Author Archives: ochippie

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Movie Review – Waterworld

Category : Movie Review

Director: Kevin Reynolds

Starring: Kevin Costner, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Tina Majorino

Year: 1995

Kevin Costner is only Kevin Costner, and sometimes being Kevin Costner is enough.  Field of Dreams, Dances with Wolves, The Postman; that’s about it but it’s enough, he’s himself but that’s enough, and those movies work because there’s something about the guy that we like, even though we understand that he isn’t talented.  There might be a few more you could add, based on your preference, but mostly Costner is an actor who only accidentally works out occasionally, and that’s not the case with Waterworld.  It’s a batshit film on it’s own, obviously, but maybe someone could have saved it from itself; just not Kevin.

In the future, global warming will have melted the polar ice caps, covering the planet in water.  Those who survive will, generations later, not even remember that there were cities and continents; dry land will seem a legendary thing to them.  But a girl will come who has a map on her back, a map that tales say will lead to the last remaining land, and whoever finds her can live on solid ground once more.  In the middle of this struggle for the child enters a Mariner, a man who has adapted to the water in more ways than one, a loner who travels the seas just staying alive.  He didn’t ask to be a hero, but he will have to use his skills for the betterment of others, which may be the hardest lesson he’ll ever have to learn.

Very openly and admittedly, this is simply Mad Max Goes Boating, and that’s fine as far as that goes, at least they acknowledge that, but it doesn’t mean the idea is any less dumb, any less of a ripoff and a waste of time, just because you admit to being theme thieves.  We simply didn’t need a carbon copy of a film we already saw and liked better, especially if you can’t offer any extra talent to the pool.  In concept, sure, Waterworld is fun, and yeah it’s a silly good time, especially when Dennis Hopper is on the screen.  But when the plot is in Kevin Costner’s hands, he simply drops it, because he’s not good enough to make a dumb character awesome, or to make a dumb script palatable.  I can’t say I won’t always hold a special place in my heart for this movie, since it’s so lovably idiotic.  But that doesn’t mean I have to rate it highly; it’s one of the worst action movies you will ever see, it’s just held together just well enough to enjoy if you choose to enjoy it; it has no real power of its own.

My rating: ★ ★ ⭐︎ ⭐︎ ⭐︎

 


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Movie Review – Godzilla vs. Kong

Category : Movie Review

Director: Adam Wingard

Starring: Rebecca Hall, Alexander Skarsgard, Kaylee Hottle

Millie Bobby Brown, Brian Tyree Henry, Julian Dennison, Demian Bichir

Year: 2021

The Monsterverse has a quality curve that only slightly rises above flat with Godzilla, peaks extremely low with Skull Island and King of the Monsters, then flattens back out again with Godzilla vs. Kong.  This is a franchise that went wholly nowhere, and that’s how history should remember it.  That it looked awesome at times along the way is a fond memory, but not a reason to give these films the credit they do not deserve.  GvsK is a coughing end (if this is the end) to a sputtering series, a row of movies that, I guess, were merely meant to entertain, which they did, but can still be judged harshly for doing absolutely nothing else.

So here is where we stand; Godzilla helped save us from some monsters, a couple times, now is some sort of sleeping savior, and Kong is being held captive on his island because scientists know that if he and Godzilla ever met there would be an epic battle for supremacy over …us.  But something an evil corporation is doing is going to stir the pot; they’re building a technology that agitates Godzilla into attacking, and they need an extra piece that Kong is required to sniff out.  So both monsters are on the move, and it unleashes exactly the cataclysmic events we feared, leading to a confrontation that will decide the fate of lowly mankind.

