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Rating History

The Longest Yard
21 hours ago via Flixster

So as you can tell from the title this is a modern (for the time) remake of the Burt Reynolds vehicle of the same name. And when I say its a remake I mean its literally a scene for scene remake, but now a vehicle for Adam Sandler. The plot is identical to the original movie which sees Paul Crewe (Sandler) going to jail after assaulting his rich girlfriend and then going off on a joyride in her expensive car.

Upon arrival in the big house Crewe is pressured/blackmailed into coaching the jail football team by the warden; but eventually ends up organising a training game between the convicts and guards. Crewe must battle his inner demons, pride and dignity versus cowing down to the warden for a safe but cowardly existence. Of course not much of that is translated across into this because its an Adam Sandler movie. Cue lots of immature toilet humour and sexual innuendos.

The first thing that really doesn't work in this movie is the plot opener. We find Crewe with his rich girlfriend, living in her luxurious pad. Said girlfriend is an uncredited cameo by Courtney Cox who looks unbelievable gorgeous I kid you not. She basically explains to Crewe that she owns him, he is her toy, as long as he obeys...his life will be very comfortable. Who in their right mind would say no to this??!! And before you think about it, you all need to see Cox and the outfit she's in. No bloke would walk away from this scenario, I'd be on my knees begging to be leashed and collared! So straight away I'm thinking this character is an idiot for throwing this away (the hot girl and her assets).

The next problem I had with this is Sandler and the fact he's just not believable as an ex-pro footballer. Admittedly Reynolds wasn't overly convincing to look at either but at least he looked relatively fit. But that's just a minor issue really, the real issue (as mentioned above) is the fact that this movie loses all the heart, soul and grit of the original. The 1974 movie was three things: an acceptable comedy, a hard and surprisingly dark prison drama, and a reasonably gritty sports flick. This new movie is a cheap slapstick riddled spoof, chock full of profanity and cameos mugging for the camera. The prison setting is merely an excuse for lots of cliched predictable prison related sight gags and nothing more. There is no real tension or drama, that aspect has been totally jettisoned. And despite the sports side of things being much glossier and slickly shot, it doesn't hold a candle to the original movie.

Its actually incredible to see the difference between the two movies when it comes down to the football side of things. In the original movie the game was very down to earth, nothing fancy. A brutal game of football in a very basic looking arena with no frills, it was believable. In this remake the game looks like something from the flippin' NFL! The arena is huge with all the modern perks, the pitch is perfect, massive crowds, sexy cheerleaders, all very glamorous. Clearly this prison has some money apparently. I admit I don't know much about American football being British, I do know American universities and colleges do have amazing sports facilities that far outstrip anything similar in the UK. But would a US prison have such sports facilities?

As for the cast, well naturally you have double the big name cameos of the original, both sports and entertainment wise. Sports wise there are quite a few big football names in here, never heard of them myself so I'll just leave it there. Entertainment wise there are some cool additions such as one time action man (and footballer) Brian Bosworth. David Patrick Kelly is perfect as the weaselly snitch Unger, but criminally underused. Quentin Tarantino collaborator Eddie Bunker just about manages his role (he looked pretty old). And Crewe's right-hand man 'Caretaker' is played by Chris Rock; who spends most of his screen time making jokes about white boys because apparently that's all he can do.

Cloris Leachman, Steve Austin, Terry Crews, William Fichtner, Dalip Singh (dude his [b]HUGE[/b]), Rob Schneider makes his usual pointless Sandler movie cameo, and James Cromwell adds gravitas as warden Hazen. Lastly Reynolds plays Nate Scarborough in a cringeworthy performance that isn't helped by the fact his ancient character steps in to play as a replacement and manages to score a touchdown. Because of course he does. I can't single out any one cast member though seeing as they were all pretty terrible. Twas like watching amateur dramatics half the time.

