The Hunt for Red October (1990)


My Morse is so Rusty, I Could Be Sending Him Dimension on Playmate of the Month

Leave it to my friend Forty to actually request my review of a good movie.  One of the first, to my recollection.  In all honesty, I don’t really mind watching bad movies most of the time because I tend to find them amusing.  But, every once and a while, I should probably be asked to watch a good one so I don’t kill myself or simply die from From Justin to Kelly-related aneurisms.  Forty’s movie request was for a classic movie that – as with many classically awesome movies – had eluded me thus far, but it is a movie I wanted to see at some point.  And now I have.  I’m talking about The Hunt for Red October, based on a Tom Clancy novel, directed by John McTiernan, and starring Alec Baldwin, Sean Connery, Sam Neill, Scott Glenn, James Earl Jones, Stellan Skarsgard, Tim Curry, Joss Ackland, Courtney B. Vance, Jeffrey Jones, and Fred Dalton Thompson.

Admiral James Greer (James Earl Jones) brings some pictures of a new fancy submarine to CIA operative Jack Ryan (Alec Baldwin).  With the help of submarine expert Skip Tyler (Jeffrey Jones), they figure out that this picture is of a spankin’ new Typhoon-class submarine with a propulsion system called a “Caterpillar Drive” that makes sonar detection extremely difficult, allowing it the potential to get all up in America’s Kool-Aid without even knowing the flavor, and even boil that Kool-Aid with nuclear warheads.  This submarine is called the Red October.  At first, the Joint Chiefs of Staff wet themselves, but then Jack Ryan poses the possibility that the prestigious commander of the Red October, Marko Alexandrovich Ramius (Sean Connery), may want to defect.  The Joint Chiefs give Ryan 3 days to confirm Ramius’ intentions.  The Russians are after him to destroy him before the American’s get their new sub, the Americans are after him to stop him from possibly launching nukes at them, and Ryan’s after him to find out what he’s up to.  Thus begins the hunt for the Red October.

I feel like I’m one of the last people around to reach this conclusion but, here it goes: fuck this movie.  Just kidding, Forty!  This movie rules!  I haven’t always seen eye to eye with this Tom Clancy feller.  Some of his games got way more popular than I felt they warranted, and I’ve heard mixed reviews about some of his other movies, though I don’t know that I’ve seen any of them.  I had worried that, as is the case in some of his video games, I would think they were overrated.  But nay!  This is a good movie.  His story works really well, especially with how well-executed it is.  Most of the story of this movie is just about Ramius’ intentions, stretched into a little over 2 hours.  It’s not until around the last 20 minutes of the movie when you are actually sure of what his actual intentions are.  There are times when you’re sure he’s going to defect, other times when you know he wants to hijack the Red October and blow up America to start a war, and other parts where you have no idea.  And, seeing as the movie takes one idea and stretches it over 2 hours, you’d think it’d get really boring.  I don’t recall being bored at all in this movie.  From the start of the movie the tension builds as different groups get closer and closer to the Red October until the end where it just climaxes all over the audiences faces.  …EWWWWWWW!

There is quite the cast to this movie, as you may have gathered from the long list in the opening paragraph.  Alec Baldwin, still young and handsome, tore it up in this movie.  I never really believed Sean Connery’s accent was Russian, but he was a badass.  One of our first scenes with the guy shows him killing a fellow officer with extreme prejudice and the corner of a table.  He also had one of the best lines in the movie, involving how things react to bullets.  He had a smaller part in this, but I found myself watching Sam Neill more than anyone else in the movie for some reason.  He was a strong character that opened up to Ramius with some kind of sweet and innocent intentions about his new life in America if their defection works out.  I sure hope that works out for him.  I liked Courtney B. Vance as the really good sonar guy; like the action movie version of Harland Williams from Down Periscope.  Joss Ackland was pretty good as well, but I could not see him as anything but DeNomolos from Bill & Ted.  Though I’m usually excited to see him, I was extra excited to see Stellan Skarsgard in a good movie that came out long before I knew he existed, and he was also excellent, if under-used.  The entire cast was great, so I won’t waste more time just saying that.  Take actors name and add “was really good” to the end.

So there you go, Fortissimo.  Good story, great thrills, excellent tension, top notch performances.  This here is the recipe for a good movie.  You’ve probably already seen this movie, so I’m telling you that you should watch it again.  If you haven’t seen it yet, I can’t yell at you because I just saw it myself, but now I’ve seen it so it’s only a matter of time before I’m allowed to yell at you for not watching a really good action-thriller.  The Hunt for Red October gets “Some things in here don’t react well to bullets” out of “And I will have a pickup truck”.

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!