Once again, all that was necessary was to show us some awesome monster fights, and you ruined it by having stupid people say stupid lines as stupidly as they could.  I know it’s a tough situation; if you had a film of pure explosive chaos critics would say “well I never connected to the characters, what was their motivation, blah blah blah blah blah”, but I’m hear to tell you that it’s OK to say nothing at all if what you have to say is dumb.  It’s like Ross with Cousin Cassie; you probably shouldn’t have said anything.  That’s really the only problem I had with GvsK, but it’s a big one; the humans sucked.  The acting was abysmal, the dialogue was idiotic, and having them scurry around like ants for 2 hours did nothing to help me enjoy the incredible spectacle that was happening meanwhile, which, I’m telling you, was the only reason any of us were watching in the first place.  Keep the human element to a minimum if it’s not going to help anyway, give us a vessel to experience the action through, but let that be the end of the unnecessary “heart” of the film.  Because, otherwise, and like the others, the fighting was badasss, the visuals were killer, I didn’t hate the time I spent watching, I just wish I didn’t have to listen as well.

My rating: ★ ★ ⭐︎ ⭐︎ ⭐︎

 


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Thought – 2021 Oscar Picks

Category : Thought

This Sunday, the Academy Awards!  I’ve very excited about this year’s Oscars; there are a ton of excellent films represented, as well as the annual snubs left out.  It should be a great show (although with a new format for a strange year) and I’m sure I’ll be reacting live during the event on Twitter (@OlieCoen).  You can check out my Oscars page for a complete listing of the nominees in the six major categories, but here are both my predictions and my picks for the best films of 2020:

Best Actor

Best Supporting Actor

Best Actress

Best Supporting Actress

  • WinnerYuh-Jung Youn – Minari
  • Runner-upOlivia Colman – The Father
  • My choiceYuh-Jung Youn – Minari

Best Director

Best Picture

 


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Movie Review – Accepted

Category : Movie Review

Director: Steve Pink

Starring: Justin Long, Jonah Hill, Blake Lively

Year: 2006

Steve Pink wrote Grosse Pointe Blank and High Fidelity, so he deserves our respect, those are great movies.  But it was John Cusack who made them magical, and Pink, as a director, did Accepted, Hot Tub Time Machine, and About Last Night, so maybe not as much magic there.  He’s a writer, not a director, and his less-than-deft hand puppeting Accepted like it was some sort of semi-original idea turns out as poorly as you might imagine.  This is cliché at its worst and film as its saddest; to go with a school metaphor, I give it a D minus.

Bartleby Gaines is a loser who didn’t get into college and that’s the end of his life.  Well, that’s how he feels, that’s what his family thinks, and there don’t seem to be any other prospects, so he really might as well admit that the rest of his existence will suck.  OR, he can fake that he got into a good school, pretend he’s taking classes, even rent a building to fool his parents, and try to get away with the greatest con game in modern Ohio academic history.  It all goes well at first, until real kids start wanting a real education, and real problems arise that could sink B’s entire future.

This was Pink’s first film, so maybe a little bit of forgiveness, but not really when you add all the rest in, because this movie gets terrible in a hurry.  First, it’s a complete rip off of the turn of the century, American Pie tradition: the dork can get the girl, the jock can suck it, friends can come together, girls can go wild, parents are dumb, teachers are dumber, no rules, only skateboards.  You know the drill, and although Superbad came a year later, it’s the far better coming-of-age flick, with a far better Jonah Hill.  He’s not really the problem, he’s fine; it’s Justin Long who doesn’t fit.  What a terrible choice for a lead in a young-adult Adult Comedy, and what a weird pairing with Blake Lively; it’s almost icky.  Also, the things they choose to poke fun at are really problematic, like wouldn’t-fly-today, not at all.  It’s cringe-y, it’s fake-y, it’s not often funny, and it’s mostly a waste of space within the genre.  There aren’t even any naked people, and Lewis Black is no Eugene Levy.

My rating: ★ ★ ⭐︎ ⭐︎ ⭐︎

 


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Movie Review – The Abyss

Category : Movie Review

Director: James Cameron

Starring: Ed Harris, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Michael Biehn

Year: 1989

The Abyss is saved by its finale, although there are multiple, so perhaps I should say that it is saved repeatedly from its multitude of problems by its various endings, which are so damn good that they force you to forget the parts that are so hellishly awful.  Terminator, Rambo, and Alien this is not, but it does have that 80s, Cameron, gung-ho feel, and could have been crafted into a series like those others, all of which James had a hand in creating.  But The Abyss is stand-alone, it falters alone, it succeeds alone, and it ends up working despite times along the way when you swear it won’t.

