Category Archives: Fantasy

Field of Dreams (1989)

If you build it, he will come.

— The Voice

This is the last movie that I saw before my burnout happened over two months, the guy tear-jerker Field of Dreams. There is an unwritten rule that if you are a man and you don’t cry at the end of, you have no soul. That is true. Every boy wants to have one game of catch with their fathers once in their lifetime. Based on the novel, “Shoeless Joe”, it was nominated for three Oscars including Best Picture, Adapted Screenplay and Original Score.

A farmer from Iowa named Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) is walking through his field when he hears a disembodied saying, “If you built it, he will come.” He hears the same phrase repeatedly, but he is the only one that hears it. He confesses to his wife, Annie (Amy Madigan) about the phrase that he keeps on hearing. She thinks that maybe it was God talking to him or maybe he is going off the deep end.

Ray randomly questions the townspeople about the meaning of the phrase until he realizes that he has to build a baseball diamond in his cornfield. He thinks that this action would bring a childhood hero, Shoeless Joe Jackson, back so he could play one last game. Ray thinks that he is turning into his father (Dwier Brown), a man who played it safe during his life and never took chances.

Ray decided to plow him field, much to the chagrin of the people in the town who think that Ray is bonkers  and would lose his farm. He spends his life savings building the diamond, waiting for something to happen. Months go by with no response until there is a man walking in the diamond. It is Shoeless Joe Jackson (Ray Liotta). They play a mini game of baseball. When they are done playing, Ray and Joe realize that Joe cannot step foot outside of the diamond. Joe disappears into the cornfield.

Ray’s brother, Mark (Timothy Busfield) thinks that Ray is crazy to think that he could afford the farm when he wiped out most of his crop. The bank is threatening to take away the home. The NY Yankees team from the 1919 World Series come to play ball in the field. Ray, Annie and their daughter, Karin (Gaby Hoffmann) can see them, but Mark cannot.

Ray has enough to deal with when the voice tells him to “ease his pain”. He thought he meant the radical novelist turned social recluse, Terrance Mann (James Earl Jones). He tries to kidnap him to take him to a ball game where he didn’t have the opportunity to do when his father.

I might have remembered the movie differently, because I didn’t get the same feeling with movie like I did when I was younger. I bawled at the end of the movie, but I had a heartwarming feeling by this last viewing. Hmm… I guess, the magic of the film is gone.

Judgment: It’s still a fun ride, but its lost its luster.

Rating: 7/10

Thor (2011)

Oh, no… this is Earth… isn’t it?

— Thor

I don’t know if you know this, but the comic book adaptation of Thor is my first time seeing a 2011 release in the theaters. I know! Surprise! I had a unoffical boycott of the theaters since the quality of the movies sucked major elephantiasis balls last year. I heard that the movie was getting some positive reviews. I was like okay. Besides, I want to see The Avengers next year, so I have seen all the components before the geeky movie ever comes out. I went with a friend of mine. She wanted to see Jumping the Broom and I should have went with her.

The only knowledge I have about Thor is that he is the Norse god of thunder and that he talks in Elizabethan language. I knew this because I had read the only copy of Thor that my older brother had when he collected comics as a kid. Thankfully, the movie does not have that. That the only good thing about it.

Thor (Chris Hemsworth), his brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and their father, Odin (Anthony Hopkins) are in a battle with the Frost Giants lead by Laufey (Colm Feore). Laufey tried to invade Asgard before Odin defeated his army and took the Casket of Ancient Winters, which is the source of their powers as their own.

Odin is getting older and needs to chose a worthy successor to weld the hammer, Mjolnir and possess the powers of the Thunder God and lead the Asgardian people as their new king. Thor believes that he is the right one for the job, because he wants to fight to protect his people, not diplomacy. He is very arrogant about what the right thing is for everybody that he is about to swear to protect. Loki wants to have a chose to ascend.

