Real Movie Reviews

That's right folks--because you can't always believe what you read in the papers, and you can't trust a movie preview in its entirety either--I bring you truthful, honest to heaven REAL movie reviews.  Provided by a great movie enthusiast--absolutely the greatest I know--Ryan Foley.

Foley's Blue Light Special

Feel free to email me your thoughts, opinions, grieviences, and pledges to "The Man" and his reviews!!!

March 24, 2002-- I was lucky enough to get a peek at Blade II down in Tulsa this weekend. First off, I was a big fan of the first film so maybe I am a bit biased. However, if there was a rule for sequels to “kick it up a notch,” then BAM! Blade II takes that rule and smashes through the ceiling.
Blade II is a slam-bang action thriller from start to finish. The martial arts are better, faster, and more intense. The story is about 10 times scarier. And the overall film, I would dare say, is better.
The first film had to establish characters like Blade and Whistler. Such stories are not necessary for the sequel so you get to advance the film about ten times as fast. The film keeps very focused and tight camera angles to put you right in the middle of the story.
There is deception, treachery, and all out action. There are several key fight sequences but the film does well topping each fight with the next battle. It incorporates a dazzling array of martial arts, good old fashion street fighting, and even a few wrestling moves! (Yep, Snipes give one guy a fairly intense Suplex.) If you like bloody fight-scenes and a nonstop action, give Blade II a whirl. And you don’t really need to have seen the first one to enjoy it. They pretty much catch you up with the whole story in the first five minutes.
Definite thumbs up!

March 2, 2002--  For the most part, I want to be entertained when I go to the movies. My personal preference is to watch a movie that shows me something I could never see in real life. This is why I tend to gravitate towards Science Fiction and Fantasy films. I want to see Jedi holding lightsabers, knights riding on the backs of dragons, and adolescents playing rugby on flying broomsticks.
But every once in a while, a movie comes along, completely set in real life and based on real events, that quite simply needs to be seen by everyone. It is a monumental achievement in film. Sometimes, films raise the bar for special effects. (Star Wars and The Matrix leap to mind.) Others are so large in scope and scale that seeing it on the big screen is the only way to see it. (Lord of the Rings and Titanic are prime examples.)
But then, some movies come along and do not necessarily raise the bar as far as effects and technical achievement but they have a certain X Factor that make you say, "That is the perfect example of why they make movies." It is just simply a great film but you cannot put you finger on exactly what made it such a memorable film.
We Were Soldiers is one of those movies.
Quite simply, I think this has been one of the best movies of 2002 thus far. Unlike many war movies that tends to romanticize combat, this film makes you sit in your seat saying, "Thank God I have never been through anything like this."
Like Black Hawk Down, this movie drops you right into the middle of the action and puts you right on the battlefield. While both movies are clearly different from each other, they both have similar story lines and situations. There is no doubt that these two movies will be compared to each other. I am not sure if it was Mel Gibson or Chris Klein but I actually enjoyed We Were Soldiers better than Black Hawk Down.
The score is tremendous and I will be shopping for it soon. (Note: I said the score not the soundtrack.) The sound is flat out incredible. With all the bullets whizzing past you head and bomb explosions, the movie leaves you ducking in your seat.
However, the biggest surprise is Sam Elliot. I don’t know what an actor has to do to get a Best Supporting Actor nomination but in my opinion, he clearly deserves one for this film. Every line of dialogue that he gives is perfect.
I was not going to say the same thing about Mel Gibson until his speech with Barry Pepper. (I won’t say what it is in case you have not seen the movie but you will know it when you see it.)
I think that when it is time to educate my boys on the horrors of war and the brotherhood of soldiers, this will be one of the first movies that I show them…

February 14, 2002--  Isn't it wierd how you can go on a dry spell where nothing comes out in the theaters that you want to see and then suddenly, there is a flood of great looking movies?
Well looks like Hollywood isn't sitting back on their heels to wait until summer to roll out some blockbusters. Here is what I've seen and what I am looking forward to:
Collateral Damage: Do I even have to go into a tirade about how great Arnold is? Okay, I will hold back on that. CD is a really cool movie. None of the action is over the top or unbelievable but it is still a quality action film. Admittedly, as a father of two young boys, it was pretty tough to watch Arnold's wife and child be killed in an explosion. Yet, Arnold actually pulls off an incredible acting job when his family is killed.
One of the best parts is the dialogue between Arnold and the bad guy when the bad guy tells Arnold that when he first met him, Arnold had the look of someone who saves lives but he had become a man that was willing to kill. Interesting twist on the whole action hero genre.
Rollerball: Don't bother. Easily McTiernan's worst film. I went to go see it for Chris Klein (American Pie) to see if he could become an action star. It just could have been a great movie but it had a terrible script and went in the wrong direction. I won't say more for fear of ruining parts. If you have seen it, e-mail me and we can discuss it.
Some interesting movies coming soon.
On Friday, look out for Hart's War and John Q. Hart's War is the Bruce Willis WWII movie that I have talked about before. I really want to see John Q. It is the movie where Denzel Washington takes a hospital hostage to get his son on a donor transplant list. Washington vs. James Woods, Robert Duvall, Anne Heche, and Ray Liotta. Holy Cow!!!
On March 1st, Mel Gibson has a movie coming out called We Were Soliders. This is probably the one I should have waited to see Chris Klein in. It has a pretty big cast and is directed by Randall Wallace. Hmmm... What was the last movie Wallace and Gibson did together. I can't remember. What was it? Oh yes, I remember now... BRAVEHEART!
Okay, Wallace only wrote Braveheart but he directed The Man in the Iron Mask. Look for that one to be really good.
Well that and THE SCORPION KING in April. Yep, some good movies on the horizon...
Just think, Spider-Man and Star Wars are about three months away!!! See you at the movies...

