

The only one out of this whole bunch that really seems to be on their A-game and totally attuned to what Scorsese has given her is Barbara Hershey, playing the very grimy, very sexual Mary Magdalene that Jesus takes a liking to, if only because he wants her to make her feel better about herself (yeah, right!). She seems to be the only one who finds a way to mix the modern-day sound of her voice, to the old way in which people would have talked back then, without ever seeming like she’s stretching too hard. Not that anybody else does either (or in the case of Keitel, not at all), but she actually felt like the only one who could have lived, breathed, banged and been around during that period.

At the end of the day though, I think where Scorsese really hits his mark with this feature is that he ends it all on a positive, uplifting note. I won’t dare spoil it here, but when you see it, you’ll wonder just exactly why those devoted Christians were so pissed in the first place.

Oh wait, I know why: Because they’re Christians! End of snarkiness, I swear!

Consensus: Though the idea of a movie devoted solely to Jesus Christ and his humane-like ways, may be a sore-spot for some more faith-based viewers out there, for the rest of us, the Last Temptation of Christ ends up being an honest, wonderful and insightful look at the life Jesus himself may have wanted to live, had he been real, or, had he been real, would have liked to do when his daddy wasn’t looking or pushing him.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

The end. Or so we think......

The end. Or so we think……

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBCollider

About Last Night… (1986)

There comes a time when you have to turn-off the R. Kelly, and start talking about “feelings”. Yuck!

22-year-old Chicagoan Danny (Rob Lowe) loves the single life it hurts so much. His co-worker also happens to be his best pal (Jim Belushi); he’s good-looking; gets all sorts of ladies; likes to be the life of the party; makes a good and honest living as a grocery-food seller; and he’s practically just all by himself, but he doesn’t care too much since things seem to be going so well for him as of right now. But one day, during one of his many drunken-binges at the local-bar called “Mother’s”, Danny spots a mighty-fine looking-chick by the name of Debbie (Demi Moore) and he can’t help but fall head-over-heels for her. He gets her name, number and even a date with her, even though her bestie (Elizabeth Perkins) is more than adamant about her decision, especially with a guy like Danny. Fast-forward a couple of months later, and already, Danny and Debbie are moving in, falling in love and getting very, VERY serious. However, once you throw emotions into the mix of any relationship, not only is everything heightened, but when they end, they don’t just float-away in the air; they fall, face-down on the ground, leaving absolutely nobody alive or left-in-place during its wake.

He's so unattractive that he's the perfect wing-man who'd probably be happier than you at the end of his life. Yeah, whatever you do, don't try to be like that guy.

He’s so unattractive, he makes the perfect wing-man who’d probably be happier than you at the end of his life. Yeah, whatever you do, don’t try to be like that guy.

Sounds a bit harsh, I know, but isn’t that what love’s all about? You meet someone, you start swapping fluids, you fall in love and sooner than later, things begin to go South where every bad decision you make kills you, just as much as it kills your significant-other. It sucks, it’s painful and it’s absolutely one of the most memorable experiences a human being could ever put themselves through, but, it’s something we all need to feel and experience as human beings.

However though, I don’t mean to start this review off as any other review I’ve ever done about a romantic flick, where I start getting all personal, emotional while spreading some of my hard-hurting insight of the painful game of love, because truly, this isn’t the type of movie that deserves all of that yammering. Instead, this movie deserves the type of yammering in which I wonder, just how the hell does this flick get a remake!?!? It’s not even like this one is all that good to begin with, let alone, get a re-boot, with new stars, a new angle and, from what I see, a new tone.

But, this is not a review on that movie, and instead, this is a review on this movie, the original About Last Night…, and how it just doesn’t really do much at all with its premise. Sure, the idea of two people meeting-up, going-out and eventually falling in love doesn’t exactly sound like the most inventive, creative premise to ever be drawn-out and shown to the rest of humanity, but when that type of story can be done right, it’s a pleasure for all to listen, learn and see if they can relate to these character’s in any way. If not through their first moments of falling in love, but through their moments where you sympathize with them over the harsh reality of love, and how it’s so damn killer once it seems to start going away.

That isn’t this movie, and although it definitely likes to think so, it barely even comes close. Most of that has to do with the fact that Debbie and Danny are just such poorly-written characters to begin with, that when they begin to fall for the other, we don’t really care or believe it. First of all, it all happens over the span of what seems like four or five months; the same five months that are shown to us in a montage where we get to see them frolic around parks, laugh, smile, kiss, have passionate sex in the bath-tub, eat food, smile, laugh, kiss, frolic around the streets of Chicago, walk around in the nude, and have even more passionate sex, but this time, they keep it in the bedroom. In some people’s eyes, I guess that’s what can constitute “a relationship”, let alone, “love” in and of itself, but I hardly believed these two together for a single second and found myself really trying to see if I could find any reason to care for these two at all once things started to go haywire for their sweet, little budding-romance – but I just couldn’t.

Too much of this just looks, feels and sounds so artificial, especially once we find out that Danny’s dream is to be a lifelong restaurateur, which is not only totally tacked-on by the final-act, but thrown in there to create some spice and anger between he and Debbie; as if their relationship being as bland as a piece of cardboard wasn’t enough to give them reason to fight, argue and practically hate each other as the days go by. It’s a shame to see that too, because I don’t usually try to go into romantic flicks like this, just looking to hate it and pick it apart, piece-by-piece, limb-from-limb, but barely anything was going good for me.

The only real saving-grace to be found in this movie that made it slightly better, just solely by their presences and showing up enough times to make me crack a smile or a chuckle, were Elizabeth Perkins and Jim Belushi, as the stereotypical, loner-friends who don’t care for relationships and just want to live their lives, their way, without anybody tying them down. Maybe more so of Perkins’ character, as she truly is a total bitch that, at times, can be a bit ridiculous with how upset and jealous she gets over Debbie’s newfound romance with Danny – almost to the point of where you wonder if some freaky, lesbo-secrets are going to be unearthed. Still though, as unpleasant as her character definitely is more times than she ought to be, Perkins made her the least bit sympathetic and somebody worth liking, because she seemed to always speak her mind and stick by whatever it is that she said; even if she was just being an asshole.

She's so disapproving, and most of all, right!

She’s so disapproving and right!

Jim Belushi, on the other hand, absolutely steals this movie every time he shows up, and just made me more than happy to see his lovable grin, receding hair-line and alcoholic beverage placed oh so firmly in his hand. Belushi has never really blew me away as the type of guy I’d expect to make me laugh my ass off, just by the sheer fact of him showing up and being “funny”, but with the rest of the bunch he was thrown into here, he pretty much had no choice but to make me laugh and love the hell out of him. He loves to keep the party going, talk about any “broads” he may, or may not have banged in exotic ways, and also just wants to hang-out with his good old buddy Danny, who couldn’t be less concerned with what really matters, and that’s keeping it cool with your bros.

Just another case of a whipped man. Am I right, fellas?

Speaking of this said whipped man, Rob Lowe, god bless his heart, definitely gives it his all as Danny, but nonetheless, comes up very, very short here. Laughably so, too. You can tell that Lowe’s trying to stretch himself out here as an actor and not just get by on his good looks, but when he has to be cool or charming, you wonder if he just watched Grease about ten times before filming began; and when he’s trying to emote and be all serious, it makes you wonder if he’s ever been in a relationship before, let alone in one with a chick. I know, I know, I know! Rob Lowe is definitely all fine and dandy nowadays, and sure as hell likes the ladies, but here, he’s pretty damn bad and it’s hard to watch after awhile. Even Demi Moore gets off somewhat Scott-free because he’s so lame here. Even though she’s not nearly as bad as he is, she tries a bit too hard to yell, scream, shout and cry, and seems like she just heard that her dog died, while also menstruating at the same time. I know that that’s of an image for ya, but if you can draw the picture inside your warped, twisted minds, you can probably guess just how unpleasant it is to actually be a witness of.

Consensus: Die-hard romantics may get a little something more out of About Last Night…, then say, I don’t know, your die-hard cynic, “love sucks” a-hole, but so be it! It’s not a very well-written, nor insightful movie that just gives us characters we don’t really care for to begin with, and never seem to care for, even when it seems like their own world together comes crashing down and gone forever.

4 / 10 = Crapola!!

Okay, I apologize. They bang in the bath-tub, while the shower is on. My mistake!

Okay, I apologize. They bang in the bath-tub, while the shower is on. My mistake!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBCollider,

Blade Runner (1982)

2019 doesn’t seem too far from today. Now, where the hell are those new wave-stylized cyborgs at?

It’s the year 2019, and all sorts of sci-fi futuristic craziness is going on. “Replicants” (or robots, take your pick) that look, smell, sound, and feel like humans are slowly, but surely going extinct, but the ones who are still left around to roam the Earth, are looking for their creator in hopes of making more of these replicants and hopefully prolonging their existence. This is where Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) comes in to save the day, or will he? See, the problem with Deckard is that he isn’t necessarily your go-to cop when you need something done, and done the right way. For starters, he’s a bit of a pissant, doesn’t like his job, somewhat sloppy in terms of his fighting skills, and now, to top all of that off, he’s fallen for a fellow cyborg in the form of Rachael (Sean Young) who isn’t as deadly as these other ones who want to take over the world, but still shows herself to be a threat to the case Deckard is handling, as well as himself.

