Category: Movie Opinions

The Ninja Turtle Controversy

Like a lot of people my age, I was a die hard Ninja Turtles fan as a kid, and still am to this day.  I still have the movies, DVDs of the show, action figures buried in my garage, yadda, yadda, yadda.  I could go on all day.  But bottom-line: I love the Ninja Turtles.  So when I found out there was going to be a revamped live action turtles movie, I got pretty excited.  This will be a re-boot, and I think the time is right for one.  2007’s animated TMNT was a solid film from the old universe, but it’s time to move on and take the Turtles to a bigger stage.  When I found out that Michael Bay was producing, my feelings were…mixed.  There’s been a lot of controversy surrounding this film, and it’s still well over 15 months away.  I have a lot to say, so let’s stop being a Michelangelo and wasting time, and let’s get into this whole Turtle debacle.

There are both positives and negatives to Michael Bay’s involvement.  Let me be very clear about this: I hate the Transformer movies.  I’ll repeat that: I hate the Transformer movies.  But the one thing I can say about them is that they were given a big stage, and had a shit load of money behind them.  With Bay producing, I can only assume the Turtles will get the same treatment.  And my assumptions have already proven to be correct.  The film will open on Christmas 2013.  That’s a big boy release date.  This logically means the film will get a huge budget, something the Turtles have never really had.

So what are the negatives?  Well, it goes back to the Transformer movies.  What I detest most about those films is the humor.  It’s Jar Jar Binks level comedy.  And the Transformers aren’t even supposed to be that funny.  With the Turtles already being somewhat comical characters at times, I can only imagine what hi-jinx Bay will subject my childhood to.  Will Michelangelo fart and go, ‘Whoa dudes, looks like I had way too much quac and pepperoni pizza.  Cowastinka, dudes!’  Yea…this is a real possibility.  But thankfully, Bay isn’t actually directing.  The guy they got however might be worse.

The director for this movie is Jonathan Liebesman.  For those who don’t know, Liebesman directed not only my least favorite movie of last year, but one of my least favorite movies of all time: Battle Los Angeles.  Filmmaking doesn’t get much worse then this atrocious display.  The shaky cam is out of control, and you can’t tell what the hell is going on.  Imagine watching a climactic Splinter/Shredder fight, but you can’t even see it, because this guy thinks its hip and cool to shake the camera while filming it (shudder).  Now thankfully, I saw Wrath of the Titans a few weeks ago, a movie directed by none other than Jonathan Liebesman.  While it’s not a great movie by any stretch, the action at least was pretty stellar, but it still had some shaky cam here and there.  Hopefully by the time he sits down to direct Ninja Turtles, the shaky cam will be out of his system.  But one of the other issues I have with the Transformer movies is that you can’t tell what’s going on in the action either.  With Bay and Liebesman working together, I’m obviously nervous.

Those are really my two biggest concerns: Bay’s influence, and the director.  But let’s get to the real controversy surrounding this film.  Bay confirmed that the Turtles aren’t going to be mutants, but actually aliens from another planet.  We all know the original Turtle origin:  They are four baby turtles, they fall down a sewer, they get into green radioactive material, and we’re off and running.  But now this entire origin is gone as they are supposedly now coming to Earth as aliens.  So how do I feel about this change?

I’m not one of these fanboys that bitch about things getting changed from the source material.  As long as you make it good, I’m happy.  In fact, when a story element is kept the same just to please fans, it can be a recipe for disaster.  Sometimes you got to change it up.  I always use the Dark Knight example for this argument.  People flipped out when the entire origin of the Joker was changed from a guy getting doused in chemicals inflicting him with permanent white skin to a guy who has scars and splashes white make-up on his face.  Director Christopher Nolan changed the Joker for the better. 

But here’s the problem with Ninja Turtles – we aren’t talking about Christopher Nolan…we’re talking about Michael Bay.  I’m not concerned with the fact that the Turtle origin is getting revamped, I’m concerned that it’s Michael Baydoing the revamping.  But to be honest, this whole alien race thing doesn’t concern me as much as the concerns I expressed earlier with the humor and shaky action.  I think the alien race thing could actually work.  And if I may point out, there was an episode of the original cartoon series where the Turtles visit the Planet of the Turtleoids where they encountered an entire planet of Turtles, and that was a pretty damn good episode.  And who knows…with aliens and other planets getting introduced, that could leave the door open for Krang to make an appearance, something Turtle fans have been clamoring for to be in a live action movie for years.

