“They’ve just formed Blazing Sword!”

Last weekend, I saw Pacific Rim. Wow. I loved it. Something about ginormous robot types (called jaegers) pummeling even more ginormous alien monsters… Now that’s good cinema. Don’t get me wrong. There is not one ounce of character development in this movie. Characters met at the beginning of the movie are more or less the same if they live to see the ending credits. You can’t have it all, people!

Anyways, one of the things I really liked about Pacific Rim was that this might be the closest I ever come to seeing a live-action version of Voltron: Defender of the Universe. Hands down, Voltron was my favorite cartoon when I was a kid. Commander Keith was the no-nonsense leader of the team. The Princess was pretty and in constant danger of being kidnapped by the evil Prince Lotor who was more conceited and far less evil than his father King Zarkon. And the sexually ambiguous Pidge talked to mice.

Every episode, the king’s witch, Hagar, would send down a Robeast (aka giant alien monster) which would attack and wreak general havoc on the goodly peoples of Planet Arus. I’m sorry. If my planet was being attacked on a regular basis, I’d have give serious consideration to relocation. Just saying.   

So…the Robeast would attack, and then the Voltron team would assemble their individual lion robots into Voltron!! (Which rocked!) The two would fight on the planet and fight in space. Usually, the robeast would gain the upper hand at some point. Then and only then would Voltron use its secret weapon: Blazing Sword. Ah yes. Best part ever. From that point on, the Robeast has no chance. It’s over.

So, during a massive fight in Pacific Rim there was a scene where the jaeger is out of ammo and is about to lose a fight. What to do…. One character mentions they have one weapon left which just happens to be a sword. Right there in the theater, I elbowed my good friend Sabrina and hissed in her ear, “they’ve just formed Blazing Sword!!!!” I might have shouted it. I’m not sure.

Back several years ago. Might have been 2007 or so, I heard many a tale of a live-action Voltron movie. I was eager to learn more. Sadly, nothing has come to pass. I found a report from a year ago saying that the movie was still in development. Maybe if Pacific Rim does really well, the studios will see that yes, there is an audience for this movie! Maybe.

Anyhoo, if the Voltron movie never gets made, at least I’ll have that one scene from Pacific Rim. I can hold on to that for a while.

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Orlando Bloom’s rather tall hair and other oddities

I started typing this about 3/4 of the way through 2011’s The Three Musketeers. Wow. It’s really not very good at all. Honestly, yeah. I keep waiting for it to improve, but it’s not happening.

It’s not bad acting or anything. There is an insanely good cast for this movie. Matthew Macfadyen, Ray Stevenson, and Luke Evans play the titular characters. The fault, instead, lies with the insertion of  a major steampunk element into the classic Dumas tale along with many a cheesy line or two.  Honestly, the plot gets downright zany. The trailer (embedded above) says “not like before.” Ain’t that the truth. Let me list a few items of note:

1. Milla Jovovich as Milady de Winter. She’s like a cat burglar who knows kung fu and the finer points of swordplay.

2. King Louis XIII. Usually he’s portrayed as naive. This version has the inexperienced king as kind of stupid and a bit foppish. I love his little hats! Also, Freddie Fox, who plays the king, has such a resemblance to Vincent Caso, that I kept thinking he was Bladezz from The Guild. 

3. There is a freakin’ flying ship in the movie. It looks like a pirate ship / zeppelin.  No one in the movie thinks this is odd. Everyone’s cool with it. Here’s some perspective for you: Louis XIII ascended the French throne in 1610. This is the same year the bagel was invented. From bagel to flying ship—anything goes!

4. Orlando Bloom’s hair. It’s not so much a coiffure as a structure. It’s rather tall and steals every scene away from him.

5. Christoph Waltz as Cardinal Richelieu. One feels that he’s holding back from laughing and walking off the set. And don’t get me started on Mads Mikkelsen as Captain Rochefort. I can’t tell if he’s trying to be creepy or eccentric. Maybe a little bit of both?  I get the feeling he’s winking at us from behind the eyepatch.

