Friday, July 25, 2008

Movie #61 - Bat 21

"Trapped behind enemy lines. A whole army after him... And only one man can save him."

From the entire resume of these two actors in this film (Danny Glover and Gene Hackman), this is one of the better films made by these two gentlemen. Glover and Hackman have a strong rapport throughout the progression of this movie and you really begin to feel the despair of the issue at hand, the rescue of Hackman's character.

I believe this movie is influenced by actual events, but overall, it depicts some of the major problems with the Vietnam War. Without getting into details and political opinions, the Vietnam War was difficult for the U.S. military due to the extreme conditions of jungle warfare. As shown by this movie, we spent 2 hours watching how many lives would be lost to try to save one man who was stuck behind enemy lines.

What trivializes the strength of this movie is Hackman's failed attempt to "re-make" the concept of this movie by making Behind Enemy Lines starring Owen Wilson. Not only is Owen Wilson not an action movie star, but this movie follows the same progression and predictable plot as this 1988 classic, as Hackman really loses credibility in the remake for fans who remember this original film. Although not intended to actually be a remake - it clearly is.

Overall, Bat 21 ranks higher up on the Vietnam War movie genre. I wouldn't mind seeing films about this era again because I believe the WWII genre has been overplayed in recent years. Would definitely like to see some war movies out there... but I hope Hollywood stays away from the current incursions in the Middle East since there are still active soldiers there.

Here's a thought, maybe we should find out what happened in WWI, there are only a handful of movies done about that era and there are many more unexplored stories that could be translated into war movie classics in the future.

Movie #60 - What Women Want

"He has the power to hear everything women are thinking. Finally... a man is listening."

Yeah right... men listen to everything a woman says... its just sometimes, they aren't saying anything that we find important (e.g. sports, women, money, etc.).

All kidding aside, this movie ranks up there with the Bridges of Madison County for submission to remove Mel Gibson from the men's secret society. Like Eastwood, we can give Gibson some grace because he's done so many masculine movies in the past (Braveheart, the Lethal Weapons, the Mad Max trilogy), but he came fairly close to be removed from the group. Swayze lost his membership when he did Too Wong Foo, so Gibson should count his blessings.

Again... all kidding aside, I actually enjoy this movie every time I see it on television - mainly because its silly to think how powerful his character would be if he could hear what women think. Like every other man out there... women end up being the most complex and enigmatic species out there, that historically, men have attempted to solve other problems in science and technology as opposed to solving the solution to the man's biggest problem - the woman.

Lastly... all kidding aside, Gibson benefits from having this ability... but in the end, the woman wins in the end. Not only has Gibson's character been molded to appreciate women more on the whole, but he's become a more well-rounded man in the end. Although women may say he's evolved... men would say that he's set us men back many years by agreeing to do this movie.

Which side should I take? If my wife reads this, which I know she reads on a regular basis... I'll stick to the more conventional answer.

Movie #59 - Balls of Fury

"A huge comedy with tiny balls."

Far from it. A great tagline, but a horrible movie. Now, don't get me wrong, I enjoy teenage movies with no plot or are direct spoofs of actual successes, however, this movie does not have anything going for it.

I watched this movie based solely on the fact that Christopher Walken was in the cast. Not only was Walken cast to be a poorly developed villain, but he obviously didn't even take the time to memorize his lines - it looked like as if he was reading cue cards throughout the film.

There are some beautiful women cast in this movie - Maggie Q and Aisha Tyler, however, their roles are limited. Both women would serve better to enhance action movies instead (see MI:3 for Maggie Q's performance), but in this case, they were just cast as eye candy... I'm not complaining about that part of it, but I am complaining about this movie.

The main reasons for my complaints - George Lopez and Dan Fogler. Both are not equipped to be starring men on the big screen... and although an entire movie about the sport of ping pong is a great concept for a comedy... the casting of these gentlemen turn a good concept into a bad comedy.

Sad cameos in this film: Robert Patrick as Daytona's father, Jason Scott-Lee as Siu-Foo (ironically cast since this movie is a spoof on Enter the Dragon - Bruce Lee connection here), and James Hong as Wong (re-incarnation of his role from Wayne's World).

Monday, July 21, 2008

Movie #58 - Away from Her

"It's never too late to become what you might have been."