At the end of the day, I pray this movie is awesome.  I’m not going to sit here and tell you the Turtles are this serious property that can be taken to the heights other superheroes like Batman and X-Men have been taken to, but it’s not a dumb silly concept either, alright!  The Ninja Turtles mean a lot to me, and I’m just hoping for something good that keeps the Turtle brand going…and if sucks, I can always pop in the original 1990 classic.

TURTLE POWER

Why is Pirates of the Caribbean so Popular?

I just learned a few days ago that Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides became only the 8th movie in history to cross the $1 billion dollar mark worldwide.  This completely floored me.  I understand the success of something like Transformers.  Cars transform into giant robots and beat the shit out of each other.  I get that’s a recipe for box office success.  While I hate the Transformer movies with a burning passion, I at least understand their appeal.  But the money making machine that is Pirates of the Caribbean just baffles me.  Why are these movies so popular?

Now I’ve never liked the series.  I think all three are long, boring, and mediocre at best.  In fact, I may even like 2 and 3 more, which is really out there.  They are so dumb to the point where it’s kind of entertaining, like watching a car crash.  There is not one thing that interests me about this franchise.  I guess there’s pretty good action, but it takes forever to get there.

When the 4th one was announced, I truly believed nobody cared about these movies anymore.  And when the trailers came out, I thought they were the most unappealing previews in the history of movies.  If these trailers were good for anything, they helped me to go to bed.  And then I saw the actual movie.  It’s not that this movie is horrible.  There’s just nothing there.  It’s the definition of ‘going through the motions.’  There’s one good scene with mermaids, but other than that, I couldn’t tell you one thing I remembered about this film.   

I was confident after its first weekend, that On Stranger Tides would go away, conjuring up mediocre business and I would never have to think about this franchise ever again.  Boy was I wrong.  $1 billion dollars.  How on Earth does this film make $1 billion dollars!  I really need someone who enjoys this movie to sit next to me and explain what it is they like so much.  Movies don’t make $1 billion dollars without people going for repeat viewings.  The thought of sitting through this film more than once is horrifying.  What the hell is it about On Stranger Tides that garnered so much cash!  Is it the fact that they do nothing but repeat scenes from the original?  Is it the stock villain we’ve seen 500 times before?  Is it Penelope Cruz’s barely attentive performance?  SOMEONE PLEASE TELL ME!

Wait a minute…I know why.  Is it really Johnny Depp’s performance as Jack Sparrow?  That’s why people come back for more.  You’ve got to be kidding me.  What is so damn interesting about this character?  He stumbles around drunk in pirate make-up.  That’s it.  That’s the character.  I guess he’s mildly entertaining for about ten minutes, but four 2 hour plus movies?  Cut me a break.  He never had a clear goal or motive: he just floats around aimlessly and does whatever is most convenient at the exact moment.  How does that make for a good film?  It’s like the movie can just make it up as it goes along.  Not to sound like an intellectual ass bag, but pardon me if I want a little structure.  I really do detest this character.  It’s the most overrated performance in modern film.

Well, I guess I just need to accept Pirates of the Caribbean is going to be with us for a very, very long time.  Even though these films aren’t worse than a franchise like Transformers, I think the success of Pirates bothers me more.  I can point out ‘A+’ elements in every Transformers film, even the atrocity that is the second one (Revenge of the Fallen).  But the Pirates movies are all ‘C+’ at best.  They do nothing interesting.  The plots are impossible to follow.  They are just there.  $1 billion dollars for Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides…unbelievable.

Oscar Predictions! 2011

Oh, here we go!  Hollywood’s big night of glorifying themselves in one room.  But seriously, as much as I dislike the hoopla and bad jokes, I am excited and interested to see who wins the actual awards.  So here are my predictions that I’m sure will be wrong.  Also, I’m not going to pretend like I know what’s going with Documentary, Foreign Language, and short films, so I won’t be predicting those. 

Best Picture

Nominees: 127 Hours, Black Swan, Inception, The Fighter, The Social Network, The King’s Speech, Toy Story 3, True Grit, Winter’s Bone, The Kids Are All Right

Prediction: The King’s Speech
-It’s boring.  It’s mediocre.  It’s an Oscar Best Picture Winner.

Best Director

Nominees: Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan), Joel and Ethan Coen (True Grit), David Fincher (Social Network), David O. Russell (The Fighter), Tom Hooper (King’s Speech)

Prediction: David Fincher (Social Network)
-I could just complain about Christopher Nolan (Inception) not being nominated, but I’ll move on and just say Fincher is deserving and will win this. 

