Author Archives: ochippie

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Movie Review – Smokey and the Bandit

Category : Movie Review

Director: Hal Needham

Starring: Burt Reynolds, Sally Field, Jerry Reed

Year: 1977

Much (all) of what I think of Smokey and the Bandit now is based on nostalgia and only nostalgia; watching it today is not the same as watching it almost 50 years ago.  Can that be right?  Can it have been about 45 years this this film was released?  I would have watched it in the late 80s, but it still feels like only yesterday; time is hard to fathom I guess, and harder the older you get.  Anyway, Bandit isn’t as good a movie as I remember, or, rather, it’s a much more problematic movie than I remember, some of which can be forgiven because of time/age/perspective.  But some is just dumb and you wonder why it was there in the first place; some films just don’t age well.

Legend speaks of a pair of washed up ol’ Georgia country boys who used to be the fastest drivers in the South, pulling off crazy stunts and avoiding the local law, all for the thrill of the chase.  Now they just compete in fairs, appear for pictures, watch themselves grow fat, but maybe there’s one more big ride left in them, the famed cowboy Bandit and his trusty sidekick Snowman.  When the wealthy Big Enos bets Bandit that he can’t bootleg some Coors from Texas to Georgia, Bandit takes the challenge, running blocker for Snowman’s rig, keeping all the smokeys busy so that the beer can be delivered.  What he didn’t count on was meeting little Frog along the way, a young lady running from her own life and landing right in Bandit’s arms.

Well, Smokey and the Bandit is definitely dirtier, coarser, and less cool than I remember, but I guess I was only small, I didn’t know much better then.  Watching it now, it’s a little too unpolished and insulting, not even in a tongue-in-cheek way that might be admissible.  They should have known better in 1977, the film watches very cringe-y, and that’s upsetting, because boy did I love Bandit.  There’s still fun to be had; Burt was a god, Sally was so cute, the music and the semis and the chases and the fun, there’s something to be said for big, dumb, Dukes of Hazzard fun.  But that good ol’ boy humor only goes so far, and hasn’t translated well, so maybe cinema like this belongs in the past when it seemed good, not in the present where the only thing it’s got going for it is our memories.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

 


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Movie Review – Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

Category : Movie Review

Director: Gore Verbinski

Starring: Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley, Orlando Bloom

Year: 2006

Jack Sparrow is back and …a little worse for wear, but that doesn’t stop Dead Man’s Chest from being an entertaining adventure for the whole family; a step down yes, but a complete disaster no.  Verbinski knew what he had been lucky enough to be handed well enough, he wasn’t going to completely fail to bring it to life a second time, and this cast was only improved by the additions, not hurt by the landing of a sequel.  Nothing can rival Curse of the Black Pearl, that’s obvious, and at first this film seems pale in comparison.  But if you watch it with wide eyes, looking for fun, you are bound to find it.

Jack is off being the Captain of the Black Pearl, Will & Elizabeth are going to get married, Captain Barbossa is dead; all is right with the world.  That is, until the powers that be decide that Will & Elizabeth should be punished for helping Jack escape; now they will have to find him and take a treasured object of his if they want to clear their own names.  But it’s not that simple; Jack is making deals with Davy Jones himself, who controls the Kraken, and that’s a lot of supernatural power packed in one squishy punch.  Backs will be stabbed, promises will be broken, swashes will be buckled; it’s a wild ride on the high seas, better grab a line.

The first in the franchise is by far the best, there’s no debating that, it’s one of the best action/adventure movies of all time, let alone of the last few years & set at sea.  But although Dead Man’s Chest doesn’t exactly live up to its predecessor, it also doesn’t embarrass itself either.  This is simply a silly movie that’s enjoyable to watch, and although it tries to stuff far too much into its story arc, you can forgive it for going too far, because that’s better than not going far enough.  Never boring, often overwhelming, this film jam packs the daring do and asks you to hold on for deal life, throwing extra characters and extra fright scenes at viewers with reckless abandon.  Not for everyone, not to be over-analyzed, just to be experienced, Dead Man’s Chest is a nice #2.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

