Monday, February 26, 2018

What's Next On My List? Rambo: First Blood II

Growing up I was a big fan of Sylvester Stallone. And this is the fourth year that I am dedicating February to Stallone movies. And why wouldn't I? They are awesome: even the silly ones have charm to them. So please enjoy this years last review of the the fourth installment of #StalloneMonth.

Rambo: First Blood II

After being incarcerated at the end of the first movie, Rambo is now working off his debt. One day he is freed by his colonel from the war and is tasked with a top secret reckon mission in the jungles of Vietnam. There he discovers that his life is secondary and that it is money that decides wars and not the time and effort that the soldiers put in to save their country. At this point he becomes a one man army and he takes care of things his own way.
"- Rambo, you can feel totally safe because we have the most 
advanced weapons in the world available to us.
- I've always believed that the mind is the best weapon."

Gotta say, this won't be my favorite movie of all time, but I was again amazed by the acting skills of Stallone. Rambo is not what you think of when you are talking about Academy Award winning stories, but... It was amazing to me that years passed again between movies and I could not tell. Stallone got back into the skin of Rambo as if he had never left it. This character is very different from the others he played, he is taciturn and capable and clearly suffering from PTSD, which is understandable after the hell he went through. Because of the jungle they had to include all kinds of disgusting animals and those in particular did not make this story particularly attractive to me... but that is literally the only bad thing I can say about it.
All these have the feeling of being senseless action movies, but in the end Rambo always says something that has me crying. "I want, what they want, and every other guy who came over here and spilled his guts and gave everything he had, wants! For our country to love us as much as we love it! That's what I want!", I have read articles of soldiers claiming that being told 'thank you for your service' is not their favorite thing... and I can understand that, seeing that it can become something without actual value. The Vietnam war in particular left a scar in the American society that I find has not healed yet, especially with the addition of the Iraq war on top of it.
If you have seen Hot Shots! Part Deux you will know exactly what were the things in this movie that they made fun of and I kept laughing under my breathe :D Not to mention that there is a scene were Rambo describes that he is expendable and I immediately realized that is where he got the idea for his series and I loved that! Funny thing is that if you watch this movie you'll think that it has a series of cliché, but then you need to remind yourself that this was the first one: all the cliché that you see today are based on this movie and not the other way around!

"- How will you live, John?
- Day by day."

Watch it? Sure, it is incredibly satisfying to see Rambo shoot a bunch of stuff like there is no tomorrow. I will go on with the series next year, in the next #StalloneMonth, until then if you would like me to review something from his movies let me know, I am already compiling the list of possible things for the next season!

Until the next item on my list!
_ _ _ _ _

Col. Samuel Trautman - Richard Crenna
Marshall Murdock - Charles Napier
Lt. Col. Podovsky - Steven Berkoff

Sunday, February 18, 2018

What's Next On My List? Rocky II

Growing up I was a big fan of Sylvester Stallone. And this is the fourth year that I am dedicating February to Stallone movies. And why wouldn't I? They are awesome: even the silly ones have charm to them. So please enjoy the fourth installment of #StalloneMonth

Following exactly right after the ending of the previous story, Rocky enjoys his newly found fame and money, but having retired at the highlight of his career does not leave him much of a chance to make enough to take care of his wife. Despite a bad eye he decides to get back into the ring with Apollo who keeps wishing to prove that he is indeed the best. In the end Rocky is the one (barely) standing.

I gotta say, as far as sequels go, this one is pretty spot on. I mean, I could easily forget that I was watching the second movie, it felt that it was just the continuation of the first. The colors, the songs, the interpretation of the characters... it was incredible. At the same time it was not the same movie, a mistake a lot of sequels make while trying to make something new. Now being so similar to the first one it is hard for me to take them apart. But I was pleasantly surprised because the first one opened some doors and allowed for elaboration. As far as the man of the hour goes, Stallone was incredible. His character is not a smart person, exactly the opposite, but in his innocence he still managed to show more emotions than some actors who have won awards... Adrian ends up in the hospital and he does not leave her side, teary eyed, he reads her books, he gives up training, she is his whole life and I loved how the movie told the viewers their story. With the mandatory montage scene and the speech about him being nobody this movie set up all the other fight movies that came after it, but it is a good one nonetheless. 

Watch it? Of course, it is not a bad movie. You can hear Adrian talk a lot more and see Rocky in a new setting with new problems. I also liked that he finally won, I mean, the first movie was open about the fact that people can't always win. Also, I do agree that it would've been far too unrealistic if he did defeat the best of the best. But at least here we could have the Hollywood ending.

