Sunday, May 4, 2014

Auntie Em! It's a Twister! It's a Twister!


Kym:

Well, it's twister season, at least.  And this time we thought we'd take a look at tornado related movies.


Rob:

Just in time for 'Sharknado'!  In this Syfy channel classic...




File:Sharknado poster.jpg

"Enought said" indeed, my friends

Kym:

Uh...NO, NO, and again, NO.


Rob:

Yeah, yeah...although it's the only instance I know of where a single tornado is literally the main villain.




Unless you watched "Square One" as a kid.

Kym:

Tornadoes are generally a little too short in length to be a villain for a whole 90 minutes.  Instead, we have movies where they're a means of moving the plot along, or part of a larger environmental problem, or a part of nature that needs to be better predicted/tamed, such as our first movie...





Kym:

Fresh off the success of Jurassic Park, the creators decided to make a similar disaster/nature strikes back movie starring Helen Hunt: Twister!


Rob:

Now with 50% tighter and wetter tank tops!



Four Stars!

Kym:

You always have to go there, don't you?  She's a very good actress!  Although we don't see much of her these days, she won an academy award for 'As Good As It Gets'.


Rob:

Which also had a wet t-shirt scene in it.







As trademarks go, it's a good one.


Kym:

Ugh...anyway, it's a typical team of misfits trying to beat the team of rich jerks in the quest of something something.  This time the 'something something' is tornadoes, and the answer is...


Rob:

Moving out of tornado alley?


Kym:

Nope, Bill Paxton!


Rob:


I bet you were expecting the other Bill.  The Independence Day/Space Balls one.  Sorry folks.


Kym:

Bill Paxton's fine!  Although admittedly...just 'fine'.  Every movie he gives a 'fine' performance in every scene.  He's America's most 'adequate' actor.


Rob:

In this movie, Mr. Adequate is drawn back into the crazy world of tornado hunting/examining in order to finalize a divorce with Helen Hunt, so he can marry a Relationship therapist as average as himself.



Back when a phone in your car meant you were well off.

Kym:

With an 'adequate' performance from her as well, we're shown they're about to unveil their newest invention...which is copied by the bad guy!  The aforementioned rich jerk!


Rob:

Played by Cary Elwes, you almost always gets cast in the 'douchebag' elitist jerk role.  Unless it's the Princess Bride...or a Mel Brooks movie.






Don't forget the Crush!  I wasn't a jerk in that either!


Kym:

Yeah, that's about it for his 'non-bastard' parts.  After that we meet the crew of misfits accompanying our hero.


Rob:

I can't believe none of them get killed.  They're a team composed almost completely of expendable actors!



Kym:

You might recognize quite a few of them.  This movie was an extravaganza of 'character actors' who went on to rich careers.


Rob:

'Rich' is a bit relative, but they certainly had no shortness of work.  The most famous is Dusty up there in the hat, played by the late great Phillip Seymour Hoffman, who in this movie is 200% Jack Black-ier than normal.



Kym:

We also have Alan Ruck, the actor who played 'Cameron' in Ferris Bueller's Day off, and Jeremy Davies, the awkward translator in Saving Private Ryan.


This tornado is completely 'Fubar', sir.


Rob:

'We also have Jake Busey, Gary Busey's son, best known for Starship Troopers, and...well, virtually all of the gang of misfits and jerks alike have had a long career as 'those people who guest starred in that show that one time'


Kym:



Enough with the cast!  On to the flying cows!




WAHOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!


Kym:

All things considered, the special effects hold up fairly well.  It's dated CGI, being almost 20 years old, but all things considered the movie looks quite good.



Rob:

It was also really impressive in the theaters, not only for the SFX, but also because it was around the time THX sound entered theaters, which really added to the experience.  


Kym:


Apparently, at the time it won a 'Razzy' for worst screenplay for a big budget movie, and I think that's a little unfair.  Sure, it wasn't Shakespeare, but it was a fun action-disaster movie that had plenty of funny bits in there as well, all a movie needs to be a summer hit.


Rob:


To be fair, there were some plot holes and silly science in there.  For example, that technology that they 'invented' has been around since the 70's.  The real leap in advancement for tornado warnings came from weather satellites and better response times.