This was one of those films that I didn't want to watch, but ended up watching because the wife had recorded it on our PVR. Fortunately, I enjoyed it - but not for the reasons as to why everyone else in Hollywood did.

Sarah Polley made her directorial debut with this film - made in the Canadian film style, the movie focused on plot development, character development, and a good story to tell. Not to mention, Canadian actors were riddled amongst the mainstream cast and did a remarkable job - resulting in Polley's critical acclaim for her directing - even resulting in an Oscar nod for writing / adaptation.

However, many believe the star of this film was the crucial role of Julie Christie - who is portraying a woman who is institutionalized with Alzheimer's Disease and ends up falling in love with another man in the hospital different from her husband. Although Christie's role is compelling, what made this story work is the accomplishments of long time Canadian icon actor - Gordon Pinsent.

I was disappointed to hear that Pinsent was looked over for any acknowledgement either from the Golden Globes or the Oscars similar to Christie. Pinsent's heartache throughout this film is well-established and you truly feel for his pain more than what you feel for Christie by the end of the movie.

The film and the acting helps depict what happens to real people when they get sick with this disease and what happens to the loving relationships when something like Alzheimer's strikes. In comparison to a recent movie that discusses the same subject matter - the overrated, The Notebook - this film is by far a better movie overall on all fronts - romance, acting, screenplay.

I would've liked to have seen Pinsent get his dues in Hollywood, but unfortunately, the voice of Babar will never get what he deserves.

Movie #57 - V for Vendetta

"Remember, remember the 5th of November, the gun powder treason and plot. I know of no reason why the gun powder treason should ever be forgot."

Another film from the Wachowski brothers, thankfully, this time, they had a template from which to base the majority of the film on - a great comic book adaptation. They didn't screw this one up - unlike their attempts at the sequels to the Matrix.

Once again... Hugo Weaving is the star of the show. Not only was Weaving able to steal the thunder of Keanu Reeves in the Matrix trilogy, Weaving is a main cog in the Lord of the Rings trilogy as well. But here, Weaving achieves a great on-screen presence without ever showing his face - an accomplishment only worthy of James Earl Jones for example.

Weaving depicts V, a violent, dark, and sarcastic freedom fighter in a 1984-esque future in which freedom police and religion rule the city streets and society. In a planned casting, 1984's star, John Hurt, is cast as the villain of V for Vendetta, posing a credible adversary to Weaving's V.

The true bonus of this film though, is up and coming actress Natalie Portman. Not only is she beautiful to watch on-screen, but she ranks up there with some of the best actresses of her age group - let alone for her gender. Currently, I would rank her up there with Meryl Streep, Kate Winslet, and Cate Blanchett - not bad company if you ask me.

Portman represents an "everyman" character for this film - which is something that many readers of the V comic books establish for themselves. V represents anarchy against a system of oppression and Portman's character is one that bears personal witness to his glory in defying this system.

Wonderfully shot and creatively adapted to the big screen - I would hope that the Wachowski brothers leave this one alone after the film's conclusion and not decide to grab anymore $ - one can only forget Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions - I know that I am still trying!

Movie #56 - Awakenings

"There is no such thing as a simple miracle."

One of my favourite films from the 90's era, this is definitely a great, feel good story about life and the perseverance of the human spirit.

Before I saw this film, I saw a documentary about Dr. Oliver Sacks on CBC Newsworld, portraying the doctor for which this film was based on. Sacks had worked on a number of encephalitis patients in the 1960's in a Bronx hospital, being able to "revive" them for a brief period of time using experimental medications.

The documentary was somewhat morbid, showing actual patients and their medical conditions / hardships... what better way to lighten up that story than make a fictional adaptation of Dr. Sacks' life - casting Robin Williams as Dr. Malcolm Sayer.

This film is a wonderfully shot movie by Penny Marshall with a beautiful score written by Randy Newman, which is prevalent throughout the scenes of the film. There are some strong cameos from Julie Kavner, John Heard, and Penelope Ann Miller. However, the real treat to this movie is the relationship built and established between Williams and Robert De Niro's character of Leonard.

De Niro and Williams work together on this movie like peanut butter and jelly. The contrasting styles of both acclaimed actors work well in this drama - as Williams really captures the shyness and awkwardness of the Sayer role. By the end of the film, you really feel for De Niro's character and the rest of the patients in this movie and you are genuinely touched by its message.