January 26, 2002--

Mr. Deeds. This is Adam Sandler’s latest movie about a hometown boy inheriting a big New York company. Looks pretty funny and Sandler continues his approach to appeal to the largest possible audience. I am sure there will be crude humor but nothing too offensive. Like all his movies, Sandler’s character is the title. Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison, Big Daddy (okay, technically he was the Big Daddy) and Little Nicky.
Rollerball. This is a remake of the old 70s movie, obviously hyped up for the new Millennium. It stars Chris Klein from American Pie (See, I told you he could do action), Jean Reno from Godzilla and Ronin, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos (X-Men) and LL Cool J (Deep Blue Sea, Any Given Sunday). It is from director John McTeirnan but don’t expect him to pull off his Die Hard or Hunt for Red October directing style. This looks filled with action sequences and a lot of extreme sports stunts. Look for the same style he used in Predator and The 13th Warrior.
Signs. This was just a teaser preview, showing very little but it stars Mel Gibson in a project written and directed by M. Night Shamayalan about crop circles. After seeing what he did with The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, this is definitely looking theater worthy.
Hart’s War. The end of World War II. A German Prison Camp. A Murder. A Military Court Marshal and Trial. And throw in that the trial is just a cover up to allow the soldiers to break out of the prison… Then throw in Bruce Willis as the commanding officer of the imprisoned troops. Yep, this one could be big.
So with all that said and done, on the review…
Black Hawk Down is the true story of a U.S. military insurgence in Somalia back in 1992 during the food riots and the battle for supremacy amongst battling warlords. The U.S. Army Rangers and Delta Force agents converged on a building in Mogadishu in an attempt to capture agents of the top warlord. When their Black Hawk helicopters are shot down, one hundred U.S. soldiers find themselves surrounded by five-thousand armed militia.
Critics are raving and I heard the radio stations saying to imagine the first forty-five minutes of Saving Private Ryan stretched out through an entire movie. I would have to say that their assessment is pretty much dead on.
One of the stand-outs for the film is the characters. In many ways, Black Hawk Down resembles films like Star Wars or Enemy of the State where the film is just steeped in character after character of likeable individuals. You love every single solider character in the battles (the militia pretty much remain faceless) and I would bet dollars to donuts that many people will walk out liking all sorts of different characters.
(I personally liked the snipers who went down to the chopper against advice [you will know them when you see them] and the leader of the Delta Force teams played by William Fictner. He played NASA pilot Willie Sharpe in Armageddon.)
There are so many actors in this film but it is not really an All-Star Cast. The only real notables are Josh Hartnet (Pearl Harbor), Ewan McGregor (Star Wars), Tom Sizemore (Saving Private Ryan), and Sam Shepard (Swordfish). It is filled with people that you will recognize from other films but will not know their names. You will probably be saying things like: "Hey, he was the bad guy in The Patriot." "He was Legolas in Lord of the Rings." "He was in Under Siege." "That was the stuttering guy in Pearl Harbor." "He was in White Squall." And so forth. I think this will be a film that people will look back on a few years from now and say this was a break out movie for a number of stars.
One of the things about the film is that there are no Schwarzenggers or Stallones in the fact that no soldier is incredibly heroic over any other. All the action is incredibly realistic and accurately portrayed. It puts you right in the middle of the battlefield and refuses to let go.
It is cool to compare Black Hawk Down with Saving Private Ryan just from a technological standpoint. In SPR, they would rally at the beach and then radio in what would happen to the superiors. In BHD, the troops had support from eyes in the skies and on-sight helicopters to coordinate their movements. Very cool.
But in the end, the movie is really just another war movie. It does kind of leave you with a been-there-done-that sort of feeling but it is still a good movie. It is more of a feel good film in the sense that it shows the indomitable spirit of the U.S. armed forces. No man gets left behind, be all you can be, and those types of slogans.
Look for Oscar nominations for Sound, Sound Effects Editing, and maybe (on a long shot) best Special Effects.
All and all, Black Hawk Down is definitely theater worthy for all the whiz-bangs and bullets zipping around your head. It is a good war movie that Hollywood just doesn’t make much any more.
Ryan’s Rating: 3.75 out of 5.

January 22, 2002--     
A few people have been asking so here is a recap for you of the best movies of the last three years according to the Real Man’s Movie Critic!

1999 Top Ten Movies
1 The Phantom Menace
Critics be damned! I loved this movie. Jedi. Lightsabers. Queens and Knights. Sci-fi Fantasy… I say thee nay… The movies at its best.
2 The Matrix
While not necessarily original, this story put elements (and special effects) together in ways that has never been seen before. In a word… Whoa.
3 Tarzan
Cartoon-schmartoon. Tarzan (while not as good as The Lion King) brought us the single greatest animated character ever.
4 The Sixth Sense
One of the best thrillers ever made. You know it was a success because of how much it has been spoofed… Well that and Haley Joel Osmet should have gotten an Oscar.
5 Dogma
Irreverant, goofy, and yet subtly having a wonderful undertone, this is the best movie Kevin Smith has ever done. And it had a rubber poop monster…
6 Fight Club
Wholly original. I have never… and the Ryan means EVER… seen a movie like this before. Even better the second time around!
7 Sleepy Hollow
Tim Burton is one of the most visually impressive directors in Hollywood. Every shot was a framed piece of art. Stunning telling of one of America’s few fairy tales.
8 End of Days
C’mon. Arnold versus the Devil. How can you get a bigger battle than that? Original role for Schwarzenegger in a perfect time to take advantage of the Y2K scare.
9 Galaxy Quest
At the same time, it spoofed and honored Star Trek yet was still quirky and very original. Should have gotten an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay.
10 Toy Story 2
Buzz Lightyear holds the greatest entrance since Schwarzenegger in T2 way back in 1991. One of the few sequels to be better than the original!

2000 Movies
1. The Patriot
How could you come away from this movie and not want to go butcher some redcoats? Large in scope, epic battle sequences, yet you were still emotionally invested in the characters. Like its name, the Patriot made me feel incredibly… well patriotic.
2. X-Men
Not since Batman have such a beloved group of comic book heroes come to life on the screen. More of mental movie than an action film, X-Men was not only a great film but opened the doors for projects like Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, Daredevil and, of course, X2.
3. Charlie's Angels
The creation of a group of femme fatales took the 70’s TV concept to a whole other level. Outstanding effects sequences and funny humor made this a fun ride.
4. Legend of Bagger Vance
Bagger was not the best movie of the year but definitely the "feel good" movie of the year. Two scenes in the movie still make me cry to this day because they are so absolutely perfect. This is where Will Smith should have gotten an Oscar.
5. Remember the Titans
The best sports movie since Rudy and yet it wasn’t really about sports. Makes Rodney King’s "Can’t we all get along" statement look like a pile o’ puke.
6. The 6th Day
Many people passed on this movie thinking it was going to be a Total Recall rehashed. Could not have been more different. Arnold continues to prove he is the best movie star in Hollywood.
7. Mission Impossible 2
John Woo turned this series on its ear with his trademark style. Filled with incredible stunts—most performed by Cruise himself—proving he can still pull off the action hero.
8. Pitch Black
The sleeper sci-fi hit of the year that in my eyes cemented Vin Diesel as one of the premier action heroes in Hollywood. Creepy, scary, and tense, this is the best movie most people have never seen.
9. O Brother Where Art Thou?
About absolutely nothing, filled with dumb subtle humor, and at times downright silly, this was just a great movie. This is the first movie where I saw George Clooney as his character, not as George Clooney playing a character.
10. The Contender
This is everything you come to expect from a drama with a great ending that wasn’t a shocker but leaves you breathless. Hollywood doesn’t make many political dramas but if it did, this one would set the bar too high.

Ryan’s Top Ten Movies of 2001
Here it is. The much anticipated review of 2001 for the film industry and the Top Ten Movies of the year! We have a number of comedies, a few kids movies, and a number of thrillers rounding out the list. In case you missed these in the theaters, be sure to check them out now or look for them on video. So read on as I count them down!