Deep below the ocean’s surface in a cutting-edge rig works a team of drillers who go farther into the dark trenches than any humans have ever gone before.  But their work and their vessel are commandeered by the military when a U.S. nuclear submarine encounters something odd and subsequently crashes.  Now the entire crew, along with an ooo-rah escort, will encounter the same presence, but determining whether it is friendly or not, whether it is human or now, will be no easy task.

When I first saw The Abyss, it had an ending with a giant wave, but I won’t say more cause I don’t want to give anything away.  This time, there was no wave, the ending was rushed, and I think we missed a bit of the point, so I definitely prefer the extended version, although I didn’t even know that’s what I had originally seen.  Without the extra moral at the end, I feel like the purpose of the entire story is almost nonexistent.  It quickly turns into underwater action, when there’s so much more to the plot that that.  Watched slowly, the reasons for audiences to dive in and be submerged are clear, as are the strong features: the tech, Ed Harris, the subtle romance.  But there are resilient problems that refuse to go away, no matter the ending; most of the acting, some theme theft, a generally perception of being rushed somewhere before we had officially decided to go there.  Abyss is classic, it is good, the emotion toward & at the end is powerful, I will always like it because it’s a sci-fi pillar, but it’s not without its issues.  There are better done around the same time (T2, First Blood, Aliens), although it’s hard to forget what Cameron did here and how hard it must have been to pull off.  Credit where credit is due, but I’m not sure how many more rewatches before quality becomes an issue.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ⭐︎

 


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Movie Review – Cop Car

Category : Movie Review

Director: Jon Watts

Starring: Hays Wellford, James Freedson-Jackson, Kevin Bacon

Year: 2015

Off the top of my head, I’m not sure a movie was ever made better by having Kevin Bacon in it, and the same goes for Cop Car.  I even like the guy, I think he can be fun to watch, maybe Seven Degrees of Kevin Bacon has made him a living legend, but it’s not like we don’t know that he’s not a good actor, and perhaps it’s far past time we face that fact.  Cop Car is an incredible film with a realistic mood and two awesome young professionals …that is then messed up by adding Bacon.

Two young boys, Harrison and Travis, run away from their Colorado home and make for the woods.  They don’t have much of a plan, they’ve got one stick of beef jerky between them, and they’re none too bright, but life has worn them down already and so off into the wild blue yonder.  Along the way, the make an odd discovery; an abandoned cop car.  At first they’re apprehensive, but they are soon driving the cruiser over the prairies, carrying its guns around like lawmen of old.  But the car belongs to a rotten Sheriff, who wants it back, because it holds some real secrets and some living evidence.

Everything with the two kids is magic; everything with Kevin Bacon is a waste of time.  I’m not saying he’s the world’s worst actor, he’s just not the caliber that elevates, and sometimes, like here, he can even bring the mood down with his mediocre mode.  Were I the director, I would have focused on the kids entirely, and perhaps presented the cop as a shadowy figure, a man behind glasses, a presence more than a …Kevin.  As it was, I thought the end was far inferior to the beginning, middle, and overall potential of what was still a pretty marvelous movie.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ⭐︎

 


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Movie Review – Jason X

Category : Movie Review

Director: James Isaac

Starring: Lexa Doig, Kane Hodder, Peter Mensah

Year: 2001

Jason X is kinda like Doom meets Prometheus, with a slasher background that gives it some footing in another genre, if not exactly setting it up for success.  You could also look at it as Friday the 13th meets Lockout, which might be more accurate to how it ends up; bloody and bad.  Twenty years after the original, I guess there was nothing left to do but jump the shark, if you weren’t willing to let the franchise die, which would most definitely have been the humane option.  But no, Jason is buzzed back to life once more, and this time might be the most grueling of all.