Well, well, well. Where do I begin with this bad boy? I know, let’s start from the history of all this and how I somehow, someway, get thrown into the mix, shall we?

Anyway, knowing about this movie beforehand on countless occasions, I’ve tried to get through it all, but yet, no matter how hard I may try, I never succeeded in the completion of this movie. I’ve always either watched it, found it to be too slow, and lost interest, or, watched it, wasn’t in the right frame of mind, distracted, found it to be too slow, and lost interest. Basically, they were both the same problems, with the same outcome, and that’s because the movie’s pace really took me for a loop. I can handle slow movies that need to be so in order to build characters, tension, plot, and an overall atmosphere to the whole proceedings, but the numerous times I’ve seen this movie, knowing the hype that surrounds it, I just felt like it was too deliberate for its own good. It almost felt like Ridley Scott wanted to make the definitive mix of sci-fi and noir, that he didn’t really care about much else in the flick other than handling his plot. To me, back in those early days of my film watching/reviewing, it seemed like a stingy act on his part; but now, after many, many movies have been watched, reviewed, and studied, I think it was the most brilliant act he performed on this whole movie’s behalf.

Can't even use both hands. What a softy!

Can’t even use both hands. What a softy!

Well, that and the visuals as well, but that’s another story for later one. Let’s just continue to focus on the plot and the way Scott handles it, especially since it gives this movie a whole down-and-out, dirty vibe that too many modern, big-budget sci-fi flicks are scared to even touch, all because they fear they may scare away the audience members looking for lasers, aliens, spacecrafts, and all sorts of explosions. If you are that type of audience member and if those are your favorite things to see in a sci-fi movie, then go watch Star Wars or Star Trek, and don’t even bother with this movie. Not only does this movie have a slow-as-molasses pace that’s more than likely to have you drinking three cups of coffee in the first 30 minutes, just in hopes of making it through the whole near-two hours, but it doesn’t really have much lasers, aliens, spacecrafts, or even explosions for that matter, nor does it need to.

What Scott relies on the most here, other than his beautiful look of the movie, is the pacing and how it continues to give you more and more detail about the story we are watching unfold in front of our own very eyes; the character’s we are getting to know from the inside, and the out; and the future that Scott’s envisioned for us (originally done by Philip K. Dick, every sci-fi’s go-to novel guy), that not only puts you deep into a dark place where bad things happen on a regular, normal basis, but in a future where it almost never ceases to stop raining. I know, it’s a little dumb fact, but it’s always something I noticed and it just added more to the whole cold and muggy mood of the movie, giving the story more of a compelling feel, and also adding more stipulations onto why these replicants taking over the world matter, and why we should cheer on somebody like Deckard in the first place.

Speaking of Deckard, I can’t say that Harrison Ford was the most perfect pick for the guy, however, something tells me that Scott pitched it to him, and the dude absolutely loved it. And back in ’82, working with Harrison Ford was an offer you did not want to turn down so Ford gave it all that he could, despite the character being a little bit of a sheep-dog in terms of how he puts up his dukes and goes about certain scenes in the movie. See, the odd thing about Deckard, is that he does have this icy-cold front where he’s always making smart-ass comments and not really caring about those that he’s around that may have a problem with him; and yet, he’s a bit of a wimp. Not only does he get his rump beaten-up on more than a few occasions (by ladies no less), but he almost always resorts to his laser gun whenever he finds himself in a rut. Which, in case you haven’t been able to find out by now, is ALL OF THE TIME. And it’s not like I’m getting on Ford’s case or anything here, because he does a nice job with what he’s given, it’s just that the character of Deckard seems like such a normal, average dude that not only does it seem the slightest bit implausible that he would be considered a no-nonsense, take-no-crap cop of the near-future, but that he would be portrayed by the same guy who made a living off of those sorts of roles. Some may say this role is “iconic”, in regards to how he was naturally-written in order to give him more of a humane-feel, which I will not argue against, but putting Ford in this lead role definitely wasn’t the best action on Scott’s choice.

However, that’s just a blip on the radar compared to all of the great decisions Scott made with this movie, so I think it’s safe enough to just let it slip.

Still have no idea where that pigeon came from. Oh well, I'll let it slide by again.

Still have no idea where that pigeon came from. Oh well, I’ll let it slide by.

Everybody fares a lot better than Ford, and that’s mainly because they feel right for the material and live it up in all their campy, over-the-top, 80’s glory. The most impressive out of this cast that I can’t go on any further without mentioning is definitely Rutger Hauer who broke big with his role as the leader of these replicants, Roy Batty, a pretty effed-up and sadistic dude in his own right that proves a great foil for the straight-laced Deckard. Hauer’s a great villain and when you give him a role that he can sink his teeth into, he will gladly do so and give you the type of performance you oh so desire from him. He’s proved it time and time again in the past couple of years, but it was here where he first proved this fact and made us scared to high heavens as to what he was going to do Deckard, hell, scratch that, the human race once he got his hands around its throat. But, like with the best-written villains, there’s more to Batty than meets the eye and when we find out the real being behind what he’s perceived as, then it will not only bring a tear to your eye, but make you realize the type of movie you’ve been watching all along. And yes, I am talking about the infamous “Tears in Rain” soliloquy which totally lives up to the hype and legend surrounding it; which is all thanks to Hauer and his sure genius of making somebody more than they may be originally seen as. Good decision on his behalf, bad on anybody else’s out there who want take a look at this guy already and give him another shot. Come on, Hollywood!

Like I said before though, everybody else gets their time to shine and do what they do best, and it serves as a fun flashback to all of the stars that were big in the 80’s, and how some of their careers have sort of gone haywire since then. I’m talking mainly about Sean Young, but hey, she had a pretty damn solid run for the longest time in the 80’s-early-90’s, and her role as Rachael is what started it all. Not only was she a pleasure to look at, but she gave another character that could have easily been written off as literally “painfully robotic”, and instead, gives Deckard an unusual love-interest, yet, a very believable one since you can tell that guy wants somebody in his life to love and behold, no matter if that other person is a human or not. Pretty weird if you ask me, but hey, I’m not Rick Deckard, and thank heavens for that! But I do wish I was Harrison Ford. That is something I will not thank the heavens for. Damn you, heavens! Damn you!

Consensus: The idea that Blade Runner may not be all that it’s been hyped-up to be since it debuted so poorly back in the summer of ’82, may not be welcomed by most die-hards, but the fact of the matter remains is that it is one of the better sci-fi flicks out there because it pays attention to what matters the most in any good story: Characters, development, story, plot, and pacing. That’s all that you need and that’s what Scott executed perfectly, along with some beautiful visuals to appeal to the eyes.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

Suddenly, I feel bad for Calista Flockhart.

Suddenly, I feel bad for Calista Flockhart.

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJoblo

Say Anything… (1989)

That Peter Gabriel sure has a way with women.

The film follows the relationship between Lloyd Dobler (John Cusack), an average student, and Diane Court (Ione Skye), the valedictorian, immediately after their graduation from high school and how they work out their social differences to become a couple. Problem is, Diane’s father, James (John Mahoney), seems to be going through some personal problems that get in the way of what they have. Still, they just so happen to be in love and know that no matter what kind of curveballs life throws them, they’re going to duck out of the way of them and keep on swinging. This movie has nothing to do with baseball, but I just felt like using that analogy.

The 80’s was a decade where high-school rom-coms ran rampant in the theaters, just about every single weekend. Some were great, and some were not so great. However, others made an effort to try and change the conventions of the rom-coms ways. Not only did they add an extra-amount of heart and depth, but actually gave us three-dimensional characters to root for as well. It’s a shame though that it had to happen during the last year of that corny-as-hell decade.

Cameron Crowe is pretty big hotshot now, but made his directorial debut here with this flick, which was a great way to start off a pretty good film-making career. There’s nothing real flashy or significant with what it is that he’s doing behind the camera that’s really worth noting in the first place, but what is worth talking about is his writing for this unlikely high-school flick. That premise up-top probably makes it seem like the same old junk where we see two little teens fall in love, have sex, do funny teenager things, run through a problem where they can’t be with one another, and end up being together by the end. That’s sort of here and sort of isn’t, but what does make this one somehow different is that it doesn’t feel fake and every single step is takes with it’s story, feels believable as if you’re watching a honest relationship bloom right in front of your own two eyes.

Teenagers having sex?!?!? NOOOOO!!!

Teenagers having sex?!?!? NOOOOO!!!

Right from the start where we see Lloyd call up Diane and ask her out, in a weird way, we are somehow hooked and from then on, it feels like these two are spending time with each other, getting to know one another, and becoming attached to each other, in a real way that any teenager would do. Hell, not even just teenagers, I’m talking about people in general, too! This is a timeless story that shows two kids, falling in love and facing the hard-ships that usually come with young love, but the film never seems like it’s taking any cheap-shots at us to make us feel bad for these two when things start to go wrong. You believe these two together and it gives you a little warm and fuzzy feeling in the pit of your stomach whenever you see them together. Maybe I’m the only one who felt like that, but that’s just me showing my hopeless-romantic side. We all have it, I’m just the first to admit it.

