Archive for movie review

Best Random Movie Dances

Posted in dance, movies, pop culture, reviews with tags , , , , on June 19, 2008 by Paxton

Gene KellyI love movies. If you read this blog, you know this. I also love dancing. If you’ve seen me dance, I’m sorry. The wife and I were watching Little Miss Sunshine the other night and we started talking about how much we love little Olive’s dance routine at the beauty pageant. This led to discussion about other dances in other movies we loved so that, naturally, led to this blog article. It’s surprising how often a scenario like this will lead to an article. Maybe I should wear this shirt 24-7. My wife would then counter me by wearing this shirt.

Before I begin the list, I’m going to lay down a couple ground rules. The movie can’t be a musical. Those invite more professional dance routines and don’t have the same feel as a comedic dance routine in a movie that has no singing. Also, the movie can’t be about dancing. That one is for obvious reasons. I’m mainly thinking about random, comedic dance routines in the middle of a movie that serve no other purpose than to make you laugh. Now, I know I’m going to miss one, so if I forgot your favorite, sound out on the message boards.

So, without further ado, here is my list of Best Random Dances in a movie.

Little Miss SunshineOlive Hoover’s talent routine in Little Miss Sunshine – I had to start with this one as it’s the movie that started the whole discussion. I’ve seen this movie twice since I started writing this article. It is hilarious. Funny situations and family members, great script, interesting locations. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and rent it. The main attraction, and the reason it gets on this list, however, is Olive Hoover’s dance routine at the beauty pageant. It’s talked about throughout the whole movie, you never know going into the pageant scenes what is going to happen. When it does, it’s like a bullet train to Awesome City. I dare you not to laugh at it.

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Pop Cuture’s Coolest Time Machines

Posted in movies, pop culture, time machine, time travel, TV shows with tags , , , , , , on May 14, 2008 by Paxton

Time Travel

I love time travel. I’ve been fascinated with it as long as I can remember. I’ve read countless books on the subject, including Stephen Hawking’s dense A Brief History of Time (it may be brief, but it isn’t light, I’ll tell you that) because he added chapters on wormholes and time travel in the 10th Anniversary Edition. Just the idea of being able to travel in time is cool to me. It’s what compelled me to see Back to the Future 10 times in the theater in 1985 (I’m not kidding…10 times). It’s what got me to beg my mother to let me stay up late on a school night and watch the final hour of Quantum Leap’s 2 hour debut in March 1989. It’s also what compelled me to go see the revamp of HG Wells’ Time Machine with Guy Pearce in the theater in 2002 (it sucked, btw).

Since I’ve read and watched so much stuff, I thought I’d list some of my favorite time machines in movies and/or tv shows. None of these are perfect, I even discuss their problems and idiosyncrasies, but they are cool nonetheless. So sit back and let’s take a look at some of the coolest time vehicles ever created.

Tardis from Dr WhoThe Tardis from Doctor Who – I’ve never really watched Dr Who…EVER, but I’ve always liked the look of his flying time machine/phone booth. This police box is more than just a time machine, it also serves as a base of operations and a space ship. It has the cool feature of being much larger on the inside than you would expect on the outside. They can also change shape to blend in with their surroundings. Apparently, though, Dr Who’s vessel is an outdated model that has a faulty chameleon circuit that is stuck in the police box form. It also is unreliable in it’s time travel because it’s an older model and prone to breakdowns. Sounds like something Han Solo and Chewie would piece together with spit, duct tape and a prayer.

Bill and TedThe phone booth from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure – This was a cool idea, and I like the gimmick of it, but in practice it leaves a lot to be desired. There’s not much room on the inside, and other than travelling to the 20th and 21st centuries, the vehicle itself might seem out of place and draw attention. I don’t imagine our forefathers would take kindly to a phone booth popping up in the middle of the White House lawn. However having a “time book” to tell you how to go wherever you want to go would be nice. But, again, Bill & Ted proved it’s pretty easy to be stuck in time when their antenna was damaged. But, again-again, they fixed it pretty easy with some discarded metal canisters. Time travel must not be too hard if Bill and Ted can service a broken time booth. Also, I never liked this movie’s rule that the clock in San Dimas is always ticking. Meaning when Bill and Ted left on their time trip, if they spent 24 hours searching for historical persons, when they return it had to be 24 hours later. That makes no sense. You are in a time machine, you should be able to go back to 1 minute after you left. That’s somewhat the point of time travel, no?

