based on a book, film, Nicholas Sparks

Movie Review: The Lucky One

An already sappy Nicholas Sparks book turned into an incredibly sappier movie. I watched this movie shaking my head pretty much the entire time going “Ok what are the odds of this?” I’ll give you the answer: ZERO! Reality and cute gagging out of the way, this 2012 film is not too bad (not great but not terrible) compared to the other Sparks films with some decent acting and an actually interesting story. Spoilers ahead as usual. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

US Marine Logan Thibault (Zac Efron) is serving in Iraq and first hand sees the horrors of combat, including the deaths of his friends. One day he finds a picture of a beautiful woman by a lighthouse just before an attack and he survives. After failing to find the owner of the picture he keeps it and miraculously (and this is when my head starts spinning) keeping the picture keeps Logan alive. Returning home to his sister and nephews in Colorado Logan begins experiencing PTSD and survivor’s guilt and decides to search for the mystery woman, having discovered a clue about the lighthouse in Louisiana. He and his dog Zeus walk to Louisiana (yeah Colorado to Louisiana walking) and shows the photo around town before he finally gets an answer. The woman is single mom Beth Green (Taylor Schilling) and she is just as pretty in the picture as she is in real life for Logan. Believing he is there to apply to be a hand on her home Beth’s grandmother Ellie (Blythe Danner) hires him, much to Beth’s annoyance in not asking her. However Beth begins to warm up to Logan after getting to know him, as does Beth’s son Ben (Riley Thomas Stewart) who is glad to have a positive male role model after the death of Beth’s brother (yep probably not hard to figure out from there). Beth’s former husband, the sheriff deputy and son of the town judge, Keith Clayton (Jay R. Ferguson) does not like Logan hanging around Beth and Ben and constantly threatens to take Ben away from Beth. It doesn’t stop Logan and Beth from falling in love, however when the real reason of Logan being there is revealed things may change. Again probably not hard to figure out the story, but I am gonna stop here before giving away the rest of the movie.

Now this is not the best Sparks book to film adaption, but it is far from the worst. Zac Efron is pretty good as Logan; showing his more romantic side and if I may say he looked good in uniform. Before she was in Orange in the New Black Taylor Schilling was awesome as Beth who had some fascinating character development as she deals with her ex, her brother’s death and falling for Logan. Finally Blythe Danner as Ellie was the highlight for me as she liked Logan immediately and was the only one on his side after the truth comes out. If you like sappy Sparks movies then this is one to watch, otherwise this might not be on your need to DVR or rent list.


Movie Review: The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course

You guys might remember a few blogs back that I am a huge fan of the late Steve Irwin aka The Crocodile Hunter and how happy I was to hear that his family would be returning to Animal Planet (if not you can check it out here). I used to watch Steve all time time when I was a kid and so when I heard that he was doing a feature length movie in 2002 there was NO WAY my family was gonna miss out on it. Spoilers ahead as usual. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

While Steve and Terri Irwin (playing themselves with their dog Sui) are filming a documentary about the Australia wildlife’s less known creatures a piece of a US owned satellite breaks off; landing in Australia where it is promptly eaten by a crocodile. CIA Agent Buckwhiler (Ron Young) and Deputy Director Reynolds (Steve Bastoni) tell CIA agents Robert Wheeler (Lachy Hulme) and Vaughn Archer (Kenneth Ransom) to Australia to find the beacon, saying in the wrong hands the world would be at stake. Meanwhile Department Director Ansell (Steve Vidler), wanting to capitalize on the opportunity and take the Deputy Director position sends another agent, Jo Buckley (Kate Beahen) to find the beacon first. Meanwhile the same crocodile who swallowed the beacon has been giving trouble for cattle station owner Brozzie Drewitt (Magda Szubanski) as it keeps eating her cows. Brozzie tries to kill the croc, which is illegal as one of the workers for the Department of Fauna and Fisheries Sam Flynn (David Wenham) keeps reminding her, but she won’t listen. Flynn hires Steve and Terri to re-locate the croc and they unknowingly get caught in the CIA’s cross-hairs; Steve believes he’s in the middle of a poaching war while the agents believe he will use the beacon to pay for the Australia Zoo’s multi-million dollar expansion. About as far as I can go without spoiling the rest of the movie.