Despite being made and taking place in the 80’s, the film still holds up and doesn’t at all feel like it’s part of that, as I stated before, “corny-as-hell decade”, which is probably a good thing because you can still watch it to this day and relate just as much as kids were doing way back when this sucker hit theaters in ’89. There’s a lot of that pre-Generation-X talk that goes down here with all of the discussions about not having a set future or anything and that’s slightly refreshing to see in a movie that came from the days where John Hughes movies kicked ass. These kids sound like real kids and aren’t trying to be the next frickin’ Stephen Hawkins, Jane Goodall, or Bruce Wayne, they’re all just being regular kids that don’t have any set plans on their future. And when you think about it, who does?

The only real set-back to this whole film was that there are essentially two stories going on here at the same time, and even though they both feel believable and honest, one still took me away too much from the other. There’s this whole story about how Diane’s father is going through scamming-problem at work and even though it fits into the story and makes you believe everything that happens afterwards, it really takes you away from this sweet love story these two have going on and it bothered me because I was enjoying watching them the whole time. Honestly, if the whole film was just about them two having a relationship, going through all of the problems that normal teens do go through when “love” comes into play, I would have had no problems whatsoever, but when you start bringing in another story to distract us from that, then it’s a bit disappointing. Then again, life is random and it seems like that’s the exact point this movie’s trying to get across from the fore-front.

John Cusack was always doing his own thing back in the 80’s and the teen/high-school genre was his area to reside in, without having to move a finger. That’s not to say that the guy didn’t own those roles, but it did seem like he was getting pigeon-holed after awhile and was in need of for a change, which is why it comes as a big surprise that he didn’t annoy the hell out of us here with Lloyd Dobbler, a role that really made him break-out of that mold and start really taking his career seriously. Why? Well, it’s because Cusack is so lovable and understandable as Dobbler, and also able to give him a sense of maturity that showed a man at the top of his game who was getting a lot older than the characters he was playing. There’s this line of sincerity that comes out almost every second he’s on-screen, and you never lose sight of what he wants, even when it seems like he even has. What was so remarkable and lovable about this character was that Dobbler isn’t your ordinary, happy high-school kid that knows what he wants to do for the rest of his life. Hell, in fact, the kid makes a point about not knowing what to do other than try and take up a career in kick-boxing. He’s just one of those kids out there that doesn’t have any motivation to make up his mind now, but what he does want to do is love and to be loved by this one and special someone, Diane.

And what a special someone she is.

Show off.

Show off.

Diane is of course, at the beginning, a total priss that was valedictorian, barely talked to anybody outside of her richy-rich friend circle, and is even going to England for college. Basically, this girl does not fit Dobbler’s loner-type but they make it work through their chemistry, and mainly by how great Ione Skye is here by giving us a three-dimensional character that actually seems like a girl that would fall for this guy, even though everybody else around her has no idea as to why. It’s a shame that the last thing I saw Skye in that was remotely as big as this was a bitty-part in Zodiac, because I think she had some great skill as an actress and did very well portraying a character with so much heart and honesty that made us fall in love with her simultaneously with Dobbler.

Then again, it couldn’t have been too hard to fall for a dude that’s willing to bring out a freakin’ jukebox while you’re trying to sleep. It’s more creepy now, than it was then, but damn, if I was alive back in ’89 when this first hit the big-screen, I would have been using this on all the ladies. Heck, I still do, it’s just that the cops are more than likely to show up than the chick I’m playing the tunes for. Stupid love.

Even though his story-line did get a tad bit in the way of the actual story, John Mahoney still plays his role as Diane’s dad very well. Mahoney does a great job with this material because he plays her father, almost like a friend and the conversations they have together feel realistic and honest, just as many father-daughter relationships usually are. I would’t know because I’m not a girl (yet) but just by talking to my parents in a very honest way about my life and what I do in my off-time, I can see that a lot of this stuff feels real. Also, Lili Taylor is pretty good in her role as Lloyd’s bestie, Corey, and also made me wonder just where the hell she went with her bright-ass career.

Consensus: Say Anything… may have a few distractions here and there in its story, but Cameron Crowe’s assured-direction, honest script, and timeless story that always seems to ring true, makes it all worth it in the end and one 80’s teen rom-com you have to keep a hold onto, no matter how many times you hear that freakin’ song or some dude using it to pick up some chick.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

Oh, and thanks to Cameron Crowe, we now have a quality-band who gives out quality tracks such as this and this. Thanks Cam!

Oh, and thanks to Cameron Crowe, we now have a quality band who gives out quality tracks such as this and this. Thanks Cam!

Hollywood Shuffle (1987)

Where would we be without black actors? Maybe no Django? Or maybe not even the Django outrage?

Bobby Taylor (Robert Townsend) is a young, black male aspiring to be a the “next big thing in Hollywood”. He day dreams about it a lot, talks about it a lot, and even skips his work days just for that a lot, but he soon finds out that it’s a lot harder to be the “next big thing”, especially when race comes into play. Then again though, it’s Hollywood, so what the hell could ya expect when they want you to be the next Denzel, the next Morgan, or the next Sidney?!?

It blows that Robert Townsend doesn’t do much nowadays for the sole-purpose that his career started off with so much promise and inspiration, that it was all but obvious that it would eventually fall from grace and put him back down into the unknown league he was in before. Some may not even realize how much of an influence that guy had over some African-Americans back the day, but he really did, just by making a little film himself. Don’t believe me, watch an episode of Chappelle’s Show, then come back to this, and see where the inspiration came from.

See? It all goes together.

Working at a hot dog shack for the rest of your life can't be all that bad. Probably better than playing "drug dealer #4" for the rest of your life.

Working at a hot dog shack for the rest of your life can’t be all that bad. Probably better than playing “drug dealer #4” for the rest of your life.

Back in ’87, Townsend knew that it was hard for a black person to get their own, little film off the ground so he thought the best way would be to just max out all of his credit cards, direct and produce the film himself, ask his buddies for some help, and see how everything played out. It’s a pretty brave move to pull, a move that helped him out along with his buddies, but it’s also so brave because of the film that he actually created here. This is one of those films that is so funny because it makes fun of the right people, in the right ways. It’s obviously shading a gray-area on liberal-Hollywood that’s all about giving black people, roles in movies like drug dealers, pimps, or some sort of trouble-makers. Rarely ever do you see the smart, intelligent black man that went to Harvard, exceeded with flying colors in the real world, and lived a happy, peaceful life. They’re black, so obviously they have to be gang-banging in some way, right? Well, that’s where Townsend seems to be going with this material, and it’s as insightful now, as it was back then because certain things have changed, and certain things haven’t.

However, the film is most funny when Townsend breaks up the story with his random dream-like montages where he makes fun of certain pop-culture by placing black people in the leads. One skit I thought was very funny was Black Acting School 101, where it’s Townsend talking about this acting school where white people teach black people how to act “black”. It’s pretty freakin’ funny and the only reason why it’s so funny as it is and isn’t as offensive as it should be, is because it’s written by black people themselves. Yeah, that’s a bit of a racist statement to make in a way too, but it’s only the truth here. Townsend and his buds obviously know how to write a funny comedy about the culture they live in and see everyday, even if that culture is their own. Always nice to see that some ddues are able to make fun of others, while also being able to point the fingers towards themselves as well. Need that more in Hollywood nowadays.

A lot of what Townsend and Co. do end up satirizing and talking about, are pretty true and I think that’s where this film works the best in. Townsend, apparently, went through a lot of the same shit these characters are going through where numerous casting directors would try to get him to act more…black. Townsend frowns upon this, obviously, and shows exactly why it makes his culture look even dumber but he also puts a nice frown upon certain actors that do take those kind of dumb-ass, black roles (*cough* *cough* Eddie Murphy *cough* *cough*). Townsend doesn’t seem like he’s mad for this or even vengeful for this, he’s just very tongue-in-cheek and proves some very good points about African-American culture that even still sticks, despite an obvious change in where our movies are going with the usage of black actors, and black characters.

However, as brutally honest and sometimes hilarious this film can be, there was something lacking in Townsend’s narrative structure. The original story here, is pretty boring and your usual “young guy wants to be an actor” type of story that is only spiced up whenever the main character starts day-dreaming about different types of “What if…” situations. Some of them are very funny, but others, are funny at first but then start to go on for too long and get a bit too dry for my taste. One skit in particular was when Townsend substituted two black guys for Siskel & Ebert on their own version of the show, which may have started off very funny and full of promise, only began to go downhill, once it hit that seven-minute mark and you realized that they are still constantly going on about how they snuck into the theaters, stole their own snacks, and are about to get caught by the theater stuff. Funny once or twice, but after awhile; it’s the same joke, over-and-over again.

"So, I guess nobody has the time on them?"

“So, I guess nobody has the time on them?”

The cast is filled with a bunch of people we have all seen in tons and tons of random ish throughout the years, but the film’s main charm is through Robert Townsend who actually makes a pretty endearing character as Bobby Taylor. His character as Bobby is a good guy but it’s really impressive to see Townsend go through all of these different types of styles and pull ’em off very well. The guy also does a killer impersonation of Eddie Murphy and it’s a real wonder why this guy didn’t get any more love after this because he had some true talent to show off. Kind of sucks though, especially when you think about how d-heads like these two are somehow still getting in movies, and you’re still waiting for that next, big break to come your way.

Consensus: Hollywood Shuffle hits the right moments in terms of what it’s trying to say, how smart it can be, and where it shows our culture headed, if we continue this way, but it doesn’t always work with the loosey-goosey narration, and only shows that Townsend was a little bit inexperienced as a director.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

Where DC's been heading as of late, would not be the least bit surprised if they went this direction next.

