Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Jack Sparrow (feat. Michael Bolton)

I don't know what it is, but I listened to this song ONCE, and now I can't stop listening to it!  Such a good melody :)  It's got a handful of movie references (which is why I'm posting it here), so you're sure to have some fun with that.  Enjoy!

Just a quick warning: contains foul language, and might not be safe for work (NSFW).


Monday, August 13, 2012

Meet the Spartans (2008)

Cinema Sweetheart's Rating: 6.5
Director: Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer
Starring: Sean Macguire, Carmen Electra, Kevin Sorbo
Rated: PG-13
Genre: Comedy, Historical, War, Parody/Spoof
Runtime: 86 minutes
Original Version: 300 (2006)

In this shameless spoof of the 2006 movie 300, King Leonidas (Macguire) leads his "army" of thirteen Spartan soldiers again the corrupt "god-king" Xerxes.  Laughs abound as the story of the Battle of Thermopylae is bastardized with a collection of pop culture references including Briteny Spears, the Spider-Man 3 movie, the TV show Deal or No Deal, and "Yo Mama" jokes.

Now, in no way am I saying that this is great cinema.  And I'm not even saying this is high comedy.  The only reason I rated it a 6.5, (IMDb gave it a disappointing 2.5), is because I really enjoyed it.  It made me laugh, and that was more than enough for me.  That's where Cinema Sweetheart's reviews differ from other film reviewers; my reviews are not strictly based on quality of the film, but also on the fun it provides.  If I don't enjoy a film, it won't score as high.  Luckily, my tastes are fairly broad, so even if a film is not in my favorite genre, I usually can appreciate it.

Meet the Spartans, like Epic Movie and Scary Movie before it takes it jokes from pop culture references from the time it came out, so there will come a point where many people won't get the jokes, since they'll be too outdated.  And of course, those who do not watch a ton of TV or movies might not understand who certain celebrity parodies are supposed to be.  Most of the jokes are raunchy, gross, or stupid.  Still, this film is a lot of fun for a few immature giggles.  So, while this is not going to be a film you'll want to pass on to your kids or your grandkids for generations to come, it might be fun for a night spent with friends, drinking beer and eating pizza.  And what could be more fun than drinking beer, eating pizza, and watching thirteen men in leather underpants and capes  holding hands and skipping off to war (yes, you read that right) while singing Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive"?  [Fun Fact: The historical Spartans were actually known for singing while on their way to war; it pumped them up and acted as a method of intimidation for their enemies, who saw a huge, powerful army coming to battle with such confidence in their victory that they were singing].

So, with all that being said, this is certainly not a great movie.  It's funny though, and if you enjoyed the campy fun of films like Scary Movie or Epic Movie, then I'm sure you'd enjoy Meet the Spartans.  That being the case, I would recommend this film to anyone who enjoys sophomoric humor and campy, cheesy laughs. (Don't feel bad about it; I enjoy that, too, every now and then).  If you watched and enjoyed 300, you might also be interested in checking out this film.  Really, this is great for all those of you who spend countless hours on YouTube looking for funny parody videos of your favorite movies.  This is just like those, except about an hour and a half, instead of three to five minutes.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

300 (2006)


Cinema Sweetheart's Rating: 9 out of 10
Director: Zack Snyder
Starring: Gerard Butler, Lena Headey, David Wenham
Rated: R
Genre: Action, History, War
Runtime: 117 minutes
Other Versions: Meet the Spartans (2008)

The ancient world is on the brink of war.  Leonidas, king of Sparta has been confronted with a difficult decision, when a Persian messenger brings news that his "god-king" Xerxes' wishes to rule over Sparta, and requires Leonidas's subordination to him.  But, the Spartans are a strong and proud race; proud of their strengths and most importantly, their freedom.  Leonidas is not ready to just give all that up.  However, both the Spartan council and oracle warn Leonidas that war would be certain death; there is no way the tiny Hellenistic city-state could hope to take on the towering Persian empire.  However, Leonidas has courage and a plan which could easily even the odds, and turn the war in Sparta's favor.  So, gathering together an army of 300 Spartans, he sets off to for freedom, bravery, and honor, no matter what comes their way.

