The X-Women

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Knight and Day is one hell of a fun summer movie

Just went and saw the new summer movie, Knight and Day starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz. And I thought it was an exhilarating and fun movie. For all the doubters and naysayers who loathe Tom Cruise now for whatever reason, this movie shows why he is a true movie star. Cruise plays American super spy Roy Miller (think of Miller as a kind of off kilter Ethan Hunt, Cruise's character from the Mission Impossible films). He runs into June Haver, a restorer of classic cars (a vibrant Diaz) aboard a plane flight to Boston. The two meet cute and make small talk before things get kinda crazy. This flight happens to be full of agents who want this new energy device that Miller is trying to keep safe. So while June is freshening up in the bathroom, Miller goes ballistic on the agents in some intense and cool fight scenes. He even has to fight the pilot which leads to the next problem, flying and landing this huge 747 passenger plane without killing himself or June. This all happens in the first 20 minutes and it sets the tone for the rest of the film. After a semi successful landing, Roy explains to June what has happened and then drugs her. She wakes up the next morning back in her home like last night's events never happened.

Well, the FBI tracks her down led by the wily agent Fitzgerald (played with all smarminess by Peter Sarsgaard) who question June about Roy. They are transporting her to a safe location to debrief her when Roy literally comes flying in to land on the vehicle. That begins another wild chase and shoot-out that is cool as hell.  Roy has to shoot the bad guys from the hood of the car that June is driving down the interstate. Awesome. And it appears to be all good old fashioned stunt work and not CGI. Soon Roy and June are being chased by his own people and the bad guys who want this new technology. Oh and Roy has to keep the inventor of said device safe as well. The trio end up being whisked from a tropical island hide out to a train bound for Austria, which features a brutal fight between Roy and a would be assassin. Things get all wrapped up in Spain during the running of the bulls. Knight and Day is like a throwback to those 60's spy films with a light tone, gorgeous locations, fun filled action and a jazzy sound score. This film is not too serious like the Daniel Craig Bond films which I also love. But here Knight and Day moves wonderfully thanks to the charisma of Cruise and the charm of Diaz. It also shows that Mr. Cruise still has what it takes to handle this type of film. He can still kick ass with the best of them. I had never seen him in so may fight scenes in one film before and he's awesome. I actually like his character of Roy more than I do of his other super spy character Ethan Hunt. While Hunt is logical and straight faced, Miller is more humorous and more dangerous. And he is very good at what he does. Diaz is an engaging presence as June as she at first doesn't believe Roy but then can't leave his side. They form a solid relationship and keep the movie going at a fluid pace. We enjoyed this film from the opening scene and I can't understand all the bad reviews by critics and fans. This is what a summer film should be: exciting, fun, and showcasing the talents of a true movie star. And I love the catch phrase that Roy always says doing tense moments..."I got this". Amid all the explosions and chases, Cruise also manages to sneak in some subtle acting in the quiet scenes he spends with June. Good stuff. I actually enjoyed this more than I did The A-Team and Iron Man 2. Knight and Day actually has tons of action, more than I thought it would have. And to all the people that dislike Cruise for their own personal reasons because of his recent off-screen antics, I say forget that stuff and just look at the actor and enjoy his films while he is still making good quality work. After all this is the man who has on his resume Top Gun, Risky Business, The Firm, A Few Good Men, The Last Samurai, Collateral, Jerry Maguire just to name a few.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Fun Summer Movies: BACK TO THE FUTURE (1985)

Taking a page from my good friend Kori, I will be writing about past great summer movies that were just fun and entertaining. Nothing too much to think about just a movie where you could sit back in the theater and relax and have a really good time. That magic has been diluted a little bit thanks to overuse of CGI and non-interesting characters. But Hollywood still manages a few good ones every now and then. Summer blockbuster season officially began with 1975's Jaws and never looked back after that. I will post at least one film a week, maybe two if I have enough time. It will be random, no particular order. Whatever movie that I will be thinking of at that time will be the one I post about. I will concentrate on the period of the 80's up until now. Many of these films are the ones as a teenager that I saw over and over at the theaters. And what better film to start off with than 1985's Back To The Future.

