Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Disturbance in the Force?

Today's purchase of Lucasfilm by Disney seemingly came out of nowhere, at least to me and apparently everyone I know.  Like with anything, opinions seem to be all over the place.  As so many thoughts were going through my head when this came out and more and more thoughts seem to pop up by the second, I thought I would get them all down in a blog post.  If anything, I can look back on this in 2015, the year the next film is set to release, and see how much of this comes true. 

The first opinion I have read a lot is that this will be a disaster as Disney will ruin the franchise, make it too much for kids, etc.  People who have those thoughts have apparently not seen episodes I, II, and III.  Was there ever a film series that took such a drastic change in tone as this series did going from the original trilogy to the new trilogy?  The new series is totally for kids.  Lucas has even come out and said as much.  It's childish with childish jokes.  Yes, C3PO and R2D2 were comic relief in the original trilogy, but not anywhere to the childish extent that the new trilogy has with terribly silly CGI characters.  Not even the Ewoks were that bad.  And why do people automatically think that because Disney is in charge, it will be childish.  I don't know about you, but the general consensus is that the Avengers film was pretty damn good under the Disney brand.  And was it childish?  No.  Someone actually posted that because it is Disney owned, we will probably see people like Justin Bieber and other kid friendly people star in the movie.  C'mon, let's not be asinine here!  Remember that little film called Pulp Fiction released by Miramax?  Not very kid friendly, right?  Who owned Miramax when the movie came out?  Right, it was Disney.

Ok, so if Lucas is gone and can't make any more movies like the newest trilogy, then we can expect nothing but good things from Disney, right?  Well, again, not so fast.  Lucas is gone, but Kathleen Kennedy will be in charge of Lucasfilm now for Disney.  Who is she?  On the outside, she has been a very successful producer for some of the best (or funnest) films in recent times - E.T., the Indiana Jones films, Goonies, the Jurassic  Park trilogy, Back to the Future trilogy, Schindler's List, Sixth Sense, and countless other hits.  Not a bad track record, right?  She's pretty successful and knows about being involved in great films.  But just this Summer, she left her own production company to join Lucasfilm and become his second in command.  Fast forward a few months and Lucas sells his company with the stipulation that Kennedy be the new head of Lucasfilm.  It's just too convenient.  I just have to believe that this has been in negotiations for a while and that she was brought on with the big picture in mind.  So with her in charge, I just wonder how much influence Lucas will have in the decisions she will be making.  Are we really free of the questionable decisions he has been making in recent years?  I am not so sure.  Sure, she could be completely independent of him, but I am skeptical just because of the timing of all of this. 

Ok, so regardless of how we feel, a new trilogy IS coming.  They have already announced that Episode VII will come out in 2015 (which Lucas has already said he has mapped out so being totally free of him appears to be out of the question).  So the question has to be asked - what SHOULD the new trilogy be about?  Should this be set way in the future after Return of the Jedi or should it be close enough to the ending of Jedi so that we can bring back Luke, Leia, and Han?  Obviously, most people want to see these iconic characters back, and really, how awesome would that be to see these people we never though we see again?  Yeah, BUT, the counterpoint is, what if they do come back and they absolutely ruin the characters?  It could be a boost the series needs or it could leave a bad taste in our collective mouths.  I would love to have the lasting memory of the characters be positive rather than bring them back for something embarrassing.  Just know, Ford's wish was always for Han Solo to be killed off so if his character does return, prepare to watch one of the best characters off all time to lose his life.  Not something I am sure I want to see.  Or hey, maybe they will surprise us all and do it right?  But just to be safe, perhaps way in the future is the way to go.  Who knows?  I'd be willing to bet money that we will see two certain droids in the film, for sure. 

In the end, this is all happening and the next couple of years as more news comes out will be quite exciting.  The recent trilogy, despite my thoughts on it in this post weren't the worst movies in the world.  But then again, they weren't the best either.  I enjoyed parts of them, but if they had never been made, if the only part of Star Wars lore that I had in my memory was the original trilogy, I wouldn't be at a loss.  These new movies have a chance to further ruin the original trilogy's legacy or it has a chance to redeem the franchise.  George Lucas created something that is very important to me and then proceeded to tarnish it because of questionable decisions.  With him "somewhat" gone, what will happen next? 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Defining Our Marriage, Part 1

On November 2nd, Jess and I will celebrate ten wonderful years of marriage.  On some days, it seems like it was just yesterday while on other days, it seems like we have been married forever.  I know it is cliche to say this, but these past ten years have been the best years of my life, and our marriage seems to get better and better every single day.  Yes, our marriage has had its ups and downs, but they aren't the normal ups and downs that many couples often make reference to.  Our downs weren't spats, disagreements, etc, but rather they were things we experienced together and got through the only way we know how - together.  But whether they were good things or bad things, there was so much in the past ten years that helped define our marriage and make it as strong as it is now.  In honor of our ten years, I came up with a list of the ten things that really define us as a couple and brought us to the point we are at now.