Where DC’s been heading as of late, would not be the least bit surprised if they went this direction next.

The Abyss (1989)

If this was remade today, it would just be called Aliens in the Water, and probably would have made more than Avatar. Don’t believe me? Fine! Just you wait and see….

A nuclear sub crashes on the floor of the Atlantic, and the motley crew of an underwater station attached to an oil rig prepare to investigate just what the hell is occurring. Obviously, as you could expect, problems do mount: a hurricane rages above, a loony marine is on the loose, and captain Bud Brigman (Ed Harris) is forced to work with his estranged wife, Lindsey (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio). Spousal-disputes aside, shit is still a little wacky under the sea.

What I like most about James Cameron is what he is able to do with any premise. Yeah, he may be a little nutty with his love of the Titanic and Avatar sequels, but the guy knows what can, and just might come out of a simple premise, if you give it the right amount of creativity and fun. Here, he takes what is essentially another boring and lame submarine movie, and somehow turns it into a tense and eerie sci-fi flick that gives you the sense of just how menacing the ocean can be. But the ocean is also a place that Cameron can still let it all hang loose in, no matter what the limitations may be, as you will see with this movie.

After I saw this flick, I did some research on it and found out that the majority of the film was actually filmed underwater in an abandoned nuclear reactor. That’s right: Cameron actually got his whole cast and crew, and made them go underwater to shoot this whole film. Sounds a bit risky when you take ego’s and all sorts of other personalities into consideration, which would also be another example of how crazy and inspired Cameron can be. However, he makes it work. He makes the ocean his own little personal playground where he’s able to do what he wants, when he wants and no studio can stop him because seriously, how are you going to say no to the dude who just did The Terminator and Aliens? Yeah, didn’t think so.

On second thought, maybe the guy isn't so original after all.

On second thought, maybe the guy isn’t so original after all.

This film can be very fun at points but what I liked most about this film was how original Cameron could make it at points. In this flick, we get a cool look at some neat-o ideas that Cameron obviously has had rolling in his head for so long and finally got a chance to reveal to the public. Little details like the cool spacesuits that look like a mixture between the ones from Alien and actual spacesuits themselves, or the concept of having oxygen-infused water that you can just sip on, in order for you to reach superhuman lengths in the ocean, or how the aliens in this flick, aren’t actually mean or evil creatures, they’re nice and love to help out fellow humans. Not only do they look freakin’ cool, but they also show a lot of compassion, sort of like fellow human-beings. It’s a surprise that more people didn’t hop on the bandwagon after this and make more “alien friendly sci-fi movies”, because they could have really worked and turned-on a new generation to making sci-fi movies. Because just juggle this idea in your heads: are they really that mean and terrible?

As usual with all Cameron films, no matter when they were filmed, the visuals are absolutely outstanding. I knew that this film won the Oscar back in 1989 for Best Visual Effects, but that’s 1989 and that doesn’t really mean diddly-squat now. Surprisingly though, the visuals still hold-up today and every time the aliens would show up in the story, everything just started to look so much more beautiful and blue. Probably best combination to have out there: beautiful and blue. It’s something that Cameron works best with, obviously.

As is always the problems with other Jimmy Cameron films, the action and special effects may be rad and awesome, but the scripts always seem to suck, therefore: taking everything else down with them. This film is no exception to that convention, which meant that the eyes rolled pretty much after every single line these characters uttered out their mouths. Every piece of dialogue that tries to sound funny, hip, or cool, just comes off as terribly corny. And even whenever the film does try to get sentimental and show certain relationships between people in this submarine, it fails at bringing any emotions whatsoever. It all just felt so damn 80’s to me (no-brainer), to the point where I just wanted them to be able to do something cool and exciting, without them opening up their mouths. Sadly, they did and that’s when I started getting annoyed.

Probably the worst, and most memorable scene out of this whole flick has to be when a character, not giving away who, tries to revive another character by using CPR for over 10 minutes and then comes back to life, only after that same character yells “FIGHT!” to them. It was such a terribly corny scene and it made me laugh my ass off the whole way through because this film was so serious and even though Cameron knows how to direct: he sure as hell can’t write. Then again, I guess it doesn’t matter to him because the dude freakin’ takes showers in $100 bills everyday, without giving any damn whatsoever. Lucky son of a bitch. Practically stole my life over there.

"Anybody want to start drinking?"

“Anybody want to start drinking?”

It was surprising to see Ed Harris not only play a lead role in a movie, but also play a character that’s likable and considered a hero. Nonetheless, the guy’s still solid as Bud Brigman and makes it easy to root for him whenever he seems like he’s done for good. You need that in a hero, even if it never seems like he makes any drastic-decisions that could potentially harm the rest of his crew in anyway. He always seems to know what to do next, and it kind of got bothersome after awhile, since we pretty much knew that nothing could stand in this guy’s way. Not even a shark. Then again, highly doubt they would be able to do anything to a submarine. But I digress.

Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio is fine as his ex-wife, Lindsey, but her character is so annoying and bitchy that I got to a point of where I wanted her to just get killed off somehow. And trust me, there were a couple of close calls for her character in this movie. Not close enough in my opinion, but that’s just me. Cameron-regular Michael Biehn is also here as the completely psycho head SEAL and it makes me wonder just where the hell this guy has been after all of these years. Dude needs to team-up with Cameron again for these countless Avatar sequels that were apparently getting, as it will probably get his career back on the high-rise. All of the performances that I’ve already mentioned, along with plenty of others, are good but the script tears them down to pieces after awhile, and makes it seem like everybody just got out of a stage-play for Shakespeare.

Consensus: The Abyss suffers from some terrible writing (that’s James Cameron for ya), but still has plenty of inspired ideas straight from Cameron’s goofy head, exciting scenes that seem to all take place underwater, and a bunch of beautiful visuals that still hold up today, even against Avatar. Actually, no: Avatar looks better. Lot better.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

"Well, if we die soon, wanna rekindle the marriage and go out swinging?"

“Well, if we die soon, wanna rekindle the marriage and go out swinging?”

Pretty in Pink (1986)

“It only matters what’s on the inside that counts”, is total bullshit. It’s all about the Benjamin’s, baby!

Andie Walsh (Molly Ringwald) is one of those teenagers that doesn’t seem to fit in because she isn’t rich, she isn’t in with “the crowd”, and just goes about her day all by her lonesome. She has one friend named Duckie (Jon Cryer), but he wants more than she can give him. What Andie is more concerned with is finding her love and also, a date to the prom. Rich, prepped-up tool Blane (Andrew McCarthy), may just be the solution to that. However, he’s rich and fits in with “the crowd”, whereas she doesn’t. Adolescent problems ensue.

No matter what you may have to say about the 80’s, whether it’d be positive or negative, there is no denying that John Hughes makes that decade, what it is known as today: angst-ridden, cool, well-dressed, and very, very hip, in it’s own 80’s way. Watching any of his films and just listening to the dialogue, is what made the guy so damn special in the first-place and listening to them still, all of these years later, makes you wonder; what would he have done to this generation, had he been around? Questions, questions, questions! But what we do know is that the guy was great at writing movies, and this one shows no different.

I’m not going to lie, this definitely isn’t my favorite John Hughes movie, but it still has everything I love from them all: nice dialogue. Everything in this movie may be dated, cheesy, and outrageous, but Hughes’ dialogue still keeps it grounded in some form of reality where we feel like we know exactly what these kids are talking about and going through. Sure, the times have changed what with cellphones, Twitter, Facebook, and the Harlem Shake and all, but every teen still feels the same emotions that these ones were back in the day, and it’s great to see that personified in a way that’s not mean or nice, it’s just realistic.

You can usually tell who the weirdo's are by the glasses they were...

You can usually tell who the outcasts are by the glasses they were…

Maybe I’m giving a bit too much credit to this movie, but for the longest-time, everything that Hughes was throwing at me, I was falling right for. Not all of it works and you can totally tell that some lines probably sounded better in Hughes’ head then they may have come out in the actual movie itself, but it’s always compelling and rather entertaining to watch a bunch of teenagers just talk about the things that matter: money, love, boys, girls, clothes, and prom. Most movies that deal with social-classes and how high-school can be so darn destructive about them, sort of blow-pass the real meaning of what they are all about in that setting, but not this movie. Hughes shows how vindictive people can be, especially ones from high-school and how it doesn’t matter if you have a good heart, love animals, and enjoy picking up trash in public parks on the weekends, if you’re still apart of the geek squad, you’re most likely going to get yo ass kicked by some preppies or jocks. Either way, you’re not like and that’s the honesty I was talking about with this movie. It shows you that Hughes knows what he wants to present and knows exactly what he wants to say. Doesn’t always hit, but when it does, you feel it in more ways than one.

That’s also why it’s so disappointing to see the turn that this movie takes, out of nowhere, into total and complete unbelievableland. Everything before the last 15 minutes was, as you can probably tell by the first-half of this review, very good and kept me entertained, as well surprised by the depth that Hughes was able to enter without seeming too serious. Then, he loses all control and allows this movie to just seem utterly obvious and stupid. Without giving anything away to the peeps out there who haven’t seen this 80’s prized-treasure, a bunch of people that dick eachother over throughout the vast majority of the flick, start to all of a sudden forgive one another and even worse: start using that “L word”. No, not the show, but you know what I mean.