#10 Spy Kids Released: 03/30/01
Starring: Antonio Banderas, Robert Patrick, & Alan Cumming
What? Spy Kids? Yep, from the acclaimed writer/director of Desperado and the director of From Dusk Till Dawn and The Faculty came a distinctively different film. Robert Rodriguez has created a cool children’s film that adults will really enjoy.

#09 Along Came a Spider Released: 04/06/01
Starring: Morgan Freeman, Monica Potter, & Michael Wincott
Not a sequel but the second Alex Cross novel brought to life on the big screen, Along Came a Spider is a perfect thriller filled with twist, turns, and a perfect showcase of Morgan Freeman’s exceptional acting talents.

#08 Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back Released: 08/24/01
Starring: Jason Mewes, Kevin Smith & Ben Affleck
The supposed last hurrah of the characters Jay and Silent Bob, Kevin Smith’s movie is about a pair of loser drug dealers from Jersey that make a cross country trek to destroy the production of a film that ripped off their licensing rights. The movie is as insane as the premise and filled with great Smith humor.

#07 Tomb Raider Released: 06/15/01
Starring: Angelina Jolie
For the first time since Alien and G.I. Jane, Hollywood developed a potential franchise featuring a powerful female action hero. Lara Croft is a reinvented and gender switched version of Indiana Jones. While the movie failed to capture that Indy flare, it was still great to see one of my favorite all time characters brought to life on the big screen.

#06 Monsters Inc. Released: 11/02/01
Starring: Voices of Billy Crystal, John Goodman, and Steve Buscemi
Disney cannot make a bad film. Computer-generated animation is leaping incredibly and Monsters Inc. is one of the best looking films of the year with a surprisingly good story. I would put the chase using the "doors" (if you have seen it you know) up against any live action sequence. And the fact that the characters are named Mike, Sullivan, and Randal make the movie even better.

#05 American Pie 2 Released: 08/10/01
Starring: Jason Biggs, Chris Klein, & Tara Reid
Sometimes, you just want to be entertained going to the movies. You just want bust-a-gut belly laughs. That is exactly what AP2 delivered. This movie is a true sequel, being a perfect continuation of the story. I thought that the first American Pie was going to be just a skin flick but it turned out to be a great coming-of-age film. AP2 just continues a great story.

#04 Swordfish Released: 06/08/01
Starring: John Travolta, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry & Don Cheadle
Critics slammed this movie but I absolutely loved it. Newcomer Hugh Jackman (Wolverine in the X-Men movie) steals the show from Travolta, not an easy feat. Plus, this movie has the greatest thirty seconds of film I have ever scene. No, not Halle Berry’s breasts… The explosion in the beginning of the movie.

#03 Fellowship of the Ring Released: 12/19/01
Starring: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellan, Viggo Mortenson, and Sean Astin
One of the largest movies ever produced (and done with traditional filmmaking), Lord of the Rings might do for fantasy what Star Wars did for science fiction. Despite all the great acting and great special effect, what made this movie so good was the fact that I now cannot wait until next Christmas for the sequel. Bring on The Two Towers!

#02 Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone Released: 11/16/01
Starring: Daniel Radcliff, Richard Harris, & Alan Rickman
This is possibly one of the great film adaptations of a novel ever! With every character perfectly cast (even the minor players) this was everything I hoped it would be. Great sets, great effects, great story. This movie truly had it all and sat in my top spot of the year for a long time. However, I did not choose it as number one simply because I knew what was going to happen. It was great to see those memorable scenes brought to life but in the end, I knew how the movie would end…

So what gets the Number One pick?

#01 Ocean’s Eleven Released: 12/07/01
Starring: George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Andy Garcia, Don Cheadle, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Bernie Mac, Carl Reiner, Elliot Gould, & Julia Roberts
An all star cast. A smart, intelligent, caper script. The coolest actors in Hollywood. And the snappiest dialogue I have heard in a film since Pulp Fiction. The big casino heist caper movie Ocean’s Eleven is the best movie of 2001. You leave the theater perfectly entertained with a smile on your face and a greater opinion that George Clooney is the coolest man in Hollywood.

Well, that’s it the Top 10 Movies of 2001. I missed movies like Spy Game and A Beautiful Mind so this list may fluctuate a little bit in retrospect. What am I looking forward to in 2002?
Black Hawk Down, The Scorpion King, Star Trek X, Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and—most of all—Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones and Spider-Man. SPIDER-MAN Baby! Yes 2002 is gonna be big!

Ryan "The Movie King" Foley

July 15, 2001--  On Sunday, a group of us went to go check out The Score--the new Hollywood crime, who-do-you-trust caper. I might have said this was a good movie a few years ago. However, a much better movie called Entrapment handled a similar storyline a few years back in ’99.
The movie stars Robert DeNiro and Edward Norton. I was excited initially to see these actors working together. Norton, one of the best young actors in Hollywood right now, does an excellent job playing the role of the retarded… Ahem, excuse me… Mentally Challenged character "Brian" in the film, even better than Giovani Ribisi did in The Other Sister. Unfortunately, DeNiro and Norton have absolutely no chemistry together. So many actors have made wonderful parings in movies. Some that leap to mind are Glover and Gibson, Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd, Schwarzenegger and DeVito… Unfortunately, DeNiro and Norton’s characters seem to just hate each other throughout the entire film. It is funny but in films, you often don’t notice chemistry until it isn’t there.
Minor credit goes to Marlon Brando (who has turned into quite a whale) and Angela Basset, who is never really convincing as DeNiro’s love interest. Both play rather unappealing and less interesting characters.
This apparent hatred between DeNiro and Norton’s characters (perhaps what the director intended) leaves the predictable betrayal at the end of the movie with absolutely no heart and you find yourself not even caring because you are barely invested in the characters.
Taken as a whole, the story is fairly stagnant and predictable. Some movies you need to see in the theater. The Score is one that you can wait until video for. The preview for the film made it look like all four of the stars were in on the heist and would play each other, leaving you wonder who would finally double cross who and who would eventually make it out on top. Instead, only two are going for the score and it is all too obvious who the good guys are and who the bad guys are. Moreover, with no worthwhile previews, it was a disappointing trip to the movies. One and a half out of five stars.
So, a potential miracle shot from the half court at the buzzer that instead turns into an air ball. Unfortunately, The Score doesn’t.