 


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Movie Review – Men in Black

Category : Movie Review

Director: Barry Sonnenfeld

Starring: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Rip Torn

Year: 1997

After the Slap Heard Round the World, I was unsure what it would be like revisiting old Will Smith movies, since he’s now so bizarre and complicated and troubled and all over the place; would they still hold the same magic they did in the 90s & early 2000s?  He didn’t always translate to smash success, but Will was a part of our growing up back then, and he was a pillar of pop culture, from film to rap and with his face plastered everywhere you looked.  Well, Men in Black is still the silly flick it was then, Will was still lovable and fun, that didn’t change, and the world keeps turning.

Behind the scenes, WAY behind the scenes, so much so that they don’t even exist on paper or in computers, are the Men in Black, a secret agency who protect us from the worst the galaxy has to offer, all while we sleep in blissful ignorance.  Aliens are real, they are here, and our planet has become a sort of neutral zone for space refugees, which has led to a ton of new & wonderful technologies.  But it has also led to conflict, and so the MIB must always be vigilant.  Newest agent J is just learning the ropes from K, but he’ll have to pick things up quick, because there’s a Bug on the losoe, it’s trying to start a war, and it must be stopped.

Will Smith was just special, so vibrant and captivating, when he was a young man in his acting & performing prime.  He was all over the place, his movies were fun, we enjoyed watching, he wasn’t hard but he was kinda cool in a goofy way, and he was definitely a part of our culture.  Men in Black is the same, influential and ridiculous, a good time at a low cost.  Will, Tommy Lee, Rip, Vincent D’Onofrio, Tony Shalhoub; a great cast, minus Linda Fiorentino, who is abysmal.  With gadgets and aliens around every corner, Men in Black is a fun time for the whole family, if not a movie you should peer too closely at if you want to enjoy what you’re seeing.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

 


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Movie Review – Hustle

Category : Movie Review

Director: Jeremiah Zagar

Starring: Adam Sandler, Juancho Hernangomez

Year: 2022

If you take Uncut Gems, Chef, & The Way Back and let them bleed together in their awkward hopefulness, the result is Hustle, a surprisingly good combination of ineptitude and basketball.  It’s less a movie and more a moment, a feeling not a film, like a homage to a game and the people who play it, with a small story to sweep us along, but with the knowledge of how that’s not the point.  An odd experience for sure, a love story about something you may not love, but somehow a pleasant success all the same.

Stanley Sugarman is an international scout for the Philadelphia 76ers, and his job is to find the next diamond in the rough & bring him to the city of brotherly love.  But when he finds Bo Cruz, a Spanish sensation playing ball in work boots and raising his daughter on his own, the wealthy powers that be say nah, he’s probably not as good as you think he is, Stan.  Well, Sugarman knows better, and he’s willing to put his career on the line for this young phenom; you don’t give up on what you believe in just because the path might be difficult, and you never *ever* back down.

Adam Sandler brings his A-game in Hustle, a movie that’s just him showing us how great the game of basketball can be, when you strip it down to man vs man, heart vs body, pushing though all obstacles for the love of the game.  Sandler acts his pants off too, maybe not to Uncut Gems level, but definitely something close, helped by the fact that he’s surrounded by real ball players, not actors, some of whom are being characters while some are simply themselves.  It’s a typical, feel-good, underdog story sports movie, you’ve seen the arc before, but that doesn’t mean you won’t want to see it again.  The heart is real, the love is true, and it’s a ton of fun, whether the acting can really support the film or not.  Like I said, it’s not really a movie anyway, it’s something different, and sometimes something different is exactly what we need.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

 


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Movie Review – The Jewel of the Nile

Category : Movie Review

Director: Lewis Teague

Starring: Kathleen Turner, Michael Douglas, Danny DeVito

Year: 1985

If I thought that Romancing the Stone was terrible, I was living in a world of blissful ignorance, because Jewel of the Nile is ten times worse.  All exaggerations aside, this is one of the most bizarre & hideous films I have ever had the misfortune of watching, and I blame my younger self, who thought that these movies must be cool because they seemed so popular.  Well, be careful what you wish for, because I have now seen both additions to the franchise, and I can confidently say that my brain has permanently been injured.