Interesting fact about this movie: Steve and Terri improvised everything (as they do on their show) and when the other actors would interact with Steve only then would the Irwins know what was going on so they could ad-lib. From what I remembered about Steve and Terri this did not surprise me one bit. Now I will admit this is very cheesy when we aren’t with the Irwins, but that is what makes the movie fun. Whenever this airs on TV, and we haven’t watched it recently, I always DVR it. It is still just as funny as I remembered watching it when I was a kid, but there is still a twinge of sadness I feel when I watch Steve knowing he is no longer here. While I never met Steve, nor probably won’t be traveling to Australia anytime soon to meet the rest of the Irwin family, I’d like to think he is proud of his family and what they are doing. I will always watch this movie, and I recommend you do as well, and I will of course be watching this fall when the Irwins return to Animal Planet.

based on a book, classic, film

Movie Review: The Graduate

I have often told you guys, and I’m sure other people in your life have said “Oh you have got to watch this movie asap”, or “You haven’t seen this movie, why not it’s great?” No movie have I heard this more than this 1967 classic, based on the 1963 book by Charles Webb. Now don’t get me wrong I get why people like or even love The Graduate, but for me I did not like it as much as I thought I was going to. Spoilers ahead as usual. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

Recent college graduate Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) has no idea what he is going to do in life. His parents share his accolades and at his graduation party many try to offer him advice, although it is obvious he is uncomfortable. Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft) insist Benjamin drive her home after the party as her husband, Benjamin’s dad’s partner at his law firm, neglects her again. She invites Benjamin in for a drink and he soon realizes she is trying to seduce him. He tries to calmly reject her, but after his parents continue to pressure him he gives in to Mrs. Robinson’s advances. Benjamin’s parents and Mr. Robinson encourage him to spend time with Elaine (Katharine Ross), Mr. and Mrs. Robinson’s daughter, but Mrs. Robinson tells Benjamin not too. However after discovering he has more in common with Elaine rather than Mrs. Robinson, Benjamin becomes conflicted between the woman he loves and the woman he is sleeping with. About as far as I should go, but the ending is kinda famous.

I finally DVR’d this movie about a year or two ago because many adults I know were pestering me to watch the movie. As I stated before I get why people like the movie. The writing, acting, directing (as it won the Oscar) and cinematography are fantastic and I do not deny that for a second, but maybe it is because I already knew what was gonna happen or the story bothered me when I first heard about it; either way I did not like this movie as much as thought (or others thought) I would. Without a doubt this might be the best roles or at least the roles most identified with the careers of Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft as well as the start of a set of films where not a lot was left to the imagination. Many people who have watched the movie told me this was the start of more “sexy” movies. While I am positive there were real life stories not in the public eye, this might have been the star of the older women with younger men becoming more obvious, but don’t take my word for that. The Graduate has become an iconic film, it has been placed on the American Film Institution’s lists multiple times as best films, love stories, songs and at least two quotes on the best quotes of all time: “Mrs. Robinson you’re trying to seduce me” and “Plastics”. While I did not like the film too much if you were to ask me would I recommend The Graduate; while not must see without question yes.


Movie Review: Nancy Drew

Everyone’s favorite teen detective finally got the on-screen treatment in 2007, but it may not have been the way people expected. Loosely based on the many novels, the film did pretty well at the box office and critics were mixed on a few matters, but I personally liked the movie. Spoilers ahead as usual. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

Teen detective Nancy Drew (Emma Roberts) and her widowed father Carson Drew (Tate Donovan) temporarily move from River Heights to California when Carson gets a temporary job; much to Bess (Amy Bruckner) George (Kay Panabaker) and Ned (Max Thieriot) who is obviously crushing hard on Nancy and vice versa. Carson asks Nancy not to solve mysteries while there, instead he wants he to act like a normal teenager (I think even if you are a little familiar with Nancy Drew that is impossible for her). Unbeknownst to Carson when picking out houses to live in Nancy chose one with a mystery; the death of Delia Draycott (Laura Harring) an actress who disappeared for months and then on the night of her comeback was murdered. Nancy does her best to act like a normal teen, but with her 50’s outfits and personality many of her classmates think she is odd; two in particular Inga (Danielle Monet) and Trish (Kelly Vitz) make fun of her when given the chance. Nancy soon begins to investigate Draycott’s death, with some help from Ned, who visits for Nancy’s birthday, Inga’s little brother Corky (Josh Filter) who develops a crush on Nancy, John Leshing (Marshall Bell) the groundskeeper on the estate who worked for Draycott (he begrudgingly helps Nancy in order to find out what happened to Draycott) and Dashiel Biedermeyer (Barry Bostwick) who once managed Draycott. Nancy soon discovers a woman named Jane (Rachel Leigh Cook) and her daughter Allie (Kaitlyn Van Item) and their connection to Draycott, but also realizes someone does not want her to solve the case; and they are willing to do anything to stop her. Can’t go into more without spoiling the movie.

