It’s just a few short hours until the year comes to an end, so — along with pretty much everybody else in the world of blogging — I thought I’d take a look back on the past year of entertainment and my blog. I’m picking my favorites and least favorites, but I’m not getting too fancy with any awards ceremonies or anything like that. You want that, check out Fogs’ Movie Reviews’ Major Awards. The man has put himself through some inhuman suffering to be able to review not just the best but also the worst of the year, and if someone sits through both Jack and Jill and Big Mommas, he deserves some reward for his pain.
Me, I’m just keeping it simple with this one post. A little talk about the blog, a little talk about movies and TV. Continue reading →
Sometimes certain pairings seem to be perfect matches for comedy, ideas of the “why didn’t anyone think of this before?” variety. Martin Short and Kurt Russell form one such pairing, where the potential for humor is obvious as soon as it’s stated. Director Thom Eberhardt took the helm for just that, with 1992′s Captain Ron.
Short is good, Russell is great. Eberhardt… not so much. It’s telling that this somewhat-obscure comedy is his most notable directorial work, at least from what I recognized on his IMDb listing. Having just finished watching the film, I find myself wondering what it might have been like if it had been directed by Rob Reiner, or John Hughes, or Ivan Reitman, and so on. Because under the right hands, this decent film looks like it could have been a hilarious film. As it is, it’s just all right. Continue reading →
Every so often, you come across a movie where it seems like the only participants who weren’t putting in a serious effort were the ones in charge. 1986′s sci-fi flick Solarbabies is such a film, where it seems like the director, producers, and screenwriters just didn’t care enough to put any polish on it. It’s too bad, because the actors — led by Jami Gertz and Jason Patric, who would pair up again a year later in the cult classic vampire film The Lost Boys — all seem to be taking the film reasonably seriously, putting in honest efforts at making their characters believable when the script isn’t actively working against them.
Clearly inspired by Mad Max and Rollerball, but aimed more at the teenaged crowd, Solarbabies is actually a pretty fun (albeit intrinsically goofy) film if one can overlook the flaws. Had those flaws actually been addressed, it could have even been a good film, though likely not a stellar one. Continue reading →
For reasons I’m not entirely clear on, I was curious about the distribution of movie theatres in the United States. Looking around on other blogs, and discussing movies with all of you, it’s pretty obvious that ticket prices vary pretty wildly, and I got to wondering what that actually looked like, whether some states were more populated with movie viewing opportunities, and whether any rhyme or reason could be determined from any of this.
When I was done, I figured it might be at least a little interesting to share. Continue reading →
One last movie for the Christmas season, albeit just a bit after-the-fact, before we move on to non-season-specific fare for another year. Of course, 2005′s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a Christmas movie only in the sense that Die Hard is a Christmas movie — which is to say, it takes place at Christmas time, and there are a few visual references and songs used, but there’s not really anything to do with Christmas in the film and it could just as easily have been set in mid-June.
But that’s all right. Hundreds of bloggers seem to be putting Die Hard up at the top of their “top Christmas films” lists, inappropriate though it really is, so if it’s fair for them, it’s fair for me to lump this in with the Christmas cinema. After all, I did move it up on my schedule simply from hearing it was set at Christmas time, so while I wouldn’t classify it as a Christmas movie, it’s close enough for just after Christmas.
Besides, it does feature Michelle Monaghan in a skimpy Santa dress. Die Hard didn’t have that. Continue reading →
“We’re gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny f’ing Kaye!”
For my second “Favorite Films” review, I thought I’d go back to the well I went to in the first one — that of John Hughes holiday movies. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation may have a lot more competition, and much steeper competition, for the title of best movie for its holiday, but even if it wouldn’t take everyone’s top spot, it’s certainly a solid contender. It’s easily the Christmas movie I watch most often, and that’s due to both how funny it is, and how believable it is.
Released in 1989, when Chevy Chase was at the peak of his career, Christmas Vacation has him reprising his role as Clark Griswold, this time trying to ensure the perfect Christmas for his kids and extended family. Of course, it’s not going to be that easy — he’s Clark Griswold, after all, and there’s no such thing as a successful Griswold vacation. Continue reading →
Entertainment Weekly is reporting that Harrison Ford and Abigail Breslin have signed on to play roles in Ender’s Game, a 2013 film adaptation of Orson Scott Card’s sci-fi classic about a boy genius conscripted into a war against alien invaders. Asa Butterfield, currently starring in Hugo, will play the title role, Andrew “Ender” Wiggins; Breslin will play his older sister Valentine. Ford is Col. Hyram Graff, the head of the military academy.
I’m sure there’s a lot of rejoicing among science fiction fans, both at the news of a movie, and at the news of the casting of these roles. Me, I’m optimistic about the first film, but it’s tempered by a couple things. First, Ford’s role isn’t going to be a large one if it’s true to the book, so this is more like hiring a big-name actor for a cameo than casting a star in the lead. Second… the movie is either going to be done well, or it’s going to be done poorly. So far that’s tautological and no different from anything else. But if it’s done well, it’ll probably be a success — which means they’ll feel compelled to film the sequels as well. And the first sequel was both mediocre and far and away the best of the bunch. So either way, this is going to amount to some bad sci-fi films in the mid 2010s.
Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swann is another example of low-budget 1980s science fiction, that vastly populated classification of films that I love as guilty pleasures (though I don’t really feel any guilt about such things). Timerider was released in 1982, and stars Fred Ward as the title character, motorcycle racing star Lyle Swann. Unlike a lot of low-budget science fiction films, it’s not really the budget that hurts this movie; by using a time-travel story, the creators of the film easily escaped the need for dedicating any significant effort into the special effects. No, this movie falls into cheese solely based on the characters in the film. A great movie could have been made with this concept; instead, we get a movie that is just fun enough to enjoy and just goofy enough to laugh at — the perfect balance of 1980s cheese. Continue reading →
I have to admit it hasn’t been as easy as I would hope finding Christmas movies to watch (and review) this year. Hulu’s offering a lot of stuff, but it’s all Lifetime and ABC Family drivel. Call me crazy, but The Twelve Dates of Christmas doesn’t sound like a winner. And most of the Christmas classics seem to be reserved for Christmas Eve marathons by the various cable networks, so finding spontaneous selections is a matter of doing some serious channel surfing and hoping something turns up — and that it hasn’t already started (I hate watching a movie that’s had even 10 minutes pass). This evening, Encore happened to begin a showing of 1996′s Jingle All the Way literally the very minute my surfing brought me to their listing. I hadn’t seen this Arnold Schwarzenegger comedy, and it sounded like it at least had the potential to be mildly entertaining, so this seemed like a minor Christmas miracle to me.
Dictionary.com defines miracle as “an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause.” At no point in that definition does it state that this is a good thing. Continue reading →
There are many, many adaptations of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, as I noted before. One which seems to have fallen by the way-side is a TV special released in 1971, animated under the eye of none other than Chuck Jones, one of the guiding hands of Looney Tunes. Seldom re-aired, not yet available on DVD, it’s solely available on VHS to date. But if you can track it down and have the means to watch it, it’s certainly worth a look. (Hopefully someone will eventually put it out on DVD, but it’s always a bit of a long shot on TV specials). Continue reading →