When Thor is about to be crowned the new king, a couple of Frost Giants broke into the palace to try to take the Casket. They are defeated. Loki, Thor,  his childhood friend, Sif (Jaimie Alexander) and the Warriors Three; Volstagg (Ray Stevenson), Fandral (Joshua Dallas) and Hogun (Tadanobu Asano) accompany him to Jotunheim against Odin’s orders to demand how they were able to get in the palace. A battle ensues and Odin comes to rescue.

Odin is disappointed in Thor that he is unworthy of having the powers of Thor and banishes him to Earth. There Thor is found in the middle of New Mexico desert by astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), her assistant Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) and mentor Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård). They want to know where did he comes from. The hammer, Mjolnir is found miles away like Excalibur. Agents from S.H.I.E.L.D., headed by Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) want to find out as well about the circumstances of Thor coming to Earth.

I was expected to be blown away by this movie, but I wasn’t. The movie seemed liked a Nordic soap opera with banishments, finding babies that are not their own, an old man falling into a “Odinsleep”, betrayal and it everything in between. The sequences in Asgard where very over the top, melodramatic and yawn inducing. The only thing that saved this movie was Kat Dennings as Darcy. I would never think that this girl would make me love her for delivering one liners.

Judgment: This makes me worry about the Avengers movie. If Captain America sucks, then you know all of them together is gonna suck times a million.

Rating: 4.5/10

Groundhog Day (1993)

Well, what if there is no tomorrow? There wasn’t one today.

— Phil

I always wanted to see # 157 Film of All-Time on IMDb, Groundhog Day, but I never got the chance to watch until a couple of days ago. I thought maybe this film would help me, because I feel like I am stuck in the same day repeatedly. I try to change the outcome, but it’s always the same. Besides, the great character actor Stephen Tobolowsky talked about some memories of the movie on his podcast, The Tobolowsky Files. I had a duty to watch it.

A jaded Pittsburgh weatherman, Phil Conners (Bill Murray) is sent once again to Punxsutawney for the fourth year in a row to cover the Groundhog Day festivities. He goes on the trip with his new producer, the bubbly Rita (Andie MacDowell) and the cameraman, Larry (Chris Elliott).

Rita wants to talk more about the preparation that goes into watching a groundhog being plucked out of a stump to look at its shadow. Phil is not interested in doing that, because he wants to do bigger and better things than cover a silly festival.

His day starts with him waking up at 6 am to go downstairs to have his coffee where he run into the Man in the Hallway (Ken Hudson Campbell) who wants to talk about the upcoming festival. The owner of the bed and breakfast that he is staying in, Mrs. Lancaster (Angela Paton) asks him if he wants to stay the night. He declines. He want to leave immediately after his segment.

An old classmate of Phil’s runs into him on the street, Ned Reyerson (Tobolowsky). He doesn’t remember him. Ned rambles on about their past run ins until Phil tries to make a swift exit and steps in a puddle. Phil goes to the festival to see that Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow, which means six more weeks of winter.

Phil wants to leave, but a huge snowstorm blows into the area. He said that it would hit another place. The only way out of the town is closed. Phil thinks that his day cannot get any worse. He tries to shower with cold water and goes to sleep.

Waking up the next day, Phil feels a strong sense of déjà vu. He thinks that the town is trying to play a trick on him, but it seems like it’s no trick. He begins to freak out and taking out his frustrations on the people that he already met. He remember what happened before, but everybody else doesn’t. He is wondering why is he reliving the same day. He tries to change the scenario, but it doesn’t help.

People have told me to change the ways that you do things, you could change your outlook. It’s so hard to do that when you have hit rock bottom and there is no way out. I should take some lessons from the movie and input it into my life. Try to work life in different configurations to see what works and what doesn’t.

Judgment: It’s an essential movie for people who want to have existential questions.

Rating: 8/10

Scott Pilgrim vs the World (2010)

We all have baggage.

— Ramona Flowers

Film nerds everywhere were almost salivating over the release of three-time Omie Award winning, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. I was one of those people, but I didn’t have the dollars to watch the film at the time. No, wait, that was when I saw The Town instead of this, right. Big mistake that was. I was bummed that I didn’t get the chance to see it until now.

