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.

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film

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.

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film

Movie Review: Penelope (2006 film)

Haven’t heard of this movie, don’t worry not too many have, but I still found this to be very cute. The reason why I have to place 2006 in the title is because while I don’t think there are other movies called Penelope yet you might mistake this for a movie staring someone named that. Now while the film is not perfect it is far from one of bad (at least in my opinion) given the fantasy complex. Spoilers ahead as usual. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

The Wilhern’s seem like one of the nicest and richest families in England, but there was a legend surrounding them. Many years ago one of the Wilhern men had an affair with one of his servants, but was talked out of marrying her by his family. After he wed someone more to his families blue blood standards, the heartbroken and pregnant servant killed herself. The girl’s mother, the town witch, cursed the Wilhern’s that the first daughter born would have the face of a pig and only when someone of their own kind loves her for who she was would the curse be broken. For many years only sons were born, until Jessica and Frank Wilhern (Catherine O’Hara and Richard E. Grant) had Penelope (Christina Ricci). Throughout her childhood Penelope was kept hidden from the world, despite reporters trying to take pictures of her. When she reached 18 Jessica along with a match maker Wanda (Ronni Ancona) try to find a suitable blue blood match for Penelope, however when any of the guys they pick see her, they run forcing the family butler Jake (Michael Feast) to stop them and make them swear not to tell anyone about Penelope. One man, Edward Humphrey Vanderman III (Simon Woods) gets away before Jake could catch him and is laughed at by the police. However one person believes him: a reporter named Lemon (Peter Dinklage) who lost his eye trying to get a picture of Penelope when she was a baby. Needing proof Lemon and Edward hire a man they believe is Max Campion (James McAvoy), a blue blood with a serious gambling problem, to try and take a picture of Penelope. However Max is caught off guard by how sweet Penelope is and the two begin to bond. When she does reveal herself he is not disgusted by her, but flees when the camera goes off making Penelope think he ran from her face. Max destroys the camera before giving it to Lemon, but when Penelope asks him to marry her just to break the curse he tells her he can’t, leaving her heartbroken. However inspired by Max’s talk of the outside world Penelope leaves her home for the first time, wearing a scarf around her nose and mouth to keep herself hidden, much to the horror of her mother. She meets Annie (Reese Witherspoon) who becomes her mentor and friend. When Penelope decides to expose herself to the world there is a lot of good that comes with it, but there may also be a big cost her herself. About as far as I should go without giving away the rest of the movie.

Like I said this film is not fantastic but I highly doubt it will be the worst thing you see. Christina Ricci, James McAvoy and Reese Witherspoon are my favorite parts of the movie as they all accept each other for who they are, which is what we want in the people we choose to love. While I think Catherine O’Hara is good in the movie let’s just say Penelope’s mom is not exactly mother of the year, although Simon Woods’s character can give her a run for her money. If you like cute fantasy movies then Penelope might be a cute movie for you, otherwise this is probably a skip.

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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.

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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.

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based on a book, classic, film, must see

Movie Review: Breakfast at Tiffany’s

One of the most classic films of the 1960’s, and still stands the test of time today. Released in 1961 and based on Truman Capote’s novel, while the film is not perfect, and does have some controversy to it, Breakfast at Tiffany’s will probably go down as the most iconic role for Audrey Hepburn. Spoilers ahead as always. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

Holly Golightly (Audrey Hepburn nominated for an Oscar for this part) is a bit of a socialite in New York; going on dates, having parties and wearing the most elegant clothes including a little black dress in the opening shot where the audience sees her eating a bun and drinking coffee looking into the windows at Tiffany’s. She tries to make a habit of not letting anyone get close to her, not even her cat whom she just calls cat. One day after evading a man she met on a bad date she meets her neighbor Paul Varjak (George Peppard) a writer. The two develop a bond over time (Holly even calls him Fred due the resemblance of her brother in the army) as Holly observes his relationship with one of their neighbors he calls 2E, Mrs. Emily Eustace Failenson (Patricia Neal) and Paul sees Holly’s relationship with men over money, as well as her agent O.J. Berman (Martin Balsam). However it is obvious Holly and Paul’s bond has become more than friendship. About as far as I can go without giving away the rest of the movie.