- Our Furry Kids: As you all know, Jess and I are apparently unable to have children (of course this will be covered later), and so we have filled that hole in our home with furry children.  I was lucky enough to marry someone who loved dogs as much as I did and we have been blessed with wonderful dogs throughout our marriage.  We got Leia a month after we got married and she has been our wonderful, intelligent, spoiled girl ever since.  A few years later we added Orko to our little family and he was such a joy to have.  When we had to put Orko down, it was an absolutely devastating moment in our lives, but the addition of little Winston has filled that gap that we experienced after Orko left us.  We're dog people.  The dogs are part of our family.  Anyone who knows us knows how important they have been in our lives.

Miss you, buddy.

The House: What a source of both happiness and stress our house has given us over our 10 years together!  We bought our house around 2 years into our marriage and it was such a big step for us in feeling like actual adults!  We really have turned this house into our home.  We have, year by year, made it into what makes us happy and comfortable: paved backyard, hardwood floors, spa, paint, etc.  The house is totally us.  But as I mentioned above, it was also been a source of stress for many years.  A few years back, with our initial 5 year loan about to end, we attempted to refinance.  Not having ever been late on one single payment, we got very little help from our mortgage company which led us to seek a 3rd party for help which ended up going out of business and taking our $4,000 with them.  For the last couple of years we have lived under one year fixed mortgages, afraid that at any time, the rate would get so high we would be unable to keep the house we worked so hard to make into our own.  Then finally this year, under a new government program, we were given the 30 year mortgage we had been trying to get for so long.  At last, we can rest. 

Our house in the reflection

Vacations: Jess and I have been BLESSED to have been able to take so many vacations during our ten years of marriage.  Off the top of my head, since we have been married we have been to New York, Oregon, Las Vegas, San Diego, Mexico, Washington DC, Reno, and multiple trips to Tahoe, the Central Coast, and of course, Disneyland.  We have such an amazing time on trips and we really attribute it to the fact that we enjoy each other's company so damn much.  We have so much fun together and are amazed how we never get sick of each other on our trips where we spend so much time together.  And we have plenty of upcoming trips planned or in the works!  We are very lucky.

Job Issues: Jess and I both went to college, we both got degrees, we both started careers, but it hasn't always been as smooth as we would have hoped.  I was only a couple of months into my teaching career when we got married.  I wanted so bad to be a teacher growing up, and I did accomplish that dream.  But the teaching profession wasn't what I had envisioned for so many reasons.  After a a couple of years, I was already feeling it, but by the third year, I could tell I was done.  And it was hard to come to this decision.  I had gone to college for this, spent so much time preparing myself to get to this point in my life and I was going to bail?  It wasn't an easy decision, but Jess got me through it, helped me to come to the conclusion I needed, and basically supported me in whatever I ended up deciding to do.  I wouldn't have been able to get through that decision without her.  Then I tried my hand at real estate which was a very rough year in my life.  Never have I gone through so much sadness, but again, Jess got me through it.  After a year of trying my hand at that, I entered the field where I am now and have been for over 6 years, but if it wasn't for Jess supporting me and letting me know that she was behind whatever I decided, I might have gone crazy.  Jess also had her ups and downs.  From the hospital, to the clinic, to another clinic, and back to the hospital, she has had to deal with many work issues that often times brought her to tears, anger, and everything in between.  But much like she supported me, I tried to have her back in the best way possible and we seem to have both come out for the best.