I've been wanting to see this film for a while now.  I'm both a history buff and a Classical Studies minor (focus on Greco-Roman history and literature), so I've had quite a bit of interest in the ancient world.  After learning about the Battle of Thermopylae in my Greek History class, I've had a renewed interest in the topic--and the film.  Now, of course, the film was terribly inaccurate, but after the first ten minutes or so, that didn't really matter anymore.  I was so swept up in the battles, fraternity, and just general fist pumping "yes!" moments, that slight inaccuracies didn't really matter anymore.

I particularly loved the message this movie carried.  It reminds us that what is right is worth fighting for, and that no man should be a slave to another.  Even when all hope is gone, one needs to keep fighting.  For the Spartans, the powerful realization was that it would be better to die as a free man fighting to protect those freedoms than it was to live as a coward, a subordinate, and a slave.

Not only is this a great story with a powerful message, but the CGI for this film was simply amazing. From vast armies to the grotesque "├╝ber immortals" of the Persian army, the effects were used perfectly in order to really enhance the atmosphere.  Although there is always that understanding that CGI characters are only just special effects, there comes a point in this film where you just find yourself so drawn into the plot that you don't even think about it--just accept it.

Gerard Butler was wonderful as Leonidas.  He was ripped, he was cocky and confident--and yet still sensitive and emotional.  He really brought the character to life.  He made him three-dimensional and almost real.  Leonidas was an amazing character.  Instead of just making him into a muscle-bound action hero or a cocky bastard, we are given a man who has concerns and fears that genuinely affect him, but is still able to overcome them.  That's a real hero.

All in all, this is a great movie which carries a powerful message.  I recommend this to anyone with an interest in ancient history, as well as those who appreciate a good action film with a powerful, hopeful message.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Tommy Boy (1995)

Cinema Sweetheart's Rating: 9 out of 10
Director: Peter Segal
Starring: Chris Farley, David Spade, Brian Dennehy
Rated: PG-13
Genre: Comedy
Runtime: 97 minutes

Things are finally starting to look up for Tommy (Farley).  After seven years, he's finally graduated from college, plus his father (Dennehy) has given him a job in the family car parts manufacturing company, and to top it all off, his father's getting remarried--and that means that Tommy gets the brother he's always wanted!  Needless to say, life is good.  Well, that is, until Tommy's dad dies at his own wedding reception, and Tommy inherits the failing company.  Things couldn't possibly get worse.  And then, Tommy has an idea.  Offering up his shares of the company to the bank as collateral, he decides to raise the money to save the company himself, by making sales calls personally.  But, with his limited experience in the business, he can't do it alone, so he ropes his father's stuckup accountant Richard (Spade) to come with him.  The unlikely duo must do whatever possible to earn enough money to save the company.  But will they be able to do it in time?

Now, I'm not saying that this is the greatest movie ever, but it was terribly funny, and that certainly was enough for me.  I've seen Chris Farley before in other things, mostly SNL skits involving the character Matt Foley, the motivational speaker.  He's a master of physical comedy, as well as an actor who can just get so worked up, that you can't stop laughing, and you have no idea what he is going to do next.  There is something hilarious in watching him crash into doors, through tables, etc.  Or of course, my brother's favorite scene involves Farley's character Tommy setting a toy car in his eagerness to demonstrate how his company's brakes work in comparison to the competition's.

David Spade was wonderful.  I have never been a David Spade fan; in fact, I've never really liked him.  But, this film changed that.  The contrast of big, boisterous Farley and short, serious, mousy Spade was wonderful.  It was so funny watching the sorts of conflicts they got into.  My personal favorites involve an argument over whether or not to eat in the car, and another incident where Tommy teases Richard about watching a woman skinny dipping.

All in all, I would highly recommend this film to anyone who enjoys a good laugh (I personally laughed until I cried), or who appreciates physical comedy (people crashing into walls, glass doors, through tables, etc.), or for anyone who is a fan of Chris Farely or David Spade.  All in all, it's just a funny movie and I highly recommend it!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Update

Just a quick head's-up.....Cinema Sweetheart will be taking a short break for a few weeks, with no film reviews posted on June 28, or July 5.  Reviews will resume the following week, on July 12.