July 12, 2001--  On Wed. I went to check out the most intense special effects extravaganza for 2001: Final Fantasy--The Spirits Within. I have never seen a movie so beautiful executed visually but such a complete utter failure in story. What was wrong with the story? There wasn't one!
They have one of the greatest voice ensemble casts in recent memory, making the characters extremely likeable but then they kill off the majority of the cast but still allow the movie to continue for an addition thirty minutes, at which point I was ready to leave.
The visuals are incredible with ultra-realistic movements but it was like the producers said, "This shot cost a hundred grand, let's leave it on the screen for thirty minutes." The movie starts out great but goes nowhere with story, development, sub-plots... It lacked everything a movie has to have to be good.
As George Lucas said, special effects without story is pointless. Final Fantasy is full of dazzle but has no razzle. And near as I can tell, the story has nothing to do with the video games at all. It was as if they decided to slap that name on it for recognition to add to the dollar potential
As Final Fantasy is a Sony Pictures movie, It was worth the anguish of seeing the film for the trailer of Sony's biggest franchise to date coming in May of 2002...
So a big thumbs down for Final Fantasy, a movie that I really wanted to like. One out of five stars and it wouldn't have even gotten one if the visuals and the voices wouldn't have been so great. Hopefully, the next few weeks with The Score, JP III, and Planet of the Apes will be more promising.

July 1, 2001--

My latest reviews for you from my trip to the theaters this week... Ryan
Swordfish is the latest action blockbuster from Hollywood that many critics dead-panned early and moviegoers overlooked. If you were one of these people, I would highly recommend giving this movie a shot on your next trip to the theater. In the movie, a mysterious employer named Gabriel recruits Stan Jobson, one of the best hackers in the world. On the surface, it appears that Jobson must create a deadly "hydra" code for a bank heist but in the end, the movie performs twists and turns revealing that the storyline flows into the movie formula of the New Millennium. Bad Guys are not as bad as they seem. The Relucant Hero has a noble, yet criminal, past. Al the while, it takes the entire span of the movie to discover where loyalties lay.
The first thing Swordfish had going for it was the Producer/Director tandem. Director Dominic Sena (Gone in 60 Seconds) has a tremendously visual directing style, putting him on par with directors like Michael Bay (The Rock) and Simon West (Tomb Raider). He is yet another one of the hot Hollywood directors recruited to helm big screen projects after working on commercials and music videos. Behind Jerry Bruckheimer, producer Joel Silver is probably one of the best action movie producers in the game. His credits include the Lethal Weapon series, the Die Hard movies, the Matrix, Predator, and a number of other major projects.
Hugh Jackman does a tremendous job in the film. Combining this with his performance as Wolverine in X-Men, he could literally become the next overnight sensation served up by Hollywood. If the film has one failing, it might actually be John Travolta. His performance is excellent and seeing him return to the "bad guy" roots of such movies as Face/Off and Broken Arrow is a treat to see. However, in the film, you do not really see him as Gabriel but instead, he just continues to be John Travolta. I actually think that the relative newcomer Jackman outshines the Hollywood Icon, which is really odd to say!
There are even other players in the movie, which deserve credit like Halle Berry and Don Cheadle (who is one of my personal favorites). Sam Shepard has a great, albeit small, appearance in the film. However, the chemistry of Travolta and Jackman outshines them all and truly identifies them as the supporting cast.
In the end, Swordfish is one heck of a ride. Filled with car chase scenes, big explosions, and tons of plot twists, it is everything the summer film audience wants and expects. The opening sequence of the film has what is possibly the greatest thirty seconds in film that I have seen since Trinity first jumped up into the air in The Matrix. (No, it isn’t Halle Berry’s breasts if that what you are thinking.) With the summer season rolling out the next big hit every week, this gem of a movie might be disappearing from theaters. Don’t wait for DVD, this is one production that needs to be seen on the big screen!
Walt Disney’s Atlantis—The Lost Empire
While Atlantis will not be considered a "hit" by Hollywood standards (currently it has only grossed $30.1 million), Disney has created another gem to put in their crown. The story involves a dirty dozen, team operation to discover the lost continent of Atlantis with the help of a geeky, stumbling, bookworm named Milo (excellently voiced by Michael J. Fox).
In the film, Disney breaks from its bread and butter formula, which usually spells out $100 Million takes from the box office. In Atlantis, there are no musical numbers, no talking animals, and no animated objects. In the end, this is one of the most action filled movies Disney has done and one of their greatest "hero" stories to date. However, after taking a bath at the Box Office, they probably won’t do it again and that is a shame.
The animation style is good but cannot really compete with the Deep Canvas technique used in Tarzan. They have little, subtle techniques that make the film visually interesting. Personally, I thought it was a nice touch how everyone’s fingernails were drawn to form the signature "A" of Atlantis.
Helga, one of the female leads of the story, is drawn in a separate animation style from the rest of the group, drawn with a sleeker, almost sexy, Japanese manga animation style, showing that Disney is constantly evolving and this could be the art direction they take with a film.
One of the drawbacks of the film is the lack of a large scale cast. Performances by Michael J. Fox and James Garner are fantastic but they are the only recognizable voices throughout the film. Don Novello and Jim Varney have good but minor parts in the movie. John Mahoney has a great piece of work but is only has about five minutes of screen time. One of the pleasant cameos is Leonard Nimoy as the King of Atlantis. However, Disney is now synonymous with big name talent and the lack of recognizable voices in the film was kind of a disappointment. For me, one of the best things about going to a Disney film is putting the voices of the characters with the voices of the actors.
In the end, I was surprised and excited about the maturity of the film. While not graphic or directly viewed, death fills the story of Atlantis, something we have rarely seen from Disney. True, we have seen the tragic deaths of fathers in The Lion King and Tarzan, but the death was surprisingly personal. Simba talking to Mufasa after his death in the Lion King still brings a tear to my eye. In Atlantis, the body count is literally around two hundred (even more if you count the citizens lost when the island sinks). I was surprised to see a full on gun battle in the climax of a Disney movie! While I am sure some parents will complain, I think it lends a bit of credibility to the story while jaded critics will claim that the violence of America has invaded the last great bastion of hope for family films in the movie industry.
The story moves quickly, with the heroes discovering Atlantis within the first third of the movie. You get swept along by the great orchestral score by James Newton Howard, and really identify with the characters in the end. Sure, Atlantis wraps up in a nice tidy package and ends with an almost predictable finale, but it was still one heck of an adventure!
Until next time, see you at the movies!

