Wednesday, June 30, 2010

#9 - Journey to the Center of the Earth - 2008

My 2nd movie I chose to watch this week was Journey to the Center of the Earth. This is the shortest film I will be watching this week and although I saw it on the big screen in 3D I chose to watch it this time in standard 2D but it was the bluray version. One thing I found kind of ironic was that as I was watching this film in the first 10 minutes there is a scene where Brenden Fraser's character grabs a calendar checking what day it is and it was none other than June 29, the same date it was yesterday when I was watching it. Funny and odd at the same time. haha. Below is my detailed review of this film.

This movie basically had only one legitimate hollywood blockbuster actor and that was Brenden Fraser. The other lesser know actors were Fraser's nephew Sean played by Josh Hutcherson, Icelandic tour guide (originally) turned romantic interest Hannah played by Anita Briem and finally the arrogant and jerk of a Professor Alan Kitzens played by SNL's Seth Myers who is actually easily annoying, maybe there is a reason for that? haha. Other than that there are no other main actors or actresses that are really worth mentioning due to limited screen time. This movie really wasn't actor driven so none of that mattered anyways. Fraser is a great action/adventure hero type actor so he alone could have carried this film.

This movie is about Professor Trevor Anderson's voyage into the center of the earth. The film starts out with Anderson's brother Max being chased by a giant T-Rex and running for his life. This turns out to be a nightmare that Anderson is having and he awakens in a panic. Turns out his brother did really vanish and die so it was obviously a reoccurring nightmare he had been having. Anderson is seen teaching a class full of students who are sleeping, texting, and overall not interested. He is soon approached by Prof Kitzens who notifies him they are shutting down his brothers lab. Anderson returns home and notices 4 messages on his voicemail from his sister in law reminding him about watching her son for 10 days, this is where he picks up the calendar and it is June 10th.

Sean, Anderson's nephew is played perfectly as the teenager who is self involved in his mobile video games and as he better said it, "keep the fridge stocked with Mt Dew and tivo Family Guy and we will be just fine". Loved that line, total teenager line and it reminds me of my high school days sans the tivo and Family Guy of course. haha. Andersons sister in law gives him a box of Max's old stuff and inside there was a baseball glove, yo-yo, and a book, Journey to the Center of the Earth. Anderson starts to read it and comes to a revelation of sorts. This leads him to head to the lab to figure some numbers out and its there that he realizes his brother was right and he must fly to Iceland to investigate it further. He along with his nephew fly out to Iceland and begin a journey that they never expected to take.

Once in Iceland they meet the daughter of a man whom like Anderson's brother believed in these theories of the center of the earth and she offer's to take them up the mountain to explore it. She easily outpaces them up the mountain and as they near the peak a thunderstorm with lightning strikes and after an explosion they are trapped in the mountain in a cave like atmosphere, this is where it gets good. I love films that take place in dark crevasses or mines or underground, its creepy and cool to me and although not claustrophobic myself I can easily see how others are. The trio comes to a giant hole that they later figure out to be about 200ft deep and they must propel down it to move further along. As the reach the bottom the find an old mine shaft with mine carts, tracks and all. Yes you know what this means, Indiana Jones type action. In easily my favorite part of the movie (I cant help it, its the rollercoaster fan in me) the three get into 2 separate mine carts and race down the mine tracks. The CGI special effects were wonderful in this scene and although it was short it was filled with excitement and entertainment. I loved this part of the film and a ride like that would be awesome at an amusement park. Don't think Big Thunder Railroad because it wasn't like that, it was better.

After the three of them barely escape a treacherous mine ride they enter into a room filled with emeralds and diamonds. The floor looks like a thick piece of ice starts to crack and they soon realize it may fall below their feet. After grabbing some diamonds one accidentally falls out of Sean's backpack and puts a large crack in the floor. Anderson says one of the funnier lines of the film, "its actually thicker than I thought" and no sooner does he say that the floor cracks and they all drop for quite a lengthy fall. It was such a long fall that Anderson yelled out "were still falling!" and eventually water droplets in mid air start bouncing off them as they fall into a huge water hole.

After getting out of the water they see what they believe to be glowing stars above them. What it actually is are tiny little glowing birds which by the way looked very cool in 3D. The birds led them to a crack in the cave wall and an opening and that is where we first see the majesty of the center of the earth. There are white feather looking like flowers and huge mushrooms that tricked my mind into believing for a hot second I was watching Alice in Wonderland. There was stunning views of waterfalls and mountains surrounding them and this scene especially was very cool to see in bluray. As they roam around the island of sorts they find some of Max's old stuff including a book and a cantina. As Sean and Anderson are looking through Max's items Hannah calls out to Anderson to come over and take a look at something. It is only assumed to be Max's body because the next scene shows Anderson finishing placing rocks on a grave on sandy area in front of the water as Hannah brings out Sean. In what was to be the movie's only real sentimental part it was hard for me to take seriously when Anderson read a note from Max's journal that he wrote to his son. I think the producers were trying to hard to make it emotional when the surrounding storyline leading up to it just didn't qualify it for a scene like that, in my mind.

With the temperature getting hotter with each hour the trio must figure out a way to get to the other side of the water. They work together and build a boat with a sail and all and take off into the water. In another very cool and heavily CGI special effected scene they are attacked by flying sharp teethed fish and Anderson and Sean basically have batting practice with these fish. A few moments later much larger and I mean much much larger loch ness dinosaur looking like serpents emerge and they are eating the fish. They pay no attention to the trio on the boat and this is hard to believe but hey its movie magic, just go with it. After high winds almost break the sail off Sean goes to grab it and is blown away from the boat. As they are separated Anderson and Hannah run into some human eating plants that almost kill Hannah while Sean has his own problems, he is dealing with floating magnetic rocks that form a trail that he must walk on to get to the other side of the rock. This rock scene was very cool and looked even better in 3D. After both Anderson and Hannah and also Sean escaped their peril situations they continued to move forward. Sean quickly heard loud footsteps and it was evident that a dinosaur was near, a T-Rex to be exact. As Anderson and Hannah split ways Anderson reached Sean and they both were in for the run of their life away from the mighty T-Rex. They barely survived and escaped and Hannah came to their rescue in a very cool looking boat which was the jaw bone structure of a dinosaur, I'm assuming a T-Rex. They were not out of the clear yet as they had to hit a ride up the geyser in order to be blown out of the mountain before the volcanic flow erupted inside and killed them. With one final escape scene left they were blown out of the top of the mountain in dramatic fashion and ascended down the side of the mountain eventually splicing past a vineyard. The ending shows Anderson telling off (sort of) Myers character Professor Kitzens indicating he is looking for a new "building" for his lab and then Sean is shown feeding his glowing bird he has taken as a pet. There is a small reference about the Lost City of Atlantis but I have not heard anything about a sequel yet it would be cool I'm sure.

In my mind this movie although only 92 minutes (short by most standards for an action flick) was action packed and really never had any dull points. Take away the first 15minutes of the film and the final 5 which were relevant parts to the story anyways this movie was pretty nonstop throughout. It had a little humor, a lot of action, and stunning picturesque visuals throughout. When you add some pretty cool looking creatures, a mine ride, and a T-Rex then you pretty much cant go wrong. I loved the special effects of this movie and its easily one Id watch over and over again. I would give this an A-!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

#8 - Back to the Future Part II - 1989

Its SciFi/Fantasy week for me and I gotta admit it will be nice to see some "real" people in the movies now. haha. The animated set I chose was awesome and I loved those movies but now its on to SciFi mode. I was leaning towards a Journey to the Center of the Earth as my first choice but I instead picked Back to the Future Part II. I wanted to save Journey since it is a bluray one and its shorter for tonight since I'm more limited on time. Below is my detailed review of Back to the Future Part II.

Now most people know the story of the Back to the Future films so I'm not going to spend as much time going over the storyline but more so review the characters, the circumstances, and the details that make this movie great. Marty McFly played by Michael J Fox is a hyper, always bouncing type character that has that extra kick in his step. Fox is the perfect person to play this role. Picking up right where the first film ended McFly is checking out his new truck as his girlfriend Jennifer (Elisabeth Shue) appears. They are quickly interrupted by Doc Brown (Christopher Llyod) who in my mind is the best BTTF character of them all. He takes Marty and Jennifer and they take off and the famous line by Doc Brown of "where we are going we don't need roads" is uttered before the opening credits.

Brown had to get Marty to go into the future to change events that will ruin his life (in the future forever). It all has to do with his family. The beginning scenes are my favorite because it depicts life in 2015 which was very interesting to watch now that it is 2010 and 2015 is less than 5 years away. Now granted I saw this film in 1989 when I was 13 years old so some of these futuristic ideas may have been a possibility in ones mind back then but now looking at it, it made me laugh. Not in a bad way, just in a "that isn't ever happening" way. Let me divulge. As Doc lands in the year 2015 the weather is so accurate it can change within seconds from rain to sunlight, boy if only that was possible huh? Marty is advised he must stay clear from his future self and also any family members but his goal is to go meet Griff at Cafe 80's (oh there's more to this to come) and say No, just say no. Reminds me of the saying to drugs in grade school.