 The Knee: I really can't talk about work without following up with Jessica's knee issues; something that has definitely impacted our lives during our marriage.  The early years of our marriage were fairly free of knee problems, but in the second half of our marriage, it definitely became a source of constant turmoil.  Mainly due to unlucky genetics, Jess has a degenerative knee disorder that become more and more painful for her.  Many times, and in fact, most days before surgery, she would come home from work crying from the extreme pain she was having.  It affected work, it affected vacations (wheelchair time!), and it affected simple daily life.  One surgery to relieve the pain was cancelled and put off for a few months.  Then she finally had the surgery in June of 2011 and she nearly died in the hospital because of a medication problem.  The surgery led to her being home with me for over 6 months of recovery time.  She's been back at work nearly a year now and while she is still nowhere near pain free, she does have some relief.  It is still bothersome and the pain still can get in the way from time to time, but we are better off than where we started.  But the knee has definitely been the source of many scary and sorrowful times in the last few years.

Come back in a couple of days for part 2...

Saturday, October 27, 2012

"B" Gone

Let's finish off the Bs!

Movie Review #38 - Breakdown

You better pray she's still alive. 

I love Breakdown because it's 90 minutes of nonstop action.  Well, it isn't an action movie per say, but a great thriller that never has any lulls from start to finish.  I think part of what makes the movie so good is that it is so believable.  What happens in the movie really could happen to anyone so we can all relate to what happens in the film.  We can all question what we would do in Kurt Russell's situation.

And speaking of Kurt Russell, man, he is just so good in everything he does, isn't he?  Seriously, he's awesome, and I wish he was doing a lot more movies nowadays.  I can still see him as a leading man and certainly, with the revival of 80s action stars, could still be a great action star.  He is so believable as the man desperate to find his kidnapped wife.  Breakdown is cool because it is one of the movies that you find on TV and even though you have seen it a million times, you sit down and watch it.  High entertainment with little need for concentration is a perfect formula for a movie.

7.5 out of 10 cheeseburgers

 Movie Review #39 - Breakin'


Ah, Breakin' maybe the worst movie that I can officially call one of my favorites.  Well, that title may actually go to the sequel.  The story isn't TOO bad, in fact, I think it is a pretty inspirational story once you get down to the meat and bones of it, but it is full of so much cheese and so much bad acting that it would be hard to classify it as anything other than a B movie.

But you know what, I still love it.  I grew up with and and saw it so many times.  I love the soundtrack even though it isn't something I normally listen to.  I love the amazing dancing they do in the film.  I think it is fairly humorous and the characters, while mostly one dimensional, are pretty likable.  And going back to the story, when everything works out for them in the end, I get a giant smile on my face.  I get teased for liking the film, but I have no problem saying how much I like this film (even if it isn't very good).

5 out of 10 cheeseburgers

Movie Review #40 - Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo

We made it, we made it!  Thank you!  Thank you!

Ok, maybe this is the worst of my favorite films.  I at least have to hand it to the writers of the film.  A lot of terrible sequels fall in to the trap of simply rehashing the plot from the first film in a different manner.  This film, while generic, is at least different from the first film.  But it does get cheesier.  The hospital dance scene may be the worst scene in the history of the film if it wasn't for the dancing scene at McDonald's in Mac n Me.
 And the acting seems to have gotten worse.  You would think that acting would improve, but that is not the case.  The director also falls into the trap of, "Well, the story is pretty weak, why don't we just keep putting in song and dance numbers?"  But again, it entertains the hell out of me!  I love these three main characters with Kelly (Lucinda Dickey) at the top because she has the best acting skills of the group and, she's way hot.  I know I didn't pay attention to that as a kid, but now when I see the film, I have a total crush on her.

How is this the only pic of her that came up from the movie on Google?

 While not a good movie, it still holds a special place in my heart.  It is perfect 80s cheese.  Everyone has certain movies that defy reason as to why they like them.  Breakin' and its sequel are mine.  They are memorable and not just for the scene below from Electric Boogaloo.

I'm sorry.  

5 out of 10 cheeseburgers

Movie Review #41 - Brokeback Mountain

I wish I knew how to quit you.

Probably the greatest love story I have seen on film and it is between two guys.  It shouldn't matter, but there are many people who won't see this movie or take it seriously just because of that fact.  I say that their closed mind is making them miss out.  This is an absolutely beautiful movie that was totally robbed of the Best Picture win when it came out.  The fact that it led to so many jokes is understandable considering the world we live in, but for those with an open mind, it is a perfect movie.