After Joan & Jack met on their past adventure, it seemed like the world would be laid bare at their feet, with money to spend and a planet to conquer.  Well, romance grows cold and real life gets in the way; they aren’t even married yet and already driving each other crazy.  So when Joan gets the chance to go to Egypt to write a real piece on a famed ruler, she jumps to take it, leaving Jack behind to pout.  But she’s in real trouble, and he better come to the rescue, or else she might be dead in some desert by dessert.

Romancing the Stone was stupid, but Jewel of the Nile is an insult.  To Egyptians, to humans, it doesn’t matter; this movie shouldn’t exist.  It isn’t fun, flirty, funny, it’s just dumb, dirty, and disastrous, making you wonder who in their right mind let it come to screens.  The trio of actors are back and worse than ever, the dialogue is so mind-numbingly poor that you’ll want to die instead of hearing it, and every action sequence seems purposefully designed to make me tear my hair out; it does feel like this film only lives to torture.  Don’t watch it, don’t go back in time, don’t think that these two flicks were a festive frolic, just allow me to be your whipping boy, and stay away.

My rating: ★ ☆

 


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Movie Review – Romancing the Stone

Category : Movie Review

Director: Robert Zemeckis

Starring: Kathleen Turner, Michael Douglas, Danny DeVito

Year: 1984

I am sure that I have watched worse movies than Romancing the Stone, but, off the top of my head, I can’t really think of any.  Maybe that’s because this belch of a film drove them from my mind while it was destroying my brain cells, or maybe that’s because there really are very few endeavors that can match this one in pure, bogus idiocy.  However this project was greenlit and this story caught on camera, something had to have gone wildly wrong in the collective conscience of all involved; a team of people can’t possibly be this naturally bad at everything.

Joan Wilder is a romance novelist, but she’s never experienced romance for herself.  She’s never experienced anything, she’s afraid of so much, her life continues without her participation, and the only things she has to cling to are her fantasies and her ability to showcase them to the adoring public.  But when her sister is kidnapped in Colombia, Joan will have to get off the couch and do something, because only she has the power to stop this terrible crime.  The kidnappers are after a treasure map, and when Joan meets adventurer Jack Colton, he is only to happy to help her find the booty.

This movie is abysmal, and I’m wondering what in the world went wrong that it was made, consumed, and enjoyed.  Because I remember this as a big deal when I was little, this story was in pop culture and the cinematic world, and I can even recall wanting to see it in the years after it was released, though I wouldn’t have been allowed to.  Well, I wish my mom was still monitoring my movies, cause this one sucks.  It’s random, it’s stupid, it’s all over the place, it’s kinda racist, and it doesn’t deserve any kind of forgiveness.  Turner & Douglas & DeVito are all AWFUL, just awful, like they’re pretending to be actors, not actually acting.  And the comedy is way off, the absurdity just absurd, not fun, which makes the whole gag & mood fall completely flat.  What a disaster, and I wish I had never witnessed it.

My rating: ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

 


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Movie Review – 10 Things I Hate About You

Category : Movie Review

Director: Gil Junger

Starring: Julia Stiles, Heath Ledger, Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Larisa Oleynik, David Krumholtz, Larry Miller, Allison Janney

Year: 1999

One of the most iconic teen coming-of-age comedies of the late 90s, perhaps rivaled only by the raunchier American Pie, which was a completely different beast, 10 Things I Hate About You boasts both a spectacular cast and a phenomenal vibe, bringing a classic story to life in a modern way that makes us all feel like overwhelmed high schoolers once again.  10 Things is so classic it’s been lampooned, and that’s a big sign of respect, to be such a pillar of a genre that you have to make fun of it.  Fortunately, it still watches very well, it defends the ridicule with ease, and it really will brighten up your day in ways you didn’t expect.