Best Actor

Nominees: Colin Firth (King’s Speech), Jesse Eisenberg (Social Network), Jeff Bridges (True Grit), Javier Bardem (Biutiful), James Franco (127 Hours)

Prediction: Colin Firth (King’s Speech)
-This is the one award King’s Speech actually deserves.  Firth will win it easily.

Best Actress

Nominees: Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right), Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole), Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone), Natalie Portman (Black Swan), Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine)

Prediction: Natalie Portman (Black Swan)
-I’ve accepted the fact that the King’s Speech will win Best Picture, so this is the award I’m most nervous about.  Portman is so deserving of this, that if Bening wins, it will be such a blatant “Ohhhhhh, but come on, she’s been nominated so many times” bull shit factor.  Bening is great, but Portman gives a “holy shit” performance.  Please Academy, please.  Do what’s right.

Best Supporting Actor

Nominees: Christian Bale (The Fighter), John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone), Jeremy Renner (The Town), Mark Ruffalo (The Kids Are All Right), Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech)

Prediction: Christian Bale (The Fighter)
-If Bale doesn’t win this, I’ll never take the Oscars seriously again.

Best Supporting Actress

Nominees: Amy Adams (The Fighter), Helena Bonham Carter (King’s Speech), Melissa Leo (The Fighter), Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit), Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom)

Prediction: Melissa Leo (The Fighter)
-This is by far the closest race of all the major categories.  Amy Adams, Hailee Steinfeld, and Melissa Leo all have a legit shot.  I’m fine with any of them winning, but I think it will be Melissa Leo in the end.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Nominees: Danny Boyle, Simon Beafoy (127 Hours), Aaron Sorkin (Social Network), Michael Arndt, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich (Toy Story 3), Joel Coen, Ethan Coen (True Grit), Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini (Winter’s Bone)

Prediction: Aaron Sorkin (Social Network)
-Sorkin won, the end.

Best Original Screenplay

Nominees: Mike Leigh (Another Year), Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson, Keith Dorrington (The Fighter), Christopher Nolan (Inception), Lisa Cholodenko, Stuart Bloomberg, (The Kids Are All Right), David Seidler (King’s Speech)

Prediction: David Seidler (King’s Speech)
-I’m sure it will be Seidler (King’s Speech), but there is a very small hope for Nolan (Inception).  I’m not just being emotional, I think it could really happen.

Quick Predictions

Cinematography: Roger Deakins (True Grit)
Art Direction: Jess Gonchor, Nancy Haigh (True Grit)
Costume Design: Jenny Beaven (King’s Speech)
Sound Mixing: Lora Hirschberg, Gary Rizzo, Ed Novick (Inception)
Editing: Kirk Baxter, Angus Wall (Social Network)
Sound Editing: Richard King (Inception)
Visual Effects: Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley, Pete Bebb, Paul J. Franklin (Inception)
Make-Up: Edouard F. Henriques, Greg Funk, Yolanda Toussieng (The Way Back)
Original Song: A.R. Rahman, Roland ‘Rollo’ Armstrong, Dido for “If I Rise” (127 Hours)
Original Score: Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross (Social Network)
Animated Film: Lee Unkrich (Toy Story 3)

Top 10 Movie Fights

Sometimes it’s the climax to a film, other times it comes out of nowhere, but regardless of where it happens, a great movie fight can live on forever and sometimes even become legendary.  Whether it’s a gun fight, a power based battle, or just a straight up hand-to-hand match-up, there are many elements that make up a great movie fight.  Some things for me are the intensity level, the music, the dialogue, and the spectacle.  I love watching two enemies, or even friends, engage in fisticuffs, so I might as well share the ten movie fights that mean the most to me.  “Ding

*Overall spoilers for these movies included.  Be warned.

10) Oddjob VS James Bond (Goldfinger)

-For much of the fight, it’s not really a fight.  Oddjob tosses Bond like a rag doll multiple times.  Bond goes all out though.  At the start of the fight, he leaps at Oddjob’s neck, but it all goes downhill from there.  Obviously Bond wins in the end with a bit of trickery with Oddjob’s iconic hat.  The two things that make this fight memorable for me though are that there’s something about it being at Fort Knox making it extra bad ass.  Also, Oddjob’s smirks and smiles throughout this fight are great.  He gets hit with a big metal pole right in the face and Oddjob is just like, “Whatever dude.”