~CS

The Shining (1980)

Cinema Sweetheart's Rating: 6 out of 10
Director: Stanley Kubrick
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd
Rated: R
Genre: Horror, Drama, Mystery
Runtime: 142 minutes
Other Versions: The Shining (1997)

When Jack Torrance (Nicholson) signs up to be the caretaker for the Overlook Hotel while it's closed for the winter, he has no idea what sorts of horrors await him, his loving wife Wendy (Duvall), and their son Danny (Lloyd).  Even stories of some of the horrors that occurred in he hotel are not enough to dissuade him, and he cheerfully takes the job, thinking that it's going to be the easiest money he's ever made.  All he has to do is keep the elements outside from affecting the hotel; keep the boilers burning, etc.  Easy.  And besides, it will give him time to work on his writing; something which Jack has been having quite a bit of trouble with lately.  Everything is going to work out pretty well for the Torrances.  But, there are things lurking in the shadows; things the family is certainly not prepared for.  Danny claims to have an "imaginary friend" named Tony, a little boy who supposedly lives in Danny's mouth and hides in his stomach.  Not only that, but he's having visions.  Visions of things that have happened and things that have yet to occur.  Bloody things happened in this hotel, and bloody things are yet to come.  The hotel starts to have an effect on Jack, as well, turning him from loving husband and father to a maniacal killer; will Wendy and Danny be able to stop him, or will all of Jack's worst nightmares come true?

Stanley Kubrick's The Shining is one of those films I felt I just had to experience, especially as a lover of classic horror cinema.  I had constantly seen the title listed alongside with other "classics" such as The Silence of the Lambs and Psycho.  "If you're interested in these sorts of films, " I told myself, "then you had better watch The Shining."  I had been trying for months to watch it, but either found myself too busy, or found that my friends weren't very interested in watching with me.  And half the fun of watching a scary movie is watching it with a friend.  So, finally, I seized my opportunity (and my brother/movie buddy) this summer, and sat down to watch it one rainy Friday afternoon.  While The Silence of the Lambs and Psycho far exceeded my expectations, The Shining left me feeling a bit disappointed as it fell just shy of the mark.

I guess you could say that a chunk of my disappointment stemmed from the fact that I had put too much stock in this movie completely knocking my socks off.  Now, normally, I go into this films, attempting to keep my expectations as neutral as possible.  Not LOW, per se, but neutral.  That way, I won't be swayed by prior prejudices.   But, this was one film that I was excited about.  Probably because it had been on my "To-Watch" list for about three years.  And even before that, it was one of those films that I was pretty interested in watching, but just too scared to actually pick up.  That being said, I've been waiting to watch this movie for years--that's a lot of expectation.  However, high expectations only covered a small portion of my frustrations.  My issue I think, deals with Kubrick's directing style.  I'll have to check out a couple more of his films, but I'm starting to think I'm just not a Kubrick fan.

For me, Jack Nicholson was wonderful.  He absolutely stole the show, and as I watched the film, I found myself silently wishing that there would be more Jack scenes.  He was deliciously creepy.  And I love that sort of character in a horror film.  Not those that are outright scary, or horrible, but those that are creepy and still very human.  I love those sorts of villains.  There is just something so sinister about characters who just become sort of unhinged.  It makes it scarier because it makes you wonder if something like this could happen to anyone; your dad or your brother; neighbor, cousin, sister, grandpa, etc.  Very creepy.  But, there is more to Nicholson's portrayal of Jack Torrance than just a crazed ax-murderer possessed by evil spirits.  He's a family man, a loving husband and father, and he makes us feel for him.

Villains like Hannibal Lecter don't exactly illicit sympathy.  He's more of the guy who gets voicemail messages sounding something like this: "Hey, Dr. Lecter.  I just wanted to let you know that I'm not going to be able to make it to your dinner party on Saturday.  Nothing personal, but I just don't feel comfortable attending an event where I can't be sure if I'm going to be a member of the party or the dinner."  Jack Torrance, however, is a sympathetic character.  There is one scene, in fact, where my heart simply melts for him.  Wendy rushes to his aid after hearing him screaming and crying in his sleep, apparently from a nightmare.  Startled, he falls to the floor, and sits there, drooling, blubbering, and sobbing, as he tells her that he had the most awful dream, where he killed both her and Danny, chopping the bodies up into little pieces.  The pain is so raw, so real, you can't help but feel for him.  In those few minutes, all of Jack's behavior up to this point and afterward is put into perspective: he's not a bad man.  He's just under the influence of forces he cannot control.