This movie also marks the transition that Williams makes into dramatic acting, something I wish he would continue to do. Not only has Williams been recognized for his role in Awakenings, but you can add Dead Poets' Society, Good Will Hunting, Jakob the Liar, Insomnia, What Dreams May Come, and One Hour Photo to his dramatic resume.

Unfortunately, similar to De Niro's recent works in the last 10-15 years, Williams resume is overshadowed by money grab films and box office flops such as Flubber, Jack, and RV. I hope that he begins to realize that a happy medium of drama and comedy can easily be established... we definitely need to see him in more time pieces or non-fictional movies - give us some more Patch Adams Robin, this is where you are at your best!

Movie #55 - Who Killed the Electric Car?

"In 1996, electric cars began to appear on roads all over California. They were quiet and fast, produced no exhaust and ran without gasoline...........Ten years later, these cars were destroyed."

The wife and I caught this movie during TMN's Earth Week, in which they showed other films such as An Inconvenient Truth. This movie is a documentary of the rise and fall in popularity of the zero emission vehicles - specifically the GM / Saturn EV1.

What made this movie compelling is the fact that the EV1 not only represented a vehicle that produced zero emissions, but actually ran like a normal car. It utilized battery charge technology (fuel cell) and was inexpensive to produce. The only problem - supply and demand. There wasn't enough established demand to move the production of these cars further, there wasn't enough charging stations / infrastructure to make the car feasible, and there wasn't enough cars being produced.

Many EV1 owners were celebrities, to increase popularity and exposure of the vehicle. The likes included Tom Hanks, Mel Gibson, Ed Begley Jr., and Alexandra Paul. Unfortunately, not even the power of celebrities could stop the conspiracy that occurred which made these vehicles obsolete and unwanted in the automotive industry in less than 10 years.

Its sad to see that this technology actually works very well. Not only is the charging technology quite simple, the infrastructure is quite easy to establish. In addition, with the continuous development of battery technology these days, this car could've represented a move towards zero emissions within our lifetime.

Instead, hydrogen technology and hybrid cars became the "it" thing for the automotive industry. And although there was an outcry to keep these vehicles in production and operation, the EV1 was slowly made extinct by the very same industry which created it.

Normally, I don't enjoy the "thumping" that most celebrities get behind, but this is definitely one that deserves revisiting in the future. Global warming and the ramifications behind this event will continue to affect billions of people worldwide unless the global population makes some wholesale changes. Although North Americans are only beginning to see some of the signs of global warming, many regions around the world are being hit with devastating ferocity.

It is only a matter of time before we seek out alternatives to fossil fuel burning and resurrect ideas and concepts like the EV1 - only time will tell when we wake up and decide to do so!

Movie #54 - Witness

"A big city cop who knows too much. His only evidence: a small boy who's seen too much..."

Probably one of the more underrated films in the resume of Harrison Ford, and possibly one of his better roles. Ford plays John Buck, a cop who is forced to protect a young omish boy and his family from his corrupt police colleagues.

Once again, its Ford against the world on this one... and yet, we always know he'll come out on top. Even against all odds, Harrison not only gets the girl, but captures all the criminals as well. The idealistic characters Ford portrays are consistent throughout his portfolio and this one is no exception.

A bonus in this film is the casting of Kelly McGillis, one of the hotter women of the mid-80's, the representation of attractive women of that era. This was before the days of botox or implants, women of the 80's were hot mainly because they were voluptuous or were strong willed. In this case, McGillis accomplishes both feats, despite the fact that she is cast as a shy, omish woman. However, seek out her roles in the Accused or Top Gun, and many men who grew up watching McGillis rank her high on the hottest women of the decade.

Its a breath of fresh air to see Danny Glover as a villain in this movie, something he reprised in a later role in Switchback (1997). Despite his type casting from his Lethal Weapon days, I actually believe Glover depicts a better villain than a protagonist. Although his role is limited in this film, you really believe that Ford is outmatched by Glover's abilities.

What made this film popular back in the day is the acting prowess of unknown child actor Lukas Haas as Samuel Lapp. For years afterwards, Haas was never fully cast to his potential - although his best role was in the television movie, the Ryan White story... one that is both touching and powerful due to the actual events that inspired his character. It would be a treat to watch this movie again in my lifetime as it was compelling back in 1989 and its definitely Haas' greatest role to date.