The movie starts with the classic Atari 8-bit making over the opening credits. You know that it’s going to off-kilter from there. The titular Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) is a 22-year-old nerd from Toronto that between jobs and is dating a high schooler named Knives Chau (Ellen Wong). Scott is the bassist in a band named Sex Bob-omb with lead guitarist, Stephen (Mark Webber), his morose ex-gf drummer, Kim (Alison Pill) with Young Neil (Johnny Simmons) hanging around them.

Hearing the band play obviously bad music, Knives is convinced that they are awesome and should go into Battle of the Bands to get a record contract from G-Man aka Gideon (Jason Schwartzman).

One day, Scott meets the girl of his dreams, Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) at a library. He falls hard for her and wants to know everything about her when they meet again at a party. He convinces her to go out on a date with her. What Scott doesn’t realize is that in order to date her, he has to get past her seven evil exes.

The movie is a Nintendo style video game come to life with the pop up points, life points, the way the exes explode when they are defeated. There is one thing that I didn’t enjoy was Michael Cera’s obvious stunt double that had a Raggedy Andy mop top on his head. That threw me for a loop.

It was nice to see something different in a quirky romantic comedy. I think that this movie is too cutting edge for me. Everybody seems to love the film. I like it. It’s probably going to be one of those that I have to watch again to fully appreciate it. It might happen with The Big Lebowski. Who knows?

Judgment: If you like to see a guy with the built of a Holocaust victim beating the crap out some people, this is your flick.

Rating: 7.5/10

Federico Fellini’s 8 1/2 (1963)

Enough of symbolism and these escapist themes of purity and innocence.

— Guido

I have always wanted to see a Federico Fellini movie. I tried to watch La Dolce Vita, but it turned out to be a bad copy of the movie and I had to scrap the viewing of that movie. I hope to get back to that particular movie soon. The next movie that every film fans rave over is the #188 Movie of All-Time on IMDb, 8 1/2. This is inspiration of the musical, Nine, which I reviewed in 2009 that I liked. The two-time Academy winning film has been given a lot of unwanted praise in my opinion.

Guido Anselmi (Marcello Mastroianni) is a down and out director that trying to start his creative juices before his next production doesn’t go down the toilet. The production is already underway without a script or a concept of what the end product is going to be.

Guido has driven himself sick with debilitating headaches. He tries to get inspiration for the people around him like his friend,  Mario Mezzabotta (Mario Pisu), his younger girlfriend, Gloria Morin (Barbara Steele). Nothing is coming to his mind. Guido’s screenwriter is pulling his hair out to extract Guido’s thoughts into paper. Guido’s daydreams are a menageries of Catholic imagery, man kites and random women from his life pop in.

Guido’s mistress, Carla (Sandra Milo) comes to town to give Guido some inspiration for his next big screen hit. Their late night romps are not helping matters. To make matters worse, Guido wants to have his wife, Luisa (Anouk Aimée) to come to the set. He wanted to start the fireworks, but his life is going down in shambles. He has no way of getting out of the mess that he is in.

This film is so different from Nine, because Nine simplified the story and made it coherent. There were some positives that I liked in the movie with the relationship between Guido and Luisa. The movie felt like a Greek tragedy to me. Guido’s life is a production and everybody has to play their part in it.

I felt that the film was all dubbed. Nobody’s mouths were matching up to the words. Even thought I was reading the translation, I felt distracted from the non-sych of the actors mouths. Also, Guido’s daydreams were very random and cluttered. It was an assault to the eyes.

Judgment: Just because a movie is over twenty years old and in another language doesn’t mean that it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Rating: 6/10

The Princess Bride (1987)

As you wish.

— Westley

The #186  Movie of All-Time on IMDb, The Princess Bride was a movie that I wanted to see for a long time, but I never got the chance to do it. I thought it was would a chick flick that would remind me a trashy romance novel. It turns out to not be the case. The movie was nominated for Oscar for Best Original Song for the Willy DeVille’s song, “Storybook Love”.