Quantum AcceleratorThe quantum accelerator from Quantum Leap – This is a cool way to travel as you become someone else and interact with the people around you as that other person. The downside, you have no control over where you are going or if you will ever be able to return home. And you can’t take back souvenirs because your body jumps away into the next situation. So, actually, this time machine sucks. Nevermind.

TimeCopTime vehicle from Time Cop – This is another cool time transport device. Controlled by rooms of supercomputers, you can pinpoint exactly where you are traveling in time. However, you can’t travel to the future, only to the past and back to your original point in time. Take a look at the picture; the time machine is an angular, wedge shaped vehicle that travels forward on a set of tracks at an extreme velocity towards a brick wall surrounded by some weird, stone circle structure. When it reaches a certain point on the track it pierces the fabric of the time barrier and disappears. Interestingly, the movie alludes to the fact that the vehicle sometimes doesn’t work properly and crashes into the aforementioned brick wall at the far end killing the passengers. My question? Why did they build a wall at the end of the track in the first place? Why didn’t they leave the room open at one end with no wall/giant circle structure to crash into, then when the ship doesn’t pierce the time barrier, it just glides to a stop. Nobody has to die. At the very least they could put some pillows or a giant net at the end to catch the ship. I mean, COME ON, I have three or four better ideas than a deadly brick wall to kill my passengers and I’m not even a futuristic scientist building a time machine. After the ship breaks the time barrier and disappears, the time passengers are dropped into the past…sans vehicle. Where does the giant car-sized machine go as it is not seen in the past at all and magically appears back on the tracks later in the movie?

Delorean from Back to the Future – This is the quinessential time machine. Cool car, acurate time circuits. And at the end of the movie when it gets fitted with Mr Fusion and no longer needs Plutonium to power the time circuits (and it gets the hover conversion), it becomes the easiest and funnest to use. Who wouldn’t want to drive a flying Delorean into the past and/or future? I know I would. Back to the Future made the Delorean cool again.

Time Egg from Green Futures of Tycho – I read this book when I was in 7th or 8th grade. Great story. It’s considered Children’s Literature but the story is pretty dark. Young Tycho finds a silver egg in his backyard. After playing around with it he discovers that it’s actually a time device. He can set some dials on the bottom and press a button on the top and be taken to any destination in time that he so desires. He decides to alter some unpleasant incidents in the past but he soon finds out they have major repercussions on his present…and his future. The time egg is great because it’s small, portable enough to fit in your pocket, and can go both forward and backward in time. It’s instantaneous too, so if you get in trouble, reach in your pocket, flip the dials and press the button for a quick escape. No running back to the time machine or having to start the motor. Very convenient.

How about a few of the worst time machines ever?

Time ChasersCessna plane from Time Chasers – One of the worst movies ever, but one of the greatest episodes of Mystery Science Theater ever. Science geek Nick Miller builds a time machine out of a Cessna airplane and an Apple II computer. Very cost efficient using a small AIRPLANE to power your time machine…WTF?! Did the scientist think it would just be easier to travel in time with a plane? That’s crazy. Besides, how did this guy afford to pay for a damn PLANE?!  He sure as hell wasn’t borrowing it cause I don’t know anyone that would loan some dorky researcher guy a plane just because he asked.  Dude must have taken out like 200 payday loans to pay for the plane.  How’d he have any money left to buy the computer equipment?  You know the plane bankrupted the guy because later in the movie, he takes a reporter lady in the time machine on a date to the future and they eat at an Orange Julius. But you know it’s an Orange Julius in the future because everyone is wearing one piece shiny silver suits and weird head gear. If you watch this, be prepared…or just watch the MST3K version.

Uncle Rico’s time machine – Obviously not a real time machine, but I think it’s the funniest. I laugh just thinking about it. “If only coach would have put me in the game back in ’85. We would have won State.”

Have a good weekend everybody!

Related articles:
7 Time Machines that would suck if they existed in the real world

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Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Posted in books, Harry Potter, movies, pop culture, reviews with tags , on July 16, 2007 by Paxton

Harry Potter 5I’m going to keep this review quick and simple. I finally got to see this on Saturday night. And it was everything I wanted it to be. The special effects were unbelievable, the story was riveting. I LOVED IT. It’s been several years since I actually read this book, so the vast amounts of subplots and scenes that were cut didn’t affect me as much as I expected. It was every bit as exciting as I wanted it to be. The final showdown with Dumbledore and Voldemort was epic and all of your favorites return. Just awesome.