Kym:

Bill Paxton's fiance also had amazing cell phone reception, considering this was before there were cell phone towers outside of major cities, and she was as far away from the city as you can get.


Rob:

Finally, the climactic 'tying ourselves to a pipe as the tornado passes over us' scene.  Not only would that not be enough to hold you, considering that the wind is strong enough to lift a house, but even if it did work, the strap around your waist would've squeezed you like a tube of toothpaste!




Sort of like protecting yourself in a boxing match by tying yourself to a ring post.

Kym:

Regardless, Twister was a lot of fun, and the most 'tornado' themed movie you can get, outside of TV movies.  In other blockbusters, it's sort of a side character, like in....

...





Kym:

Less a tornado movie than an overall 'climate change/disaster' movie, but the tornadoes are one of the most memorable parts.  Of course, this is the sort of movie that uses a LOT of different methods to destroy cities.


Rob:

 When you're director Roland Emmerich, the question isn't 'if you are going to destroy civilization', but 'how'.




How shall we do it this time?  Thousands of giant killer bats?  Hmmmmm....

Kym:

It really is amazing how similar his movies are in overall structure.  I guess if it ain't broke, don't fix it.


Rob:

A lot of the scenes/characters are almost identical to the ones in 'Independence Day' and '2012' though, and generally are similar in his movies overall.  I wish he'd shake things up a little bit.  


Kym:

You have a forgettable President, and then a 'bad' second in command guy take over, either a Secretary of 'fill in the blank', or vice-president, or something.


Rob:

They're never outright evil, but amazingly incompetent, and always disagreeing with our main heroes.










Their mission: to be wrong 100% of the time, show everyone Area 51 (or wherever the important science-y stuff is), get shown up by the hero in the last 15 minutes, and then get fired.

Kym:


Then we have our main hero, who is always a scientific nerd who is miraculously 100% correct all the time, in all situations, and is humanity's only hope of survival.  This time it's Dennis Quaid.  Yay.





The sort of actor that screams: so we couldn't get Harrison Ford?

Kym:

It's funny that they used Dennis Quaid here after using Randy Quaid in the first movie.



I guess 'world's best environmental scientist' was a little outside Randy's reach as an actor.

Rob:

In Emmerich movies there might be a more macho-action-often black hero as well, but they're optional.  For Day After Tomorrow we sort of have one with our hero's son, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, in a part nowhere as deep or complex as his last name.


Kym:

That just leaves the white female characters, who, in Emmerich tradition, do absolutely nothing.


Rob:


The competent female characters in his movies are always black or asian, which is nice, but Emmerich never really seems to know what to do with white women, besides have them care for the sick, do really stupid things that nearly get them killed, and occasionally look worried.





If only there was a man here, to save the day!



You almost drowned!  If only there had been a man here, he could've swum in to help you!


Rob:

On another note, it's funny how quickly CGI becomes 'dated'.  This might have looked great back then, but to my eyes now, the special effects don't look any better than they did in 'Twister'.  In some places, it even seems a bit worse (or at least more unbelievable).


There's a fine line between CGI and a cartoon.  

Kym:

I think we're making the movie sound worse than it actually is.  It's a fun low-brainpower sort of action/disaster movie that we enjoyed, if in a simple sort of way.  There's plenty of fun moments, good action scenes, and interesting 'what if' scenarios...right up until the wolves show up.  What the hell was Emmerich thinking?


Rob:

I guess he wanted to have a new type of threat in the movie.  I only wish he used a sort of danger that made any sort of sense, or fit in a movie about natural disasters.




Climate change!  RAWR!

Rob:

Not to mention how silly it is to have 'cold air' chasing the heroes like a monster...or the most ludicrous idea of them all: reasonable people, including politicians, WATCHING FOX NEWS! 





Thanks, Obama!


Kym:

My husband's snarkiness aside, 'Day After Tomorrow' will definitely give you your action/disaster movie fix, and unlike '2012', there's 100% less John Cusack!


Rob:

SAINTS BE PRAISED!




Forget what we said, Dennis!  We love you just the way you are!

...





Rob:

One of the classic, all time great family movies is finally here!  You knew we'd get to it eventually.  It's also one of the few old epic live-action musicals still watched today.


Kym

We've all seen this one.  If you haven't, stop reading and go watch it now. We'll wait.