In the end... as with 99.9% of Ford's films - Ford gets his man... gets the girl... and is the hero. As a big fan of the Ford films, one cannot complain about this outcome. Astutely, my wife has pointed out that almost all of his films end this way... unfortunately, I have to admit - she's right!

Movie #53 - Andromeda Strain (TV)

"It's a bad day to be a human."

Sounds like a tagline written for or by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Where else can you find Eric McCormack, Benjamin Bratt, and Ricky Schroder under the same headline - but as the cast for the remake of the Andromeda Strain. Graphics wise, this movie is far superior than the 1971 cult classic, however, overall, this movie falls short to capture what the first movie did - fear of the unknown.

Throughout this television remake, there are hints of government conspiracy riddled throughout the film. I haven't read the Crichton novel on this one, but I know that movie adaptations of films usually fall flat in comparison.

A positive note to this film was that it was filmed in Hollywood North - which was quite evident when you saw the U.S. Press Secretary cast as the "Dad" from one of the local Rogers Home Phone commercials. For us Canadian fans, its good to see that everyone in Canada can have a job in the U.S. government. Another obvious point was the West Jet private plane used to carry the scientists to the secret base facility.

The casting of Daniel Dae Kim gave this television movie instant credibility coming off his role as Jin from Lost. He does add to this movie, but there are too many detractors. Eric McCormack has yet to cast his type casting from Will and Grace and makes a poor troubled journalist in this film while Benjamin Bratt is not a believable doctor / lead scientist. I just cannot buy it!

In the end, the film was filled with too much government conspiracy and not enough science fiction... which I believe was still the intent of Crichton's literary version in the first place. However, this movie did not need to be a 2 part 4 hour blockbuster on A&E neither.

Movie #52 - The Wizard

"They're on a cross-country adventure to the world's greatest video championship. It's more than a's the chance of a lifetime."

Quite a lengthy tagline... really defeats the purpose of having one. However, it says exactly what happens in this movie, in a nutshell.

This movie represents the peak of popularity of the Nintendo Entertainment System or NES for short. In 1989, almost every household with a child / pre-teen / teenager had a NES system and about 15-20 games. 1989 also represented the point at which NES decided to expand its market share and release other gaming systems such as SNES and Gameboy.

However, 1989 also represented the launch of one of the most influential games of that era - Super Mario Bros. 3. What better way to do it then to cast Fred Savage in a crappy movie.

I was one of the lucky few back in 1989 to watch this film with my mother in theatres. Not only was I stoked as a movie fan to see Fred Savage on the big screen (at the time he was the star of the Wonder Years on the small screen), but this movie was about videogames - you cannot go wrong with that. I believe I was in awe at the number of games portrayed in this film and I do believe my parents bought the NES Power Glove which made a debut in this movie shortly afterwards - possibly for my birthday.

The games are the real bonus to this movie... as the acting and the plot twists are nothing to remember. I did laugh after seeing this movie after 19 years on television when I saw Christian Slater in the cast along with Beau Bridges. Both are highly recognized actors and I cannot see why they put themselves in this movie - if not to probably get first dibs on the pre-release of SMB3.

Super Mario Bros. 3 represents all that is good for NES and for videogames. It ranks up there in pivotal games of my generation. Everyone knows what a warp whistle is or a Tanooki suit, let alone a frog suit or a fire flower... all thanks to this game. Not to mention, the musical score, which is one of those songs that after hours of game play, becomes emblazoned in one's mind to repeat while you sleep. No game can match that level of influence and at the same time, no game could've provided more hours of fun during the time of its release.

So overall, the only things to enjoy here are the movie debut of SMB3 and a funny, uncredited cameo of Tobey MacGuire... see if you can find him - it was a challenge, but he's in this film somewhere.

Movie #51 - Above the Rim

"The Hardest Part Of Winning Is Choosing Sides."

This movie showcases the acting talents of Tupac Shakur at a time when his rap career was at his peak. Not only does Shakur portray the role of the villain effectively, you can see how much potential this rap genius truly had.

For those of you that watched the movie Juice, you know that Tupac excels as the villain, despite coming off at the beginning as an ally. In both films, Shakur steals the scenes from the protagonist and by the end of each film, you really hate the character that he has depicted.

Overall, this movie has some highs and lows. The casting of Leon, Marlon Wayans, and Bernie Mac seem out of place - but I guess they didn't want to splurge on casting Samuel L. Jackson - especially as they didn't have a place to put him in this movie.