Until the next item on my list!
_ _ _ _ _ _ 

Rocky Balboa - Sylvester Stallone
Adrian Talia Shire
Apollo Creed - Carl Weathers
Paulie - Burt Young

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

What's Next On My List? Professor Marston & The Wonder Women

I decided to post this review on the day of lovers because... because love is love. 
Celebrate it no matter what and never let anyone tell you that you are not allowed to feel the way you do! The heart is precious and make sure you take care of it!

I have waited for over eight months for this movie, ever since the first trailer came out and then stupid Hungary didn't release it in the theater... I was hoping that it will finally be available during the award season and I watched it right away. Then watched it again. Then some scenes and I just marveled at how this story got me thinking about my life for hours on end. It was simply brilliant, from every point of view, and we are taking a break in #StalloneMonth to talk about this fascinating story on the day of love!

Based on a true story, it is the life of professor William Moulton Marston, the psychologist who was the brain behind the comic Wonder Woman, the most famous woman superhero of all time. While figuring out how to make the lie detector function, he and his wife Elizabeth hire a young student and the three end up developing feelings for each other, but at the same time feel the pressure on them, as their relationship seems unacceptable from the outside. Shamed by others, Marston takes up a pseudonym and starts to write the comic book that ended in making him famous all around the world. But the story is really about his muses.

"I think you long for an unconventional life."

Before I head in, I have to say that I was completely taken by the performance of these actors. I have been following the career of the couple portraying the Marstons, Luke Evans and Rebecca Hall for as long as I can remember. I have found them a wonderful pairing and this movie just added to a long list of films that I consider to be favorites of mine starring them. I look forward to seeing them in as many movies as I can count!
Turning to the movie... You might find that the lead character is Professor Marston, but I would beg to differ. The person that changes the most, the one that learns the real lesson of the story was Elizabeth. While Marston and Olive have no problem putting their happiness ahead of others, she keeps enforcing that appearances matter more. She is capable of putting aside her own feelings, wants, emotions and wishes for people who have no concept of the love she feels for her husband and Olive. In the beginning of the movie she is upset that they don't take her seriously because she is a woman and she wants a doctorate degree from Harvard, and no other school will suffice. Not to mention that she has a very strong will and sometimes overpowers even her husband. Her love for him is also partially due to the fact that he sees how brilliant she is and never puts her below himself: "He respects me. He loves me. And he's never boring". Their work together matters to her, but when their affair with Olive is uncovered they are both fired from the university, being forced to do work that Elizabeth deems to be inferior.
I was moved by Marston's approach to females, we are between the two wars and he deems women to be the most important thing, so it is no wonder really that he came up with the strongest superhero alive, and making her a woman. What I love about Marston is that he also wishes to learn about women, and as much as he loves these two in his life, he also takes the time to understand them. In the end he turns towards Elizabeth and tells her that she cannot win every argument, she cannot always be dominant. In their relationship Elizabeth and Marston are equals and it is Olive who is submissive, but what the story teaches is that you should not abuse of the one who is willing to submit to you. The other is still a person, with feelings, and thoughts of their own. You are not in a relationship with someone to abuse them for your own good. They are not a puppet.
Marston recognizes the potential in both of them and that is how he creates what is in his head the perfect woman. What makes this an adorable story in my humble opinion is the trust among them. This trust is fueled by that incredible love they feel for each other. Yes, this is based on a true story, so one might argue that in real life it was different, but I don't believe that. You see, at the end of the movie it says that Elizabeth and Olive stayed together until their death, raising their children together after Marston passed. It is an unconventional story, but those are the most beautiful ones. I find that stories that tell you how much the heart is capable of are by far the best ones. There is no need to label it, as that only serves to help others understand, but... then again, who cares about others? That is the main lesson here. Nobody can force you to put aside what you want. Follow your heart.

"How are you going to learn anything at all about life if you refuse to live it?"

Watch it? Absolutely. This has become the best movie of 2017 for me, and for me, having seen it in January also of 2018. Love is love and the way this movie portrays the tender side of that stuck with me. I too want something as sweet and true like their love. It was not the stupid romantic comedies that made me long to hold someone but this beautiful movie portraying what some would deem 'wrong'... but how could love this pure ever be wrong? Wonderful, wonderful movie indeed.

Until the next item on my list!
_ _ _ _ _

Professor Marston - Luke Evans
Elizabeth Marston - Rebecca Hall
Olive Byrne - Bella Heathcote
Josette Frank - Connie Britton
M. C. Gaines - Oliver Platt 
Charles Guyette - JJ Feild

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

What's Next On My List? Over The Top

Growing up I was a big fan of Sylvester Stallone. And this is the fourth year that I am dedicating February to Stallone movies. And why wouldn't I? They are awesome: even the silly ones have charm to them. So please enjoy the fourth installment of #StalloneMonth

This is the story of Lincoln Hawk and his estranged son Michael bonding over a long trip back home. Lincoln left them to pursue his own dreams, but never turned his back on his family, however, Michael was deceived to think so by his grandfather. Lincoln enters an arm-wrestling contest in order to win a new truck, as his life is on the road. Having lost his wife and son he believes that the best way to move on is to leave, but Michael goes after him and tells him that he wants to stay with him.