A boy (Fred Savage) that is sick in his room is visited by his grandfather (Peter Falk) with a book in his hands to cheer him up. The book happens to The Princess Bride. The grandson thinks that the book would be too girly for him with the romance aspect to it. The grandfather wanted him to give the book a chance.

As the grandfather reads the opening lines of the book, the audience is transported into book where we learn about the burgeoning romance between peasant girl curiously named Buttercup (Robin Wright) and the farm boy, Westley (Cary Elwes). Things quickly turn tragic when Westley leaves to go abroad and is killed by a pirate. Heartbroken, Buttercup mourns for her lost love.

Years later, Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon) has chosen a girl to be his bride. It happens to be Buttercup. The trouble is that she does not love him. She is still in love with Westley. With her upcoming nuptials, she takes a stroll through the forest and is captured by a trio of bandits. The mastermind of the group, Vizzini (Wallace Shawn) wants to hold the princess bride to start a war between rival kingdoms.

Ensuring that the princess does not escape, Vizzini has the ogre, Fezzik (André the Giant) keeps a close eye on her and have Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin) fight any intruders that will foil their plans. It seems that the trio are being followed by a mysterious man in black to the Cliffs of Insanity.

This is not your typical costume romance type movie. The romance between Westley and Buttercup was nice to see. I loved that his phrase, “as you wish” was a clever way of saying, “I love you” to her. Patinkin as Montoya was hilarious to watch him to try to get revenge of the Six Finger Man that killed his father and him uttering that manta of his.

Judgment: The movie was silly, harmless fun.

Rating: ***1/2

How to Train Your Dragon (2010)

You just gestured to all of me.

— Hiccup

Currently the #175th movie of All Time on IMDb, How to Train Your Dragon has been on the hearts and minds of the people that have seen it a couple of months ago. I was not interested in seeing the movie, because of the crappy trailer for it. People were gushing over this movie saying that it was the best thing that’s happened in that dead part at the beginning of the year. I’m glad that I saw this movie. It’s not most original storyline ever, but I enjoyed the ride on Toothless’s back.

A scrawny Viking boy unfortunately named Hiccup (Jay Baruchel) is trying to be a typical Viking that kills dragons that have been terrorizing their village for centuries like his father, Stoick (Gerard Butler). Life dealt him a bad hand that he is a bumbling kid that could only make little contraptions in the back of Gobber’s (Craig Ferguson) blacksmith shop where he works as an apprentice.

During one dragon fight, Hiccup wants to help his fellow Vikings out by using one of his inventions; a bolas-shooting cannon that could take down the elusive Night Fury dragon. Hiccup sees a figure out in the distance and fires his cannon. He believes that he caught something that fell in the middle of forest outside of the village.

Stoick is tired of fighting the dragons for their basic way of life. He decides to go out in search of the dragon’s nest to have one final decisive battle. While he is away, asks Gobber to stay behind to teach the new generation of dragon killers, including Hiccup.

At the mean time, Hiccup tries to search for the dragon he might have captured in the forest. He does find it, which turns out to be the Night Fury of legend. He has the perfect opportunity to slay the beast. But looking into the eyes of this creature could not allow him to strike to the fatal blow. Hiccup decides to release the dragon instead, who tries to fly away, but is injured enough to not take flight.

Hiccup wants to help out the dragon he named Toothless while he is in the middle of his dragon slaying classes with the know-it-all Fishlegs (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), the fragile  Snotlout (Jonah Hill), the warring fraternal twin Ruffnut (Kristen Wiig), Tuffnut (T.J. Miller) and Hiccup’s crush, Astrid (America Ferrera). Hiccup struggles being a “dragon whisperer” and being a dragon killer that his father wants him to become.

The praise was well-deserved to a certain extent. I’m not gonna be Armond White or anything, but the story has been done countless times with the protagonist has to choose between duty and an unconventional friendship. I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing, but I liked the movie tried to interpret the author, Cressida Cowell’s words into something slightly unique. The one thing I thought was too convenient is something traumatic happens to Hiccup that made him relate to Toothless more kinda turned me off.