All in all this entire venture just seemed pointless. A chance for Sandler to mess around with his mates and call it work, and Reynolds needing work. What makes it so painful is the fact they've totally missed the point of the original movie by cutting the actual drama. Yeah there is some funny visual stuff sure, but you balance that with gritty tension of the prison setting. The only part they kinda got right was the death of Caretaker, but cutting back into infantile humour so quickly just destroys any emotional impact. Maybe if they hadn't aimed this at the moronic teenage MTV crowd (obligatory rap soundtrack...ugh!) it could of been half decent. But even then what's the point when the original captured it all so perfectly. And that's where I'm gonna end this, stick to the original.

Honey, I Blew Up the Kid
1 day ago via Flixster
½

After the first (successful) movie surrounding shrinkage, and being heavily influenced by some classic sci-fi flicks of the 50's, it was inevitable that we'd see this. Again heavily influenced by some classic black and white sci-fi movies of the 50's, we now find the Szalinskis' with a bigger problem. Yep its basically 'Attack of the 50 Foot Baby' or another 'King Kong' clone/homage.

The plot: Well the title says it all really. Oh OK, set five years after the tiny events of the first movie, the Szalinskis' now live in Nevada. They have a new two year old son called Adam, Nick is now a teenager and Amy has gone to college. Funnily enough Wayne (Rick Moranis) is now working on a ray gun that will increase the size of objects. On a routine trip to his work space at Sterling Labs, little Adam is accidentally zapped with the ray but nothing seems to happen. Later on at home Adam is exposed to electrical waves from the microwave which appear to trigger the enlargement process. Slowly Adam begins to gradually grow bigger and bigger; Wayne and Nick must now try to reverse the process before Adam becomes a danger to himself and others.

So again the main draw here are the effects, the big breezy colourful effects. How do they stand up? Well not too well really. OK lets start positive, there are numerous sequences where it appears that they used someone in a large bodysuit. In some scenes we see live action shots Moranis with a live action giant toddler, but if you look closely this does appear to be a very good bodysuit on an obviously tall person. These shots are always from behind the large toddler so as not to give the game away but they are very effective. This showcases the innovation of the effects crew which unfortunately could only go so far. Other than the usual oversized and undersized props, which are always highly effective if sometimes a bit rubbery looking, much of this movie has to rely on bluescreen and rear projection.

And this is where the movie really falls down, the terrible terrible bluescreen/rear projection effects. The bulk of the effects are unfortunately reliant on these techniques and alas it all stands out like a sore thumb. There are clear brightness differences between the live action in the foreground and projected background. Thick black lines outline much of the effects and the colours are faded throughout. Overall the effect is just way too obvious and really takes you out of the movie. Heck even some of the large sets are bad looking, when Nick and his young female counterpart are riding in Adams oversized pocket, it just looks poor. There are some nice touches of forced perspective in a few shots but again you can see right through them. Don't get me wrong I give them an A for effort but clearly the effects team needed more money or skills, many movies came out before this and looked way better.

Other than the effects there isn't a great deal on offer here frankly. The plot sees a cliched company villain (John Shea) going after the oversized Adam for his own nefarious dastardly deeds (still not entirely sure why he gets fired by Sterling, for being mean?). This inevitably brings about the inevitable 'King Kong' homages as they use helicopters to try and tranquilise Adam. Lloyd Bridges pops up as Clifford Sterling, president of the Sterling company, a company that does...scientific type stuff. Obviously Bridges brings his own brand of spoof-esque humour which is fine but a bit childish, yeah I know its a kids flick but still. Moranis brings home his lovable nerdy Louis Tulley-esque character again; complete with more outrageous inventions which are admittedly pleasing to the eye. Nothing new really, they reverse or mirror some scenes and dialog from the first movie.

The movie ends in Vegas which generally looks horrendous from start to finish effects wise. The movie also becomes very stupid as they apparently evacuate the Las Vegas strip in around five minutes. They also manage to coordinate getting all the lights switched off down the strip in five minutes, like all of them! No one gets hurt, nothing gets damaged, and the way they placate Adam is vomit inducing. I guess its all understandable seeing as its essentially a kids movie but its still very lame, lazy and dull.