6. Wait, apparently one airship isn’t enough. There is a total aerial naval showdown in the sky. Huh? If it wasn’t so ridiculous, it would be kind of cool.

*****

Now, I will say this. The sword fighting (when there is any) is pretty groovy. The costumes are nice and technicolorrific. Yes, that’s now a word I just made up. Feel free to use it.

Also, Paul W.S. Anderson directed this flick. He’s the same guy who directed all the Resident Evil movies. So I guess as ridiculous as this movie was, it could have been worse.  Richelieu could have set up an army of undead in hopes of stealing the French throne. Now that would have been something to see.

Technology Corner

You probably aren’t aware, but up until very recently, my entertainment system has been running old school. You’d think with my obsession with films that I would have a 55″ mega flat screen and the latest in Blu-ray goodness. Um no. I tend to use appliances (and clothes and cars and shoes) until they can no longer be repaired. I will use an item up until the point it has died, and even then I will try to salvage it somehow. I think I’ve inherited that from my grandmother. She’ll save three green beans and call them leftovers.

Over the past few years, I’ve gotten a lot of teasing from some folks over my ye olde 23″ television. This would be the giant boxy tube tv that had to have a converter box affixed to it a few years back when everything went digital. That’s right. I don’t have cable or satellite either. I have noticed lately that one of the speakers in my tv crackles and hisses and sometimes just plays hooky when it’s supposed to be doing speaker things.

About five months ago, I upgraded my Playstation 2 to the PS3 model. You know…just in time for the PS4 announcement. *sigh* Anyways, I’ve had some difficulties reading text on my wee tv screen when playing my PS3 games such as  Mass Effect 2. Something had to be done. So….a new tv was procured. A fancy flat-screen that’s 32″ and quite nice. Alas, herein lies the problem.

The tv is a bit too nice. My dvd player (with VHS side as well) won’t hook up to it. Everything is HDMI. Crazy new technology!! I now run my movies via the PS3, so that problem is solved. However, it took me 4 hours to set all this up. Four hours and 2 trips to Wallyworld. But it’s done.

I’m all upgraded for now. I have to admit, movies look good on a bigger screen, and I can actually read the text in my video games! Monumental stuff, folks.  I have just one final worry…

I still own the VHS box set of the original Star Wars trilogy. This would be the set that came out in the early/mid-90s with the Leonard Maltin interviews prior to the whole “Special Edition” versions. This is the last known edition of the films as they were—before the changes. We are talking original Ewok song! We are talking about a friendly old man as ghostie Anakin instead of Hayden Christiansen.  HAN SHOOTS FIRST!!!!!.

I need to really research how I can hook up my spare (yes, I keep a spare) VCR to my newfangled set. Ideas, anyone? Is there some sort of converter cable out there? Old school on one end and new style on the other? There’s got to be a Tosche Station somewhere nearby.

Think, think, think…

Happy Birthday to Meh

It has been a whole year (and a week) since I started this project. One year!!! Happy Birthday to my little blog!!!!

When I first posted my plan for this blog, I had no idea I would still be working on it a year later. Not that I planned to write a couple posts and ditch the project, but I just couldn’t see that far out. Now, 51 posts later, here we are.

I’d like to thank my followers and any stray readers that come across my little island of movie rants.  I’d like to thank all those B-movies out there. Thank you to Syfy, Hallmark, and ye olde made for television movies. Keep making those movies, folks.

If I had cake, I’d share it. Not sure how to do that via the interwebs, but you get the picture. Just go out and get a cupcake or something. Sneak it into a film and enjoy it there.  Do not send me your receipt. You will not be reimbursed.

Looking ahead, I have two pieces I’m working on at present. So stay tuned…

Thanks again for reading!