Hannah Montana: The Movie (2009)


You Got in a Shoe Fight

Trying to get back into my review recommendations, I went to Facebook for requests and, of course, the first one back was a big fuck you to ole Robert. Let no man or woman ever say that Robert Bicket is not a brave man, for I have watched Hannah Montana: The Movie. I will assume that it need not be said that I went into this movie with only the vaguest of ideas on who Miley Cyrus was, and even less of an idea about what the story and background of Hannah Montana was, but I still did it, and now you will read about it. Hannah Montana: The Movie was written by Dan Berendsen, directed by Peter Chelsom, and stars Miley Cyrus, Billy Ray Cyrus, Emily Osment, Lucas Till, Vanessa Williams, Margo Martindale, Peter Gunn, Melora Hardin, Barry Bostwick, and Taylor Swift and Tyra Banks in cameo.

I will spoil the whole premise of Hannah Montana for you immediately, just to get it out of the way. Hannah Montana … is Miley Cyrus. Or Mily Stewart. She keeps both identities so she can be famous and sing, but still have her private time. A journalist named Oswald Granger (Peter Gunn) is after her to find out what her big secret is, unaware of the fact that I just told the whole world. Her father, Robby Ray Stewart (Billy Ray Cyrus), does not like how much she’s ignoring Miley Stewart’s life in favor of Hannah Montana’s, so he hijacks her back to Tennessee to go to her grandmother’s, Ruby’s (Margo Martindale), birthday party. Here, Robby starts getting a romance going with Lorelai (Melora Hardin), and Miley crushes on Travis Brody (Lucas Till). Hannah also gets caught up in an attempt to keep a big mall from being built in Crowley Corners. Can Hannah Montana and Miley Stewart coexist, or must one of them die?!

Admittedly (and expectedly), I went in to this expecting this to be a very achy breaky movie. I was surprised – as all of you will probably be – to find out that this isn’t that bad of a movie. The important distinction to this is that I recognize the difference between a bad movie and a movie that was just not meant for me. This is a movie intended for younger folk of a more female variety. But I didn’t find it painful as I had expected. I found the comedy mostly lost on me because, as I have discussed in other reviews, I’m not usually one to be that amused by slapstick comedy, and the greater majority of the “comedy” in this movie was balls hitting Miley in the face. Well, one was a coconut. Other attempts at comedy made me yell “UH DERP” out loud because they were obvious or stupid. Anyone that knows me does not have to try that hard to realize that I would (and did) actually yell that. The story itself seemed to target a good message that I feel like they lost completely at the very end. It seems to be about being yourself and fame isn’t everything, but then at the end, when Hannah reveals herself to be Miley in front of a crowd, they all tell her they’ll keep it secret and she should be Hannah again. It’s like “We don’t like this ‘real’ person! We want the fake we’re used to!” This movie could also be considered a bit of a musical, but I didn’t find it that annoying because they made sense to the scene and weren’t just thrown in because people in real life break into song to express their feelings. The only one that bothered me was the one when Miley pisses off her friend by showing up to her birthday as Hannah (because she didn’t have anywhere to change) and steals the show from the friend. But if you didn’t want your friend to perform at your birthday, you probably shouldn’t have had a stage prepared with musicians standing around waiting for someone to decide they wanted to sing. Also, this girl acted like she would never forgive Miley for this and, though we obviously expect this not to last, you would at least expect Miley to have to do something to fix it and not just have it be forgotten about by the time the friend was needed again. I was also originally going to complain about the fact that people couldn’t figure out that Miley Stewart was Hannah Montana when all she did was put on a blonde wig, but then I realized that I give Superman a pass with a measly pair of glasses so I had to give it a pass. There was also a part where the guy that wanted to build the mall said that the only thing that could raise enough money was if the Beatles were to show up and this leads to them getting Hannah Montana. I may be wrong in this, but does this mean that they think Hannah Montana is as big as the Beatles? That’s almost as bad as saying you’re bigger than Jesus. …Oh wait…

Here’s another big surprise for you: Miley Cyrus actually performs fairly well in this movie. Most of the times she comes off as really innocent, fairly charming, and quasi-adorable. There was even one point when things were turning sour with her man friend that she broke into tears and I kind of felt horrible for her because she pulled it off so well. Whoda thunk she could act a little bit? I wasn’t too interested in Lucas Till’s performance in the movie, but I spent a lot of time wondering about him. I watched every time he was on wondering where I had seen this guy when it occurred to me: Havoc. He was Havoc in X-Men: First Class! …That is all I have to say about him. On a similar note, Malora Hardin is in this movie, a woman I know as Michael Scott’s love interest from the American version of the Office. And the grandmother, Margo Martindale, I recognized from Walk Hard. And they thought the wrong kid died THEN. Tyra Banks and Taylor Swift show up briefly in cameos in this movie as well. Tyra’s appearance held no interest for me, both because of her and because the scene wasn’t interesting. Taylor Swift was fine though. She’s got a purdy voice. Her scene, however, was cut short by Kanye West. Beyonce’s scene was way better. …That joke was too easy and I apologize. You expect more from me. I should really try to deliver.