Doesn't help that the kid they use for the role of Adam is just kinda annoying, but that's just me. I think the problem here is the over use of an idea, the Kong sized threat. Add to that the fact its a giant toddler which isn't particularly interesting or threatening, and of course the fact the first movie used a less common theme which was executed way better. Overall its all adds up to a relatively fun movie with the odd decent moment. Its just fails to capture the magic of the first movie; in this case miniature things are more fun I think.

The Man with Two Brains
2 days ago via Flixster

Easily the best collaboration between Martin and Reiner in their long movie errm...collaborations. Its Martin's second zany wacky off the wall movie after 'The Jerk' which wasn't as madcap as this. In this work of genius Martin is set free to basically come up with as much lunacy as he possibly can and boy does he.

The plot is somewhat sensible I guess, a brain surgeon falls for the sexy Kathleen Turner only to eventually discover she is a gold digger and doesn't give a shit about anyone really. In the mean time Martin falls in love with a disembodied brain (in a jar) and decides to try and rescue it with a new fresh sexy body.

The whole idea is basically a B-movie homage to various ridiculous horror concepts and at the same time an influence for many future raunchy trashy 80's teen comedies, it serves dual purpose. Its not exactly a full spoof but it comes close at times, its just an insane comedy with surreal touches of outlandish humour that borders on spoof.

Most of the funny moments tend to be sexual innuendo or sight gags, some childish some clever and witty, whilst others are clearly in there just for the hell of it, probably created on the spot. Take Martin's character name for instance...Dr Hfuhruhurr, we here Martin say his name properly right at the start but from then on almost everybody pronounces it differently as they struggle to say it, most just give up. This is such a stupid gag ,its infantile, but it works so brilliantly every time yet you don't really know why. You know its stupid but seeing all the various characters pronounce it so randomly is just so fudging funny. The joke is even extended to a few other characters also, you'd think it would get old but it still manages to make you smile.

What hit me was how old the film looked, it was released in 83 but it looks like a 70's flick to me. Everything really looks so dated nowadays but I think some of it is deliberate, made to look cheap like an old fashioned mad scientist movie. Naturally the fake castle laboratory within the apartment (nice switch) is the cheesy stereotypical mad scientist vibe for this kind of thing. I like how they include that simply for that reason and actually say that in the film hehe could almost be a Leslie Nielsen vehicle.

Its also easy to forget how hot Turner was back in the day, she smoulders here as the evil temptress or black widow. I also like the various bits of ass on display too (yeah sue me). I do recall watching this as a kid and thinking it was a dirty film, to a kid the material shown is quite kinky and revealing for sure, the dialog is also pretty smutty and only now as an adult do I appreciate it, much like all the humour.

This has to be Martin's best film or close to, its such a shame he never really did anymore off the wall flicks like this. There is so much that works here, so many little gags and visual nuggets that are admittedly so daft (the very quick human pinball scene) you just can't help but like it (unless you dislike Steve Martin's style of course). Its rude crazy and predictable (with a brief bit of in your face racism!) but for me its probably one of the best comedies made.

'The only time we doctors should accept death is when it's caused by our own incompetence'

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids
3 days ago via Flixster
½

Could there be anything more cliched and corny than the idea of a weedy, crazy haired, spectacled, crazy inventor type nerd who's wacky creation gets out of hand? Probably not, but that didn't stop this idea becoming something of a monster hit back in the late 80's. I remember the time well, this movie was almost like the [i]Jurassic Park[/i] of the day with everyone going nuts over the special effects and innovation of the story (despite the fact the idea had been explored thoroughly during the 50's). And who better to portray this lovable geeky inventor than Rick Moranis, the man who made a career out of playing lovable geeks.

The plot: Its pretty simple really. Eccentric inventor Wayne Szalinski (Moranis) manages to construct a large ray gun that is capable of shrinking objects in size. Unfortunately he is unable to perfect his machine resulting in much frustration and him being mocked at a conference. Its during said conference that Wayne's kids (and the neighbours kids) are accidentally shrunk by the ray gun which had previously been accidentally switched on by a lone baseball. Eventually Wayne and his wife Diane realise what happened and start to hunt for the shrunken kids. In the meantime the kids are in a life and death situation after being ejected into the garden and are trying to reach the safety of the house (whilst trying to grab the adults attention).