9) Leonardo VS Raphael (TMNT)

-I’ve been a Ninja Turtles fan since as long as I can remember, and this fight was a culmination for turtle fans everywhere.  The rest of the movie is good, but it’s nothing compared to the fight between the leader of the turtles and his short tempered brother who’ve been at odds for the entire duration of the franchise.  To see them duke it out and hold nothing back was pretty intense.  Watching the sais and katana swords clang together as the rain comes pouring down was both exciting and nerve-racking.  But never did I expect Raphael would actually win as the blades of Leonardo crack under his sais.  OMFG.

8 – The Joker VS Batman (The Dark Knight)

-It may not be the most exciting fight in the world, but part of what makes a great movie fight is the dialogue and circumstances, and it doesn’t get much better than a Batman/Joker match-up.  What makes it so great is that the Joker is obviously overmatched physically, but of course he puts himself in a position of strength at the start, sending the dogs at Batman.  From there we get classic Jokerisms; bashing Batman with a crow bar, hidden knives, and snickering laughter.  But it’s Batman who has the last laugh in this fight as the most bad ass exchange of dialogue is exchanged between the two characters.  “Do you know how I got these scars?”  “No…but I know how you got these!”

7) Smith VS Neo (The Matrix)

-Let me be very clear.  I’m not talking about the piece of shit fights from the sequels.  The subway fight at the end of the original is what it’s all about.  The music is just absolutely outstanding and matches the combat so beautifully.  I don’t have a lot to say about this fight, it’s just insane fantasy martial arts.  Also, Hugo Weaving is bad ass.

6) Voldemort VS Dumbledore (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix)

-This battle is just fricking crazy.  It’s the type of stuff lame Gandalf and other wizards wish they could do.  Voldemort and Dumbledore simply don’t hold back.  I don’t know what else they could have possibly done.  There’s crazy fire spells, Voldemort gets wrapped up in a watery snow globe thing, there’s a massive shock wave of energy, just insane.  The sound effects were phenomenal all the way through and really gave this fight its soul.  If there’s anyone out there who says this fight is underwhelming, I don’t want to know them.

5) Judge Doom VS Eddie Valiant (Who Framed Roger Rabbit)

-The best way to describe this fight is that it’s a live action cartoon fight, and boy is it a good one.  Judge Doom is insane and the weapons that are used in this fight are equally insane.  There’s portable holes, extendo-glove hammers, giant magnets, anvils, and…singing swords?  Anyways, if that stuff doesn’t make it for a good fight, I don’t know what does.

4) Chong Li VS Frank Dux (Bloodsport)

-“You break my record.  Now I break you…like I break your friend.”  This is the line that begins the final match of the Kumite in Bloodsport.  This fight has it all; ridiculous martial arts, the villain cheating, the hero having to remember his training, and above all else, absolutely fricking epic music!  There’s one point in the fight where the camera circles around the ring as Chong Li and Dux circle each other, and the intensity level and music here is just off the charts.  And the ending to the fight could not be more perfect.  I love this fight and I love this movie.

3) Ivan Drago VS Rocky Balboa (Rocky IV)

-When people look up epic in the dictionary there should be a picture of Rocky and Ivan Drago fighting from Rocky IV.  Talk about a fight that doesn’t hold back.  It just lets loose.  Rocky takes a beating, especially some really hard shots to the head which they actually revisit in Rocky V.  The amount of punches thrown throughout this fight is insane.  And I love all the split screens and freeze frames, it’s just glorious.  But once again, it’s the music that drives this battle.  There’s a moment right before Round 14 begins where Rocky and Drago have this big stare down and the music is just epic.  Some people will say it’s over the top, but I say this fight is a masterpiece.  Drago says it best right before the final round; “To the end.”

2) The Star Wars Lightsaber Duels (Star Wars Saga)

-I’m including all of them in one spot.  Each duel has their own feel and circumstances, which is what makes them so special.  You can experience the emotional duels between Luke and Vader in Episodes V and VI.  Or how about a fast-pace duel on Naboo between Darth Maul, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Qui-Gon Jinn.  Let’s not forget about the not fucking around duel between Emperor and Yoda in the Senate Room where they rip that place to shreds.  How about the retirement duel in Episode IV, where Obi-Wan Kenobi has one last hurrah against Vader.  But the lightsaber duel that takes the cake and probably the most anticipated movie fight of all time is between Darth Vader and Obi-Wan Kenobi in Episode III on the lava planet of Mustafar.  They just go fricking nuts.  We always heard about their famous lava battle for years, but when I finally saw it on screen in all its glory, it was truly a fight for the ages.  Absolutely amazing.

