Author Archives: ochippie

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Movie Review – Jaws 2

Category : Movie Review

Director: Jeannot Szwarc

Starring: Roy Scheider, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton

Year: 1978

One great thing that can easily be said about Jaws 2 is that it isn’t Jaws 3.  It shouldn’t be required to see a future film in order to appreciate a present one, but that’s just how it is; this movie is in no way Jaws, but at least, thank ygod, it isn’t Numero Tres.  Obviously, when you lose a director like Spielberg you’re in for a drop off, and nothing could have compared with the classic anyway, it was a film that couldn’t be topped, let alone matched.  But they did …fine …with what they had, made a shark flick for our entertainment, and that’s something, if not much.

Chief Brody’s kids have grown up, the town has moved on, but he’ll never forget the monster that terrorized his town, and now dominates his dreams.  He finds himself panicking on the beach, overreacting to fish, and losing control; that shark really did a number on him.  And now, when a few mysterious events take place on Amity, Brody begins to feel certain that another great white has come to the island, although no one believes him.  When his own children become prey to this natural killer, it’s up to him to step up, go out on the water, and face his fears head on.

So, Jaws is partially a horror film, but it’s also so much more, which is what makes it so brilliant.  Jaws 2 makes one big mistake, and that’s only focusing on horror, turning the shark into a slasher, and forgetting the rest.  The result is a horror movie, sure, fun, but the shark is not a knife-wielding psycho, it’s an animal, something the movie forgot and faltered because of.  It turns silly how much the creature is overblown, and it doesn’t allow us to fear it in the same way, resulting in a weird vibe.  Also, the film features far too many 70s teen actors, with no support from more-talented adults, and that creates a beach party/sex romp/camp slasher mood that simply isn’t good.  Scheider does his best, the music still haunts, I guess you can’t blame the cash grab, but there’s just no following such a huge act.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

 


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Movie Review – Synchronic

Category : Movie Review

Director: Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead

Starring: Anthony Mackie, Jamie Dornan

Year: 2019

Benson & Moordead created The Endless, another time-warping drama, but this time around, with Synchronic, they were well-known enough to earn themselves a real budget, so they were able to cast real actors as the leads, not just themselves because they couldn’t pay anyone else.  That extra talent went a long way, and made this film more professional, more smooth, and ultimately better.  Synchronic is time travel sci-fi, a dark look at family, and a sobering experience with death, all wrapped into one surprisingly strong piece of craftsmanship that works wonderfully on a ton of different levels.

Steve & Dennis are a pair of best friends who went to school together, and now are paramedics on the same team, rolling around New Orleans after dark, saving lives and rewarding themselves by partying too hard.  But what they haven’t tried is a new synthetic “designer drug” called Synchronic, which supposedly trips you so hard that you sustain insane injuries or disappear completely.  When both men are faced with separate personal tragedies, their lives become interwoven with the drug, and Steve must step outside himself into a world he doesn’t understand in order to save his best friend’s family before it’s destroyed beyond repair.

I’m gonna give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you know that Mackie & Dornan are much better actors than their famous roles, that they have a lot to offer, and they showcase that here immediately, just in case you didn’t.  The acting in this film is spot on; it’s deep, it’s dark, it’s multi-leveled, it’s boldly blunt and suddenly soft.  These men throw themselves into these roles, and when the story starts to get wacky (because it is sci-fi, after all), they have the ability to move us through the muck to the other side where the plot is cleaner.  Family, friends, death, the purpose of life; it’s all laid on the table here, with a “gimmick” to make it fun, to keep our attention, but with true purpose to drive the action when other features would have failed.  Hats off to all involved; I think this filmmaking team has a bright future.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

 


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Sports – NFL Picks 2021, Week 3

Category : Sports

Here are my NFL Week 3 Picks

(10-6 last week, 19-13 for the season)

Bye teams: none

 

Car @ Hou

Ind @ Ten

Atl @ NYG

LAC @ KC

Cin @ Pit

Chi @ Cle

Bal @ Det

NO @ NE

Ari @ Jax

Was @ Buf

NYJ @ Den

Mia @ LV

Sea @ Min

TB @ LAR

GB @ SF

Phi @ Dal

 


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Movie Review – Jurassic Park III

Category : Movie Review

Director: Joe Johnston

Starring: Sam Neill, Tea Leoni, William H. Macy, Alessandro Nivola

Year: 2001

In some ways Jurassic Park III is better than the disaster that was The Lost World, and in some ways it’s so, so, so much worse.  Regardless, these movies should not have been made, neither this trilogy or the following trilogy; money isn’t everything.  Some films are simply so good, so enjoyable, so iconic, so important to us, that they need to be left alone.  Not franchised, not copied, not rebooted; just let us love what we want to love and stop force feeding us crap.  The Jurassic Park series is among the worst film groups ever crafted, and that makes me so very sad.