So that’s it. I can’t say I hated this movie as I expected I would. I can’t say that I enjoyed it, but it also wasn’t meant for me. The people it WAS meant for both will, and already have, enjoyed this movie. Everyone else might not hate it that much. It’s vaguely cute, but not very funny. Her music isn’t good, but isn’t horrible. The performances are fine but only really impress in one scene when Miley cries it up. Hannah Montana: The Movie gets “So you’re saying I can never be Hannah again?” out of “In my defense, I totally saw those shoes first.”

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!

The Chronicles of Riddick (2004)


Convert Now … or Fall Forever

I certainly hope that douchebag friend of mine by the name of Fabio appreciates the hard work I went through to write this review for him. I tried many times to make my computer play this DVD from my collection, but I fear my computer is on it’s last legs. I installed two more DVD playing softwares on my computer, hoping it was my original software. This didn’t help. And since I was NOT going to pull myself off of Skyrim to watch a movie on my X-box, what was I to do? I finally brought my laptop into my room and was able to watch my movie wearing an uncomfortable set of headphones. So, yeah, my “hard work” never really involved me leaving the seat I’m writing this review from. …Fuck you guys. This movie is The Chronicles of Riddick, written and directed by David Twohy, and starring Vin Diesel, Colm Feore, Judi Dench, Karl Urban, Thandie Newton, Alexa Davalos, Linus Roache, Nick Chinlund, Keith David, and Yorick van Wageningen.

A group of bad people called Necromongers are slowly taking over the universe, lead by the Lord Marshal (Colm Feore). You either convert to one of the Necromongers, or die by their hand. Elsewhere, a group of bounty hunters lead by Toombs (Nick Chinlund) are chasing a Viking across the top of a labyrinth. Oh wait! That Viking is Richard B. Riddick (Vin Diesel) on a planet without electric razors. Well Riddick kills all of them dudes and throws momma from the train. By train I mean spaceship. And by momma I mean Toombs. But if you watch the movie, Toombs does look an awful lot like my mother. Anyways, Riddick goes after the people that put the money on his head and finds out that it’s his old “buddy” from the first movie, Imam (Keith David). Imam brings Riddick up to speed, telling him that the boy/girl from the first movie, Jack, went looking for him, killed some people, and is now locked up on the prison planet of Crematoria. Also, an Elemental named Aereon (Judi Dench) put the money on his head because Riddick ran out of minutes on his cell phone and she needed to talk to him. Cue Necromonger attack! Imam gets killed and Riddick decides it is good strategy to walk into the middle of the Necromonger army to kill the guy that killed Imam. This somehow works for him and he gains the respect of Lord Marshal. He gets on the bad side of Lord Marshal when he finds out that Riddick is the last of a race called the Furyan’s, who were prophesied to kill Lord Marshal, ‘causing Lord Marshal to slaughter them all. Finish up the movie with Riddick trying to get revenge on Lord Marshal – who may also have to worry about his right-hand man Commander Vaako (Karl Urban) and his treacherous wife Dame Vaako (Thandie Newton) – and save Jack (Alexa Davalos).

I’m beginning to think that I should stop pointing out when a movie has common story elements because it makes it seem like a criticism. It’s not really intended to be. I love it when a fresh concept I’ve never seen happens in a movie, but having seen so many movies in my life – and with so many more left to see – one can’t really expect every movie to be truly original. That being said, The Chronicles of Riddick certainly doesn’t break any new ground in it’s story, but it still makes for a very watchable movie. Riddick is a very cliche amalgam of every action star ever; you got a prophecy that makes a leader kill a group of people, you got a right-hand man getting manipulated into usurping power by his lady, you got a rescue, a prison escape, and you got a guy that becomes king by killing the old king. Every one of those things was in Hamlet … according to the SparkNotes … that I didn’t read. But, as I said, all good fun to watch. The action scenes were pretty spectacular, the visual effects were a big step up from the previous Riddick joint, and the lines (though usually corny) worked for the scene. Crematoria – though it’s one of the least imaginative names ever – was a pretty sweet location. The concept of a prison planet that only allowed about a five minute window of entry lest the sun melt your ship and sear your flesh, was great. Everything looked like it reeked of sweaty B.O. Also, the lava-panther looking creatures were pretty awesome. I want one of those as a pet. It also lead to part of it that clashed with Riddick’s over the top badassdom. As they were running along the surface, trying to stay ahead of the sun, he tells them that they have to keep up with him or they’ll die, but he also apparently has time to stop and make a cocky comment about how much faster he is than they are. There was also one part that was completely lost on me when the bounty hunters were transporting Riddick to Crematoria. Everyone was asleep on the ship and the female bounty hunter gets up and goes and sniffs Riddick, then straddles him and removes his goggles. He wakes up and makes some comment and she runs off. Did you wanna fuck him? ‘Cause he kinda indicated he’d go through with it, so why’d you run? This part was pointless and confusing. And it’s these kinds of questions that will drive me insane because they’ll never be answered.