June 28, 2001--

On October 16, Lucasfilm Ltd. and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment will begin the worldwide release of Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace on DVD. The highly anticipated arrival of Episode I marks the first film of the Star Wars saga to debut on DVD.
Enthusiastic fans of the film will be rewarded for their patience. Clocking in at about 480 minutes in length, it features over six hours of additional bonus material, including brand new visual effects sequences executed just for the DVD release.
Here's what the two-disc set will feature:
   The Phantom Menace, mastered by THX for superior sound and picture quality, presented in Anamorphic Widescreen and Dolby 5.1 Surround EX (English), Dolby 2.0 Surround (English and Spanish), and Dolby 2.0 Surround (French, for Canadian release)
   Audio commentary by Writer-Director George Lucas; Producer Rick McCallum; Co-Editor and Sound Designer Ben Burtt; Visual Effects Supervisors Scott Squires, John Knoll and Dennis Muren; and Animation Supervisor Rob Coleman, offering personal insights into the making of the film
   Seven never-before-seen deleted scenes with full visual effects completed just for the DVD release
   "The Beginning" -- an all-new hour-long documentary culled from over 600 hours of footage offering unprecedented access inside Lucasfilm and ILM during the making of Episode I
   Multi-angle storyboard to animatic to finished film feature, that lets you flip through the various phases of development of key action sequences
   Five behind-the-scenes featurettes exploring The Phantom Menace's storyline, designs, costumes, visual effects and fight scenes
   The popular "Duel of the Fates" music video that debuted in 1999
   All 12 parts of the Lynne's Diaries, the web documentaries that first appeared here at
   Galleries of theatrical posters, print campaign, and never-before-scene production photos
   Downloaded by millions from, the original theatrical teaser and launch trailers, plus seven TV spots including the "tone poems"
The two-disc set is priced at $ 29.98 in the U.S. and $ 41.98 in Canada.
Episode I Producer Rick McCallum is among those anticipating the release. "People forget that the greatest thing about DVD is the quality," says McCallum. "You have the ability to experience a quality presentation that most accurately reflects what we’ve made, much more so than the person who sees and hears the film in an average cinema, which is a tragedy. We don’t want to cut into that theater experience. All of us are working on getting theaters to give everyone the kind of quality picture and sound you can get on a DVD."
Adds McCallum, "The average person just wants to see the movie, and other people want to go further, but that’s what makes DVD fantastic." The Episode I DVD has over six hours of additional material, including seven deleted scenes that had their visual effects work completed just for this release. "It’s painful to cut something out; it’s not done lightly," says McCallum. "Now, you can see it in a different light. You have to make the decisions at the moment. Years later, you still think about if you should have left certain things in."
An all-new hour-long docum    entary entitled "The Beginning" promises an unblinking look into the making of The Phantom Menace, with unp    recedented access into the inner workings of Lucasfilm and Industrial Light & Magic. "For too many years people     have mythologized what they do, and the whole industry is shrouded in secrecy. You could only know what happened if you knew somebody. We want to get all the stories, all the pain -- not the ‘oh it’s so nice to work w    ith George and Rick’-syndrome. We want to show the pain we had in getting the picture out there, the problems we had, the challenges we faced, where we succeeded, where we didn’t succeed, and some of the things we had to cut out. I think that’s what I’m really excited about people seeing.

June 16, 2001--

In case you were in a cave... on Mars... with your eyes shut and fingers in your ears, Tomb Raider invaded theaters on Friday. Like so many other pasty faces geeks, I managed to pull myself away from the keyboard (or PlayStation) and head out to watch the premier.
My first complaint, they showed the wrong previews. People going to see an all-out action film should see all out action previews. Granted, we saw the new Final Fantasy (oh, I almost shot a load) and Jurassic Park III but then they did stuff like A.I. the Princess Diaries, Rat Race, and some other crappy looking films. Why not show Planet of the Apes (which I still haven't seen!) or Lord of the Rings again? Oh well, I guess I ain't running that whole Hollywood show. So, onward and upward!
First... the bad.
Ever notice how some films bring people down off the mountain? It is like the only time they visit society is to see certain movies. Twister was one of those films. Unfortunately, so was Tomb Raider. About twenty minutes into the film (and I do mean the film! Thirty minutes if you count the previews!), Grandpa Irving and his grandson come in. Where do they sit right behind us, talking the whole way into their seats. At one point, Father Time called out "I can't see anything!" I immediately turned to Amy and said, pretty loud, "Like the face of a watch!"
Then no kidding, like ten minutes later... They wheeled in the retarded guy. And I am not exaggerating. They wheel him into the front row. But then faced him towards the wall! So about every twenty seconds, he emits this high pitched scream. The first time I heard it behind me, no kidding, I thought it was like a squeaky door or something. I was too focused on Angelina Jolie's breasts... uh I mean, fine acting ability to look around. Amy did however and she said, quite audibly--and I quote: "Oh no frickin' way." Luckily Retard Bob only lasted a few minutes before they wheeled him out of the theater.
No one said anything but I could tell the whole audience wanted to burst into applause. Yeah, I'm cruel and I know my mom is shaking her head and wondering where she went wrong but if that guy would have stayed in that theater for much longer than a few more minutes, I probably would have removed his entrails with a piece of my theater chair and strangled him with them. Later, Christine told me she was tempted to leave and ask for her money back. So, I know I wasn't the only one. Christine is one of the most compassionate people I have ever met, yet I could tell the constant "WARRRONNNGGG" was about to get to her too. My God, you just should have heard it. No amount of typing would do it justice. One more reason why some people should just wait until some thing's come out on video.
So then after retardo is wheeled out, the two morons then continue to talk, laugh hysterically at things that were remotely funny, and make little comments. There is one point where Lara writes the word "Traitor" on the surface of a steamy shower door, and Jim Bob Junior said, "What did that say?" Okay, maybe he was illiterate and I should have some sympathy. Regardless, he was about two dumb assed comments away from being Entrails Strangle Victim #2 in the credit of the NBC movie of the week "Blood on the Screen--Ryan Goes Nuts at the Movies."
Ah, ya gotta love the Pryor theater!
So regardless of the retards moaning like some prehistoric animal, Jim Bob Junior and Grandpa Irving, and well of course having to sit next to Brandon Midgley [*sigh*], did I enjoy the movie? In a word:
This is the first movie I can recall that has a true female hero lead. The closest Dee and I could come up with was G.I. Jane but even then Demi Moore was portrayed as a real life hero, rather than the Schwarzeneggerian heroes of action film of the past: Larger than life, deadly aim, glib witticisms, and so forth.
Initially, I was really worried about Angelina Jolie, mainly because she is such a darn freak in real life. Regardless, there were far too many times I found myself believing that she really was Lara Croft. Her accent is flawless. You really believe she is an action hero. And even though the movies in PG-13 so she cannot "take off her gear and get down" as Jay put it in Dogma, there is a shower scene and final running sequences in the end that will give many pre-porno introduced teens many pleasant dreams. And as a big advocate of the no-nude, no sex Lara Croft, I think the lack of nudity and physicality is a great thing.
My dad sent me one review where people were saying the film has a cool central character and that is it. I vehemently disagree. Many of the supporting cast have little time to develop so there are a few plot holes there but they probably didn't want a three hour long movie. There is a tech geek in the film that I didn't really care for and the villain is somewhat two dimensional but the film makers kept the focus on Lara. Just what the film needed.
If you are one of the millions that have played the games, you will see great references to the game. The sets are amazing. Probably some of the coolest since Batman Returns or Waterworld. And the movie does run with a plot like a video game but many people who have not played the games will still enjoy it.
Tomb Raider bridged a gap that only a few handful of movies have done. The X-Files did it. So did X-Men and the first Batman. I hope Harry Potter will do it. Basically, the film is true to the fans who love the game but they also made it appealing to the masses so both audiences can enjoy it. And that means big dollars!
There is supernatural elements to the movie that I was glad to see (TR deserves it) but it was not made too unbelievable. Director Simon West (Con Air, The General's Daughter) continues to be very visual in his directing style with several great camera angles and visual techniques. Personally, the fight in the house with the raiding SWAT team was my favorite. There were a few slow moments but taken as a whole, I really enjoyed it. I went in with no expectations for fear of too much build up and intentionally avoided all press about the film to go in fresh and I was not disappointed.
I hope the movie does well (I am sure it will) because Angelina Jolie has already signed on and is ready for sequels. Personally, I would stand in line for a sequel and will probably go catch it again during the week.
On a footnote: My only true complaint is that in the story, it revolves around a time when the planets all align for the first time in 5,000 years. This is the same type of event in Company of Heroes where the five planets align once every five thousand years and five heroes must save the world. Being a former Tomb Raider fan fiction writer, everyone who reads Company when it is released will call me a hack. I guess I will just have to clear that up in interviews as coincidence I guess...
See you at the movies!