Rob:

*Hums 'Girl from Ipanema' for a while*


Kym:

Okay, that's long enough.  This movie's such a classic there's no point in reviewing it the way we normally do, so instead we're going to watch for the little details.  The first is the most obvious: the movie's sort of sepia/tan to begin with, instead of the normal black and white.


Rob:

It's a nice touch to emphasize the ruddiness of Kansas, especially since we're still around the time of the dust bowl...which is generally not a great time/place to be.  Seriously, for all you time travelers out there: you can do better.




Somewhere over the rainbow...or anywhere. Literally anywhere besides here.


Kym:

It's also nice because it was a time where 'color' was by no means guaranteed in movies.  It popped up here and there, but it wasn't strange at all to still see plenty of movies in black and white.


Rob:

Well you know how it goes, we're introduced to Dorothy, her family, the friendly yard workers (that bear a striking resemblance to 3 other characters), and HER LITTLE DOG TOO!



Kym:

Which of course leads us to the evilest bitch this side of Kansas, Almira Gulch!  Long story short, to protect Toto, Dorothy runs off and meets the traveling fortune teller, Professor Marvel.


Rob:

Then she asks to run away with him...then she gets into his carriage...and at his request, sits down and closes her eyes.  Huh.


Kym:

The the most 'street smart' girl in Kansas, that's for sure.


Rob:

Let's just all be glad that Marvel is a nice guy.


Kym:

Yeah, that carriage was basically the 'old Kansas' equivalent of a windowless, unmarked van.



He didn't even have to promise her candy first.

Kym:

He convinces her to run back home, and then suddenly IT'S A TWISTER!


Rob:

We're finally here, to Hollywood's most famous tornado!


Kym:

Which was marvelously done, all with practical special effects, mainly done with a long fabric tube, fans, and masterful direction.




Honestly, a lot more believable than the ones in 'Day After Tomorrow'


Kym:

We then have the classic 'house flying in a tornado scene', filled with lots of cool and weird moments.


Rob:

There's even another flying cow...which no pictures exist of on the internet, apparently.  I tried googling wizard of oz flying cow, and got this instead:





Kym:

Google, you failed us!!!  We're going to Yahoo!


Rob:

No we aren't.


Kym:

Yeah, I guess not.


Rob:

Anyway, in that flying sequence we get our first glimpse of one of cinema's greatest villains, the Wicked Witch of the West!



"Well, my little pretty, I can cause accidents too!" 

Rob:

She delivers that line so well, it could've easily been in a movie about the Mafia.


Kym:

There's a reason why Margaret Hamilton is considered the iconic witch, and what everyone thinks of when they think of witches, even to this day!


Harry Potter characters aside.

Rob:

After that, Dorothy crushes a different witch with her house, and all Munchkinland celebrates...wait, are those Munchkin children sleeping in a giant nest?

 
Kym:

Apparently yes.  Sure would like to know the reasoning behind that scene.


Rob:

Then we meet Glinda, the good witch...which is sort of a shady character, actually.  She convinces Dorothy not to give the Wicked Witch her shoes, but then sends her off alone, without any direct help.  


Kym:

No, she helps them in the poppy field, by making it snow.


Rob:

But why not help them more directly?  Personally, I think she's manipulating everyone behind the scenes, knowing that Dorothy's quest will remove both the Wicked Witch and Oz from power, allowing her to manipulate Scarecrow, and control all of Oz!




Oz is mine, ALL MINE!  
I mean...just click your heels three times...


Kym:

Like many family fantasy stories, you just have to take it at face value, and trust that the benevolent magical figures are what they appear to be.  Let's move on to the road, where one by one, Dorothy meets cinema's greatest group of side-kicks.


Rob:

Starting with the Scarecrow, who not only is a fine actor, but does a great dance routine (check the DVD extras for the extended version, it's great!), but has an amazing costume/makeup job to boot.  




The transition from 'head to rope to ruffles' holds up well even by today's standards.

Kym:

By comparison the Tin Woodsman's outfit is a bit more clunky and awkward.  It looks fine on its own, but you can clearly see that he has trouble moving in it, which greatly limits what he can do.


Rob:

I found it weird that his leggings don't cover his crotch/rear end at all, instead having him wear silvery underwear instead.



Just be thankful they didn't use another funnel.