In most movies, that “L word” feels realistic and well-used, but in this movie, not a single-bit. It just seems like Hughes had this script all written-out, the ending and everything, and then Hollywood or whoever decided to put their filthy, stinking noses into it and ruin what could have been a way smarter, way more likeable, way more believable flick. Instead, they ended it with the typical, high-school fluff that most of these flicks go for and it’s as disappointing as it is stupid. Whoever’s to blame for this, I curse you! Okay, time to mellow out now.

A lot of people get on Molly Ringwald’s case as an actress because she showed-up in all of Hughes’ premiere, high-school flicks but you gotta give some credit to the girl; she’s actually very good. She’s played the stuck-up prude, she’s played the loner, and now she’s played the poor, outcast and all sides of her have shown very well. Her performance here as Andie is great because you really feel for with everything she’s going through, not just as a teenager, but as a person that wants love and wants acceptance, but just can’t find it. I like how sassy Ringwald could be, but also how understandable she could be of the things around her and the type of environment she was surrounded-by. She seems a lot smarter than most people would give her credit for, and for that, I have to give her major kudos because it’s not very often you see a smart, teenaged-girl in a movie about high-school and falling in love. That John Hughes. He always knew how to write ’em.

See what I mean?

See what I mean?

Another person in this cast that kicks ass is Jon Cryer as her bestie, Duckie. Cryer is the type of dude we all is hilarious by now, but back in those days, he was just getting started and he was a true breath of fresh air to watch as Duckie. Duckie’s cool, swift, suave, and charismatic, but also a nice guy that wants nothing but the best for Andie, and it’s a shame that she won’t give him that time, of that very specific-day. We feel for this guy, more and more as the flick goes on, and at the end of the day: we want him to walk-away with the girl, even if he doesn’t stand a chance in doing so.

Even though these two are great, the one who really sticks out like a sore thumb is Andrew McCarthy as Blane. McCarthy is so dull, so uninspired, and so boring, that it honestly is a wonder why any person in their right frame-of-mind would fall for such a sap like him. But then I remember; he has money! Oh yeah, that’s right! Basically, he’s one of those guys that just so happens to be Mr. Charming and the knight in shining armor, despite him not being able to bring anything to the table at all. He’s just a doofus and to watch him try to win over the heart of Andie, was as stupid as it could get. I would have liked it more if James Spader took this role over instead, even if Spader is pretty damn fun to watch as the high-school jerk-bag, Steff, who gets what he wants, when he wants it, and just schmoozes his way all throughout high-school, with a trusty-cigarette always located in his hand. He’s what cool is all about. Not this loser Blane.

Consensus: Although it may harbor some interesting and smart ideas about growing-up and finding love as a teenager, Pretty in Pink still loses itself by the end when everything gets overly-sappy and overly-annoying. However, it’s still an entertaining flick to watch that has aged-well in most parts. Not all, but most.

6.5 / 10 = Rental!!

Now that's the real preppie!

Now that’s a real preppie!

The Elephant Man (1980)

It’s like Forrest Gump, had it been directed by David Lynch. And instead of a box of chocolates, it was life-like bunny rabbits.

Rescued from his degrading life as a circus freak, John Merrick (John Hurt) is given a chance by a dedicated surgeon (Anthony Hopkins) to live his last years with comfort, respect, and dignity. But since life has not been so kind to John Merrick, he finds it hard to open-up to the rest of the world and let others in. Then again, can ya blame him when you look like this?!?!

David Lynch is a guy that I can never wrap my head around as to whether or not I like him, or just find him bat-shit crazy. Mulholland Drive had me for the first hour or so, then just totally lost me after about the box came into play; Dune just sucked and was a film I wish I couldn’t understand, just to add some more interest to it; Wild at Heart is strange, but very engrossing with its themes and different genres; and Blue Velvet is a very strange, dark tale that worked for me mainly because of Dennis Hopper. I know, I haven’t seen all of his movies, but from what I have seen, it’s been a pretty tough act to love, let alone enjoy. However, I think I can add this one to the list of “good Lynch movies” or “enjoyably pleasant ones”.

What sets this film apart from all of Lynch’s other flicks is that it’s not all that concerned with messing with the minds of the audience, as much as it’s actually more concerned about creating a story about a man that has an obvious set-back in his life, but finds anyway possible to get past that and live the life he wants to. Lynch focuses on Merrick and gives us a story that is not only inspiring, but is also very true in the questions and ideas it brings up about how it is to be human. People look at Merrick and see an “animal”, or a “creature”, and write him off as “stupid” just because of the way he looks. However, like every idiot-savant in movies like this (in real-life, I don’t know if they exist), we start to see more of a human-being behind the look and it’s an mesmerizing thing to watch.

Some form of the KKK, I guess.

The KKK for those who are less-fortunate than us.

However, that is definitely not the case because once Merrick starts to actually talk, we all start to realize that this man is brilliant and one that many of us should look up to considering he doesn’t once ask for any pity whatsoever. Nope, this guy just wants to move on with his life and get past the fact that everywhere he goes, somebody will be staring at him and try wondering what the hell is up with his face and body. To be honest, I’d wonder and probably stare too, but I wouldn’t be as rude about it as some of these people are because I’d realize something fairly quickly: this guy’s a human-being and has feelings like any other human. It’s very hard for anybody to feel and act like this in life, and it’s even harder for a guy like Merrick, but he somehow lives this life-style the whole way through and you are ultimately pulled in right from the start. This is mostly thanks to Lynch’s directing skills because he’s able to play everything straight, while still have a little bit of his weirdness here and there. But Lynch never loses himself and always keep his heart in the right place to give us a story that is one for us all to remember and feel touched by. Sounds strange that this is coming from the same dude who gave us a Naomi Watts lesbian scene, but that’s the whole beauty of this film and what Lynch can do as a director.

But also, that was also my one big problem with this flick. See, as much as Lynch dedicated this flick to being one hell of a story about a man with problems, he still brings in all of these freak-show elements that kind of make this film more confusing than it has any right to be. The first five minutes, we get the signature, Lynch freak-out scene but then it doesn’t come around again until the middle, where Lynch starts touching on all of these freak-shows and other themes of his like the night of the obscure and some strange, sexual obsessions that people have. This wouldn’t seem like something as bad to include in one of his total, mind-fuck movies we all know and sometimes, love him for, but when you place it in a film like this, it seems a little cheap. Also, based on the story we have here, it’s very confusing for a viewer to fully understand just what the hell it is that you are trying to say in the first place. Once again though, it is Lynch we are talking about here and the guy’s never been a fully-sane, fully-functioning person to begin with.

But then again, that’s why we have characters to look at and what a character John Merrick is. Not only is Merrick an inspirational-figure in real-life, but also in this movie and wouldn’t be that way if it wasn’t for John Hurt in this almost unrecognizable role here. The makeup job is done perfectly here and captures exactly what the real person looked like (actually, that guy was worse looking it seems) and I could have only imagined how much of a bitch it must have been for Hurt to have to constantly put that on, day after day. But regardless of how annoying it must have been for him, Hurt still gives off a powerful performance and totally transforms himself into Merrick, whole also actually down-playing the role with ease and subtlety. It’s hard to be subtle when you have a shit-ton of make-up and costumes on, but Hurt is able to capture a sincere presence with his eyes. Oh, those enchanting eyes. Shame that this guy hasn’t fully gotten his due yet from the Academy, but hopefully he will soon.

"Hold me?"

“Hold me?”

Anthony Hopkins, another legend on the big-screen, is also very good in a role that seems very fit for him: Frederick Treves. Treves is a character that thinks he is doing the right thing by going around and showing off Merrick to other people, only to realize that he is pretty much doing the same exact thing to him with these meetings, as the last guy was doing with all of those “freak-shows”. It’s one of those characters that hits the dilemma of doing the right thing, but soon realizes he’s way too in over-his-head. But yet, Hopkins always keeps him loveable and for the most part, a guy that’s easy to fall back on, even when shit seems to get a little too hectic for Mr. Merrick. If there was any problem I had with Hopkins, it’s that he always has that frozen look in his eyes where you don’t quite know if he’s nice or just scary underneath all of the glitz, glamour, and charm, but it works for this character and still makes it easy enough for us to care about this guy because he means well, even if others may view it differently.

Consensus: With a surprisingly straight-forward direction by David Lynch, a pair of great performances from Hurt and Hopkins, and an inspirational story at the heart of it all, The Elephant Man is a wonderful flick that will make you feel for it’s main subject but also realize what it’s like to be a human, and what it takes to care for the other humans around you as well.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

Proof that Bradley can do it all.

Proof that Bradley can do it all. Kind of.

RoboCop (1987)

Still have no clue why Detroit hasn’t tried this yet.

Set in a crime-ridden Detroit, Michigan in the near future, a police officer named Alex Murphy (Peter Weller) is brutally murdered by a gang of thugs (lead by Kurtwood Smith). Murphy’s life is over and is hailed as a hero for all of the service that he put into his job, but is that really it for the guy? Somebody from the malevolent mega-corporation OCP finds a way to subsequently revive him as a super-duper, crime-fighting machine known as RoboCop. Fun and hilarity ensues, I guess. All depending on what side your on.