May 26, 2001--

On Friday, Amy and I went to go watch the premier of Pearl Harbor. We have some spoilers here so if you haven't seen it or don't want inside information stop reading now.
Anyway, I am a huge fan of both director Michael Bay and Producer Jerry Bruckhiemer. I figured with Randall Wallace writing the script (whose credits include Man in the Iron Mask and Braveheart), this one was going to be a humdinger. My official review: Eh... [Hands held out, palms up.]
Pearl Harbor was a good movie, don't get me wrong. But I will give you the break down:
The action sequences are spectacular with some of the best air sequences in film, blowing away things done years ago in Top Gun. I would not be surprised if it is nominated for Oscars for best sound and best sound FX editing. Unfortunately it takes far too long to get to the action. The movie is some three hours and twenty minutes long. Far too long for a movie in my opinion.
The cast is exceptional. Major players are in the film that are not even mentioned in the credits. It came as a great surprise to see them in these little roles. Michael Bay does a great job with all the sets and the visual look of the film but we fail to see too many of the signature camera angles shots that make Bay's movies so great and fast paced.
Unfortunately, I think Pearl Harbor is a bit of a sell out for both Bruckhiemer and Bay. This duo brought you Bad Boys (with the best chase scene in film), The Rock (The best movie of 97) and Armageddon (Best movie of 99). In The Rock, there was an emotionally charged scene in the shower room when the Navy SEALs are ambushed. Tearful moments filled Armageddon for me, both when Bruce Willis rips Ben Affleck hose out of his helmet and shoves him back into the shuttle and in the end when the little boy runs out onto the tarmac to meet his father for the first time.
I don't think these scenes were shot with such emotional pulls designed. It just sort of happens. I think both the filmmakers were trying to make another Titanic (and you can see the references), instead of making the types of movies they make best: Hard thumping adrenaline rides.
It is kind of like when Robin Williams made Jakob the Liar. Not a bad movie but you could tell he was thinking, "Man, I'm going to get an Oscar for this!" and that is why he made the movie. It was like they made Pearl Harbor to try to pull on patriotic heartstrings and coming from action guys, it just doesn't work.
Granted, Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerech did that with The Patriot. I felt wonderfully inspired after seeing that and that came from the guys that did ID4 and Godzilla. But there was just something lacking in Pearl Harbor. I think this is it. Far too often people complain that the characterization in summer movies, and summer action movies in particular, are thin. Great effects, big whiz bangs, lots of shiny things, and paper thin stories. Granted, we got lucky last year with The Patriot and Gladiator and the year before that we had The Sixth Sense which is the number one thriller of all time. But I think you have to let characterization happen. You cannot force it.
The opening scene (in the '20s) could have been completely edited out and replaced with just a few simple lines of dialogue. But then of course people would complain that you don't know enough about the character and then don't care if they die or not. So to try to combat the lack of characterization and story, they just overcompensated and did too much.
So in the end, I guess it was good but it still came up lacking in my eyes. Yes it was tragic day that changed history but I am afraid this movie will not change the movie industry.
Agree? Disagree? E-mail me your opinions...

On the trip to go see Pearl Harbor, I hoped to see one preview and one preview alone. The movie gods smiled upon me and for the first time I witnessed the preview... THE PREVIEW...
I have been harping for months, this is going to be the big one. This will be the biggest movie New Line Cinema has ever produced and will no doubt be a cash cow. I was tingling when the trailer ended and it said, "The Trilogy Begins." So you know there will be three of these films (one for each book) regardless if the first move flops (Heaven forefend!). Sir Ian McKellan (played Magneto in X-Men) looks cool and the band of nine that are on the quest to destory the ring have built the true essence of the hero's quest. Frodo is perfectly cast in Elijah Wood. The elves look cool, just the way they should. My particular favorite in the preview was Viggo Mortenson (from G.I. Jane) who plays Aragorn. He has possibly the greatest line in the preview, "You are not scared enough." And when you see the armies, oh the armies...
Even Amy said that the movie looks good and she is not nearly the tenth of a fantasy fan that I am.
However, save this e-mail, because, yes I, Ryan Foley, was wrong. Internet buzz has been claiming that LOTR could be the biggest franchise since Star Wars and given how many people have read this book since its first publishing in the 50s, the fan base certainly could rival Star Wars. However, maybe I was just in the wrong town in Pryor Oh Kay but you know how people buzz in the theater after a great preview? I seemed to be the only one ready to leap to my feet and brandish a sword. Maybe that is just me.
I just hope more people than just the geeks turn out for this movie. Hopefully, this will usher in a new movie age for fantasy. Hoo-Dawgies and Bum-skigadies! Bring on December 2001!!!!