This is a sweet story, but nothing you haven't seen before. Michael's grandfather hates Lincoln because he deems him inferior to them all. The biggest problem of the grandfather is not listening, and being at the same time convinced that he knows everything. In one seen he sits on the hospital bed of his daughter and tells him that he is not mad, he is "Disappointed"... That was the moment I decided that I will hate him no matter what. It is one thing to say it... this is parenting 101, everybody does this, and it is the worst possible thing. But, on top of that, he did it while she was lying sick on a hospital bed!!! What is wrong with this guy?! His daughter dies with this being the last thing she hears... I was very happy to see the grandfather lose because he claims to have been the one to raise Michael, but really, he sent him to military school to another state and then keeps sending his men to fetch him... In the end it seems that he just wants to win because he cannot handle losing.
It is this ultimately that allows for Lincoln to beat him. The one that keeps Michael's needs and heart above everything else is him, and not the grandfather. What I liked about this movie was the Lincoln was incredibly humble. He never put himself above others, but at the same time below them either. He is actually a far better role model than the grandfather, as he fought to get everything he has in his life. When he was beaten and on the ground he got up and kept on fighting. This movie is okay, nothing special, pretty straight forward, but there was one thing that was quite off-putting. In the end during the competition the fighters are shown in first person talking to the camera as to why they want to win... nothing like that was done during the movie and even these are not really done differently, same camera, same angles... it was just a strange method that ended in them accomplishing a weird break of the fourth wall.
That said, this movie probably has the best soundtrack of the 80's with Frank Stallone, Asia and Eddie Money, just to mention some. I have been listening to it on repeat for I don't know how long! 

That said, watch it? Sure. It is a nice movie, but you have probably seen this story other times. Stallone is very cute and he is a good dad, in my opinion, at least compared to the grandfather... not to mention that he puts his sons best interests before his own, which I think is a great quality. Acting wise he was a very passive character, I can't really decide if I was happy with it or not.

Until the next item on my list!
_ _ _ _ _

Lincoln HawkSylvester Stallone
Jason Cutler Robert Loggia
Christina HawkSusan Blakely
Bob 'Bull' HurleyRick Zumwalt
Michael Cutler David Mendenhall

Thursday, February 1, 2018

What's Next On My List? Get Carter

Growing up I was a big fan of Sylvester Stallone. And this is the fourth year that I am dedicating February to Stallone movies. And why wouldn't I? They are awesome: even the silly ones have charm to them. So please enjoy the fourth installment of #StalloneMonth

John Carter hears that his brother has died in a car accident, due to alcohol, and he cannot accept it as his brother never drank. As he digs deeper he finds out that all of his brother's colleagues had a reason to take him out, and he does not stop until he avenges his death.

This movie was the remake of a 1970's Michael Caine movie, based on a novel by Ted Lewis. The first movie took place in England, while the remake is set in America. Michael Caine himself appears in the movie and his interactions with Stallone were wonderful. I don't know if it was good acting, or just good casting, but everyone else that was put up against him was so unlikeable that every time somebody died I was kinda happy... I mean, I know we are rooting for Carter anyway, but they made sure we did not care about any of the other characters. My favorite thing about this movie was Carter's interaction with his niece Doreen. At first she looked like a rude teenager who will all throughout her life be distant and live with this shell around her, but instead, their second longer interaction already ended in them bonding. Their relationship grew throughout the movie and it was pleasant to see. The killing and the arguing was secondary, as well as the investigation. People from Carter's past kept coming back for him as his job did not allow him to quit, but at the same time his love for his family took precedence. In my opinion we have seen this story a lot of times, what is important is the little characters, they have the ability to make the story count, and in this case, the interaction between uncle and niece made this a good movie.

Watch it? Sure, if you too are looking to get all of your Stallone movies (like I am) this should not be pushed further down the list. It is also fun to try and guess who the real bad guy is and trust me, the movie is going to surprise you.

Until the next item on my list!
_ _ _ _ _ 

Jack Carter Sylvester Stallone
Geraldine Rhona Mitra
Eddie Johnny Strong
Con McCartyJohn C. McGinley
Jeremy Kinnear Alan Cumming
Cliff Brumby Michael Caine