I avoided news on this movie like the plague. I didn’t want to know anything. As a matter of fact, here is how much I didn’t know about this movie: I didn’t realize Helena Bonham Carter was cast as Bellatrix LeStrange. That blew me away. It was truly inspired casting as she looked exactly how I see her in my head when I read. That character figures heavily into the next book and possibly the final book also. I also loved the scene where Dumbledore escapes being sent to Azkaban by Fudge. That was a cornerstone scene I remember from reading the book and I was very happy with how that turned out.

After all of that schoolgirl gushing, was there anything I didn’t like? Well, yes. As my friend, Jen, points out at her review, things seem a bit rushed. There is so much information flying about that the filmmakers have to get across to you that you can’t get a full appreciation for all the wonderful characters in this story. There are maybe two scenes with Aurors Kingsley Shacklebolt and Nymphora Tonks. They are 2 very cool characters that are much more fleshed out in the book, but, sadly, there’s no room for them here. Same with the house elf, Kreacher. He’s a darkly funny character you see in the Black home that gets maybe two scenes in this movie but you get to learn more about him in the books. Once again, this a problem not really with the movie, but with the format of film. In order to faithfully make the book, the movie would need to be 4 hours long.

I think the filmmakers stayed true to the gist of the story and gave you all the pertinent information to move you successfully into the next movie. And in the process, gave us a ton of eye candy to enjoy the ride. That’s pretty much all you can ask. For anything else, you should just READ THE BOOK.

This installment is almost tied with Prisoner of Azkaban as my favorite. Look to the right, you’ll see I gave it 4 stars. It easily earns this and my highest recommendation.

Stay tuned as Potter-palooza parties on with reviews of Harry Potter books 1-6 as I endure the agonizing wait for Book 7.

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Potter-palooza: Harry Potter franchise movie reviews

Posted in Harry Potter, movies, pop culture, reviews with tags , on July 13, 2007 by Paxton

I am totally stoked for the release of the fifth Harry Potter movie this weekend. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix has the potential to be the best one yet, and that’s saying something since these movies have consistently gotten better and better.

In preparation, my wife and I had what I dubbed “Potter-palooza” this week. We watched a marathon of all the movies that have been released up until now. Did I still enjoy them? Do they hold up? Let’s find out…

Harry Potter 1Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – Wow, this movie was released in 2001 — six years ago. It’s unbelievable how young the kids look in this compared to Goblet of Fire. They were so adorable (well, they still are). Watching it this week, it’s easy to remember why I loved this movie (and the book) so much in 2001. The whole beginning where Harry is mistreated by the Dursleys and Hagrid comes to take him to Hogwarts had me crying like that 12-year old Sanjaya fan on American Idol. It’s such an underdog story and I forgot how irritating Hermione is in the beginning of this movie (but she ceases to be by the mid-point). Many of the other characters are very well defined too; the Weasley twins, Fred and George, coach of the Quidditch team Oliver Wood, Snape. It’s just such a good movie with good characters that are all based on an unbelievably rich universe. Amazing. Also, the special effects are jaw dropping, still. The Quidditch match, now six years later, still doesn’t look outdated. Bravo to ILM for getting it done. All in all a great movie and a wonderful starting point for the franchise. It followed the book very well, even though some say too well. Whatever. If a movie differs from the book people bitch. If a movie is too much like the book, people bitch. WTF?! You can’t win for losing. I loved this movie and all the actors in it. They became how I see the characters in my head when I read the book. That is the ultimate test for me and this passes with flying colors.

Harry Potter 2Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – In the second movie, you can noticeably tell the kids are older. This is a good thing. It helps the viewer feel they are growing up with these characters (which is part of the appeal of the books). It’s also easy to see why this movie is the one most forgotten. It drags — slightly — in the middle. You get a lot of information here, too. Much of this information is called back in Books 5 and 6. Once again, as in the first movie, the movie makers stay true to the gist of the book and give you most of the information you need while only cutting out the unnecessary side stories. This is more apparent in the next two movies, but you have to make cuts somewhere otherwise these movies would be 4 hours long. So, while this is probably my least favorite of the current four, this is still a strong entry in the series. Also, is it just me, or does Godric Gryffindor’s sword in this movie look a little gay? Silver with rubies? It even LOOKS like a toy. Thin and plastic like. Always drove me crazy.

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