After so many killing sprees, Mr. Voorhees has been imprisoned with a plan in place to freeze him for eternity, so he can hurt no one else.  Well, of course he escapes, but only so far, and is then cryo-captured by the plucky Rowan, who is accidentally frozen with him.  Hundreds of years later, their bodies are found by a science team from Earth 2, and brought on board a spaceship for reanimation.  The crew doesn’t know how bad an idea that is until Rowan is awakened and Jason is set loose.  Now they must survive an instinctive killer, and finish him before he can do damage to a new world.

Horror in space, sure, but slashers?  That doesn’t exactly work the same, and this plot was a giant problem from the get go.  We love Halloween, Elm Street, Friday the 13th, but they work for a reason, and that reason is pretty formulaic, not easily adapted to fit into other genres.  Plus, this movie has a talent level problem, in as much as it forgot that actors need talent.  As they were, these professionals seemed more like buffoons running around in the dark, sometimes taking their shirts off, sometimes getting their necks broken.  It’s a bizarre and unnesseccary film, with an insane plot that must have taken a very special crew to craft this badly.

My rating: ★ ⭐︎ ⭐︎ ⭐︎ ⭐︎

 


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Movie Review – Concrete Cowboy

Category : Movie Review

Director: Ricky Staub

Starring: Caleb McLaughlin, Idris Elba, Lorraine Toussaint

Year: 2020

Nomadland 2.0?  Not so fast.  Concrete Cowboy might be an attempt in that same direction, telling us a story about real folks in a many that we can consume, but it’s not nearly up to the standard of a film that should win this year’s Best Picture.  CC will compete after 2021, but it won’t get a sniff of awards; almost everything done was something done wrong, and you’d think with a better movie to copy off of you could create something, well, better.  Want to hear the main problem and the most disturbing part of the film?  Idris Elba is barely in it.  Bold move putting one the world’s best actors in your movie as a main character and then refusing to actually feature them.  Bold.

Cole is a troubled young man from Detroit, and he’s just been kicked out of yet another school.  His mother, who has taken all she’s gonna take, kicks him out as well, gathering up his clothes in trash bags and shipping him unceremoniously to Philly.  That’s where he once lived, with his father, but he hasn’t been there in years; I guess it’s time to relearn the neighborhood.  Oddly enough, his father is really into horses and keeps them in a rundown building, along with a group of other Black wranglers who have crafted a lifestyle as a way off the streets and into something special.  Cole will have to make a choice; dealing drugs with a lowlife friend or tending horses with his dad, because life is all about the paths you choose, and often about the paths chosen for you.

Like Nomadland, Concrete Cowboy is part drama, part documentary, bringing us inside a circle of real people with a real alternate lifestyle, teaching us about what’s out there and what’s possible.  That’s cool an all, that’s interesting, that kind of immersion, but that can’t be all there is.  We need more, like we needed Frances McDormand, and Idris Elba should have been that extra piece, but, very strangely, he was completely MIA.  I don’t know what exactly he was barely in this film, and I didn’t check his total screen time, maybe that technically proves me wrong, but the problem remains; it’s like he’s floating through a story in which is never belonged.  Instead, the highlight is on Caleb McLaughlin, who is a terrible actor, the worst part of Stranger Things by far, and a completely wrong choice for the leading role.  He’s bad, so the story seems bad, so he movie becomes bad, and the entire cycle goes round and round until audiences are spit out at the end wondering what it is we just watched.  I have to assume that’s not what the director was going for, but he might have wanted to make a hundred different choices if we didn’t want that result.

My rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

 


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Movie Review – The Black Cauldron

Category : Movie Review

Director: Ted Berman, Richard Rich

Starring: Grant Bardsley, Susan Sheridan, John Hurt

Year: 1985

I have so much to say about this film I might explode.  Let me begin by noting that I was & am a big fan of the Prydain Chronicles; I read them 30ish years ago, I’ve often revisited them, I’ve read them to my kids, and now my kids are reading them independently, enjoying them just as much as I did & do.  It’s a great fantasy series, building off of Lord of the Rings, as they all are, but also creating a colorful world all its own.  The characters, the quests, the villains, the magic, and at the base of it all a frightened boy who wants to be so much more than a lowly Assistant Pig Keeper; glorious.  But Disney did Lloyd Alexander a disfavor when they turned his books into an animated film, since they obviously didn’t love the source material, didn’t care if it was killed, and only wanted one thing; to turn a profit.  Well, in that case, I’m glad The Black Cauldron will always be known as one of Disney’s absolute worst.