Marty eventually confronts Griff in Cafe 80's and after a chase outside on some hover boards Griff and his gang of hoodlums crash into the courthouse while attempting to catch Marty. This altered the future events as Doc and Marty could tell by almost instantly by the USA Today paper which had the ability to update by the minute. As they get back to the delorian they realize Jennifer is gone. The cops had seen here lying outside the car and took her home, to her future home which could be catastrophic. This leads Doc and Marty on a chase against time to go get her before she runs into her future self which could cause another chain of events that could disrupt the future. Ok before we get to that let me discuss a few things about the "future" world in the town square area.

Lets start with Cafe 80's. I loved the Michael Jackson and Ronald Reagan monitor waiters and even more so I loved that you could say out loud a drink and poof, its there! The 80's cafe was heavily Michael Jackson themed with a wall clock of his Thriller album cover and the song "Beat It' playing when you walk in, it was quite comical especially since the movie was made in the 80's. I also loved the Darryl Strawberry plaque on the wall and the especially cool looking treadmill's in place of bar stools. When Marty goes up to play the Wild Gunman I immediately noticed one of the kids and there's a reason why. It was Elijah Wood as a child in his first movie role ever. Crazy huh? Outside of the cafe I love the sketchy at best Jaws graphic for Jaws 19 that attacks Marty, oh how far we have come with special effects. The flying cars and hover boards are all things that are obviously not going to be present in 2015 and might never be in my lifetime. Someone at Universal was a little proactive with their future thinking, haha. One interesting note, the old man who talks about the Cubbies winning the world series is actually Charles Fleischer, the same guy who was the voice of Roger Rabbit. I loved the water area in front of the courthouse in the future world, looked very cool.

As the movie moves on Doc caught Marty trying to bring back a Sports Almanac in which he was going to use to go back in time and make some money but he makes him throw it away as he clearly stated "he didn't create the time machine for monetary gain". Biff oversees this and notices the time machine and takes the book from the trash and follows the delorain to McFly's neighborhood. The police meanwhile have dropped Jennifer off at her home and she is clearly confused but then understands she is in the future. Some cool effects here were the sky garden over the dinner table which allowed you to pick fruit or vegetables at your choosing and the large pizza that could fit in your palm and be heated up in the Hydrator in about 3 seconds. Doc and Marty successfully get Jennifer out of the house but not after she saw her future self. The damage had been done though, not by Jennifer but by Biff who had stolen the delorian and already gone back in the time to deliver the almanac to his "old" self.

Once back in 1985 Doc drops Marty off at his old place or at least he believes he does. When Marty attempts entering what used to be his room he accidentally invades a girls bedroom and almost gets clocked by a baseball bat wielding father. I mention this scene because there is something funny about it. The Michael Jackson poster on the wall in this girls room with him in a yellow shirt is an actual poster I owned as a kid. No jokes please. As Marty gets out of the house and walks down the street he realizes something is awry. What has happened is that Biff made millions in gambling after receiving the sports almanac and he basically owns the city now. A huge Casino named Biff's Please Paradise is where the courthouse once stood and the streets are filled with hookers, hoodlums, and vandalized vehicles. Upon entering the casino Marty watches a tv screen showing highlights of how Biff got rich in front of a wax figure of Biff at the entrance of the Biff Tannen Museum. We get a first glimpse of Buford Tannen in this clip who is a main character in Back to the Future Part III. After flipping out at the video Marty is grabbed by Biff's security team (the same three in his gang back in 1955) whom one of them is Billy Zane better known as the Phantom.

Marty awakens to his Mom on the 27th floor and quickly realizes she married Biff. No surprise here but Biff hates Marty and we learn Marty's really dad, George, is dead. As Marty goes to check out the gravestone of his father Doc Brown meets him there and tells him that the only way to change the order of events is to go back in time, yet again, and stop Biff from becoming a millionaire. When Marty confronts Biff about how he got the sports almanac things turn dangerous and he finds out that Biff is the one who killed his father. After being rescued from the rooftop of Biff's casino by Doc and the delorian Marty goes back in time, yet again, and the final 15 minutes of the film include a lot of short snippets of the original from different perspectives and angle points, it was pretty cool. After a cool chase scene in a tunnel with Biff, Marty while on his trusty hover board gets the sports almanac while Biff crashes into yet another maneuver truck. The film ends with Doc and the delorian being struck by lightning and Marty to be left alone on a street only to be approached by a single man in a car holding a letter. It is a letter from Doc Brown from the, get this, past, 1885 to be exact. This leads way to the third film which was great as well and completed Back to the Future Part II.

Since I do not have the original or third on my list to watch this week Ill just say this. After watching this one last night I really enjoyed it. It brought me back to my childhood and it was the oldest movie Vie seen since starting this marathon. I thought it was hilarious that Flea was cast as Needles. Doc Brown like I said before is my favorite character of all and is so eccentric and crazy it makes it hilarious to watch him in this film. He is even better in the third one. One thing I really enjoy about the BTTF series is the accuracy and authentic nature of each of the characters. In all three movies and all the different ages of each character they are still very noticeable and true to the original. I love that about movies that have sequel's. My favorite scene had to be when they first reached the future and Marty went into Cafe 80's, very cool, very nostalgic considering it was supposed to be in the future. I liked all the eye candy with the hover boards, flying cars, Jaws special effect (even though it was pretty bad), and the board less billboard stating the Cubs win the world series. One thing that was pretty funny was that old blank cd's were used for packaging and you could see this behind Jennifer when she was placed next to the deloraian when Marty was getting ready to go into Cafe 80's, too funny. Overall I would say that I really enjoyed this film and if it had spent a little more time in the future I might have given it an A- but since a good portion was in the 80's and 50's I will have to give it a B+!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Half way there!

This past weekend I reached the half way point to my goal of losing 100lbs. Earlier this year I made a vow to myself to try and lose 100lbs by January of 2011 and in 15 months I have already lost 50lbs! I am very excited that I have been able to lose this amount of weight in this time frame but I was actually even hoping for a little more.

I am being realistic when I say I know the remaining 50lbs will take some time and considering Ive done what Ive done at this point Ive technically got 6 months left to lose that weight. Thats just a little more than 8lbs lost each month coming out to to around 2.1lbs lost per week. It may not sound like much but when fall comes around and Halloween time is upon us then my birthday and the Holidays right after will make it very challenging for me. I don't want to have to be dieting throughout the holidays therefore I am going to make every effort to expedite my weight loss this summer and that is one reason that Jenn and I have decided to take on some hiking excursions to keep us active.

I feel if I can get to 90lbs lost by mid November I can finish off the last 10lbs in the last 2 weeks of November and all of December by exercising like crazy while blasting Christmas tunes on my ipod! Its possible I mean cmon, who wouldnt be inspired by Santa Claus is coming to town while exercising? haha. Ive added some pics on this blog that I have recently taken. What these pics show me is that camera angle is key to every photo. Take for instance the picture I took with Leann Rhimes back at the end of May that I blogged about. My head looks like the Kool Aid Character and I was only 8lbs less at that time. Weird huh? Camera angle, camera angle, camera angle. In these new pics I also get to show of my new (actually a couple months old now) Duke Championship hat! Woohoo!!

Peters Canyon Trail Hike

On Sunday Jenn and I embarked on our 2nd hiking excursion of the summer. We chose Peters Canyon in the Orange Hills back in the hills behind the Orange County Mining Company. This hike was listed as an easier one than the one we did 2 weeks ago but we both disagreed with that..BIG TIME! Although the elevation was only 250 feet and the hike was the same distance this one seemed a bit different and there were reasons why.

As we started out on the hike it was moderate with no elevation gain. We did get to some scenery about 1/4 mile in and as a bike rider rode by us he asked if we saw that snake back there but we missed it, bummer. Right off the bat though I could tell this hike was going to be more scenic than the previous one and that was refreshing, I'm all about the scenicness of the hike, is that even a word?

As we curved around Skylark Trail we came upon a quick sorta steep uphill climb. Our hike didn't take us up on this incline but my wife the adventurer she is said "lets do it" so we did. A 1000 heartbeats and a few minutes later we reached the top and sat on a bench for a minute or two while we got some water before descending back where we were originally supposed to go on our trail. As we reached that point we entered on to Cactus Point Trail where we emerged out on to a wonderful view of the lake. See pic!