In the end, the best part of this movie are the cool basketball scenes combined with the soundtrack. You cannot go wrong with Nate Dogg and Warren G's rendition of "Regulate" on this soundtrack.

Its also a breath of fresh air to see a strong villain in a movie like this - which really drove the film to the end. As a fan, I would've liked to have seen Shakur establish himself as a villain in other roles, but he has definitely paved the way for other rappers wannabe actors to make the jump onto the small and big screens.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Movie #50 - Thir13en Ghosts

"Terror has multiplied."

I must admit, a good friend of ours really got me going on thinking that this movie was one of the greatest horror movies of all time. Out of respect of my friend, I gave this film the benefit of the doubt and even spent 2 days trying to find it at a number of local Blockbuster locations. In retrospect, it still represents one of the best $2.49 I have ever spent... not because Thir13en Ghosts was in fact the best horror movie ever, but in actuality, it ranks as one of the worst horror movies ever. Its difficult to get a recommendation that missed so badly, but this one really missed...

Thir13en Ghosts is actually a remake of an older film (1960), which I had the opportunity to watch 50% of thanks to AMC during Halloween. Both are about a family down on its luck financially who inherit a haunted house from a long forgotten uncle. The concept is that this uncle just so happens to also be a ghost collector and that his house which he passed onto his nephew, contains 12 ghosts inside.

This is where the hyjinx begins. Not only are the 12 Ghosts attempting to kill the family once inside, but in both films, the 13th ghost is actually supposed to be one of the family members.

Sorry folks, I had to spoil it for you, but most of you reading this will probably not have the fortune / misfortune of watching either film in your lifetime... so I figured I would enhance your reading pleasure by dropping some plot hints.

As for the 2001 version, this film is cast with Tony Shaloub (Monk, Wings) and Matthew Lillard, with a useless casting of Shannon Elizabeth. I thought, with Elizabeth, we would at least see some T & A in this film, which could've salvaged it from the brink of bad horror movies, but instead, we only see dead prom queen nudity... something that you really cannot enjoy unless you are into that sort of thing.

The only saving grace is F. Murray Abraham... he's the villain of the film and I like his casting in any film, including this one. He ranks up there in underrated movie villains and he definitely went to the school of Donald Sutherland... he's very evil and he's slimy in this film and in his other roles. If you don't believe me, seek out Star Trek: Insurrection (1998), Amadeus (1984) and Scarface (1983). In all 3 films, not only does he steal the show in some cases, but his death scenes in 2 of the 3 films are movie magic.

As for Thir13en Ghosts, it has become sort of a little joke amongst some of my closer friends. If this blog entices you to see it, please don't think that you will get scared... I apologize in advance if you do... because you won't.

Movie #49 - X-Men 3: The Last Stand

"Take a stand."

Alright... I will take a stand. I stand in protest to Marvel Productions from making anymore bad comic book movie adaptations. Stop it! I liked Spider-Man, but then you had to make that into a crappy franchise of poorly cast villains with bad acting to boot. You made everything under the sun in the Daredevil franchise - both movies we could've done without. You made 2 Hulk films now... and re-cast the actor portraying Bruce Banner / Hulk (Eric Bana first time around, now Ed Norton second time around). You seemed to have done well with Iron Man and that proves that casting does make perfect - Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark / Iron Man.

The list can go on. Your failed attempts at some other Marvel films such as Fantastic Four and Punisher are prime examples. Not to mention, you already did all of this in the early 1990's, back when everyone forgot about the original Punisher movie starring Dolph Lundgren (1989) or Captain America (1990), and Fantastic Four (1994). How many times are we going to hash out these poorly done films and bank on the success of teenagers and nerds like myself going to watch them in theatres or buy your DVD's.

Don't get me wrong, I used to collect comic books and my favourites have been Spider-Man, X-Men, and Batman (DC Universe). DC learned from their previous faux pas of the Batman sequels sans Tim Burton and finally did something right, re-vamping the prequels of the Batman storyline and casting those films with great performances and a killer script based on the Frank Miller Batman: Year One saga.

Back to X3, I like the casting of Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, he actually resembles him quite nicely and you cannot go wrong with a blue Kelsey Grammar as Beast. Not to mention Rebecca Romijn in that murderous blue body suit as Mystique... someone was thinking there. In addition, Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen as Professor X and Magneto are great ideas on the whole for the trilogy.