Kym:

His makeup and nose also look a bit weird, but their original plan almost killed Buddy Ebsen, so you can't really blame them.


Rob:

One last thing with the Woodsman...who the hell said 'where fore art thou, Romeo' during his song?  It's just an otherworldly female voice that everyone clearly hears.


Kym:

Again, it's a fantasy movie, but it was a very odd choice, given that they could've just had one of the others (or himself) say it.  Instead we just get a weird otherworldly voice...


Rob:

The Cowardly Lion also was a great makeup/costume job, especially with the tail, which has a lot of movement to it.



And by far the funniest performance of the group.

Kym:

All our hero's travels are watched by the Wicked Witch and her flying monkey.  Hey, what's that weird round golden thing in that monkey's hand?



Best shot I could find. It's in the monkey's left hand. Sort of looks like...




Rob:

Wait a minute...what?


Kym:

Yup, pretty sure that the flying monkey is holding Professor Marvel's swami hat from Kansas, which is a really weird object for him to be holding.  Makes me wonder if they just threw it onto the set, and he randomly grabbed it during his 'monkey improving'.


Rob:

Anyway, around this time in the movie, Dorothy gets a new hairstyle, which is sort of a shame.  I really prefer her original Kansas look over her other one.


Cool hipster-alternative look.



Typical 12 year old's haircut. Meh.

Kym:

Then Dorothy gets captured and they have to get past the witch's cool Cossack-like guards.  I always liked their random look, and the good guy's (surprisingly) successful attempt to blend in with them.




Nailed it.

Rob:

Kind of makes you wonder why they didn't just shoot their way in.  The Scarecrow has a gun, after all.


A six shooter?  I think there's more bad guys than that.

Kym:

It's such an odd prop to give him, considering that there's no other guns anywhere else in the movie.


Rob:

Well, they do well enough with a bucket of water.  They beat the witch, and were immediately loved by everyone, even the witch's guards!


Kym:

Man, EVERYONE hated that bitch.


Rob:

Then they reveal the man behind the curtain, who was portrayed by the really funny Frank Morgan.   Loved his comic timing (he was also most of the guards in the city of Oz, and the amazing Marvel).


Kym:

Then Scarecrow becomes ruler of all Oz!  Then Dorothy makes things really awkward by saying she'd miss him more than anyone else.


Rob:

That line's actually left over from an older version of the script, where Dorothy and Scarecrow have a little bit of a romance together, with Dorothy then winding up with the farm hand played by the same actor.  That idea got scrapped when they cast a very young Dorothy. 


Kym:

Good thing, as that would've been really weird no matter how you did it.  Human and scarecrows weren't really meant to be together.



Would've made 'Twilight' more interesting, though.

...

Kym:

This is where we usually list weird facts about the movies, but that was more or less all we did, especially with the Wizard of Oz, so here's a few random facts about tornadoes.


Rob:

They happen in the United States more often than anywhere else in the world, by far, with 1300 a year in the US alone, and killing 60 people a year.  The primary cause for this is due to our country's geographical closeness to Oz.


Kym:

Seriously though, it actually has to do with Thor.  But not the ancient God, only the Chris Hemsworth one.


Rob:

Or God simply hating middle America.  Or cold air combining with warm air in low pressure systems, and the rapidly rising/descending air causing a spinning funnel to form.  One of those reasons.


Kym:

I'm sticking with Thor.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Much Ado About Vampires


Kym:

Remember when they needed an entire store in order to rent out movies?


Rob:

Of course, I used to even work at one.   



You do not know how hard it is to squeeze inside one of those things.


Kym:


Due to snow, family emergencies, snow, random drama, SNOW...*AHEM*...we didn't get out to the movies as much as we wanted to this past season, so we thought we'd go over some movies available now at Red Box, which are well worth the cheap rental price.


Rob:

I especially loved the part where we spent a buck and change rather than the price of two movie tickets.



I give my $30 Four Stars!

Kym:

When it comes right down to it, some movies don't intrigue us enough to warrant paying full ticket price for, but are worth a shot as a rental, especially now that rentals are cheaper than ever!


Rob:



Red Box: because 90% of the movies on Netflix suck.



...


Rob:



A Joss Whedon film?  This must be the Shakespeare in the park that Tony Stark was referring to.  Any chance we'll find out if Thor's mom knows that he's wearing her drapes?