The performances are every bit as good as you expect out of an action movie, maybe a little bit better. Vin Diesel spent most of his time raspying out one-liners, but actually had a few moments where he busted out the emotions near the end. I feel like I’m turning the corner on this guy, at least until I rewatch XXX and the Fast and the Furious movies. I don’t have much to say about the Necromonger crew of this movie because their characters involved them being fairly emotionless and mellow all the time, but they also maintained a good amount of creepy. Especially Karl Urban’s hair. Though she did a great job in her performance, I still wonder what inspired Judi Dench to be in this movie. Nowadays it’s easier to stomach because she was also in Pirates of the Caribbean 4, which was a much worse movie. I was happy to see that Jack grew up into a much hotter woman than the one that actually played Jack. She performed her part of being hot well, but the character herself annoyed me. It seemed that every decision she ever made was to try to impress Riddick, and I found that tedious. But she was hot, so I dismissed these complaints.

So there’s your review, Fabio. As per our agreement, you must start reading them all. But don’t worry, you’ve already finished one. That only leaves you 100+ to go, with a new one every day until I don’t feel like it anymore. ENJOY! The Chronicles of Riddick was no ground breaking movie with no ground breaking performances, but it was a fun action movie that’s pretty to look at. And with an action movie, how can you expect much more? The Chronicles of Riddick gets “Death by tea cup” out of “Been a long time since I smelled beautiful.”

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!

Star Trek (2009)


I Like This Ship!  Y’know, It’s Exciting!

No one requested this movie and I think most people already know how I feel about it.  I watched this for me.  I bought it on BluRay, special edition style for the win!  I’ve watched it numerous times since purchasing it and I likes it just as much every time.  Let’s get right into it, shall we?  This movie is Star Trek, the revamped movie series written by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, directed by J.J. Abrams, and starring Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Leonard Nimoy, Eric Bana, Bruce Greenwood, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Winona Ryder, Chris Hemsworth, Clifton Collins Jr., and, unfortunately, Tyler Perry.

Alright, this little ship comes up on this black hole and this huge ass ship comes out and is like “WHAT?!” and then starts going “Pachew, pachew pachew”.  The USS Kelvin is no match for the Romulan ship, the Narada, so the captain of the Kelvin goes over to discuss a cease fire.  The captain of the Narada, Nero (Eric Bana), asks him a few questions about a person he’s never heard of, then kills him.  George Kirk (Chris Hemsworth) takes over as captain and orders an evacuation of everyone on board including his really, really preggers wife.  Kirk must stay aboard the ship and his wife leaves, giving birth to their son, James Tiberius Kirk.  Also, on Vulcan, baby Spock gets picked on for having a human mom.  Now grown up, James Kirk (Chris Pine) drunkenly hits on Uhura (Zoe Saldana) at a bar and gets beat up by her Starfleet buddies.  One of the shots to the noggin and a pep talk from Captain Christopher Pike (Bruce Greenwood) and he enlists in Starfleet.  On the way there, he meets and befriends Leonard “Bones” McCoy (Karl Urban).  Years later, Kirk and Spock (Zachary Quinto) get on each others bad side when Kirk cheats on Spock’s test and Spock gets Kirk suspended for it, which keeps Kirk grounded when the Starfleet leaves to check on a distress call from Vulcan.  McCoy gets Kirk on board the USS Enterprise where Kirk is able to stop the ship from warping into a trap from the Narada.  Some people are saved, but most of Vulcan is lost, and Captain Pike is captured by Nero.  Can Spock and Kirk settle their differences and take out this new threat?  No, Spock jettisons Kirk to a frozen planet instead.  But at least he gets to meet old Spock (Leonard Nimoy) and Montgomery “Scotty” Scott (Simon Pegg)!

Some may assume that my nerdiness would inherently make me a Star Trek fan, but this is not the case.  I’ve seen this movie, but I’ve never seen an episode of the TV show and I’ve only ever seen parts of the original movies.  As any self respecting nerd, I picked a side in the Star Wars/Star Trek war and irrationally disregarded the other half.  I’m a Star Wars man.  But something inspired me to watch this movie and I’m very glad that I did.  It rules.  Does it rule as much as Star Wars?  I’ve conferred with my nerdiness and determined that I cannot confirm nor deny that.  But this movie is very good.  The story took a dangerous concept and pulled it off.  Not only is it dangerous to remake such a beloved series, but time travel can be a dangerous, easy story device used by bad writers, but both are pulled off well.  I don’t think I heard too many Trekkies getting their panties in a knot about this movie after it came out, though most had preemptively tied up their panties.  But the story they delivered was well thought out, action-packed, emotional in parts, and charming throughout.  It also looked better than I assume every other incarnation of Star Trek, so it’s got that goin for it too.  The Narada looked awesome, but it was a little problematic for me.  It was apparently originally a mining vessel, but was also more menacing than any mining vessel ever was or should be, and apparently loaded with the most advanced weaponry of it’s time.  Seems a bit overkill for a mining vessel.  But it is comforting to know that we’ll still be able to listen to the Beastie Boys in the year 2245.  Also, why come they have all this advanced technology but they forgot that some technology can automatically time stamp things, taking away your need to start everything with the stardate?