Cactus Point Trail brought us back at about the 85% point marker of where we took that extra excursion up the steep climb so once we got there, there was even more to look forward to. What the map cannot show you is the downhill drop and even steeper but shorter uphill stint that followed the first one and that one was probably more difficult from the eyes point of view than the actual hike because it was much shorter but still difficult. See pictures of if below.

After that point we descended down a pretty gradual at first but then steep downhill climb in amongst Cactus and I thought that was one of the most scenic parts of the trail.

We then curved around and up a little bit and got onto the Peters Canyon Trail portion where bee's and bugs were especially aggressive, they must have loved my sunscreen but it wasn't fun for me, haha. After that we went downhill a little bit and walked through the most shaded part of the hike which I loved. See pic below.

Once we returned back the hike last 1:02 total and that included out extra little excursion up that one hill. I would say it was about a 2.7 mile total and it was well worth it. I loved this hike and besides the Topanga Canyon hike we have gone on twice this was by far the most scenic and the most challenging. I cannot wait for next weeks hike whatever it may be.

#7 - Cars - 2006

Cars was the 7th and final movie I watched for my animated week. It was the longest movie I watched all week and the longest Disney Pixar film ever made. There was a reason this movie was so long and its because it had some many wonderful scenes and characters to fill a run time of almost 2 hours. Below is my detailed review of this final film in my animated week.

This film had an all star cast of characters that rivals Finding Nemo and had some great actors and actresses billed for this film. The late Paul Newman was the most famous of them all and voiced Doc Hudson and this was actually his last full length feature film he was in prior to his death from lung cancer in 2008. Along with Newman was Owen Wilson (Lightning McQueen), Bonnie Hunt (Sally), Larry the Cable Guy (Mater), Cheech Marin (Ramone), the late George Carlin (Fillmore), Tony Shalhoub (Luigi), Michael Keaton (Chick Hicks), Jeremy Piven (Harv), Richard Petty (the King), and of course John Ratzenbereger (Mack and other characters as well). There were also some very cool cameo appearances by Arnold Schwarzenneger, Jay Leno, Bob Costas, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Darrell Waltrip, Sheryl Crow, and Mario Andretti. All in all as you can see the cast was amazing so now how about the story?

Cars starts right out of the gate with an impressive intro as we hear Lightning McQueen talking to himself and see blurs of race cars speeding by. As we get our first glimpse of the main star an awesome musical track plays and panoramic views of the raceway stadium are present. I have the luxury of seeing it in bluray and in fact the preview in the Best Buy store of this film in particular is the reason why I wanted to get a bluray player as it is. It does not disappoint. As we see McQueen racing for the Piston Cup the race comes to a dramatic finish as The King, Chick, and Mcqueen tie for the win. I especially loved McQueen's mid air tongue out Michael Jordan reference and it is even funnier that McQueens tongue is what ties him with his fellow racers in the end. It is apparent from the beginning the McQueen is a hot shot rookie who thinks he can do it all by himself as his crew leaves him at the end of the race due to his arrogance. Mack his trailer truck gets on the road right away as McQueen wants to beat everyone out to California where a race off for the Piston Cup will take place. The first one out to Cali will get a chance to be there with Dinoco all to themselves and Dinoco is the biggest race car endorsement company around.

As McQueen is all tucked in the trailer bed and Mack heads out on the road here is where the best track in the entire film is played, Life is a Highway by Rascall Flatts. Their version is the best I've heard and I loved this scene as Mack drives across the country with this soundtrack playing in the background. The unbelievably realistic visuals of nature in this film are amazing, probably better than in any other animated film I've ever seen. Those are my favorite parts of the film. Along the drive to California McQueen gets bumped off the trailer and left in the desert. After attempting to find Mack he gets caught speeding by a cop and mistakes the cops engine backfiring as shots fired so he relentlessly and recklessly tries to lose the cop and in doing so finds himself tearing up the small town of Radiator Springs. This is where most of the movie is spent.

He is being tried in the Radiator Springs courtroom and after seeing McQueen is a sports car the judge, Doc, dismisses the case. We see here something is not as it seems. Mater along with the other residents of RS (Radiator Springs) are all in the courtroom and this is where we first get a good glimpse of how funny Mater will be in this film. He becomes appointed McQueens attorney. Enter a snazzy looking Porsche named Sally. She pleads her case to the townsfolk and the judge decides that McQueen must fix the road he damaged and then he will be allowed to leave. McQueen must fix this road with Bessie, a god awful ancient looking machine that produces and spreads asphalt. McQueen has to be hooked up to Bessie and fix the road. After a failed attempt at ditching the town and fleeing the scene McQueen does his best to finish his work quickly, even does so in 1 hours time. His work however is horrendous and the road is even worse than when he started it. Having to start over is the last thing McQueen wants to do but he does it anyways, not like he has a choice in the matter.

During his stay there he becomes to know the locals a little more each day. Mater becomes his best friend and they have a hilarious plow tipping scene together late one night. Mater has so many funny lines in this film its hard to count. I love the scene where Mater shows McQueen how to drive backwards and at the end lets him know "rearview mirrors" is the key. Once Mater finally finishes the first section of the street everyone is excited at how nice it is and go for a late night stroll. I loved the characters Luigi and Guido as the tire salesmen who love Ferrari's and whitewall tires. I wasn't as into the hippie 60's Fillmore (Carlin) but Ramone was the cool as they come body paint car voiced by Cheech Marin. Another favorite though is Sally who becomes smitten with McQueen and even offers him a stay in her Cone hotel. I loved this theme for a car hotel, very unique and outside of the box. The "lower car" ink referring to what many call a "tramp stamp" tattoo on Sally is hilarious too. This movie has a lot of quirky but hip references and that was very nice to see.

My overall favorite scene of the movie was when Sally and McQueen took a drive out past the waterfall to the old deserted town. The driving scenes and the nature were stunning and my eyes sometime cant tell its an animate picture because the nature around and the water puddles on the road and trees lining the streets look so darn realistic. I can only hope that when Disney creates RS at the CA Adventure in Anaheim it looks this forestry and scenic and a waterfall addition would be awesome!! While in RS McQueen finds out that Doc is actually retired race car driver and three time Piston Cup winner Hudson Hornet. After an accident in a race he was basically forgotten about in the race car world and wanted nothing to do with it, hence his decision earlier in the film to just dismiss the case against McQueen and let him go and leave their town. Its easy to see where this is going after Doc helps McQueen with some racing tips.

In a twist it was Doc who alerted the press where McQueen was because after all everyone was wondering why he hadn't show up to CA yet for the press before the big race. Right after a heartwarming car strolling scene where all the locals reminisced of old times and took a stroll down main street with the lights of the town lit up brightly out of the distance and in the dark came cars galore and a helicopter above indicates they've located McQueen. Sally overhears a reporter thanking Doc for the call and is visibly upset. She was falling for McQueen. Within a quick moment McQueen was gone and so were the cars and media. He was headed to CA for the big race. While at the race car stadium he couldn't get RS and Sally out of his mind. As he struggled through the race from the onset he later heard a voice from the crew pit station come across his headset, it was Doc and the entire locals were there cheering him on from the side as his crew. This included Luigi and Guido. In easily my 2nd favorite scene of the film Guido makes short work, and I mean short short work of changing McQueens tires after being made fun of by Chick's crew. Chicks crew eventually all lose their steel moustaches after witnessing what they just saw and it was hilarious. As the film can to an end Chick crashed into The King and although McQueen was well ahead and on his way to the title he immediately remembered what happened to Doc and instead of finishing the line he went back and helped The King finish the race and although Chick won the Piston Cup, McQueen won everyone's heart. In the end we see Mater flying in a helicopter (his one wish to McQueen) and McQueen and Sally heading out for a drive to the waterfall.

This film had it all including an amazing storyline, one of the better ones I've seen in animated films and like I've said for some in the past this is one Id love to see a sequel for. Other notable characters I enjoyed was Harv (Piven) as McQueens agent. Even though you didn't see him he is Mr. agent man and his voice for this character was a perfect fit. I also loved Bob Cutlas (Costas) as the main announcer and I cant help myself from hearing him call Jordan's game winning shot over Utah in 98 every time I hear his voice. That along with the other celebrity cameo's (Ahnold, Leno, Earnhardt Jr, etc.) were cool to see. The overall realistic feel of this movie for being an animated movie really made it stand out for me. I think Mater is easily one of the funniest characters ever created by Disney! Considering this movie had pretty much everything I would easily give this film an A+! It was a perfect movie to end my animated movie week!!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

#6 - Coraline - 2009

Focus Features Coraline was the sixth movie in my animated week that I chose. Having only seen the first part of it on standard dvd before I thought I would add this one to my list since I have since purchased it on bluray (for $9.99 by the way, what a deal huh?) and go ahead and watch this one. A couple of interesting points. This is the only movie on my animated movie list that is not a Disney film and it is also the only movie on my list that has a 3D option. Since 3D movies at home are not the same as in the theater I stuck with the 2D version. Below is my detailed review.