I was 15 when this film came out and I thought this was one of the coolest movies ever. And it still is to this day. Everyone knows the story by now: typical small town teen-ager Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox in his best role) who loves rocking the guitar and spending time with his girlfriend Jennifer. Marty doesn't care too much for his home life as he thinks his parents (Crispin Glover, Lea Thompson) are total squares. And he has an abrasive sister to deal with also. Marty's best friend is the eccentric scientist Doc Brown (a hilarious performance by Christopher Lloyd) who is constantly working on some type of science experiment. Well his latest project is time travel. And the good doc has created a time machine out of a DeLorean sports car. He asks Marty to help him out with some test runs at the town mall's parking lot late one night. And much to their surprise it actually works. Of course the Libyans show up looking to kill Doc, since he stole their plutonimum to power his time machine with. After a brief skirmish Marty is forced to jump into the DeLorean and head back to 1955.
That's when the fun really begins as Marty finds Doc during that time period and convinces him that he is from the future. So Doc works on a way to send Marty back home and Marty has to deal with his parents, since he kind of inadvertenly caused them not to meet. And if they don't hook up, then Marty will never be born. And Marty's dad life long nemesis Biff becomes a problem for him. Back to the Future is a great movie and it's the perfect summer film. It has a clever storyline, a terrific cast, lots of humor and cool visual effects that still hold up today. A great musical scene which features Marty rocking out with Johnny Be Good. It's good family fun that everyone can enjoy. And let's not forget the awesome song The Power Of Love by Huey Lewis and the News. Huey actually has a small cameo in the film as well. Produced by Steven Spielberg and directed by ace Robert Zemeckis, who also helmed Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and Romancing the Stone.

Back to the Future was a huge hit during the summer of 1985 as it would gross $200 million in North America alone. Not bad for a film that only cost about $20 million to make. It would be followed by two more sequels that while entertaining, were not as good as the original. In fact Part 2 might cause you some head aches trying to figure out all the time travel gibberish. Regardless, the original is the true classic and it set Michael J. Fox on the path to movie stardom. As he became a mainstay during the late 80's and early 90's with other hit films such as Teen Wolf (1985), The Secret Of  My Success (1987), and Doc Hollywood (1991).
Trivia Notes:

Michael J Fox is the only modern actor in Hollywood to have the top 2 movies on the same weekend at the same time: Back to the Future and Teen Wolf. 1985 was a very good year for Mike.

Apparently Ronald Reagan was amused by Doc Brown's disbelief that an actor like him could become president, so much so that he had the projectionist stop and replay the scene. He also seemed to enjoy it so much that he even made a direct reference of the film in his 1986 State of the Union address: "As they said in the film Back to the Future (1985), 'Where we're going, we don't need roads.'"

Ranked #10 on the American Film Institute's list of the 10 greatest films in the genre "Sci-Fi" in June 2008.
Michael J. Fox had always been the first choice for Marty, but he was unavailable due to scheduling conflicts with his work on "Family Ties" (1982). Eric Stoltz was cast as Marty but he disagreed with the rest of the cast and crew about the tone of the film. After a few weeks of filming, Fox was asked to replace Stoltz. Fox worked out a schedule to fulfill his commitment to both projects. Every day during production, he drove straight to the movie set after taping of the show was finished every day and averaged about one or two hours of sleep. The bulk of the production was filmed from 6pm to 6am, with the daylight scenes filmed on weekends.

A persistent myth is that Michael J. Fox had to learn to skateboard for the film. In fact, he was a reasonably skilled skateboarder, having ridden throughout high school. However, Per Welinder acted as a skateboarding double for the complex scenes, and Tony Hawk (who had originally been cast as a double when Eric Stoltz was playing Marty, but was too tall to double for Fox) helped choreograph and coordinate the skateboarding action.