The casting is the best part of this movie.  Every single person in this movie fits their characters and performs them excellently.  Chris Pine was a cocky douche, was funny most of the time, and pulled off the emotional scenes very well.  Zachary Quinto made a fantastic Spock.  When he turns down the Vulcan council early in the movie, I loved the way he practically spat “Live long and prosper” at them.  But for the rest of the movie I felt he was a little dry and unemotional.  Just kidding.  He’s a Vulcan.  He actually came close to emoting too much for a Vulcan.  I didn’t like the choice for his mom though.  Winona Ryder is too hot to pull off being Zachary Quinto’s mom.  Zoe Saldana was fantastic as well, and super hot as always.  She also managed to Navi-whip Spock.  Navi-whipped, p-whipped…get it?  No?  It sounded better in my head.  I got in a argument with myself over whether I liked Simon Pegg or Karl Urban better in this movie, but I wasn’t able to decide.  They’re my favorite characters in this.  Simon Pegg easily gets the win over Karl Urban in total career, but in this movie I give them equal.  Both were funny whenever they were on and both captured their characters.  I felt like Eric Bana may have hammed it up a bit, but not too bad.  Tyler Perry was my only problem with the casting.  Not because he didn’t do his small part well, but because his movies are awful.  I don’t want to go through every name in the movie, but every other name was great.

So, yeah.  This movie rules.  You should watch and own it.  And this is coming from a verified non-Trekkie, so this comes with no bias whatsoever.  I dig the look and the story of this movie a lot, but it wouldn’t be anything without the fantastic cast.  GO WATCH NOW!  Star Trek gets “I’ve never beamed three people from two targets onto one pad before!  I thought that was pretty good!” out of “I am grateful for this.”

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!

Gnomeo and Juliet (2011)


The Story You Are About to See Has Been Told Before.  A Lot.

You know what we all need?  We all need to take some of the best tragedy stories of our time and turn them into kids movies with garden gnomes.  I think we can all agree that this needs to happen.  I had exactly zero percent interest in this movie when I first heard about it, the same amount when it came out on DVD, and the same amount when I saw it on Netflix streaming.  I chose to watch it because I like to make fun of movies that are awful.  Was this movie awful, or was I surprised by it?  Let’s find out in my review of Gnomeo and Juliet, directed by Kelly Asbury, and starring the voice talents of James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Michael Caine, Maggie Smith, Jason Statham, Matt Lucas, Ozzy Osbourne, Stephen Merchant, Julie Walters, Dolly Parton, Hulk Hogan, and Patrick Stewart.  I mean, come on!  Look at that cast!

You know that story William Shakespeare wrote that was later turned into a Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes joint called Romeo & Juliet?  This time they’re lawn gnomes.  …  …Okay it’s a little different.  Two feuding neighbors, Mrs. Montague (Julie Walters) and Mr. Capulet (Richard Wilson), have adjoining gardens populated with garden gnomes that also hate each other.  The Montague garden filled with blue gnomes, the Capulet garden with red gnomes.  A red gnome named Tybalt (Jason Statham) and a blue gnome named Gnomeo (James McAvoy), son of the matriarch of the blue gnomes Lady Bluebury (Maggie Smith), challenge each other to a lawnmower race where Tybalt wins by cheating.  In retaliation, Gnomeo and his friend Benny (Matt Lucas) decide to vandalize the red lawn.  Simultaneously, Juliet (Emily Blunt), the daughter of Lord Redbrick (Michael Caine), decides she needs to escape the clutches of her over-protective father and retrieve a flower from a vacant neighboring yard.  Here, Gnomeo and Juliet meet and fall in love almost instantly.  Something tells me it won’t end well for these two star-crossed lovers.  But, then again, it’s a kids movie version…

