Indiana Jones: Kingdom of the Crystal Skull – Review

Oh man. This Indiana Jones movie had the kind of excitement usually reserved for a new Christina Aguilera album. What? They both like whips.

But as intense as that excitement was, there was some significant hesitation around one name. George Lucas. I’m sure I’m not the only one who thought a fedora-wearing Jar-jar might make a cameo.

There was also some hesitation about moving Indiana Jones into the 1950s. Indy and Nazis went together like Tom & Jerry (or Ben & Jerry, for that matter) and changing that formula was something I didn’t trust in the hands of Lucas. But with Harrison Ford looking like Henry Ford these days, Nazis just didn’t make sense.

And you know what? I liked the transition. It felt like an older Indiana Jones set in the 1950s. I’ve heard from others that they hated it. But this is my review, so we’ll ignore them.

While the Crystal Skulls are weird and I did sorta miss the Nazis, I thought the Communists made a decent replacement. I also thought the music and the technology changes suited an older Indiana Jones. Things just felt right. In other words, this isn’t Indiana Jones and the Crystal Menace.

Yet another worry I had was Shia LaBeouf. Do you like Shia? Do you? Then watch this.

There are rumors that Indy 5 will star Shia with Harrison playing the father role like Sean Connery. I can only say, “No. N-n-no. No-no!!” to that.

Grade: B+

Predator – Review

Yeah, I know. Another classic movie I’ve never seen. The only thing I knew about Predator was that when Alien vs. Predator came out (the sequel should be arriving soon!!), the Predator fanboys freaked out. To be fair, so did the Alien fanboys, but they weren’t as loud in that Geek West Side Story rumble.

So what did I think about Predator? It’s a classic Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. How can you not love it? His screams of “Get to the chopp-aaah!!” stand equal with the best of Brando’s famous lines.

But do you know who else is in this movie? Governor Jessie Ventura. Whaddya think of that? Predator should be played at every Republican convention from now on. It’s political roots simply cannot be ignored.

Now the reason I caught this movie last weekend was because it just came out on Blu-Ray. Since film is a higher resolution than Blu-Ray, these older movies tend to look fantastic (assuming they clean up the film before mastering it). Predator is no exception. You can see individual sweat glands on Arnold’s bulging bicep. Yes, this is what high def has to offer. Drink from it as if it were offered by Jim Jones himself.

So once again, I can hold my head high. No more hiding in shame. But I will confess one last thing. I still don’t think Alien vs Predator was that bad.

Grade: A-

Michael Clayton – Review

You know those small, indie movies George Clooney makes? I’m convinced I’m too stupid for them. The last one I saw was Syriana. It was very well made, but I thought there were about ten too many plotlines. By the end I had no clue what was going on.

I thought the very same thing with Michael Clayton. There are only a few plotlines, so that’s good. But by the end, I had no idea what the heck was going on and why people were acting the way they were. Why was George Clooney looking at horses? Why was Tilda Swinton sweating so much? Why were the credits rolling?

From the interviews, Clooney sounds like a pretty smart guy, so I take the blame for not getting his movies. From now on, it’s only Ocean’s 14 for me.

One sad bit of trivia about this movie is that it’s one of Sydney Pollack’s last movies. Yeah, I had no idea who he was until I saw his picture this week. But I bet you didn’t either, right?

I have no idea how to review this one. It’s well acted and the plot seems like it’s good, but I just couldn’t follow along with it. If you see it and like it, can you please let me know what it was all about? Thanks.

Grade: D

Narnia: Prince Caspian – Review

Alright! I caught my first big summer movie with Prince Caspian. Even though I read the book three years ago, I remember very little about the story. That might actually be a good thing since my knowledge of The Lion, the Witch , and the Wardrobe detracted from my movie experience. I thought they handled the first one well, but the few changes they made annoyed me. With Prince Caspian, I went in with a fresh(er) set of eyes.

So how is it? Great. Like the Harry Potter films, the sequel is deeper, more “grown up” and thus, a better film. It also helps that the kids are a bit older and less annoying than before. I’m not sure if I should thank C.S. Lewis or the director, but the dwarf character saved many of the annoying scenes with his deadpan delivery.

Another great casting choice is Reepicheep. Eddie Izzard voices the mouse and he couldn’t be more perfect. Granted, I did want him to ask a soldier if he had a flag. Reep has a larger role in Voyage of the Dawn Treader (my favorite of the Narnia series), so I can’t wait to see it in 2010.

By now everyone knows that Lewis wrote the Narnia series as Christian allegory. It was blatantly obvious in LWW, but here, I thought it was toned down a bit. Other than the overall theme of waiting on God, the only direct allegory I caught was Lucy’s woodland meeting with Aslan. I remember getting a lot more out of that scene in the book.

Even though it’s PG, the parents in our entourage felt it was too violent for kids. I’m a horrible gauge for that, so take it for what you will.

If you like the Narnia series, you’ll love this one. It’s a better, deeper story and well worth your time.

Grade: A

Solarbabies – Review

Pop quiz, Hotshot. It’s late on a Friday night. You’re hanging with your friends and one suggests you watch a cheesy 80s movie. What do you do? What do you do?

The obvious answer is to get new friends. This isn’t always doable due to blackmail issues, but it should be your lofty goal.

So it was last Friday that my friends (who must remain that way due to the reason above) watched Solarbabies. Yeah, we’d never heard of it either, but with a name like that how could we resist?

Like all 80s cheesefests, the title has absolutely nothing to do with the plot. Yeah, there’s not really a plot either, but what there is has nothing to do with infants born from the sun’s rays. Instead you get a post-apocalyptic story about orphans who find a glowing orb. This orb then gives them visions of skinny-dipping in the ocean. Why are they orphans? What happened to all the water? Bah, stop worrying about stupid details like that. This is the 80s, man.

And to prove to you just how 80s this is, let me describe the opening scene. A small child (Lukas Haas) scurries under some secret tunnel and finds a glowing orb. He stashes it away and proceeds to flip a large switch that illuminates a huge, concrete arena. Two teams of roller hockey players (complete with flashlights on their skates) emerge from the tunnels and start a game. Far above, a mysterious figure (Nathan Patrelli from Heroes) with his pet owl and sideways pony tail watch the game..mysteriously. Who is this man? Why does everyone have roller skates with flashlights? Why does everyone like roller hockey? It’s the 80s, man.

This movie is so obscure, I’m proud of myself for even finding a poster of it. Thank you, internets. You’re the best.

Surprisingly, this has some famous faces in it. Other than Lukas Haas and Nathan Patrelli, Jami Gertz and Jason Patric (before he graduated to Speed 2) are also Solarbabies.

…and so my Speed references come full circle.

Grade: F

If you want a great, cheesy 80s flick: A