The fact that Hollywood wants to give this original piece of material, the remake over-do that they are so in love with nowadays, really shocks me. It shocks me even more now, considering that the remake for Total Recall that blasted it’s ways into cinemas, just as quick as it blasted it’s way out, was forgettable, noting-special, and even though I didn’t hate it like others, still didn’t have the fun or charm of what made the original so lovely. Who knows what those grubby-paws of Hollywood have on their minds for the remake of this classic, but whatever it is that they do; at least we’ll always have this to fall back on. Oh, the lovely 80’s. How I miss your synthesizer-heavy scores.

Paul Verhoeven is considered a cult-director, that the mainstream audience still loves. This was his first foray into American cinema, and the heavy-baggage that he brought along with him was great to see, especially when you think about how much life and excitement he pumped into the sci-fi genre with this movie. Where Verhoeven excels with this movie, where others seemed to lose themselves on, is that he has a wonderful-sense of pacing. The guy is all about blood, action, gore, explosions, bullets, guns, and robots doing crazy and violent things, but he has also has an essence of what makes a story; a story that you not only care for, but realize is there underneath all of the guts and glory (literally).

Get ready, crime. You gonna get yo ass kicked, and then some.

Get ready, crime. You gonna get yo ass kicked, and then some.

Now, I’m not saying that the guy gets really dramatic on us, but with a story about a guy who loses his life due to a death, and has to make sense of it all while killing baddies left-and-right; you still have to give some credit to the dramatic-fireworks that may or may not be on-display here. For a story that’s more than I ever expected: I have to give credit to Verhoeven but it’s not the guy’s specialty by any stretch of the imagination. The guy’s specialty is action, action, action, and there’s a shit-load of that for all of you suckas to love and chew-on, while you try your hardest to not geek-out when RoboCop uses brutal-force against some sons-of-bitches.

This movie is exactly the type of fun you could want from a sci-fi flick: it’s fun, electric, entertaining, and always gory. The movie definitely has a look and style of it’s own in the way that it shows the future, shows the crime, and shows all of the violence that occurs, but never, ever shies away from it. Instead, it gets down and dirty with it all and gives us the fun that we always want from a sci-fi movie, especially a BLOODY one like this. I’m still surprised that this one garnered an R-rating, considering all of the crazy and disturbing that they do actually show and allow to go on here. However, it’s Verhoeven and the guy still finds a sense of beauty in the way he kills people, and how gory he makes it all look.

However, don’t be fooled by it all, because this movie is pretty damn weird. But don’t think weird is a bad thing, it’s a great thing, especially when you’re talking about this movie. There’s a lot of satire to be had here where, every once and awhile, two newscasters will pop-up on the screen to talk about daily happenings and give off some of the corniest line-readings ever but also make fun of the way our media treats violence. Like when one of the newscasters reads about 113 people dying in a burned building, and then quickly changes right away to a commercial about a brand-spankin’ new car to buy that’s out on the market. They don’t do this a lot in the film, but whenever they do, it made me laugh and realize that this film wasn’t just all about robots, guns, and murder, it’s more about the way our media is just getting dumber and dumber through television. This is obviously something that everybody knows about in today’s world, and some films even have this same exact central theme, but it’s just surprising to see it done in a film from 1987, when shit did seem to get a whole lot dumber, thanks to television. Then again, I don’t really think movies make you that much smarter, either. Or maybe it’s just certain ones that do. Either way, I’m a dumb fool and I like it! Woo-hoo!

If there seemed to be any problem with this movie that’s really holding me back from giving it a 9, it was that this is an 80’s movie, and it can be laughably cheesy at points. Hell, what the heck am I talking about!??! It’s always cheesy!! And one of the main pieces of cheese that annoyed the shit out of me was the character of Lewis, played by everybody’s favorite Brian De Palma babe, Nancy Allen. Everybody in this movie seems to have a chip on their shoulder, know what they’re about to do next, and have it go in the way that they planned: but not Lewis. No, siree! Lewis is a dumb character that yells, annoys, and nags everybody around her the whole time. And I’m not even talking about the characters in the movie, but us as well and it made me wish that RoboCop did a better deed and just got rid of her mouth before any further damage or harm was done anymore. She was only really there for the emotional-support this character needed to get through a relatively rough-time, and that was about it. Didn’t see any real reason for her to be around, or to serve the plot. Just there to be another pretty face and help RoboCop not serge his circuits when he was crying like a little bitch.

"Come out of hiding, Eric."

“Come out of hiding, Eric.”

Despite Nancy Allen being grudgingly-annoying throughout the whole movie, Peter Weller is actually still holds the fort down pretty well as Murphy/RoboCop. His monotone voice may be pushing the character and his delivery a little too far, but let’s face it: this performance isn’t about what the guy can do with what he says or how he says it, it’s all about kicking-ass, fighting crime, and saving the day like we all know and love RoboCop for. That’s all that matters in a movie like this, and as much as I may sound like a d-bag for getting on the movie’s case of being dated, it still was able to fall by the waist-side for me in certain-spots. Not all of the spots, but certain, and that’s more than I could say about Nancy Allen or whatever the hell it was that she was doing. God, I hated that chick.

However, just you wait and watch as you get a bit blind-sided by this movie. What I mean by that is even though RoboCop is our hero for the 2-hours and is there to fuck shit up like we want him to do, he isn’t the immovable-force that steals the show in this movie. Nope, that credit goes right to Kurtwood Smith as the extremely memorable villain, Clarence Boddicker. That’s right people, Red Forman gives one of those classic “love-to-hate” villains that every good sci-fi film needs, and it’s such a surprise to see this come out of Smith. He’s dastardly, sadistic, pretty damn smart, and even though he may not have the tin-build of RoboCop, the guy still proves to be a total threat you do not want to fuck with, no matter how shaky things get for him or for RoboCop. It’s a nice battle between these two that we get to see, enjoy, and realize that it’s something we never really get to see all that much in film’s nowadays, let alone ones of the sci-fi genre. Great villain and definitely the right guy to go toe-to-toe with RoboCop in the grander-scheme of things. Bravo, Red. Bravo.

Consensus: Since this is an 80’s movie, RoboCop suffers from being dated in most areas, but still works when it wants to crank-up the volume, kick ass, take names, fight criminals, and let us all see how much ketchup packets it had in it’s budget. It’s a sci-fi flick that hasn’t aged well in certain areas, but the areas that it has aged well in: are what make it awesome.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

Seriously, what the fuck is that?!?!

Seriously, what the fuck is that?!?!

Full Metal Jacket (1987)

Everybody’s a little crazy. Even the guys that protect our country with guns.

A young Marine named Davis, aka Joker (Matthew Modine), sees the Vietnam through his eyes and his eyes only. We follow him through the gruesome days of boot-camp under the tutelage of a vicious drill sergeant (R. Lee Ermey), and then as he ends up becoming a correspondent for Stars & Stripes, where he actually gets to witness and partake in all of the brutal violence he was trained in. Obviously, not everything is as easy as it seems when it comes to taking another human’s life, and that’s the moral problem Davis hits early-on.

I’ve seen this movie about 3 times by now and have yet to let it all sink in and fully hit my brain, head-on with enough understanding and comprehension to make all of my thoughts seem more than just aimless ramblings. Maybe that last sentence didn’t prove to you that I know exactly what I’m talking about but trust me, it’s been awhile since the last time I saw this movie and I’ve come to one assumption, and one assumption only: the war sucks.

By now, everybody knows this as “Kubrick’s two-act film”. The reason it’s called that, is because the first part of the flick plays out so damn differently from the latter, that it’s almost a shock to see it come from the same director, let alone be in the same movie. But have no fear, because no matter where and when Kubrick puts his story, he never loses his grip with what message he’s trying to get across and what exactly can be accomplished with when you have a guy with a head on his shoulders (a crazy head, but a head nonetheless), some extreme skills as a director, and also, the most important factor of all: a camera in your hand.

Just so you know, he's yelling.

Just so you know: he’s yelling.

What makes this movie work so well, even after the 4th time I’ve seen this by now is that Kubrick never dumbs the audience down for the material that he’s showing. However, he also doesn’t allow it to go way too over-your-head neither. He lets his messages and themes play-out, but also gives you something more to think about. Like take for instance, the first act where we see these young, punky kids get beaten, battered, and torn to shreds by this drill sergeant that shows no remorse, never lets them live down a single damn thing, and continues to badger them about being the killing-machines that act first and shoot last. It’s a pretty fucked-up idea that the guy has, but it’s also what the war his in mind as well, and we see just how Kurbick lets us know how messed-up it is with the first-act playing out in the type of way you wouldn’t expect it to go.

This first-half is where I think, and most other people too, the film’s at it’s strongest. It shows you just how hard and brutal it can be to be apart of the army, and still have the right frame-of-mind to believe in everything that you’ve been taught to believe. That’s what our country teaches us, that’s what our politicians teach us, so why not the army? Kubrick really lays down the law with this first-act and we see him tell a simple story, in a simple way, but still give us a compelling-look at something we would have never been able to see before, had it been shown to us by anybody else. Then, it sort of goes down-hill from there.