New to a local high school, Cameron gets the rundown on all the cliques; the wannabe cowboys, the wannabe Rastas, the business professionals, the audio-visual club, and, of course, the popular kids.  No girl is more popular or more beautiful than Bianca Stratford, who Cameron instantly falls in love with, but there’s just one problem; Bianca can’t date.  Well, she can’t date until her older sister Kat does, and Kat is downright scary; angry music, angry books, wild ideas like that a woman can be more than simply pretty, that kind of stuff.  So Cameron  and his friend devise a plan, to pay an equally scary guy named Patrick to take Kat out, so that that Bianca will be available, which sounds like a good idea, until Patrick starts to fall for Kat and Kat finds out about the whole, messy charade.

Calling 10 Things a classic doesn’t even begin to describe its importance; this is cinema history right here.  This is the defining film of the genre, this is the mother ship, and although it stands on the shoulders of the 80s giants, it also holds its own as a coming-of-age behemoth.  And, don’t forget, it takes its tale from Shakespeare, spicing it up for the modern era, but also sticking to its roots, set deep in love, honesty, finding your partner, and finding yourself.  Then there’s the cast, which is incredible, and we all remember being stunned by Ledger here, in the movie that launched his tragically-short career.  There is magic abounding if you want to see it, and especially if you grew up with it; I was 16 when 10 Things came out, so I was ripe for falling in love, but I enjoy it to this day as well, because “it factor” doesn’t fade.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

 


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Movie Review – Krull

Category : Movie Review

Director: Peter Yates

Starring: Ken Marshall, Lysette Anthony, Freddie Jones

Year: 1983

Is Krull, like, the best movie ever?  Obviously no, but also …yes?  It’s confusing, and this is a confusing cinematic experience, filled with ridiculous imagination and unconventional movement, until you’re really not sure if what you’re watching is terrific because it was planned to be or because it happened to be on accident.  Because this isn’t a typical question of “is it so bad it’s good?”, no, it’s much more clear than that; Krull is excellent.  But it’s, just, so weird, so excellent in a weird, unfathomable way, that maybe it’s hard to trust our own eyes.  So I propose that I simply go off instinct and declare this film incredible.  Why not.

To a peaceful planet comes a murderous Beast, whose will is to dominate all species and life, until he is the master of everything.  With his Slayers as his foot soldiers, and protected in a magical Black Fortess, the Beast lays waste to the land, and plots to destroy the last remaining hope for the free world; the union of two great houses and the marriage of their young heirs, Colwyn and Lyssa.  So when Lyssa is kidnapped and the wedding is ruined, Colwyn must find the Fortress, rescue the Princess, and end this threat to his world, with an unlikely band of magicians and ragamuffins as his trusted companions.

Krull is like Legend meets Last Starfighter, but it was made before both, and has such a sense of its own uniqueness that it almost feels wrong comparing it to anything else.  So maybe I should say that others copied it, and maybe sometimes did it better, but none can quite live up to the audacity that is this movie and its unusual fervor for atypical entertainment.  It’s wild, it’s all over the place, it’s fantasy, it’s sci-fi, it seems made up on the spot at times, but it always has an honest eye toward high adventure, and that’s something that’s just too rare to judge too harshly.  Krull is special, and so is its cast, filled with “it’s that guy from” moments and surprisingly good performances.  For what this movie is, for what you expect it to be when you sit down, there might be no bigger payoff for such a small investment.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

 


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Sports – 2022 NFL Draft Recap

Category : Sports

The 2022 NFL Draft is complete.  Seven rounds, three days, numerous trades, two hundred and fifty six players chosen, and thirty-two teams with new players on their rosters.  In my Mock Draft, I attempted to predict the first round, and of course I got it mostly wrong.  It was fun to guess, but here’s how the first round really shook out:

 