While the story is very well written and visually beautiful, the main kudos have to go the acting performances on screen.  This is probably the first time I have seen the movie since Ledger's death and between this and his Joker role, it is devastating to know that we lost such an amazing talent.  He would have been one of the best actors over the next 40+ years with talent like that.  Gyllenhaal and the rest of the cast are also amazing, but it is Ledger who carries this story.  And a what a perfect story it is.

9.5 out of 10 cheeseburgers

Movie Review #42 - Bruce Almighty

God, why do you hate me? 

I have NEVER laughed harder in a theater than I did with this scene. 

Yes, it is goofy and childish, but man, this scene had me laughing obnoxiously to the point that people turned around and looked at me like I had a second head.  If that was the only funny scene in the film, it could be considered a disappointment, but I crack up from start to finish.  Jim Carrey is again at the top of his game and besides the comedy in the film, it also has a lot of heart with a good lesson.  Heck, I would even go so far as to almost call this movie religious preaching because of the lessons learned in the film.  Too bad some church goers would never see it because Carrey is in it.  Very funny without ever getting too far into the silly department, this is one my favorite Carrey movies and overall comedies.

7.5 out of 10 cheeseburgers

Movie Review #43 - A Bug's Life  

 It's the same year after year, they come, they eat, they leave; that's our lot in life. It's not a lot, but it's our life.

For the most part, Pixar makes outstanding movies.  There have been a couple of missteps, but overall, they can do no wrong.  This movie kind of falls in between their great movies and their average movies.  While nothing special (it doesn't have that touching/life lesson aspect that the best Pixar films have), it is cute.  The characters are all fun and it has some great voice over work.  But in the end, that is all it is - cute.  It doesn't stick with me after or make me want to watch it again in the immediate future.  I actually think the best part of the film is the credits where they made some fake bloopers.  When the credits are the most memorable part of the film, the part you don't want to end, I think that says a little something about the film.  Don't get me wrong, this is NOT a bad film, but it is not quite up to Pixar's high quality standards.

6 out of 10 cheeseburgers

Movie Review #44 - Butterfly Effect

You can't play God, son. 

I can't believe that a movie starring Ashton Kutcher stuck with me the way this one did.  I can't believe that Ashton Kutcher did a convincing job as an actor.  But both of those things did happen in this movie and it led to a pretty memorable movie that left me thinking, "What if?" to a lot of decisions in my life.  

This movie does a really good job of making you see how little decisions in life can lead to completely different outcomes in your life.  Of course, they do it to the extreme in a pretty creepy manner, but it gets the point across.  And going back to Kutcher, I actually thought he was outstanding in this film.  This isn't something he should be winning an acting award or anything, but for his standards, he did a really great job.  You really feel for him as he tries to go back and right all his wrongs. 

That leads to me to the final scene in the film.  We saw this film in the theaters and I love how the ending, while not a happy ending, does give some positive closure to the story.  On the DVD we own, it does have the Director's Cut ending which is one of the most asinine endings I have ever seen in a film.  How the director though this was a better ending is beyond me because of how absurd it is, but I am sure happy that with the theatrical release, they chose to not go in that direction. 

7 out of 10 cheeseburgers

Friday, October 05, 2012

Catch Up Mode

I've gotten so far behind in writing, I'm going to make these reviews short.  I mean, really, who of you 4 or 5 readers wants to sit and read 9 long movie reviews right now?  I'll even skip the burger pics so as not to make it look too long.  I promise to maybe never get this far behind again 

Movie Review #29: The Avengers 

The Avengers. It's what we call ourselves, sort of like a team. "Earth's Mightiest Heroes" type thing.

Per the rules, if I buy a movie that falls in a part of the alphabet that I have already reviewed, I have to watch that movie right away.  It wasn't that hard of a task.  Honestly, this is now my favorite movie ever, A title  "From Dusk Til Dawn" has held for a very long time.  What can I say?  This movie was everything I wanted and expected when Marvel started making great movies beginning with Iron Man.  It was a perfect superhero team film and I have absolutely nothing negative to say about it.  And you know what, a TON of people agree with me based on how much it made.  10 out of 10 burgers

Movie Review #30: The Black Cauldron

Oh, I'm sorry. I've ignored you. You did come for the Black Cauldron, didn't you? Good. Then climb in! It will only cost you your life. 