After the failure of Jurassic Park, after the dinosaur that got loose in San Diego, Dr. Alan Grant is constantly asked about his adventures, but he would just as soon forget about them.  He says he wouldn’t go to either island no matter the reason …that is until a wealthy couple write him a blank check to go with them for a flyover so they can mark that off their bucket list.  But that’s not their real reason for going, and it’s not going to be a simple flyover; instead we’re back in the jungle, baby, back running for dinos, digging though poop, and trying to stay alive.

So, there really are positives here.  Grant is back, he’s fun to watch, the cast is pared down, which was a good idea, there are a ton of throwbacks to the original, good choice, and the whole film feels more like a homage or a nod or a play off the books, whereas #2 was simply stupid.  But there are bonehead moves too, holy cow, so many of them.  The dinosaurs, both when they are animatronic and CGI, look terrible, and the actors during the action sequences look like puppets.  And then there’s the screaming and the running, especially from Tea Leoni, who just might be the worst actress in history.  It’s still insane, this isn’t a good movie, there hasn’t been one since the first, and I wish they had never played with fire because we all got burned.

My rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

 


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Movie Review – Jurassic Park II

Category : Movie Review

Director: Steven Spielberg

Starring: Jeff Goldblum, Julianne Moore, Vince Vaughn

Arliss Howard, Richard Schiff, Pete Postlethwaite, Peter Stormare

Year: 1997

I remember now why I don’t like Julianne Moore.  I’ve often wondered, because she can be a very good actress, I’ve enjoyed her many times over, she’s quite talented, and yet I simply don’t like her.  And now I’ve remember why; Jurassic Park II.  Or, rather, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, which I guess is a nod to the classic novel about a lost land of dinosaurs, but it’s a stupid title, especially since the next one is really called Jurassic Park III.  Anyway, I digress; Julianna Moore.  It’s her character and performance here that has always thrown me, because, however bad the film is (and it’s awful), she is worse, and makes the stinking pile around her smell that much sweeter.  Still, this is one of the worst action movies you will ever see, definitely one of the worst Spielberg flicks, and it craps out enough on its own without any red-headed help.

Dr. Ian Malcolm has been trying to tell the public all about Jurassic Park; the disasters, the deaths, and the truth.  But Hammond and InGen have been denying the story, until now, when another island is reported to have dinosaur life, and a little girl has been attacked.  A research team in needed to get to the island, understand these creatures, and harness their power; at least, that’s what Hammond wants.  His board of directors want something else; live specimens to bring back to the States, to create an agttraction that will rival the San Diego Zoo and amaze the world.  Problem is, as we already know, nature doesn’t follow man’s rules, and our attempts to conquer a previously-extinct species will fall into ruin once more.

One of the “problems” (and I love the movie, it’s a classic, don’t get me wrong) of Jurassic Park is that it doesn’t feature Goldblum enough.  He & Attenborough & Samuel L are the real stars, because Neill & Dern & the kids aren’t really that good, but the film works anyway because, well, it’s awesome, and Spielberg is a genius.  The famed director decides to lean heavily on Goldblum here in the sequel, which is a great idea; unfortunately the entire rest of the movie blows.  It’s bad, like real bad, with terror around every corner that has nothing to do with the dinos.  I think rock bottom was when the little girl does gymnastics, calls for a raptor’s attention, and then kicks him out a window.  That was the end for me, but, really, nothing had been good up to that point, so what did it matter.  The actors were abysmal, the plot was insane, the ending is insulting, and I hated every minute of this piece of trash.  I remember it not-fondly from the theatre in the 90s, but I really think it’s far worst that I had thought; sometimes sequels suck.

My rating: ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

 


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Movie Review – Star Trek: Insurrection

Category : Movie Review

Director: Jonathan Frakes

Starring: Patrick Stewart, Donna Murphy, Brett Spiner

Year: 1998

If you didn’t know better, you could convince yourself that, while watching Star Trek: Insurrection, you were just watching a two-part episode on TV; there is no difference between this film and the standard, silly, entertaining plots of the beloved television show.  That’s both a good and a bad thing, because these movies have been worse, like the totally ridiculous Generations, and they have been better, like the theatrical First ContactInsurrection falls somewhere in the middle, but it’s definitely an enjoyable experience, if what you were looking for was more TNG action and less of a movie-going experience.