The movie does start off slow as we get introduced to all the various characters; indicators for the pending adventure. Nick Szalinski is obviously much like his father, looks a bit of a nerd, scrawny, spectacles, but has brains. Amy Szalinski is the attractive, older level-headed sister of Nick. Ron is one of the Thompson kids from next door, he is a bit chunky and a bit of bully. And lastly there is Russ Thompson, older brother of Ron and again like Amy he is more level-headed and has some looks. In fact he has a crush on Amy that flourishes over the course of the movie. And of course both sets of kid have issues with their folks that cause friction at early points; which of course get addressed and ironed out during the adventure. So overall its a stereotypical little gang, no real surprises.

As with many other fantasy movies the real core interest was in the adventure and how the special effects came across. I remember at the time it was hard to escape the media attention this movie got for its shrinking effects, there was a lot of hype. Looking back now its very amusing how quaint these effects look, I'm not being negative but you can't help but smirk when harking back. In general this movie was definitely a case of, certain shots and sequences would look really great...even now. But then on the other hand certain shots and sequences would look really bad...even worse now.

The best moments are easily when we see the kids on oversized sets against large props; these are the classic shots that obviously hark back to certain golden oldies of the 50's. Its these shots that really sell the idea that the kids are truly microscopic. Just simple things like the texture of the wooden floor in the attic, giant toys, Cheerios, nails, screws, dust, cookies (which served as a food source) etc...Its also other small details such as a little trickle of water in the garden being a gushing river, and the odd dead insect floating around. The fact that the garden becomes a dense dangerous jungle for of all manner of hazards. It doesn't sound overly amazing or anything but its these tiny details that really sell it. I also liked how they didn't shy away from gross things like dead and scary bugs.

Not all the bugs were scary though. At one point Nick accidentally rides a very obvious rubbery bumblebee after falling into a very rubbery looking nectar patch on a flower. The kids also befriend a very rubbery and limited animatronic puppet baby ant (which to them was a giant rideable creature). The ant doesn't really do much for the kids until it is called on to defend them from a scorpion (would there be scorpions in this type of garden environment?). Alas the baby ant is easily killed by the scorpion and we are presented with one of the most tear jerking moments for kids since Optimus Prime died, maybe. Yes the ant was blatantly fake looking and could hardly move...but God damn it hits you hard when the little blighter dies (sniff!).

Indeed I mention rubbery items there, that is one factor that stands out a lot when looking back (probably even at the time). There are a lot of things that do look terribly rubbery or plastic. Some things look great, some things do not. The giant insects do suffer in this way I'm afraid, the giants plants also suffer in the same way. It doesn't ruin the movie but I'm just saying it does stand out. Unfortunately it doesn't help when rubbery things are accompanied with horribly dated bluescreen effects (greenscreen now). Again the bumblebee ride really suffers here as does various shots/sequences of the kids against live action actors or pets. The now famous sequence of the kids running off the dogs snout onto a table is a terrific idea but boy does it look fake in motion. When Wayne is about to eat Nick in his bowl of Cheerios, great idea, looks pretty awful now. Although the close up shots of Nick in an actual bowl of milk with giant Cheerios looks sweet.

Its kinda ironic that this movie actually feels way more like a Disney theme park experience than an actual movie. The whole visual escapade seems so perfect for their theme parks it makes you wonder how no one thought of it earlier. The array of big chunky colourful props and sets, and the brilliantly geeky inventions of Szalinski such as the shrink ray gun or the 'keep off the grass' robot, all marvellously visualised by Joe Johnston and his crew. So yes this is clearly a very visual movie experience (perfect for 3D). On the flip side if we're honest, the plot is pretty shallow and the characters are simplistic and cliched. This isn't a big problem here but I think Rick Moranis saves the rather drab casting. This is just one of those roles where you can't really picture anyone else in it, hmmm...maybe Christopher Lloyd. Anyway to sum up, not quite as epic as you might recall, but certainly a good all round family romp.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
6 days ago via Flixster
½

We all thought it had ended with the trilogy but no! As in this modern age there had to be a continuation, it had to be milked and a milked it shall be. New director, change of cast line up and a new myth to explore, this franchise has become the Indiana Jones of the era.