Memorable quotes:

Marty McFly: Wait a minute, Doc. Ah... Are you telling me that you built a time machine... out of a DeLorean?
Dr. Emmett Brown: The way I see it, if you're gonna build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?

Dr. Emmett Brown: If my calculations are correct, when this baby hits eighty-eight miles per hour... you're gonna see some serious shit.

Lou: You gonna order something, kid?
Marty McFly: Ah, yeah... Give me - Give me a Tab.
Lou: Tab? I can't give you a tab unless you order something.
Marty McFly: All right, give me a Pepsi Free.
Lou: You want a Pepsi, PAL, you're gonna pay for it.

Dr. Emmett Brown: Then tell me, "Future Boy", who's President in the United States in 1985?

Marty McFly: Ronald Reagan.
Dr. Emmett Brown: Ronald Reagan? The actor?
Dr. Emmett Brown: Then who's VICE-President? Jerry Lewis?
Dr. Emmett Brown: I suppose Jane Wyman is the First Lady!
Marty McFly: [following Doc] Whoa! Wait! Doc!
Dr. Emmett Brown: And Jack Benny is Secretary of the Treasury.
Marty McFly: [outside the lab door] Doc, you gotta listen to me.
Dr. Emmett Brown: [opens the door to the lab] I've had enough practical jokes for one evening. Good night, Future Boy!
Marty McFly: No, wait! Doc. Doc. The-the-the bruise - the bruise on your head. I know how that happened! You told me the whole story. You were standing on your toilet, and you were hanging a clock, and you fell, and you hit your head on the sink. And that's when you came up with the idea for the Flux Capacitor...
Marty McFly: Which... is what makes time travel possible.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The A-Team: I love it when a movie comes together...

A much needed fun summertime movie arrives in the form of The A-Team, based on the popular 80's tv series. The movie version is slick, action packed, humorous and just plain fun. The opening sequence actually shows how the team comes together as Colonel Hannibal Smith (Liam Neeson) is trying to rescue his friend and fellow soldier Lt. Peck (Bradley Cooper) nick name Face from Mexican warlords. Smith comes across Sgt Bosco Baracus (UFC fighter Quinton "Rampage" Jackson) who is driving across the desert in the classic black van. They all learn that they are Airborne Rangers and recruit  Army pilot Murdock (Sharlto Copley) from a psychiatric hospital to help them escape the bad guys. It's a thrilling 10 minute opening sequence that sets up the movie wonderfully that ends with a wild helicopter chase.

Flash forward 8 years and 80 successful missions later and the team is getting ready to pull out of Baghdad until a devious CIA agent named Lynch (Patrick Wilson) has a job for them to retrieve counterfeiting plates from the Iraqis. A dangerous mission that the team pulls off successfully but things go haywire and the plates are stolen from them and their boss General Morrison (TV vet Gerald McRaney) is killed and the team is blamed. So they are shipped off to separate prisons and after 6 months have passed, Agent Lynch asks Hannibal to help him find out who took the plates in exchange for their freedom. Hannibal escapes and immediately goes after the other guys to find the real bad guys. The thief in question is a special unit called Black Forest and their leader Pike (Brian Bloom) is a piece of work. A man who enjoys killing a little too much. The A-Team also has to deal with Face's former flame Lt. Sosa (Jessica Biel) who is charged with tracking the team down and recovering the stolen plates.

So that's the story and and then the fireworks kick in. There are several high octane action sequences and the show stopper is of course, the tank falling from the sky while trying to avoid being shot down by drone airplanes. It's totally ridiculous but it's still cool as hell. Another scene has Hannibal jumping off a building and crashing through the window to surprise the bad guys. And the climax is a go for broke shoot out, explosions going off every minute and an intense fight between B.A. and Pike that will leave you screaming hell yeah. I thought all four leads were perfect. And Jackson really surprised me since this was his first acting gig. Cooper was smooth as Face and even got to set up the final plan, which is something Hannibal usually does. Neeson by the way is solid as Smith. And Copley was off the wall as Murdock. Bloom made a very good bad guy, and Wilson was perfectly smarmy as the CIA backer. Jessica Biel was good too, even though she spent the majority of the movie always one step behind the guys.