What was a bad decision is trying to cram as many X-Men into these 3 films as possible. The biggest fear with regards to the X-Men film adaptations is trying to develop full characters from the movies. Check out the Harry Potter franchise or even Lord of the Rings - this was accomplished, not only be strong scripts, but good casting and lengthy films.

X-Men has a number of core characters who should've been the focus of all 3 films - Wolverine, Storm, Jean Grey, Cyclops, Rogue, Magneto, Iceman, and Professor X. We as fans do not mind the peripheral side characters and villains, but please develop these characters through the films and do not just put a whole bunch of action over 2 hours. Not to mention, you missed out on some cool villains such as Mr. Sinister, Master Mold / The Sentinels, and Apocalypse... all are which would've been easily accomplished with the right voice over actors cast and killer CGI technology.

Brian Singer had it right to attempt to create some films from the X-Men franchise, but I think he didn't map out the progression of the character storylines and didn't anticipate it having to abruptly end in X3. Like in the comic books of the last 15-20 years of plot, we get way too much of Wolverine and little of no one else... if that were to be true, then branch out with some Hugh Jackman Wolverine movies and re-write the Sabertooth foil character to enhance his background... Marvel - you did it with Elektra, now why don't you try it with Wolverine?

So this is my last stand... unfortunately, it is the X-Men's as well... and we shouldn't see another film with this band of heroes until another full generation of teens and tweens becomes old enough to forget about this trilogy - give it 12-14 years at most.

Movie #48 - 1408

"The Dolphin Hotel invites you to stay in any of its stunning rooms. Except one."

In case you haven't guessed it, the room in question is 1408. Based on a Stephen King novel... isn't every good horror movie based on something written by someone with some credibility. Unfortunately, this is definitely not one of King's best movie adaptations. It ranks up there with Thinner.

John Cusack is a writer (of course) of Top 10 haunted locations. There are some additional key plot twists which is supposed to enlist sympathy for the protagonist... what the filmmakers didn't think of is having sympathy for the audience.

There are some weird twists to this movie... but I say weird in a bad reference kind of way... not in the good, 2001: A Space Odyssey type of weird.

Cusack's role is forgettable and unfortunately, he's starting to pick some poor roles for his acting expertise in recent years. I cannot think of anything good he has done recently, except for maybe Runaway Jury - which is already 5 years ago... going back further, you run into Being John Malkovich, which is now over 9 years old by my counts.

Samuel L. Jackson on the other hand... is working about par with what his skills allow. This movie is strictly another money grab for Jackson... something almost every role in his resume includes as a pre-requisite. Jackson does not add anything to the Gerald Olin hotel manager character, nor has he added anything to any of his other recent movies. If you want to look back - maybe Star Wars Episode I-III comes to mind (1999-2005 - mainly because his death scene from Episode III was pivotal to the character development of Darth Vader and he did have some cool fight scenes in the Episode II). But before that... possibly add A Time to Kill and Pulp Fiction, going back more than 12 and 14 years respectively.

I still question Jackson's validity of claiming to be the #1 actor of all-time in terms of gross movie revenues, usurping Harrison Ford in recent years. Many of Jackson's films are obscure at best and many of his roles (e.g. Star Wars) are supporting in nature. Also, although one can lay claim that Ford also has 3 Star Wars films to prop him up in this argument, at least Han Solo is included in the progression of all 3 films, yet Mace Windu is only prominent in pockets of II and III. I beg to question Jackson's self proclaimed movie dominance... hopefully, other actors will change that statement... but Jackson will continue to make crappy films, and you can probably rank many of his 2008 upcoming entries into that category.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Movie #47 - Rudy

"When people say dreams don't come true, tell them about Rudy."

This movie ranks high amongst many men out there. Not only is it a film about football, Notre Dame, and has Sam Wise Gamgee in it... its a film about personal triumph and perseverance.

Sean Astin plays the role of Daniel E. "Rudy" Ruettiger in this movie... a biopic family film about one man's quest to play for the Notre Dame college football team. It follows all of Ruettiger's efforts from obtaining a college education, becoming a walk-on practice squad player, to winning the respect of both his coaches and his teammates.