Strangely enough, this movie is not that bad.  I know, I was as surprised as you!  It’s a cute kid’s movie that’s well-animated and pretty and, of course, has a good story because it’s based on a story by William Shakespeare.  I think the biggest problem with this movie is that it doesn’t really have an audience.  People that love Romeo & Juliet won’t see this movie because it “ruins” a classic tragedy.  People that aren’t familiar with Romeo & Juliet probably won’t be into the movie because it’s a kid’s movie.  And kid’s might like the movie because they’re goofy gnomes, and their parents may want them to see it as an introduction to Romeo & Juliet, but it’s really not gonna learn ’em anything about Romeo & Juliet.  Romeo & Juliet was a great play, but I think the huge tragedy at the end is what made it so famous.  This being a kid’s movie, Gnomeo & Juliet had a happy ending.  This movie probably would’ve been well-received if they hadn’t named it after Romeo & Juliet and taken the names from it.  Plenty of story’s have done the whole “star-crossed lovers” thing so it wouldn’t have been so bad if it just had similarities to R&J (I am so sick of typing the whole name).  But to take so heavily from R&J, but then to change the ending of a piece of classic literature, is not usually well received.  Once we ignore the fact that it’s based on R&J, we can enjoy the movie a little more.  The comedy in the movie relies heavily on puns – as you may gather from the title of the movie – and they’re hit and miss.  “Let’s kick some grass” and “Who’s your gnomey?” (which I still don’t get) were dead on arrival, but when the frog says to the mushroom “You look like a fun guy (fungi)” made me laugh.  Cheesiness is entirely acceptable in a kid’s movie.  The commercial with Hulk Hogan’s voice over for the lawnmower called the Terrafirminator was pretty funny, mainly because it reminded me of the Power Thirst commercials from YouTube.  I did find one part of this movie a little unbelievable.  I mean, lawn gnomes coming to life I’m totally on board with, but an English Bulldog being vicious?  You lost me.

The vocal cast of this movie is amazing.  I would’ve expected most of these acclaimed British actors would have a problem with a movie fucking with the ending of a Shakespeare play, but they came in and did a pretty excellent job.  James McAvoy and Emily Blunt did fine jobs here.  Michael Caine and Maggie Smith are the two actors I especially would’ve thought would’ve refused to do this movie, and probably Patrick Stewart as well.  But Stewart probably agreed because he got to play Shakespeare, albeit in statue form.  I especially liked Ashley Jensen as Nanette the frog.  The frog was halfway in between crazy and stupid and was probably the most consistently entertaining character.  Sadly, I think the only voice acting that didn’t really shine was one of my favorite musicians: Ozzy Osbourne.  Contrary to any impression of the man, he was very understandable.  Being not an actor, most of his lines fell flat.  But, again, he’s not an actor, and most people should consider it an accomplishment that you can actually understand what he’s saying.

As surprised as I am to write these words, here it goes … this movie’s kind of cute.  It’s got a good story going for it with a couple of solid laughs, but don’t go in thinking it’ll be like Romeo & Juliet.  Just think it’s a kid’s movie and you’ll probably think it’s cute.  If you have them, your kids will probably enjoy it.  The cast of the movie is amazing and they all perform admirably.  Give it a shot, you may enjoy it.  I give Gnomeo & Juliet “Not good, not bad, it’s FAIR Verona” out of “That was my joke!”

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!

The Dark Crystal (1982)


I Hate Your Whimper!

I may have the day off for Thanksgiving, but I don’t have the day off my reviews.  Thems is non-stop, all day every day!  Turkey Day’s movie is a movie picked at random from Netflix Streaming, as I have been doing recently, and is also one that I’ve heard about for a really long time, yet never gotten around to watching.  It’s generally regarded as a classic, but it has eluded me until this Day of Eat Turkey.  This movie is The Dark Crystal, written and directed by Jim Henson, Frank Oz, and David Odell, and starring the voices of Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Lisa Maxwell, Billie Whitelaw, Percy Edwards, Barry Dennen, and Michael Kilgarriff.

Jen (Stephen Garlick) is the last of an Elfen race of puppets called Gelflings who lives with a manattee group called the Mystics until his master dies after telling him he has to find a shard of the Dark Crystal and ram it into the back door of the greater part of the Dark Crystal.  Jen sets off to look for Aughra (Billie Whitelaw), a crazy old lady who lives in an observatory.  Jen retrieves the shard from her and is immediately attacked by some black crab creatures called Garthim, sent by the big bad creatures, some evil, Vulture-lookin’ things called the Skeksis.  They’re trying to stop Jen because a prophecy has foretold that a Gelfling will stop them from achieving immortality at a planetary alignment that happens in a few days.  Jen escapes and soon comes across Kira (Lisa Maxwell), a female Gelfling and cock-blocker for Jen’s former title of “Last of the Gelflings”.  Jen forgives her, and together they go to fulfill their destiny.

Unfortunately, I fell like this movie also suffers from the same curse of being talked up too high as other movies I have reviewed.  This is a good movie, but the talk I had heard about this movie was that it was amazing.  I would probably give it my assumption that this movie was pretty amazing at it’s time, but I didn’t see it then.  Since this movie preceded Labyrinth, this is the first big, puppet movie that I know of.  Unfortunately, I feel like my current age causes a certain degree of disinterest in puppets.  That being said, it’s still an accomplishment and enjoyable to watch, but it feels a bit dated.  The settings and props in this movie were all pretty spectacular and well built.  I especially like the the observatory contraption in Aughra’s place.  You could tell a lot of time went in to these sets.  The puppets themselves, however, were occasionally hit and miss.  The puppets for the Mystics and the Skeksis allowed for them to put a lot of personality into the performances, but the Mystics were barely in the movie and they just went overboard in making the Skeksis seem overly disgusting, especially in the dinner scene that served no purpose other than to show their awful table manners.  The Gelfling and the Podling puppets, however, did not allow for a lot of emoting from their mask-like faces.  It didn’t matter for the part ewok, part Jar Jar, part Fraggle Rockian Podlings because they were scarce in the movie, but the stars of the movie were those Gelflings.  I feel like they should’ve put a little more articulation into their faces to keep them from looking so creepy.  Those crab-like Garthim things, though, were pretty badass and scary.