1) Robert Fischer’s Sub-Conscious VS Arthur (Inception  

-Maybe it’s the shortest one on the list, but for me, it’s the best one.  I really want to try and put into words how incredible this sequence is but I can’t.  Seeing it in the movie theater was really one of the most remarkable experiences I’ve had at the cinema.  This isn’t even a big moment in the film, and the bad guy is just some random dude who’s not even real.  It doesn’t have the dialogue in a fight that I love so much.  The music is certainly there though and it’s just a fricking great sequence that ends abruptly leaving you salivating for more.  And that’s where its greatness truly lies.

Top 10 Movies of 2010

This was a damn good year for movies.  There weren’t a lot of good movies, but there were a handful of great ones.  It was truly a quality not quantity year.  Especially my top six, which are all fantastic and they are films I will continue to watch over and over again.  But let’s cut the crap and get into it…My Top 10 Movies of 2010.

10) The Kids Are All Right

-Great acting all around here, but most notably Annette Bening and Mark Ruffalo.  Dramedies are hard to do, but this blends the two elements perfectly.  What I really love about this movie is the ending.  The very last scene really hits hard.  You get some intense shouting matches, and the tension between Bening and Ruffalo is truly the meat of the film. 

9) I Love You Phillip Morris

-What’s amazing is this is based on a true story.  Jim Carrey is such a damn good actor, and I hope someday he gets an Oscar. The movie starts out a little slow, but gets progressively better as Carrey plays Steven Russell, a gay con-man who is just fricking nuts.  His schemes get crazier and crazier, but they also get funnier and funnier.  But at the heart of this insane character there is a lot of drama playing out.  Ewan McGregor as Phillip Morris is also up to par with Carrey’s acting.

8 – The Fighter

-The only reason this movie is on the list is because of Christian Bale who gives the best performance of the year as cracked out former boxer Dickie Eklund.  Bale is so fricking good in this movie.  He’s so good, poor Mark Wahlberg melts away when they’re on screen together.  The scene towards the end where Dickie has to give Mickey Ward a pump up speech is delivered so well, I was shaking in the theater.  Also, Melissa Leo and Amy Adams are great too, but this is all about Bale, Bale, Bale.

7) Kick-Ass

-If you had to describe Kick-Ass in one word it would be “fun.”  Everyone talks about Chloe Grace Moretz as the little girl who slaughters a gazillion people, but Nicolas Cage’s one scene where he gets to fight as his alter ego “Big Daddy” was so bad ass, I can’t even put it into words.  The movie goes on a little long and gets a little too crazy towards the end, but the best part about Kick-Ass is that it’s about five genres of film happening at once and they all work seamlessly.

6) Hot Tub Time Machine

-Let me tell you something; I haven’t laughed this hard at a movie in years.  I’m a negative nelly when it comes to comedies today.  I’m not a Steve Carell fan.  I don’t like the Judd Apatow gang.  Comedies to me are no where near where they were in the 80’s and 90’s.  But for one glorious day, Hot Tub Time Machine really did take me back in time to the good ole days.  It’s just a bunch of regular guys with hysterical dialogue.  It didn’t need a Will Ferrell or Zach Galifianakis gimmick.  The foursome of John Cusack, Craig Robinson, Clark Duke, and especially Rob Corddry just trusted the script and delivered with great comic timing.  I’m saddened no one cared or saw this movie.  The Hangover may be a better constructed story, but most of its jokes relied on shock value.  Hot Tub Time Machine consistently made me laugh for ninety minutes.

5) Black Swan

-For years I didn’t know if Natalie Portman was a good actress.  She’s terrible in the Star Wars Prequels and even in V for Vendetta I felt she was the weak link.  But now I know…OMFG.  Her acting at the end of this movie was frightening.  Darren Aronofsky is one of the best directors in Hollywood today.  He just unloads the most maddening and depressing images like they’re on sale at Wal-Mart.  Mila Kunis is great also, but its Aronofsky and Portman who will have you reflecting on this one for days.

4) Toy Story 3

-This is Pixar’s best movie by far.  I’ve never cried over a movie, but this fricking toy opus really tested my resolve.  It’s clever, it’s funny, and it’s bitter sweet in the end.  The other two Toy Story movies look like Caddyshack 2 by comparison.  (Spoilers Next) The scene where the toys go through the garbage furnace was some of the most intense suspense I’ve ever experienced in a theater.