This review will be a bit different than my previous ones and they might differ from blog to blog. Ive come to learn from my writing in these blogs that I can tend to get lengthy and just write about the story for the majority of the blog instead of just highlighting my favorite parts and what its like to me. So I will attempt to maybe shorten my reviews a bit and focus on my personal review and opinion and not necessarily speak about the movie in a scene by scene reference. Makes it easier on the reader as well so they don't get bored reading through it, with all that said Ill start.

Anyone who knows me knows that I love Halloween type movies or anything creepy and weird, this kinda falls into both in my mind. I didnt get a chance to see this one in the theaters and it would have been great Im sure but Im glad I got to see it now and on bluray! The casting for this film was good and although there were no big name actors the ones that they had were good. Coraline was voiced by Dakota Fanning, both her Mom and other Mom is voiced by the Desperate Houswife herself Teri Hatcher, The Cat is voiced by Keith David who better known for his role in Men at Work back in the 90's but also for being Mary's Dad in There's Something About Mary. The other notable one's I would list would be Ian McShane (Deadwood, Death Race, and Tai Lung in Kungfu Panda as The Great Bobinski and Jennifer Saunders (the fairy godmother in the Shrek films) as Miss April Spinks. I know I know I know, your probably haven't heard of many of them but trust me their voices will sound familiar and they were great for their roles.

This movie starts with a doll being taken apart and then put back together. The dolls resembles the movies main character Coraline. Ive spoken about attention to detail in the past but this scene takes the cake. It even outshines the Toy Story Dr. Kevorkian looking guy cleaning up Woody, it was that good!! Coraline and her parents have moved to a desolate looking place and got an apartment which is half a house in the Pink Palace Apartments. The scenery and effects of this house and the surrounding area is amazing. We are introduced to the Cat early on and also Wybie (short for Whyborn). He is probably the quirkiest character in the film and his head tilt throughout is very unique and odd, I love it. Coraline is a girl who is bored as her parents who are writing a catalog for Garden Life pay little and sometimes no attention to her. She basically has to find her own things to do to have fun. Coraline does meet her weird and strange neighbors such as the Great Bobinski on the top floor who acrobat's around with his weird shaped body and Miss Spink and Forcible who live downstairs below. Obsessed with old type Hollywood and glitter these 2 are 2 for the ages and provide great comedy bits throughout. One thing that was especially odd was the hanging "angel" dogs who had passed but were stuffed so they could be cherished forever. Very creepy.

After finding a hidden door in the live room area of the house things start to change dramatically for Coraline. She enters into a room and a house that looks just like her's but everyone else looks different. This is where we are introduced to her other family in a parallel world, more noticeably her other Mother. As she realizes her other family pays more attention to her and makes more wonderful meals. During her trips to the parallel world Coraline enjoyed wonderfully delicious meals including a turkey dinner with a real gravy train and all and even breakfast for dinner one night, a personal favorite of mine! She also took in a theatrical show starring Miss Spinks and Forcible and also a mesmerizing Dancing Mice show with the Great Bobinski. I loved the flying cotton candy cannons and the popcorn machine in the Great Bobinski's place. In what was easily the most visually pleasing scene through the film Coraline goes out front and into the garden area where life-like plants dance and bloom around her. Her other father emerges on a grasshopper looking vehicle and Coraline jumps aboard and it and its helicopter like blades rise them from the ground and they view the garden from atop and the garden along with its pumpkin eyes and blue flowers all around display a vision of Caroline. This short but very quirky scene almost seems to have been made for bluray viewing. It was that amazing!!

As time goes and the movie moves further along and she alternates between real life and her "other" life in a way is becomes obvious that her "other" Mother is not as she seems. When a box of button eyes appear before her and she is asked to stay with her other family for good Coraline realizes things are dangerous for her and she must get back home. One thing that didn't change was the Cat who never had button eyes in the parallel world. He was protective and would eventually help her out. After learning that her other Mother is keeping her captive she desperately tries to find a way home. At first she fails but then when she succeeds she comes to learn something terrifying, her real parents are missing. She must go back and trick the other Mother into believing that she will stay there forever and in doing so try to find her parents. She also realized earlier in the movie that three children were taken a long time ago and in order to release their souls Coraline must find their eyes so she makes a game out of it with her other Mother and must find her parents. An exhilarating final 15 minutes of the film conclude with Coraline locating through adventure at every turn none the less, the three sets of eyes she needed and also after tricking the other Mother locating her parents in the Detroit Zoo Snowglobe. After almost being caught by the other Mothers hand (think mechanical metal spider looking hand) and eventually being saved by Whybie Coraline is safe and sound. The ending shows Coraline reuniting with her snow covered parents and being told they are going out to eat to celebrate. Then Whybie brings his Gma down to the garden where the Great Bobinski, Miss Spinks & Forible, and the Coraline family are working and all is well and ends happy, kinda like a Disney movie. haha.

My favorite character in this film had to be Whybie. I loved loved loved the attention to detail and the dark creepy scenes the best. The portal where she went from door to door was cool but especially scary when it was dark at the end filled with spider webs. There was so much visually to see that you almost couldn't see it all in the 1st viewing. The garden scene like I said before was amazing and the bike rides through the park were cool as well. One of my favorite scenes was the scene where all of a sudden fog filled the ground and was deep and thick. A curious Whybie searching for slug worms appears and visually it was awesome. I loved almost every scene. Overall I would easily give this film an A-!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

#5 - Finding Nemo - 2003

The fifth film I decided to watch was Disney Pixar's Finding Nemo. As mention previously in the Monsters Inc blog I indicated 2 of the final three films I had yet to watch I felt were in the top 3 Disney Pixar films ever made and sure enough this is the 2nd one! A sensational film from start to finish and again one of my favorite Disney ones ever. Below is my detailed review.

In Disney Pixar's Finding Nemo were introduced to an entirely new species of characters and for the first time since The Little Mermaid we get to see underwater characters who live in the ocean, in this movie particular, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. In my opinion this film actually has more funny and interesting characters than in any other Disney Pixar movie made, including Monsters Inc and Cars and that is saying a lot. As in previous movies the actors were not always the original choice and that stayed true in this film. William H Macy was actually offered the role of Marlin before anyone else but it obviously went to Albert Brooks who was amazing. Other notable actors/actresses were Ellen Degeneres as the voice Dory which was actually her first ever voice narrative character ever, William Dafoe as Gill, Brad Garret as Bloat, Allison Janney as Peach, Geoffry Rush as Nigel, and Stephen Root (Office Space stapler guy) as Bubbles. There are obviously other actors as well but these would be the main voice characters for the film along with Nemo voiced by Alexander Gould who has a long history of tv shows to his credit and then of course Pixar icon John Ratzenbereger as the voice of the Fish School. With all that being said Dory was easily my favorite character in this film with Bloat a close second. I actually wish Bloat had more scenes because every one he was in was funny.

Finding Nemo probably has the saddest film opening of any Disney movie I can ever recall. Marlin and Coral have the picked the perfect place to raise their family on the way but danger strikes quick. A shark attacks them immediately and in an effort to save her babies on the way Coral and every single baby except one are killed. The audience does not see the actual kill but we see the after affects as marlin goes and finds one baby left. During an earlier conversation Coral said she liked the name Nemo so Marlin decides to name him just that, Nemo. Fast forward to the present and Nemo is getting ready for his 1st day of school. Marlin is a little nervous about this happening but comes to grip and eventually lets go. There are some funny sequences as Marlin takes Nemo to the drop off area to be picked up by a giant Stingray (Mr. Ray) who is the teacher. We quickly learn that although Marlin is a Clown fish he is not very funny. As the school children all swim aboard Mr. Ray and he takes them off to class we are treated to amazing special effects of the ocean and the colors and fish are so vivid and bright it is a delight to watch. As I was watching this scene I was imagining to myself what this will look like once a bluray version of this film is released. It is a quick scene none the less but the colors and brightness of it all were mesmerizing!

Back with all the other parents Marlin learns that the teach takes the class to the drop off for their education. This just happens to be the same location where Marlin lose his mate Coral and all the rest of his babies. Marlin freaks out and heads to get Nemo meanwhile Nemo has joined the "cool" fish as they were attempting to outdue each other to see who could swim the farthest off the drop off area. Right before Nemo has a chance to swim out Marlin shows up and grabs him to bring him back. An argue breaks out between father and son and after talking with Mr. Ray for a brief second and taking his eyes of Nemo, Nemo is swimming ferociously out to sea. He is swimming to a boat in fact which was humorously called a "butt" by some of the fish students. As Marlin yells out to Nemo to swim back and Nemo defiantly does not two scuba divers emerge from below and one scoops up Nemo while the other snaps a shot of Marlin and within seconds Nemo is gone. This devastates Marlin and he swims feverishly out to sea to catch him but is unsuccessful in doing so. On board and put in a cooler we learn that Nemo is actually a present for the divers niece but that isn't particularly a good thing as we later come to find out.