The story of the movie is pretty classic, but still good.  You’ve got the whole rags to riches type thing, though the riches is more just fulfilling his destiny.  You have a love interest, a big bad guy, a potential cataclysm, and a happy ending.  The thing that struck me as strange about this movie is that it was a Jim Henson movie and seemed like the kind of movie that would attract kids, but there was a lot of hardcore fucking in it.  No, I’m kidding.  What actually surprised me was how much death was in this movie.  In the opening narration, every other word is “death”.  A lot of things died during the course of the movie as well.  It wasn’t gory or anything, but it seemed to include more mature topics than I would expect out of a movie I assume is for kids.  There was also one part that made me laugh.  Jen and Kira came up on a place that made Kira say “Bad things happened here once.  Now we don’t go in there.”  That must really limit the amount of places you can go, right?  Bad things have happened a lot of places.  “Oh, I don’t go in my bathroom.  I stubbed my toe in there once.  But I REALLY haveta go.”

I kind of talked about the performances already when talking about the puppets, and since there wasn’t really any live action in this movie, I’ll have to skip the performances.  The sound did occur to me at one point.  For the most part, the sound was very good.  It seemed to be an orchestra and usually fit the scene, but there were a couple of points where something exciting was happening and the music wasn’t really swelling as it should in such a scene.  It seemed like the music was there and trying to support the action, but someone forgot to turn up the volume.

I wish I had seen this movie when I was younger, so that the memory of loving it then would help me love it now.  I saw Labyrinth when I was younger, and I still really like that movie.  I still appreciated this movie for it’s achievement, but also wish the main character’s puppets had more articulating faces.  The story was fine, the sound could’ve been mixed better, but it was a fine movie.  I feel comfortable saying you should watch this movie, but you probably won’t like it as much as you would if you saw it when you were young.  The Dark Crystal gets “Sometimes good.  Sometimes bad” out of “Heal the Crystal!”

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Ip Man (2010)


The Ass-Whoopinest Movie I’ve Seen in a While

I was somewhat in a hurry to pick the movie for today’s review because of my work schedule, but I think I’ve picked a good’n, at least if’n you like a good ass-whoopin’.  It is loosely based on the life of a famous grandmaster of Wing Chun martial arts.  And, though he may not be nearly as famous to Americans, I would wager every one of them knows the name of one of his most famous students, Bruce Lee.  This movie is called Ip Man, based on the life of Ip Man, and was written by Edmond Wong, directed by Wilson Yip, and stars Donnie Yen, Lynn Hung, Simon Yam, Hiroyuki Ikeuchi, Fan Siu-wong, and Shibuya Tenma.  Good luck pronouncing THOSE names!

In 1930’s Foshan, Ip Man (Donnie Yen) is a master of whoop ass.  He’s the greatest martial artist in a town full of martial artists, and is also very rich so he has no need to train pupils, though he will, on occasion, have a private sparring match with one of the town’s masters.  One day, a bunch of assholes from up North come into town and start challenging all the masters.  The head of the group, Jun Shanzhao (Fan Siu-wong), takes on the masters one by one and beats them handily.  But then he hears about Ip Man and decides that this is the ass he needs to kick to gain enough respect to start a school in Foshan.  Ip Man beats that ass.  We then montage our way through the Japanese invasion of 1937 and Ip Man and his wife, Cheung Wing-sing (Lynn Hung), and their son are now poor and Ip Man is forced to take a manual labor job to keep his family fed.  Japanese General Miura (Hiroyuki Ikeuchi) has been sending out his people to find martial artists to fight for his enjoyment, and occasionally with him, offering a bag of rice as a prize.  When one of Ip Man’s friends disappears after such a tournament (having been beaten to death by Miura), Ip Man goes to investigate, only to see a fellow master get shot by Miura’s deputy Sato (Shibuya Tenma).  Ip Man whoops up on 10 dudes and leaves.  Miura becomes obsessed with defeating Ip Man, but Ip Man doesn’t want to.  But Miura has ways of making Ip Man change his mind…