Judgment: Damn it. I wish I saw this movie in 3D. It would have been epic.

Rating: ****

Clash of the Titans (2010)

Only you can save them…

— Io

Upon hearing that Clash of the Titans was being remade, I thought it would be a great thing to update a so-so movie with great special effects and sticking with the same story. The movie came out right when I was going to leave for boot camp. After coming back, I heard nothing but terrible things about this movie. I was thinking how bad it could be. It’s not bad, but it’s not good either.

Raised by mortal parents, reluctant demigod Perseus (Sam Worthington) curses the gods for giving him up when he was a baby. Perseus’s mortal family travel to the city of Argos to talk to the gods about the way their homeland and livelihoods are destroyed. When they do, the island is in a full scale war. The Argonauts are fighting against the gods. A flock of furies descend of the city and destroys the boat drowning the family, except Perseus. The furies merge to form Hades (Ralp Fiennes) and disappear.

At Mount Olympus, Zeus (Liam Neeson) and the other gods discuss how humanity Zeus created is turning against them. They question what can be done to make the human subservient again. Hades appears to tell his brother that the only way to get mortals in line is by using an upcoming solar eclipse to unleash a dread beast called the Kraken.

The Argonauts regroup as they see the lone survivor of the encounter Perseus sitting alone. They urge him to come with them to the palace of King Kepheus (Vincent Regan) and Queen Cassiopeia (Polly Walker) when they are having a feast for the returning soldiers. During the festivities, the Queen blasphemies the gods by comparing her daughter’s Andromeda’s (Alexa Davalos) beauty to that of Aphrodite. Hades shows up during the legion and warning the mortals about their upcoming doom in ten day’s time or sacrifice Andromeda to save Argos.

Hades lets it slip that he is the son of Zeus, which has the King begging for the demigod to help them save the kingdom. Perseus is unwilling to take the monumental task until he is visited by an immortal, Io (Gemma Arterton) who tells him that he is the only one that could save Argos. This fisherman has to take up a sword and shield to go on a perilous journey to save the mortals.

What I can say about this movie that hasn’t already been said? I enjoyed the original movie because it deals with a demigod trying to save the woman he loves from a jealous god. The claymation dates that film to 1981, but it was an enjoyable story. This movie obliterated everything good about the original movie. You have a grown man whining and complaining about seeking petty revenge and refusing to embrace his godlike powers. Give me a break!

I was bored throughout most of the movie. I didn’t care about the journey Perseus has to undertake. The few action sequences that were in the movie were either cut way too short or were completely pointless that I didn’t care. The callbacks to the original film made me cringe of how they made fun of it. The comic relief in the movie was unnecessary. This entire movie was unnecessary as well.

Judgment: A full length movie about a demigod with daddy issues will get annoying real quick.

Rating: **

Toy Story 3 (2010)

So long… partner.

— Woody

Currently the #6 Film of All-Time on IMDb, Toy Story 3 is the inevitable conclusion of the series Pixar created over fifteen years ago. It finally goes full circle as we get to know how these characters that we grew up with will do once they are not needed anymore. This latest offering redeems everything bad that I have said about Pixar as of long, a coherent story with memorable characters that is not trying to be overly ambitious.

After years of being holed up in the toy box, the toys try to find ways of getting Andy’s (John Morris) attention. Now that he is seventeen, the dreaded time has come when Andy is going to give them up. He leaves for college in a couple of days. He has to decide whether who will come with him, go to the attic, donate or be thrown away. Half of the toys has already been given away over the years except for Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), Hamm, (John Ratzenberger), Jessie (Joan Cusack), Bull’s-Eye, Rex (Wallace Shawn), Slinky Dog (Blake Clark), Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head (Don Rickles, Estelle Harris) and Molly’s Barbie (Jodi Benson).