 

 

Seasonal Mirth

Summer is here and I’m in a funk. Instead of hanging out at the local movie theater to see the latest and greatest (and I do plan to do that. I did see the new Star Trek movie, and I highly endorse it)…and instead of grilling all manner of meat and veg whilst enjoying a cold beer or two…

Confession time. I’ve been doing something else. I’ve been secretly watching cheesy Christmas movies again. It’s not even that time of year!! I’m so embarrassed. 

Last week I watched A Christmas Kiss in which a girl and a guy in a falling elevator (it rights itself, don’t worry) kiss and then while she later recognizes him, he does not reciprocate. This is mainly due to the fact that her makeup artist roommate had painted her face all up prior to the drama. Mystery elevator man turns out to be a wealthy philanthropist (aren’t they all?) who is planning the annual charity event for his family’s um…charity. Our girl is an interior decorator who works for an evil harpy who happens to be dating mystery elevator man. Is he with the right woman? Will the charity event be as Christmasy as it can be? [Side note: This movie was sooooo cheesy and sugary. Acting was pretty crummy in places and the story was predictable. I watched every second.]

The other movie I recently watched was Christmas in Boston starring Marla Sokoloff who you might remember from Full House but most likely from The Practice. Sokoloff plays a newspaper reporter who is covering a local toy expo. The thing is…her long time pen pal whom she’s never met is also at the expo. They decide to finally meet up. The other thing is…both Sokoloff and her pen pal have exchanged pictures not of themselves but of their respective besties. What does one do in a TV movie? One asks loyal friend to pretend to be him/her and meet the other person. Confused yet? I was just a little. But it’s really cute and festive in all its seasonal mirth. Yes, I saw that I used that phrase and you know what? I’m keeping it. Seasonal mirth, I’ll say it again.

And so what if I watched the end of a movie (never caught the title) where two orphan children were given some Christmas happiness and found a new home and family? So what if I cried a little bit?  It’s all good!

I actually have a couple more holiday-themed movies lined up to watch whenever I find a couple of hours to kill. I think Hulu might have Charlie Brown and Rudolph all year. I can watch those too!!! I’m a little bit worried. I might need help.

Yes sir, I liked it: InSight

I really don’t like ghosts or ghost stories. Ghostbusters left me traumatized for weeks.  I was convinced that Slimer was going to ooze out of the faucet in the bathroom. I kid you not. Lady in White? Freaked me out. Poltergeist? Viewed the one and only time.

I think my thing about ghosts is that they can’t be killed. You can kill a vampire. You can kill a werewolf. Zombies? Them too. Ghosts? Nope. All you can do is move and hope they don’t follow. For this reason, there are many movies in the ghost/horror genre that I have avoided over the years. I rarely even read ghost stories.

But….

Oddly enough, I recently watched a ghostie-type movie that I enjoyed enough to pause so I could take notes and also to suggest to a couple of people.  This rare gem is titled InSight and stars Sean Patrick Flanery and Natalie Zea.

Zea plays an ER nurse named Kaitlyn. One night a stabbing victim is brought into the hospital. As she flatlines on the stretcher, the victim suddenly opens her eyes and speaks to Kaitlyn, saying “he loved me”—just as the defibrillator is applied. The electrical current zaps Kaitlyn too. Both die, but Kaitlyn is revived after a minute. Also, no one else remembers the girl regaining consciousness.

Pretty much from that point on, Kaitlyn starts seeing visions of the dead girl’s final moments. It’s almost like she’s experiencing memories that aren’t her own. Honestly, the way the spirit of the girl (or her memories at least) keep haunting, Kaitlyn, I was reminded of  Prince Hamlet being led on by the ghost of his father. That sort of all-encompassing thing. You know… That said, Kaitlyn takes it upon herself to solve the murder even if that means getting in the way of Flanery’s police detective who is also investigating. The two eventually team up, and away we go. [Special Note: I love finding ways to work Hamlet into a conversation. This one practically fell into my lap. You’re welcome.]