As I said before the film is not without controversy. Holly and Paul’s landlord is Mr. Yunioshi, who is supposed to be Japanese, but was played by Mickey Rooney with a prosthetic mouth piece and make-up. Back then and now this was a bad move and Rooney as well as producer Richard Shepherd have apologized repeatedly for it saying if they could have changed it they would, but director Blake Edward wanted to keep Rooney. Still a very bad decision.

Other that that I still enjoyed the movie. Hepburn was already a huge star prior to this film but I think Breakfast at Tiffany’s will forever go down as her best and most iconic role, I know Capote wanted Marilyn Monroe for the part based on how Holly was described in the book and felt double crossed when Monroe turned the part down and Hepburn was cast, but I wonder what he thought of the results later. Hepburn and Peppard have great chemistry together and seeing them fall in love is very adorable. There are two things from the movie about Hepburn that stand out besides her performance; of course I am talking about her style and her song. The costumes in this movie are some of the finest I’ve seen, nearly every woman I know has that little black dress in their closet inspired in a way by Hepburn’s dress in the beginning. My final point is Hepburn’s song, and the song that won the Oscar for Best Original Song as well as the Grammy, “Moon River”. Hepburn performs the singing herself and when an executive wanted the song cut from the film she said, among other words “Over my dead body!” Thankfully the song was kept in and it became a humongous hit. There have been many covers of the song including Barbara Streisand, Aretha Franklin and Melissa Benoist on the Flash/Supergirl cross-over among many other great covers. I know there was a short lived Broadway musical as well as play, but neither lasted very long or were critically successful. If you have not watched Breakfast at Tiffany’s I would highly recommend watching this movie as soon as humanly possible.

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film, James Bond

Movie Review: Quantum of Solace

This is one of the not very well liked Bond films and I get it. Quantum of Solace has been widely regarded as Daniel Craig’s worst Bond film, and it is hard pressed to argue. Spoilers ahead as usual. I DO NOT OWN THE PICTURE.

Picking up almost immediately after Casino Royale, Bond has Mr. White (Jesper Christensen) delivered to M (Judi Dench) to find out more about the organization he is apart of, Quantum. However when one of M’s bodyguards turns out to be a double agent and Bond manages to kill him, White gets away. Discovering the double agents contact in Haiti, Bond (after being forced to kill the contact) discovers he was a hit-man contracted to kill a woman named Camille Montes (Olga Kurylenko) when she got too close to Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric) an environmental businessman working with an exiled general, General Medrano (Joaquin Cosio), the man who murdered Camille’s family and wants to overthrow his government for what seems to be a small barren of desert (when is it ever). When Greene and Medrano once again try to kill Camille, Bond is forced to save her. He follows Greene to the opera where he identifies many Quantum member to MI6, however a bodyguard is killed and made to look like Bond did it. Feeling forced, M revokes Bonds passports and credit cards. Bond is then forced to turn to his old friend Mathis, as well as Camille and seduces agent Strawberry Fields (Gemma Arterton) to help him stop Greene and Medrano. While I probably shouldn’t say more I will say for those that wanted closer on the Vesper story from Casino should watch the end.

I gotta be honest nothing about this film, other than the beginning car chase and the ending concluding Vesper’s story, is memorable. Honestly you could have skipped over this film and gone to Skyfall and you might not even be lost. Craig was very lackluster in this movie, thankfully he did come back in the next film. My thoughts on Camille will be later on, so I will move on. The other characters like Strawberry, Medrano and Greene are not very memorable characters in the Bond films; I’m almost positive if I were to say their names to someone they would go “Who?” So my overall thoughts are unless you really love the Bond films, this one is not worth it.

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