Kym:

That will be very difficult to tell, because although Whedon updated the setting to a modern mansion, the original Shakespearean text is preserved, which is a fancy way of saying: 'what the hell are they saying?'.


Rob:

This is where we disagree.  I personally like Shakespeare, but I have to admit that his comedies, like this one, do not hold up as well as his dramas.


Kym:

Comedies usually need context, and so they don't age well.  Even when I understood what was going on, the jokes still tended to fall flat.  Most of them boiled down to 'I don't like you, I don't like you either, *they make out*' or 'stupid ridiculous guy is stupid and ridiculous'.







Hilarious....


Rob:


Basically, it's your average episode of 'Friends' in olde English.


Kym:

Although it's not my kind of movie, and I REALLY wish he updated the words to modern English, I do see why he made it the way he did, sort of as an artistic experiment.  I also really like that he put it together so quickly, filming over a period of 12 days, and it's very obvious that everyone had a great time filming it.


Rob:

I also really enjoyed the 'look' of the movie, as the black and white palette worked quite well set against the beautiful mansion.  There's also great lighting, cinematography, and (classy) sexuality.




The above dance being symbolic of "bow-chick-a-wow-wow"


Kym:


My favorite part was definitely the cast.  It was fun to see so many familiar actors all acting together in a more serious/artistic movie.


Rob

Yeah, it really gives it a 'community theater' feel, where you personally know most of the actors in it.






Does thou enjoyeth my work upon the TV?




Verily!
Kym:

Regardless, when everything's said and done, I still can't understand 98% of what they're saying.


Rob:

Yeah, so unless you're a Time Traveler or a theater major, you'll have to watch this one with the Spark Notes open on your laptop.


Kym:

All in all, I think it's much better 'art' than it is 'entertainment'.  Still, I'm glad they made the movie, and it was fun watching it for a bit.


...



Rob:

I feel a disturbance....as if a milllion boyfriends suddenly said 'okay, let's get this over with'.


Kym:

This movie actually worked a lot better than the incredibly slow paced 'part 1'...almost as if they should have been combined into one movie...


I'm looking at you, dude.

Rob:

The ultimate culprit for this 'split into multiple movies' fad is of course Harry Potter 7 part 2: We Kill the Guy We've Been Killing for 6 Movies.


Kym:

They had good reason though, as there was simply nothing to cut out.  Whereas the middle movies lost most of the Quidditch, a bunch of teen angst, and (thankfully) Hermoine's Elf obsession, there was just too much material for one movie there.


Rob:

Never being ones to pass up a cash grab, now we have extra Hobbit's, Atlas Shrugged's, and of course Twilights, and unfortunately they put all the boring crap into the first Breaking Dawn.


Kym:


Now everything comes to life, with Kristin Stewart seeming more awake and acting more than I've seen her in any movie prior!


Rob:

Now she has the energy for ten times the pot smoking and infidelity!



Able to bang a dozen directors!

Rob:

Sort of makes you wonder why they didn't turn her into a vampire earlier.  I mean, was there really a good reason they waited?


Kym:

Maybe before the dangerous bedroom destroying sex?  Or before the final battle at the end of Eclipse?





Could we use one more super strong vampire when we fight them? Nah...


Kym:

Yeah, there was about a hundred earlier times that made more sense, but this way they can have a half-vampire baby, which is a pretty weird concept.


Rob:

Almost as weird as Jacob imprinting on her.   That's probably my least favorite twist in the series.  Not only is a shameless attempt to give everyone a happy ending, but having a full grown man fall passionately in love with a small child is also a bit...uh...how should I put it?


Kym:

Wrong on every conceivable level?


Rob:

There you go.



Jacob is currently the only werewolf on a government watch list

Rob:

They did add a new twist by having more vampires with weird powers, which did liven things up a bit, and keep it from being too similar to the end fight in Eclipse.


Kym:

I wasn't as crazy about it.  I don't mind having weird powers, but they seemed less 'dark' or 'vampiric', and more like wannabe X-Men.



New Movie Idea: X-Men + Twilight = "Vampire Academy"!  Oh wait...