As Marlin continues to swim with no sight of the "butt" better known as the boat he crosses path's with a group of fish and eventually bumps into a blue fish named Dory. Dory believes she saw the boat and leads Marlin one direction but within seconds tries to loose Marlin as she is fearing he is chasing her. We come to find out Dory has short term memory loss and didn't remember speaking to Marlin before. After some confusion and her explanation to Marlin they begin a journey to find little Nemo. Meanwhile Nemo has been dropped into a fish tank at the office of a dentist who just happened to be the diver who captured Nemo. At first look around Nemo decides to try to swim but continually bumps into what is the glass frame of the aquarium he has been placed in. In this part of the movie the picture scans the dentist office waiting room and on the floor a Buzz Light Year doll can be seen. Ive come to learn in these Pixar films to look for the hidden objects from previous (and in some, future) movies.

Nemo quickly encounters new fish who will eventually become his friends that have either been bought at a fish store, or as in one case with Gill, captured at sea as well. Gill is a soft spoken fish who is the leader of the group and he becomes like a father figure to little Nemo, afterall they both came from the sea and have that in common. My favorite characters in the tank are Bloat who unexpectedly at times blows up like a basketball and then Bubbles who is absolutely fascinated with the bubble treasure chest statue that is in the aquarium. Over time these fish come to realize that Nemo is actually going to be a gift for the dentist's niece Darla and that spells trouble. A picture frame showing a braceface Darla holding a fish back with an upside down dead fish in it shows us that any fish that is being given to her is in danger for their life and that fish now is Nemo.

As the film moves along we are treated to several very cool and unique scenes involving Marlin and Dory. Along the way to find Nemo they encounter a Shark named Bruce who is going through a program that reminds all sharks that "fish are friends, not food". Marlin and Dory get whisked away to an old sunken submarine vessel where these sessions are taken place. Marlin again bombs while attempting to tell a joke but it is a cut to Dory that releases a few droplets of blood that cause them major problems. This blood has reached the nose of Bruce and he smells food! A chase ignites and Marlin and Dory must swim for their lives. They eventually get away from Bruce and in doing so find the goggles with a name and address with the diver who took Nemo. In one of my favorite scenes in the film the goggles drop down below where it is pitch dark and Marlin and Dory chase after it to try and retrieve it and upon doing so find a small bright white light. Dory kiddishly states, "Im gonna get ya" as Marlin says "I feel happy and thats a big thing". As the light bobbles around above them slowly the teeth of a large shark like fish are present and Marlin says "good thoughts gone" which to me was one of the funniest lines in the movie. As they attempt to escape this predator Marlin must fend him off long enough for Dory to read the name and address off the goggles. They are successful in doing so and Dory is overwhelmed in excitement as she actually can remember what she read.

As these two continue on they run into a fish school who gather together for some cool charade like scenes and then direct them to the EAC (East Australian Current) where they meet up with some cool, totally tubeacular awesome dudes like Crush, Squirt, and others. Sea Turtles who are taking a ride on the EAC! The scene with these sea turtles is quite funny and their totally surfer like attitudes and lingo make the scene really hip and cool. Marlin and Dory also encounter dangerous jelly fish in another scene I cant wait to see on bluray. These pink bouncing jelly fish are visually stunning and although Dory gets injured in this sequence they survive yet another adventure together. In their final and maybe most challenging obstacle they must get out of a whale's mouth after Dory intentionally tried to ask him for directions. Speaking in whale it was quite funny and I loved the special effects of Marlin and Dory hanging on the whales tongue while inside its mouth, the attention to detail was amazing! They eventually blow out of the blow hole atop the whale and Marlin screams out Thank You, in whale.

Meanwhile back in the aquarium efforts are being made to dirty it up much to Jacques distaste, he is actually the one who cleans it relentlessly, but they are hoping that if algae buildup becomes bad enough the dentist will have to change the tank and they can make a rescue attempt for Nemo. Unfortunately as they awake the next morning the tank has been cleaned and installed with a new filter all while they slept and their rescue mission is in danger. Shortly thereafter Darla enters the office and Nemo is swiped up into a bag and getting ready to be handed to Darla. Out in the ocean Marlin and Dory have reached a bay filled with boats that has Sydney written on it so they are close. After almost getting swallowed by a pelican Marlin and Dory fight for their lives as Nigel (the pelican who throughout the film had been talking to the aquarium fish through the window of the office and knows Nemo) notice the fellow pelican choking. As he goes to help Marlin and Dory pop out and after hearing it is Marlin, Nemo's dad, he saves their life from being eaten by seagulls who famously chanted "mine - mine - mine! As Marlin and Dory reach the window of the dentist's office Marlin immediately see's Nemo upside down in a bag and thinks he has died. Little did he know Nemo was acting so that the dentist would throw him away and down the toilet and Nemo would get back to the ocean. After a life saving maneuver by Gill get Darla to freak out and Nigel to cause chaos in the office Nemo flushes himself down the tube by the dentist chair and out to sea he goes. Marlin again feel's as though Nemo has died but later finds him and is reunited. After a brief struggle to save Dory from getting taken in a fisherman's net everybody is safe and sound and the movie ends on a happy note.

This movie did not have a dramatic final scene as some do however there were more funny and visually stunning scenes in this movie than in any other Disney Pixar movie Ive seen. The characters were likable, humorous, dramatic, scary, and unique throughout the film and that always kept you wondering who you would see next. From a friendly shark to a surfer talking sea turtle this movie had it all. Throughout the film Dory accidentally called Nemo Fabio, Elmo, Chico, Harpo, and Bingo. This was obviously due to her short term memory. Most of the comedic scenes in the film belong to her and Bloat. Considering the amount of characters in this film, the storyline, and the humor it portrayed I would easily give this film an A+!

Friday, June 25, 2010

#4 - Monsters Inc. - 2001

My 4th movie that I chose to watch was Disney Pixar's Monsters Inc. This is the most recent movie that I have watched during the beginning of this marathon and probably the best. It is weird to think that this movie was released almost 10 years ago but yet is seems so recent and new. I have easily seen this movie more than any other animated movie on this list and probably any other animated movie ever and its great every time I see it! Below is my review.

Monsters Inc in my mind is one of the top three Disney Pixar films ever made. Spoiler alert here, the other two on my list are ones I have yet to watch this week. I think there are a lot of factors that go into the brilliance of this movie but character selection and voice narratives are two huge ones. I cant emphasize how important these factors are to me when reviewing animated films. In this movie, Disney got it right, dead on, absolutely perfect!! As you may have noticed in my blog about Toy Story Billy Crystal was originally offered the role of Buzz Light Year but declined and afterwards called it the worst decision in his career. He was later offered the role of Mike Wazowski. He was perfect for this character and was easily my favorite one in this film. Sully was voiced by John Goodman who was great but the role was originally offered to Bill Murray. As much as I like Murray I don't see him as Sully and think it was a blessing in disguise Goodman got the role. Randall (Steve Buscemi), Mr. Waternoose (James Coburn), and Celia (Jennifer Tilly) rounded out the most notable characters in the film.

This film's opening scene starts out with a boy sleeping who is awakened by eerie sounds and encounters a monster who has snuck in his room to scare him. It turns out the child scares the monster and chaos ensues. The whole scene is actually just a "scare simulation" for new monsters preparing to move up to the Scare floor. It gives the audience a good view of what the movie is about and introduces us to some interesting looking monsters to start the film. After this we are introduced to the two main characters, James P Sullivan, better know as Sulley, and his sidekick Mike Wazowski as we see them in their apartment getting ready for the word day. This sequence really introduces us to their character personalities and immediately you cant but fall in love with these characters.

As the film moves along we get a glimpse at some other cool looking monsters as Mike and Sulley walk to work. I especially enjoyed watching a slimy character get sucked under the street, great special effects!! As Mike and Sulley enter Monstropolis Power Company building it is quickly evident that Sulley is admired by almost everyone there. He currently holds the scare lead out of all the scare monsters and he is sort of a celebrity. I love how Mike is so proud of the big fellow throughout their initial walk in. As for Mike himself his sweetie pie is Celia who has some cool looking extensions if you ask me. She refer's to Mike as her googlie bear and Tilly's voice for this character is a perfect fit. The next few scenes involve the scare floor and we get to see Randall (the eventual villain) and other unique monsters who scare on the scare floor. I loved the dramatic music entrance as the monsters enter the scare floor with their counterparts awaiting their arrival at the door stations. This entrance was led by none other than Sulley and I enjoyed watching all the monsters prepare for action. The teeth being put in, spikes being sprung, and invisibility taking place was very funny. After this it was time for action and the battle between Randall and Sulley began. Sulley was attempting to break the scare record but Randall briefly took over the lead but after an announcement with this information and a premature celebration by Randall and his team Sulley exited the door at his station and Mike loaded on several tanks of energy (think oxygen looking tanks) into the cart and Sully calmly said, "slumber party" with a smile. The scare floor scene ends with hilarity as one of the monsters comes back with a human sock attached to him. His partner screams out and alarms everyone and the CDA (think men in hazmad suits like Outbreak) spring into action and quickly detonate the sock and give the monster who was infected a quick cleandown that include a shave, wash, and rinse. Truly classic!