I’ve had a sweet spot in my heart for Sean Patrick Flanery ever since he appeared on the scene as Young Indiana Jones. I had several episodes of the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles recorded on VHS once upon a time. About a year ago, I decided to rewatch some of these episodes from my adolescent years thinking they’d be just as awesome. Um…no. They are all fairly cheesy. But whatever. I had a great time watching them back in the day, and that’s all that matters. The point is that I’m always happy to see Mr. Flanery working.

I guess the best way to describe the movie is to call it a psychological ghost story. There were a few scary moments, but like Kaitlyn, I was all about finding out who the killer was. From early on, I was sucked into the story and held on for the ride. The movie had a cool noirish feel to it in places. For the most part this seemed to work.

InSight surprised me. I was expecting to watch a procedural murder mystery, and it turned out to be so much more. Just when I thought I had things figured out, another twist would come along, and I’d be back to square one. For that and other reasons, the movie was most enjoyable. I’d suggest it for a nice evening in. Also, Christopher Lloyd has a small role. That’s a bonus on its own.

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Fun Fact:  According to IMDB.com, the movie was shot in 15 days. That’s pretty groovy.

“I didn’t know he was in this!”

You know what I love? Wait. Don’t answer that. There is a really long list that is always in flux.  Let me start over.  Ahem…

Do you know what I love when I watch an older movie (by older, I mean it has been around for longer than 5 years)? I love seeing a now-popular actor/actress who at the time of said movie only played a small or supporting role. It’s like seeing them before they were them!

Case in point: Cellular. Though this movie came out in 2004, I had yet to see it until this past weekend. What can I say? I just kept putting it off. Anyways, there I was watching Chris Evans (yum) driving all over town trying to stay on the phone with and save a kidnapped Kim Basinger (where is she these days?). And who was the bad guy in the movie? Jason Statham.

I had no idea he was in this film. None at all. He tends to play sort of an antihero role in his films for the most part. He’s the bad boy you just love cause you know he’s not all that bad. Well in this film, he’s a total baddie. His character also had little to no personality. Really, he just looked threatening and used a passable American accent. Kudos for the accent work, btw!

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe everyone else who saw Cellular back almost 10 years ago already knew who Statham was. By 2004, he had a number of movie hits already under his belt. Whatever. I enjoyed the surprise casting (well surprise for me apparently).

How about you, fearless readers? Have you ever “discovered” a familiar face in a movie from several years back? If so, who/what?

Beardless Vikings and Other Strange Tales

I’m going to just come out with it. Blood of Beasts was meh. Actually, it was more like bleh.  I know that’s harsh, but yeah.  Originally, I had decided to give Jane March a second chance seeing as I was very critical of her performance in Grimm’s Snow White.  For her part in BoB, she was okay. The rest of the movie however…

BoB is a rather bland retelling of Beauty and the Beast only it’s set during the good old Viking times of olde. I think it’s Vikings.  None of the men have facial hair(!!!!), but almost all of them have on bad wigs. Baaaad wigs, I tell you!  Also, their waterfront Viking village looks like it may have been plundered from the Ewoks.

The “Beauty” of this story is played by Jane March. She is Freya, the Viking king’s daughter. It’s a tough world for Freya. She’s mourning the loss of her true love Agnar and at the same time, she’s having to deal with being promised to the village’s resident bully, Sven.

The “Beast” would be this bear/wolf man who lives on this distant land that the village men keep trying to reclaim. The costume for this guy does work. It’s like he’s wearing a bear head hoodie of sorts. This gives the appearance that his actual face is coming out of the mouth of a bear. Also, he’s got Darth Maul makeup on, so it’s kind of disturbing—which I gather is what the filmmakers were going for. Kudos!

So at one point, the Viking men do battle with the Beast (or as they refer to him, Odin’s Beast). Sven being the all-around groovy guy that he is, flees in fear and leaves the king to the mercy of the Beast.  Of course Freya bravely travels to the Beast’s lair to beg her father’s release. She strikes a deal with the beast man to take her father’s place, and he accepts. You know the rest of the story.