May 21, 2001--

Thanks to the newly remodeled theater opening in Pryor (yeah its not the Tulsa Cinemark but wattayagonnado?), I was able to catch two movies this weekend, pretty much catching up with all the summer blockbusters thus far and cleaning the plate for the upcoming Pearl Harbor.
Movie 1: Shrek
Dreamworks looks to be giving Disney a run for their money. With the Prince of Egypt rivaling The Lion King, and pictures like Chicken Run and Antz drawing critic's attention, it looks like the SKG studio has gotten into bed with PDI the same way Disney teamed up with Pixar to do the Toy Story and Bug's Life movies. What Dreamworks and PDI cooked up with Shrek was pure magic. If you haven't seen the previews or commercials or the ad campaigns for this movie you living in a cave... on Mars... with your eyes shut and fingers in your ears. Truly, worth seeing. The entire voice cast his hysterical and although Eddie Murphy and Mike Myers are clearly the big heavy hitters of the movie John Lithgow (while only appearing in a few scenes) is truly the stealer of scenes. When you go to see it, keep your eyes thoroughly peeled because there are all sorts of fast in-jokes. I couldn't stop laughing during the Interrogation scene of the Gingerbread Man and Shrek and Donkey's approach to the city. Most impressive was the rescue of the Princess from the Dragon. Go to see this ten minute scene alone because I will put it up against any live action film in terms of... coolness. Alex was a little scared of this scene (Jason feel asleep after the previews) but then applauded enthusiastically when... well I don't want to give it way. And if you aren't tapping your toes at the end to the band Smash Mouth's rendition of I'm a Believer, then something is wrong with you.
Movie 2: A Knight's Tale
Here's the thing, remember how Romeo & Juliet was modern with cars and guns but they talked directly from the lines of the play? Now imagine a knights in armor story but with modern speak and jokes. That's what you get with A Knight's Tale. First off, it has some of the best music I have ever heard collected for a film. From We Will Rock You to Lowrider to The Boys Are Back, you get jazzed up by the music alone. And that dreamy Heath Ledger from The Patriot doesn't hurt either. (Did I just type that?) Basically, the movie subscribes to the Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves theory. They put in enough action to keep the men satisfied and has enough romance and a large dance number to keep the wimmens all aquiver. Keep in mind, I just got done reading Timeline, Michael Chricton's travel back in time medieval adventure so I had just read a whole bunch of stuff about jousting. That might be why I liked it.
So I would give thumbs up to both movies if you are just looking for a fun knight at the movies. (Get it? Both the movies have knights in them. Ha ha ha.) Keep in mind, they are summer movies which means lots of whiz-bang shiny things with little story but lots of fun.
Previews: Saw some interesting looking upcoming movies. On July 4, Scary Movie 2 is coming so be ready. Saw once again, previews for Tomb Raider, Atlantis, a new movie called Rat Race that looks pretty funny. But I saw... the mother load. And in November, magic will happen. Yes boys and girls, the Harry Potter preview was revealed. You got to see all the major players even though most of them tend to be unknowns. We saw Harry, Hermonie, Ron, that chump Draco, who all look perfect. Saw a great shot of his owl Hedwig, the school opening feast with all the candles, and the Hogwart's Express. I'm positive Alan Rickman (Die Hard) is Snape, one of the nuns from Sister Act in McGonagall (I think), and Robbie Coltrane (from the latest James Bond movies) is Hagrid although I still think Richard Moll (Bull from Night Court) would have been great). So be on the look out for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. This will make money to rival Star Wars and I might even dare to say... Titanic? Family movies make big dollars and if the kid's turn out the way they have flocked to the bookstores, it could be record setting. I feel it definitely has potential to unseat The Lion King ($312 Million domestic) as the number one family film of all time (unless you count ET $399).
Geez, can you tell I am a fan of these books? After tearing through the first three in about a month and reading the fourth one now, I am hoping they make the movies once every year so the child actors don't get too old to play the parts and they have to bring in replacements.
So that's it, look for my review of Pearl Harbor next week. Until then, see you at the movies!

March 27, 2001--

If you can't beat 'em, buy them. Yep, shockwaves have gone through the world of sports entertainment as the WWF has bought their largest competitor, WCW. What does this mean? It basically means Vince owns everything now: WWF, WCW, ECW, the XFL... and did I mention he is getting into movies? But I will get to that in a minute.
I am extremely hyped about THE MUMMY RETURNS. It is due in theaters on May 4th, 2001 and a lot of the official pics are starting to pop up, including the one-sheet teaser poster. I think I have harped about this movie before but for those joining the party late, this is going to be the kick off movie for the summer blockbusters, paving the way for movies like PEARL HARBOR, TOMB RAIDER (noog), and FINAL FANTASY.
All the original cast is coming back: Brendan Fraiser, Rachel Weisz, Arnold Vosloo, John Hanna, Oded Fehr, and Patricia Velasquez and most importantly THE ROCK as the Scorpion King. If you have seen the previews, you know this one looks bigger and better than the first with much more action. As long as they maintain the same level as the first film, this one could be huge.
How big will this movie be? How big will one of the co-stars become?
Production and filming started this week on the 3rd installment of the film series, a prequel centered entirely around the Scorpion King. I read an interview a while back with Steven Sommers (the director) and he said he was really impressed with The Rock. So here it is, Mummy 2 hasn't even come out yet and they are working on the sequel. Kinda makes that whole Blair Witch thing pale in comparison.
Why Scorpion King will kick ass:
It stars The Rock. Need I say more?
The casting is light right now but one person who has signed on is the next Arnold Schwarenegger in my book (although I could say that about The Rock too...) Academy Award Nominee Michael Clarke Duncan. Nominated for his work in The Green Mile but best known as Bear in Armageddon and Frankie Figs in The Whole Nine Yards, Duncan is a fantastic actor with a great voice. And he is probably the only actor in Hollywood that could make The Rock (6'6" 275 lbs.) look small.
The Director is going to be Chuck Russell who directed Schwarzenegger in Eraser and Jim Carrey in The Mask. The screenwriter helping with the script is Jonathan Hales. He is helping a little known film director in Hollywood with his script to launch a little independent film in 2002 called STAR WARS Episode II and he also worked on the Young Indiana Jones series.
Vince and Linda McMahon are going to be executive producers of the film and rumor has it, The Rock will pocket $5.5 Million. With only one movie under his belt, that makes him one of the highest paid emerging stars in Hollywood.
Don't be surprised if they have a VERY short teaser preview with Mummy Returns when it hits theaters in a few month, just to let you know it is coming. They are saying the release date could be either Christmas or Summer of 2002, but with Star Wars, Matrix, Harry Potter, and a jumble of movies for the summer rush, don't be surprised if it show up in time for Christmas.
And of course, since my first 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons character is based on The Rock, it means there will be tons of pics of this bad ass to help accentuate my folders, character sheets, and desktop!
I'll keep you posted for more info!