While Andy decided to bring Woody to college with him and leave the other toys for the attic. Andy carelessly put the others in a garbage bag which makes Andy’s mom (Laurie Metcalf) think that they are garbage. Woody tries to save them before getting tossed into the garbage where the break out to go to the donate box.

Andy’s mom drops the toys off at a daycare center called Sunny Side. When the toys first get there, they thought it was a fantastical place where they would be played with everyday. This was the Butterfly Room with the pre-schoolers. After the pre-schoolers leave the leader of the Butterfly Room, Lotso the Bear (Ned Beatty) welcomes the newcomers with the help of Ken (Michael Keaton) as a tour guide.

Lotso and Ken show Andy toys around the place and lead them into the Caterpillar Room which is for the toddlers that are not as gentle with the toys like the Butterfly Room. Woody wants the gang to stay together with Andy or in the attic. The others want to stay at the daycare center. Woody wants to stay with Andy. Woody leaves and is picked up by a little girl named Bonnie (Emily Hahn). At Bonnie’s house, Woody hears that the other toys are in trouble and Woody has to decide whether to go back to Andy’s house or save the toys.

This movie explained better the themes that were introduced in the second movies with the inevitably of every toy that they will not be needed anymore. Their owners grow up. They have different priorities and playing with a toy is not one of them. If my toys could talk, they would have the same conversation the toys had in this movie. This movie ultimately shows up that when somebody grows up. No matter how big they are. There will always be an inner child poking out of them.

The ending of the movie was heartbreaking, heart affirming, poignant and brilliant. Being leery of this installment, I would say that this is a perfect ending for this series.

Judgment: Bravo and thank you, Pixar.

Rating: ****1/2

Coraline (2009)

You are NOT my mother.

— Coraline Jones

Coraline was on my radar to see since it was released in February of 2009. People were talking about how wonderful this adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s book was. It was my intention to see it, but never got around to it. When it was nominated for Best Animated Feature at the Oscars, it was on the fast track of my viewing schedule. I’m glad that I saw it. I wish I saw it in 3D.

Director Henry Selick of The Nightmare before Christmas fame forgoes the staple of computer animation to the painstakingly slow process of stop motion animation. This movie is like a twisted version of Alice in Wonderland where a family moves from Michigan into the Pink Palace apartments, which is a Victorian house in the middle of nowhere.

A precocious little girl named Coraline Jones (Dakota Fanning) is trying to fight for the attention of her parents, Mel and Charlie (Teri Hatcher, John Hodgman) who are too busy finishing up the work on a gardening catalogue. Coraline explores the surroundings and meets up with a peculiar kid named Wybie (Robert Bailey Jr.) who may or may not be a stalker. There is also a feral cat (Keith David) that is following her as well.

Feeling bored, Coraline looks through the house finds a small door hidden behind a covering of wallpaper in the living room. She wants to know what is behind the door. When the door is opened by her mother, it is bricked up.

That night, Coraline is awakened by a jumping mouse that leads her to the very same door that opens up to a parallel universe where everything is the complete opposite. Her “other mother” cooks her favorite meals and the other father is very attentive and could play the piano. The trouble is that they have black buttons for eyes in this other world. She starts to warm up to this world.

She wakes up back to her normal life. She befriends the other inhabitants on the other apartments like the Russian circus performer, The Amazing Bobinsky (Ian McShane) who tells Coraline not to go into the little door again. His own jumping mice told him so. The old vaudeville duo, April and Miriam (Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French) have her over for tea. Reading her tea leaves, they also warn her that she is in great danger.

She ignores their incessant warnings and travels to the other world again, because she is so unhappy with her mundane existence. Her other mother makes a proposition for her. Since she loves this other life so much, she should stay. The catch is that sews has to sew the black buttons on her eyes. She is resistant about it, but the other mother is not happy with it and she becomes less than motherly.

It is so freaky that this movie was made in stop motion. It was a mice change of pace for the typical kid friendly movie. The story was not groundbreaking, but enjoyable nonetheless. It was a good time spent.

Judgment: It makes me wonder what Henry Selick will do next.

Rating: ***1/2

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