To put it plainly, this is one of the most awesome martial arts movies I have seen, and I have seen a great many martial arts movies.  Typically, a martial arts movie will be fairly light on story (or just make it a retelling of some ancient myth), but be driven by it’s fights.  I guess you could say Ip Man is kind of both.  The story is fine (albeit a little typical for a martial arts movie), but I doubt I would be that interested if there weren’t fighting in it.  It’s not uncommon in martial arts movies to have a lone martial artist change the nation with the power of his fist.  It’s also not that uncommon for a movie to have someone rich become poor.  Typically, a martial arts movie’s hero will also be the one who is best at the art of combining foot and ass, and in this movie that person just happens to be Donnie Yen.  It’s said to be based on the life of the real Ip Man, but it’s got very little in common to his actual life from what I’ve read.  Not that I care, though.  I probably wouldn’t have known who Ip Man was were it not for this film, and after it, I think he’s an epic badass.  His real life would probably have been much less badass, and would have made a much less interesting movie, so it’s for the best.  As it stands, it’s admittedly light on story for a movie, though probably a little above average on story for a martial arts movie.  The settings of this movie are mostly gorgeous in the first half and pretty much what you’d expect, and everything gets darker and less colorful as harsh times fall on Foshan.  The movie was filmed very well, making me buy it in BluRay so I wouldn’t lose anything.  But let’s face it, you wouldn’t watch this movie for the story or the cinematography, would you?

Let’s talk about the reason you should see this movie: the utterly epic ass whoopings.  Because Bruce Lee’s style was less Wing Chun and more Jeet Kune Do by the time I became familiar with him, I had never seen Wing Chun in a movie before.  And, if this fighting style is anything remotely like it is in this movie, I wanna learn them shits.  I’m definitely not qualified to try to define the style for you people, but suffice to say my favorite part is the rapid-fire, machine gun-like punches to the face.  I’m going to recommend you see this movie, so I won’t bother trying to describe Wing Chun.  A lot of this movie’s fights are one-on-one fights and there are a couple with weapons such as a sword, a blade on the end of a staff, and the deadliest of all: the feather duster.  Though there are a few fights after it, the pinnacle of the movie (for me) happens around the end of the second act, when Ip Man witnesses his friend and fellow martial arts master get shot in the head for “cheating”.  He demands to get into the tournament area and challenges 10 men to a fight.  The entire movie up to this point had shown Ip Man as a very polite, reserved fellow, even in the worst of times.  People had to sometimes tell him to fight back in his duels because he would prefer to play with the person instead of humiliating them.  But that Ip Man was a little happier.  Putting on his grumpy pants, Ip Man thoroughly thrashes these 10 dudes like nobody’s bidness.  He breaks a bone or two, punches the shit out of some faces, and leaves 10 dudes in rather uncomfortable positions on the floor, having been untouched himself.  Then he walks off without taking his rice, which is Chinese for “Go fuck your grandma, Miura!”  If you don’t want to watch the whole movie (which I think is your mistake to make), do yourself a favor and try to find this scene on YouTube or something.  I love this fight, and all the others.

Generally, I wouldn’t expect very much acting from my martial arts movies, but this one does surprise you on occasion.  Donnie Yen takes a few emotional turns in this movie (as I described in the last paragraph), and even breaks into tears at one point.  Add that to the fact that the man had to learn a whole new fighting style for this movie and executed both his performance and ass whooping very well, and I say this is Donnie Yen’s best movie that I’ve ever seen.  Lynn Hung, as his wife, annoyed me for the greater majority of the movie because she didn’t want her husband to fight people.  Look, I know that fighting people COULD get him hurt, but I don’t think the guy even got touched by an opponent until the last fight in the movie, so maybe stop worrying and let him do his thing.  It is wrong for you to get in the way of someone doing something they are so epically awesome at.  But she also had a few well-performed emotional scenes, so I don’t hate her.  Fan Sui-wong did well as the asshole from the North, but didn’t have to stretch very much with the acting chops here.  Hiroyuki Ikeuchi was an interesting character, but kind of seemed like the writers couldn’t figure out what they wanted to do with him.  He was a bit of an asshole and definitely didn’t have the Chinese’s interests in mind, but he was also pretty respectful of other martial artists.  He scolded his deputy for shooting the martial artist that lead to the 10-man ass whooping, and also wanted a fair fight with Ip Man for the last scene of the movie, but then ruined it by telling his deputy to shoot Ip Man if he were to lose.  But at least he didn’t stab him in the kidney-ribs before the fight like in Gladiator.  I guess I’ll just have to split the difference and call him an honorable asshole.

This movie is currently available to be instantly streamed via Netflix, so I will recommend that anyone with Netflix streaming check this movie out.  It’s a decent story with solid performances, but the ass-kicking is top notch and worth the price of admission.  If you don’t like martial arts movies, this movie may not have a lot for you, but I’m pretty confident that even you wouldn’t hate it.  If you like martial arts movies, how haven’t you seen this shit yet?!  You’ll have to wait for their eventual reviews, but there’s also a sequel and a prequel already available for this movie, and I recall both having pretty awesome fight scenes as well.  Ip Man gets “I wish to fight ten men” out of “Somebody come clean up your ten men.”

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!