3) The Social Network

-I get so turned off by Aaron Sorkin’s pretentious and fast talking bull shit, but now I’m his biggest fan after the Social Network.  There are like 95 unbelievable speeches and monologues in this movie.  And I’ve never been a David Fincher fan either, but now I can’t wait to see what he does next.  What’s so fascinating about his direction is that he had me siding with the biggest asshole of all time.  But Jesse Eisenberg is so funny and direct when playing Mark Zuckerberg that I just had to root for him.  But the man who steals the show is Justin Timberlake.  Forget your music career Justin, go act more.  He should be nominated for an Oscar, but he won’t.  Bottom line though; this movie kicks ass and has great replay value.

2) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

-Don’t be fooled by its elaborate special effects and big budget…this is a character driven piece, and it’s a damn good one.  Much like 2009’s Star Trek, there is so much flashiness surrounding everything, but you still care more about the characters rather than what’s around them.  This is high on my list because there are so many great scenes that I can’t even decipher which ones are my favorites.  I could go with Ron opening the horcrux…or maybe the terrifying Voldemort scene at Malfoy Manner where he basically makes twenty Dark Wizards shit their pants.  Or how about the opening montage where Hermione erases her parents memories to protect them.  That’s some serious shit.  And the three main actors just aren’t getting enough credit.  They are spectacular.  This movie is well over 2 hours long, but it flies by for me.  I love this film.

1) Inception

-When I read that there was a sci-fi movie in the works directed by Christopher Nolan and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, it was destined to be number one on my list.  How much fun is it to talk about this movie?  I could talk about it for days.  This film is flawless.  It’s original, it’s got great characters, the story is off the charts, and not to mention it may have the greatest fight in the history of cinema.  It will be a crime if Hans Zimmer’s score doesn’t win an Oscar for Best Score.  I really have nothing else to say about Inception that hasn’t already been said…it truly is the king of 2010 movies.

Top 10 Movies of the Decade (2000’s)

Okay, here it is; the 175th Top 10 Movies of the Decade list.  To be honest, I did this very quickly.  Yes, I had a large list in front of me, but I made cuts fast.  I wanted to go on gut reaction, which I think is always the truest test of what you really think.  So here it is:  Ten years…just ten movies.

(2000 through 2009 are eligible)

Honorable Mentions:  The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Miracle, and Unbreakable.

10) Traffic (2000):

-Although now it seems like director Steven Soderbergh only makes Ocean’s 25 movies, 2000 was his time to shine.  He released Erin Brockovich the same year as Traffic, another strong film.  But Traffic is his crowning achievement.  This movie has about 20 storylines going on from several points of view on the war on drugs, and they are all equally riveting.  Also, let’s not forget an especially phenomenal performance from Benicio Del Toro.

9) Catch Me if You Can (2002):

-Talk about replay value.  I can watch this movie all day.  It’s very addicting.  And every big scene is basically the same – Leonardo DiCaprio does something really bad ass to fake out Tom Hanks.  You just couldn’t wait to see what con-artist Frank Abagnale did next.  It’s a great performance by DiCaprio to keep the same shtick fresh throughout this 2 hour plus movie.  Oh yea, and Christopher Walken is an added bonus.

8 – Batman Begins (2005):

-It revitalized a franchise that was on life support.  After 1997’s Batman and Robin, considered one of the worst movies ever made, I had no expectations for this film.  Yea, the trailers looked great, but I had no faith in Warner Brothers.  I went to see it, and I left in total shock.  Wow.  (Spoilers Next)  I also had never been more surprised when watching a movie when its revealed that Liam Neeson’s character turns out to be Ra’s Al Ghul.  Great twist.  And I was even more stunned when I saw a Joker card revealed at the end of the movie.  Now that’s what I’m talking about!!!  Great twists…Great movie.

7) The Wrestler (2008):

-Mickey Rourke…wow.  Believe it or not, there are other things to talk about with this movie that are equal to Rourke’s performance.  Darren Aronofsky’s direction is flawless from the opening credits to the chilling fade to black.  Part of what makes a movie great are great scenes, and they come in bunches in the Wrestler.  And no, you don’t have to know anything about wrestling to appreciate it.

6) Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005):

-Get over it.  This is a phenomenal film.  Let’s just think about this for a second.  If Star Wars never existed and this was a movie that just came out under a different name, people would have gone ape shit over it.  But because it holds the name Star Wars, people grudgingly accept the fact that Episode III is…not terrible.  Not terrible!  Yes, it has some dialogue and acting flaws here and there, but come on.  People who say the duel on the lava planet was just ‘meh’ are in serious denial.  Palpatine is a great villain, and wonderfully performed by Ian McDiarmid.  This is one of the most entertaining films I’ve ever seen.  What really grinds my gears is that people discredit the entire movie just because Darth Vader cries out “Nooooooooooooo,” at the end.  Really?  One word ruins the entire movie.  Give me a break.  Episodes I and II suck.  But this movie has the emotional impact you crave.  I will defend this as a great movie to the death.