The crew of the Enterprise are surprised to hear that Commander Data has lost control of his impulses while on a mission on a far planet; he blew the Federation’s cover in their attempt to watch a civilization covertly, he attacks the observation team, and the result is that they are taken “prisoner” by the peaceful people there, Data acting as a feral watchdog who won’t let anyone come or go.  Why has he malfunctioned, what secrets does this civilization possess, and why is the Federation so interested?  Captain Picard and his team will attempt to uncover all mysteries while rescuing their friend from danger and keeping the political landscape of the galaxy in its delicate balance.

Frakes scores again, and he really could be considered the savior of the film franchise, because things were going very badly at first, and by all accounts they go very badly when he steps away at the last as well.  But these two movies in the middle are so much fun, so Star Trek, give fans everything they want to see, and he deserves a ton of credit for righting the ship.  This story really is no better or worse than a two-part episode of the show, with the exact same dilemmas and outcomes, the same dynamics and adventures.  It’s so silly, of course, but if you love the show you’ll love this film; it’s just an extension, not a theatrical experiment.  Data returns to form by leaving his “emotion chip” behind and that’s a great choice; Data is one of the best characters just the way he is.  And Picard has all the answers, everyone pitches in, there’s a lovely ending; it’s all I could have asked for in a very safe, comfortable, in-no-way-groundbreaking sort of format.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

 


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Sports – NFL Picks 2021, Week 2

Category : Sports

Here are my NFL Week 2 Picks

(9-7 last week, 9-7 for the season)

Bye teams: none

 

NYG @ Was

NE @ NYJ

Den @ Jax

Buf @ Mia

SF @ Phi

LAR @ Ind

LV @ Pit

Cin @ Chi

Hou @ Cle

NO @ Car

Min @ Ari

Atl @ TB

Ten @ Sea

Dal @ LAC

KC @ Bal

Det @ GB

 


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Movie Review – Green Lantern

Category : Movie Review

Director: Martin Campbell

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard

Year: 2011

I didn’t think Green Lantern was going to be as bad as I had heard, and then the helicopter-on-the-ramp scene happened, and I regretted that I didn’t turn the movie off sooner.  And it was all going so well; Ryan was funny, Blake was sexy, the backstory was neat, the story was interesting, I was in.  But it takes a talented director to keep a runaway train of a film on its cinematic rails once it gets its full head of steam, and Campbell simply wasn’t up to the task.  He let this movie steamroll him, he let it turn goofy, he never harnessed its power, and I guess that’s why everyone makes fun of it.

Hal Jordan is a ballsy test pilot who’s one mistake away from pseudo-suicide; he’s constantly battling the memories of his deceased father and almost welcoming death.  His ex flies beside him, but she’s growing tired of his bullshit, and he’s running out of chances.  But fate has plans other than his death, Hal is destined to be a great hero, he just doesn’t understand that yet.  An intergalactic team of protectors called the Green Lantern Corps need help battling an omnipotent foe, and the power of the Green Lantern chooses Jordon to take up the mantle of Defender of the Sector, whether he wants the responsibility or not.

There are pieces that worked for a time and could have worked all the way to the end, had the writers and the director not flubbed it all up.  Reynolds was fun in an early version of Deadpool, Lively was hot in an otherwise throwaway role, the villains were supremely evil, there was set up for a second film featuring Sinestro, this character could have been a good edition to the Justice League films; we just needed someone talented who could hold the project together when it started to get shaky.  You know who would have been perfect?  Taika Waititi, who is a brilliant director, would go on to helm Thor: Ragnarok, but was, instead, a really stupid & unnesseccary side character for some inane reason.  Campbell can do better, has done better, he just let the comic book lunacy run amok, the effects were awful, the film took on a goof that it couldn’t support, and the project ultimately failed.  I’m almost more mad at this film because I can see something cool underneath the crap; it’s better than Thor 1 or Thor 2 for a time, only to turn disastrous halfway through, and it, sadly, really didn’t have to go down as one of Hollywood’s biggest flops.