1. Jacksonville Jaguars – Travon Walker, DL from Georgia

2. Detroit Lions – Aidan Hutchinson, DL from Michigan

3. Houston Texans – Derek Stingley, CB from LSU

4. New York Jets – Sauce Gardner, CB from Cincinnati

5. New York Giants – Kayvon Thibodeaux, EDGE from Oregon

6. Carolina Panthers –Ickey Ekwonu, OL from NC State

7. New York Giants – Evan Neal, OL from Alabama

8. Atlanta Falcons – Drake London, WR from USC

9. Seattle Seahawks – Charles Cross, OL from Mississippi St

10. New York Jets – Garrett Wilson, WR from OSU

11. New Orleans Saints – Chris Olave, WR from OSU

12. Detroit Lions – Jameson Williams, WR from Alabama

13. Philadelphia Eagles – Jordan Davis, DL from Georgia

14. Baltimore Ravens –Kyle Hamilton, S from Notre Dame

15. Houston Texans –Kenyon Green, OL from Texas A&M

16. Washington Commanders – Jahan Dotson, WR from Penn St

17. Los Angeles Chargers – Zion Johnson, OL from Boston College

18. Tennessee Titans – Treylon Burks, WR from Arkansas

19. New Orleans Saints – Trevor Penning, OL from Northern Iowa

20. Pittsburgh Steelers – Kenny Pickett, QB from Pitt

21. Kansas City Chiefs – Trent McDuffie, CB from Washington

22. Green Bay Packers – Quay Walker, LB from Georgia

23. Buffalo Bills – Kaiir Elam, CB from Florida

24. Dallas Cowboys – Tyler Smith, OT from Tulsa

25. Baltimore Ravens – Tyler Linderbaum,  OL from Iowa

26. New York Jets – Jermain Johnson, DL from Florida St

27. Jacksonville Jaguars – Devin Lloyd, LB from Utah

28. Green Bay Packers – Devonte Wyatt, DT from Georgia

29. New England Patriots – Cole Strange, OL from UT-Chattanooga

30. Kansas City Chiefs – George Karlaftis, EDGE from Purdue

31. Cincinnati Bengals – Dax Hill, S from Michigan

32. Minnesota Vikings –Lewis Cine, S from Georgia


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Movie Review – War of the Worlds

Category : Movie Review

Director: Steven Spielberg

Starring: Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning, Justin Chatwin

Year: 2005

War of the Worlds is lower tier Spielberg, and that’s a big disappointment.  That legendary director, this classic story, a bona fide star leading the cast, one of the best child actors we’ve ever seen; this should have been a bigger moment and a greater success than it was at the time, and also how it watches now.  Audiences deserved more impact from a story this famous, compelling, haunting, and historic, but what we got instead were performances and filmmaking that all felt phoned it, rather than completely committed.  And, you know, that’s a real shame.

Across the globe, bizarre lighting strikes and power outages cause concern among the citizens of Earth, as they walk out of their homes to see storms but witness something much more deadly instead.  Beings from another planet have arrived on ours, or have they been here all along?  Doesn’t really matter, it’s a moot point, and soon all of humanity will be an afterthought, as the creatures in their machines begin decimating the populations of every major city and destroying everything in their paths.  One man, along with his semi-estranged son & daughter, see the entire mess unravel as they trek across the country, trying to stay alive.

The set-up is a little silly; divorced man, doesn’t understand his angry kids, a little unstable, forced to show his love to them during a disastrous situation.  It’s silly, but it’s an OK vehicle for us to watch events unfold from, so that is what it is.  But the rest of the movie doesn’t really ever pick up from there, we simply go with the flow, and there are never moments that will make you glad you were along for the ride.  Cruise is cool, Fanning is great, the acting isn’t the problem, and, I guess, neither is the direction or the visuals; looking at this movie is pretty fun.  It’s the story that isn’t compelling, oddly enough, since it’s based on something so colossal and directed by such a genius.  We are simply never drawn in or fully invested, the film just doesn’t force us to care, it’s far too surface level, and when the end comes we’re all like “huh”.  A lackluster cinematic experience if ever there was one, War of the Worlds isn’t awful, it’s just alright, and that’s not good enough, Steven.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

 


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