5) The Departed (2006):

-Brilliantly acted and directed.  It’s no surprise it’s a Martin Scorsese movie.  There are so many memorable performances, but if I had to single out one, it would be Leonardo DiCaprio as Billy Costigan.  This guy is just racked with pain and insecurities, yet he’s able to handle some serious pressure cooker situations.  It’s the cops VS the mob, where the entire film centers on “rats” trying to fish out other “rats.”  The tension in some of these scenes is some of the most intense I’ve ever experienced in a movie theatre.  This is credit to the great actors, but its Scorsese who makes this film a classic.

4) The Aviator (2004):

-Hey, look at that, another Scorsese movie.  Although as great as he is in the directing chair, this one is more DiCaprio’s show.  He is holy shit good as genius/obsessive compulsive disorder victim Howard Hughes.  For me it’s the second best performance of the entire decade.  It’s hard to describe.  The tone and control of his voice is nothing short of perfection of a man who is in control of everything but himself.  The last few seconds of this movie sums up his performance in a nutshell.  Please see this one if you haven’t.

3) Friday Night Lights (2004):

-Based on a true story.  This is not some typical sports movie cliché bull shit.  I am so fascinated with this film.  We center on a high school football team in Texas, and although they are celebrities of the school and town, they are anything but happy.  The entire weight of the world is on their shoulders.  They don’t want to just “win the big one,” but they have to win it.  Billy Bob Thornton as Coach Gary Gaines is outstanding, but I want to talk about Lucas Black as QB Mike Winchell.  Whenever you see high school QB’s in a movie, they are on top of the world and loving life.  This guy is the exact opposite and is just one giant ball of stress.  It’s an outstanding performance.  The line that really sums this film up though is when one of the characters asks, “Do you feel seventeen?”  I guess a lot of the events in the movie I’ve read aren’t accurate.  I don’t care. It makes for a great movie.  Also, the score is flat out awesome.

2) The Royal Tenenbaums (2001):

-It’s depressing and hilarious at the same time, but unlike most dramedies, it works.  Director Wes Anderson really does create his own little world around these eccentric, but insanely entertaining characters.  It really feels like they are the only people who live on the planet.  The performances here are second only to the Godfather movies.  Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson for crying out loud are fantastic.  Gene Hackman as Royal Tenenbaum is the most likable asshole I’ve ever seen in a movie.  This really is like reading a book, but I mean that in a good way.  Well, maybe more like listening to a book on tape because Alec Baldwin’s narration is damn good.

1) The Dark Knight (2008):

-As much as I love all the movies on this list, not only is the Dark Knight the best movie of the decade, it’s the best movie of the decade by far.  Heath Ledger gives the single best performance of the decade.  This is a movie that when I watched in the theatre, I really had no idea when or how it was going to end.  This movie has been talked about to death, so I really have nothing more to say on the matter.

Top 10 Movies of 2009

A record breaking box office.  Countless blockbusters.  Mediocre movies.  2009 was not a strong year for film.  Although I think I’m being unfair considering it had to follow 2008, one of the best years of movies in my lifetime.  But there were certainly some gems to be sure, and here they are….My top 10 movies of 2009.

10) The Hurt Locker

-A little repetitive, but the tension is directed so well by Kathryn Bigelow, I’ll forgive it.  But the real star of the movie is Jeremy Renner as the lead William James.  His character was really interesting, especially towards the end.  In fact, this movie was just okay, but it’s the last third that really elevates it.  A great ending.  The Hurt Locker: A good movie, but a little overhyped.

9) Taken

-Liam Neeson=OMG.  You know the movie.  Guy’s daughter gets kidnapped.  Guy was former government bad ass.  Guy goes after kidnappers and kills a lot of people.  Even though the heroes in these types of films are guys you don’t want to fuck with, they still have their difficult moments and some grind it out fights.  What makes Taken so strange is that Liam Neeson just wrecks everyone in this.  He’s never really challenged.  It’s like the equivalent of the Yankees playing the Nationals…just devastating.

8 – Up in the Air

-Great beginning.  Great ending.  Okay middle.  Unfortunately this one goes through some major lulls in the middle, but the performances really carry it.  And it’s not just George Clooney.  Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick, and even some solid cameos from Jason Bateman and Danny McBride are all on the same playing field as Clooney.  But make no mistake, this is his opus.  Despite a slight twist at the end, it’s a very predictable movie, which hinders it from being higher on the list…but a nice little film to be sure.

7) Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

-Certainly the surprise of the year.  Not only did this one have a great story, but it was hysterical.  And it wasn’t just funny for kids; it’s a legitimately funny film.  I love the animation in this.  Staring at the giant food was mesmerizing.  Let’s not forget about the fantastic voice acting.  Go see this one.  It will put a smile on your face.

6) District 9

-A well crafted piece of sci-fi entertainment.  I went in to this with so much negativity thinking it was going to be nothing but a gimmick.  But what I got instead was a gripping story and two characters that drew me in emotionally ten times over.  And this is how you do special effects; not drawing attention to them every two seconds, and in the background as an afterthought.  Despite the third act dragging on and being plagued with too many character twists, there is no denying this film’s greatness.  Also, Sharlto Copley as Wikus, the main character…best performance of the year.

5) Inglorious Bastards

-Every time I’m about to see a Quentin Tarantino movie, I think I’m going to hate it, but in the end, I love every minute.  The trailer for this movie was obnoxious.  Brad Pitt seemed annoying, and it just looked really unappealing.  Although Tarantino’s big important scenes go on way too long, he always keeps you glued to the screen.  The climax is extremely satisfying and in perfect parallel to how it begins.  And I couldn’t have been more wrong about Brad Pitt’s character.  Christoph Waltz is a brilliant villain who will probably get nominated for an Oscar.  The best part about this movie is that it just has so many OMG moments that only Tarantino can deliver.

4) The Fantastic Mr. Fox

-This is a near perfect comedy.  For me, this is one of George Clooney’s best performances ever, and it’s a voice over.  The story is ‘meh’ but the characters are not.  The relationships and conflicts in this movie are hilarious and sad at the same time, which is what Wes Anderson does best.  The stop motion is fun to watch, but the voice talents are even better to listen to.  Jason Schwartzman rules.

3) Watchmen

-Talk about being alone on an island.  I’m pretty sure I’m the only one to have Watchmen on a Top 10 list, let alone number 3.  Yes, the movie has its supporters, but many hate it.  I don’t get it.  Oh wait, yes I do.  It didn’t live up to its unrealistic hype – therefore it sucked in the minds of many.  If this wasn’t based on the greatest graphic novel ever written and it was just some random movie that came out, people would have loved it.  Aside from Malin Akerman as Silk Spectre II and Matthew Goode as Ozymandias, the acting was out of the park.  Jackie Earle Haley as Rorschach…brilliant.  Every moment spent with Rorschach is memorable.  It’s a cool film to look at.  Dr. Manhattan was an extremely tragic figure.  The Comedian was downright scary.  Is this as good as the novel…no.  Is it a great film…yes it is.

2) Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

-I love this movie.  It’s the best Harry Potter movie by far, and it’s probably got my favorite scene from any movie this year – The Cave.  Wow.  What an incredible sequence.  Michael Gambon delivered big time.  Damn.  The acting is superb all around.  Yea, they should have cut down the CW romance a bit and fit in more Voldemort back story, but I’ll let it slide.  (Spoilers Next) Also, I’m sick of hearing the complaints that they left out the funeral from the book.  I thought the choice to just have everyone raise their wands towards the sky was so much more powerful.  It works for the movie, the funeral works for the book.  Get over it.  I don’t know what it is about this movie; it just really draws me in more every time.  I think a lot of it is Daniel Radcliffe’s performance as Harry Potter.  He really went above and beyond, which only gets me that much more excited for the two part finale.

1) Star Trek

-Honestly, it wasn’t even close.  This movie kicks ass.  Whenever you bring in time travel to a movie or television show, there is potential for disaster, but Star Trek nails it!  J.J. Abrams is a genius.  He rebooted a franchise and still kept it in the continuity of the original series at the same time.  That is outstanding.  There are only two words to describe Zachary Quinto’s performance as Spock: Bad Ass.  But let’s not forget about Chris Pine as Kirk, that lovable jackass you still root for.  This has sword fights.  Planets imploding.  People teleporting.  Phaser battles.  But what it also has is perfect character development beginning to end.  Once again, the special effects are great, but they are background material.  We are focused on the characters themselves, not the explosions happening around them.  I really don’t have any complaints about this movie.  I guess the music could have been a little better, but it’s fine.  Star Trek is why I go to the movies.  An amazing achievement that only gets better with each viewing.  Star Trek 2 can’t come fast enough.