Rob:

Wow, we have a lot of random issues with this movie, although the largest is that her father, a cop, hasn't called the FBI after the weird cult-like family starts hiding her from him.  To call him ridiculously understanding and accepting is selling things WAY short.


Kym

Yeah, they're lucky he didn't show up with a gun and a Swat team.



Hey Bella, ever seen the movie 'Taken'?


Kym:

Despite the issues, the ending is suitably epic, with twists, turns, and awesome action...


Rob:

With all the vampires they had to personally find in Europe one by one, because apparently no one is on Facebook or owns a mobile phone.


Kym:

Trying to focus on the positive here...although yeah, there really isn't a single cell phone in any of these movies, is there?  Oh well, let's focus on...


Rob:

THEN the guy with the elemental powers pointlessly waits until the end of his fight to use his powers.  Also, even though they know where the fight will be they don't set any traps.  Not to mention they STILL haven't weaponized the body parts of dead vampires, which would easily convert into a pipe bomb-like...


Kym:

MOVING ON.


Rob:

Yes, dear.



Kym:

A whole lot of action!  A resolution to everything!  A giant happy ending!  What more could you ask for?


Rob:

4 hours of my life back?  Specifically, from the even numbered movies.





No one looks more relieved that the series is over than Robert Pattinson.


Kym:

As our criticism might suggest, it's not a perfect movie by far, but it's an adequate ending and a hell of a lot better than Breaking Dawn part 1.


Rob:

Eh, it's alright, but the only one I really liked was Twilight 1, which was at its heart a highly dysfunctional love story, which is interesting, to say the least.  Four movies later, and boyfriends worldwide can finally move on...


...


Kym:

Tom Hanks never seems to have a very good time whenever he goes out to sea.


Rob:

And this time he doesn't even get a volleyball to console him.


Kym:

Instead he gets Somali pirates. Yikes!



Not quite as wacky a team as Cool Runnings

 Kym:

Tom Hanks really should've gotten a best actor Oscar nomination for his role here.  He really did a great job of adding tension and believability to the role.  The actors playing the Somali pirates were also really good as well.


Rob:

The rest of the cast was just sort of 'present'.  We never really learn anything about them, and for 90% of the movie they're either hiding or having a gun pointed in their face.






Alright everyone, your motivation is 'not wanting to be shot'

Kym:

What really adds to the story is the time spent with the pirates before they attack the ship.  Not only does it help make everything seem more real, and the pirates more dangerous, but it gives a little back story and context to the plot.



Rob:

Basically, the pirates are at least partially victims of circumstance.  The large commercial fishing vessels take most of the fish along the coast, and they haven't had a stable government in ages, so pirating is really the only opportunity they have left.


Kym:

Not that this is any consolation to their victims, of course.


You should feel guilty for your extravagant lifestyle AND get the f*ck on the ground!  Multi-task!


Kym:


If you only see one of the movies listed here, I'd definitely make it Captain Philips.


Rob:

From beginning to end, Tom Hanks gives us an Oscar worthy performance, and even if the back story is a little light at times, you see the depth of his character in the way he deals with his struggle.


...

Rob:

Weird fact time!  Taylor Lautner, the actor who played Jacob in the Twilight movie, has a rare medical condition that keeps him from wearing a shirt for more than 45 minutes at a time.


Kym:

Not true, but I wouldn't mind if it was.


Rob:

Let's just call it 'unverified'.  Some verified facts include the BIZARRE ways Breaking Dawn part 1 + 2 chose to portray Renesmee, Edward and Bella's baby.  They chose to use both CGI and animatronic dolls when portraying her as a baby, which was nothing short of a sixty foot plunge directly into the uncanny valley!




Kym:

It's amazing how much effort went into making something that looked so terrible in the end.  I really wish they'd just stuck with a normal baby.


Rob:

For some reason they were absolutely obsessed with having the child look like the actress Mackenzie Foy at EVERY stage of its life, going as far as having 10 actresses of different ages portray her, with Mackenzie's face CGI'd over theirs each time.  Again, the results were at worst: horrifying, and at best: no better than just using a different actress for each age without any CGI.



Kym:


Maybe its not just us.  Being half vampire, she just might look a bit horrifying.  Its not as if Bella or Edward would care if she was.


Rob:

I'm pretty sure Edward was just thrilled that the baby didn't have tan skin, dark hair, and perfect abs.