Taran is a farmhand with almost nothing to call his own, other than duties that keep in the pen with Hen Wen, the oracular pig.  The mysterious old Dallben is Taran’s master, and sets him to a special task after Hen reveals the possibility of a dark future.  The Horned King is coming, he wants something called the Black Cauldron, and he thinks Hen Wen can foretell its location for him.  So Taran goes into hiding with the pig, finding many friends along the way: Gurgi the mangy but loyal animal, Eilonwy the talkative and beautiful girl, Fflewddur the silly old minstrel, Doli of the Fair Folk.  But when Hen is captured, all might be lost, unless the companions can find the Cauldron themselves and destroy it, before the King uses its power as a weapon to destroy the free world.

Problem One is the combining of Alexander’s first two novels, The Book of Three & The Black Cauldron, into one movie; there’s simply too much to cram in.  And it’s not like they gave us the story of both books, instead they picked the parts they liked from either and created a new tale, one that resembles the originals but doesn’t mirror them.  In this way, they were able to pull of Problem Two, which is contorting the story into a copy of Lord of the Rings; both unwise and basically impossible.  So the movie doesn’t resemble the books, gets rid of some of the best parts, and fails to pull off the magic readers once felt and wanted to feel again.  Problem Three is that co-director Richard Rich isn’t talented, we know this because he would go on to create Swan Princess and little else.  Now, I like Swan Princess (nostalgia), but it’s not great, and Black Cauldron holds that same feel, some very similar animation, and always feels like a Rich movie rather than a Disney.  With no music to bolster the action, the wheels start to fall off fast, and soon audiences are only left with scraps of cool films, not a singularly special project.  This film was the last straw before a whole new team took over, and incidentally led Disney into its Renaissance: it was time for a change, and The Black Cauldron shows us what crappy work some people turn in on their way out the door.

My rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

 


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Sports – NFL 2021 Old Faces New Places

Category : Sports

The 2021 NFL season is almost here. Before we start predicting who will win what, let’s take a look at the new places that some old faces have landed during the offseason. Here are some free agents and traded players in fresh locations that might change the future of their new clubs:

 

Emmanuel Sanders – WR – Buffalo Bills

Will Fuller – WR – Miami Dolphins

Hunter Henry – TE – New England Patriots

Corey Davis – WR – New York Jets

Kevin Zeitler – OG – Baltimore Ravens

Larry Ogunjobi – DT – Cincinnati Bengals

John Johnson – S – Cleveland Browns

Dwayne Haskins – QB – Pittsburgh Steelers

Tyrod Taylor – QB – Houston Texans

Carson Wentz – QB – Indianapolis Colts

Marvin Jones – WR – Jacksonville Jaguars

Bud Dupree – LB – Tennessee Titans

Kyle Fuller – CB – Denver Broncos

Joe Thuney – OG – Kansas City Chiefs

Kenyan Drake – RB – Las Vegas Raiders

Jared Cook – TE – Los Angeles Chargers

Keanu Neal – S – Dallas Cowboys

Kenny Golladay – WR – New York Giants

Anthony Harris – S – Philadelphia Eagles

Ryan Fitzpatrick – QB – Washington Football Team

Andy Dalton – QB – Chicago Bears

Jared Goff – QB – Detroit Lions

No One – As Always – Green Bay Packers

Patrick Peterson – CB – Minnesota Vikings

Mike Davis – RB – Atlanta Falcons

Sam Darnold – QB – Carolina Panthers

Nick Vannett – TE – New Orleans Saints

Whole Team – Back Together – Tampa Bay Buccaneers

JJ Watt – DE – Arizona Cardinals

Matthew Stafford – QB – Los Angeles Rams

Alex Mack – C – San Francisco 49ers

Gabe Jackson – OG – Seattle Seahawks