This film takes elements from actual real history this time and blends them with classic fantasy. The real bits involve the legendary English pirate Edward Teach and his flagship Queen Anne's Revenge and the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon. Now this plot has relaxed a bit, its not a complicated mess of sub plots and tonnes of characters. Sparrow is off to sea once again to find the fountain of youth, alongside him is Barbossa who is now a privateer for the British Navy. At the same time Blackbeard is also after the fountain along with the dastardly Spanish and their religious thoughts. Each party has their own reasons naturally which does as usual involve some double crossing and twists.

I must admit to liking the intergration of actual history into the plot this time. The franchise has slowly used various common old fables and sea myths to its advantage which has worked well, this time the inclusion of some real historic figures gives the whole thing a bit more class, credibility and a small sense of realism. Of course old Blackbeard has been given a slightly spruced up look with black leather top to bottom by the looks of it, aiming for the cool factor a bit too much methinks.

Gotta say I didn't really like the whole supernatural power thing Blackbeard had over his ship with the magic cutlass. That seemed pointless if you ask me, if he can control the ship like that then why use a crew? His galleon has also been given a very fantasised appearance which makes it look like a unique ghost ride attraction in a fairground. Oh and his ship breaths fire out the front? really? Did we need that silliness? They'd probably burn down their own ship with it.

Next to that we see mermaids which is about time really if you think about it. The fact they are actually fearsome creatures that kill innocent sailors was a nice touch if rather obvious. But that plot detail causes confusion with the main mermaid character who we are meant to feel for, but that's hard knowing her kind are merciless killers of the deep, plus the 'Splash' finale for her was too much cinematic deja vu.

I think the film in general is let down by totally unrealistic action sequences that just feel implausible when they are suppose to be reasonably plausible. The escape set piece at the start is a good example, its overly long and over the top in every sense. Sparrow is leaping around like an acrobat (clearly a stunt double) and doing things that just wouldn't work, the worst bit is seeing all the English soldiers prat falling about everywhere trying to catch him, its cringing. We all know the franchise is suppose to be fun fantasy but apart from the actual supernatural stuff you do expect a degree of slight realism with some stunts. If it becomes too outrageous then it ceases to be fun and simply becomes a joke, what's worse is the fact its not meant to be that kind of joke.

The film is full of these daft action sequences really, it looks bad because we all know Sparrow isn't that kind of character, we had Turner in the trilogy for that. So now seeing the campy Sparrow mincing about doing these big hero stunts looks stupid as its actually taken semi seriously. As I said earlier the plot does also go down the route of old Indy with the chalices thing and especially the finale for Blackbeard which is pretty much a rip off from 'Raiders' and 'The Last Crusade'.

Altogether the adventure feels a bit flat to me, nothing much happens that we haven't seen before or made me go wow! Most of the characters are running low on juice now accept for Barbossa who is always brilliantly played by Rush. Cruz was a bad casting choice and did nothing whilst McShane wasn't all that intimidating as Blackbeard if you ask me. Kudos to Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey for being gorgeously cute as the mermaid and Richard Griffiths in a small role as King George II at the start.

On the whole very very average in my opinion, hyper stunt laden action sequences can't divert from the fact the film is actually kinda dull. It all looks terrific and very atmospheric in that Monkey Island kinda way but you can tell the difference in direction with the film, it does stand out. I just feel they have now used up most avenues of pirate legend both real and fantasy, I can't see what they can do in the fifth film without it being a complete rehash, especially with this struggling for a fresh look. Who's left to utilize? Long John Silver? Sinbad? YellowBeard? What other old creatures and myths can they possibly crowbar in?? Atlantis?

The fact they even squeezed in the minute unrelated hobby of ships in a bottle shows how far they were stretched to incorporate anything remotely olde worlde and piratey into the film. I think this film just about manages to be semi acceptable but that's now it, no more can or should be done. I think Sparrow has had his moment in the spotlight, time to retire in the sun matey.