Actually, that’s not totally correct to say, because the second-half still has it’s moments, but they still aren’t as strong as the ones in the first. After we leave the boot-camp and actually get down and dirty with the battlefield itself, we see how all of these soldiers handle all of the teachings and training they’ve been handed, and use it when necessary  This is where the film get’s really dark, really heavy, and really preachy. Just by watching the first-shot in this movie where all of these young dudes were getting their heads all shaved and groomed for the army, already had me knowing that Kubrick was against the war and felt like it was stupid for us to throw young men like these fellas into it, and be nothing more than meaningless deaths. It’s a sad truth to say, but it is the truth nonetheless and I got that this was the point Kubrick was trying to make, until he continued to bash me over the head, non-stop with it.

By the latter-half of the movie, you start to realize that not only is the war having physical problems with these soldiers, but physical as well. Everybody’s all gung-ho with the violence, loves their guns so much that they just cannot wait to shoot somebody with them, and are a bunch of freaks when they have to come to terms with what they’re fighting for, who they’re fighting for, and what losing a person/fellow solider is all about. I got that they’re going crazy and aren’t very inept with the rest of mankind, but after awhile, it’s just so obvious to sit-through and listen to, that you stop to care after awhile. Kubrick is always known for being the guy who loves to show you something that’s on his mind and usually does it in the most clever way possible, and hell that’s what we all love him for! But here, in this movie and this last-act, we start to lose that sensibility that Kubrick had, the sensibility that made him stand-out from the rest of the crowd and show that he’s working on a higher-level than these other chumps.

Still, as much as I may rag on and on about what he does wrong, Kubrick still did a lot of right in this movie and kept me glued to the screen, even though I knew exactly what happened, where, how, and why. I guess that’s just the problem you run into with most movies when you see them a couple of times, but I was so shocked that I was still able to feel on-edge with everything Kubrick showed, graphic and non-graphic. The war sequences are stunningly shot and make you feel as if you are right there, in the action with them and proves to us all that Kubrick could handle a shaky-cam better than anybody else could. So take that Blair With Project peoples! All seriousness though, whenever Kubrick has a vision in his head, he sticks to it, and never lets it go, no matter how much of his message he may hammer into our skulls.

Maybe the whole point was to make us feel like we were one of the soldiers. I don’t know. But what I do know is that the guy is one of the greatest filmmakers of all-time and really shocked me by how much he was allowed to get away with here. Controversial? You bet your sweet ass it is, but that’s what anti-war films are all about. So, whatever it is that you do, do not, I repeat, DO NOT request this as a movie-viewing on Veteran’s Day, or else you’re going to have some pretty angry vets coming at your neck. Just a fair warning, that’s all.

"I don't mind what type of business you're doing in here, but could you just keep it done at least?"

“I don’t mind whatever type of business you’re doing in here, but could you just keep it down? No? Okay, I’m leaving. Have fun.”

I know it isn’t Kubrick’s style to give into conventions and be like everybody else, but this movie would have greatly benefited from some sort of main character that drives this story the whole way through. Yeah, Matthew Modine is here and is fine as Joker, but still doesn’t seem to be much of an asset to the story, as much as he’s just a reason for us to actually pay attention to all of the crazy shit that’s going on around him. It’s sort of a sad thing to notice, because Modine is a quality actor, but it’s something that I noticed early-on and I wish Kubrick payed more attention to, rather than just going for the gull by trying to look fancy and cool with his style-points. He gets those points, but has to lose character-points as well. Can’t win ’em all, Stanley!

Even though Modine’s character doesn’t supply us with the fuel for the fire, two other actors in this movie do. Vincent D’Onofrio gained a lot of notoriety and in a way, still does to this day because of how much weight he put on for this role as Leonard Lawrence, aka Gomer Pyle. Apparently it was around 80 pounds or something, which to me, sounds like just another night of partying and drinkin’, but I digress. The guy deserves all of the credit he gets for his work here in this movie and not just because he gained all of that poundage, but because the guy makes us actually believe this sweet, kind man can go from being the nice kid who lives next-door, to being the psycho you would never even trust around your kids, let alone next to your own house. D’Onofrio really nails what it’s like to go from being normal, to being a total nut that’s all gung-ho for war, guns, and violence, and shows that the brain-washing techniques it seems like the army uses, isn’t always for the better of man. Maybe for society, but not for the man itself.

However, that’s where R. Lee Ermey comes in and proves, well: that we were right. Ermey is amazing as the drill sergeant that takes no prisoners when it comes to teaching these boys a lesson about what it means to become a solider not just of the war, but of the country as well. Ermey, whether he’s yelling out insults at people or lecturing the boys on how they should not fuck with him or he’ll fuck them right back, Ermey is always interesting, always compelling to watch, and always had me laughing. He’s the main reason why that first-half is so much better than the latter-half, and that’s why it’s a shame to see him and D’Onofrio go and leave us with the presence of Matthew Modine and a bunch of other schmoes that you’ve all seen before, you just don’t know where or when. Not to discredit them or anything, but nobody’s really as stellar as Ermey or D’Onofrio. That’s just the simple fact, Jack. I don’t know who Jack is, but I just wanted to sound cool so leave me alone.

Consensus: Even if Full Metal Jacket isn’t Kubrick’s best, it’s still a heck of a lot better than most cinema out there and proves to you that the war sucks and that everybody who gets involved with it are usually messed-up in the head, dead, or have no chance of understanding what it means to be a human-being, nor do they have a way to understand just what the hell it is that they are fighting for. It’s obvious stuff, but with Kubrick behind the camera: it’s always fascinating.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

No, he is not taking a dump. He IS shooting people.

“GOD BLESS AMURRRICAAAAHHH!!!”

Sixteen Candles (1984)

Glad I actually celebrated my Sweet Sixteen the right way. Hooters baby!

It’s Samantha Baker (Molly Ringwald)’s Sweet Sixteen and no one in her family remembers the occasion. What’s even worse is that she can get away from this creepy freshman (Anthony Michael Hall), and can’t have the boy she wants, the dreamy hot-stuff known as Jake Ryan (Michael Schoeffling). Everything she feels totally resonates with me, because I would always remember the days of when jocks would tease me with their hot bods, and the dorks would never get the hint that I didn’t want anything to do with them. Oh, high-school. How I miss you so!

Well, now that I’am officially a high-school graduate (have no idea how in the hell that happened) I can easily say that I do miss a little bit of it. Not all of it, but a bit of it. That’s why watching one of these flicks really hits me harder than I imagined because being all done with my high-school days, I can now look-back, reminisce, and realize that the 21st Century that I grew up in, isn’t that much different from the 80’s. Don’t know if it’s good or bad, but it’s just a matter of what hit me first. Nope, it’s definitely bad.

So, in case you didn’t know, this is the directorial debut of John Hughes who is one amazing writer that defined the 80’s. This was one of his most prime-examples for many reasons, but the main which being because the dude was able to get inside the mind of the youth going through teenage angst and show it in a funny, but very truthful way. Everything you see here, you remember from high school, whether it’d be a loving or angry memory. Everything from the nerds, to the high-school crush you never had a chance (I don’t know what that feels like because I get all of my babes), to the lame-o school dances, to the crazy after-parties, to the cheerleaders you never had a chance with, to the clubs that nobody cared about but were somehow there, and just all of the other signature things in-between that make high-school, well: high-school. Gets me a tad nostalgic now that I think about it, but I’m still holding back the tears.

Where was Jake Ryan on my Sweet 16?

Where was Jake Ryan on my Sweet 16?

Whenever you watch a film from the 80’s, you see all that happens and you listen to the dialogue, and what they thought was so hip and cool then, has sort of played-out now and been deemed, “lame”. However, Hughes’ writing has somehow been able to over-achieve that problem, and still have his writing be considered funny and actually, iconic in it’s own way of capturing what it was like to be a teen in the 80’s, but what it was like to be a teenager, angst-fueled and all. The guy knows how to write snappy, but humorous dialogue that doesn’t go over too many people’s heads, but can also still get to the bottom of the barrel and shows just what a freakin’ hassle it can be to be a teenager, and worst of all, having nobody remember your 16th birthday. Never happened to me, but shit, I would have been pissed-off to the high heavens had it happened.

Of course, though, this is Hughes’ first movie he’s ever directed, and to be honest; you can sort of tell. As I’ve mentioned before, the script is great and it has it’s fair-share of wonderful lines that make you belly-roll, but it does lose focus on Samantha Baker and begin to focus way, way too much on the side-characters that bring-out most of the humor in this story. Don’t get me wrong, I liked all of the side-stuff that Hughes had to throw in here for comedic-effect so we wouldn’t have what seemed like a Lifetime-movie on our hands, but when it seemed like it had to deliver that emotional and romantic-note at the end, it just came off as very weak and didn’t do much for me. The ending is probably not suited best for a 19-year-old, d-bag like myself, but still, for who it is for, it works and actually still has them ladies swooning until these very days.

No matter what any member of this cast has done in recent-time (and that’s not saying much), they will forever and always be remembered for being members of the illustrious “Brat Pack”, and this film is one of the main reasons why they were apart of it. I don’t know if the performances had to do anything with it, but they aren’t that shabby, either. Molly Ringwald feels like an actual 16-year-old gal going through the usual-problems that it seems like most teenaged-girls go through: school, boys, mom, dad, brother, sister, menstrual cycles, dances, money, etc. However, she isn’t always pissing around the whole movie about how nobody remembers her birthday, because when she does decide to cheer-up and look at the bright-side, the girl’s got a lot of charm to her that makes me wonder why she didn’t do more when her teenier-bopper days were long-gone. I could understand why, because people wouldn’t be able to get past the fact that she’s still that girl from all of the John Hughes movies, but still: the girl has obvious-talent on-display here and it’s sad that she didn’t continue. Oh well, it was probably her idea anyway. Either way, poor gal.