While I’m glad the filmmakers tried to empower Freya by making her a Viking princess who has her own armor and can totally wield a sword, they failed to take into account one key point. Jane March is a really skinny chick. The armor sort of swallows her, and I have no idea how she’s seeing out of her helmet.

One nice thing in this movie is that the story is split between the goings on at Chez Beast and Viking Village.  Justin Whalin (I know!) plays Eric. He was injured during the initial Beast fight, and feels a lot of guilt for leaving the king behind. He’s also one of the first people to start to stand up to Sven (who has appointed himself mayor of the village people).

Plot pacing, however, does not save this film. Most of the costumes look like they were picked up from Party City. Also,pretty much all the characters are one-dimensional. The king, is a well-meaning idiot. Sven has one setting: tool. March, while way better than she was in Grimm’s Snow White, wasn’t exactly wowing me here. Her character just seemed blah. Also, I think it’s now a proven fact that March cannot conjure up real tears. Whalin’s the best thing in this so….yeah.

The story was so-so. Honestly, I was bored through most of the viewing. It’s a different take on the fairy tale—particularly the ending, so I give the movie points for that. However, I wasn’t a fan of the ending. Points rescinded. It’s worth a watch if you enjoy love stories without the chemistry or if you are a fan of strawberry jam being used for fake blood. Most of the action sequences use the shakey-cam effect. I’ve come to realize from my numerous B-movie viewings, that the shakey-cam is used when the budget won’t allow for well-choreographed action sequences. Enough already! I didn’t enjoy it, but maybe someone else will.

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Oh and sidenote: Justin Whalin!  Last I saw you was in Dungeons and Dragons (yeesh). Ye of the promising acting career post TV’s Lois & Clark; where hath you been? Cause you shouldn’t have been here.

In-Flight Entertainment

I have returned from my vacation! Miss me? While  I’ve been traversing the globe, I’ve had a few good ideas for posts. One such idea came to me while I was trapped on a plane for a 10-hour transatlantic flight. But first, let me back up a bit.

The last time I flew from the US to Europe was two years ago. I flew Delta, and it was one of the older model planes. This meant that there were a series of monitors placed throughout the Economy cabin and we the passengers would watch whatever it was that was presented to us.  We all had to watch the same thing.  While an in-flight movie or TV show is most excellent, there was no choice in the matter. So in 2010, for my flight over the pond, these were the entertainments provided (per my journal notes):

  1. The King’s Speech (Oscar-winning and very good but alas edited for language which ruined one of the funniest sequences in the whole movie.)
  2. Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (meh)
  3. The Karate Kid (The new version with Jackie Chan and Will Smith’s kid. Luckily, I think I slept through most of this)
  4. One episode of The Office
  5. One episode of Glee (by this point, I wondered if we had all died and this was perhaps Hell.)

On the flight back home, which is a longer flight btw, we were horribly punished by way of in-flight entertainment:

  1. Little Fockers (Noooooo!!!!)
  2. The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader (eh…it was okay, but honestly I can’t remember much about it)
  3. Secretariat (This one was pretty good. High point of the flight home)
  4. One episode of The Big Bang Theory (a show I happen to enjoy)

Did you notice how there was less entertainment for the longer flight?  I sure did.  Anyways travel ahead to two years later (present day) and I’m on the plane again headed over the water. To my joy and surprise, Delta had upgraded their planes and now every passenger was given a personal screen with an array of film, television, and game choices!! Huzzah!

Choice! A fine thing unless you are watching the Matrix films in which the notion of choice becomes a HUGE philosophical cluster. But we aren’t at present, so let’s continue.