After a hard days work Mike is taking his girl to Harryhausens Sushi Restaurant but before leaving Roz who handles the paperwork each day and is a female character voiced by a male actor (Bob Peterson) reminds Mike that his paperwork has not been submitted. Knowing that a late arrival at Harryhausens will possibly cause them a cancellation of their reservation Sulley kindly agrees to go back and get the paperwork at their scare floor station and submit it before he leaves. This is where things get hairy. Upon returning to the scare floor Sulley notices a door left at one of the stations and as he investigates it he finds that a human child has entered the scare floor. Now remember, in Monstropolis human anything = pure chaos and pandemonium so obviously Sulley was none to pleased and freaked out. He did the best he could to capture and hide the child and quickly went to Harryhausens to notify his partner, Mike.

As Mike and Celia are enjoying their meal at a monster version of Bennihana's Sulley enters and notifies Mike of the mishap but while telling him the child gets loose and pure pandemonium or as I like to say, panderlerium (its just more fun) breaks out. As the restaurant patrons and staff go berserk Sulley quickly places the child in a Chinese to go box and flee's the scene with Mike. One funny scene is when they are going back to their apartment Mike states, "that wasn't too bad considering" and then all of a sudden you see a big protective cloud hover over the entire area where Harryhausens stood and you can only imagine that with the CDA taking over Harryhausens would be no more. So much for Mike and Celia's romantic dinner out.

Some of the movies funniest scenes take place after Mike and Sulley bring the child back to their place. As they make every attempt to steer clear from the child while trying to plan a solution to the scenes get funnier and funnier. Whether its Mike spraying himself in the eye with disinfectant, tripping and falling in a trash can, or planning to build an underground tunnel with spoons (my favorite) it was pure comedy. The duo finally subdued the child as Sulley threw from a distance cheerios at the child. As she got tired Sulley led her, by a cheerio trail, into bed where she fell asleep and Sulley would eventually come up with the name Boo for this child. The next morning Sulley and Mike dress the child up like a mini monster and take her to work. With a heavy CDA presence in the building they have to be extra careful. After avoiding some close encounters they attempt to get her back to the scare floor and retrieve her door and put her back in her home. There is a hilarious bathroom sequence with Sulley and Boo as you can tell Sulley is starting to become fond of this child. Eventually Sulley attempts to get Boo back to her door and in doing so find that Randall is stealing screams at the off hour and almost gets himself caught. Barely getting away Randall notices Boo leaving with Sulley and figures out that him and Mike must know more.

As the movie moves along Sulley places Boo in a trash can behind him to protect her of the CDA who approach him for an autograph but when he turns around she is being whisked away by the janitors and sent to the compactor department. Here is where we see Sulley's true feelings for Boo as he believes that he has caused her death as pieces of trash and metal are compacted in front of him and the costume eye Boo was wearing is sticking out. Thankfully and understandably (this is a Disney movie) that was not the case and he finds her but not after Randall has kidnapped Mike and attempts to test his new scream machine on him. Boo's curiosity leads Sulley and her to a backroom where they discover Randall and his assistants evil plan to steal screams out of Mike as he is hooked up to a machine. At one point after a test run on the machine Mike looks like Thunder Lips from The Country Bear Jamboree gang.

In an attempt to rescue Mike, Sulley and I'm sure the entire audience is surprised to see that Mr. Waternoose is actually a villain as well and eventually banishes both Mike and Sulley. As they attempt to get back to the real world, Monstropolis that is, they run into the Abominable Snowman, voiced by Pixar hall of fame of hall of fame voice actors John Ratzenberger. I'm sure everyone knows at this point he has been in every Pixar film ever made so he is like a staple in these films. As Mike and Sulley continue to argue and blame one another they desperately try to get back and eventually do. After some snow cones and a sled race down the side of a slipper snowy mountain they get back and their mission is in full effect. In one of the best adventure filled ending sequences in Pixar's history Mike and Sulley must protect Boo after they rescue her in the room of flying doors (or so I call it) and as Randall attempts at every chance to get her back Mike and Sulley prevail and protect Boo. The film ends with Mike and Sulley saving the day and again another Disney classic is complete.

Although I did not go into detail about the flying door scene at the end, this was easily my favorite part of the movie and the best overall scene in my mind. The effects in this sequence were amazing and the worlds they entered as they opened each door were amazing. I personally wish there was about another 5-10 minutes of this scene alone. My favorite character was Mike Wazowski and he in my mind made the movie. I know most people may like Sulley and Boo bust Mike was by far the funniest and most enjoyable in my mind. I am also including in this blog a picture I drew a few years back for my niece Paige whom when she was younger would call my brother (her Dad) Kitty. Monsters Inc was actually both my niece Paige and my nephew, Reid's favorite movie when they were real young. Sequels are rare in Pixar movies but as the Toy Story franchise showed us they can get better in succession. This is one movie I would love to have seen a sequel too and one that I think could be a blockbuster should they ever entertain the idea. I doubt that it would happen now, 9 years later and I'm sure we would have heard something about it at this point but one never knows. It doesn't really matter though, this movie in itself is a classic and like I said in my mind one of the three best Pixar films ever. With that being said I would give this movie an A+ as I felt it was superb on every level and was flawless throughout.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

#3 - Pocahontas - 1995

The third movie I have chosen is Disney's Pocahontas. This Disney animated classic was released in 1995, yet another movie released the year I graduated high school. Pocahontas like many other Disney classics from the past introduced us to a new story, new characters, and wonderful new music. All of these were wonderful additions to the Disney list and this movie in particular introduced me to what would eventually become my favorite Disney character of all time. Below is my full detailed review of this film.

This movie starts out with English sailors getting ready to board a ship which will be led by Governor Ratcliffe as they head out to find the new world and all the riches it will bring them, in gold. We are quickly introduced to one of the main characters who basically at that time was the only real character who was voiced by a popular actor. His name is Captain John Smith and he is voiced by none other than Mel Gibson. Gibson has the perfect voice for this character and it fit like a glove. Shortly into the film the sailors are battling a ferocious storm in which one point a young sailor named Thomas gets thrown overboard. Captain John Smith as expected dove into save the day and bring Thomas back on board. This pointed out the main hero right from the start as some, but not all Disney movies do.

After this we get a chance to see the Indians who live in the village led be Cheif Powhatan. He is voiced by Russell Means who is probably most notably known for his role in Last of the Mohicans. His daughter is Pocahontas and after seeing a clip of Indians returning home to their families the Cheif notices his daughter is missing. It turns out she is on top of a cliff with her friend down in the water in a canoe waiting for her to make a leap over a beautiful waterfall. Once learning that the villagers have come home Pocahontas free falls and dives into the water off the cliff atop the waterfall. This is where we are introduced to Pocahontas friends Meeko and Flit. Meeko is curious and always hungry raccoon and Flit is a hummingbird. Meeko and Flit always go back and fourth with each other throughout the movie. After returning from the water Pocahontas is welcomed back to the village with news that the village hero, Kocoum has asked for her hand in marriage which the Cheif is ecstatic about. Pocahontas on the other hand does not feel this way and takes off on a journey of her own.

As the story moves along Pocahontas canoe's down a riverbed and this is where we hear the song "Just around the riverbed" by Judy Kuhn. This is one of the most notable songs in the entire movie which was filled with excellent music. Pocahontas reaches Grandmother Willow and asks for advise of this newfound news her father has sprung on her. As Pocahontas nears the edge of the ocean she hears the ship and gets a closer look at the English sailors who have come on land to check the place out which was led by Captain John Smith. In easily my favorite part of the movie Smith ventures into the woods to get to a higher peek and look across the "new world" and this is where he encounters Meeko. After Meeko startles the Captain, Smith offers him some biscuits and to his delight he eats them all up in a hurry and turns back to tell Pocahontas its ok to come out. Smith notices something and hears a ruckus in the bushes but as he nears Flit springs out to help avoid Pocahontas being discovered and as this is taking place biscuits are flying out of Smith's bad to Meeko's delight as he grabs them all up and feasts on them. Then as he finishes off the final one he wipes the crumbs of his face and licks his finger and grabs those 6 little crumbs off the ground to end his snack. It is classic!