March 5, 2001--

Land o'goshins, Harley! Has everyone been keeping up with THE LORD OF THE RINGS lately. When I first logged on to the website, there wasn't much there but as the movie draws closer to opening and details are becoming more concrete, I am seriously thinking this will be a slugfest with PEARL HARBOR for the top box office draw.
Factor 1) Budget: $270 Million. If I remember right, that is bigger than TITANIC
Factor 2) The Cast: Hands down, this could be the biggest and most talented ensemble of actors I have ever seen in a film.
Elijah Wood: As a child star, Wood appeared in several films like FLIPPER, NORTH, and THE GOOD SON. I think his biggest role was in the Robert Rodriguez film THE FACULTY or that piece of crap DEEP IMPACT.
Sean Astin: You remember him from movies like RUDY and ENCINO MAN. He has one of those fat faces that works well as a hobbit.
Sir Ian McKellan as Gandalf the Grey: I saw the first picture of Ian as Gandalf. He looks BAAADDDD. He played Magneto in the X-Men movie. Need I say more?
Ian Holm: He has been in a number of films like the Fifth Element and Bless the Child. He played the android Ash in ALIEN. He has one of those "What I have seen him in before?" type faces.
Viggo Mortenson: You gotta love a man named Viggo. He was Command Master Chief John James Ergale in G.I. JANE and was in hits like CRIMSON TIDE, DAYLIGHT, and A PERFECT MURDER.
Liv Tyler: Okay so she cannot really act but with ARMAGEDDON under her belt and being the daughter of Aerosmith's Steven Tyler, she is a big name draw in Hollywood.
Christopher Lee: You don't get much bigger than Lee. He has starred in 140+ movies. His most recent film was SLEEPY HOLLOW and is going to be in a small upcoming film that might make a few dollars. It is a small independent film called EPISODE II... That's STAR WARS for the retards.
Cate Blanchet: She was in PUSHING TIN and THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY
Sean Bean: A great bad guy, he played 006 in GOLDENEYE, and was in RONIN and PATRIOT GAMES
John Rhys-Davies: He played Sahla in the INDIANA JONES movies
Bernard Hill: He was the Captain in TITANIC and with roles in THE GHOST AND THE DARKNESS and TRUE CRIME
Brad Dourif: Fans of the X-Files will remember his mug and film buff might recognize him as the voice of Chucky in the Child's Play movies.
Hugo Weaving: Remember Agent Smith in a little film called THE MATRIX?
I mean my goodness. I saw a picture in Entertainment Weekly for the orcs. They look positively scary and much more mobile than the make-up heavy orcs in Dungeons & Dragons. I think this one is going to be a humdinger and they have already established it will be a trilogy so we will see The Two Towers and the Return of the King brought to life soon. I just hope John Williams is free to do the music. It sounds like this one could be as big as Star Wars and they need a composer that big to conquer it.
More info as the news breaks. In the meantime, enjoy the teaser poster... In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of RMF Enterprises to be affixed. Done at the City of Adair, this third day of March, in the year of our Lord two thousand and one.

December 21, 2000--

On our most recent visit to the movie theater, I saw two previews that could be some of the biggest money makers of 2001 (not to mention the hottest movies of the summer).
Movie 1: The Mummy Returns
The first movie was a blast. It had a great story, great VFX, and a cool cast. In the sequel, the ENTIRE group is returning. The last movie I can remember that happening in was the Lethal Weapon series. Even the lover of Imhotep (who was barely in the first) is coming back. Okay, so Jerry Goldsmith isn’t returning to do the music but Alan Silvestri is a great composer. But what is the big news? When they list all the people it goes: Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weiss, John Hannah, Arnold Vosloo, Oded Fehr, some punk kid they are introducing… and then the biggest star… And The Rock as the Scorpion King.
Now, you all know I am a huge Rock fan. I wasn’t sure if they would list him as Dwayne Johnson or as The Rock. For him to get that crucial last billing (with that neato AND attached to it) and the name of his character, that’s big time. And this is only his first movie! I guess being four time WWF Champion and being named to People Magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People and the 25 Most Intriguing has some weight to it.
However, much like Arnold Schwarzenegger in Batman & Robin, I’ve got big money that says The Most Electrifying Man in Sports Entertainment somehow becomes good and fights with the heroes in the end…
Movie 2: Tomb Raider
As a fan of Lara Croft, I am expectantly hopeful. June 15 is a day I might have to request off for. While so many cool properties are being turned into movies I was worried if they will get Tomb Raider right. Based off the preview… they did.
I was not sure about Angelina Jolie. She seemed a little too freaky in her personal life to be a British Aristocrat. However, her linguist classes have paid off and in what looks like many outfits Lara will wear in the movie, it looks pretty darn cool.
Big guns. Big explosions. Big Tombs. Director Simon West (Con Air, General’s Daughter) is a great director. Hopefully Tomb Raider will be better than those Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter movies…
Speaking of Video Games turned into movies:
Movie 3: Final Fantasy—The Spirit Within
While I do not recommend the movie, the Hollow Man DVD has the preview for this bad mammer-jammer. If you have access, I highly recommend seeing it. While you need to see it on the big screen for the full effect, I have a feeling this one is going to be bum-skiggady. With this movie and Shrek coming out this summer, CGI is going to a whole new level. Then tack on voice talents like Alec Baldwin, Ving Rhames, James Woods, Donald Sutherland, Peri Gilpin… Whoa. "Over here, you son of a—"[Laser Fire].
I won’t even mention movie number four… Pearl Harbor. Memorial Day of 2001 will have one of the biggest opening day weekends in history and watch for Jerry Bruckhiemer and Michael Bay’s new epic to quickly climb the charts as one of the top grossing films of all time, making more than Armageddon. Bay did Armageddon, the Rock, and Bad Boys and his films get better every time.
See you at the movies!

November 15, 2000--

Home Slices,
Once again, the illustrious movie critic is here to shed some light on a particularly good movie that I just had the pleasure of seeing. I know that dozens of hot movies are released around the holiday season but there is a little picture out right now that is not really tearing up the charts but should be. Eclipsed by Charlie's Angels and Little Nicky and overshadowed by the impending release of The 6th Day, Unbreakable, and The Grinch, I have not heard a lot of buzz surrounding THE LEGEND OF BAGGER VANCE.
Why? I cannot imagine. I walked out of the film saying to myself, "Self, I think this was possibly the best movie of 2000." But my wife nailed it more accurately when she said that TLOBV was the best feel good movie of the year. I have to whole heatedly agree. Even now, as I listen to the wonderful soundtrack by Rachel Portman (picked up after the film), I am still grinning like an idiot.
While not on the same level as the epic scope of The Patriot and having zero special effects to rival X-Men, Bagger Vance is a movie that holds its own on a concept that so many movies have seem to have forgotten: STORYTELLING.
Robert Redford clearly shows his perfect blend of pacing to really draw you into the story and I am not ashamed to admit at two times during the film, I had tears in my eyes. There are moments of such pure magic where everything comes together so perfectly... Well, words cannot describe it.
Matt Damon continues to cement himself as a top tier movie star. You cannot see him on the screen an not see his overwhelming potential for greatness. But the true stealer of the movie, despite not showing up until 45 minutes in and then only really seen in the background is Will Smith. Hear me now and listen to me later but I will be shocked, SHOCKED I say, if Smith is not nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. He is that good in this movie. Long way to travel for a rapper that once rapped a song called Parents Just Don't Understand.
If you haven't seen this film yet, go see it this weekend. Its not about golf. Its about finding that perfect harmony in life in a perfect moment. Maybe you don't have to be on the golf course to find it. Maybe it is in a courtroom. Or writing the perfect phrase on a word processor. Maybe it is in a perfect moment with your child. But wherever it is in your life, when that epiphany of harmony comes, I hope you recognize it. Maybe this movie will help you see it when it stares you in the face.
I know it may seem kind of corny me saying that but when you see the movie, you'll understand. Now if only an angel would come and sit beside me while I wrote my novels...