Now I won’t lie and say the movie isn’t cheesy in a few parts, but overall I still find the movie very adorable. While there were a few other people I saw could have been I cannot see anyone other than Emma Roberts as Nancy Drew. She really captured Nancy’s pureness, curiosity; basically everything I think about the teen detective (on a side note I really want that coat she has throughout the movie). I also like Tate Donovan as her dad. I understand where he is coming from in not wanting Nancy to sleuth, but even when he finds out he isn’t disappointed for long. I also may or may not have developed a crush on Max Thieriot after the movie after his performance as Ned, and since he is on SEAL Team on CBS it has since reignited but that is for another day (if you have seen him you can’t blame me). Josh Filter is adorable as Corky as he tries to get close with Nancy, but he is way too young for her. I liked the rest of the cast as well, but those were my stand-outs. While I did enjoy Nancy Drew I would say unless you read the books or are familiar with her this movie is not really worth the watch.

film, James Bond, must see

Movie Review: Skyfall

Now we are getting into the Bonds I began to like once I caught up with the rest of the series. This 2012 Bond film has also been seen on many top 10 Best Bond films of all time (admittedly not high probably 7 or 6 tops). Skyfall is in my opinion the best performances of not just Daniel Craig, but of Dame Judi Dench and without question one of the best villains in the Bond franchise in a long time. Because it is unavoidable, spoiler alert. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

James Bond (Daniel Craig) and field agent he later learns is named Eve Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) are after a mercenary, Patrice (Ola Rapace) who has stolen files of the real names of undercover agents. Bond and Patrice fight on top of a train and M (Judi Dench) orders Moneypenny to take a shot. She hits Bond instead and Patrice escapes; Bond is assumed to be dead. A few months later M is being pressured into retiring by Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fines) the chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament, but then MI6 gets hacked and the headquarters blows up, not before M receives a message taunting her. Bond returns to help M and despite his failing physical and psychological tests, M clears him for duty. After receiving gadgets from the new Q (Ben Whishaw) Bond sets out to discover who is after M. With a little help from a woman named Severine (Berenice Lim Marlohe) Bond soon meets the man responsible: Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem), a man from M’s past she disavowed after he hacked the Chinese government without her permission and was taken prisoner. Bond takes him prisoner, but soon realizes that was what he wanted; however he escaped before Bond catches on. Bond takes M to Skyfall, his parents’s house in the Scottish Highlands, but tells Q to leave a trail for Silva to follow, ready to end this. Bond, M and the Skyfall keeper Kincade (Albert Finney) fight off Silva and his men, Bond eventually killing Silva, but M is wounded in the fight and dies in Bond’s arms. At the end of the film Bond returns to the field, Moneypenny becomes a secretary and Mallory becomes the new M.

As far as Bond films go this is one of my favorites. Everything from the writing, acting, action and some very incredible cinematography was just perfect. Daniel Craig really shined as 007 in this movie, I’m glad we got Moneypenny and Q in here after a lengthy absence, and while Naomie Harris and Ben Whishaw are good they do not hold a candle to the likes of Lois Maxwell and Desmond Llewellyn respectively. For me at least two performances really stand out from the movie and that is Javier Bardem as Silva and Judi Dench as M. While Le Chiffre was a fantastic villain in Casino Royale he wasn’t the main bad guy which is why Silva for me is the best Bond villain in the Daniel Craig Bond franchise. He is not only scary, bu is wicked smart and is willing to do whatever it takes to kill M, no matter who is in his way. While Judi Dench has been M for many years it was her final turn as the character where I thought she did her best work; while M was always a big player in the franchise we hadn’t really know much about the character or had a movie focus on someone other than Bond until Skyfall. I was a little sad when she died, but I think Mallory will do a good job with the role of M but that is a story for another day. On a final note while I haven’t mentioned the songs in the other films I did like them however I LOVE “Skyfall” by Adele; it also won the Oscar for Best Original Song. I think if you like the Bond franchise or are just starting out then put Skyfall on your must watch list right now.

based on true story, Disney, film

Movie Review: Disney’s Glory Road

This is actually one of my favorite sports and live action Disney movies of all time, while I won’t say it is as good as a few of their other sports movies this one still holds a place in my heart. Released in 2006, Glory Road talks about the true story leading up to the 1966 NCAA University Division Basketball Championship game and the huge impact it had going forward. Spoilers ahead as always. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