Shelley Duvall was also wonderful as her respective character Wendy.  With her big eyes and sweet disposition, it was hard not to like her.  I think she also provided a wonderful foil to Jack's character, in that while he was dealing with frustration, anger, addiction, and possessive spirit, she's a quiet, gentle presence, who calmly puts up with everything that happens, while still maintaining order and reason in the family.  She's reserved, but strong.  And even though she's strong, she's still vulnerable, and that makes us root for her.  She's the underdog, and we don't want anything to happen to her.

Above all else, this movie was just very strange.  Much of it didn't make any sense.  I was confused, very creeped out, and mostly left with more questions than answers when all was said and done. All in all, it was a decent movie, but it just didn't wow me.  I guess if someone came up to me and said, "CS, should I watch The Shining?"  I guess I would say yes.  It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't great either.  Still, if you're interested in the genre like I am, I think it's just something you should check out.  At least you'd get all the references from Internet memes, right?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Mega Shark Vs. Giant Octopus (2009)

Cinema Sweetheart's Rating: 2 out of 10
Director: Jack Perez
Starring: Deborah Gibson, Vic Chao, Shawn Lawlor
Rated: R
Genre: Horror, Sci-Fi
Runtime: 85 minutes

Thanks to human folly and global warming, the polar icecaps begin to melt and release two of the most horrifying creatures the world has ever known: Mega Shark and Giant Octopus!  Free from their frozen prison once more, they strike terror into the seas in their devastating attempt to find one another and finish the death match that started many centuries before.

I picked up this film expecting a funny, campy horror flick with lots of fighting, giant monsters, and cool CGI special effects.  Instead, I got a shitty film that broke every rule of screenwriting and acting, with sub par CGI effects reused scene after scene.  In fact, if I may be so bold, I would even go so far as to say that this is the worst movie I've ever seen.

But, a movie this bad has to really be savored.  It takes real effort to be this bad.  So, let's just take it one aspect at a time...First, the script.  The writing for this film was just dreadful.  Besides including so many painful cliches and "classic" stereotypes such as the customary agents in black suits, this film also included drinking alcohol from paper bags, the overly-violent American military stereotype, and of course, the cheesy mentor figure and the customary romance where everything just matches up so perfectly.  It's like these characters were written for each other!  Oh yeah...

I also loved the fact that everyone felt the need to remind everyone that the foreign characters were foreign.  From wonderful lines like "a Kewpie doll for the Irishman" (as if we couldn't figure out he was Irish from the HORRIBLE accent that was sometimes Irish, sometimes American, and sometimes boarderline Scottish), or when the Japanese scientist references "my Japanese government..."  Wow!  I had no idea you were Japanese!   And even if the audience wasn't sure, why would he refer to it like that?  Everyone he is talking to knows that he is Japanese.

I'm including the link to IMDb's collection of quotes from this movie.  They are golden.  Just for shits and giggles, you can check them out here.

Even though the writing sucked, the plot had some potential.  But, no....the script mostly focused on the three main characters: a "washed up" oceanographer, her salty Irish professor/mentor, and her Japanese scientist love interest.  There was almost nothing at all about the shark and octopus...the reason that just about everyone picked up this film in the first place.  I can tell you it wasn't for the romance or the bad accents.  It was for the title characters!

But, I digress....on to acting.  The acting was just dreadful.  Do I need say anything more?  I didn't believe these characters.  At their best they were laughable.  At their worst, they were annoying.  The Irishman's accent faded in and out between scenes, and I think only one member of the Japanese submarine crew spoke with even the slightest hint of an accent....and it certainly wasn't the main character.  The whole thing was just ridiculous.

If you're looking for a movie that is so bad it's good....then this is not that film.  This is just bad.  Really bad.  And you might get a couple good laughs out of it, but it's certainly not worth spending any real money on.  The acting sucks, the special effects are terrible, and the script is in the toilet.  Now, normally, I have a select audience to recommend these films to.  Right now, I'm not sure who would want to see this film.  I guess if you like really bad movies, then this is a good one.  Or, if you're a film professor or film student, you might like this....as a sort of "what not to do" cautionary tale.  As an amateur screenwriter myself, I think this really helped me.  It was kinda fun being able to say "Oh....so THAT'S why I'm not supposed to do that!"

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...