Back at the village during a pow wow with the Cheif he asks Kekata what he see's in the spirits about these visitors that are coming on land. There is nervousness around the village about these visitors. After that we are treated to a scene where Meeko crashes in on the Governor's dog while taking a bath and steals all his yummy cherries. Again Meeko is after food and this character literally steals every scene he is in, I wish he was in more. After a musical scene with the Governor the film finally allows us to see where Captain Smith first meets Pocahontas. It is at the waters edge and after pulling his gun on her at first a beautiful friendship occurs which is obviously leading to more. Amongst their conversations they both realize that their sides (the Sailors and the Indians) will be at war with each other and will not approve of their friendship, let along anything else that would develop. At the end of their time together the musical scene with the famous "Colors of the Wind"song sung by Vanessa Williams plays and just as they start to close in on a kiss Pocahontas reveals that she must go back.

As the movie carries on Smith and Pocahontas continue to meet and grow more fond of each other but concerns and advise from friends stand in their way. After a heated exchange with the Governor on the decision making in the new world Smith goes back to meet with Pocahontas. Back at the village Pocahontas's friend Nakoma has alerted Kocoum that Pocahontas is in the trouble and needs help. After reaching Pocahontas and Smith together Kocoum almost kills Smith as a battle ensues but Thomas instead comes to Smith's rescue this time and kills Kocoum. This would easily be the most dramatic scene in the film and it ends with the Indians taking Smith captive and the Chief announcing that his death will come first in the morning. After Pocahontas visited Smith who was being held captive another musical scene is upon us, this time the battling "Savages" songs which showed both sides planning for battle.

In the final moments of the film these two groups meet and it is Captain John Smith saving Chief Powhatan's life as the Governor attempted to kill him with his shotgun. Smith has been shot and must get to a medical facility in order for his life to be saved and as the movie concluded the final scenes include the Indians helping out Smith and his fellow sailors as they embark on their journey to save Smith's life and we see Pocahontas running to the edge of the cliff to say goodbye to Smith. At this final moment the song "Colors of the Wind" again plays as the film ends with its hero being whisked away in order to save his life. Although most Disney fans would have enjoyed a more storybook ending, I personally enjoyed it myself and thought it was a great ending for this particular film.

As I mentioned before Meeko was my favorite thing about this entire movie. The writing for this character was brilliant and his actions throughout the film were pure comedy. I loved this character. I was saddened to find out that in 1994 the late John Candy had actually led his vocals to a character named Redfeather who was a turkey and would have been Pocahontas sidekick. They scratched the role after his death. I'm not sure if that would have taken over Meeko or Flit's roles but if it would have been in addition to their characters it would have been awesome. Anything with John Candy would be comedic! One other surprise for me was to find out that the voice of Thomas, the young sailor was voiced by none other than Batman himself, Christian Bale. I would have never had guessed that then again that was 15 years ago so his voice was obviously a little different back then. Although it is not my favorite Disney movie of all time, it did have my favorite Disney character of all time in Meeko so overall I felt this movie was a good movie and was a nice addition to the Disney film collection. I give it a B!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

#2 - Toy Story 2 - 1999

Like I mentioned previously any sequels on my list I am going to attempt to watch in succession with the original therefore last night I watched Toy Story 2. This film was released in 1999, four years after the original. I remember I was living in North Carolina when this was released and I still remember going to the theater to see this one out there. Below is my full movie review on Toy Story 2.

Toy Story 2 starts off with Andy getting ready to take off to summer camp. As he grabs Woody and holds him together debating on whether to take him or Buzz as he pulls Woody away as his choice his right arm tears and the inside patting is visible and he ends up not taking any toys with him. After Andy is gone for summer camp his Mom comes into his room to grab up some items for a yard sale and Weezy the Penguin is chosen to be sold. This is where the story really starts to get going.

Woody and and the new family puppy team up to save Weezy and although Weezy was saved Woody was accidentally bumped off the puppy and left outside on the sidewalk during the yard sale. A short time later Al better known as Al "The Chicken" from Al's Toy Barn is overjoyed to see Woody on a table but is quickly told that he is not for sale. You could tell he was upset and it was evident Woody was valuable to this individual. After being locked in the lockbox by Andy's Mom Al breaks into the box and steals Woody all while the entire toy gang watched from Andy's room upstairs in shock. This sets the stage for Buzz Light Year to gather up the gang and head out to save Woody.

Buzz gets together his team and they set out on a mission to bring Woody back home. In preparing for this mission Mrs. Potato Head said to Mr.. Potato Head that she packed his angry eyes just in case, I thought that was absolutely hilarious!! One thing I found symbolic was the quote "lets roll" as the toys begin their mission. It eerily reminded me of Todd Beamer's same exact quote while on Flight 93 on 9/11 when they attacked the terrorists. To me personally, anytime I hear those words put together I will always think of Todd Beamer and that horrific day and it was so odd to see it there in Toy Story which obviously came out prior to that terrible day. Then again I guess it is a very common quote just made more courageous by Todd Beamer. Ok I went off subject there, lets get back on track now.

Pure chaos ensues as the gang of toys attempt to get to Al's Toy Barn. The two minute scene where all the toys hide under traffic cones to cross the street is awesome. I love how at the end of that scene none of the toys even notice the chaos they have caused. Once they gain entrance to the toy barn some of the best scenes of the entire movie take place. Rex's reaction to the Buzz Light Year Game Guide on how to be Zurg when entering the store is too funny. Then Buzz himself gets into it with another Buzz and a battle takes place but the best bits were when Mr.. Potato Head was driving around a car with Rex, Hamm, and Slinky. They pass a section where barbie dolls are having a pool party and dancing in their bikini's and Mr.. Potato head repeats to himself, "I'm a married Spud, I'm a married Spud", it was too funny. Then all of a sudden barbie jumps into the vehicle taking over the drivers seat and says, "remain seated please" then follows in spanish "permanecer sentados por favor" which is a classic reference to the announcement on the Matterhorn Bobsleds at Disneyland in California. Easily one of the funniest scenes of the movie!

As all this is taking place Woody quickly realized that he is a famous doll and had sidekicks, his own tv show, and all kinds of memorabilia about him. This is why he was stolen. With this 2nd film we are introduced to Jessie the Cowgirl (voiced by Joan Cusak), Stinky Pete the Prospector (Kelsey Grammar), and Bullseye (no voice narratives). This new gang is thrilled to see him as they fill Woody in that now with him back as part of the gang they can all be together forever on display at a museum which just happens to be in Japan. This is why Al was so adamant about stealing Woody because it meant mega bucks for him because he had the entire group together and was planning to sell it to a buyer in Japan. Woody had the ultimate dilemma on his hands. Try to get back home to Andy or stay with this new group of toys and be admired by children forever and ever. He was convinced by Jessie and the Prospector to stay with them but this all changed pretty quickly.

Woody's original friends sans the real Buzz who was packaged up by the fake toy Buzz went through elevator shafts and air conditioning units to get to Woody. They eventually break through and locate Woody and the "real" Buzz joins the group. Al comes back into the room to package up the dolls and Buzz and the gang must follow them to the airport to capture back Woody and company. After a brief scuffle with Stinky Pete the Prospector on the luggage lifts and daredevil of an escape by Woody and Jessie off an airplane the entire group is reunited and the movie ends with Woody, Buzz, and the entire group along with Jessie and Bullseye waiting for Andy as he comes home from summer camp.

My favorite overall scene in this movie was when the doll cleaner (reminded me of Dr. Jack Kevorkian - don't ask me why) came to clean Woody and re-stitch his arm. I know I mentioned the attention to detail as something I enjoy so much about this franchise but this topped them all. His little workman's briefcase with all the kick-knacks and accessories in the tiny little drawers were visual candy to me. I also really enjoyed the obvious Star Wars reference when the "fake" Buzz battled it out with Zurg, that was hilarious as well. The villain in this movie, Al, voiced by Wayne Knight (Seinfeld and most notably to me as Dennis Nedry in Jurassic Park) was an excellent choice for this character. Heck they even made the actually animated version of him look like the real life one and that made it more realistic, for me at least.

Overall I felt this film was even better than the original. It was a bit longer (11 more minutes), the story was even better, and the characters they added were perfect. I also obviously enjoyed the funny quotes and references throughout and felt this movie was funnier than the original. It is a rarity in the motion picture industry for a sequel to outshine the original but I feel in this case it did just that. With that being said I give this a A!

#1 - Toy Story - 1995

Toy Story was the first movie I selected to watch for My Big Fat Summer Movie Marathon. This first week's theme is animated movies and what better way to start it off with the first fully computer generated full length film in history. Toy story was released in 1995, the year I graduated high school and was nothing less than spectacular. Below is my full review of this Disney masterpiece.