Not to mention, the respect of one Charles S. Dutton. Dutton serves as his mentor both on and off the field, mainly due to regret that Dutton feels inside for not pursuing the dreams that Rudy hopes for himself.

Without ruining the film for those who have yet to watch it, there are some unimpressive cameos from strong movie personnel including a young Jon Favreau, Vince Vaughn (cast as Vincent), and Patrick Warburton - David Puddy on TV's Seinfeld.

If you enjoy cheesy films - then please go ahead and watch this film. It is shown regularly on Family Channel and you are bound to appreciate the set design and underrated acting of Astin in this film. Beyond that... you really don't need to watch Rudy if you can avoid it - but many guys will rank this high on their personal movie lists.

Movie #46 - 300

"Prepare for glory!"

Sounds like a Rickard's Red tagline doesn't it? Anyhow... one of the best films of 2006 and definitely full of action, suspense, drama, and of course, my favourite reason - Lena Headey.

This film represents the breakthrough role for Gerard Butler, who is making a name for himself as a strong leading actor. His portrayal of King Leonidas and his efforts to make himself look and sound like a true warrior are commendable, but I question some of his role choices in recent years... they're somewhat confusing. From 300 to Phantom of the Opera, Lara Croft, Beowulf, and the upcoming Untouchables film to P.S. I Love You. One has to ask Mr. Butler to please make up his mind... he's either setting himself up to be the next Russell Crowe or Mel Gibson or he can settle to be the next Hugh Grant.

What makes this film great is Lena Headey. Not only is she currently starring as one of the hottest renditions of Sarah Connor on television's Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles, but her achievement as the queen of Sparta is superb. You truly believe that she is in fact a royal queen as she commands respect, is powerful in her speech and candor, and her eyes say it all.

What makes me laugh in this film... both the casting of David Wenham (Dilios) and Dominic West (Theron). First with Wenham, we might remember him from his Faramir character of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but Wenham is a great story-teller in this film and serves as the narrator of this adaptation of the Frank Miller graphic novel. Wenham is over the top dramatic in his narration and his acting on screen, which strengthens the movie but also makes you laugh. With West, local Greater Toronto Area people might find a resemblance of Darcy Tucker in his make up, height, and appearance. I just couldn't get over the uncanny resemblance, which I found comical every time he stepped on screen.

Overall, this movie marks the universal acceptance of Frank Miller's stories and adaptations of film. It started with Sin City, but it will swiftly move forward with more films of his characters and his comic book creations. I have even heard that he is directing some films in the future... hopefully, he will break the stylistic methods he is using now and shoot a more traditional film. You can only take so much comic-esque screen shots.

Movie #45 - Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

"He's back in an all new adventure."

Not the most catchy tagline in movie history... but this is definitely one of those films that marked the start of the marketing scheme and product placement pushes of the late 80's, leading into the early 90's.

I remember when this film was released on Memorial Day in 1989, the commercials were rampant of a multitude of products that the character of Indiana Jones was trying to sell to its consumers. From soft drinks to candy bars, this was the beginning of what has now become common place in the movie industry.

Its not a surprise that it was enhanced by this film, considering it was made by two of the bigger movie "sellouts" - term used in the most complimentary tone - in movie history, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. If you compare how much these gentlemen have made from movie endorsements and product licensing, then you know what I am talking about.

The movie itself... I still believe is the best one of the whole lot. Not only are the whole cast of characters previously developed in this film, ranging from the villains to the side cast, but you add two actors / characters that strengthen the movie in the end. Sean Connery - cast as Indiana Jones' father Dr. Henry Jones and River Phoenix - cast to portray a young Indiana Jones. Both added depth to the Harrison Ford character and both allow Spielberg and Lucas to delve deeper into Jones' past.

I especially like the context of this film - the search for the Holy Grail. Its a great storyline and one that has been told in various adventure books and films - in a sense, the search for eternal life. The two collaborators get it right with this film and thus, should've represented the culmination of the Indiana Jones trilogy.

However, in the spring of 2008, the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls was released. Not only is Harrison Ford now 19 years older, but the appeal of the Indiana Jones franchise probably will not translate to success with this new generation of fans. Although the Indiana Jones franchise represents the advancement of the adventure movie - the CGI era has definitely taken away form many of the thrills one used to enjoy with plain old camera tricks and great set design. At least the villains changed for this one. I haven't seen the film myself, but I will definitely pick it up on rental just to ensure that I watched them all.