I would say The A-Team is a very entertaining movie that I enjoyed even more than Iron Man 2. It's what going to the movies is all about. Sure the CG effects are a little much at times, but you know what, just go with it. This film has such high energy that it refuses to settle down. It's aim is to please audiences and to that end it does it job. I was glad they played the theme song several times during the movie and kept in a lot of the classic series quotes like Hannibal's I love it when a plan comes together or B.A. aversion to flying. The A-Team is a good fun summer movie that I think fans and most moviegoers will enjoy.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

True Blood returns tonight

The hit series True Blood returns for a 3rd season on HBO tonight. I've been a fan of this show ever since it premiered in 2008. I think it's the best show on TV right now, just a smidgen better than Supernatural. Based on the best selling books by Charlaine Harris, the story of small town waitress Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin in her strongest role to date) who lives in Bon Temps, Louisiana and works at a roadhouse restaurant named Merlotte's. Sookie is unique in the fact that she can other people's minds. And she is constantly amazed at how dirty and dishonest people are. Well things take a turn when vampires come out to the public and are now living as members of society. In walks Bill, a troubled vampire who immediately takes a liking to Sookie and vice versa. Bill is played by Stephen Moyer. For the first two years Bon Temps has been a hot bed that attracts all kinds of trouble, including demon Maryann (a terrific Michelle Forbes) who turns all the townspeople into raving sexual psychotics. Trust me this show is not Twilight. It is bloody, graphic and very sexual. Mainstream viewers may be turned off by it, but being a fan of vampires and horror, I had no problem with it. The writing is exceptional by Alan Ball of his other hit show for HBO, Six Feet Under. And the entire cast is awesome, particularly Paquin, Moyer, and Alex Skarsgard as Bill's boss Eric,who takes a liking to Sookie as well. It's been 8 months since season 2 wrapped up and I've been waiting patiently for this day to come. From the terrific trailer, there is a new mix added to the series....a clan of werewolves come to town looking for trouble. Oh yeah. True Blood airs on HBO Sunday nights at 9pm EST. If you have never watched it and it sounds interesting, you might need to watch the previous seasons to know what is going on.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Film Review: I Am Legend

This is an impressive movie to say the least. Will Smith is a scientist/soldier in New York City who is the last known survivor after a man made virus wipes out everyone else. The virus designed to cure cancer actually turns it victims into daylight fearing raging zombies. It's up to Will to try to find a virus. I just saw this film on opening day and it was jam packed. The opening scene gets the ball rolling when the announcement is made about the cure. Flash forward three years later and New York is one big deserted island with Will cruising the streets in any vehicle he chooses. Scavenging for food and supplies during the day and holed up in his fotress of a building at night when the creatures come out looking for blood. Will's only companion at first is his loyal german shepherd named Samantha. They make quite the team. You begin to really care what happens to them. Later on two more immune survivors pop up- a young woman and a small boy. This movie is amazing. The desolation scenes of the city have to be seen to be believed. The action sequences are equally impressive. The only drawback may be the creatures themselves. A little too CG at times but still creepy as hell. I have to say Mr. Smith gives one helluva perfomance here. It will remind you of what Tom Hanks did in Cast Away. Will is dramatic, frightened, humorous, and sometimes a little crazy. One of the best films of the year. Plus they showed the kick ass new Batman trailer right before the movie. It's win win all the way around. Oh, one more thing some people may argue it's not long enough. Let me tell you something, you couldn't ask for a better length in a movie. Any longer and you may start to get restless. One hour and 40 minutes is perfect to me.

Neville: I can help. I can fix this. Let me save you. I can save you; I can save everybody

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Sarah Michelle Gellar: Star of the Month

My favorite TV series of all time is Buffy the Vampire Slayer. So it stands to reason that Sarah is one of my favorite actresses. She will be spotlighted all month long here at Hero Worship. No need to thank me, this will make my day as well.