Toy story is a movie about toys who come to life when their owner, Andy, is away. Not than anyone didn't already know that but there you go. For being an original and first of its kind this movie was amazing and that has a lot to do with the actors and actresses who lended their voices to the characters. This movie just wouldn't have been the same had they had different voices for the main characters and that almost could have been the case. As it is with many big title movies there is usually a popular actor or actress who turned down a role for one reason or another and this was no different. Both Chevy Chase and Billy Crystal turned down the role of Buzz Light Year. Crystal later said it was the biggest mistake of his career but was later offered the role of Mike in Monster's Inc. Originally there was even talks of having Paul Newman voice Woody and Jim Carrey voice Buzz but due to the low budget for the film it wouldn't have been possible to get them. I personally cannot imagine this film without Tom Hanks and Tim Allen as the leading roles, it just wouldn't have been the same. Along with them there was Don Rickles as Mr. Potato Head, John Ratzenberger as Ham, Wallace Shaw as Rex, and the late Jim Varney (think Ernest goes to camp) as Rex. How could we forget R Lee Ermey as the voice of the Sergeant of the army toys. I mean he does have the most notable army voice in the history of film, right?

Even with an all star cast like that you still need a good story, entertaining scenes, and a great ending and this movie passed on all levels with flying colors. The story was very entertaining and kept me interested at all times. The incredible attention to detail of all the toys brought back memories of when I was a kid. I loved the scene where they were all naming where they were from, "playskool, mattel, etc". Very cool. The film starts with all the toys setting up an emergency meeting to discuss a plan to oversee Andy's birthday party because after all Andy is getting gifts which means new toys. This introduced us to Buzz Light Year, Andy's final gift he opened. Woody, Andy's favorite toy was not too smitten with Buzz, a new shiny futuristic toy with all the bells and whistles. Hilarity ensues when Buzz things he is a real Space Ranger and jealousy overcomes Woody. On a trip to Pizza Planet both Woody and Buzz are left at a gas station and are forced to team up to get back with Andy, their rightful owner. Once at the Pizza Planet Buzz plants himself into a prize machine and Woody's attempt to save him fails miserably as they both get snatched up by Sid, the town troublemaker who hates toys and tortures them for fun.

Adventure continues on for Woody and Buzz who find themselves stuck with Sid and back at his house where he plans to recklessly play (torture) his new toys. While being held captive in Sid's room Woody and Buzz run into the dismantled and disfigured creepy toys that Sid has created. There was some very cool visuals in these scenes. At one point Buzz gets strapped to Sid's new rocket he got in the mail and is no doubt going to meet his end until someone saves him. After being scared out of his wits at first but then learning Sid's creepy looking toys are just victims of Sid's viciousness towards all toys in general, he teams up with these toys to rescue Buzz. After well laid plans are in place this group descends downstairs and into Sid's backyard where they plan their attack on Sid. The toys eventually rescue Buzz as Woody and the other toys brilliantly comes to life and scare the heck out of Sid. After reuniting with Buzz Woody quickly realizes that Andy and his family are already in the car and heading out to their new home. One last climatic action scene to reunite Woody and Buzz with the rest of the gang unfolds with the help of Andy's other toys and the story ends with a bang, literally.

Out of the characters in this movie Rex is my favorite character from this bunch and Shaw's voice was made for this role. A scratchy nervous tone for this T-Rex toy made him the funniest one to me but Mr.. Potato Head (voiced by Rickles) had the best one liners in the film, which I'm sure is no surprise to anyone. Hanks and Allen were great as expected and every time I heard Andy's mom speak all I could think of was Roseanne's sister in her tv show, Roseanne's sister in her tv show. To no surprise Laurie Metcalf was indeed the voice of Andy's mom. Its still kind of weird to me that she is that voice but maybe even weirder since she was the killer in Scream 2, hmmmm.

All in all this movie was amazing. Casting, visual effects, storyline, attention to detail, and humor - this movie had it all. It also launched a new path for Disney animations and Pixar studios and we have all been so blessed to have seen other works of art since this original first full length fully computer generated film graced the big screen. My grade for this film would be a strong A-.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


We are one day into summer now and I am embarking on a movie marathon that will take place over the next 92 days. It actually started yesterday, the first day of summer and will take place up until Tuesday, September 21st, 2010. Here is what I am setting out to do and why.

As I mentioned in my previous post I have been told time and time again to blog more and write online reviews of movies. For instance yesterday I wrote some short brief tidbits about some recent movies I have watched but nothing big or nothing like a detailed review. What I am planning to do is to watch one movie a day for every day of summer. Summer runs from June 21st - September 21st so that is 93 total days. Lets break it down some more. That is a total of 13 full weeks with 7 days in each week leaving 2 days at the very end.

Everyone who knows me knows that I am an avid horror fan but don't worry, I'm not watching 93 horror movies in 93 days. That could be detrimental to my health, haha. What some people may not know is that I love all types of movies. Comedies, Action, Suspense, 80's, Romantic Comedies, SciFi, and even Animated so what I have done is broken those 13 weeks into separate theme's and for that entire week I will be watching one movie a day that fits into that specific theme. Obviously since I enjoy horror movies more than others I do have 3 separate weeks dedicated to those but not all our the gory, blood splattering horrors that so many are used to seeing now and days. With all that being said below are my 13 themed weeks along with the movies I chose for that week and their run time (in minutes). I have not decided which movie I will watch on which days but will attempt to watch and sequel movies in succession because its just better that way. After each day I will write a detailed review of the movie I just saw along with some notes as to why I chose it as one of my movies for that week. Since there are 2 days left over for Sept 20th and 21st I decided to list 2 of my favorite movies of all time, The Dark Knight and Se7en.


When: June 21st - September 21st (93 days)

Week 1: Animated Movies
Cars (116m), Coraline (101m), Monsters Inc (93m), Finding Nemo (100m), Pocahontas (91m), Toy Story (81m), Toy Story 2 (92m)

Week 2: Science Fiction/Fantasy
Back to the Future II (108m), Signs (106m), Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (147m), The Fifth Element (126m), Pandorum (108m), Journey to the Center of the Earth (92m), The Fourth Kind (98m)

Week 3: Outrageous Comedies
Wedding Crashers (128m), I Love You Man (104m), Role Models (102m), Forgetting Sarah Marshall (112m), Superbad (119m), The 40 Year Old Virgin (133m), American Pie (96m)

Week 4: Horror
Timber Falls (100m), Vacancy 2 (86m), House of 1000 Corpses (89m) , Wolfman (103m), Midnight Meat Train (100m), Cabin Fever 2 (86m), Ghost Ship (91m)

Week 5: Action/Adventure
Die Hard (132m), Con Air (115m), Face Off (140m), Jurassic Park (127m), Jurassic Park: The Lost World (129m), The Fugitive (131m), Harry Potter & the Half Blood Prince (153m)

Week 6: Mystery
Knowing (121m), Identity (90m), Kiss the Girls (117m), The Game (128m), The Private Eyes (1980) (92m), The Sixth Sense (106m), Cold Creek Manor (119m)

Week 7: Outdoor Comedies
Summer Rental (87m), Cheaper by the Dozen 2 (94m), The Great Outdoors (91m), The Parent Trap (original) (129m), Bushwhacked (90m), What About Bob (99m), RV (99m)

Week 8: Blurays
Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl (143m), Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (151m), National Treasure (131m), National Treasure 2 (124m), Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (122m), Alice in Wonderland (108m), American Psycho (102m)

Week 9: Even More Horror
The Shining (142m), Friday the 13th (original) (95m), Psycho (109m), Popcorn (91m), The Human Centipede (90m), The Monster Squad (82m), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning (84m)

Week 10: 80's Movies
Better Off Dead (97m), Ferris Buellers Day Off (102m), National Lampoons Vacation (98m), The Goonies (114m), The Burbs (102m), The Last Dragon (108m), Adventures in Babysitting (102m)

Week 11: Suspense/Thriller
Breakdown (93m), When a Stranger Calls (original) (97m), Running Scared (122m), The Strangers (86m), Joy Ride 2 (91m), Shoot to Kill (109m), Cape Fear (128m)

Week 12: Romantic Comedies
How to Lose a guy in 10 Days (116m), Failure to Launch (97m), Employee of the Month (103m), 13 going on 30 (98m), A Guy Thing (101m), Hitch (118m), Little Black Book (111m)

Week 13: Movies that take place on Halloween
Halloween (original) (91m), Halloween II (92m), Halloween (RZ) (121m), Halloween 2 (RZ) (119m), Trick or Treat (82m), The Midnight Hour (94m), Lady in White (118m)

September 20th - The Dark Knight (152m)

September 21st - Se7en (127m)