This is the movie that changed it all for Disney.  As far as the movie is concerned, this really isn't a good thing.  This ended up being one the Disney's biggest financial failures for an animated movie of all timeAt the time, it was the most expensive animated movie to make ever and it didn't make back that money.  A major revamp followed and it led a few movies later to the revitalization of  the company with Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast.  I remember liking it as a kid, but seeing it now, I see why it was a failure.  Generic heroes, generic villains, and a sub-par plot make this a pretty sub-par movie.  It's not terrible, but it just doesn't seem to have that Disney magic.  4 out of 10 burgers

Movie Review #31: Black Swan

I felt it. Perfect. I was perfect. 

That line, the last line of the film, sums up how I feel about this film.  When I first saw this film, I was so moved by how powerful this film was, I couldn't stop thinking about it.  Although multiple viewings make it lose the tiniest of  luster simply because the shock of what happens no longer surprises, it is still a spectacular film.  Natalie Portman is at her absolute best and totally earned every award she received.  The story is equally amazing and by the time the last act hits, I found myself breathless.  Such a great film.  9.5 out of 10 burgers. 

Movie Review #32: Blade

 You give Frost a message from me. You tell him it's open season on all suckheads. 

This was a really good entry into a really good trilogy of movies.  Although not the best of the bunch, it was a really fun movie that I can still rewatch without being bored.  Wesley Snipes is as badass as ever and if not for New Jack City, it might be his best role.  Stephen Dorff is also great as the villain and the film does a good job of making an action film out of a horror genre.  The best was yet to follow.   6.5 out of 10 burgers

Movie Review #33: Blade II

You obviously do not know who you are fucking with! 

The high point of the Blade trilogy is simply a great film.  It increases the action of the first film but behind that is really impressive story that is a lot deeper than the standard action movie.  It also has a great bunch of supporting characters that really complete the film.  I'm a big Ron Perlman fan and he is as awesome as always in this film.  But again, it is the story and the emotion behind it that really makes this film so great and makes it easily my favorite of the series.  7.0 out of 10 burgers

Movie Review #34: Blade Trinity
So, can we just go right ahead and sign you up for one of our secret Nightstalker decoder rings? 

The third film in the trilogy, while good, is the weakest of the series.  In fact, it is a pretty basic action film with little emotion and a lot of stuff blowing up.  Even Snipes seems to be over these movies.  So why isn't it a total bomb?  Ryan Reynolds and Jessica Biel.  Biel is amazingly hot in the film and totally believable as an action star.  Reynolds is at the top of his game in the humor department and it as if he took his role from Waiting and decided to just start hunting vampires.  It is these two that make the film more than just a generic action film.  They make it watchable and even fun despite the weak script.  6 out of 10 burgers

Movie Review #35: Blair Witch 2, Book of Shadows

We brought something back with us... 

I'm not really sure why we don't own the first Blair Witch as I really like the film.  It creeped the hell out of me.  The sequel was an obvious cash grab due to the success of the first film, but I liked the first one enough to run and see the second.  Despite being generally hated by most people, I actually don't think it is that bad.  Although centered in the Blair Witch universe of the first film, I really don't think it has enough in common to be considered a sequel, but I think it is adequately creepy on its own.  Just don't call it a Blair Witch film.  5 out of 10 burgers

Movie Review #36: The Bone Collector

I gave you so many clues and you failed

I absolutely LOVE serial killer movies like this.  It's fun to see all the clues come in to place and see the detectives figure them out one by one in order to try to figure out who the killer is. This is another great one.  Now, I wouldn't put it quite on the same level as my personal favorites, Seven and Copycat, it does a really good job of being creepy and thought provoking at the same time.  Denzel is his usual cool self but his role as a handicapped person seems to lighten his demeanor a little more than usual.  Jolie is great in her role too, before she achieved worldwide celeb status.  A fun movie if you are in to that sort of thing.  7 out of 10.

Movie Review #37: Boondock Saints 

Never shall innocent blood be shed, yet the blood of the wicked shall flow like a river.

While I don't carry the same enthusiasm as any other people on this film, I think it is a good movie.  While others consider it their favorite movie or one of the coolest films of all time, I see it as a pretty entertaining film that came out in a time where Pulp Fiction was still in the back of everyone's mind and the cool, foul mouthed, anti-heroes were still all the rage.  Don't get me wrong, I do like it, but I don't put it in the same class as many others.  It's fun though.  It has a pretty good story.  The characters, while WAY over the top, are definitely unique.  It all adds up to a pretty good film.  Maybe not a great film, but a serviceable one.   6.5 out of 10 burgers