Don Haskins (Josh Lucas) is now the head basketball coach for Texas Western College in El Paso, TX. Looking out for the best talent Don finds many basketball players and students regardless of the color of their skin, much to many chagrin at first. Many of the people Don finds have raw talent and skill, but need teamwork in order to be better. Among the people he finds are Bobby Joe Hill (Derek Luke) who falls in love with a waitress named Tina (Tatyana M. Ali) along the way, Harry Flournoy (Mehcad Brooks) who has some funny moments thanks to his mother, David Lattin (Schin A.S. Kerr) a huge guy and Willie Cage (Damaine Radcliff) who is temporarily sidelined due to a heart condition. Don trains his team hard and gets very little help from his superiors because of the black players. The team does very well in the games as Don eventually allows them to play how they want as well as how he wants. Unfortunately the more they win the more threats and acts of violence occur to the team and to Don’s family; his wife Mary (Emily Deschanel) and their sons. The team makes it to the NCAA finals against the top ranked team in the nation, the University of Kentucky Wildcats led by Adolph Rupp (Jon Voight). Don decides to do something drastic, playing only the seven black players in the game. Probably shouldn’t go into too much without giving the movie away.

I love this movie so much. Josh Lucas is incredible as Don, showcasing so much passion (keep an eye out for the real Don Haskins in this movie). The basketball players in the movie are amazing, showcasing so much skill. The writing is fantastic and there are many great camera shots. I watched this movie along with my entire seventh grade during one of the last days of school and it was quite an experience. I could hear people going “Hmm OK” whenever we first saw one of the players showing off some skill, rounds of applause when the team was doing well or a very impressive move as well as people upset when acts of racism appeared (there was one scene after the team returns from the hotel after a particularly tough game where you could have heard a pin drop in that auditorium). The final game had everyone on the edge of their seats, and I am confident in saying my entire seventh grade had a great time that day. Now while not everything in the movie actually happened to the team it is still a great film to watch, it even won the ESPY for Best Sports Movie. I wouldn’t call Glory Road must see, but I would say it is worth the watch.

classic, film, must see

Movie Review: Sunset Boulevard

While not quite a horror movie it is pretty scary and has gone down as a classic. Released in 1950 Sunset Boulevard is regarded as one of the best films of all time, as well as a very successful Broadway musical (well at least successful after Andrew Lloyd Webber got his hands on it). Spoilers ahead as always. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

Joe Gillis (William Holden, nominated for an Oscar) is a screenwriter that is having strings of bad lucks after trying to sell his script to Paramount producer Sheldrake (Fred Clark) only to get rejected and criticized by script reader Betty Schaefer (Nancy Olson, nominated for an Oscar). While avoiding guys trying to reposes his car Joe drives into what he thinks is an abandoned mansion. Joe hears a woman calling for him to come in to the house, mistaking him for someone else. He meets the woman and recognizes her: Nora Desmond (Gloria Swanson, nominated for an Oscar) a silent movie star who is basically forgotten about, although she doesn’t know it. Learning Joe is a writer Nora asks him to look at a script she has written for her return to film about Salome. Joe finds it horrible, but seeing an opportunity convinces Nora to hire him as a script doctor. Nora has Joe move in so she can keep an eye on him while her butler Max (Erich von Stroheim nominated for an Oscar) explains to Joe that Nora has basically refused the fact that her spotlight has faded, and any attempts to tell her has forced her to attempt suicide. Joe works with Norma on her script, but soon becomes uncomfortable with her constant need for attention; however any attempts he makes to get away she pulls him back in. About as far as I can go without spoiling the rest of the movie, but I will say this ends about as well as you think it is going to.

This was a movie I had heard about for many years prior to watching it, mostly the two famous lines by Nora Desmond. If you know movie quotes these two lines may seem familiar: “I am big, it’s the pictures that got small” when Joe tells Nora she used to be a big star (and to be fair a clue of how nuts this woman is) and finally the last scene and final line by Nora “All right Mr. DeMille I’m ready for my close-up” when Nora’s sense of reality is gone. The writing and acting are some of the best I have seen in any movie, hence why it has so many accolades. Sunset Boulevard was nominated for 11 Oscars, winning three for its writing, art/set direction and music. It is also one of very few films to have nominations for all four acting categories but not to win (and I would say it is a shame but I can’t argue with who won that year). If you have not watched Sunset Boulevard I would highly recommend it, but be prepared for crazy.