My rating: ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆

 


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Movie Review – Toy Soldiers

Category : Movie Review

Director: Daniel Petrie Jr

Starring: Sean Astin, Wil Wheaton, Louis Gossett Jr

Year: 1991

Toy Soldiers is a lot more adult than I remember it being, and I probably shouldn’t have watched it when I was 8, 9, 10, whatever I was; my parents may have been asleep at the wheel.  Honestly, I saw a lot of films when I was young that I shouldn’t have, I think I had a thirst for cinema that trumped any parental restrictions, and, yeah, times were different then as well, there’s that.  But I think this simply made me love movies, and eventually made me into a film critic; what’s a little scarring, anyway?  So at least Toy Soldiers has the distinction of being a cool, boundary-pushing personal experience for me, because it doesn’t have much else going for it, other than some cool teenage action; it’s really not that good from any other angle.

In Columbia, a drug lord’s son leads a hostage takeover in order to get his father out of prison, which doesn’t go very well.  So he sets his sights on the US, where, at a prep school, the son of a judge attends classes and goes through puberty, not knowing that his & his family’s lives are in real danger.  Well, even with that kid eventually moved to protective custody, the drug heir, Luis Cali, takes over the school, demanding his father’s release.  But this is no ordinary boarding school, these kids are rich but mischievous, and they quickly form a plan to defeat the bad guys themselves; they don’t trust authority, can’t stand being told what to do, and would rather kick some ass on the inside than wait to be rescued by adults.

Yeah, I watched this movie too early.  They talk about masturbating, have phone sex, say fuck a lot, people get dropped out of windows to splat below, guys are blown away, heads get holes shot through them; I have no problem with any of these things, bring the sex & sadism on, but man, I probably shouldn’t have seen this when I was 9.  But wow did I enjoy this film then, and I assume a lot of it passed over my head, and I still remember it fondly, AND I became a film critic, so hey.  Looking at the film itself, it’s pretty silly, Red Dawn meets Taps meets Breakfast Club meets Goonies meets Dead Poets Society, a real all-over-the-place experience that’s too far-fetched to accept.  But the cast is fun (Astin, Wheaton, Gossett Jr, Keith Coogan, R. Lee Ermey, Denholm Elliott, Jerry Orbach), the pace is nice, Sean Astin was (very briefly) a bad ass, and was one of my (temporary) heroes, so that’s cool, and Toy Soldiers remains a weird little time capsule that I still enjoy, even though I know it’s pretty bad.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

 


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Movie Review – The Karate Kid

Category : Movie Review

Director: John G. Avildsen

Starring: Ralph Macchio, Pat Morita, Elisabeth Shue

Year: 1984

An all-time childhood favorite, Karate Kid has finally been seen by my children, and it has pasted the test of time.  One the greatest sports movie that we don’t think of as a sports movie, this franchise has been redone to death, but nothing compares to the original; it really is pure magic.  Watching it this time around, as an adult, through my kids eyes, as a film critic, I was struck by the purity of the film, how simply it stated what it wanted to say, introduced us to the characters it wanted to feature, and wasted no time pulling our hearts into a story like no other, a morality tale that I have never and will never forget.

Daniel is an Italian kid from New Jersey who now finds himself on the sunny coast of California, after his mom moves them there for a job.  Daniel is out of place, out of friends, and out of his comfort zone; he doesn’t fit in with these rich blonde kids from the Hills.  But he does meet a girl, Ali, she’s great, so nice; problem is, her ex boyfriend is a real creep, and he & his pack of bullies make life hell for our hero.  The solution; karate, which Daniel knows a little about, but not enough.  An old handyman from Okinawa, who works at Daniel’s apartment complex, reluctantly shows him the ropes, and it becomes a matter of principle, to show this boy what true courage really is, and what true friendship really means.

What a legendary film, one that will bring you to tears if you let it, based solely on the pure heart of the performers, and how much they draw your emotions into the story.  It’s a fairly basic plot on the surface; boy is new to town, meets a girl, falls hard, the bullies don’t like him, he’s got to prove himself, in so doing he learns about himself.  But there’s more to it than that, and maybe that magic is provided by Pat Morita, who plays Mr. Miyagi to perfection.  He’s the real star, he lends the film a certain seriousness, and Daniel’s karate becomes something much more important and meaningful than how we first saw it.  The music, the camaraderie, the classic scenes; it’s a childhood dream and an adult reality, a movie that works to impress kids and delight grownups, all wrapped in 80s glory and lifelong nostalgia.

My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★