Eat your heart out, Jake.

Eat your heart out, Jake.

Everybody knows and loves Anthony Michael Hall, not only because he seems like he’s the only one out of this main-cast to keep himself alive and well in the hearts of moviegoers, but because his character, Geek, is such a fun character to watch and Hall brings a lot to the character. Yes, his name is actually “Geek”, but don’t feel bad for him because he’s probably the best character in the whole movie and also the most-endearing as well. I highly doubt anybody would have ever thought that out of everybody here, he would be one of the more-successful ones to keep himself active, but hey, good for him. At least somebody’s keeping themselves a bit busy with life.

Can’t say the same thing about Michael Schoeffling, who plays the hunk amongst all hunks, Jake Ryan. Schoeffling is fine in this role but he isn’t given much to do other than look cool, suave, and sexy, so that Samantha, and all of the girls at home can just stare-at his beautiful-face all day and night. I guess it ain’t so bad when you think about it, but it didn’t do much for him in the future, since the guy’s last credit to-date was something called Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken. Oh dear, doesn’t sound all that hopeful to me. Also, why the hell would Gedde Watanabe speak out against his role as the iconic Asian, Long Duk Dong?!? I mean I can understand that the film shows a very racist and politically-incorrect look at Asians but still! ………Okay, now that I’ve actually thought about it, maybe he was right. Hey, it may have been the most stereo-typically racist thing you’ve ever seen on-screen but don’t try and tell me that you found it hard not saying, “What’s happening hot stuff?”, after you came back from watching this.

Consensus: May not be as good, as memorable, or as important as some of John Hughes’ other pieces of work, but Sixteen Candles is still a funny, smart, and honest-look into the life of teenager going through angst that may have you look back on your high-school years with a smile, and maybe even a chuckle. I know it did for me.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

Oh, who's he kidding!?!? Sign him up for the sequel!

Oh, who’s he kidding!?!? Sign him up for the sequel!

TRON (1982)

About 20 years later and hell, I could make this movie off of my Mac.

A hip and cool computer programmer named Flynn (Jeff Bridges) is transported inside the software world of a mainframe computer during a computer game. This is also where he interacts with various programs in his attempt to get back out but also make the computer program “nice and civilized” again.

Watching and reviewing old-school movies like this are so hard because you always have to take them with the grain salt, especially ones from the 80’s. You have to always expect the material to be cheesy, you have to always expect it to be dated, and you always have to expect it to not be as up-to-date with the times as you may be used. This movie is even harder to review, mostly due to the fact that nerds from all over the globe hail this as their wake-up call in life, and consider it one of the sci-fi greats, along up there with Star Wars and 2001. Sorry geek fan boys, not quite up there with those classics.

No matter what it is you may hear about this flick, whether it be good or bad, you always hear that this is just one of those flicks that changed the way computers affected a movie. For instance, back in the days before the summer ’82, computers and film didn’t really need each other, except if it was for a fully-animated movie that needed help moving the pictures and graphics along. Then comes along this movie and soon you start to see actual-people, perform in front of a live-stage that’s just filled to the core with special-effects and even though it may not look as beautiful and awe-inspiring as it may have then, it still really takes you awhile to realize, “Damn, this had to really fuck people’s minds when they saw it”.

Seeing an all-out, special-effects extravaganza like Avatar and remembering your first reactions after seeing that can only give you an idea of what people thought about after seeing this movie way back when, and it’s really impressive. Director Steve Lisberger definitely seemed like he had a real hunch in his back with everything he wanted to do, how he wanted to do it, and how he wanted it look in the final-cut, and for the most part; the guy succeeds big time. In the day and age we live in nowadays, films like these only get filled with more flashy-effects and added-on with an extra-dimension, but to see something as simple but cool as this, really brings you back to the days and gets you in the nostalgia-feeling, even if you were never born when it first came-out. Hell, this is my first-time seeing this flick and yet, I still feel the breeze of nostalgia hit me from the early-80’s. Ahh, those were the days…..I think.

Good-looking celebrities trying to look nerdy: not buying it.

Good-looking celebrities trying to look nerdy: not buying it.

Anyway, the special-effects aren’t as dated as I may make it think, they are actually pretty cool to view. I used to be a huge gamer, but recently have fallen off the wagon and found myself playing video-games around once or twice a year. To some of you out there who have hemmorhoids from all-nighters on XBOX live; you may be surprised. However, to some of you that are full-time critics that just love movies; this may not surprise you. Still, watching this made me feel like I was playing a video-game and a really fun, and retro-one at that. Some of the effects may not look as cool as you’d think, but there are still some scenes full of plenty of eye-candy and glamour to feast your eyes upon and whether or not you are a gamer; it doesn’t matter because you’ll still be able to appreciate what’s up on-screen and how Lisberger and his crew were able to create it. It’s very, very impressive, but sadly, this is just one of those cases where it’s all style and beauty, but no substance.

First of all, I had no idea what the hell was up with this story. In the beginning of the movie, I really tried to understand what the hell all of this “computer and technology talk” was all supposed to mean and as soon as I felt like it was translated to me, the film throws me for a loop and not only adds more confusing bits of language to the mix, but brings a piece of tension I never understood. I never fully got why Flynn was in this world and better yet, how, where, when, and how he was supposed to get out of it. To be brutally honest, I don’t think Lisberger cared about any of those details, either, because he seems a lot more concerned with the frequent scenes of running, chasing, brawling, and in what seems to be the most awesome game of dead-or-alive Frisbee. These scenes are all cool to see play-out with the type of visuals Lisberger has on-display, but seriously: what the hell does it all add up to?

Even worse, the film has little to no tension. Other than the cool game of Frisbee I just mentioned in that last paragraph, I never really found myself tense, on-the-edge-of-my-seat, or particularly revved-up with what was going on in the movie. Honestly, I was just watching and waiting for something other than the visuals, to take me by storm and make me feel as if I was really in the mode of playing a video-game. Instead, this ends-up being the lamest video-game ever and it’s even worse when the melodrama rears it’s ugly head in and makes everything seem so corny and dated, aka, exactly what I have come to expect from a sci-fi movie of the early 80’s.

And I know some of you out there may get a tad pissed-off at me and state that this is a movie that’s more about it’s look and feel, rather than the dialogue, but seriously: what sort of defense is that? But even if you weren’t on the film’s side of it’s “style-over-substance”-argument, you still have to admit that it doesn’t matter if a flick has a lame-o script, just as long as it has enough fun and entertainment to take my mind off the crappiness. However, this flick is not one of those and as much action there may have been in the first hour or so, it all starts to go away, in a slowly but surely manner, and rarely ever gain back the excitement it once has. No matter what negatives I may have to speak about this flick, it is still great to look at, but that’s not enough to take my mind off a shit-script of Lucas-proportions.

As of right now, Toyota is using this picture as an example for their next-line of automobiles. Good gas mileage, I''d assume.

As of right now, Toyota is using this picture as an example for their next-line of automobiles. Good gas mileage, I”d assume.

However, when you have a shit-script, you usually have shit-actors and in a way, that’s sort of the case here. Jeff Bridges plays Flynn and is a bunch of fun as the wacky and wild dude that gets sucked into his own world he enjoys to play around with, and brings a lot of excitement to a flick that seems like it really needs it at certain-points. Bridges is always fun to watch and it’s no surprise that the guy brings a much-needed levity to a script that couldn’t be concerned with it either way. The problem with Bridges being so much fun, though, is that he is probably the best one and everybody else sort of falls by the waist-side, and badly too, may I add.

Even though he’s more or less the secondary-character in this story, Bruce Boxleitner plays Tron and is fine with his material, even though you never understand what is so damn special about this guy in the first-place. You sort of feel like Bridges should have been the only guy in the video-game world after all, and even better, should have been named Tron. I don’t know how much of that would have changed and screwed-up the story, but it probably would have made a lot more sense than just featuring two characters that could be the lead-character but yet, continue to battle-it-out for the top-spot. And not in the fun way, either. It’s more confusing and annoying than that. Cindy Morgan is Yori and, rightfully so, probably plays the most robotic member of the cast as she obviously just seems to be going through the motions of acting, without a care in the world. Maybe it worked back then when people weren’t paying attention to her acting or line-reading, but now, it’s more obvious and distracting than the elephant in the room. And finally, all the movie needed was one hell of an evil S.O.B. to take this movie and make something better, but somehow, some way, David Warner isn’t up to the challenge as Stark and just feels like less and less of a threat as time goes on. Yep, I think that the Dude is the only one who prevails in this cast but then again: are you the least-bit surprised?

Consensus: No doubt that the visuals and look of TRON are as beautiful and as polished as they once were, way back when in 1982, but it just doesn’t take special-effects to make a good film. Sometimes, you need other elements like strong acting, believable dialogue, excitement, fun, joy, action, and glee to make a good film, which is where I think this movie dropped the ball on. Okay, bring on the hate-mail nerds.

6.5 / 10 = Rental!!

If there's anything we can thank this movie for, it's this man and all that he strives for as a human-being. That's a hero right there.

If there’s anything we can thank this movie for, it’s this man and all that he strives for as a human-being.