On my flight over this time, I mainly planned to sleep. That was a stupid plan because I’ve never been able to relax and sleep on planes. Also, while the airline offers seats with more leg-room, really they should be focusing on the fact that their seat cushions (while supposedly useful as floatation devices) are about as comfortable as a wooden church pew. A severe case of flatt-butt makes it difficult to snuggle into the plane seat. I digress….

Here are the shows/movies I watched on the way over when I wasn’t attempting some mode of sleep:

  1. An episode of Top Gear in which they went over the history of the Bond car. Richard Hammond hosted and it was really fun.
  2. The Girl (The HBO movie about Tippi Hedron and Alfred Hitchcock while they made The Birds and Marnie. I love Hitchcock’s movies, and found this behind the scenes story to be pretty good. Toby Jones was really creepy as Hitch. This was also really fun to watch since the airplane cabin was dark)
  3. Most of Wreck It Ralph (I was fortunate to have a very pleasant passenger in the window seat next to me, so we actually conversed with each other during our meals and between movie choices. For that reason, by the time I started this film, there wasn’t enough time left in the flight to finish it. So far so good though…)

On the flight home, I had an idea. I decided to watch two very different type of movies to see which would be the best kind to watch on a flight. After all, this was a tiny screen (smaller than the iPad). Would an action film not play out as well? Or, seeing as the flight back was longer and seemed so, would a drama increase the tedium? As a result, the following were watched:

  1. The Avengers I had seen this in the theater, so this was the first time watching since. (Sadly, my view screen was selective in any settings actions. I had to watch half the movie with only one ear bud in since I couldn’t get the volume down from 11 to a kinder, gentler, NORMAL volume. At some point though, the volume went to normal or else my eardrum just gave up) Overall, I’d say that while I enjoyed the movie greatly, I would have preferred to see it on a much larger screen as most of the action is just lost due to the size of the viewing area.
  2. Anna Karenina (the Keira Knightley version). I’ve never been a big fan of this story, but this adaptation totally sucked me in. For two hours I forgot I was on the plane. So maybe a smaller movie plays better with the limited space.
  3. Brave (This is the Pixar one that came out last year.) I had never seen it before. Animated films play out well on the view screen too. However, I wasn’t overly crazy about this one. Maybe it’s me. It was funny, sweet, exciting, and yet felt a little predictable. I felt it could have been a wee bit more than what it was.
  4. Hitchcock (the Anthony Hopkins version). I thought I’d bookend my flights with yet another movie about Hitch and his moviemaking. This one follows the great director as he worked to get Psycho made. I have the film on my Netflix queue right now because about halfway though the movie, everyone’s view screens froze up, and the flight attendants had to reset the system. If I wanted to finish the movie, I would have had to fast-forward through it, but the system didn’t fast-forward very quickly. A huge flaw, if you ask me.

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Thoughts

Hooray for choice even though it comes in the form of a tiny screen! While action films might not work out as well, many other film and TV type options did. Boo for flawed touch screen technology, however. While I mainly had volume problems, the lady across the aisle from me couldn’t get her screen to even work. She had to sit and stare out the window for most of the flight. Lesson learned? Always pack a backup entertainment device be it iPad, book, or crossword.

 

Intermission

Believe it or not, but….I haven’t watched a movie in well over a week. Crazy, right?  I think so. I’ve been busy playing catch-up on Sanctuary (just finishing up Season 3), playing Batman: Arkham Asylum for the PS3 (it’s on loan, so I’m trying to get through it quickly), and prepping for my upcoming vacation.  On top of work and other life activities, movie-watching took a much needed break.

I have a review I’m working on for you. I recently watched Blood of Beasts which um..was a little bloody and there was a beast so they have that in their favor. When I finish the review, it shall be posted. No need to fear missing out on that one. I have more than a few things to say.

Anyways, the point I’m trying to make (and am doing a terrible job at doing so) is that in a couple weeks, I’ll be more than ready for some serious movie-watching, heckling, and reviewing. I hope you will tune in and laugh with me (or at me–whichever). 

Until then, enjoy the intermission music.